Archives For Blog

The most important step in becoming a growth hacker is real life experience. I ended my ebook on the subject with some suggestions of what to do next if you wanted to become one. I was disappointed that I couldn’t offer more. But with the launch of the revised and expanded paperback edition of Growth Hacker Marketing coming up on September 30, I had an idea. Since I’ve written so much about the importance of mentors and practical application, what if I could create a way for at least one person to get real experience, marketing a real product?

Here’s what I’m doing: Instead of spending the paperback’s marketing budget myself, I am going to turn it over–all $10,000 of it–to the person with the best growth hacking idea for the book’s launch. With my help, we’ll execute that idea, track, and record the results. At the end I will write the whole experiment up as a case study that features you as its star (like I did here with The Obstacle is The Way). For those of you looking to make your splash in this space, this is that opportunity—a chance to lead a high profile campaign, prove your ideas, and establish your credentials. In a way, the ebook was the MVP and now that it’s been proven (sold thousands of copies, gotten 200 reviews on Amazon, been translated in multiple languages), growth hacking can take it to the next level.

No experience is required. The best, most interesting idea/person will get the gig. But I do want BIG ideas, things that I wouldn’t have thought of myself. Ideas that will actually move books in a trackable, scalable way. As I’ve said many times, the best marketing campaigns prove the ideas in the book and I want this to do that.

Qualifications/Requirements/Process: I get a lot of emails from ambitious young people looking to intern for me or work for me. This is the kind of chance I would have jumped on when I was that age. To apply just email: ryholiday@gmail.com with a ONE paragraph pitch for your idea, no longer than 300 words and then at the bottom, include one link about yourself that you think I should see. Use the subject line: GHM Gig. (I will actually be checking these requirements so if you can’t follow them, you’ve already failed). Tell me what you would do with the $10,000 budget, why you think it would work, and a little bit about yourself. The deadline will be August 11th. 

Let’s go!

Ryan

 

**Winner has been selected. Info to come! Thanks to everyone who applied**

It’s the eve of a big launch.

Maybe a year went into this project. Maybe ten years. Your life savings or your entire reputation could be on the line.

Maybe you’re launching a book (as I did recently). Or a startup. Or a course. Or you work for a company that is rolling out a new product that they’ve put you in charge of.

Whatever it is, the reality is that you’re stressed, worried and overworked. And the closer you get the launch, the harder it is to have any idea of how this whole thing is going to come off. Less than half of all Kickstarter projects are successful. 93% of companies accepted by Y Combinator fail. Most books sell less than 250 copies (to say nothing of getting any significant attention). It’s impossible to tell whether a launch will be a success or not. And even if everything goes exactly as you hope—the results could still be disappointing.

So no wonder it can feel like you’re going to crack up, fall apart and die.

Every person who’s ever been there before you has felt this way at some point.

I’ve done my share of launches—under my own name and for other people. Some have been very successful (millions of dollars in sales, bestseller status, mainstream press and media recognition). Others have been catastrophic failures.

Staying sane is hard, but not impossible. Here are some things to keep in mind as you approach a launch:

-You’re not going to die. Whatever happens, it’s almost certain that the result—good or bad—will not be a matter of life or death. So calm down.

-Friends will let you down. It’s what happens. They’ve promised to help and they won’t. Others will decide this is the time to hem or haw, or nickel and dime you. Don’t take it personally. If it’s egregious, cut them out of your life. If it’s not, just forget it. They don’t know what they’re doing—they’ve never been where you are.

-Just don’t be that guy when it’s other people’s turn. “The best revenge is to not be like that.”

-Hire professionals and support—whatever you can afford and then spend a little more. You will regret cheaping out at this moment in time. You will not regret investing in your project.

-Don’t wait until the last minute. If you did, I have no sympathy for you. You just set yourself up to fail. That was dumb.

Do your research. Figure out what has worked for other products in your space. For everything people try during a launch, the 80/20 principle still applies: most things don’t move the needle much. Use that knowledge to find leverage for your own launch to create big results. You aren’t reinventing the wheel here, doing your homework will save you time and stress. It will prevent fruitless chasing of vanity metrics.

-Have you run a premortem? In a premortem you look to envision what could go wrong in advance, before your launch. Today everyone from startups to Fortune 500 companies and the Harvard Business Review are using it to find big mistakes (and to prepare for unpleasant surprises) before they launch a product. The premortem goes back to the ancient Stoics, who had an even better name for it: premeditatio malorum(premeditation of evils). We can do the same for our launches, not only to find mistakes before they happen, but prepare ourselves mentally to expect the unexpected.

-You don’t control the results, only the effort.

-You don’t control the results, only the effort you put in. I’m saying that twice. I would actually say it more times if I had the space. Repeat it to yourself over and over again. Intention and effort are what matters. A million variables outside your control rest between you and a successful launch.

-But speaking of results, limit your real time accounting as much as possible. I’ve probably refreshed the Amazon rank for the book I am launching this month 250 times. That’s about 10% as much as I would have if I wasn’t restraining myself. Don’t waste time checking how far you’ve come or how far you need to go. Stay in the moment and work.

-Plan.

Despite the narrative in your head, you’re not releasing a blockbuster movie. I repeat, this is not a Hollywood launch. For some reason we all fall into this temptation and it clouds our priorities and prevents success. You don’t need to get all your customers packed into a single week — no newspaper is going to be printing the scores the following Monday. Instead, focus on what matters: attracting the right people early and satisfying them. More will come if you do this right. Think soft opening, not grand opening.

