Million-Dollar Blueprints: Tommy Lehman's Strategy for Turning Big Ideas into Big Earnings

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Do your big ideas need a better strategy? 

Tommy Lehman is the Chief Product Officer behind Ali Abdal's $2 million product launches. 

From profitable side-hustles to millions in revenue, Tommy helps creators efficiently build, effectively launch and authentically sell their courses.

In today's episode of Creators on Air, Tommy Mallen shares everything you need to know about monetization, including how to choose what products to build, how to have a successful launch, and how to go about pricing.

In this episode we discuss: 

00:00 Introducing Tommy Mallen 

07:01 Starting conversations, launching, and preserving audience relationships.

16:01 Telling the story to solve the problem.

27:35 Understanding shifts in social media. 

32:34 Why meeting audience expectations is key to every strategy.

40:31 Understanding your content value 

47:06 Building product ladders 

51:05 Quick-fire round

Follow Tommy: 

🐦 Twitter

👥 LinkedIn

🎥 YouTube

Episode Transcript

Akta [00:00:00]:
So you've built an audience, but now what? How do you actually monetize and build a business?

Tommy [00:00:06]:
A lot of people would benefit more from creating one product value ladder that scales in price, but that continues down the rabbit hole that, you know, your audience want to learn about. And I think that the nicest way to think about this is the 99 one. One rule, which is 99% of your content always remains free. 1% of your content is paid for, and 1% of your audience will pay for that content.

Akta [00:00:29]:
Meet Tommy. He's a monetization strategist who has helped creators like Ali Abdal to have $2 million launches in this episode. He shares everything you need to know about monetization, including how to choose what products to build, how to have a successful launch, and how to go about pricing.

Tommy [00:00:47]:
Most of the people that I speak to, even creators with big audiences, have a lot of reluctance and a lot of hesitation around selling products. I think that there are kind of two things. One is ask your audience. So when I have conversations with people who want to start products, the first question I'll ask is, what are the questions that your audience asks you? Like, if you hold a call or even in your dms, are people reaching out to say, hey, I love the way you do this thing. Even if it's, how do you set up your studio? Or how do you make this thing sound this way? There are always little bits of information that we can pull to kind of set that foundation for, okay, I know why my audience are listening to me, and I know where I might be able to take that. And ultimately, the foundation of the entire product structure is just based on information. There is no kind of treasure chest of, like, you're not going to open a filing cabinet and be like, oh, there's the answer to all of my questions. You have to kind of chip away at it and gather information, and then we can start to funnel that into something that starts to take shape as a product.

Akta [00:01:53]:
Yeah, but even if you've kind of found the answer, so, like you said, I want to help with my studio. There's still so many different formats that you could sell that in. So are there any types of formats or, I guess, types of products that are maybe easier to start off with and easier to sell so that creators can kind of overcome that impostor syndrome that comes with, like, I don't really want to sell to my audience yet. I'm not sure if I can do this.

Tommy [00:02:19]:
Yeah, it's a great question. Personally, I think that the answer probably lies not necessarily in the type of product, but in the way that you approach it. So I can put that in context, I think just to set the scene for what a digital product is in the way that I look at it, a lot of creators will immediately jump to like, okay, it's an online course, or in recent times it's an online cohort based course or a mini course. It's all based on courses. Ultimately, what we're doing with a digital product, ideally, is we're just helping people to overcome a problem, to have a transformation from situation a to situation b. So that can take place through, yes, courses like courses are a great mechanism for doing that, but also coaching, consulting, ebooks, different resources, webinars, group calls, and you can explore all of these different options. So the actual execution is always kind of up to you and we can get into why you might choose one over the other. But when it comes to actually overcoming that barrier to like, okay, if I'm doing a course, I have to figure out a price and then I have to make people okay with that price.

Tommy [00:03:27]:
And I've never sold something before, it'll probably be a theme in the way that I answer some of these questions, but it's like dial it all the way back to zero. So if you're a creator who has never made a dollar through selling digital products, just shoot for that first and literally set it so that you're going to create something that feels super valuable and you're going to sell it for way less than you think you might have to, to like five people. And you can validate your offers that you want to sell on a large scale, at a tiny scale that nudges you over the line to feeling like, okay, I've sold it to five people for like $10. I want to charge $100. They've all told me it's great. They've all called me an idiot for picking that price. Now I feel better about it. But you can create that circumstance for yourself where you're not worried about the value that you're providing versus the price that you're charging.

