Behind The Scenes of How I Made $178,000 Selling My Future
Before we dive into the deep end of my future-selling antics, let me briefly explain what BuyMyFuture is:
BuyMyFuture is a project where I sell access to my life’s work. It’s a one-time purchase to get everything I’ve created in my past AND everything I will create in the future, plus entry into a private community.
In 2015, I sold my future for the first time for $1,000 per person. Buyers got access to 8 existing projects that I’d created to that point—a $4,500 value if we’re going by sticker tags. Then I created 4 more projects over the ensuing 12 months, which were worth an additional $1,500. That brought the total value of my $1,000 future to over $6,000.
This year, $1,500 gets buyers permanent access to all 12 of my existing projects (again, a $6,000 value), plus 5 guaranteed additional projects by 2018. BuyMyFuture is sold annually.
Does it sound crazy? Too good to be true? Really awesome? Then I’ve done my job!
It’s a bit weird to write a breakdown of a project that happened almost a year ago, but I’m writing this now for two reasons. First, because I have a year of data and reflection I can share. Second, and this is 100% transparency at work, this article was a marketing “tactic” to promote the second launch of BuyMyFuture, which happened September 20 – October 4, 2016.
Transparency with a twist of mystery
One of the things that led to the success of BuyMyFuture (and we’ll get to the definition of success in a moment), was my decision to write a daily lead-up journal for two months prior to launching the project. That journal did three things:
- It was a live look into the entire process of launching a crazy project. All my thoughts, feelings, goals, and marketing tactics.
- It grabbed people’s attention and built up anticipation for the project. When you pull back the curtain, people can’t wait to see more.
- It kept me accountable to my project deadlines and launch date.
For 60 consecutive days, I published a 500-1,500 word journal entry on Medium. Yep, every single day for two months.
I shared every single detail about BuyMyFuture, except for the name of the project itself and exactly what I was going to be selling. People reading those entries got to see the initial branding exercises and website sneak peeks, hear conversations with friends, see detailed promotion plans, and know the exact price of the project well in advance. (Looking back, that journal entry was one of the most nerve-wracking to share.) Some numbers about the journal:
- 62 total entries written
- 46,500 (estimated) total words written
- 33,200 total views on all entries
Defining a realistic measure of success was important
Success is a tricky word. It can motivate you like crazy, but it can also make you wear Kleenex boxes on your feet and grow out your nails to embarrassing lengths. I defined what success would be for BuyMyFuture in one of the early journal entries I wrote:
Setting a low goal (100 sales) and high goal (1,000 sales) helps me manage expectations. Of course I want to hit my high goal, but I’ve learned it’s important to set a low goal that still gives a feeling of accomplishment. If you only have one goal and you don’t hit it, a project can easily feel like a failure. I’ve learned to become very realistic with my goals. I’ve also learned a lot about my audience over the past few years. I have the perfect size audience to support my entrepreneurial endeavors. And I’m totally okay with that.
It would have been very easy to let my mind get consumed with thoughts of “a million-dollar launch” and that “I could have financial freedom forever!” But especially with a brand new project that’s never existed before, those types of thoughts would only have put an insane amount of pressure on me. I chose to acknowledge those temptations and set a high goal, but I told myself I had to completely ignore that number once I set it. My baseline measure of success would be hitting the low goal, a number I thought I could almost guarantee. There are obviously never guarantees in life, but my entrepreneurial history gave me a good feeling and some good benchmarks to go off of.
Crazy helpful tactic alert: Calling my existing (and potential) customers
I had real, actual phone calls with 49 people during the lead-up to the launch of BuyMyFuture. Most of those people were avid readers of my daily journal (I asked for people to email me in a few entries), but some of them I hand-picked and contacted via email because they were customers who had purchased multiple things from me in the past.
There were a couple outcomes I hoped to achieve from those 49 phone calls:
- I wanted to get more comfortable “pitching” BuyMyFuture. I had planned on doing a bunch of podcast interviews, so this would be a good warm-up for me.
- I wanted to hear people’s honest reactions to this crazy idea.
- I wanted to explain the project and then hear how people repeated it back to me, in their own words and phrases (which I would add throughout the entire BuyMyFuture website).
- I wanted to find out if people wanted things from me that I hadn’t thought about (two big things that came from those conversations were the BuyMyFuture Slack community and offering a payment plan option at purchase).
