Creating a course, writing a book, or doing a workshop helps you connect with customers (while you're building your app) and earn revenue now.
It takes time to develop these assets, but when you do, there are many benefits.
1. Teaching forces you to start small
"Starting small puts 100% of your energy on actually solving real problems for real people." – Derek Sivers
How do you want to make your customers' lives better?
Basecamp is software that helps small businesses improve the way they work.
But before they built software, they did workshops that had the same aim: "help small businesses improve the way they work."
They've been helping customers make progress on this same topic for years! (Even before they built software).
Most of the problems we hope to solve with software can first be addressed manually.
2. Make sales now (instead of later)
Believe it or not, getting five people to pay you to attend a one-day workshop is more accessible than selling software to anonymous people on the internet.
I've been selling SaaS since 2008 (at Mailout, Sprintly, and now Transistor
Yes, selling apps is more scalable, but nothing beats the effectiveness of:
- Crafting a sales pitch
- Making a list of potential prospects
- Calling (or emailing) each person manually
- Following-up until you get a "yes" or a "no"
Arguably, it's the lessons that you learn "hustling on the street" that help you to scale your marketing efforts later on. (Which pitch resonates most with people?)
"Making money takes practice, just like playing the piano takes practice." - Jason Fried
Learning how to sell doesn't just happen. It takes practice. And selling a course, or a workshop is a great place to start.
3. Build your audience now (instead of later)
Many of you told me:
"I'm interested in building an audience for my launch."
Growing an audience takes time! But, you can start to earn people's trust now by teaching them.
In 2012, I bought a book called "Designing Web Applications" by an author named Nathan Barry.
The next year, he launched his web app, ConvertKit. I signed up for that too, and now I'm his longest running customer.
As you focus on one audience, and you keep solving their problems, you'll build momentum. Your audience will grow, and when it's time to launch a "serious" product, you'll be ready.
4. Earn revenue and fund your company
Alex, the founder of Groove, tells a story about how his software company nearly went bankrupt:
"In those early days, Groove was struggling to stay alive. We simply weren’t making enough to pay our bills, let alone invest in improving the business."
To survive, Groove had to do things differently.
One thing they tried, in 2017, was running a six-week course. To Alex's surprise, all of their spots sold out. In total, the session raised $120,679 for the company.
Likewise, Nathan Barry initially funded ConvertKit by investing $50,000 of the money he'd earned from his design books.
It's true: not everyone is going to hit those big numbers.
But, in your early days of bootstrapping, every bit of revenue helps. An extra $500 or $1,000 can make the difference between burning out, and living to fight another day!