The first launch


This post is part of my year of alchemy, you can find the whole series here or subscribe for future updates here.

So I did it I launched!!!

After 7 years of busy work, I finally put something out into the world.

I feel relieved. Elated. And excited about what’s to come.

Here’s how it went down…

The lead up…

So I listen to a lot of different podcasts and in the lead up to my deadline of a waxing moon launch I was hearing the same thing over and over.

Don’t create before you know what your audience wants. Sell it first. Then figure it out.

So this is where my brain chatter started going into overdrive.

With the kids I am so pressed for time that the thought of landing in chaos of creating content on the fly is down right scary.

But at the same time I don’t want to waste that precious time I do have creating something people don’t want.

Argh what do I do?!? Do I launch with a course that’s polished and ready to go or a jump head first into a membership creating content on the fly?

A change of plan…

The universe had the plan for me, and the day I had allocated some time to record my videos for my course my phone camera died. I may have cried a little bit. I was in a slump. I sat in this space for probably 24 hours. Angrily shaking my fist at the world. Why now? Whyyyy?!!?

Normally I would have a backup phone but hubby has been using my spare phones (butter fingers ruined 4 in a space of 6 months!). My only option really was my prehistoric SLR which takes great photos but not video.

After wasting a lot of time, I finally got my head out of the slump and decided that I needed a plan. I still wanted so desperately to launch ‘something’ by the 12th of feb to turn this hobby into a business.

Back to my people

So I went back to my audience. I always ask my people questions within my nurture sequence on my email… I NEVER look at it, but decided to check in and see what it said.

To my surprise, a lot of people just wanted support. Not necessarily the basics.

This is when the penny dropped.

I need to serve these people who have supported me.

Membership it is.

The last minute pivot

It was the Sunday night before my self imposed deadline of the Tuesday to get something out to the world.

I decided I would just do it. Tweak my already created sales page to be a membership and not a course and go ahead and launch.

That night after the kids went to bed and I finalised the sales page.

The next day I got up at the usual 5am and started looking at the tech side of things.

The tech

So the tech side of memberships are a freaking pain! And I am saying this as a web developer so it’s not like i am tech illiterate.

It’s more managing the recurring payments, syncing it with logins on your website and then integrating it with your email marketing.

I researched a bunch of systems and I really wanted to get away from Paypal as I find the recurring payments super clunky.

So my requirements were something that would collect recurring payments easily, integrate with mailchimp and allow my members to access member only content on my website.

My ideal pick would be moving everything to kajabi, but for $180 a month I could not justify it. It does your emails and your website. It would be a big move.

The next option I looked at was Access Ally… all looks amazing BUT I’d have to move away from mailchimp to a higher level email marketing system/ CRM (aka expensive). I am not there yet. Mailchimp does the things I want to do and it’s free for me so far.

With clients I usually go with a mix of woocommerce subscriptions and memberships. But now I no longer have any clients on this setup the outlay for the licences was looking like a $400 outlay.

The next option was memberpress. I’ve used this before and it’s great for the basic membership sites you turn it on and it just works. But again $360… I actually remember this plugin when it was only $50!

The one I ended up going with was restrict content pro. I’ve used plugins from these developers in the past and my experience has been good. If I am honest it’s because it was the cheapest one to get started and the basic version ticked all the boxes – coming in at $140.

It was a bit of a pain to get it  looking nice so I probably wouldn’t recommend this plugin if you want something that just looks nice out of the box (that could also be the basic version I got). I am still not overly happy with how it all looks but I will beat it into submission, and the basic version was missing some basic things I felt should have been included.

In all of this crazy, the kids both had epic naps for me to get the sales part done in time. Setting up the content did take a little longer but I did that after cart close.

THE LAUNCH

Technically, you can’t really call what I started with a ‘launch’. I just emailed my list a few more times than normal.

I had cart open for 7 days.

I had an early bird price with a bonus incentive of a physical product for the first 3 days.. When the early bird opened I had 6 signups- 3 on the first day and 3 on the final day. Which may seem insignificant but my list was just over 200 people so it’s a pretty high conversion rate. The average conversion rate is only 2%, so really according to my list size I should have only got 4 people.

I needed more eyes on this. My I’ll be happy with number was 10, my magic number was 25 that I really wanted to hit. So I took the plunge with some Facebook ads.

I had all the scripts for my original launch plan (that I couldn’t record because broken phone) I converted it to a quick PDF and wrote up an ad, created a lookalike audience to my love of dirt likers, narrowed it down a little bit and sent it out to the world.

The numbers game

I ran the ad over the weekend New subscribers kept rolling in. I spent $72, I got my cost per click down to 22c by simply deleting any ads that weren’t getting results or the cost per click was too high. I got 143 new subscribers by the end so the cost per subscriber was around 50c (around 50% conversion from the sign up page). I am not sure if this is good or not.. but it was nice seeing the subscribers roll in especially after working so hard to get my numbers up organically and it feeling like it was taking forever.

These new subscribers got my guide and a fast tracked nurture sequence with an offer. If I had more time (or a phone to record it on), I would have chucked in a live workshop or something to really get them over the line but to be honest it was a real test to see if people actually want this and it does seem like it’s a winner.

Now if I was to follow the 1-2% rule, I was hoping to get another 2 signups from these newbies with the cost of acquisition ending up being $36, which is over 3 times the sale price! And that’s bang on what I got – 2 people!  So yep ended up with 2 from the ad spend, yep I spent $36 for an $11 sale. But because it’s a membership with average retention being around 8 months I may make my money back. Which if I want to make this viable/sustainable I will need a tonne of members! I’ll definitely be testing the average retention rate to see if my numbers match the average and working on getting my conversion rate higher.