-Make sure you have something else that you can channel your anger, anxiety, and excess energy into like exercise. This way it doesn’t matter how the launch is going, you know you had a good day at the gym, or in the pool or on your bike. Extra benefit: good ideas will come to you here.

-Remember, all’s well that ends well.

-Having a dog or an animal or something totally carefree that you can focus on is nice too. I am going to go water my lawn in a few minutes. It will help.

Ask questions from the best people in business. Short questions — mostly about what was most effective and least effective. Don’t ask them to do your job. Just help prevent you from fucking up.

-Know that your life will be a mess. Now is not the time to move, to start a new relationship, to finally address some problem you’ve been putting off. Life goes on hold.

-Hey guess what, launching/promotion/marketing isn’t someone else’s job. It’s your job. Even if you hired other people to help, it’s still on you. No one cares about this project more than you. No one is a better spokesperson for it than you. If you think you can hand all this off to someone and still get amazing results, you’re wrong.

-Do crazy things. I’ve vandalized my own billboards. I’ve had clients give away enormous chunks of their own product. I lied to the New York Times, ABC News and the Today Show. Launches are nuts. The ends—almost any ends—justify the means.

-No one else understands what you’re going through. Launches are unique, even people that have been through them have trouble remember just how crazy they make you feel. Accept it and power through.

-Knock as much easy stuff as you can early. Have interviews? Pre-record them. Articles you’re writing? Do them in months in advance. Have travel? Book it. The fewer decisions you have to do while you’re in the shit, the better. Don’t sit around now when you have free time and then complain to everyone else when you’re overwhelmed later. Take advantage of the downtime.

-If you need a favor, ask. Ask people how they can help you. You’d be surprised how much good stuff comes from this.

-Relax man. If it fails, you’ll survive. If it succeeds, you’ll be happy — but don’t let that go to your head either. Because you should remember how easily it could have gone the other way.

Here are some resources on having a killer launch. Read them.

*The Right (and Wrong) Way To Market A Book – Ryan Holiday

*The Growth Hacker Wake Up Call – Slideshare

*Hacking Kickstarter: How to Raise 100,000 In 10 Days – Tim Ferriss

*How to Create a Million-Dollar Business This Weekend – Tim Ferriss

*4 Hour Chef Launch: Summary of Week One – Tim Ferriss

*How We Got Our First 2,000 Users Doing Things That Don’t Scale – Fast Company

*How To Self-Publish A Bestseller: Publishing 3.0 – James Altucher

*What Are Key Strategies To Acquire Your First 100K Users With Zero Marketing Budget? – Quora

Look, if you’re about to ship a product or launch a new company, open a restaurant, or make your debut on stage, you’re already ahead of 99% of the population. People would kill to be where you are.

So there’s no reason to add unnecessary stress or be so hard on yourself. If you approach a launch from the right perspective, you will better be able to remain calm and be successful. You won’t be able to control the obstacles that come your way during a launch, but how you approach and view them will determine how hard they’ll be for you to overcome. The important thing is to learn to be comfortable with the inevitable uncertainty and focus on the present. If you keep your head down and only focus on what you can control (your effort) you’ll be able to deal with the results, good or bad.

This column originally appeared on Thought Catalog. Comments can be seen there.

I have a productivity secret. It’s a simple one, but it works.

It’s this: I just don’t buy WIFI when I fly. Not at the airport and not in the air.

I didn’t intend for it to be one either. It happened because I was being cheap.

Whether I’m traveling for business (which I do a lot) or pleasure, I deliberately pass on the pretty unbelievable technological breakthrough that makes it possible to connect to the internet at 30,000 feet. That’s it. And it makes me amazingly productive.

Tim Ferriss is right. Email received is a function of email sent. Take yourself off the grid for a second—stop the bleeding—and then go through your inbox offline. You’ll be amazing at how quickly you start banging them out, how many emails you’d saved for later you are now fine with deleting, how easy it is to get back to Inbox zero.

In the air, free of distractions, I have ideas. I have the patience to deal with that problem email I’ve been putting off. I can reflect. It occurs to me to send my girlfriend a nice note. I put together tomorrow’s To Do list. I am re-energized. I have a clear head. (Extra tip: I usually listen to the same song over and over while I do this.)

Of course it’s not just email and planning. I’ve edited books in the air. I’ve filled out Q&As. I’ve written articles. I am writing this article right now, in the air between Dublin and New York. The map on the screen tells me I have about two hours to wrap it up before I land.

read too. I’m like a binge reader and air travel is my enabler. Give me a cross country (or god forbid, an international one) and I’ll burn through everything I’ve been meaning to read.

But of course, none of this is possible if I am on Gchat or getting hit with real time emails. Or if I’m checking out articles designed deliberately to push my buttons. The whole equation falls apart if the endless choices of the internet are available.

This productivity zone is possible for $9.99-14.99 free. That’s why you shouldn’t fight Airplane Mode. Embrace it. Let it be your friend.

I’m not the only one to do this. In fact, I’ve found it’s a trick shared by some of the busiest people I know. Some of us even plan travel if we feel stuff piling up. It brings new meaning to the advice of the writer John Fante: “When stuck, hit the road.”

The new version: When email is piling up, when you have a bunch of boring things you don’t want to do, when you need edit/write/create, book a long flight.

If you want a satisfying feeling, here it is—opening up the laptop when I get to the hotel or back to my house and seeing the outbox launch a hundred emails one right after another, like paratroopers out of the back of a transport plane.

How much have I actually saved doing this? I don’t know—a thousand dollars over the last five years? But that’s pennies compared to the work I got done.

Next time you fly, treat yourself to not getting WIFI. You’ll thank me.

This column originally appeared on Thought Catalog. Comments can bee seen there.