Case study: How Joyce created a $1,000 product in less than a week

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In 2012, Joyce Akiko landed her dream job right out of college. At least, that’s what she thought. Almost immediately she found out the work wasn’t a good fit.

“From the outside looking in, everything seemed to be going great. I was doing what everyone expected me to do, but I wanted more meaningful work and to have an impact with what I did day-to-day.”

So during her free time, Joyce taught herself how to write code and started freelancing. Within just a few months, she had a number of clients.

“It was so rewarding to work on things I really enjoyed. I worked when I wanted to and where I wanted to. That was so much different than my day job.”

Armed with her new skills as a coder, she left her unfulfilling career and took a somewhat risky bet by joining a startup.

She loved the work, but there was one gaping problem: the startup went under. And it went under fast.

Searching for a new way to earn an income

After the startup failed, Joyce faced a tough decision. “I wasn’t sure what to do next? I hadn’t really built up enough freelancing clients to work solely on my own so I knew I’d have to continue working on my business — on the side — while I worked in another job.”

That’s when she started researching the idea of starting an online business, as a side project.

“I saw it as a very scalable way to make money. With freelancing, you have to be there — in real time — and work with your clients to earn an income. With an online business, you can earn money even while you sleep.”

But she didn’t know where to start. “There were so many options for what I could do. Affiliate marketing, Google Ads, selling physical products. It just seemed overwhelming at first so I kept researching and looking into the different ways to do it. In the meantime, I started working from home with a large company.”

Quickly she found out what she needed to do when she heard about Zero to Launch, a course on how to start an online business. “I didn’t even let myself think about the investment. When it finally opened up, I just clicked ‘buy’ because I knew I needed this course. It was the solution I had been searching for.”  

From no idea to a $1,000 launch…in just 10 weeks

Joyce got started with Zero to Launch in February of 2015. At first, she struggled to find a business idea. “I felt like I was spinning my wheels with what to do. I actually went through four different business ideas before I finally found one that would work.”  

But once she tested her idea and found out what people would actually pay her for, Joyce launched her site and raced through the rest of the course.

joyceakikosite
Joyce now teaches self-taught coders how to start and run successful businesses for themselves
 

“Once I found out what I was going to do, I just followed the course, step-by-step. I used every Greenlight Benchmark to know when to move on from building an audience, to building the product, and so on.”

“I almost dared myself to go through the course as fast as I could. I wanted to keep moving and just following the system as it was laid out…so doubt could never set in.”

What shocked her most about her online business was how quickly she built a following. “After I spent the time front-loading the work and doing the research, my first blog post got me around 200 subscribers in a week and a half. I was really surprised that the post did so well, so fast.”

Her email list continued to grow up to 475 subscribers over the next few weeks, and that’s when she decided to build her first Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

“I actually built the MVP in less than a week, much faster than I thought I could, but the course showed me exactly how. I was actually just planning to use this launch as a small test.”

Earning more than she ever expected

“Since I didn’t have a huge list at the time — just about 450 subscribers — I didn’t expect to earn much more than $200 or $300 in my first launch. But I was way wrong.”

In her launch, Joyce earned more than $1,000 in just a few days. “22 people purchased the product, and my conversion rate was 4.6%. The revenue — while small — felt amazing!”

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3 days into the launch and she earned almost $900
 

“I was blown away by the results. Looking back, I should have known that the launch would have done well because I had so much research — from the early portions of the course — and I followed the exact formula Ramit covers for how to write a great sales page.”

“One of the most interesting things was that after I closed my launch, I took down the sales page, but the links to actually purchase the product were still active. Some people ended up buying the product without even seeing the sales page — because they knew how much value I’d already given them over the sales emails. It’s interesting to see the revenue continuing to come in, post-launch window.”

Key takeaway: never stop moving

Joyce learned a lot from the course and her first launch, but she says her number one takeaway was “Never stop moving. When you’re building an online business, you just need to keep your momentum going by taking action. Action takes away all the unproductive feelings and anxiety and gets you to launch much quicker.”

As for what’s to come for, Joyce couldn’t be more excited. She sees the growth potential of her new business. “I just keep growing my subscriber list, learning from the people who bought and those who didn’t, tweaking the product and positioning and sales copy, and — based on the demand — I’ll be relaunching again…very soon.”

Speaking of very soon — Lifehacker just recently featured Joyce’s work.

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The article already has more than 18,000 views and brought lots of new readers to her site. This is setting up her next product launch to be an even bigger success.

Want to find a profitable business idea of your own?

Just like Joyce, you can build an online business that PAYS YOU to live the life you’ve always wanted. No matter how weird or “niche” your skills are, you can turn them into a successful online business.

Check out this free downloadable PDF guide “30 successful online businesses you can model.” It’ll prove your existing skills can make you money. You’ll love these weird (but successful) examples of online businesses.