Tommy [00:04:21]:
And to me, there are a lot of people who'll disagree with it. I think that creating a problem where you've had a bunch of people, you've had ten people buy for a 10th of the price is a great problem to have if it lets you overcome that hesitation around actually selling something in the first place.

Akta [00:04:37]:
Yeah, that's true. To be honest. Actually, I've not thought about it in that way. If it builds your confidence then that's a win really, isn't it? Let's go back to that execution then. So you said there's certain situations where you might lean into one format over the other. Let's dive into that. What are your thoughts on that?

Tommy [00:04:54]:
There's a couple of different ways to approach it. I think the most important is do any of them excite you? So some people are really called to coaching. Coaching is just like, let's say you and I are on a call, I'm asking you questions and you're both kind of giving me guidance and also helping me to find the answers to my questions. And that mechanism speaks to a lot of people and it's important to kind of keep that in mind as to like, yes, I could make a course, but I feel like the process of coaching would be really fulfilling. So it's like, yeah, cool, we can explore coaching. So one is your motivation or your enthusiasm around different deliveries. If you want to coach en masse, then we might look at cohort based kind of courses where it's you delivering information to a bunch of people live. The second thing to kind of consider when you're weighing up your digital products is time.

Tommy [00:05:45]:
So that's the amount of time that you have to prepare the asset that you want to sell and then the amount of time that you want to spend after you've launched it, thinking about it, doing support, updating things, or like delivering the mechanism. So if you are running a business or you're a creator with a creative business, you have a team, you have a family, you have hopefully a life outside of all of that as well. Then offering up like 8 hours of your week to running and maintaining a cohort based course is probably not the way that you want to go about it. And so we could look to asynchronous. We record a course once we have to obviously chop up a bit of time to get you there. But then it's an asset that is out in the world and like a YouTube video, you build equity over know it's something that will always be there that people can always purchase from you. So hopefully between the intersection of this is the thing that I'm really excited about and the outcome that I want in terms of my time, we can start to whittle down. Okay, it probably sounds like a course or it probably sounds like a group coaching offer.

Akta [00:06:51]:
Yeah. So when you're working with creators and you've helped them to figure out what is the problem they're solving, what's that transformation and how are we executing this? Where do you go from there?

Tommy [00:07:01]:
I think the hardest part is to actually start so you can have all of these great conversations around. This is going to be amazing and we're going to launch it and it's going to blow up. And like most people do, you're like the architect of your success mentally before you ever set foot in the arena. The most important thing with a digital product is just to get it going. I think the first step that I would take, and I'll caveat this by saying that I'm perhaps a bit more cautious about this approach than some creators would be. For me, one of the things that I try to do in my work is to be really careful about preserving that relationship the creator has to their audience. And so I don't ever want people to create a situation where they're like, I've built a product, I'm just going to flog it to my audience and I hope they like it. I'd rather be careful in the first instance so that we know that people are going to be pretty okay with it.

Tommy [00:07:54]:
So what that looks like in practice is, let's say actor, you and I sit down and we're talking about an offer that we might want to build. We know what you can deliver, we know how much time it'll know. We've made all of those decisions. The next step is to speak to your audience. There could be a tiny subset of them and just make sure that this is something that people are interested in. So Pat Flynn talks about this a lot. Pat Flyn from smart, passive income, where he kind of takes building in public a step further, and it's building in tandem with your audience. So can you send out an email to your newsletter to say that you want to jump on a call with ten of your most engaged people? Can you jump on that call and say, hey, I'm thinking of putting something together.

Tommy [00:08:39]:
What would you love to learn from me? What are the problems that you think I could help you solve? And that will either validate the offer that you and I think that would be really good. It will color it with. It's like, oh, people want help setting up a podcast, but they also don't know how to negotiate sponsorships. Maybe I should add that into the product that I'm going to build. Or, and this does happen as well. You get on that call and everyone says, oh, I would love to hear you talk about how you manage your business's finances. And you're like, that's way away from what I thought I was going to build and we've just saved you a bunch of time and resources and maybe it pivots or maybe we realize that this isn't the offer that we should be launching in the first place. So all of that to say the first step that you should take is to some degree validate the offer that you think would be exciting.

