Podcast 127: How Chandler Bolt Built Self Publishing School into a Multi-Million Dollar a Year Business
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Today, I’ve got an interview with Chandler Bolt from Self-Publishing School. I met Chandler at a conference about two years ago and was immediately impressed with his business and overall attitude.
As you’ll hear on this episode, Chandler is in general a very positive and friendly person. Although Chandler is still quite young in his 20’s, he’s already much more business savvy than I was in my 20’s or maybe even now!
In addition to hearing his story about how he made Self-Publishing School a success, you’ll also hear about how he recommends writing a book and promoting it. We also dive into some of his productivity hacks and routines that have made him be able to accomplish so much so quickly.
During the interview, Chandler mentions a couple of his helpful posts:
If you are interested in the free training that Chandler offers for people interested in self publishing a book, go here.
Self Publishing School
I wish I had known a mentor who could have guided me through the self publishing process of my own ebook. Chandler Bolt can be your mentor. His course teaches you how to:
- Learn how to go from idea to execution in 90 days
- Write the bestseller that you know is inside of you
- Get the scoop on how to publish and how to make sales with your book
Read the Full Transcript Below[expand title=”Click Here to Expand the Full Podcast Transcript”]
Spencer:Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Niche Pursuits podcast. I’m your host, . Today, I’ve got an interview with Chandler Bolt from Self-Publishing School. I met Chandler at a conference about two years ago and was immediately impressed with his business and overall attitude.
As you’ll hear on this episode, Chandler is in general a very positive and friendly person. Although Chandler is still quite young in his 20’s, he’s already much more business savvy than I was in my 20’s or maybe even now.
In addition to hearing his story about how he made Self-Publishing School a success, you’ll also hear about how he recommends writing a book and promoting it. We also dive into some of his productivity hacks and routines that have made him be able to accomplish so much so quickly. With that, here’s the interview with Chandler Bolt.
I know this is kind of an odd place to start but from what I’ve seen of you Chandler, you’re quite the go getter. I mean that in a very good way. You’re great at networking. You’re acting on social media. You’re putting in the hard work and time. Your business has grown a ton as a result. What does a typical day look like for you?
Chandler:A typical day for me, I wake up at 6:00AM every morning except for the weekend. 6:00AM, I do my morning routine. I practice some Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. He’s a friend of mine and that book completely changed my life when I read it in 2014. My morning routine, I’ll try to just skim through it but it involves, I read, I do a little mini workout, I’m doing meditation, I’m doing affirmations, making a quick little breakfast. Different things like that that really get me going.
That’s a keystone habit for me, the Charles Duhigg Power of Habit book where he talked about keystone habit. That’s the keystone habit for me. If I hit that morning routine, it’s autopilot.
Working from home, you can probably relate to this, Spencer, I have a habit of putting on my work clothes because I found that when I first started working from home, that was the biggest struggle. It’s the blend between work and home or work and just enjoying yourself. I put on my work clothes and I take off my work clothes. It’s a mental trigger like, “Hey, it’s time to go to work.” Obviously, because I don’t have the mental stimuli of like, “Hey, I’m going into the office.” So my brain automatically switches.
I have my morning routine. I start work at 8:00AM. My team is kind of all around the country and around the world so we do a daily huddle. It’s every morning at 8:00AM. It’s 15 minutes. That’s just checking in with the team, solving issues, reporting numbers, detailing number one priority for the day. That sort of thing.
I go to lunch. I’m pretty hardcore on my naps so I do a 17-minute nap right after lunch usually. For me, I found that that gives me, I have two days in one. It’s like I have my first day which is in the morning, 6:00AM all the way through noon or so, when I eat lunch and then I have my second day which is the afternoon. In my mind, it’s just so much more clear.
I do that and then I’m working until 6:00PM, 7:00PM, something like that. You grab dinner or whatever. Do some stuff at night. I’m all on or all off. My weeks are pretty intense. One final thing that I do is every night, this is another keystone habit, I got to do it, is every night, it takes 10 minutes, sometimes 15 to just literally plan out my day for the next day. Just like an hour by hour like, “Hey, here’s what I’m going to be doing.” This is generated. I’m going way more into an answer than you probably wanted.
Spencer:This is great. This is good.
Chandler:This is basically I say, “Hey, what’s my top priority tomorrow and what’s my day look like?” Every Sunday night, I sit down and say, “Hey, what’s my top three to five projects, or tasks, or priorities, whatever you want to call it, for the week?” I’ll rank those in order of priority. That is built off of every month. We’re rolling into a new month right now as we record this episode. Just yesterday, I put out my goals for the month.
I’ve got four goals for the month. Those two were organized in order of priority. I found that makes a huge difference, not just listing your goals. Because I have an accountability buddy or accountability partner that we get on a call every single month and we say, “Hey, how did you on your goals last month?” It’s either a green or a red. And then, “What are your goals for this coming month?” We just share lessons learned. Things like that.