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Are you falling behind?

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How to make your business idea stand out

Learn how to guarantee your business idea will be a huge success with just a few, subtle tweaks in this free guide “Positioning Breakthroughs”


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What to do if you feel like you’re falling behind

Okay. Here’s a question from Junaid. Junaid writes:

“I am not getting the right idea. I have gone through a few iterations, and I have to abandon the idea and select a new one. I’m ready to put a lot of hours into this, but I’m getting nothing but frustration. I’m restarting today with a new idea, and I plan to spend the next 15 days with my full force.”

I get this type of question all the time in my Zero to Launch course.

The first time we launched the course, people joined, starting on Monday. And by Tuesday, people were commenting in the Facebook community, saying “Oh, my God…I feel like I’m falling behind. I don’t have an idea yet. What do I do?”

When I first read this, I started to laugh because after one day you shouldn’t feel like you’re falling behind.

I’ve spent years working on ONE idea, only to finally give up and discard it because it wouldn’t work.

So from the question above, I can promise you that 15 days is not enough time to truly test an idea, to know if it will work.

One of the most valuable ways I can give you advice is to tell you when your expectations are too high or too low.

For example, some people come to me and say, “You know, I think I’m going to convert 45% of the people on this email list into paying customers.”

And I can tell them, that’s probably not going to happen. I can also tell someone who comes in with the opposite expectations (of converting too low of a percentage of their list) what they can expect.  

This type of information is really valuable to know because it gives you a benchmark to measure yourself against. Here, I can tell you that 15 days is not enough time to go through the process of doing research.

Rather than trying to rush through the process and create a website, we actually recommend spending a lot of time researching BEFORE you do anything.

We call this “front-loading” the work. This is a critical distinction between what we do and what many other people creating online businesses do.

We spend time deeply understanding who our customer is. We actually go through a process of creating a playbook, filled with insights about the customers.

  • What are their hopes, fears, and dreams?
  • What kind of product will they respond to?
  • What should the packaging be?
  • What should the pricing be?

That way, by the time we go to create the product, we know exactly what’s going to happen in the launch.

That’s why we have created more than 17 successful courses. That’s not an accident. We test our markets. We front-loaded the work so we guarantee our products will be a huge hit.

If you’re giving yourself 15 days and getting really frustrated, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, try a different approach. Go through the process. Optimize for learning, not for revenue.

Know that every hour you spend right now is going to save you a hundred hours down the road.

Don’t get frustrated. This is all part of the process.

Now for more tips on finding a profitable business idea, I put together something special for you.

It’s a field report on how one of our students took her initial idea — much like you had — and slightly repositioned it to be extremely successful. Click below to get that field report.

How to make your business idea stand out

Learn how to guarantee your business idea will be a huge success with just a few, subtle tweaks in this free guide “Positioning Breakthroughs”


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How Tracy wrote a parenting book that made $130,000 giving parenting advice

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Copyright Betty Udesen / Pear Press

Tracy Cutchlow was an award-winning journalist for more than a decade. Her work was even a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

But, in 2012, Tracy left her successful career to do something completely different: become a mom full-time.

tracyzerotofiveZero to Launch student Tracy, the author and founder of Zero to Five

Her background as the editor of two bestselling brain-development books helped prep her for some aspects of being a mom. But like most new parents these days, she’d spent about 15 minutes around newborns before having her own.

She felt clueless.

“Most of the parenting advice out there wasn’t really helpful. It was usually generic stuff without any real answers. I just had to find things out on my own.”

Tracy realized she wanted a book of valuable parenting tips, tricks, and insights — based on scientific studies — that would “just tell me what to do.”

Six months later, she decided to write the book herself.

What did the best research say about getting a baby to sleep through the night, how much your kid eats, potty training, the best strategies for discipline, and how to boost brain development? She wanted to know for herself. She figured other parents did, too.

So she summarized that research into practical, bite-sized tips. And that became her book.

A great idea but unsure how to market it

Writing the book was challenging enough, but once the book was written, Tracy hit a huge roadblock: marketing the book.

As a journalist, she’d always focused on writing great content, grateful she didn’t have to  pay attention to the sales side of things.

“I had zero clue how to get my book attention. To be honest, at first I didn’t want to market it.”

But she grew determined to find the best way to launch her book and help as many parents as she could with her advice.

The “hold-you-by-the-hand” approach

Tracy started researching book marketing online when she realized she already knew the best person to help.

“I’d actually been following Ramit for years — all the way back to when he was writing about personal finance. This is funny, but I used to be a personal finance editor at MSN Money, and I considered trying to hire Ramit as a columnist. So I was very familiar with his work.”

“I watched him become successful at marketing and building online businesses. I knew how much effort he puts into his courses, and how effective his strategies are.”

