Today, I'm excited to share with you the interview that Perrin and I did with Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes.
Shane is someone that has been involved in the internet marketing space for a number of years and has seen a lot of success. In fact, he's been entrepreneurial his entire life and by his own admission is probably “unemployable” at a traditional job.
Not only has he found a way to bring money in the door, but he's become very good at creating products and building great businesses.
Perrin and I actually wanted to interview Shane because we first started using the Thrive Content builder. We've been extremely impressed with how robust the WordPress tools are, but also how simple they are to use.
We decided to contact Shane after using his product and interview him about how he created and marketed Thrive themes. What you will find in this interview are the steps Shane takes to find great products ideas even in competitive markets (like WordPress tools is), how to launch these products, and how to continue to sell after the launch is completed.
I asked Shane if he would be willing to give my audience a special discount on Thrive Themes, and he agreed. So, for the next 7 days, Thrive Themes is at a discounted price that you cannot get anywhere else.
Below are most of the questions asked. I jotted down the brief answers if you do not have time to listen to the entire podcast. However, please be aware that there was more covered in the podcast and much more nuance than what is written down here.
Why did you get started as an entrepreneur?
Shane has always been interested in building things. He wanted to build something that mattered. And in fact he's been involved in creating businesses since a young age and all throughout college.
He also realized that he wasn't really employable. He usually lost his jobs.
For this reason, almost out of necessity, he knew that he needed to make a living through business. The first time he made a commission online, he was ecstatic.
What was your first online business that supported you full-time?
His first successful online business was affiliate sites and doing ecommerce on eBay.
What kind of success are you having today?
Shane is now making all of his money from selling his own products.
Thrive Themes is his latest project. They have over 5,000 customers and its growing at a good pace.
Almost all of the new products he's created have been more successful than the previous one.
Potential success of affiliate sites vs. your own products?
The product business can be so much more successful. Shane never really did more than 5 figures a month with small affiliate sites.
However, he's now had six-figure product launches.
Why did you get into the WordPress tools business even though it's so competitive?
Shane sees competition as a good thing. This means there's people spending money in the market.
He feels like he can go out and create something that is of a higher quality than existing products, even in a competitive market. That's always been his goal, to put in more work and create a better product than existing offerings.
In addition, for WordPress in particular, you can't just look at the overall market. You need to narrow what part of the market you are actually targeting. As long as you can find a clear difference from other products in your chosen niche, you can make your mark.
Thrive content builder is a perfect example because it removes all the extra steps in the visual content editing steps when compared with the existing competition.
What type of marketing have you done to make Thrive themes so successful?
Affiliate marketing is one of the biggest marketing avenues they use.
Shane and his team put together big launches. Basically for a certain period of time the product is available at a discounted price.
A big part of this is recruiting affiliates. Shane approaches anyone that has written reviews of similar products or affiliate that have promoted his products in the past.
He will just reach out to them via email, and it's a numbers game.
A launch is such a great way to kick off a product. He wants the product to be evergreen and around for the long term. The initial launch can give momentum that can keep the ball rolling.
For example, a launch that he did 4 years ago is still getting daily traffic…despite the fact that he removed the product 2 years ago!
How many potential affiliates do you approach?
Shane currently has about 2,000 affiliates on a mailing list that have promoted his products in the past. So, he lets that existing list know.
Other than that it's closer to 60 to 100 messages to attract another 20 or so larger affiliates. So, 20 affiliates could have a HUGE impact.
What sort of discounts do you recommend for a launch?
If a discount is too big, it loses credibility. Usually, Shane gives a discount of up to 30%, and very rarely up to 50%.
And after the launch, the price always just goes up as the product improves.
What do you use to manage and pay affiliates?
After a launch, what do you do for ongoing marketing?
They continue to add value on the product side. They get into a feedback loop by letting customers try out new features earlier and implement ideas from customers.
Another marketing tactic that works very well, is webinars for affiliates. A live webinar tends to keep people's attention for much longer as well.
What's the most that you've made on one webinar?
On just webinar they were able to make $16k during the actual webinar.
What other tactics should people use to market their ideas other than using affiliates?
First, people with an idea need to act. Too many people are often take too long to release their products.
Shane believes strongly in the lean startup model.
Shane's challenge to listeners:
If you have a product idea, Shane believes you should set a deadline in 3 weeks from now to release something. What's the most minimal and still useful idea that you can release? Figure that out, take action, and release something in 3 weeks.
What is Thrive Themes and what are the biggest benefits?
Their aim is to create tools that are conversion focused. The tools that they create to accomplish this are WordPress themes and plugins.
Shane struggled for a long time to find WordPress themes and plugins that just got out of the way to allow you to create the website that converts like you want.
For example, the Thrive Content builder is a visual content editor for WordPress, but you don't have to do it in the backend; you literally just look at your website and drop in buttons, actions, text, or whatever you want.
They also have several pre-built landing page templates and sales page templates. This is all out of the box ready to use and looks professional.
Where can people follow along with you?
ThriveThemes.com is where Shane is right now.
Shane's final thoughts:
Just pull the trigger and get something out the door. Give yourself a 3 week deadline and just put something out there. You have to do it to start getting some kind of momentum.
Overall, I always find it interesting to hear how others are creating and marketing their products. Shane has found a model that works very well in the internet marketing space, and I do believe much of this can be applied in other markets as well.
Shane also gave everyone listening a challenge and I hope some of you will take him up on that! If you have an idea for a product, give yourself a 3 week deadline to launch SOMETHING! We'd love to hear what your results are in 3 weeks.
Let us know in the comments if you decide to take this challenge.
In addition, Thrive themes is a product that Perrin and I are currently using for our authority project website…and we like it!
As always, I'd love to hear any thoughts or questions that you have in the comments section below.