By doing that, I know that, “Hey, if I hit my two, three, and four but miss my number one, that month was actually a failure because I got distracted off of what was most important to do the other stuff.” That’s how I integrate it across the monthly goals which Sunday night, the weekly goals, which every night is the daily goals for tomorrow. That sets me up for a successful day which looks similar to what we just talked about.
Spencer:Yeah. I love it. So many good things that you mentioned there. First of all, I’m a fan of naps so I’m not going to knock you for that. I love it. The other huge thing for me is the prioritization of tasks and goals. I do it slightly different but similar concept. I’m definitely sitting down on a daily basis. I find that huge even if it’s only 5 or 10 minutes listing out what’s your top goal for the day or top priority for the day and then week. It really does help you focus so you can accomplish a lot more.
Just the other interesting thing that we were chatting about before the podcast is just your schedule, you’re up early, working by 8:00AM, doing your huddle, and working into the evening. It’s a little bit different than mine. You’re a young guy. You’re in your 20’s. I’m a little bit older than that, late 30’s, 4 kids, and married. At 8:00AM, I’m making lunches for my kids. You know what I mean? Or taking them to school.
Chandler:Yeah, I thought so.
Spencer:Which is great. I love having the ability and the freedom to do that because I know a lot of people, they can’t. They have to be in work at 7:00AM or 8:00AM. But, at 3:30PM, my kids are coming home so that’s a natural break in my day where sometimes I can’t work for a little while just getting the kids home and that sort of thing. I just make note of it that it’s interesting that you can work different amounts in a week and still accomplish a lot, right?
Spencer:You just have to adjust your goals based on what you’re able to put in.
Chandler:100%. A lot of people argue that having kids, and the time constraints, and the things that you have, make you way more productive because I know that I can just keep working, right? You know that you’re not going to be able to, therefore Parkinson’s law kicks in. Parkinson’s law is like an object will swell in proportion to the amount of time, space or whatever that you give yourself to complete it.
For the same reason that Americans statistically spend 3% more than they earn is also the same reason that when you had a test in high school or in college, you cram the night before and it’s also the same reason that if you have boundaries when you work, it’ll just continue to fill all the time that you give it right. That’s all Parkinson's law, which you could probably argue that some of my time is spent inefficiently even as much as I am just an efficiency hawk and just really on that sort of thing.
I remember doing this challenge where I put together this entrepreneur house in San Diego when I lived there. We were all guys running online businesses. It’s like this mastermind house. It was really high growth environment. We do these challenges. One month, the challenge was no work after 6:00PM. That was hard.
Spencer:That was a difficult thing.
Chandler:An interesting thing that I noticed, which is just like bringing this full circle to what you're just talking about, Spencer, is I noticed that I was actually more productive especially in the afternoon because I know someone’s about to come into the room and tell me to step away from the laptop because it just turned 6:00PM. I know that I need to actually get this done. I can’t just stretch it till 7:00 PM or till whenever which is a pretty powerful thing.
Spencer:That’s maybe the takeaway here for listeners, is that whatever amount of time that you have, try to make it as productive and as effective as possible because I know a lot of people are working full time. I was working full time and had sort of a side business for a number of years where literally, after I came home from work and then put the kids to bed, this would be 9:00PM, I had a couple of hours and that was it everyday to focus on my business and so I knew I had to be as productive as possible.
Whether you have 1 hour, or 2 hours, or 10 hours in a day, just do your best to make it as effective as possible. Just a good thought for people listening out there. I do want to dive into your story a little a bit more here, Chandler, to give people your background. What was your work experience, education experience previous to starting Self-Publishing School?
Chandler:Education experience, I’m a college dropout. Dropped out of school because I got tired of learning how to run a business from professors who never had a business. That really didn’t make too much sense to me. I’m a learn by doing, not a learn by theory kind of guy. We’ve integrated that into what we teach at Self-Publishing School. We don’t teach anything that we haven’t done because that’s super important to me. I feel like it’s hard to teach something that you haven’t done. It was easy to teach it but it’s hard to teach it accurately. That’s my educational background.
My parents, they’re both pretty blue collar. They met in a factory work at night shift. It kind of put the foot down and said, “Hey, I’m going to create a better life for me and my brother.” That’s what they did. My dad flunked out of college after a semester. My mom never went. That’s the background that I came from which is just silver books smart.
Be good at solving problems because that’s what you have to deal with on an everyday basis in life. Master that skill. It doesn’t really matter if you can recite which king was from some historical event. That doesn’t matter so much as the ability to figure things out.
On the work side, my dad is an entrepreneur. He runs a construction company. I’m from South Carolina so we’re kind of like from the middle of nowhere. My dad runs a construction company. My mom’s a realtor. I think growing up on the work side of things, I saw the flexibility and freedom that they have similar to probably how your kids see this, Spencer. It’s like they see the ability that you have to take them to school, to make their lunch, to come to their tee-ball games or their sporting games, or dance, whatever that thing is, that stuck with me, I think subconsciously.
