TTT 34: Lessons From A Small Bet 🤓
How to sound cooler 🧊
மாலை வணக்கம் (maalai vaNakkam), Buenas Noches, and Good Evening from New York City.
I’ll be sharing a thing I did, a tweet I loved, and a thought I had.
A Thing 🎥
Last Sunday, I released my first small bet - a video course titled “How To Get Promoted Beyond Senior Engineer”.
From start to finish, it took 30 hours. I expected to sell 5 copies. To my surprise, I sold 60 copies (~$1900 revenue) in 4 days with a 5.3% conversion rate in over 15 countries!
While it might seem like the revenue is the most interesting part, it isn’t. It’s the , credibility, lessons, and opportunities that follow.
Creating a video course and selling some units adds to my credibility in a couple ways.
My credibility as a doer - that I can make a dollar not from my salary.
My credibility as an engineer - that I write effectively beyond the walls of my job.
Opportunity wise, I’ve been invited to do a guest blog post on Taro Blog, run by Pahul Pandey. His Youtube channel has 71K subscribers. I’m excited to see what other opportunities will present themselves.
Here’s what I learned:
Recording myself speaking is much different than presenting to a live audience. I scrutinized the talking points much more closely than I do live. I had to chunk it on a slide-by-slide basis to not get overwhelmed.
I was surprised to see how many folks paid with Paypal (~17% of orders). Paypal isn’t that widely used in the USA so the global appeal got me off guard. Luckily I saw a tweet by Grace Huang that let me know I should connect PayPal to Gumroad.
Roughly 5% of people will want a refund, no matter what. I was stressed when I got 2 refund requests. I’m hovering at 3.3% right now.
I thought sharing links in Tweets made them less visible. But this tweet with a link to the video course had 62K views and I only have 1K followers. I got lucky that bigger accounts amplified the tweet.
I thought that releasing a digital product would be lonely. But between the Newsletter Launchpad, Small Bets, and this TTTTeam - I never felt alone. When I mentioned the idea in previous editions, I got enthusiastic support in the comments.
Huge thanks to Louie Bacaj and Angeli Sivaraman for inspiring me to release a digital product. Previously, I thought that SaaS (software as a service) was the only way to make money outside employment. I was wrong.
Massive thank you to Sam Cho, Alvin T, Sairam Sundaresan, KimSia Sim, Jennifer Widerberg, and Chris Wong for their thorough feedback on the landing page copy. I’d never written copy for a landing page before so I was paralyzed. Without y’all, the conversion rate would have been much lower.
And please subscribe to their newsletters <3
And since you’ve been so patient with me, you can use discount code “tttteam” for $5 off the video course :)
A Tweet 🐦
This tweet made me realize I need to follow up with folks who purchased “How To Get Promoted Beyond Senior Engineer”.
Luckily, Gumroad has the ability to send emails from the platform. I’ll follow up with folks 1 week after purchase with the following points:
Thanking them for purchasing
How would you feel if you could no longer use it?
What type of people do you think would most benefit from it?
What is the main benefit you received from it?
How can we improve it for you?
A calendly link offering to meet 1-on-1 to discuss their specific situations
These folks paid me to help them with a pain point. It’s critical for me that it addresses what they came for. If I don’t track user outcomes, I’ll be blind to reality.
For anyone who has released a product before, is there anything else I should follow up about?
A Thought 💭
When learning a new language, having an accurate accent is a great way to build trust.
Before I started working through the Mimic Method, I noticed a buffering period (a delay after I say something and they respond) in conversations with people in Spanish (and Tamil). Now, when I speak Spanish to Rodrigo at the coffee shop, he says I sound like his cousins (from Mexico).
I realized the delay was them mapping what I said to the semantic meaning. That was either due to poor direct transliteration and/or accent.
The creator of the Mimic Method, Idahosa Ness, is a classically trained violinist who learned to play by ear. The Mimic Method is a generalization of playing an instrument to our mouths. We can modify the sounds that come from our mouths by how we shape our lips, hold our tongue, and control our breath.
And just like music, our speech has a rhythm, pitch, and melody.
I took diligent notes when I worked with Idahosa 1-on-1 last year. I always intended to share the exercises, but never got around to it. Since it feels like a big lift, I’ll be sharing just one exercise a week moving forward.
Before I could work on the accent, I had to fit my ears to the target language. The first exercise we did was improving my sense of Timing, in the section titled “Practice: Sync your Attention with Syllable Timing”.
Conventional language learning is driven from writing. However, often the spoken form of language doesn’t map 1:1 (syllable-wise) to the written form.
Especially if you’re a beginner or intermediate language learner who struggles to catch native speech, this exercise will free you from listening like a reader. The goal is to listen like a listener. To directly interact with the sound.
While there are 5 European languages listed with various playback speeds, I used this exercise with Youtube clips of the Jaffna Tamil language podcast, Hello Kekutho, and an extension called Looper for Youtube. Youtube allows you to modify the playback speed. Looper allows you to define a start time, end time, and number of loops.
So together, you can do the exercise for your language/accent goals, so long as you can find Youtube videos of it.
Start with just 5 minutes of work a day. It will be mentally exhausting to start. Once you get up to 15-20 minutes a day, you’ll be making dramatic progress.
These techniques can also be used to pick up new accents in languages you already know. Think about how newscasters shed their local accent to sound regionless. If you can find enough newscaster content on Youtube, you could also sound like a newscaster :)
I'd love to hear any feelings you felt while reading this and until next time - be easy.
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