“Before 30x500,” he said, “it felt like being on a lonely island while everyone else was on these awesome ships and had figured it all out. I knew I could do it, but I was missing something.” -Scott Hurff
After 15 years as a product designer, Scott Hurff knew a few things:
- He knew he wanted to build a life of freedom, and
- He knew the first step was teaching others what he’d learned during his time in the SaaS and mobile world.
“I would get asked ‘how does your team develop products so quickly?’” he said, “so I figured I could write that down, ask a bunch of people in the same space how they do it, and write a book about it.”
But each time he sat down to write, he found himself stuck and unable to make progress.
“The product was so expansive and mushy,” he said, “I dreaded even working on it.”
Scott had a mountain of material, but no way forward. What was wrong?
The problem wasn’t a lack of ideas or content—after all, Scott had collected over 30 hours’ worth of interviews with fellow designers.
His real challenge was a lack of focus.
“I went into it thinking my audience would be every designer who’d ever wanted to make something,” he said. “I hadn’t done any research into whether there was a specific slice of designers I could talk to.”
And as his plan became less and less cohesive, Scott kept doing the only thing he knew how to do: he reached out to more designers for more and more interviews.
“I kept thinking that if I just got two more interviews, the project would get clearer,” he said. “Biggest mistake ever.”
Scott finally did launch his large and unfocused book to a humble success rate: his sale numbers could be counted on one hand.
But even just making those first few sales triggered an adrenaline rush—and Scott was hooked. Now, he knew he was ready to try something bigger.
That’s when Scott decided to enroll in 30x500.
A solid start, but a “bumbled” launch
As Scott began learning and applying the 30x500 systems, he made a few major shifts in his approach—starting with the way he began projects.
“If you compare my current and former selves,” he said, “the old me would love to start stuff. But I’d do that without asking the hard questions, because they weren’t fun. In 30x500 I started asking, Okay, is anyone talking about this? Is anyone thinking deeply about this? Are they commiserating with anyone in non-obvious places?”
Scott used the 30x500 Sales Safari method to dig into designers’ real frustrations; he scoured Designer News and other communities, analyzed the posts and replies, and identified the patterns.
“We realized that even though there were a lot of expert courses on Quartz Composer out there, none were made just for designers instead of coders,” he said. “None taught people how to build designs that actually fit the reality of how apps are made.”
Armed with this valuable insight, Scott sharpened his target audience from “any designer ever” to those he understood well: interface designers who needed to learn Quartz Composer, so they could show their engineers how to bring a design to life.
Once he learned to really read his audience’s mind, he turned his attention to the next step: marketing. Using the 30x500 technique for content marketing (called ebombing), Scott 7x’d his list… from 200 subscribers before the class to nearly 1,500 by launch.
“I’ve gotten into this pattern of doing an ebomb every 3-4 weeks, because they take me a long time,” he said. “So it wasn’t a huge amount of subscribers all at once, but it allowed us to just launch the course with no buildup. On launch day it was just, ‘Hey, here’s a new ebomb. By the way, we want you to pay. Do you want to buy it?’”
In his words, that’s a pretty “bumbled” launch, but Scott and his partner Chris hoped it would at least bring in $5,000 in sales.
And by the end of launch week…they’d doubled their sales goal.
“We sold the course at around $60, and we ended the first week with $10,000” in sales, he said.
What’s more, the course continued bringing in revenue long after launch week; over the next eight months, it generated a total of $24,000.
“It’s still selling now,” Scott said. “Luckily, I think it still remains the most concentrated, targeted, direct gathering of knowledge about Quartz Composer and design out there.”
Energized by the success of their “bumbled” launch, Scott and Chris got to work on their next product.
Small wins add up to bigger wins
When Scott and Chris returned to research mode, they noticed a trend: as Xcode 6 was coming out, many designers were expressing frustration at the generic, technical documents available to learn it.
“We wanted to create an Xcode course explicitly for designers, not engineers,” said Scott. “We knew people were sick and tired of…wasting hours of spare time, after coming home from their tiring, full-time jobs.”
A few lessons that helped along the way:
Course format is everything. “We didn’t understand at first how popular videos would be,” said Scott, “but since our audience is designers, we realized people learned that way.”
Great content sparks great relationships. Without realizing it, Scott and Chris had made a name for themselves with the launch of their first course–so when they switched from Gumroad to Teachable (called Fedora at the time) to host their second course, they were shocked to get an email directly from the CEO.
“Within ten minutes,” said Scott, “The CEO emailed us saying, ‘I love your stuff.’ It was so cool. He was was like ‘I saw the Quartz Composer course, and we’re so happy to have you here.’”
Building anticipation is way more effective than dropping a product randomly. Using the processes Scott learned in 30x500, “we did a better job of letting our list know this next course was coming,” said Scott, “and then we segmented it based on who was most interested.”
This way, they could create a sense of urgency with emails to the most interested subscribers, without annoying the entire list (which had now grown to 4,000 people).
Bigger wins add up to more confidence
Just days after their second launch began, Scott and Chris had already exceeded the lifetime revenue of their first course, bringing in $24,000 by day three.
And while Scott still points out that the launch wasn’t perfect (“We ended the sale on a Sunday, which people say you should never do”), he knows that doesn’t matter: by the end of launch week, they’d earned $34,000 total.
“It blew us away,” he said. “It was like living in a dream.”
Two imperfect (yet still successful) launches later, Scott no longer feels roadblocked by vague, “mushy” product ideas.
“Before 30x500,” he said, “it felt like being on a lonely island while everyone else was on these awesome ships and had figured it all out. I knew I could do it, but I was missing something.”
Now, he has the confidence and focus he needs to build that dream life—brick by brick.
“I’m one step closer to my ultimate goal, which is freedom” he said. “I don’t think we were meant to spend nine hours a day in a dingy office. We were meant to be out there having experiences and meeting people. Now, I’m closer to that.”