So when the Zero to Launch course opened up, she joined. “I knew I would come away with a plan, and that would dramatically change my confidence in selling my book..”

What she appreciated right away was the program’s “hold-you-by-the-hand” approach.

“It is not just a bunch of strategies thrown together; it is a tested plan that you can follow.”

Crushing her fear of self-promotion

In the course, Tracy learned how to overcome her fear of self-promotion and her self-doubt.

“I went from thinking ‘Who am I to write a parenting book? I’m not a brain researcher or child psychologist. Why would anybody buy my book?’ to thinking, ‘I do have expertise in parenting, and I know this can really help people.’”

Tracy launched a website to help market her book and started writing weekly blog posts.

Because of what she’d learned, she quickly went from zero to more than 1,000 subscribers in just 3 months.

And over the course of a year, she nearly quadrupled the size of her email list to just over 3,800 subscribers.

zerotofivelistgrowthTracy’s subscriber growth over the past year

The first thing she did, after learning how to do deep customer research, was to rewrite her website home page and other marketing material.

“The vague clichés on the back of my book cover are a good ‘before ZTL’ comparison. Now I’m able to write compelling copy that better resonates with my audience.”

Before and After — how Zero to Launch helped transform her marketing copy

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Here’s the transformation her marketing copy went through after going through the course.

Behind the scenes of her $130,000 business

So far, Tracy’s book has earned $130,000.

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But what she finds even more rewarding is that she’s created something much bigger than just another parenting book — she’d building a real business that helps real people all over the world.

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Tracy’s site: ZeroToFive.net

Since launching her site and increasing her book sales, she’s also gotten much more exposure and attention to her brand. She’s written viral stories for the Huffington Post and the Washington Post. She’s been invited to speak at events to teachers and new parents.

And she plans to take what she’s learned from Zero to Launch and build an online course that could help even more parents.

But Tracy says the best part of all is hearing from people she’s helped. “I’ve gotten emails from parents saying, ‘I can’t thank you enough.’ The book is being used to train child care providers.  And today I found out that an agency in Nebraska is giving the book to hundreds of at-risk families.”

“I would never have expected any of this, and that makes the entire thing worth it. To be able to really help people with something so important is a very cool thing.”

The unexpected (but successful) ways you can earn money online

Even if you’re afraid you don’t know how to market your idea—even if you don’t have an idea—we will take you from zero to launch. Tracy did it, and you can, too.

Want proof?

Check out this free downloadable PDF of “30 successful online businesses you can model”.

From training cats to use toilets to teaching people to use computers, in this guide you’ll see many examples of the weird (yet successful) ways people are earning good money online.

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Are you afraid of success?

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You can be successful and build your online business

Sign up below to learn how to overcome your biggest fears around online business. I’ll show you how crush fear and self-doubt — so nothing holds you back.


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How to overcome fear of success

Today’s question is really interesting.

I don’t get asked this a lot, but it’s a really important topic that I wanted to talk about.

It’s from Cheyenne, and she writes:

“I’m scared of failing or making a mistake. Is it that I’m scared of succeeding? Probably, succeeding and then messing up? In the sense of what or who I’d become if I succeeded, and would I mess up once I’ve gotten there?”

What Cheyenne is really asking about is a fear of success. This is not just a fear of failure, which most of us are familiar with, but a fear of SUCCESS.

Think about that phrase: fear of success. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “I’m afraid of success.”

What are the words we use? We say things like, “Uh, if this business takes off, am I going to have to write customer service emails to 500 people?”

Feelings like that are a fear of success because you’re worrying about what things will be like AFTER you become successful.

I grew up in a very middle class family, and I learned certain values. For example, my parents taught me not to waste things, to be respectful, to save money by only eating out once per month (we even had to use coupons anytime we wanted to go to the local pizza place).

I grew up with those values, and I lived by them.

Your business works the same way. You can set your values and live by them.

As I grew my online business and as it became more successful over the years, I learned that I could take the values I WANTED to have and instill them in the business.

For example, if a customer is rude to my staff, I fire that customer immediately. No matter how much money that costs me in revenue, I refund their purchase. I ban them for life, and they are never allowed to purchase from us again.

That’s a value that I put into my business. Nobody told me I had to do that, but it’s the way I want to run my company.

Do you see what I’m saying?

You can choose what success looks like for you.

I chose to be able to run my business that way. You can, too.

If you want to give away 25% of your sales to charity, that’s awesome! Your online business can be whatever you want it to be for you.

So in the early stages, there’s no need to worry about fear of success.

The first thing you need to do is become successful. And remember: success is good problem to have.

Also, when you are successful, and when you get to the point of having to write 500 customer emails per day, you can eventually hire that problem away.

So don’t let fear of success stop you from ever going after your goals.