Obviously, at that age, you’re not thinking like, “Wow. My dad has such a great job compared to other people’s jobs.” But subconsciously you know, “Hey, my dad and mom can come to my things and my friend’s parents can’t because they’re working. We can take this vacation. We can do these things.” I think that planted the seeds for me.
I started a business in high school. It was a landscaping lawn curing pressure washing business, made my first chunk of change to save for college. Then in college, I worked with an internship called student painters. They teach how to run a business by running an exterior house painting company. You literally hire college students and paint houses. That was the first time hitting six figures. I broke the record for that year. I was number one in the country and number one for the entire company, for all managers. It’s little things like that, honestly, that gave me the confidence to drop out.
That’s when I dropped out and then I started and failed really hardcore. I was trying to get something off the ground and then eventually stumbled into Self-Publishing School and then this is where we’ve taken it.
Spencer:Yeah, absolutely. We’re going to jump into that. What made you decide to quit college? Was it because you were doing well with the painting business or was it some other idea that you had and you just decided to do it? Did you have support from your parents?
Chandler:All great questions. Basically, it really was the whole learning from people who haven’t been there. That was just the seed in the kernel. When I dropped out of school, I knew I was going to run a business. I just didn’t know what business that would be. I dropped out of school not knowing what business I would run.
For me, I’d always said to myself, “Hey, whenever my business reaches a certain point, I’m going to just drop out because I’m not here for the degree. I’m here for the education.” I was a business and entrepreneurship major so that’s what I was there to learn but then that became pretty disappointing.
Ultimately, what happened is a friend came in and he said, “Chandler, when are you going to drop out of school?” We just came back from this conference and I was like, “Oh gosh, that really made me think.” I started thinking and trying to come up with solution. I said to myself, “Oh wow, just double down and finish faster.” When I thought about that, the idea of that had made me want to throw up. It sounded so miserable.
All I could think of is every time my mom would call, she would be like, “Chandler, you’re killing yourself.” I was doing extracurricular stuff. I was a young life leader and I was running this business that was consuming basically all of my time and then also a full time college student. She’s like, “Hey, why don’t you just back off from some of this extracurricular stuff. “ I would just tell her, “Mom, I don’t think you understand. That’s what I live for and that’s the only reason I’m sane.”
I thought about the prospect of doubling down and finishing early. That sounded miserable so then you just spark the thought for me of if it’s not worth finishing early, then I need to question of is it actually worth finishing at all? I pondered that question. I looked at the opportunity cost. For me, I can finish my degree for $7,000 in tuition plus living expenses basically. For most people, they’d say, “You’re an idiot. If you don’t do that, that’s just idiotic.”
For me, I looked at the opportunity cost and I said, “Hey, if I have two more years in my life devoted to this business, what could the potential upside be there?” The potential upside was that the year that all my buddies were graduating, I hit seven figures with my company. That opportunity cost, I just weighed it and dropped out.
Ultimately, to answer your question were my parent supportive, they questioned it a lot at first. I actually think it was the right amount. Like if your kids ever do something like this, Spencer, this might be a good solution.
Chandler:Because they tried to poke every hole that they could in my plan. As soon as they realized Chandler’s thought this through. For me, personally, I’ve talked to a bunch of mentors about it. I prayed about it. I thought about it a lot. I just really, really put a lot into this decision. Once they figured out that I had and that I thought it through, they just flipped and they were like, “Cool. We are 100% supportive. Do whatever you need to do. We’re going to back you 100%.”
I just remember that feeling of wow, just knowing, especially when it got hard, because I failed for a solid year and ultimately all of my bank accounts were negative. Just knowing at the back of your mind like hey, if this just continues to go poorly, I put myself out there on a limb, if that limb snaps, my parents are going to be there to catch me. That was such a good feeling and it relieves so much stress and tension. That was how they went through the process and then they were 100% supportive.
Spencer:That’s huge to have your parents behind you like that on a big decision. Obviously, you made the right decision. I mean we can see the results and we’re going to talk about that here in a little bit. To get us to where you are today, at some point, you decided to publish your first book. Why did you do that?
Chandler:I left out one small part of the story which was that when I decided to drop out, I always wanted to study abroad. I’m thinking to myself, I knew I would do it. The classic piece, I think it was like spring of your junior year or fall of your senior year was kind of when people would do that. I was like, “Man, I’m going to miss out on that.” And then it just dawned to me, I don’t have to. I just said, “Hey, I’m going to study abroad and then drop out.”
It was a cheap way to see Europe on the school’s dime. I treated that as a time of introspection where I said, okay, that was going to give me three months to think about what I want to do with my life or what business I want to start, that sort of thing. And then I’ll come out of that with clarity and just be able to dive head first into what I’m doing.
