Before joining BranchOut, Mike had explored a variety of career paths, including preparing for the priesthood at Yale Divinity School and serving as a peacemaker in the West Bank.
Earlier this year, Mike came to me with a new product idea called Soma. Soma is, in its simplest form, a high-end competitor to Brita water filters. It combines Apple-inspired design (e.g. sleek glass carafe) with a subscription service that delivers the world’s first compostable water filter to your door. From form to function, from funding model to revenue model, Mike was eager to disrupt a sleepy but enormous market: water. I became an advisor.
To launch Soma on Kickstarter (and raise $100,000+ in just nine days), Mike and his team used some of the techniques that helped BranchOut grow to 25 million users in just 16 months.
You can replicate what he did.
This post includes all of their email templates, spreadsheets, open-source code to build landing pages, and even a custom dashboard Soma’s hacker Zach Allia built to monitor their Kickstarter data, social media, and press.
This post is as close to copy-and-paste Kickstarter success as you will find. And even if you have no interest in Kickstarter, Mike’s approach is a blueprint for launching nearly any product online for maximal impact and minimal cost.
Jack Canfield, as co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, has more than 500 million books in print. Among them, he can count 47 New York Times bestsellers. Jack also provide me with the early advice and introductions that got The 4-Hour Workweek published, despite 26 rejections.
In the above video, which was filmed as a livecast, the tables are turned. I was honored to be interviewed by Jack and Steve Harrison, the founder of Radio-TV Interview Report (RTIR). In this conversation, we answer questions such as:
- How do I make writing (which I find hard) easier?
- How do I minimize writer’s block and overcome it when it creeps in?
- How have I improved my own writing?
- How do I handle or even plan controversial content?
- Is all PR good PR? (Short answer: No)
- What have I learned from Jack?
- How do you introduce your content to so-called “influencers” (a term I still dislike)?
- How do you craft the pitch and make the approach?
- What advice would I give to someone who wants to write their first book?
- How does one become more action-oriented during the process, and throughout life?
- How does the philosophy of Seneca apply to writing and selling a book?… Read More
Despite this minuscule budget, they did millions of earned media impressions all over the world. People are still talking about them today. Click on each for more context (or, in one case, an uncensored Sasha Grey).
The real question this raises is: how do you craft an message, ad, or story that people talk about years from now?
If you think the above looks familiar, you’re right. It was converted from ridiculous to Avengers-like with post-production movie magic. The original clip was abandoned footage from The 4-Hour Body trailer. It’s embarrassing just watching it!
Think you can create a better soundtrack to the top trailer?
I’m putting $2,000 USD on the table, so show me your best on this AudioDraft page. Check out some of the tracks there, including unstarred. Really fun stuff.
If you want to try AudioDraft yourself for custom audio, use code FERRISS-JUNE to get a $99 discount until the end of June.
2008 blast from the past: me, Mike Wallin, and Derek Sivers, the subject of this post. (Photo: A3maven)
[Total read time: 3-5 minutes.]
Derek Sivers is one of my favorite people. He is a programmer who lost his stage fright by doing more than 1,000 gigs as a circus ring leader (!!!).
He’s also a musician who founded CD Baby in 1998. As of December 2009, CD Baby had the following stats as the world’s largest online distributor of independent music:
- 300,000 artists
- 5,339,025 CDs sold online to customers
- $200,000,000+ paid directly to the artists
Derek sold the company in 2008, and he did so in a most unusual fashion (bolding mine):
Sivers sold CD Baby to Disc Makers in 2008 for what Sivers has reported to be $22 million, bequeathing, upon Sivers’ death, the principal to a charitable trust for music education.; while alive, according to Sivers, it “pays out 5% of its value per year to me.” Wikipedia
I know this to be true.
Stranger still, at its largest, Derek spent roughly four hours on CD Baby every six months! He had systematized everything to run without him. Derek is both more successful and more fulfilled because he never hesitates to challenge the status quo, to test assumptions. The below guest post from him illustrates this beautifully.