Tommy [00:09:34]:
Because you thinking that it's exciting is great, but your audience thinking that it's exciting is what actually matters. And so we need to find that hook for people.

Akta [00:09:43]:
Yeah, I love what you said, especially about the building in public thing, because we have an episode on building in public with Kevin and he actually talks about that as well. It's not just about sharing everything you're doing, but actually getting that two way conversation going.

Tommy [00:09:57]:
Yeah, absolutely.

Akta [00:09:58]:
I think that's really important. So I want to talk about one of Ali's launches. So twelve minutes into the launch of, I think it was maybe his course, the business made over $85,000 and that was in presale, which is like insane. What do you think? Yeah, it's so crazy. What contributes to a successful product launch?

Tommy [00:10:19]:
There are a lot of different factors, I think just specifically within the context of. So this was the launch of Ali's 8th cohort of as part time youtuber academy. And what we tried to do in the build up to that launch was kind of take, and I'll flesh this out, but take all of the scarcity and urgency tactics that we had ever kind of encountered. And we said, what if we just did all of these things at once? So there are a couple of books that I would kind of recommend to anyone who's thinking about launching a product launch by Jeff Walker. 100 million dollar offers by Alex Hormozi are kind of the two main ones. Expert secrets, copywriting secrets. There's a couple of books that are really worth checking out, but what a lot of people will do is they'll go down the rabbit hole of, okay, I should look at ten different resources and find out how ten different people do it and pick what I like. And maybe I'll think about deploying x, y or z thing when I'm building for my launch.

Tommy [00:11:15]:
In actuality, what's better is, and this is maybe something that people are aware of already, but if you read two books and actually just applied what was within those two books, but you spent your time applying it really well, you could see disproportionate results there. So what that looks like in terms of the launch for Ali, if anyone reads 100 million dollar offers, hormones book. He talks about a number of different factors. So you want urgency in terms of time or exclusivity, limited number of places on your course. Maybe it only happens twice a year, and so if people miss out on this one, they won't have a chance to buy again. Maybe you're employing discounts that will expire a certain amount of time after your launch. In the case of Ali's launch, it was the last time we were going to run the cohort based model as well. So we just shot for this coalescence of it's presale.

Tommy [00:12:09]:
So we have a limited number of spots on the course. There were, I think it was like ten x the amount of people on the presale list than we actually had, like places on the course. We had a limited time discount. It was the last time the cohort was going to take place. We had been very upfront about all of this stuff as well. And so everyone knew a couple of days before they were able to purchase that these were the stakes. And a lot of a really good launch is kind of making the stakes clear, because if we had launched and said the inverse, we're going to do this all the time. We have as many places as you need.

Tommy [00:12:45]:
The price is never going to change. You're welcome to join whenever you want, not within a seven day window. You can immediately see how it all starts dropping off. So that feels intuitive, but then building it the other way around feels slightly less so. So it was just, I think, the coalescence of all of those things that made it what it was. And then ultimately, the only other factor that I think is maybe worth mentioning while keeping this still an overview is the price point of the course was quite high. So the lowest ticket offer that was available for Ali's part time youtuber academy was just under $1,500. So it meant that we needed proportionately fewer people to purchase to create a really outsized outcome than someone who's maybe selling $100 product.

Tommy [00:13:32]:
And so there was an element of playing the numbers game there as well that I think really helped. But, yeah. Twelve minutes, $85,000. I think before we reached 60 minutes, it was $200,000. It's crazy. It's a really disproportionate outcome, but I think it was just trying to put all of those things in place.

Akta [00:13:51]:
Yeah. And how important is the actual sales page or the landing page in converting people into actual customers?

Tommy [00:14:01]:
It's important. It may be a bit of a contrarian take in that I am a copywriter as well. But I think it's important if you want to be very clear about what your product offers. Why would people not want to be clear about it? There are a lot of creators out there who want to build launches based on hype and mystery, and I say it all the time, but there's this classic kind of influencer thing of like, I've been building something for ages and I can't wait to tell you all about it. And they'll do that for like eight months and then just drop something out of nowhere. A landing page is really great for just saying, hey, here's my product. It's going to help you do these things. I really believe in it.