Calling people and having real conversations with them was incredibly valuable. It was uncomfortable at times, and scheduling 49 phone calls took a bit of orchestration and time, but that work absolutely paid off. This was one of those unsexy tasks that I’m so happy I stuck with.
Here’s one of the audio recordings I put together during all those phone calls:
So how many of those 49 people actually purchased BuyMyFuture?
- 49 phone calls took approximately 24.5 hours (estimating 30 minutes for each, with scheduling/emailing/actual call time).
- Out of 49 people I called, 33 people said during the call that they would buy my future.
- Out of the 33 people who said they would buy, 16 people* actually bought.
- 49 phone calls amounted to $16,000 in sales.
- Based on the total time of all the calls, I made $653** for every phone call I made.
*I’m guessing I could have sold a slightly higher percentage of the people who said “yes” had I given them the option to purchase right then and there. But then again, maybe not? Either way, I wanted to ensure the people who purchased were 100% excited and that it was right for them. I wasn’t interesting in just selling to these folks on the phone (sorry, Alec Baldwin. I wasn’t always closing).
**Total call sales divided by total time spent making phone calls.
The buzz continued with a fun pre-launch page (one of my favorite pre-launch strategies)
Since I didn’t want to give away the name of the project before it launched, I had to get a bit creative. A few years ago when I sold my name for the first time I remembered creating a page on my website titled “Jason Is Up To Something.” Funny enough, I still have the image that was used for that page:
(Ahh, my more slender days. Check out that “smedium” t-shirt and pensive stare!)
I wasn’t going to reuse what I’d done before, but I knew the strategy worked. That original page resulted in over 600 email signups in just a few weeks. People love some mystery!
So I took the “Jason Is Up To Something” game to a slightly higher level by purchasing the actual domain: jasonisuptosomething.com. (It’s shocking that people haven’t already scooped up these domains I continue to think of!) An hour or two in Photoshop, and I’d mocked up a simple website that would have a big countdown timer to the launch with an email capture:
In a matter of two days, I’d had the idea for jasonisuptosomething.com, purchased the domain, designed the site, had it coded together by a friend, and launched it. Then I simply started to promote that page on social media, in all my bios on social media sites, in the bottom of my weekly articles sent to the Action Army, and as the only link in my email signature.
- The jasonisuptosomething.com site saw a total of 8,430 unique visitors in the 55 days it was live.
- 1,192 people entered their email on the website (14% conversion with no incentive).
- 24 people purchased BuyMyFuture who signed up for the jasonisuptosomething.com email list* ($24,000 in sales).
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to replicate the mystery and excitement with the pre-launch page of the second launch of BuyMyFuture. Luckily, with the second launch of anything, you don’t tend to need as much excitement and buzz-building (especially with a crazy idea that people in my various entrepreneurial circles have now heard of).
*Small caveat here: It’s not fair to say that jasonisuptosomething.com was the direct result of 24 unique sales of BuyMyFuture. Those people probably saw BuyMyFuture in other places, but it can’t be denied that it was an important touch-point in the purchasing process. You’ll read some version of this caveat a few times throughout this article.
Then I did ALL THE THINGS to launch BuyMyFuture (aka here’s the entire launch plan)
The first launch of BuyMyFuture ran from September 22 – October 6, 2015. I intentionally chose to have an “open and closed launch” because I wanted to control the amount of people who purchased and not have to constantly be in sales mode (which was one of the initial goals of the BuyMyFuture project in the first place: not always having to be selling).
That being said, there were quite a few things that happened at the launch of BuyMyFuture. I’ve broken the launch process into sections, because after I started to write it all down, I realized there was a lot more than I thought.
All the emails:
1. Emailed a handful of people I had phone calls with to allow them to purchase early and make sure the entire purchase process was smooth.
2. Emailed the jasonisuptosomething.com list a week before the launch.
3. Emailed the jasonisuptosomething.com list the day of launch.
4. Emailed the jasonisuptosomething.com list in the middle of the launch (with a bonus*).
5. Emailed the jasonisuptosomething.com list on the last day of the launch (“cart closing”).
6. Emailed the Action Army list with mentions of the impending launch date (started 4 weeks out).
7. Emailed the Action Army list the day before launch to explain the entire project and prepare the actual launch email…
8. Emailed the Action Army list the day of the launch.
9. Emailed the Action Army list in the middle of the launch.
10. Emailed the Action Army list the day before the launch was over (last call).
*I have to give a shoutout to Bryan Harris of VideoFruit.com for this advice. We were exchanging DMs on Twitter during the first week of BuyMyFuture, and he mentioned the idea of doing a bonus mid-launch.
