Stacking the Bricks Podcast
EP1 - How Pat Maddox went from 0 subscribers to over $3k MRR in 10 days
In this episode…
30x500 Alumni Pat Maddox joins Alex Hillman. They talk about how Pat used the 30x500 process of Sales Safari and dropping ebombs.
Then Pat shares how he ruthlessly followed just three steps every day for 10 days to get from from barely making rent to having over $3000 in MRR from paying customers and over 1000 subscribers on his mailing list.
Tune in and learn from Pat. Check out his blog at patmaddox.com.
This recording originally appeared on UnicornFree.com in an article titled "From zero to $3k MRR in 10 days, the story of RubySteps": https://unicornfree.com/2014/from-zero-to-3k-mrr-in-10-days-the-story-of-rubysteps
Alex Hillman: Hello bootstrappers! It’s Alex Hillman, co-creator of 30x500, along with my friend Amy Hoy, which is the system for bootstrapping product businesses.
This is the first of what we hope will become a series of conversations with some of the people that are in our community. This isn’t just time for us to shoot this with our friends, though I’m sure that’s going to happen from time to time. These are conversations that we’re hoping, well, people like you understand how real bootstrapped product businesses are built.
We’ll talk about some of the techniques that people use and the mistakes that they make and the ways that bootstrapping a product business actually impacts people’s lives.
Now for the first few episodes, I’m going to be talking with 30x500 alumni. But before long, you’re going to start hearing from me some of the other voices in the world of bootstrap product businesses. But that’s enough promises of the future. Let’s talk about today’s conversation real quick.
I’m being joined today by Pat Maddox, who is the creator of RubySteps, RubySteps.com, which is a professional development program for programmers.
Now there’s a few things that I want to point out about this conversation. This is an especially process oriented – and actually 30x500 process oriented – conversation. So you’re going to learn a lot about the techniques that we teach in our class for free and you’re going to learn the exact steps that Pat took to uncover thousands of pain points in his audience and how he distilled them down into what ultimately became the product RubySteps.
In this conversation, I especially loved Pat’s revelation of, “Oh, I already know how to help these people”, and pay close attention for that because there’s a lot of really, really valuable stuff right around that part. And I also love how Pat realized that creating products could multiply the Pat Maddox effect of what he was already teaching and his style of programming.
Later on in the conversation, Pat also talks about some of the mistakes that he made during his launch, but ultimately how none of them came really even close to slowing him down, which is important because Pat launched under some pretty extreme pressure. You’re going to have to listen in to find out what I mean by that.
Pat might cover so much great stuff in this interview, so I’m just going to stop jabbering now and instead introduce RubySteps creator, Pat Maddox.
This product launch literally a week ago, right Pat?
Pat Maddox: The pitch launched a week from Saturday, so I guess about 10 days ago. My thinking was if 10 or so people sign up for the free mailing list thing, then I’ll write the first lesson, and if people like that first lesson, and then I’ll write the second lesson and we’ll go from there. So it’s been about 10 days from the initial pitch idea and then writing lessons daily and I put out the paid offer on Friday morning.
Alex Hillman: Today is Tuesday. It is Tuesday afternoon. So it’s been a busy week for you!
Pat Maddox: Cool.
Alex Hillman: So let’s talk about what it is that you actually made. What is it that you wrote that pitch page? What’s up there? What are people getting hooked on?
Pat Maddox: So the pitch page is for a product that I created – well that I’m now creating – called Ruby steps, and it’s an educational program to teach people how to program and write programs better and get better at programming. Ultimately trying to create a community around this of people who are investing in their own futures and wanting to learn and work with others.
It’s starting right now with these lessons that I’m delivering via Git and packaging a virtual machine with, so you can execute all the software on it without any headaches and stuff. It’s an environment that you can plan. And it’s a professional development environment, the same that I’ve built for different companies that I worked for.
So that’s kind of the start of it and then moving into more collaborative stuff. Next week, I’ll be introducing the mob learning stuff where we’ll be actually working on these different exercises together, as a crew all over the world – so, I’m really excited about that.
Alex Hillman: So how did you figure out that this is what you were going to build and that people were actually gonna buy it? Do you put up this pitch page and you’re like, “Well, you know, if a couple people buy it” and I think you knew, you had a better sense.
Pat Maddox: You know the answer to that!
Alex Hillman: I do, but not everybody else does!
Pat Maddox: I Safaried for months and I did the 30x00 thing. I did it as down to the T as I possibly could. I’d be happy to go into more details.
