How am I feeling?
Stepping into August, I'm feeling a little anxious and uncertain as the year is counting down, but at the same time, I've learned a ton in July about course design and positioning that are utterly critical to my next few months.
Actually, I've not been more confident about hitting my 2021 goal now that I've found that a kick-ass course is my way to get there!
Also, someone told me "Kevon, you have to go faster! Take back some of your venture-backed mindset previously!" When I heard that, I wasn't sure how to react. I've come to like my current approach which is slow and mindful. I know I'm not hustling super hard (like work faster and only get 4 hours of sleep each day) but I think I can do this for a long time. More importantly, I see that things are progressing steadily.
How is my personal life?
It has been steady! Avery just turned 7 months! We went for a baby fundamentals demo class because we don't want Avery to be stuck at home most of the week, and personal development is what we care about the most. We immediately signed up for a membership which gives Lydia and Avery 2 classes a week.
Lydia and I also took time for ourselves and went on a staycation. It was our first time leaving Avery for 24 hours to her grandparents. Was it scary? Not really, we trust the people around us so much! Building a support system is vital if you plan to have kids; there is no need to make our lives miserable when it is the best thing ever.
We talked a lot about parenting principles. We saw how other kids behaved and we talked about our perspectives: how we want Avery to behave differently and how we can make that happen. I love how Lydia and I are able to communicate logically about principles, approaches, and systems in life.
And I'm planning to bring a framework I use for work into parenting! I will start to break things down, like how I break down my content creation flow, to curate activities for Avery. I plan to 1) curate a list of acitivities and 2) get all the materials ready. Why? Because whenever weekend comes around, we never really know what to do! It's hectic to think and execute at the moment. So if I already have a backlog of activities and materials prepared, we can just go ahead and do it. It is a simple system to make sure things happen.
July 2021 Income Report
Net Profit: $1,646.3
Revenue $2,098.5 - Expenses $452.2 = $1,646.3
- #30DaysInPublic Course: $1,868
- Community: $221
- Affiliate: $9.5
Revenue for July was great because I had 22 students for #30DaysInPublic. It was a great success given I increased the price from $49 to $99. I'm very confident that the course value justifies this price or even a higher price, but I'll talk about what I learn about running a course later on.
Community side is growing very slowly, and one thing I learn is that I shouldn't have so many standalone products running at the same time. If you think about it, everyone has limited attention. The key is whether I can make my offerings more coherent. Will share more below too.
- Stripe: $94.61 (more course enrollment)
- Outseta (1% member transaction) = $1.6
- Webflow: $40 (KevonCheung.com & PublicLab.co) / Hypefury: $19 / ConvertKit: $29 / Zoom: $14.99 / Outseta: $29 / Circle: $79 / Descript: $15 / Gmail $6 / Notion $5 / Xero $20
- Extra: One-off $99 (SwipeFiles annual membership)
I signed up for SwipeFiles which is a marketing community. I know Corey has been a great community builder and I mainly want to check out what I can learn from him. Sometimes we got to invest to learn, I'm sure most people know this because I also get hear people wanting to learn from me - that's great 🙂
I also decided to sign up to Xero to make sure my accounting is organized. Yes, I'm a nerd in keeping things neat.
What important things happened
Revamped Public Lab's navigating structure
When I saw my old website's navbar, I was upset with myself.
Doing it this way, I was basically asking my visitor to figure out what they wanted to learn at Public Lab. Newsletter, Community, Guides, Courses, Events - these were all just different "things" I offer, but they didn't help visitors figure out how Public Lab can help them get what they want.
My hypothesis was that this confused visitors and made it hard for them to get what they want.
I considered this my own laziness, so I was determined to fix it.
Now, when they land on publiclab.co, they see this.
When they click on the stages, this is opened up.
Why do I design it this way? I've been figuring out my "user journey". From the data I have so far, I know that most people coming to me are on 1 of these 5 stages. And I figured that articles are my best way to help any new visitors.
So I created this interactive experience to ask them where they're at and present the relevant articles to help them get started.
I imagine once they start reading, they'd go on to read related articles, and eventually click on "Action" to check out how they can go further. And this place hosts my in-depth products, including paid ones.
