How to Make $2.5 Million as a Solo Founder by Teaching What You Love with Adam Wathan

  • A lot of people can learn by watching you learn. [1:03]

  • [The opportunity Adam is pursuing] I think the education around teaching people how to be software developers is broken in a lot of ways. [10:44]

  • I dont think the old school university institutions do a very good job preparing people to be developers. I think learning to be a software developer should be treated like learning to be a carpenter. Where you actually get to learn from other people and do the job. Universities tend to focus on the theoretical stuff that isn’t necessaryly preparing you for working in the field. [11:08]

  • I’m not really happy unless I’m learning. I need to have something I’m excited about. Something that I’m diving into and trying to get better at. [12:12]

  • [This applies to things outside of work too] When I was obsessed with powerlifting I was reading Russian strength training manuals and translating them into English so I could find what approaches people were using in different places. I’ll go to the ends of the earth to find the information I want. [14:30]

  • All of this was an somewhat of an accident. When I released my first book I didn’t have aspirations to be a full time author/ course creator. I did it from a passion for making things and putting them on the internet. I wasn’t doing it to escape the 9 to 5. That just happened. [17:40]

  • [Courtland]: Today your courses and books have generated millions of dollars in sales. You get to keep all of that. You don’t have a publisher. You don’t have an agent. It’s all yours. [19:04]

  • Something I never thought too much about until I was in it: Your life is a lot different when you run your own business than it is when you have a job. I feel like I’m retired now because I get to work on the things that I want to work on. I can work my own hours. I have no one telling me what to do. All my income is not coupled to the amount of effort I put in. That is only possible when you have equity in something that makes money. [19:31]

  • Advice that helped Adam get started: Start with a trip wire product. A product really small that you could charge $10 for. It gets your feet wet. You get to practice with marketing. Anyone who buys that is going to be more likely to buy from you in the future. [30:30]

  • Adam’s wife’s reaction to his first really successful launch: She was scared. This doesn’t seem right. Are we doing something illegal? Your not supposed to just have money like this show up in your bank account. [38:48]

  • I certainly don’t think building an audience could ever be a bad thing. Be helpful on the internet. Even if you don’t have anything to sell.

  • Look for what energizes you. Look for some alignment between the things you derive satisfaction from and things that also contribute to your end goal. [45:58]

  • Common bad advice people give is that the first step to validating a product idea is make a landing page. To me that is the last step. No one is going to sign up on a landing page to buy something from someone who they have never heard of. Someone who has never delivered value before. The best way to test is to create free content first. [1:02:17]

  • Adam’s most successful product launch so far: Refactoring UI did $40,000 in the first few hours. We hadn’t told a single person [that it was live]. It did close to $400,000 on the first day. $1 million in the first month. $1.3 million in total so far. [1:04:41]

  • Tweets are not just sitting down and tweeting something out in 3 seconds. Some tweets take 2 weeks to make. They are like blog posts. Sometimes harder since you have to distill it into 280 characters. [1:07:40]

  • Tweeting about a blog post is not going to get as much engagement as fitting the information from the blog post into the tweet. [1:08:22]

  • When you first announce a product [and start to collect emails] you get a lot of signups on the first few days but then it drops off completely. What I do to keep new people signing up to the list is as I do updates to the product —like a new chapter or post — I make sure I announce that I’ll be sending that email on other channels first. Example: 2 hours from now I’m sending out a new chapter from Refactoring UI. In case you are not on the list here is the landing page in case you want to get a copy. [1:14:02]

  • Don’t obsess over analytics. It is not the right place to invest your energy. [1:16:19]

  • I have no idea how many visitors we have on our landing pages. I don’t know what percentage of those people sign up. I never thought to a/b test anything. I don’t know what websites they are coming from. All I know is anytime I put out a free blog post, a well-crafted twitter tip, or do a livestream I make more money. Those are activities that are delivering value to other people that I enjoy doing. [1:16:46]

  • Optimizing analytics would not move the needle as much as making more awesome free stuff and being valuable to people on the internet. [1:17:35]

  • Better to build a small product really well than a large one sloppyily. [The SLC: Simple, lovable, complete product. Make a really good skateboard don’t make a crappy car.] [1:21:22]

  • Full podcast here.