Alex Hillman: What was your process? We talk about the things that we teach in class and you do your best to execute to a T, but even then, do you have to get it perfect to get it right? No, of course not. I want to hear what was the Pat Maddox way of getting out there? How did you choose your audience? What were your first watering hole experiences like and how did you know, “I think I’m onto something, I think I’m seeing a problem in this audience.” What did that actually look like for you?
Pat Maddox: Well, so it started off with, the first thing was just kind of trying to unlearn everything that I had ever knew or thought about how I might go about this stuff. One of the things that’s always funny to me when I talk with people and they’re like, “Oh, you’re a programmer. You can just make anything, create any business you want.” I go, Yeah, great. But that also means I can invest a lot of time and energy in something that nobody cares about and doesn’t pan out.” I’ve done that many, many times in my life.
Alex Hillman: You are not alone!
Pat Maddox: So like I am, you know, as a programmer as I’m going through this stuff, I’m like, “Oh, I can make meaningless software” and “Oh, I can do this automated virtual deploys and I can build all these little parts of stuff” and “I can build my own credit card authorization system and recurring payment.” No! Nobody cares about that stuff. Nobody cares. It’s just procrastination and I was trying to just be very pragmatic about all this stuff. Like what is it that people are going to benefit from?
Alex Hillman: So your steps for Safari then? How did you get out there once you’re like, okay, I’ve got to get it done the right way?
Pat Maddox: So it started off, I guess like my big sort of Safari push started three months ago and it was just like, I would wake up and before work and spend about an hour going through the internet, and that’s mostly Reddit, mostly Reddit. So maybe Ruby Reddit Rails, Reddit Agile, TDB, Learn Programming, all the Reddits and then everything that they kind of linked to.
Basically I would go through and I looked at every post that had comments on it. If there was a post that had two comments on it, I’d open it in a tab. And then I would have hundreds of tabs and I would go through each one and I would read everything. You guys talk about pain dreams and fixes, and I was mostly just looking for pains. So in every single email or every single letter that I see, I would write down the pains that I felt, or that I felt I thought were coming out of that post. And I did just that. I would write down some recommendations and worldviews and stuff like that, but it was basically all pains. If I like act for pain in my thing, I have like 12,000 lines of pains written down.
Alex Hillman: That’s a ton of pain! That was like three months of active gathering, that’s what you said, right?
Pat Maddox: Three months of active gathering.
Alex Hillman: Cool. Was it like an hour a day? Was it once a week? How were you scheduling that? How was that fitting into your life?
Pat Maddox: It was about an hour a day. Four to five days a week. From there I then kind of started rewriting some of the pains, I guess, and thinking about like, well, what does that pain really mean? Is there a underlying pain or a larger pain from that? Then mostly just trying to get a feel for what those 12,000 pains were about, because it’s pretty broad range of stuff.
Alex Hillman: Right. So what were some of the patterns that started showing up in that?
Pat Maddox: Well, the patter, so there’s a lot of specific technical stuff. There were things like service objects and locking and refactoring and stuff like that in Rails. The thing that I kept running into that eventually, like, it’s weird because of this stuff like it doesn’t make any sense and then all of a sudden just pops into your head and go, “Oh, that makes perfect sense here” was everybody asking what’s the next step. They were saying, “I took this online Ruby on Rails course. What do I do now? I did this boot camp. I haven’t found a job yet. What do I do now? I’ve applied to 10 different companies and I haven’t heard back yet. What should I do now?” It was always, “What do I, I did this, I want to do this. What do I do next so I can get here?”
It was sought over and over and over in different ways and I was like, “Oh, I can help those people. I’ve helped lots of those people. I loved helping those people. That’s cool.” Not only that it’s really important to me, because you can kind of inadvertently make some mistakes early on and end up working at a bad company that you don’t like, and you’re miserable because you didn’t have the skills or you didn’t have the bargaining power or whatever it was.
Seeing all this stuff and especially the frustration, because sometimes people are paying like 12 grand for one of these bootcamps and then don’t get a job out of it. There’s some pain. There’s some pains, you know. So, yeah, that was it. It’s for people that are wondering what is their next step in their career. It doesn’t matter if they’re brand new and they just want to learn to code, or if they’ve been coding for years and they’re looking for the next thing. That’s what all those 12,000 pains kind of boiled down to for me. I ignored most of it. I mean there’s a lot of stuff in there that I didn’t touch, so there’s probably other stuff I could do at some point, but the thing that jumped out at me that was like, I can help these people. I want to help these people. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to do it, but I know that I can take them the next step and basically lead by example, in terms of making cool stuff happen for yourself.