Tommy [00:14:46]:
You can look in all of the crevices. There's nothing to hide. This is what I do, and I'm proud of it. And a landing page is a wonderful place to stake that claim. Similarly, with a video sales letter, when you're writing it, if you're coming from a perspective of, I know that this is helping people, then you get to weave the story of, here's how I came across this idea all the way through to like, here are the specifics of what's going to happen. And given that we've been talking about Ali, if you look at the sales pages or the landing pages for his course now, they're massive. Like they're monster pages. But if you read it, you're like, I know exactly what this is.

Tommy [00:15:27]:
And I get to decide for myself whether this is or isn't for me. And there's some clever copywriting in there to an extent, but ultimately, all we're trying to create is I want someone to finish a page and just think, yeah, this will solve the problems that I have. And there doesn't need to be any more trickery than that. So if you're able to kind of be upfront about it, then a landing page is an incredible asset to have.

Akta [00:15:47]:
Yeah. And let's dive into your copywriting experience then. What advice would you give to creators on when they're building their landing page? What copywriting strategies to take into account if they can't hire a copywriter to help them?

Tommy [00:16:01]:
So I think about this a lot. I work with a lot of creators who are copywriting for the first time and again, kind of thematic to what I said earlier. There are too many people who will say, okay, what are the eight best copywriting books that you've ever read? And they'll go and read all of them and swamp themselves in information and then they sit down and they're like, I don't know where to go from here. I know I'm supposed to use the clever words, but I'm not sure what they are working with. Creators, I think the best way to think about a sales page for your product is to think about it like a YouTube video. Because ultimately, selling something is just story. And in the same way as we want someone to finish our YouTube video and be excited about the next thing or to be excited about, like, there are a lot of those feelings that we want to create with the products that we're selling as well. So very broadly, when we're copywriting a page, we want to introduce the problem that we're solving.

Tommy [00:17:00]:
We want to show that we understand that problem and that we know what the stakes are for not solving it. Then we want to go into our experience. Hey, I'm Tommy. I'm a copywriter. I can make this problem go away for you. We want to show, here's how I solve the problem, and then here's the price. Here's what you get. Here's what this actually breaks down into.

Tommy [00:17:21]:
If we look at that in parallel to a YouTube video, we want there to be, and maybe this doesn't apply as much to educational creators, but everyone will get it kind of thematically, you want to introduce. Here are the stakes of the story. Like the hero's journey, almost. Here are the stakes of the story. Here's our main character. Here's the transformation that they want. Here are the stakes, the obstacles they need to overcome in the hero's journey, like meeting the mentor. It's all that same thing of they meet someone who has the experience to guide them through their troubled journey.

Tommy [00:17:55]:
And you can really draw parallels between storytelling and copywriting, especially in the beginning when you don't need to worry about really advanced delivery of techniques. I think if creators started with the story behind the problem that they're solving, it can set a really good foundation. Deploying those storytelling techniques will get you 80% of the way there, and then everything after that is just, hey, can we make this sentence tie into this idea a little bit more? Yeah, that's kind of the baseline, I think, in terms of how I would get any creator to start thinking about it.

Akta [00:18:30]:
And I feel like a lot of creators worry about coming across too salesy or pushy, almost. Is there a way to communicate in a way that avoids that?

Tommy [00:18:41]:
Yes, it's a really common concern, and I think a really valid one. Like creators should be worried about coming across as too salesy, because if you alienate your audience trust, it takes ages to build up and is really quick to evaporate, and it's really hard to win back. So if you make your audience feel like they're being sold to just in a cash grab kind of way, you have to work really hard to claw back from that. So there are two things. They're both very simple, but you just have to make sure that you do them. The first is to put a great deal of effort into making sure you sound like yourself. If you're a creator on video or a podcaster, people will know the sound of your voice. They'll know the way you speak.

Tommy [00:19:20]:
They'll recognize you. Creators have this kind of parasocial, proxy familial relationship with their audience where people like you, people trust you. They feel like they know you. If you are someone who is very conversational, let's say like Emma Chamberlain levels of conversational, you feel like you're her friend and you're just chilling and you're kind of living her life with her, then if in her product page, she's extraordinarily verbose and is using this crazy structured language, and it feels very formal, you're like, okay, this is not her. This is a cash grab. Whereas if her page was just like, hey, guys, all of you ask me about this, and I think it's really interesting. The tone is so important. The second is, and this is a little bit trickier, if you actually believe that your product is valuable, that is an amazing hedge against sounding overly salesy.