As I was studying abroad, me and a buddy, I feel like one thing that I’m really good at is just productivity and making things efficient, especially optimizing my own life. A bunch of people are asking about that especially after I hit six figures with student painters while I was still running a painting business in college. I had a bunch of friends at this conference. They were wanting to start businesses and they were asking me all these questions on how I did it and how I managed my work load and all that stuff.
Me and a buddy, we just said, “Hey, we should put together a little PDF on just productivity hacks and stuff, things that we do.” It’s like we wrote it specifically for this small group of people which turned out to be the best blessing that you could ever ask for because when you have a clear avatar that you’re writing your book for, I always teach, think of one person and then write the book to that person. Literally, say Dear Spencer, and then write the chapter and then just delete the Dear Spencer part.
If you are my complete avatar, when you’re ever struggling with voice, that’s the best hack, it’s just write specifically to one person. That turned out to become a blessing. We just did this PDF and then it was like, “Hey, we could actually maybe make this a little bit bigger and then sell it on Amazon.” That’s what we did. We published the book on Amazon. It’s called The Productive Person, the very first book that I did.
As I was studying abroad in Austria, I remember one day I was snowboarding with my friends which is what I really did in Austria for the most part, we were snowboarding and they had heard about this book and they said, “Chandler, is the book doing well? I heard books don’t make any money.” I said, “You know what guys, we were snowboarding all day yesterday and the book made $400.” It was as if as I said that, as those words came out of my mouth, I realized, hey, this is that passive income thing that Robert Kiyosaki talked about in Rich Dad, Poor Dad that I read about in high school and I thought can never happen.
This is that thing and it’s one of those things where once you see it, you can’t unsee it. The book made close to $7,000 in the first month and continued to make thousands of dollars a month in passive income which led to me doing another book, led to me teaching another friend to do his book which ultimately led to starting Self-Publishing School.
Spencer:Perfect. That’s awesome. You wrote this book probably not expecting it to do quite as well as it did. I’m sure you did a lot to make sure it was successful. We’ll talk about some of those strategies. How people can make their books successful. But when you have that first home run, if you will, it’s very motivating and of course, it’s led to Self-Publishing School. I want to dive into some of those numbers first and then we’re going to dive into strategies for publishing a successful book a little bit.
Maybe you can share some tips but first, back in about 2015, Business Insider did a big article on you and Self-Publishing School. At the time, it said that you’re on track to earn about $1 million that year. Are you willing to share how much your business will do this year?
Chandler:Totally, yes. 2015, Business Insider wrote that article. The funny piece about that article is, I remember this because my business was just starting to get off the ground. It was April of 2015 and I think we had done like $200,000, maybe $300,000, we just launched in February. Actually, yeah, I think we’ve done $180,000 or something. I just remember I knew that the hook, I got this intro to a chick that wrote for Business Insider, I knew she’s not going to write this story unless I give her a good hook. I’m a marketer so I like writing hooks.
The hook is College Dropout Starts Million Dollar Business. That’s the hook. I got to give her that hook. The hook was like, “Hey, I’m on track to hit $1 million this year.” Which if you know basic math, you know that April and $180,000 in revenue, that’s definitely not on track. But for me, I’m a huge fan of public accountability so I knew that if this gets printed in Business Insider, I’m going to hit $1 million. I’m going to do whatever I got to do to make that happen because I don’t want to look like an idiot. I certainly don’t want to be a liar so I’m going to make sure that I hit this.
What ended up happening is we went from $0 to $1.32 million that year. From February to the end of the year, we went from $0 to $1.32 million. That was in 2015. In 2016, we did just over $2.2 million. This year, we’ll do, I’ll say at least $4 million. I’m shooting for $5 million.
Spencer:That’s awesome, man.
Chandler:We’re a little bit behind revenue targets. Before, and profitability is way up. That’s what we're looking at this year.
Spencer:That’s huge. Congrats.
Spencer:That’s a big number to be able to grow that in a period of three years, essentially. That’s awesome. How big is your team right now? Sorry, maybe this is diving too deep but I’m just curious how many people are on your team helping you out.
Chandler:We’ve got eight full time including myself. We’ve actually downsized the team a little bit which this is probably a good takeaway for people, as an entrepreneur, especially in a fast growing business, it just becomes a measurement contest. When you’re out at public things, it’s like, “Oh my gosh, who is the biggest deal here?”
I found myself actually when people would ask me employee question, I would want that number to be more because that meant I was more legit. Actually, what ended up happening is we skip the small business phase. We grew so fast, we hired our first employee and then within 9 months or so, we hired 10 people or something crazy. We were just hiring people, multiple people every single month.