Alex Hillman: That’s awesome. So, all right, so you’ve made a decision. You have an idea for what pain people are in, you understand what it is. You understand, like the deeper emotional parts, like that frustration, that confusion, that disorientation. What did you do with it?
Pat Maddox: Well, I sat on it for a while and just kept letting it marinate in my head. As I was telling you earlier, I sort of ran into a point where I had to do something with it. So the story is, is as I was in trouble with making my rent this month, because I had just quit a job unexpectedly and I had talked with some other people about projects and stuff, but three of them fell through, just kind of they didn’t pan out. I was like, okay, well I have about a week and I needed to come up with something and I have enough of a network that I can call somebody up and say, “I need like a two day consulting gig right now, pay me”, but I don’t want to do that and I felt that this was kind of, it felt like this was the time, it felt like it was like me getting some samples.
Alex Hillman: I can’t wait to hear what happens next. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but what was it, what was going on in your head that you were like, you know what? Yeah, I could trade a couple of days and make rent, but I think I want to do this different, like what was different this time?
Pat Maddox: It’s just the experience of doing this stuff for a long time. I’ve been programming professionally for 10 years and I’ve worked at some amazing places and done a lot of cool stuff. I know the direction I want to be moving in and basically I love developing software. I love shipping software. I realized that, but I’ve helped a lot of people too. I’ve done a lot of teaching. I’ve spoken at conferences, I’ve held workshops, I’ve blogged for eight years. Some answer mailing lists, go on to user groups and stuff. I love teaching and I love helping people with this sort of stuff.
It was mostly about how do I leverage my time and energy effectively. I can show up at a company and I can work on their product all day long and I’ll make that company successful and whatever that good positive outcomes are for their customers, or I can show up every day and I can teach a bunch of other people how to get better and now they’re going to go off and do these amazing things that I never would have imagined. If I’m able to help them and kind of unblock them in some way and just kind of push them a little bit forward so they go and do something really, really cool with it. That feels really good, but mostly it’s just the best way for me to spend my time and energy right now, because I can help so many more people by helping a small kind of core group of people directly to then go off and do some really cool stuff, and hopefully use this example and do that same thing themselves.
Alex Hillman: This is literally you saying “I’m going to multiply the Pat Maddox effect.” Right. “I can be one me or I can help create a lot of me’s and create more good in the world.” That’s awesome!
Pat Maddox: I don’t know how much of it is to do with my 29th birthday was a week and a half ago. So, as my friend told me, as soon as you turn 29, now you’re turning 30, you know, so I’m thinking about that.
Alex Hillman: It’s not that bad!
Pat Maddox: I love it, fine, but I guess just thinking about – I don’t want to say legacy, but not legacy, but, but understanding that hopefully when I’m really old, I will be on a peaceful death bed and I’ll look back at my life and see what happened. I want to know that I kicked ass with the time that I had and that things are different and that people see the world differently because they knew me in a very, very good way.
Alex Hillman: That’s a beautiful answer. Awesome. Thank you for sharing that. So you’ve got a week and change maybe before you’ve got to make rent, right? And you’ve got this mountain of pain and you’ve distilled this pain down to something. You’ve got a pretty good feeling that you understand people, how they’re feeling, and you are confident you can help them solve that problem.
You said that you had launched your pitch page 10 days ago. That was one of the first things you’d written.
Pat Maddox: It was the only thing I had written.
Alex Hillman: You’d been blogging and you had been doing mailing lists and things like that, but this is totally new endeavor. This is with sort of with focused intent of talking about people’s pain. So, you sat down to write a pitch page. What was that like?
Pat Maddox: Well, first of all, I stared at the screen for maybe five minutes. Like totally fine. What do I do? What do I do? And then I just wrote P on one line, D on one line and F on one line. I wrote out the core pain that I thought was the core pain, which I probably still can’t even articulate it, but what’s next is kind of distilling it down. What’s next for me in my career and the dream is whatever the dream is, but ultimately knowing that they’re on a path and that the actions that they take or bringing them towards whatever it is that they want to work towards. Then the fix is, “Ta dah! RubySteps.” From there I just iterated on it I was like, okay, I got that pain and dream and fix, let’s start writing it down and just kind of elaborating on the pains a little bit and dreams a little bit and the fixes, but really sticking to the exact format that you guys have and then just trying to make it all crispier and juicier and stuff.
Alex Hillman: Cool. One of the things we talk about a bunch in that it’s not just writing what the pain is, we say, “Show don’t tell”. So, you know, painting a picture, who’s the star of your pitch?