Tommy [00:20:17]:
What I mean by that is, if I had a solution to someone's problem that I had executed a thousand times before, let's say, like, my mother doesn't know how to charge her phone. Like, she's not sure how to plug it in, I'm like, okay, mom, I've got the reps here. I know how this works. I can do this for you. I've done it a thousand times before. Here are all of the other people who are able to do this by themselves. So we're going to get this problem solved for you. It's going to take 2 seconds.

Tommy [00:20:46]:
Here's me doing it. Here's videos of how many times I've done it before then. Although the example is a bit strange, that genuine belief, like that transparency in, hey, I know this is a problem. I can solve it. It's all good. Really mitigates against this idea of the secret sauce. I'll teach you once you pay me, and no one can do it. The way that I do, and we can kind of say the same things.

Tommy [00:21:11]:
But if you truly believe that what you're doing is valuable, then you get to just rest on that and talk about your product features, talk about the problems it's going to solve without needing to worry. Like, how do I make this sound amazing? Because ideally it will be amazing in and of itself. And if you couple that with sounding like yourself, then what you're actually doing is saying, okay, a bunch of you always ask me this question. So I thought that I would build a solution and offer it up to the rest of you. I've put a huge amount of work into this. I think it's amazing. You don't need to buy it. I just want to put it out there for you.

Tommy [00:21:49]:
Now we have a product that sounds like you, that solves a problem, and that is so far away from the hyped thing of like, been working on something for ages and I can't wait to show it to you. And that, I think, is how creators need to approach this. And there are nuances, but overarchingly I think that would work for 99% of people.

Akta [00:22:07]:
I think that's amazing advice. And I feel like it almost introduces a sense of ease into that whole monetization process, which I feel like a lot of creators overcomplicate as well. And you've made it seem like it's quite a natural thing. Doesn't have to be like high pressure. It can be organic, natural to both the creator and the audience.

Tommy [00:22:27]:
And if you feel that, they'll feel that. No, but if you feel that, they'll feel that as well. And that ease is the most important thing, because ease leads to authenticity, leads to transparency, and you don't feel like it's cloak and dagger or you need to put a veil over anything that you're doing. If you believe in it, you get to just say, here it is. And that's a wonderful perspective for everyone to see.

Akta [00:22:51]:
Exactly. So are there any mistakes that you've seen from creators who are either with their actual launch or with their landing page? What are the problems that you've actually seen people do?

Tommy [00:23:03]:
Overarchingly, I think where a lot of people go wrong is in the delivery. So recently there was an example. I might stop short of naming names, but a massive YouTube channel where like millions and millions of subscribers launched a product on their YouTube channel. And this group of creators are incredibly loved. They have a really passionate audience and it's the only time that I've ever seen a group of creators get absolutely chewed up by their audience immediately, incredibly negative reaction. What they did was, it's obvious that their audience wanted the solution from them. It wasn't that they came out with this crazy, hey, we're launching an NFT project because we just feel like it's what you guys want. There was a tie into the content that they created, but the title of their YouTube video was really misleading.

Tommy [00:23:58]:
We've got big news. It was very serious. Even the lead into the video itself, it was storytelling. It was what their audience expected of them. And then at the end, it was just a product plug. And they went into like, here are the features, here are our testimonials. And all of this to their YouTube audience. Who expected storytelling, who expected transformational content.

Tommy [00:24:22]:
If this channel had never talked about this product on their YouTube channel and had instead turned to their email list and said, and maybe they did do this initially, but when it came to launch, if they said, look, any of you who are interested in hearing more about this kind of thing, like click this button or reply yes to this email, and in almost any email service provider, you can segment that part of the audience. You can add a tag that says, here are the 5% of my audience who want to hear more about filmmaking. And if they then turn to those people and said, okay, you guys have said that you're interested in this, so now we want to show you what we've built, that's product market fit, that is, selling or showing a product to people who have come to expect that that is a thing that will happen. And I think the mistake that a lot of creators make is in feeling like talking about your product or talking about the fact that you're going to sell something is a mistake they want to build in secret until they're confident that what they're producing is incredible. And it leads to this space where you can veer so far away from what your audience actually wants. Whereas if you stay in communication, if you say, hey, we'll go back to the podcast style example, but if you act over to say, hey, I'm putting together a course or some kind of resource on how to start a podcast in 2023. If you're interested, if you want to hear more, drop your email here and I'll just keep you posted with what I'm doing, the more you can segment for people who are interested. Now, I'm on that list because I expect to hear about the podcast resource that you're building.

