How One Man Made $80,000 From His Expertise

Sean McCabe might sound like a lot of creative entrepreneurs -- for years he had a freelance business, doing design, illustration and hand-lettering work. After setting up a website to grow his business, he was surprised how many people wrote him for advice on getting started with hand-lettering. He decided to put up a free tutorial and he soon found it was being read by 200,000 people, he realized he might be onto something. 

He decided to create an online course, Learn Lettering, in order to profit from his expertise. And experience offers lessons for anyone who would like to make money doing something that they love. 

How much money? Well, McCabe made $80,000 within 24 hours of his launch in March of 2014. Below you'll find ideas on making your launch as successful. 

Do the Work to Make it Good

Photo: Sean McCabe

Be suspicious when people tell you that making an online course is "easy." 

McCabe soon learned that producing a course was doubly as hard as he anticipated and he had to learn and perfect some unfamiliar skills such as speaking, recording and producing audio. 

This produced a crunch towards the end of the process. "From March 9th to March 24th, I worked 291 hours. 17 hours a day, every day, until the day before launch, when I started at 10:00am on Sunday and worked 36 hours straight," he reports. 

Almost all of us have an expertise that might be valuable to someone out there. And because the web makes the large-scale dissemination of information so easy and cost-effective, there might be money in your expertise. 

With an information product, you offer valuable lessons to a defined, niche group.

Take Your Time

Figuring out the unique niche his business would occupy took a little more time, however. "I spent the next 3 months working on a landing page that would announce Learn Lettering," McCabe writes.
3 months on a single page. I wrote and rewrote the copy, obsessed over the design, crafted illustrations, and thought hard about the value proposition I was projecting."

Create an Incentive

How do you build that audience? You offer something of value -- a book, a download, even a worksheet. 

"I learned that there is virtually no difference between giving away something valued at $5 for free and giving away something valued at $50 for free in terms of conversion. That’s not to say what you provide shouldn’t be valuable, but you shouldn’t be so caught up on making your lead magnet something too elaborate."

Build Anticipation

Many people focus on building a product first, and hope that the customers and sales will follow. McCabe, on the other hand, spent his time building a community and infrastructure for his product. 

"What a lot of people don’t know is that while I announced Learn lettering in November or 2013, I didn’t actually create the content until 2 weeks prior to launch," he explains. 

But he feels he didn't use his email list enough: "I didn’t start emailing this list of 15,000 until March 19 [before the launch on March 25]. This was a mistake. If I were to do it again, I would do it differently. I should have been emailing them much sooner, and building up trust and keeping myself in the forefronts of their minds."

Create Different Pricing Tiers

McCabe initially thought of releasing 10 individual course but after taking a class with Nathan Barry on Mastering Product Launches, he began to see his course differently. He decided on a "tiered" approach -- a masterclass that included the works, a truncated intermediate course, and a starter course that might serve as a point of entry for students on the fence. When he launched the class, McCabe predicted that 30% of customers would order the more expensive master class option, and was surprised when that was his top seller, at 85% of purchases.