That simple idea resulted in 18 sales ($18,000). Uh, thanks for the $18k sentence of advice, Bryan!
All the podcast interviews:
All in, I ended up recording 26 podcast interviews leading up to and during the BuyMyFuture launch. I wrote more about getting those podcast interviews here. In total, I was in contact with 62 podcasters, and landed interviews with 41% of them.
Podcast interviews are one of the things I chose not to do for the second launch of BuyMyFuture. You can listen to me talk about that decision here:
All of my own podcast promotion:
I ended up creating a podcast just for BuyMyFuture. It ended up being 21 total episodes for the first launch, and it kicked off the day before launch and finished with a recap episode a month after the launch window closed. It was my way of continuing the daily journal during the launch of BuyMyFuture. Truthfully, I think I was a bit burnt out on writing and was itching for another avenue to share my thoughts and feelings.
All (well, some of) the video marketing:
There’s not a lot to mention here, other than I worked with an incredibly talented video company in British Columbia (yes, Canada) to create the BuyMyFuture launch video. That included a trip to hang out with my buddy Paul Jarvis and trample around the incredibly scenic areas of Vancouver Island. The “marketing” part was uploading the video to Vimeo and sharing a 4 teasers of the completed video on Instagram and Facebook. Otherwise, the video simply sat on the BuyMyFuture website and on my sparsely used channel on Vimeo.
All the writing opportunities:
I reached out to a few friends/connections who have platforms with built-in audiences. One of which was the incredibly popular Startup Publication on Medium, run by Ali Mese. I can’t tell you any exact purchases that came from this article, but it did get 4,400 views and 2,300 total reads. If anything, that article was great marketing for my daily journal. I also wrote an article for Gumroad’s blog as Gumroad was the payment platform I chose for people to purchase BuyMyFuture. Again, no sexy data to share, but it felt like a good audience to get in front of. The only other big outside writing opportunity to mention is TheNextWeb, where I have written articles before and the editor there was kind enough to write an article on TheNextWeb about BuyMyFuture. That article drove 2,300 unique visitors, but I can’t attribute any direct sales to it. And of course, I wrote articles for my own site.
All the Facebook advertising:
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. We’re constantly in a tumultuous affair that seesaws back and forth. One thing is for sure, though: Facebook advertising freaking works.
Like Google Adwords in the early 2000s, the best money you can spend in targeted (and retargeted, in this case) advertising is on Facebook. Because I’m not a guru when it comes to Facebook Ads, I instead found one. I hired someone, and we worked out a deal where I would pay them on a per conversion basis* ($250/per). That did not include the cost of the actual Facebook Ads themselves. I’d love to give you a full breakdown of exactly what we did, but I loathe the Facebook Ads dashboard and refuse to login to that nightmare of a place if I don’t have to. I do have the high-level numbers, though:
- Total FB ads cost: $2,452
- Total FB ads conversions (sales!): 21 ($21,000)
- All-in FB ads costs: $7,702
- Total profit from FB ads (sales minus cost): $13,298
- Total cost per conversion (costs divided by sales): $366
Spending $366 to make $1,000 is pretty solid. In fact, I think a lot of online marketers would drool over those types of conversion rates. And while Facebook Ads work, they only accounted for 12% of the overall sales of BuyMyFuture.
*Side note: I doubt this is standard practice, and I do not have the permission to share the name of the company or person I used. If you’re looking for a Facebook Ads expert, email me and I can recommend someone.
I hate the word affiliate. I just hate it. It comes with all kinds of sleazy feels. When I started thinking about having people help sell BuyMyFuture, I made the decision to call them partners (and be very forthcoming with that decision when emailing people). This process started with a Google Spreadsheet, listing out all the names of people who I wanted to partner with and who I thought might actually be interested.
I then emailed these folks individually with a personalized ask and links* already created for them. Here’s what I ended up with:
- Original amount of partners I wrote down: 34
- Amount of people who expressed interest: 19
- Amount of partners who promoted their BuyMyFuture link at least once: 16
- Amount of partners who brought in at least one sale: 10
- Total partner sales: 42 (or $42,000)
- For fun, the highest sales by one partner: 19 (woot!)
*I wanted to go above and beyond for people before making the ask. Showing them a BuyMyFuture URL that already had their name and information attached probably helped my conversion greatly. They knew all they had to do was share a URL I’d already created (and in some cases, add a bonus or two to the text).