I remember one of my biggest fears when I started my online business was that I never wanted to be one of those “internet marketing” guys.

I didn’t want to be taking photos in front of the private jets, saying “Hey, bro! Check out this private jet. I’m so cool.”

I never wanted to do that and I never had to.

Your business is yours. It doesn’t matter what everyone else tells you. It doesn’t matter what society expects you to do. You can do what you want to do.

It’s your decision. It’s your business.

Now if you’re curious about how to grow a successful online business and stay true to your values, enter your email below for a bonus video that I put together for you.

Overcome your biggest fears around starting an online business

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We all start somewhere

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Find your profitable business idea

What if you could build an online business that PAYS YOU to live the life you’ve always wanted? No matter how weird or “niche” your skills are, you can turn them into a successful online business.

Find inspiration and get started today with this free downloadable PDF guide “30 successful online businesses you can model” that’ll prove your existing skills can make you money.


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“It seems like it will take 20 years to get anywhere”

Here’s today’s question from Shirley, and she writes:

“I am certainly no expert on any given topic or skill. I don’t know what I can contribute. I am just a regular woman who has many interests. A jack of all trades, master of none. So what’s holding me back is lack of confidence and not having an idea. And then there’s also an overwhelming amount of information out there. And as I attempt to learn it, it makes it seem as if it will take 20 years to get anywhere.”

There’s a lot to unpack in this question.

The first thing I want to say is that we all start off somewhere. Take a look at any Fortune 500 CEO. They probably worked a paper route as a teenager.

We all have to start somewhere, and we can eventually work our way up to a much higher level of success.

Especially in the beginning, the most important thing is to do the best you can and don’t worry about ALL that you have to do to become successful.

The next thing I want to say is that when I was starting off with my online business, I used to compare myself to people who were 10, 15, even 20 years more advanced than I was. Looking back, that was such a silly thing to do.

I remember looking at this one guy’s site, and he had what was called a “process map.”

A “process map” is like a chart with these satellite bubbles. The first one was products, customer service, marketing, and all this stuff.

And under the marketing bubble, there were ten different satellites and lists coming off of that.

I looked at it and was so overwhelmed. I remember thinking “there’s no way I’m ever going to do this. There’s no way. It would take me 50 years to do it.”

Then, I closed the page, and I let overwhelm take control of me that day.

Over time, I actually learned how to do marketing, copywriting, inbound lead generation, and much, much more.

Only later was it that I looked back, and I realized I basically created that process map and MORE.

How did I manage to do that?

Instead of trying tackle ALL that the process map covered, I just said, “You know what? It’s good to know that that chart exists. But right now, I’m only going to focus on one thing. I’m going to learn copywriting because that’s what I need to do.”

I knew I would tackle some of the other stuff later on, but if I’d tried to do ALL of that at once, I would’ve overwhelmed myself and quickly failed.

I had to learn to enjoy the process first, before I could ever get to that point.

It’s like how I used to run track when I was in high school. I wasn’t very good, but I learned to love the process.

I never won a race. But I got out there, and I did my best. As I did that over time, my racing times improved and I got better.

It works the same way with business. You don’t have to be the world’s most sophisticated business person today.

What you need to do is get your idea out there and start making progress.

“Don’t try to be 40 before you’re 40.”

This idea comes from the story of when I was going to buy my first car. I wanted to buy a Mercedes. I could easily afford it, but I realized where do you go from there?

Where do you go once you buy a Mercedes when you’re in your early 20s? It just makes no sense in the long term.

With your business, don’t try to be 40 before you’re 40.

Some people come to me and say:

“Ramit, what kind of sophisticated, A/B testing conversion should I do?”

I respond: “How many subscribers do you have on your email list?”

They say “Forty-two.”

And I tell them, “Don’t try to be 40 before you’re 40. You don’t need to be A/B testing things when you only have 42 subscribers. You need to write amazing content and create stuff that people want.”

That’s the most important part, and, later on, you can scale from there.

If you’re looking at other people’s business and you’re saying, “Oh, my God! It’s going to take me a thousand blog posts to get there.”

Do you know what step one is?

Write blog post number one. Go to sleep. Wake up the next morning. Take a look at the comments, if there are any. Write blog post number two.

You can’t worry about everything at once.

And if you keep showing up every day, you may actually get to the position where you look at a very detailed process map — or another person’s business — and you’ve actually done much more than they ever did.

For now, just take it step by step.

If you’re curious about starting your online business, the first thing you can do is learn how to find a profitable idea.

Download the free guide below and get started.

Find your profitable business idea

What if you could build an online business that PAYS YOU to live the life you’ve always wanted? No matter how weird or “niche” your skills are, you can turn them into a successful online business.

Find inspiration and get started today with this free downloadable PDF guide “30 successful online businesses you can model” that’ll prove your existing skills can make you money.


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