Pat Maddox: The star of the pitch is that is the person in pain, that’s the crazy thing. It has nothing to do with me at all. Actually, my favorite part, of one of my favorites - there’s a lot of stuff I love about 30x500 – but one of the fascinating things to me that I experienced as a result of doing the pitch first development and thinking in terms of the audience’s pain, was the product that you offer kind of doesn’t matter, at least in that at least in that initial pitch, because I know what’s going on in your life, I know what you want out of it and here’s something that I think will work for you.
Well, if you address the pain and the dream appropriately, then they’re ready for the fix, whatever it is – especially if it’s free. When you say “Here’s something that’ll help you out and it’s free”, like, come on.
The thing that was interesting to me was I had written on this page that it was going to include video explanations of the lesson, but I didn’t make a big deal about it. It just said it will have one lesson every weekday with video explanations, somewhere in there. The first day I did it, I had my lesson all written and done and ready to ship by 4:30 and I sit down to work on the video. 9:30 at night, I’m still not done with the video. I’m like, no way am I going to do this, I’m not even going to bother with it. There’s so much video stuff out there already, I’m clearly not good at video. I know that the writing and software stuff is already good and I know that I’m good at writing and I’m good at software and shipping that. So, I think that I can make that really useful and valuable to people. That’s what I’m going to ship. So of course I was freaked out. I was like, Oh my gosh, I promised people video lessons and stuff. Now there were 15 people signed up for free at that point. But I went back to the page and I looked and it only said video once on the whole entire page, it said “You’ll receive daily lessons with video explanation.”
Alex Hillman: Meanwhile, you had just spent how many hours working on one video?
Pat Maddox: Five hours. Five hours working on one video. So in half a second, I clicked video, I hit delete and I saved the page.
Because of the pitch that I had, I could do that. I could write, I can delete video and I still have something valuable and useful, and I haven’t lied to anybody. I will straight up admit to people. Yes, I put video on there, I realized it was a terrible idea. RubySteps happened because I decided not to do video and had I made a big deal about my product and about all the amazing videos that you’re going to get – how you’re going to hear my lovely voice narrating my lovely code, and get that five days a week, and don’t you love my videos and high definition? Well, as soon as I sit down to work on that first video and it doesn’t work…
So by just by writing this page and getting a little bit of feedback on my own process, my own work process, it was a trivial change. That was kind of amazing to me to realize that.
Alex Hillman: You nailed so much in there. That’s awesome! So you mentioned a couple of times free, so you’re offering something for free. I thought you’re making money now, that’s why we’re talking? What were you offering for free? What were you giving away?
Pat Maddox: So I’m still giving it away and I will give it away for as long as I do RubySteps. Anybody who signs up for free gets code examples every weekday extracted from a full lesson that I deliver, and they get one free lesson delivered every week. So they end up being behind the paid numbers, so today – lesson seven will go out to the paid members, but free members won’t get it. Next week the free members will get lesson seven, but at that point, the paid members will be on less than 15.
If you want all of the hot, fresh stuff, you sign up. But if you want access to the information and see how the product works and also get all the lessons and content that I had delivered for free previously, then you can still get that for free.
The first week though, I did deliver all the lessons for free because nobody had ever seen this before and I didn’t think that one lesson would be enough for anybody to want to buy it, frankly, and I wasn’t interested in doing a two week trial or a four week trial or whatever. It was like, I’m going to make something over the course of one week. I’m going to make the best thing I can. I know it’s going to be useful for people because I’ve made this sort of stuff before in other different contexts. If a week in nobody likes it, then whatever, publish it all as blog posts and call it a day and call my friend up and say, “I need a job right now!”
Alex Hillman: Yeah. How many people are you sending these daily lessons during your first week to?
Pat Maddox: The first week was fun because the first day, the first lesson went out to maybe like 35 people and the second lesson went out to 200 people or so.
Alex Hillman: What happened there?
Pat Maddox: Ebombs! Just embombs!
Alex Hillman: Okay. You say just ebombs, so for those of you who are maybe a little less familiar with 30x500 techniques, what’s an ebomb and why did the ebomb make your list go from 35 people to what’d you say 200 something.
Pat Maddox: Yeah, 200. But keep in mind, that’s only day two, Alex. So we got some good stuff!
Alex Hillman: You did something, that didn’t happen by magic!
Pat Maddox: did something. So as Amy wrote in or spoke one of the videos, ebombs are educational bombs of love.