Tommy [00:26:05]:
The chances of me being outraged that you fulfill on that promise are so much lower. But people will hold themselves back from doing that because they think, oh, that's the salesy part. Like me talking about what I'm building is salesy. Actually, all you're doing is saying, I just want to see if people are interested. Because again, if no one joins that list, then you probably shouldn't go ahead with making that product as well.

Akta [00:26:24]:

Tommy [00:26:25]:
So I kind of would like everyone to just lean back into a bit of authenticity around this. You have a much greater chance of alienating your audience through not being transparent, through trying to architect the perfect launch and the perfect product before anyone ever sees it, than you have a chance of alienating them if you build with them. And that's kind of what it all comes back down to. Authenticity, transparency. That is where you can rest in some degree of comfort. And maybe you won't get 100% of the sales, but you could get a really happy 90% and that's still a really good position to be in.

Akta [00:27:05]:
What you're saying makes complete sense, but I'm actually surprised that that's a mistake that you've seen because I would have expected that if you're a youtuber, you've got a product that fits quite well and you've got such a large audience and then you make a YouTube video about it, surely that would be successful because they're also on YouTube. So I'm surprised that, you know, take people to an email list. So what makes an effective, I guess, sales funnel then? What should creators be thinking about?

Tommy [00:27:35]:
So I think a really good example of this in live action, we'll stay on the Ali Abdal example. I guess he is a creator who makes far more revenue from being a creator than most do. Ali is known as primarily is known as a productivity youtuber. I don't want to do him an injustice. He does a lot of other things as well. But most people will say like, ali is the productivity guy, but his highest performing product and his whole product architecture is around becoming a youtuber. So there's this step away from like, here's the thing that I do, but actually what people are paying me for is how I do the thing that I do, not the thing itself. So if Ali was to turn, and he started doing this more recently, but when he initially started the part time YouTuber academy, you would think that given that he was the productivity guy at the time, that launching a YouTube product would be like a million miles away from what his audience would want.

Tommy [00:28:30]:
What he did was he turned to his email list and like a bunch of you are asking me how to start a YouTube channel. Would you be interested in hearing more? And that's kind of where it all took off. So what we can learn from that in terms of building our product funnel, our sales funnel, is you need to identify where in your audience's area of interest your product is going to fit. I'm trying to think of like a really clear example. If you are a creator who has a YouTube channel that is teaching people to start a podcast, then you create a paid product which know a level up in how to start a podcast. Plugging that on your YouTube channel, because people are there for an incredibly specific purpose makes complete sense. You don't need particular degrees of separation. However, if you were building an offer to your podcast channel around, like, here's how I structure the business and I negotiate for sponsorships, you're appealing to a smaller segment of that audience.

Tommy [00:29:32]:
And so creating one degree of separation where you can find out who wants to hear more about that is a really useful tool. And the way that most people will do that is through an email list, which is just, hey, if you want all of the free how to start your own podcast content, it's here. If you already have a podcast and it's going well, you're at X Milestone and you want to begin to negotiate sponsorships, let's talk over here. Let's go over there and have a little chat. And you can start to increase the amount of exposure you can give to different segments of your audience, to the product that you're building. You may not want to give everyone 100% exposure and talk about everything in public. The other factor in this is the price that you're selling your product at. If you've got a $10 offer, you might not care as much that it doesn't apply to 100% of your audience because it's only $10.

Tommy [00:30:23]:
But if you are selling something for thousands of dollars, you might want there to be increased degrees of. I want to be so sure that someone wants to hear about this before I tell them the price, that creating an email list and segmenting that way is a really useful tool.