As a leader and as a manager, I wasn’t able to stress test my systems and also my leadership ability. I was, gosh, 22 years old. Everyone who worked for me pretty much was older than me. I had zero leadership ability whatsoever. I was a decent manager but I was just doing a horrible job of leading the company and then add to the fact that hey, this is my first rodeo at seven figures so there are just these organizational systems, things that you need to learn. It was really inefficient and our profitability was horrible especially for the industry that we’re in. It was just horrible.
We’ve actually downsized the team now. It’s the smallest it’s ever been since a long time. The team is smaller than ever but we’re way more efficient. I like to say it’s a seal team now. We’re very effective, we’re very efficient. We’re still growing rapidly. Our profitability is way up. I’m able to pay people better. I’m able to provide better benefits and just create a better work environment. Everything is way more efficient. That’s been one of the biggest lessons I learned is don’t get caught in the trap of growing head count or chasing what I call the revenue rabbit.
I say these revenue numbers, you’re impressed but we don’t talk about my profit numbers, which is actually the most important number. It’s the only number that matters. I got so excited about these revenue numbers that I was just chasing revenue and then it was all flying out the back door. These are the hard lessons that you learn as an entrepreneur.
It’s like hey, profit is the only thing that matters. Don’t chase headcount. Prioritize results over impressing people. Like oh, these things, just when you’re young and chasing stuff, it’s easy to lose sight of.
Spencer:Absolutely. I agree. Not to ask about any revenue number. I will ask you about profit here. What roughly are your profits on your book sales that you published versus the profit coming in from Self-Publishing School?
Chandler:Everything feeds through Self-Publishing School. The book sales, that brings in thousands of dollars a month from just the actual books themselves. My philosophy is hey, passive income is great for books and you are going to make that. You’re going to do work once and you’re going to get paid forever. There’s no better ecosystem, low barrier to entry and profitability for success, in my opinion than this.
It’s easy to do that but for me, I’m way more concerned about what is the book doing for me and my business. It’s a lead generator. It’s insane. One of my books that I published brought in close to $100,000 in the first 55 days, just from business on the backend, which is pretty crazy. One of my books, I’ll just read you a stat here. I’m in my InfusionSoft. Last month, I gave away an audiobook in one of my books called Book Launch. In that book, last month, there were 387 leads from that book.
Chandler:Actually, that’s just one opt in from that book. The other opt in looks like it generated 126 leads.
Chandler:It's like the leads in a business is invaluable. And then the profitability on Self-Publishing School, that’s consistently going up. This year, it will be more like 30%. This is what we’re looking at. That’s what we’re modelled out for the year but it hasn’t been that high in the past.
Spencer:To restate this, if somebody wants to go out and publish their own book, the chances of them making $5,000 or $10,000 a month, that’s feasible, that’s a doable number.
Spencer:To bring in a seven figure a year income from just publishing books, that’s probably much more difficult.
Spencer:However, if they’re using those books to build leads and generate revenue for whatever their core business, if you will, is, that’s just gravy on top, the book sales.
Chandler:Totally. I like to say books is the silent salesman.
Chandler:When you buy my book and read my book, you’re spending hours with me and the book is not saying a word. I’m not saying a word but by the end of it, you’re ready to do business together and I’ve taught you a bunch of stuff.
Spencer:I love it. To be honest, this is a lead source I have not personally tapped into at all. I’ve published a couple of kindle books but it was completely under a pen name that wasn’t related to my core business, more just one of my nip sites to see if I can make some money. It still brings in a few hundred dollars a month that I haven’t touched in a couple of years so that’s nice.
Chandler:That’s pretty nice. That’s wonderful.
Spencer:Sure. But now, I’m thinking maybe I should be publishing real books under my own name to build my own brand and my own audience a little bit better. Having said that, let’s dive into what does make a successful book? What’s the secret to publishing a great book?
Chandler:There are two pieces. There is making the book quality and there’s marketing the book successfully.
Spencer:Let’s maybe focus on the promotional strategies unless you feel like the writing of the book itself is maybe more important but I could be wrong.
Chandler:It’s definitely important. You can’t polish a turd. It’s kind of hard to market a crappy book because there is literally zero virality to it. This is where I think a lot of people go wrong. They just think they can throw together a book. I’m just very against that.
In the marketing piece, this is what I like, this is what I enjoy. For me, marketing is just positioning. People get so caught up in their head. When they think about marketing, they get so confused. It’s actually just positioning you product and being clear with the hook, clear with who you’re serving, and then clear with how your book is going to serve that need.
The more specific that you can be, the better. This is where I see a lot of people make mistakes. They aren’t specific with the content of their book. They have a topic of a book just like, “Hey, live a better life. Pursue your passion and then achieve your dreams.” I hear that and I don’t know if that’s a book for me. I don’t even know really what that book is about. People go that route.