Alex Hillman: An unicorn sparkles, I think, is the other ingredient!
Pat Maddox: Unicorn sparkles! Yeah! I forget what the post was, but I just wrote a blog post that I knew addressed the pains and dreams of my audience. I gave them a fix that was not RubySteps. It was whatever was the end of it, my little suggestion for something to try.
Alex Hillman: How big was this email?
Pat Maddox: No, not email. I actually had not thought about delivering the ebomb straight to the customer, straight to my mailing list.
Alex Hillman: So these were going on your blog then?
Pat Maddox: So I’m going to take a look and just see, because I’m just curious now, because I’ve been publishing one ebomb every day since I started this thing.
Alex Hillman: So an ebomb is like a mini-pitch and a mini-fix is what you’re saying, right?
Pat Maddox: Yes. With the fix being something that my interest in it is solely for you to do something better. So you’re not paying me, you’re not signing up for anything. I’m like, here’s an idea based on my experience that can solve this problem that you have, try it out.
Alex Hillman: So you ultimately want them to try it out.
Pat Maddox: I want them to try it out. I want them to try it out. Part of my big process this week has been not to try and get everybody I possibly can, but to try and filter out everybody I possibly can. Just get the people that absolutely love what it is that I’m doing and be with them, serve them. I’m not trying to get them to do anything that really directly benefits me. I’m not asking them to pay me. I’m not asking them to share it with friends. I’m not asking them to sign up for anything. I’m saying, just go do this and hopefully it helps you.
Alex Hillman: So you’ve got this blog post that people get some sort of mini fix out of. If they go do it, hopefully they’re like, “Wow. Pat hooked me up.” That still doesn’t entirely explain how you gained a couple of hundred subscribers.
Pat Maddox: So the other part of it is that after all of this, so my very first ebomb I’m thinking of 30x500 style and linking to my pitch page for the free signup, was “By pairing was someone who knows less than you is the best way you can spend your time.”
Alex Hillman: Cool. How did you know to write that email or the write that ebomb?
Pat Maddox: Well, I know that from pairing with people who know less than me and doing that for years and years and years and going, wow, this is a magnificent way to learn. Also speaking with more experienced people who sometimes say they hate working with less experienced people because they feel like it slows them down and stuff. I’m like, you’re missing the whole point. You don’t have this beginner’s mind anymore, you have an opportunity to see it with somebody new to the system is doing and somebody new to this program and language, and you’re going to solidify your own learning as a result of teaching somebody, some stuff.
You’re going to help improve your organization, your own abilities by training somebody up to your standards. It’s more fun that way, if you think that you’re going to have fun and learn from helping people, then you will, if you think that it’s boring and slows you down then it’s gonna be boring.
We knew that the only way for people to get better at software was to practice, it, and really the best way to do it is to collaborate and work together. So that was the start. The critical thing though, is after all this stuff, so basically I’m saying if you’re senior, pair with somebody who knows less than you, and if you’re junior, pair with somebody who knows more than you.
Here’s the fix. The next time you pair, no matter how different your understanding is from another person’s, ask yourself, what can we do together right now? And what can we learn from it? So that’s the end of the ebomb, that’s the thing I want you to do is when your pairing think about this stuff, and then at the end of it, there’s a little HR and a big H1 tag. “If you enjoyed this, you might love my RubySteps daily program. You’ll receive daily code examples of explanations, and one interactive lesson each week, that’ll help you become a better programmer, absolutely free.” So I put the link in “absolutely free” and a lot of people clicked it.
Alex Hillman: Cool. Cool. So you’re doing that every day, it’s now been almost 10 days and another ebomb goes out. What starts to happen?
Pat Maddox: Signups man, sign ups! People tweet, people share, and then I get all these notifications that there’s a new lead notification, that somebody signed up for the free RubySteps program. Now some of those turn into paid subscriptions.
Alex Hillman: Cool. So actually let’s jump ahead to that and the fact that you did launch paid subscriptions. So that means you’re making money. That means you’ve made rent, I’m guessing. So you did a week of free ebombs, from 35 subscribers up to how many people were on your list when you actually launched paid subscriptions?
Pat Maddox: About 900 in a week.
Alex Hillman: That’s ebombs, baby! That’s awesome!
Pat Maddox: I mean, I have to give massive credit to Peter Cooper on that one. Probably two, because he put RubySteps in the Ruby weekly newsletter.
Alex Hillman: Was it RubySteps itself or one of the ebombs?