Is this working so far? Yes! I'm getting a lot more people putting in their emails!
Rethinking the community experience
Up till this point, the Public Lab community is heavily presented as a forum.
But this is not true! As months go on, we have a lot more going on at Public Lab: AMA sessions with guests, BuildinPublic meetup, retrospective writing hour ...
So I redesigned the community page to let people know that the membership actually comes with a ton of values.
And I'm giving the Building in Public action pack I created (value at $25) to annual members for free. This means that their $99/year membership is actually just $74. The offer is getting more attractive.
This is a lesson to revise the copywriting and product positioning as we add more values to it. Never write once and leave it.
Big one: redesigning my course
I've learned a ton about course design in July. I first developed 30DaysInPublic with email prompts and short videos, making it very much like a self-paced course. Then I positioned it a cohort-based course with weekly live session at about $99.
When I talked to people with course experience, they quickly pointed out the problem. And I realized it: I wanted to run a self-paced course and I also want to run a cohort-based course, and the result was a weird experience. Let's just say it is half-assed.
I also realized I was trying to teach everything I know, hoping students can take the knowledge and become another Kevon.
I need to fix it and this is what I'm doing:
- When I think of myself as a course creator, my number one goal is to help students transform. And to do that, I see an intensive course to be the way to go. So I redesigned the August cohort to be an intensive cohort-based course with 2 live sessions a week (total 8). There are no emails and videos, but there are weekly assignments with live sharing & discussion sessions to make sure students are accountable for their own progression.
- When this pilot cohort is done, I am not running a new cohort in September and plan to spend some time to improve the curriculum. I'll then launch it at at least $300.
- I also want to develop self-paced courses down the road since it is considered "passive income", but for now, let's not worry about that.
But all in all, what did I learn here?
- I would never have learned all this if I was trying to create the perfect course on day 1. Only if I get things moving, then I discover these key insights. So it was great that I actually ran the May and July cohorts to get to this reflection.
- Even though I sound like the previous course design wasn't that good, some students still get tremendous value from the course, like Maitry and Saeid. I could definitely continue to run the course as it is, but do I want that? My answer is no. I'm the type of person that I want my products to be the highest quality possible. Also, when there is a big change to the product like this, many entrepreneurs might feel bad for their recent customers who got the old version. For me, I like to think that products are forever evolving. As long as I'm giving my best effort and value to them for what they pay for, it's okay. In fact, if they're interested in coming back for the new product, I'd happily welcome them with discount.
What I failed to do
Adding more content to a course is not always the best idea
30DaysInPublic was originally designed to be 15 prompts across 30 days. In my previous cohort, I've heard feedback about hoping the prompts can be daily to drive more momentum.
In my latest cohort, I added a library and asked students to do another 15 add-on challenges on the "rest day".
It turned out to be a failure given there wasn't any incentive for them to go to the library and pick out an additional challenge themselves.
After all, it is not about adding content. It is about having the right content at the right time. It must fit in the transformative experience.
Revamping nurturing emails failed
I set out last month to optimize my automated nurturing emails for different products. I saw it as an important step to improve conversions.
However, I have to focus on improving the product first. Since I'm not open for new sign ups at the moment, such marketing optimization can wait.
Debating over SEO
I set out last month to spend more time on SEO, then later decided maybe in the short-term I should double down on Twitter instead.
It was a tough call and I'm sure many entrepreneurs struggle fighting short-term vs long-term.
I opened Google Search Console one day and was surprised to find a graph like this.
My latest SEO effort was working out! But, it is still too early to say because I need to find out whether the organic traffic eventually turns into paying customers.
Plan for August
- Most of my time will be dedicated to running the new cohort-based course. It is going to be a new course (not 30DaysInPublic) because the goal is different. For this course, I'm helping students find out their online brand positioning, identify their audience, and create a game plan to grow it with #BuildInPublic. I want this small group to be blown away by how far they can go!
- I'm ready to launch my first info product - the Building in Public action pack - on Gumroad! I'm excited as this is my first info product launch! I definitely want to get the community's help to get it out there.
- Should I focus on SEO? My new plan is that since I want to write more useful content for my visitors, why not just make them SEO optimized? They go hand in hand, so I aim to write 3 blog posts a month.