I like to drill as floor down as I can. I’ll give you just a clean cut example. One of the guys on my staff has been with me for a while. He started as a student. He’s about to publish his third book. It’s basically what he uses to plan his life. It’s this weekly check in and all this. It’s like a planner. It’s not really a planner. It’s a goal setting tool, in a sense. It’s awesome. He’s a great guy and he just crushes it. He does so well. He’s one of my most productive guys.
I’ve seen the results from this planner but when you tell someone, “Hey, I have a planner for your life.” It’s just like, “Cool, another planner. Who cares? I’ve seen so many of these. I’ve bought so many of these that I haven’t used. What makes this different?” When I really got to talking to him, it’s like, “Okay, you can have this.” He was calling it Life Dock, which is a great generic general positioning.
I’ve drilled in. What I think is really his strong suit is he’s a man of faith and he’s also doing very well in business. I was like, “Omer, this is your niche. There are so many guys who they feel like they have to lose their faith, their religion.” It’s an either or decision between religion and business success, and it’s like there’s this weird shadow over that that’s like hey, if you go for business success, you’re going to lose God in the process or if you go the other way… It’s an either or decision. I said,” I don’t think it’s an either or decision and you’re living proof to that.”
So why not say, “Hey, this is for men who are struggling with their faith and their profession. It’s a tool that they can use to balance that and be more successful and live a more fulfilling life.” It’s like oh my gosh, how much more specific is that? I know either I’m that or I’m not, right?
Chandler:And if I am that, I know this is the book for me. That’s just trying to give a real concrete example of you can’t niche down too much. I come talking to the niche guy here. I’m preaching to the choir at this point, but you really can’t. I could go on and on for days about specific marketing tactics. We talk about those on the Self-Publishing School blog. If you don’t get this part right, then any tactic, any tool, any tweak that you can do, none of that matters if you don’t nail a positioning.
Spencer:Yeah. I love that. Like you said, I do talk about going specific, going niche as opposed to going broad when I’m talking about websites. Usually, that’s what I’m talking about. The same principle applies, obviously. If you’re talking to the specific person, they understand what they need, what they want, and if they see it, they’re going to buy it.
Let’s say somebody does nail that positioning. They’ve got the book and obviously, they go through and they make sure it’s high quality and everything like that. At that point, they’ve got the book written, they put it up on Amazon, what’s one or two of the top promotional strategies that you’d recommend to make that book move?
Chandler:Number one is the do a launch team.
Chandler:Create a launch team with your book. A launch team is basically just a fancy word for a group of people who’ll support your book launch. There are a couple of things that you can do here. It’s obviously what they get and what they give. They get a digital copy of the book. They get to see the behind the scenes of the successful book launch, surround themselves with likeminded people. They get access to you. I like to put people’s names in the book who are in the launch team. And then in return, they read the book ahead of time. They share the book with their friends and they leave a review on day one when it launches. You have a ton of momentum when you launch the book.
I’ve got a post on this on the Self-Publishing School blog. We can link that up in the show notes. Actually, it’s like a detail that I obviously can’t go into on this interview or we’d be here all day. That’s one thing. A lot of people have found that really helpful.
The second thing I’d say is, and this is going to seem like not a launch tactic but invest money on a really good cover. I like to say there’s a difference between a good looking cover and a good selling cover because a good looking cover, it might be appealing to the eye but it doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t grab attention. The job of your cover is to reach out and smack someone on the butt as they’re walking by. You want that head jerk reaction.
When I’m looking at my cover, just like we were talking about before we started recording, I just launched a podcast, Self-Publishing School podcast. With that cover, I had my graphic take the top 30 podcasts on iTunes and then drop in our podcast the potential covers. I could step back from my computer screen 5 to 10 feet and I could figure out which were the winning ones because which one stopped me to look. That’s really important.
Google, they call it the BFB test. The big effin button. Basically, if you step back from the computer, do you instantly know what you’re supposed to do? Is it obvious? Think about when you land on Google. It’s pretty obvious. You type in here and you click this button. It’s a similar thing with your cover. You should make it very clear. The title needs to pop off of the page. The title needs to be very clear. It needs to be on the upper third of the cover.
A lot of white people like to put an image on the top and then the title towards the bottom. That’s not smart because we’re talking natural eye path movement. Your eyes naturally go to about a third down and then they scan down to the right so you want to have the title up top, an image potentially in the middle that breaks it up, then the sub title at the bottom, then your name very big at the very bottom. That’s the formula that I use.
Spencer:I love it. That’s good. Like you said, we could probably talk about promotional strategies all day. You’ve got some great blog posts people can check out on Self-Publishing School. If people want to learn a little bit more, they can do that. I’ll have links for that as well.
Sort of talking about your story, you dropped out of school. The business took off. It seems like everything has been smooth sailing but I do know that there was a little bit of hiccup along the way. You originally started with a partner and you’re no longer with that partner. Are you willing to share what happened there along the way and what lesson have you gotten from that experience?