Pat Maddox: It was Ruby steps itself. It was the actual pitch page because I emailed him and I said, “Hey, I made this thing and I think that your audience would like it”. He said, “Yeah, I think so, too. So why don’t you write out a little editorial part and then I’ll fix it up and if I like it, we’ll put it in.” I said, “Okay, great.” And so I sent it off to him and I closed my email and I went to bed and closing email and going to bed has been a critical strategy for me. But I closed my email and I went to bed and I woke up and then I opened after I did my morning stuff, I opened my email. It was just taking a really long time to download and I’m like, “Well, what’s going on here?” All of a sudden, I see 375 emails downloading and I got 350 signups for the free list while I was sleeping in six hours because Peter Cooper sent out a link to RubySteps to 14,000 people or whatever it is.
Alex Hillman: That’s awesome! And I’m sure there’s a ripple effect from that as well over the course of the week as well.
Pat Maddox:Yeah, absolutely. So I think I’m at about 1,150 people on the free list right now.
Alex Hillman: You were telling me earlier about the sort of like a daily habit that you’ve got for what you ship and, and what is that and why is that working? How is that working?
Pat Maddox: Are you talking about the EOD? So I was just having lunch the other day and thinking about how all this stuff works. And basically I’m going, like writing ebomb and offer everywhere. There were three parts to what I was doing basically was that I would write an ebomb, which gives people some useful bit for free, get some excited about what it is that I’m doing and stuff and then share what I’m doing with other people. Then there’s the offer, which is the paid pitch, basically like come and sign up for this and then there’s delivery, the D so it’s what delivering the product that I’m making.
Alex Hillman: Those are your daily lessons that you’re talking about that go into your platform?
Pat Maddox: Yeah, the daily lessons. So that’s writing all the lesson content and the example code that goes with it. I call it EOD because it’s by end of day I will ship an ebomb, an offer and a delivery.
Alex Hillman: Okay. I want to point out one of the things that you’re doing, it’s super subtle but in terms of building a system for this, and one of the things we talk about stacking the bricks, right. Making lots of little things, to add up to bigger things. Your mailing list ebombs, rather the dailies that go out, or I guess the freebies that go out, those are coming out of your paid lessons, right?
Pat Maddox: Yup. This is so good. So when we talk about always be Safaring, now, a lot of the lesson content is coming out of responses to emails that I send to people. Somebody emails me with a question. I respond to them. Somebody emails me with a very similar or the same question. I respond to them. Every time somebody emails me with that same or similar question that goes into an ebomb or a lesson straightaway.
I already have the content because I already wrote it for three other people. From there I now take little pieces out and I can put that into the freebie. I can put that into a blog post. I’ve sent a few of the ebombs that are on my site now started out as emails that went straight to my mailing list. Then a couple of days later, I go, okay, put that on the blog, change it up a little bit to make it more blog friendly, but it’s the beauty of owning your own content and creating your own content is I can do whatever I want with that. I can license it out to people if I want to, I can do anything I want with it and reuse everywhere and build on it, and it’s all mine. It’s endless and it’s so much fun, so much fun.
Alex Hillman: That’s amazing! The technique of taking responses to emails and turning them to ebombs or into lessons and things like that. Hands down one of my favorite techniques. It’s really fun when an email comes in and you’re like, I cannot wait to respond to this.
Pat Maddox: Yeah!
Alex Hillman: Because I’m going to help this person and a shitload more people – and that’s the best.
Pat Maddox: Yeah.
Alex Hillman: So you launch to just shy of a thousand people. What was going through your head when you hit send on that “You can buy.”
Pat Maddox: What was going through my head when I hit send was “I’m exhausted. I’m going to bed.” I knew that was my final piece there because it takes time, right? I’m sending out letters to people all over the world. They have busy lives. This is one small thing in their life. Hopefully it has a big impact, but it is, especially at that point, it doesn’t mean very much to them. So if I’m like, if I send out the email and I’m sitting there staring in my inbox all night, I’m just going to drive myself crazy. I probably wouldn’t really be able to think and focus on writing ebombs and stuff anyway. I was just frigging exhausted. So I went to sleep. I just went to sleep going, “I hope somebody buys it. If one person buys, then I will be ecstatic, it’s all the validation I need to keep going and keep pushing on this.”
Alex Hillman: So one person bought?
Pat Maddox: I think like eight people bought on the first day. So by the time I woke up I had maybe four or five sales and so I got to give a quick shout out to Torsten from Norway, who was the first person to ever buy, 25 minutes after my letter went out, which is probably how long it took him to read my letter, because it was ridiculously long. And Torsten, you’re my boy, man, my first person to ever, ever sign up. It’s incredible. I can’t believe it.