Without further ado, the most successful e-mail he ever wrote… Read More
Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify. How did they turn a $100,000 prize into $12,000,000 in transactions?
In the world of magazine articles, one of my all-time favorite headlines is “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Meta” from the MIT Technology Review, a feature about billionaire programmer, Charles Simonyi. Charles designed Microsoft Office and is outstanding at looking at programming as different layers of abstraction.
How can we raise our perspective from 5,000 feet to 30,000 feet to learn a few things? This post will do that with competitions.
Today, Shopify, a start-up I have advised since 2009, announced the winners of their Build-a-Business Competition, featuring a grand prize of $100,000 cash. Winners were determined by combining their two highest-revenue months in an 8-month competition window.
I want this post to show two things, and the second is where meta comes in:
1) How the competition winners won and key lessons learned in taking their products from ideas to profitability. This includes manufacturing, marketing, PR, and just about everything in between. I’ve looked at these types of lessons before.
2) How Shopify has used these competitions to build their own business several-fold and cross the chasm from early-adopter to mainstream. This is something I’ve never written about… Read More
It was a warm evening in the Mission district, a good omen and unusual blessing. The goal of our meeting was simple: to see if we clicked and, passing that hurdle, to plot the making of “the best book trailer ever made.”
Whether we pulled it off or not, that ambitious mission statement was necessary to survive the many all-nighters and hiccups that would follow.
August of 2010 was the starting point.
On November 30th, the end product was a 59-second trailer, which debuted on Huffington Post Books. It immediately took The 4-Hour Body from near #150 to #30 on Amazon, where it later climbed to #1.
The launch was initiated by a simple poll post, which was followed by an analytical second post. Due to its high production value, the video then made the jump from online to offline, eventually making it to national TV for The Dr. Oz Show (see the clip at :40).
This post will explain exactly how the trailer was created, including early concepts, tools, the team, and more… Read More
Charlie’s job entails many things. Feeding tigers not excluded.
Charlie Hoehn first reached out to me through Ramit Sethi in 2008. Almost three years later, he is still working with me.
Here is his initial e-mail routed to Ramit, which I think is instructional for those looking for mentorship of some type:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Charlie Hoehn
Date: Wed, Jul 30, 2008 at 11:25 PM
Subject: Re: Response requested
To: Ramit Sethi
Below is the email I wrote up for Tim Ferriss. Thanks again so much for your insight on how to approach this, and for your willingness to pass it along. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Also, I’d be willing to help you out in any of the ways I outlined below.
After visiting your site countless times since May ’07, I’ve come up with a few suggestions that could improve your readers’ experience. Here are two of the things I think you need… Read More
“I want to get on Oprah eventually, and we’ve been pitching The New York Times, who’s interested.”
Good news or game over?
I hear some version of this on a weekly basis from start-up founders. Sadly, most of them aren’t prepared for national media and do more harm than good with a premature (and non-strategic) jump into the spotlight. The New York Times doesn’t often do two major stories on a single company, so that first — and possibly only — appearance is what counts.
But what of lack of media attention? Indeed. There are two main media challenges:
How do you get media interest? Big media interest?
How do you ensure you’re prepared when a big opportunity presents itself?
In both cases, you chart a course and execute. In this post, I’ll show how I went from my first real TV exposure to appearing repeatedly as a guest on national TV shows. I’ll also share the exact e-mail pitch that led to a Wired feature, as well as recorded radio interviews.
Media coverage isn’t magic, and it need not depend on luck. It can be a step-by-step process… Read More
Ironic? Not really. Let me pose a question: what does a follower need to do if I write “My take on the Pitfalls of…”?
Before they retweet it (even with “RT @tferriss”), many will feel compelled to rewrite “My” as “Tim Ferriss’s” or “@tferriss’s”. Editing means fewer retweets. The same logic applies to some blog post titles, like this one, both for ease-of-sharing and SEO… Read More