Another 30x500 ended, a new one just begun… but not quite.

The Class… The Legend

As you probably know, I developed a course called 30x500. The goal: to help other designers & developers (people like me!) do what I did – create a growing, profitable stable of products, without outside funding, on the side, to create both improved lives for their customers, and more freedom & money for themselves, too.

I’ve been teaching one variation of this class for 3 years straight. Holy narwhalsicles, Batman.

The Evolution

After 3 years of constant improvements, additions, subtractions, and changes, my students’ successes are better & more numerous than ever.

In the past 3 years I have…

  • created a 12-week class from scratch, based on the pains and fears I knew my would-be peers were experiencing
  • rewrote it…
  • reordered it, turning it on its head, 3 times
  • added a partner-teacher (Alex Hillman)
  • quadrupled the amount of time I spent talking live with students
  • recorded a ton of video
  • refined the way I teach the hardest steps — and the easiest
  • studied research, and taken expensive workshops, and read infinite books in order to teach in the most effective way possible
  • added tons of new material
  • turned it from a progressive weekly schedule, to a million interlocking “micro” practices that build results
  • created a whole pre-class class on habits and motivation
  • created metrics for students to help themselves

Umm, that list is a little self-centered…

Yes, this list is all about me. Me me me. Because I was the one doing the work (and later, Alex and I were doing the work together). And holy shit has it been a lot of work.

But the reason I did it isn’t for me

I did all this for my students.

Sure, 30x500 pays very nicely. But you couldn’t pay me to do all that. It was herculean, and I’m rebellious when it comes to any kind of outside obligation. “They’re not paying me enough for this crap” is something I grumbled on a daily basis, back when I had a job/clients.

The dirtier fact is, too, that I could have kept selling the class exactly how it was. The demand, the need, was huge. But I wasn’t satisfied with the quality, the student experience.

I did all this heavy lifting for the love.

I did it so I could watch my students succeed.

The last 30x500 has been the best ever

The changes in the last class have been the most epic: the pre-class, the habits, the micro-practice, the entirely new schedule/order/approach.

Alex and I got together and added an extra month of material. We cut stuff out entirely. We scheduled and rescheduled. We planned: What is the meta-lesson here? What is the meta-meta lesson? How can we coordinate on the Socratic approach? How should we structure new live exercises?

These changes have made all the difference. We have nearly quadrupled the number of students who stick with the program, who complete their work, who are ready to use these skills forrealz. Even returning alumni have been shocked by how much more savvy & prepared these new students are.

Yes, a couple weeks ago, 30x500 Winter 2012 wrapped up. Something epic and new came to a close.

Was it perfect? Nope.

Are we still working our butts off to improve it? Absolutely.

That’s why I’ve been quietly telling people over the past few months: We will never run another 30x500 the “old way,” ever again.

The old way and the new way…

This last 30x500 was a mixture of the new way and the old way.

Here’s what works about the new way:

  • the application process
  • the emphasis on habits, and micro-wins vs micro-failures
  • identifying good habits and bad habits
  • doing a preview of the entire class, in the 1-day bootcamp
  • start with the “real work” (the hard stuff – pitches, pain, and sales Safari!) right up front, from week 1
  • a Socratic response to student questions/homework, helping them figure it out on their own instead of dictating
  • breaking up the whole process into tiny chunks that build on each other (reflecting the “stacking the bricks” ethos in every way)
  • tiny daily exercises that build up to big projects, instead of semi-punitive homework that takes days to complete on your own
  • weekly office hours, with live lessons and live practice & review, every single Sunday
  • removing every barrier to moving forward (example: all students get hung up on ‘audience selection’ so we had everyone work together on a ‘rented’ audience instead, at first, to share the learning experience without hangups)
  • meta-lessons; I won’t tell you what they are, and we didn’t tell students what they were, but we designed them into the new structure and as a teacher I can say the students “got it”
  • and something that works even better every time we run the class – the alumni list, a private Google Group that every 30x500 alum has access to, for support, for feedback, for community

Here’s what didn’t work this time — holdouts from the old way:

  • it’s too damn long
  • too much theory
  • it takes too long to get to the “real work”
  • shipping – anything! – was not built into the class
  • hedging bets – yes, you can use this process for any type of product, in any order – leads to weaker student outcomes
  • it’s a big investment of $ to start with — there isn’t a product family with more affordable classes or products to try first
  • it’s a lot of unnecessary hand-holding, if you’re a self-starter
  • really, it was way too damn long — everybody starts off super excited, but by the end of it, everyone is exhausted (smarter, but damn tired!)

So… if we’re not doing 30x500 ever again the old way, what should we do?

What do our students (& prospective students) really need?

It’s taken me 3 years to figure this out. But I think if you look at this list, it’s clear:

  • for self-starters a much shorter, more affordable, 100% action-focused 30x500 — call it the “Swift Kick in the Ass” edition
  • for those who want lots of hands-on support, & who have a higher budget, a more-succinct-but-still-comprehensive 30x500 with all of the cruft removed, throw out the written material, 100% focused on daily action and shipping
  • for those who aren’t ready for / don’t need a class, stand-alone products and small events geared towards helping them conquer specific topics, e.g. marketing, pricing, product launches, entrepreneurial habits
  • for absolutely everyone — help building a real bootstrapping community that isn’t tied to 30x500 Alumni-hood

There you have it, my friends. That’s Alex’s & my to-do list for the next 12 months.

Yes, if you do the math, 30x500 brought in over $300,000 for us last year. Yes, we’re potentially throwing that away, by shutting “30x500 As You Know it” down completely.

We’re not just dropping the golden egg and smashing it, we’re strangling the goose. Why? Because, as it turns out, goose eggs don’t make great omelets. And helping to create a world full of great omelets is our raison d’être. And by “omelets” I mean “thriving bootstrapped product businesses.”

Frankly, it’s a little scary to commit to this publicly, but this is what needs to be done — to reach more people, to help more students ship, to create more success stories.

Our plan at work: Events, Classes, Products, & hey, a Conference!

**We recently announced our Launch Roundtable **, an affordable ($199) and highly focused event: all about product launches. Real talk, with exact launch sequences / content, no-holds-barred revenue discussions, and all.

We will soon be launching a brand new class that we call 30x500 Bootcamp. It is an intense, 2-day, action-packed workshop (online). You will learn all the major moving parts of the 30x500 process… and you will implement them. You’ll learn the theory by acting instead of listening to me lecture. The dates: May 25/26. Right before BaconBizConf (see below).

30×500 will never again be a 4-month class. It nearly killed us all, students and teachers alike. The next iteration will be max 6 weeks long… with more live practice than ever before, more shipping experience built in, 100% action-oriented. We’ll take even more advantage of the “OMG YES WE’RE DOING IT!” excitement at the start of class, and get in/get out/get shipped.

Our new habits workshop, that so helped our students in the last 30×500, will become its own standalone product. We will price it very affordably. Some of it will even be free (subscribe to my blog!).


We’re putting on BaconBizConf, an intimate bootstrappy-products conference, May 30th in Philadelphia. You may have been waiting for a long time for the details, and for that we apologize. With these revelations, we realized we had to change our basic conceptions of how to run a conference, too.

The redesigned BaconBizConf will be more affordable, more enjoyable, and more educational. We’ve shrunk the speaker-attendee ratio (by half!), and we’re going to hold it in a low-key (free) setting. Instead of paying for a hotel ballroom, we’re hiring videographers to record the event to reach more people. And just wait til you see who’s speaking.

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