BerandaComputers and TechnologyNotes on Nailing Your First Launch by Adam Wathan

Notes on Nailing Your First Launch by Adam Wathan

I’ve just watched the talk «Nailing Your First Launch» (MicroConf Starter 2018) by Adam Wathan and I
took notes that I’d like to share and re-visit them in the future. Some of them are just text from his screens, some thoughts are mine.

But don’t let me steal the video from you by providing a digested summary.
In my humble opinion, the main idea of watching talks or reading something is to change your mind
model of seeing this topic.
Don’t hesitate and start watching the video before proceeding to notes.
The notes are here just to come back from time to time and re-call some especially useful highlights.

One-time purchase products are way easier to sell

  • Harder to convince people that for $9 dollars per month they’d have value.
  • But it’s a very frequent case when people buy $100 courses and don’t even watch them.
  • One-time payments are much easier to go away with.

They can be “done”

  • You don’t have to maintain them forever.
  • A course can be finished. A book can be finished.

You can put one together in 3 months of nights and weekends

  • Easier to plan.

They put money in the bank fast then drop off (opposite to SAAS)

  • One-time projects do have a more clear cliff of death, but they produce more money than saas during
    launch days.

Building an audience

  • Having a big audience can compensate for almost any mistake made in marketing/sales.

  • Huge audience + bad sales plan produces way more profit than no audience + good sales plan.

  • Produce blog posts, tutorials, podcasts, screencasts, interview people

  • You should be worth following (provide a value for your audience)

  • Help people where they already are (Wes Bos)

  • Specific tactics for tech guys: tweet your hacks (like some tricks with css) that save you time.

Picking the right idea

  • Have an idea
    • what are you already putting out there that peoeple seem excited about?
    • what are you excited about that you think others will get excited about?
    • what do people think you’re better at than they are?
    • what have you learned outside your community would benefit from?
    • what did you have to figure out yourself but was really helpful to learn?
  • Test it
    • «First thing to do is to put a landing page and start emailing.»

      It’s not a bad way, but it’s not the first thing that you should do.
      Especially it doesn’t work if you have no audience. People wouldn’t trust you.

Collect feedback from tweets, have a catalog of them. Can be used later for your landing/sales pages.

Define the product

  • Plan small, it will end up bigger than you think anyway
    • Don’t worry about size. A short book is still a book.
    • 3 hours of a video course is plenty.
    • Actually, not everyone is looking for a full knowledge base on a specific topic and read
      500 pages on that. Collection of great ideas (like tweets) on that specific topic works

In general, courses are easier to sell at higher prices because people expect products such as
books to be in a specific cost range, even if they understand that it brings a high value.

Landing page

The goal is to collect e-mail addresses.

Example of Adam’s landing page can be seen on 19:33 – 22:25

  • Promise something in advance (sign up for free screencasts and a big discount)
  • You can put your catalog of feedback on your landing page to earn more trust.



  • Best form of product validation
  • You’ll make more money
  • More motivation to finish
  • Can buy you the time to focus on the product


  • Selling multiple tiers is trickier
  • Can’t easily change scope
  • Like taking on debt, can be extremely stressful. People paid you 50k$ and you have to return
    it as the value in N months. (impostor syndrome?)

Building Your Email List

  • Always tell your audience.

Announce the announcement — «about to announce the next big project I’m working on; if you check
it out and are excited about it, I’d love any help spreading the word!»

  • Share progress. Send an update every week or so.
  • Repurpose content (Take a chapter from a book, make it a blog post and share it)

Getting it finished

A few strategies to finally finish it:

  • Make promises («this week I’m going to deliver a screencast»)
  • Email on a schedule
  • Reduce scope. (the project/book gets bigger and bigger, the best way to cross the finish line

Figuring pricing

  • It’s hard to sell tiers during pre-sales.
  • Sell pre-orders with top tier price.

Single tier

  • Can be fine if you can charge enough
  • Often necessary if pre-selling
  • Nice if you can’t figure out a way to add additional tiers that actually feel valuable
  • In general, prefer multiple tiers

Two tiers

  • Usually a price anchoring strategy, first tier makes second tier look like better deal
  • Second tier is usually the “real” product
  • Prices are often close-ish, maybe 1x and 1.5x
  • Works well with video courses where easy to cut content for budget version

Three tiers:

  • Great for books if you can come up with the bonus content (videos?)
  • Makes it easier to evaluate as its own product instead of compring to Amazon book prices
  • Prices are usually 1x, ~2x, ~5x
  • This will make you a lot more money from a book than just selling the book on its own

Adam’s case

  • First tier: The Bare Essentials, $39
    • The 158-page book in pdf format
    • Comprehensive set of exercises
  • Second tier: The Premium Training Package, $79
    • Over 4 hours of screencasts, covering all of the book examples
    • Three additional advanced tutorials
    • all from first tier
  • Third tier: The complete Reference Package, $179
    • The source code of Nitpick CI, a production Laravel application that makes heavy
      use of collection pipelines
    • all from second tier

Launch discounts

  • Discount it by enough to be appealing, at least 30%
  • Use stepped discounts; lower discount on cheaper tiers and better discount on higher tiers
  • Reverse engineer non-discounted price from your planned discounted price, it’ll help you charge more

Nailing the launch

  • Build the sales page 39:13

    • Still include an email sign up that sends preview content for new traffic (sign up to get
      four free preview lessons)
    • Testimonials and social proof are important; use feedback from preview content to start
    • Sort tiers from highest price to lower price, use visuals to communicate value of higher
      tiers (ui/ux hacks, make more important text bold, more physical things on a picture)
  • Announce the launch details

    • Include all package and pricing details
    • Complete TOC or content list
    • Final free content preview if possible
  • Launch it

    • Easiest part. Send an email — “xxx is now available!”, include discount
    • Launch on tuesday, no evidence, but it seems at least as good as any other day for Adam
    • Morning EST works well too
  • Leverage early feedback

    • Collect and catalog feedback after the launch.
    • Send new reviews to other people who hasn’t bought the course/book yet. Send them preview
      of another chapter.
  • Closing the launch

    • Close the discount. Announce closing it. (“Hey, this is the last week of the launch”)
    • But don’t specify a closing date in advance

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