On the last day I also did some retargeting ads. I think the numbers were just too small to see any kind of result from this in total it only used $2.

At the end of it all facebook ads was probably a waste of money for not having a proper launch plan in place. BUT I do have 143 new subscribers that I’ll love up over the next 3 months before I hit them with another offer and the lessons I’ve learnt through this process have been worth it (and probably money better spent than doing any Facebook ads course).

The launch emails

I am really paranoid about annoying my list, but I needed to really make it less personal. I normally email my list once a week on Friday’s. For this launch over the 7 days I emailed them only 4 more times than I normally would have.

  1. On Tuesday to let them know about it
  2. The regular Friday morning email with a focus on the membership
  3. Friday afternoon to remind them the early bird was ending
  4. Tuesday morning to remind them the cart was closing today
  5. Tuesday evening for the final reminder

I had the most unsubscribes from that final reminder. Which I am ok with as clearly they were never going to buy from me.

Next time I’ll definitely invite them to some kind of workshop or event and use that segment to hit them with the sales letters and not feel bad about it.

The mindset

During the entire launch I felt nothing but anxious. I was nauseous, on edge, I barely slept – I woke up having panic attacks in the middle of the night and I even passed out one day! It was seriously stressful. Whether this was launch related or not I am not 100% sure, but I do think it didn’t help.

The anxiety is around my ability to deliver on what I am promising. What if I am not good enough? What if people demand their money back because I’ve failed them? Who am I to do this? What if I only get 2 people?

Yep all that jazz.

Final numbers

By cart close I ended up with 12 people (6 early bird price, 6 regular price). The day after cart close I had someone wanting in so the final number was 13. Just above my ‘happy with’ number and less than half of my magic number.  Next time I’ll make sure my magic number is also my ‘happy with’ number. True to the averages – Half of the people rolled in on that final day.

Early bird incentives

Along with a financial benefit I also included a physical product to ship. I obviously didn’t think this through when setting up the sales page as the cost of this was 20% more than the sale price. Not only that it took me half the day to package up and send.

Working around the kids

I’ve been getting most things done after the kids go to bed, or first thing in the morning. Occasionally I’ll have a synced nap but I don’t count on it. It seems to be working for now.

I did consider putting them back into daycare but then a good friend got knocked down with daycare gastro and all the memories flooded back in (5 gastros in Ivy’s first year of daycare one epic one 2 days after getting out of hospital from giving birth to Isaac has given me gastro PTSD).

I have offloaded a few times to grand parents to get stuff done but generally I’ve worked around the kids.

Leaning into the content creation

With the membership, the content just flows. I feel like I wasted all of January trying to create something that just felt so hard but this way really feels easy for me. I think the thought of disappointing other people motivates me more than missing my own self imposed deadlines.

I have found the process of making content for people as they need it instantly gratifying and I am so glad I made the pivot.

Video is still scary, but I’ll be ramping up this because I now have a commitment to my people. I hope with time it will become less scary.

The mistakes and learnings

PayPal

So I know I said I wanted to stay away from PayPal… I actually think it stopped sales. I had loads of hits on the pay now page and no follow through. I did add it in the day before cart closed to see if it made much of a difference and 80% of people who bought used it after I integrated it. I think there is some kind of security with PayPal, but also, I know I do more impulse buys when I don’t have to get up and get my purse.

Launch properly

As stated above – not having a proper launch plan and winging it probably cost me money. Next time I will make sure I have some kind of live video component, a webinar or online workshop to make it more personal and hopefully get more signups directly after that.

Ramp up my landing page

I want to increase the rate of subscribers who hit the optin page so i can get my cost per lead down, I’d like this to include a video trailer as well.

Segment segment segment

Instead of pummelling my existing list with sales letters, I’ll invite them to the webinar/workshop and keep the sales promos in that segment.

Limit the love

I will reconsider the early bird physical product incentive as basically the cost of those were the price of the first month of membership which is a big reason I made such a loss.

SUMMING UP FOR FEBRUARY

I did it! I launched SOMETHING. I am generating income (even if it’s a loss).

FEBRUARY STATS

Email subscribers – 384 (148 new, 26 lost)

Instagram followers – 4484

Facebook followers –462

Average Monthly website hits – 1813

Money earned – $131

Money spent – $336.14

Hosting $22.50
Payment Fees $9.64
Software $140
Facebook Ads $74
Cost of early bird bonus $90

Total LOSS = $205.14

Hours spent on the project – Approx 20

Anxiety and the financial loss aside, I am finding this whole process so freaking fun and I am LOVING the process. I am learning so much and I actually can’t wait to do another launch.

MY COMMITMENT FOR MARCH

This month is all about nurturing my people, giving them what they need. Whether they are paying clients within the membership or my general subscribers.

I’ll be:

  • Delivering content for my members – LOVE THEM MAKE THEM STAY
  • Get ahead by 2 months with the content within the membership
  • Start blogging again and get ahead with 3 months of content
  • Revise my Optin incentive

APRIL SNAPSHOT

Get ready for a winter Launch as I’ll want to roll that out on the 12th of May! Am I crazy? Maybe a little. Especially as I’ll be going offline for my brothers wedding on the 18th!

Until next month, if you’re not on the list to get my regular updates on this project and are wanting to follow along you can sign up here.

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