Alex Hillman: Never forget your first! So, eight people on day one, and then what?
Pat Maddox: Well, so then just kind of keep pushing all of it – Safari ebomb, offer, delivery.
Alex Hillman: You’ve got a system. You execute on it every day, when you don’t do it, what happens?
Pat Maddox: I don’t know because…
Alex Hillman: You’re not, not doing it?
Pat Maddox: So I mean, there was one day when I put out two ebombs on that day, just because I was like, I’ve been writing tons, and I would go, “Oh, there’s another ebomb, there’s another ebomb. Cool.” And I put out two in one day and I didn’t do one the next day and I didn’t get very much of a bump from putting two out, like it wasn’t any different than when I just put one out. Then the day that I didn’t put an ebomb out, I like my signups dropped by two thirds. My free sign was for that day.
So I had one day where I did not deliver an ebomb and in all likelihood, that will be the only day that I never have any ebomb. I don’t think I’ll ship ebombs on Sundays probably. Now that’s the thing. I’m not going to work on Sundays at all. My dad told me long time ago, don’t work on Sunday and by the beauty of the internet and scheduling, I can write an ebomb and schedule a tweet and it looks like I tweeted it on Sunday and I don’t think that’s disingenuous at all. I’m just trying to reach people at a time that makes sense for them. I’m not hanging around the internet on Sunday, but if you are, and you want to read some cool stuff that I have, then here you go. So I’ll be working that way and basically trying to get all my work done as quickly as possible and line that up for the week, and have the ebombs and tweets scheduled to go out.
But that EOD system, I guess is, is my thing right now that I’m going all in with, and I’m not backing up.
Alex Hillman: All right. So 10 days ago you’ve got no mailing list. We’ll say 11 days ago, you’ve got no mailing lists, no pitch. You’ve just emailed the 30x500 alumni list saying, “Hey guys, I’m about to do something.” Some people were cheering you on, saying, “Yeah, that’s cool.” And these aren’t just like one time purchases, these are subscriptions. This is like a monthly, like a club community kind of thing you joined. So, this is not just how much money you’ve made in the last 11 days. This is money that, accounting for churn and whatnot. This comes back at the beginning of next month as well. So, your rent problem has gone.
Pat Maddox: Yeah. Yeah!
Alex Hillman: How many subscribers are we talking about here? What’s the win so far?
Pat Maddox: The win is I have 85 paid subscribers for a total revenue of about 2,400 bucks.
Alex Hillman: In ten days?
Pat Maddox: Five days when you consider that sales had only been around for five days, but yes, ten days from start.
Alex Hillman: From nothing. From still sitting on a mountain of nothing, a mountain of pain.
Pat Maddox: Yes.
Alex Hillman: It’s 2,500 bucks in recurring revenue. Pat, that is awesome. Amy and I are really, really excited for you and proud of you. This is so cool!
Pat Maddox: Yeah, I’m excited!
Alex Hillman: I wanna, I want to wrap this up and if you’re going to give one piece of advice to folks that are really at any point in this stage, actually no, if you’re going to get one piece of advice to people who are where you were 10 days ago, what would it be?
Pat Maddox: Oh, that’s easy. JFDI! Just flipping do it!
Alex Hillman: What does that actually mean?
Pat Maddox: I would say, wholeheartedly trust the 30x500 system. You guys know what you’re doing. You’ve been doing it for yourselves for a long time. You’ve helped a lot of people. You’ve seen the results. You see what happens when you don’t do it. I saw, I think it was 30x500 is the TBD of product development. It’s counterintuitive, but it works. And it actually is TBD because I’m starting with a test. It’s a pitch. I don’t want to write this product until I know that people are interested in it.
So the test is can I get people interested in it before it exists? And that test passed. So then I work on the next test. Do people care about this lesson? One thing I’ll say is kind of a big thing is like really you need to talk with other people and kind of get some feedback on what it is you’re doing, because I think you can psych yourself out in so many ways.
To give you an example, the 85 subscriptions right now are for $29 a month. It’s actually an 80% off discount that I’m offering for the first week for founding members and the reason I’m doing that is because about nine years ago, I had started my first online thing and I didn’t know anything about this stuff. So when I wasn’t getting as many subscribers, I dropped the price so I could get more because that was the only way I knew how to do it, but I didn’t let my existing subscribers get the newer better price. So new people are signing up for cheaper. Then my old subscribers are quitting, not with the intention of signing back up for the cheaper price, but with the intention of never talking to me again, because I’m a jerk and that stung, I didn’t know anything about it and the only thing in my head was I can make this cheaper. So on this one, it was like, what can I do so that anybody who believes in what I’m doing this first week can a year from now be like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe that I got all that stuff for this price.” So it’s really with the intention of just of absolutely loving these people and wowing them and making something fantastic for them.