All the customer service:
One of my last-minute decisions was to install Intercom’s Acquire product on the BuyMyFuture website itself. You’ve probably seen different versions of this product on sites around the web—it’s essentially a live chat box. Knowing that I was selling a $1,000 product, I realized people would have questions that I couldn’t possibly answer in carefully crafted sales copy (that, and visitors may have just wanted to ask one specific question to help them make a buying decision).
- Cost of Acquire: $49 (I only needed 1 month of use)
- Total sales I can attribute to conversations through Acquire: 17 ($17,000!)
Not too shabby for a live chat box, eh? I can’t 100% attribute just the chat box to those sales, but it was certainly a HUGE help to convert a handful of sales. That same statement could be made about pretty much every part of my launch (people need multiple touch-points).
All the finger crossing:
I’ve had four projects similar to the craziness and uniqueness of BuyMyFuture. And with each one, I’ve reached a certain point where I just had to cross my fingers and hope I’d put enough things in place to be successful.
The final stats and sales numbers from the initial launch of BuyMyFuture
This is the moment everyone waits for in these long breakdown articles: THE NUMBERS! Well friends, here they are, in all their transparent glory.
Total unique visitors to the BuyMyFuture website during two week launch: 29,542
Total direct traffic: 45%
Total traffic from outside sites: 29%
Total traffic from social media: 21%
The other 5% of traffic? Search, apparently!
Total expenses* of the project: $56,028
Total BuyMyFuture sales (revenue): 178 ($178,000)
Total BuyMyFuture profit**: $116,972
*The highest expenses of the project were the commissions to partners ($21,000) and the fees paid to Gumroad to process the payments ($8,900). The other big expenses were Facebook Ads ($7,702), design/dev/video ($6,400) and a physical welcome package I sent every buyer right after ($5,825).
**Profit does not take into account taxes I had to pay after the fact, or ongoing expenses I’ll incur year over year.
The final takeaways
One of the most important takeaways, which is a good lesson for anyone selling anything:
It takes multiple touch-points for a customer to make a purchasing decision (especially for a larger purchase).
I knew that going in, which is why you’re reading an article that’s longer than just, “I wrote one sales email and made $178,000!”
Selling something unique like BuyMyFuture is difficult. I was met with a fair amount of my own self-doubt, as well as confusion and hesitation from people. Most of the questions people asked created content for the BuyMyFuture FAQ page. Things like, “What happens if you die?” and “Does buying your future mean I get a percentage of money you make?” You can have the most in-depth sales page and FAQ copy, but people will still ask questions. It’s just something you need to prepare for.
I love BuyMyFuture. It feels like the perfect product for me to sell while I’m heavily focused on building things online and helping entrepreneurs create intentional businesses that they thoroughly enjoy. The community of BuyMyFuture buyers has blown me away, and I can’t wait to see it grow with more awesome people. I’m truly excited for the many years ahead when I can continue to give the BuyMyFuture buyers immense value without them having to pay me another dollar.
Last but not least, some kind words from initial BuyMyFuture buyers
In this article I’ve talked a ton about my feelings and thoughts about BuyMyFuture, but I thought it would be fun to include a few quotes from actual BuyMyFuture buyers:
“It’s the best money I’ve ever invested in a ‘marketing’ purchase in my life. I’ve bought a few courses for $1k+ and the value that BMF has delivered is easily 100X compared to those.” – Brendan H.
“It’s so awesome to be inside a community of entrepreneurs just like me- but in their industry. I feel like we all have the same passion for finding what’s working in business right now, and the passion to help people figure out some sort of problem they struggle with.” – Diandra A.
“It’s an investment, not an expense and it’s worth every penny.” – Nathan R.
“I feel like I have a personal coach and motivator in my corner at all times! Plus, I secured sponsors for workshop tour and am finally about to launch an online course thanks to Jason’s courses!” – Dani I.
“What I love most about the offering is the work you put into it. You sold ‘us’ on the value of ‘you’ without high pressure. It’s probably a great deal for people getting the products, but I like identifying myself as somebody smart enough to invest in human potential.” – Brian B.
Get ready for the next BuyMyFuture launch
If you’re up for a fun ride and getting one heck of a deal on over $6,000 in products and services (which you get lifetime access to), plus anything I create in the future, AND access to a thriving private community, then head on over to BuyMyFuture.com and signup for the pre-launch list.