How Pat Walls made $20k in a few weeks
I’d come across Pat Walls a few times over the years since he started Starter Story. As with many indie hackers, I love reading stories of how people have grown their businesses to a really strong revenue position and learning how they did it. I’d intended on getting Pat onto Indie Bites to talk about Starter Story and how he grew it to 500k monthly visitors, especially after Harry Dry recommended him in episode 2, but a couple of weeks ago Pat did something very impressive.
In the space of a few weeks, Pat tweeted out an idea for an SEO course, made $20k in pre-sales and recorded the content in a weekend.
Validation was a pretty easy one for this. Pat put out the initial tweet to gauge interest (having never made a course before) and the response was overwhelming. In a few hours he had hundreds of emails in his inbox asking about the course and when it would be available.
It did help that he had a 10k audience on Twitter. But some people who have 10k followers might not be able to generate this level of interest from one tweet. Later into the episode we discuss a little about how to build an audience so you can have that distribution.
However, don’t be disheartened if you have a small audience and you’re letting that stop you from launching your course / paid content. Keep publishing things and being useful in the communities you’re a part of and it will start to grow. There have been a number of indie hackers who have relatively small audiences but have been successful launching their products on Gumroad.
I personally love how Janel launched her email newsletter Notion templateswith a small following at the time; and she made $2,500 on launch day (and has since passed 500 paying customers).
Building in public
Pat is used to sharing things online; he’s been around for a while. But his execution of sharing every detail of creating this course has been impressive.
Every step he took creating this course he shared on this single Twitter thread. From deciding on the course format, how he priced it and how he capitalised on the initial interest. Everything in this full transparent thread.
From this thread he had people bought in; watching every step and building up anticipation for the launch.
I enjoyed reading through the thread to understand Pat’s thought process and was inspired by how well he was executing on what he set out to do.
For anyone who is worried about building in public and sharing what they are working on regularly, I think this is an excellent example of why you should. I think this was absolutely key for convincing people to spend the money on the course for Pat. They trusted he was going to deliver a high quality course. It was a no brainer for me!
Creating a full course in 10 days
I know when I’ve thought about creating a course, I’d want it to be perfect and expect it to take months. After all you’ve got to write the outline, script the content, record it (if you’re using video), create assignments and structure it in a way that provides people value for the money they’re paying. On top of all of that, you’ve got to work on marketing and promotion.
How long would that take you? I’d end up spending 3 months faffing about.
Pat did it in 10 days
- Started the outline on 28th Nov
- Launched on 8th December
Want to know how long it took him from start to finish? 104 hours. Which, naturally, he put in a shared Google Sheet…
➡️ Time Tracker For Lean SEO - Google Sheets
From this I learnt that I need to get better at executing. Setting a hard deadline and making sure I get things done.
The Refactoring UI Twitter Effect
Since the launch Pat has been doing something on Twitter I like to call ‘The Refactoring UI Twitter Effect”. It’s an exceptional way of providing really useful information to people on the platform they’re on, in a bitesized and shareable way.
Refactoring UI, by Steve Schoger and Adam Wathan, was the first time I started to see this format get a lot of traction. There are some interesting podcasts explaining the story of how they made over $2m selling this eBook, I’d recommend listening to the Yo! Episode with Steve Schoger, produced by previous Indie Bites guest Rob Hope.
Steve would take these quite complex design concepts and make digestible little graphics that explained / visualised the concept brilliantly.
Since then this format has become more popular and even more effective. Both Harry Dry of Marketing Examples and Rob Hope have utilised this format with a strong impact.
Here’s Pat doing the same thing. Super simple, yet effective graphics shared on Twitter.
I’ve genuinely been inspired by chatting with Pat and seeing how well he executed on his course. I’d recommend reading through his full thread and browsing around his Twitter. I’ve learnt so much even doing research for the episode and this post.
We recorded an episode of Indie Bites together if you’d like to hear from the man himself how he created the course.