Why that is important to me and interesting is because originally my idea for this was I was going to sell it for $15 a month for everything, and because I’m thinking in terms of I have a product. It would be worth about $15 a month. Then I started doing the math and I was like, all right, how much do I need, how many subscribers? And I was like, well, you know, I’d be selling a lot of subscriptions every day to make the kind of money I want. If I’m selling that many subscriptions a day then it’s probably really useful and valuable to people, so I can probably just make it more expensive.
Without even knowing what this thing was, I’m thinking, basically, what is the kind of income that I want to make on this. How many subscriptions would I need to sell? Do I think I can deliver value on that? Basically I just set this up by making this 80% off discount and then having a product that will be 149 bucks a month, that just forced me to come up with something where I would deliver on that. And I didn’t care what it was because now it’s not me thinking about the product. It’s like, I have a customer base that I want to charge $149 a month. What do I need to do so that it is obviously valuable to them and that they can’t wait to pay the next 149 the next month to get it to me. Because if I had just been thinking about the product, I’d be trying to sell this stuff for 15 bucks a month and it’d be so much harder.
Alex Hillman: Well, and you know the result that you’re delivering, you know who you’re delivering it for. You know if they’ve spent however many hundreds of thousands of dollars on other training material, and now they’re stuck, they’re at a stop point and you’re the first person that keeps giving them the next step, keeps giving them the next step.
Pat Maddox: I also have some other cool ideas, if I can kind of pimp one of my own ebombs here, I wrote this really cool one yesterday about company sponsored education., I’ve had a whole bunch of people write to me and say they love what I’m doing, they just can’t afford it right now unfortunately. And I say, I get that. So, write a list of the five to ten companies that you want to work for. You pitched me on why you can get this for free or discount of what you can provide for me. So if you want to work for them, I know you’ll write them and even better pitch. So five to ten companies tell them how they can support your education, what you’ll be able to do to contribute to their company and what’s your plan for learning and will they pay? Because it’s so much cheaper. It’s cost-effective for them to do, and it might not be for you. So even though this will be kind of cost prohibitive to some people I’m very interested in getting more people into it and I think that having companies actually sponsor some educational stuff is not only a cool creative way to address some of those problems, but will also be an important thing for our industry to keep growing the base of experienced senior developers.
Alex Hillman: The other thing that I love about that Pat is one of the things that Amy and I have learned through 30x500, that’s been, I think we knew it, but we didn’t know, know it, is how folks who have a lot of times have jobs and often are very good at what they do, don’t really think about the value that they communicate to their employer or to a new employer. So the fact that you basically took somebody’s willingness to pitch their value to you and say, “That was awesome. Now go do that to somebody who can actually give you what you want.” That’s a total like total Kung Fu move. I love that. It’s genius! Beautifully done, beautifully executed!
This was great. Thank you so much this!
Pat Maddox: Thank you.
Alex Hillman: And thank you being among our success stories now. Keep it up and keep sharing what you’re learning and keep making people happy.
Pat Maddox: I will. Thank you guys so much for putting all this together and I can’t wait to keep delivering on the RubySteps stuff and sharing what’s going on with you guys.
Alex Hillman: Where can people find out more about you about RubySteps?
Pat Maddox: Everything is on my site, PatMaddox.com and if you don’t like something on there and say, that’s just your opinion, man. I say, that’s right. That’s why it’s on PatMaddox.com.
Alex Hillman: That’s awesome! All right, Pat. Thanks for taking the time out of your day. I’ll talk to you real soon.
Pat Maddox: All right. Thanks a lot, Alex.
Alex Hillman: So, that’s how that goes! Now, if you learned a lot and you want to learn more, I have two things that you can do right now. First things first. Go to unicornfree.com/list and drop your email address in the box and that way, Amy and I can send you new episodes and new conversations with other bootstrap people right when they come out. Right when we hit publish.
Second, we want to hear how you liked this episode. How did it go? What things can we do to make it even better? Who else would you like dear as talk to you?
You can tweet at me and Amy. You probably already know this, but she’s AmyHoy on Twitter and I’m AlexHillman on Twitter.
You can also email us and the best way to get us as [email protected].
That’s it for now and I hope you have a great week!
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