Chandler:For sure. That’s one of the biggest lessons I learned. I’ll just tap into it.
Spencer:Yeah. Go for it.
Chandler:I heard two different pieces of advice from mentors a really long time ago. They became clear once I got to the situation. Number one was don’t ever partner out of insecurity. Don’t partner out of insecurity thinking I can’t do this by myself so I need help from someone else. Number two is a little bit more funny. I had a mentor. He said, “Hey, I like all ships. I like big ships. I like small ships. I like tall ships. I like long ships but Lord of mercy, don’t put me in a partnership.”
That was his philosophy on partnership. Some people are on both sides of this equation. I’m probably at an extreme end and I’ll probably swing back towards the middle at some point. But basically, what happened, I partnered out of insecurity. I had a business partner. We did pretty well for a good little while then one day, we’re having some success. I showed up to our company retreat and I found out from one of my employees that my business partner is trying to kick me out of business.
We went through mediation. It was basically hey, one of us is buying the other person out. We’re bringing in a mediator so let’s work this out. I bought him out. I went multiple six figures in debt for the first time in my life. It was a huge, huge lesson learned. I know I partnered out of insecurity. I probably won’t partner with someone on a business for a really long time. If I do, lesson learned there is have a really great operating agreement, clear terms. It won’t be 50/50 because there is no such thing as a 50/50 partnership. It’s never 50/50. There’s no 50/50 effort and there’s no 50/50 monetary investment. 99% of the time, there is always one person that does more so you just need to establish that upfront.
If the other person is not okay with that, then it’s probably not going to be a good partnership because even though I had the title of “CEO,” it wasn’t clear. We would make all decisions together. He would undercut my decisions. It was just a pretty messy process. I learned a lot of lessons there. It’s been the most growth that I’ve had since I bought him out because I’m the solo guy at the top of the boat. I’m the single captain steering the ship. When we screw up, it’s my fault. If we have success, it’s because the team is doing a great job, right?
Chandler:It’s like you learn so much faster that way. You just fast track your learning. It’s been a year and a couple of months since that happened. I paid off all of the debt in 11 months.
Chandler:Now, the business is extremely profitable. It’s been just the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned a lot of lessons along the way.
Spencer:We don’t have to go into the details but at the core, was it just a disagreement between both of your as far as the direction of the company?
Chandler:I think a little bit. I think, this is just me hypothesizing, I think it was ultimately, I was the face and he was the behind the scenes guy. I think I started getting attention. The business started getting attention. He got jealous of that. He’s my boss at Student Painters previously so it’s like, “Oh, the student becomes the CEO and then also gets all the attention.” It’s like that’s a hard pill to swallow for any.
Spencer:It’s a tough position to be in for sure.
Chandler:Yeah. Even though it’s like, “Hey, I know I work five times harder than you and you’re just like I’m driving this business. I’m willing to do stuff that you’re not.” I think that’s hard for someone to look in the mirror and say that, “This guy put in all the money to start the business and he’s working way harder than me. Hey, I’m fine with taking the back seat.” I think that’s just human nature. That balled up and then I think that’s ultimately what did it in.
This is a phase in my life where I had learned a lot of things so I was pretty abrasive and just pretty brash. I wasn’t after it. I was a non easy person to work with for sure.
Spencer:Lesson learned about partnerships, they can be good or bad but I will just echo that. If anybody is thinking about going into a partnership, just think long and hard about it. Think through all the scenarios and the pros and cons of that partnership. I’m going to just ask one or two more questions here. I do want to ask a little bit more about why Self-Publishing School has been such a huge success? What are the biggest drivers there?
Chandler:The biggest driver is learning marketing. I had this epiphany when I dropped out of school. My business was completely failing and I talked to a couple of mentors like, “Hey, what’s going on here?” The advice that I got from a lot of them was, “Hey, you need to learn marketing. You need to learn specifically copywriting.” Not copywriting like copyright a book but copywriting which means salesmanship in print, writing words that sell. That was the feedback that I got is, “Hey, learn copywriting, learn marketing.”
I would just back up a second. I had this epiphany that if I learned this skill, I would never be broke. I will never be out of a job and I could write my own paycheck because people always need more leads and more customers. That’s something that will never go away. If I learned that skill, that’s going to grow my business. That’s exactly what happened. I double downed. For copywriting, I was hand writing copy for one hour a day for three months. I was reading every marketing book, every copywriting book. I just poured myself into that.
Because of that, we were able to acquire a lot of customers early on and we had this fast revenue growth which I’m a firm believer that to grow a business, you need an economic engine which means you need customers. Until you get those customers, nothing else matters. Your logo doesn’t matter. If you’re an LLC or not, it doesn’t matter. Your website doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but getting customers and getting money coming in the door because that money will solve a lot of problems. You can basically pay people to do all the stuff that you want to do and you don’t like to do and you’re not good at it.
