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This is a short story of how I turned an Airtable file into $9.2k in side income. Just to be honest up front, I did not expect it to even pass $1k when I launched. It's a bit of a surprise, but I think I figured out a few things that worked well.
- 💵 Prelaunch sales: ~$700
- 💵 Sales from Product Hunt featured: $3,797
- 💵 Sales from PH newsletter the next day: $1,131
- 💵 $ 488 residual sales
- 💵 $ 6,116 total sales
- 💵 Post-launch sales: $3,161
- 💵 Sales to date: $9,277
- 📄 85 sales
- 📄 15 short of 100 goal
- 💔 Refunds: 1
- 🔣 7.45% conversion rate (includes PH newsletter)
- 💵 Average sales is $69
Earlier this year in May, I saw something interesting. I stumbled across an airtable file with growth strategies that sold ~3k worth according to the person who made it.
I thought, hmm, there's money in info products.
So I set out to create my own.
Some time shortly after, I assembled my first version of an airtable file that contained various conversion strategies to help SaaS companies get more customers and revenue.
The info came part from experience and part from seeing others succeed with some of these strategies. You see, I am conversion rate consultant by day, so I figured I could package some of this knowledge and sell it as a product.
Ok, so the easy part was done. Now what? How do I sell without an audience?
Created a Landing Page in Webflow
Since I was already a customer of Webflow and knew my way around, I decided to put up a quick landing page.
The first version sucked.
So much so that I completely gutted it. You can see what it looked like here:
Over time I refined the landing page into what it is today, but the point is that it needed to be done quickly. My goal was to validate my own idea as quickly as possible.
Validating an Idea
Normally you validate an idea BEFORE you create something. But, since I already had customers who came to me for conversion audits, I figured this was a service in high demand, so it would naturally do well as a product.
In short, I performed no other validation aside from knowing people come to me for a service.
However, this doesn't mean I didn't want to try and sell a few copies to make sure my hunch was right.
Since I had no idea how to find any customers, I decided to take up the old indie hacker mantra: "build in public".
Build in Public
At the time, my twitter account had about 390 followers. Nope, I was not active on Twitter at all.
But this had to be changed. I started talking about my product.
At the same time, I added Swipe to Indie Hackers. Started plugging it here and there while answering posts and just generally trying to be useful.
The main file / product was finished with 153 items on May 18:
I also joined IndieLog.com where I started vlogging my journey. I actually did not share much about Swipe until August.
Registered a Domain
I used Google Domains to register swipe.page. It was going for $36/year ... not the cheapest but I loved the name. In case you are wondering, a "swipe file" is something marketers used to have in the olden days where they would literally have a folder with marketing ideas used in previous campaigns. They'd go through the file and pick out something that has worked and try it again.
I thought this would be appropriate considering my product consisted of ideas you can implement on your own website.
A friend later told me that Google "re-evaluates" expiring domains and raises prices in some cases. I guess the cost could go up to as much as $400. True or not, I didn't want to risk it so I renewed my domain for 4 years (after I've already made some sales). Just something to think about if you are buying from Google Domains!
The first customer purchased a copy of Swipe back when the landing page was total junk. I managed to write some comprehensive article on Indie Hackers. Someone liked what I wrote, checked out my profile and bought the first copy.
I was pretty happy! It's one thing to make $3k on an audit, and a totally different feeling getting $87 from a product. You have to experience it to know what I'm talking about.
Broken Redirect Almost Cost Me My 2nd Sale
While talking about my product in as many places as I could, someone told me they tried to purchase a copy but my website was not working.
I rushed as quickly as I could to see what was happening. It turns out, I didn't have www to non-www redirect setup so the person could not get to the functional site.
Luckily, as soon as I fixed the redirect, that person bought the 2nd copy of Swipe.
Don't worry, I won't go into how I got every sale one by one... but I thought I'd cover the first handful.
The 3rd sale came from the founder of IndieLog.com Damon Chen. Seeing how I was uploading videos on IndieLog, Damon noticed the product and purchased a copy. Today, I would consider Damon a close friend as we've gotten to know each other a lot over Twitter DMs.
The next batch of sales came from a huge IndieHacker thread where I offered to glance at people's websites for free and record a first impression video.
The thread was received so well that I ended up recording over 100 videos. It took me 3 days!
Eventually, I turned the recordings into its own product, now available on Gumroad.
A handful of people who saw my videos also decided it was worth buying Swipe.
As the momentum for sales started picking up, I saw a glimmer of hope, and thought that with appropriate effort I could eventually scale it up.
One of the next sales came through a friend who was also my boss early on. They saw value in Swipe and picked it up.
Sale #9 was a cold outreach email. One email sent, one sale made. I am waiting to test this strategy again to make sure it is replicable.
Product Hunt Launch
If you did the math, by now the product made $783. Peanuts to most, but not nothing for a new product with no audience.
I was very nervous, but with Damon's encouragement, decided to share Swipe on Product Hunt.
At this point, I refined my landing page significantly. I went through my own product and used it as a checklist to apply treatment to various parts of my website.
