At the beginning of last December I re-launched my freelance blogging guide. What was once a PDF (originally launched in November 2012) became a fully fledged online course, re-branded as Paid to Blog.
My main reason for updating and re-launching the course was that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the original. I wanted to create, beyond a shadow of my own doubt, the best guide available for aspiring and existing freelance bloggers. I felt I needed to get that monkey off my back before I moved on to other projects.
I wanted the course to be a “critical” success (and if the lack of refund requests is anything to go by, people are pretty happy). However, I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t want it to be a financial success too. If you’re interested in finding out how the re-launch affected my bottom line (and how you can learn from its successes and failures), read on!
First of all, let’s talk about what creating the new course cost me.
I outsourced the design of the site to my designer, for which I paid $500. In hindsight, I think I paid over the odds and could’ve achieved a decent result for fraction of the cost. It’s a pretty basic design.
So, my total outgoings were $700 (plus the $20 per month MemberMouse subscription).
However, the real expense was my time. While I could’ve just repackaged and released the original guide under a new name, I chose to go back through the content line-by-line. I ended up re-editing a lot of the original guides and added a not inconsiderable amount of fresh content.
I also conducted interviews with three more people to serve as extra resources and to give me additional insight with which to improve the guide itself.
I didn’t record how much time I spent on the re-launch, but I probably spent nearly as much time on it as I did on the original guide. It needed to be a pretty big success to justify my time and money investment.
I launched Paid to Blog on 2nd December without much fanfare.
Besides the announcement on my blog, I wrote a handful of guest posts for a few related blogs (such as Be a Freelance Blogger and The Write Life). Unfortunately, my attempt at tracking clicks failed, so I don’t know whether those guest posts generated many (if any) sales. However, if I had to guess, I would say that they generated very few, since the number of visitors from those sites was pretty low.
As you would expect, I also announced the course to my email lists. This included my main list, along with smaller lists associated with my old Kindle publishing attempts and existing purchasers of the guide.
I offered 25% discounts to all email list members, which led to $1,515.87 in sales. When it came to existing owners of the original guide, I gave them a free upgrade to the basic course and offered them a huge discount on upgrading to the full course with all of the extra features. This proved to be quite popular, generating $1,521.01 in sales.
So in total, the re-launch generated $3,036.88 in sales, which after expenses was around $2,300. Given the amount of time I put into the new course, I would say that was a decent (if not particularly exciting) return on my time investment.
To be honest, I didn’t intend for the course to be a huge success in terms of a “launch” — more importantly, I hoped that its improvement would lead to greater long term monthly sales.
So far, that hasn’t really proven to be the case. Before the re-launch, the old guide generated around $1,200 (on average) per month. In December it generated just $640.55.
However, it’s not really fair to cast judgment on that month, given that an additional $2,300 was generated in December through the re-launch. I felt that January would be a far better indicator of future sales.
Unfortunately, we’re nearly at the end of the month and January isn’t showing particularly encouraging signs either. Sales for the month to date are $976.95, which on a pro-rata basis would equal $1,121.58 for the entire month — slightly under the historical average.
So, even if sales are greater than average in the long run, it would appear that they’re not likely to be greater by a considerable margin. From that perspective, I consider the re-launch to be a bit of a failure.
Having said that, I don’t regret what I did. I made some money and I created what I consider to be a far superior resource to what came before it. That’s a win in my book (albeit not an emphatic one).
What Can I Do?
Of course, there’s always something one can do in an attempt to increase sales. However, at this point I’m not sure what solid option I have.
The course currently has three price points:
- $29 for just the two guides,
- $49 for the guides plus lots of extras, and
- $149 for all that and job-finding resources.
Sales in January have actually been quite evenly split between the packages, although the top tier product did of course generate the bulk of the income. With the above in mind, I don’t think I want to mess with pricing.
Another option would be to drive more views to the site itself. I’m not sold on guest posting as a way to promote a product, so I’m not interested in doing more that. I also think that the guide is about as prominent as I would like it to be on this site (with a button in the sidebar and contextual mentions within posts), so I’m not sure what else I could do on that front.
Alternatively, I could work on tweaking the sales page. To be honest, that kind of work doesn’t really excite me, and the sale volume is so low that I don’t think I would get reliable results anyway (unless I ran split tests for months at a time).
A final option would be to write more about freelance blogging here on LWB. In fairness, I think I should be doing that anyway — given that I feel I have a lot of value to offer in that area, I should be writing about it more regularly. I intend to do that, and hope it will lead to an increase in sales as a nice side effect.
At this point I think I am accepting of the course’s fate. Of course, if I manage to attract more relevant traffic to Leaving Work Behind, I should expect more sales, but I won’t be devastated if I don’t. I’ve got lots of other projects I want to be getting on with and I don’t feel particularly inclined to try to wring every last drop out of Paid to Blog.
Over to You
Now I’d love to know what you think. All things considered, would you say the re-launch was a success? How about the performance in January? Would you have done anything differently and/or would you do anything differently to what I plan? Finally, do you have your own product launch stories to share? Let us know in the comments section below!
Photo Credit: StockMonkeys.com