Spencer: You said that you acquired customers. Where were your getting these leads from?
Chandler: We have a series of three webinars. The leads were coming from multiple sources. Number one was just hustling as hard as we could. I found this bot that messaged all of my Facebook friends that said, “Hey, I’m doing this webinar on how to write a book. Can you share this with someone who might find it helpful?” People started sharing it and sharing it. I only had one call to action. That someone should share this.
We also had a couple of affiliates that took a chance on me because I’ve done a really good job of investing in relationships and not just asking them for stuff but giving them stuff and just being a good friend. I just said, “Hey, we’re launching this. Would you mind helping me out?” They did. That’s how we got the leads. We did a series of webinars three weeks in a row. All in that webinar, we went them to an application. The psychology behind that is if you apply to be a part of this as opposed to me pitching you, now you’re trying to sell me. You’re trying to sell me on why you’re a good fit for this hand selected, small, exclusive program.
Chandler:That’s what we did. We were very transparent with people. We said, “Hey, I’ve done this successfully myself but I’ve never taught this successfully. It’s going to be the most intimate environment that has ever been. It’s going to be with a handful of people. No one will ever have this kind of access to me. I’m literally going to give you my personal cell phone number. Call me or text me anytime.” We sold it before we had even created it. 44 folks into this first class and it brought in $80,000, something like $86,000 or something.
And then I built it alongside of them over 12 weeks. They would tell me exactly what they wanted to learn and then I would grow these modules out. We had a ridiculous success. That’s how we got them all in. To circle all the way back to your original question why has my business been successful, it’s because that skill and the ability to market and drive revenue and then recognize that there are certain things that you’re not going to be good at, the just hire out those things.
Spencer:That’s good advice and it sounds like just a lot of hustle in between. Taking care of obviously the sales copy but then reaching out in a number of different ways to bring in those leads.
Chandler:When you said hustle, I just wanted to not gloss over a couple of things. We would literally close people on the phones and then we closed the cart and then we did why didn’t you buy phone calls, which is like, “Hey, we want to hear why you didn’t buy.” Book this call for 15 minutes. We did all of these calls and on those calls, we sold a ton more people into the program.
We also found out how we needed to change our marketing and our messaging moving forward. Then, we had a low tier and high tier. At 30 days in, we said, “Hey, try this sample caution call because you didn’t buy the bigger package. Try this out. See if you like it. If not, you get a free coaching call. If so, we’re going to tell you about an opportunity to upgrade.” We did all these phone sales with those folks. A bunch of those people upgraded. A bunch of which are now my best employees. They are people who went through the program.
It’s like every step of the way, doing things that other people aren’t willing to do. Who’s going to get a bot and message every single one of their Facebook friends and then follow up? Who’s going to get on the phone when everyone is trying to just automate everything? Who’s going to get on the phone and actually try to close someone? Who’s going to say, “Hey, why didn’t you buy?” All those little things, those high touch point things that no one is willing to do but that actually moves the needle.
Spencer:Big time. Great tips. Great advice, I love your story. You had a lot of success. I appreciate you coming on here and sharing it. This final question that I have is maybe just one for me because I’m thinking a lot more about it lately because I’m becoming an old man as we know. But the question surrounds if you didn’t have to worry about money for the rest of your life, I’d start thinking about this, what would I do with my time? I post that to you. if you didn’t have to worry about money anymore and had to be hustling and doing all the great things you are, how would you spend your time?
Chandler:My gut reaction is I’d be doing exactly this sort of thing. I feel like my purpose and my mission in life is to scale massive companies. It’s I feel like my greatest skill and then also the area where I can add the most value and create the most wealth, which ultimately, I’ve seen my life being basically two phases. It’s like John D. Rockefeller, who’s my hero.
I make a ton of money and then spend the second part of my life giving it all away, philanthropy, creating charities, foundations, and all that stuff. That might be my answer but I feel like you have to have money to do that stuff. I really feel like it’s just a fact. You have to have money to be able to do that, to be able to create the kind of change that I want to create. This is the economic engine for me. I had fun with it. This is phase one and then phase two is really ramping up the philanthropy side of things.
Spencer:I love it. That’s awesome. Chandler, how can people stay in touch with you or follow along with what you’re doing?
Chandler:The best place to go is the Self-Publishing School blog. One of my favourite posts that we have that people seem to find helpful is How to Self Publish a Book. That’s helpful. People love that. I’ve got some free training. It’s a webinar. You can go to self-publishingschool.com/free.
If you’re interested more in like, “Okay, I want to learn about the writing piece but he didn’t really talk about that much.” Then the marketing, then the launching, then how to leverage it for your business. I talk about that there. That’s like the two most helpful resources that people like and then I’m just hanging out on Facebook every now and then.
Spencer:Absolutely. I appreciate it, Chandler. Thank you for your time.
Spencer:Yup. We’ll see you.[/expand]
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