From copy to headlines, social proof, sales letter, scarcity, urgency — it was all there.
To add some excitement to the product, I recorded a video where I introduced a 20% OFF discount.
If you are curious to read more about the entire launch process, I am writing an ebook that spells out the entire process, provides examples and shows how you can do the same STEP BY STEP.
This ebook spells out all of the details including the page optimizations I made to get to 7.45% sale conversion rate. It is almost finished. I'm going to give away 5 copies to a random person on my mailing list, so sign up if you haven't (email box at the top and below this article).
In short, the launch went really well, much better than expected. I set my initial goal to $1k sales as a best case scenario, but in the following few days the product sold almost $5,000 worth. A followup tweet from Product Hunt generated another 7 sales. To say that I was happy is an understatement!
After the successful launch, I gained about 100 new Twitter followers. Not that I was counting... I honestly don't care about Twitter follower numbers, just wanted to report the effects.
To keep the momentum going, I set up a few new affiliates (who saw that my product did well and wanted to sell it with me). My affiliates brought in more sales. About 8 in total.
I also started tweeting about the launch itself, and that seems to have generated some interest and additional sales.
The most recent tweet about my first Gumroad payout had a ton of engagement, profile clicks, and I think lead to a sale or two.
Of course, any time a tweet seems to pick up steam, I pin it to my profile to make sure everyone sees it.
My plans for Swipe are pretty big and I am just getting started. Going forward, I am looking to partner with lifetime deal companies to launch to wider audiences. Since I don't have a following or even a mailing list, I figured I'd rather launch to other people's audiences.
Recently, I created and tweeted this graphic to describe my mindset:
While promoting Swipe, I also plan to finish my other 2 products: Swipe Grow, and Swipe Sell — one for ecommerce strategies and one for growth strategies. If you have any interest in either, hop on the mailing list or DM me on Twitter.
In terms of sales, things have slowed down for now. I am still getting 1-2 sales per day at $157 price tag, but soon the 2nd tier will sell out and the product will go up to $187. I don't know what that will do to conversions but I hope nothing too dramatic. If you consider the cost of an audit, it's still a great deal.
Want to try and replicate my results? Here are my top tips:
- Build something you enjoy, or know a lot about. This will help you stay motivated when it feels like you are not making any progress.
- Start building in public from day 1. Put up a website / blog / whatever, and slap an email collection box on it. Just like I did here. Your goal should be to share as much as possible about your idea from day 1, and document it as it gets built.
- As part of building in public, start tweeting about your project and related concepts / topics at least 8 times a day. For most, this will seem like a lot, but eventually you will be fine doing it without thinking. Yes, you can skip this step, it is not totally crucial but it will help a lot! If you already have a Twitter following, great!
- Start sharing on relevant sites. While you build in public and tweet, start sharing your content, learnings or findings on sites relevant to your product. For me it was IndieHackers.
- Start connecting with people in Twitter DMs. Most people make a huge mistake - they interact on sites, and leave it at that. Instead, while you are interacting and notice someone comment on your things in a positive way, reach out to them on Twitter and strike up a conversation. Get to know them, their work, what drives them. Be genuinely curious. The goal is not to pitch your stuff. You just want to make connections and hopefully friendships. I made many friends this way on Twitter.
- If / when launching on Product Hunt, reach out to all of your contacts and let them know right before you do it. Ask for their support. The initial push from their support is going to make a HUGE difference in your launch. Later on, as the day goes, your product's quality will determine how it finishes.
- Make sure your landing page is in tip top shape. I will create another post explaining everything you need to have, in detail. Sign up for email updates to get that post.
- Wait to launch until you have social proof - a customer testimonial or two. This makes a big difference!
- When launching on PH, consider offering a lifetime deal or at least an annual discount that will be better than anything you offer after the launch. Give people an incentive to buy now.
- Make the deal limited to 24 hours if you want — the added urgency can be highly beneficial. You can play around with other expiration intervals and timers if you like.
- Stay active during the launch, answer questions, reply to tweets, post everywhere you can think of. Respond to all comments, especially on Product Hunt as that creates engagement and helps your listing stay up higher.
- Consider holding a Twitter contest where you give away a few copies to your product for free for a retweet. This can help spread the word faster.
- Don't give up.
- Try cold outreach - it works a lot better than most think. I outlined a strategy in the Swipe file, but I will also blog about it later.
- Be thankful to everyone who supports you!
- Don't worry about growing an audience too much. I mean it helps, but genuine human connections are much more powerful. I try to spend more time talking to people in DMs than I do on worrying about followers. In fact, I blocked my own follower numbers with uBlock and feel much better not knowing what vanity status someone posses. Just talk to people and get to know them.
This journey is far from over
If you enjoyed reading this, consider following me on my journey. I will share all of my findings, everything I've done, the results (good or bad). My goal is to make all of this public so everyone has a chance to peak behind the curtains and see the entire process. Thank you for reading!
Psst! Work smarter, not harder. Grow your SaaS signups and revenue with 200+ conversion strategies.