Akta [00:30:38]:
Yeah. And what about, like, so say, for example, Ali in his YouTube video descriptions? Should he be linking to the course in that? Or should he be directing people to the email list in that? Or even people's LinkedIn bios, you see people having a whole list of all their offerings. Should they be directing people to the landing page or to that email list? Like, which one is it?

Tommy [00:31:02]:
I think the correct answer to this one is an it depends. But I can put that it depends in context slightly. I would say honestly, for most creators, it's like, try both. Especially if you're in the early stages, if you have a list of all of your products. So I go directly from the creators on air YouTube channel to a product page? Yes, you'll probably see some degree of conversion. Try bringing people to an email list where you own that audience and you own their attention. And do like a five day buildup sequence where you spend more time telling people about the value that you can provide and providing value up front. And just see if that makes a difference to your audience.

Tommy [00:31:40]:
Depending on the product, depending on the thing, you might find really varying results. So information is the most powerful weapon in terms of building products. And if you can inform a decision that is entirely different to what everyone else does, but it gets you a crazy conversion rate on your products, you're probably doing the right thing for your audience. But that only comes from gathering information and running experiments, trial and error.

Akta [00:32:06]:
That makes a lot of sense. And can we talk about this actual email list? You mentioned having like an email sequence. Does it always have to be in that structure or can it be literally the fact that, okay, I've got these emails, so I'm going to ask if you're interested. I know that you're interested, and then it's just an email saying, I've actually launched this, or should you always have this kind of build up with the sequence and have a storytelling structure to it? What do you recommend?

Tommy [00:32:34]:
I think that I don't want to stray too far away from actual advice, so I'll start kind of vague and I'll get more specific. The most important thing to do is do what is easiest for you or what your audience might expect from you. And that might be like, I'm really busy, I just need to get this done. You're better off having a product out there than adding another month on to figure out what you want your five day email sequence to be in the launch. And if you're launching something that's small or that is only going to a tiny subset of your audience, you might perform just as well by having it out there for a longer period of time where you just say, hey, you wanted to hear more about this. Here is more about this. There you go. That's all that you need.

Tommy [00:33:19]:
And that can work really, really well. If you have the time or you want to explore other options. Then ultimately what an email sequence does is it gives you a proven ground for the skill that you want people to pay you for or the transformation that you want people to pay you for. If someone was to build an offer and it's not something that they've demonstrated. So Ali hadn't been demonstrating for quite a while that he was teaching people how to build a YouTube channel. He was still making productivity content. What he got to do in his email sequence was show, hey, I actually know a bunch about this and I can teach it really well. Here are some of the biggest tips, like for free, do with these what you will.

Tommy [00:34:00]:
But I just want to teach. I want to give value. You spend a couple of emails going, wow, this guy really knows his stuff. And then when you see the price point of his product, but also the list of all of the things that you'll learn from him, it's a way softer blow because you're like, well, if this guy's this good for free, how amazing will he be when I pay him? And you get to kind of create that architecture as well. So that's the, it depends. But if you're someone who has a product out there and you don't currently have an email sequence, give one a shot, three days, five days. Just try to gather that information and see if it works for you. And similarly, if you're already running an email sequence you can experiment with, do you wait to segment off all of your email list? You should try just posting on your social media at least once or twice, being like, hey, by the way, I have this thing.

Tommy [00:34:49]:
I don't know if I've ever said it here, go check it out. Just gather the information, see where it takes you.

Akta [00:34:55]:
And let's say now you've got people buying the course or buying the product. What should creators have in place to make sure they're giving their customer a smooth experience?

Tommy [00:35:08]:
So there's this great idea, which is your customer will make up their mind as to whether their purchase was a good idea or a bad idea within 60 minutes from buying from you. So this is particularly important if you're running like a coaching or a consulting or a cohort based course offer where someone might have quite a delay between when they buy from you and when they actually get to experience the value of the product. The more that you can give upfront immediately after that paywall, the better the relationship is with the customer that you're going to be working with. So that might be, hey, we're starting on Monday. Really looking forward to our first call. In the meantime, here's a bunch of stuff that I think you should check out. It's really exciting. You could include, like, surprise bonuses in there of I know that you were signing up to learn more about how to build a podcast, but I also wanted to share with you my 100 best interview questions that I've ever used in podcasts or that produce the best answers.

Tommy [00:36:02]:
Just because I think you might find it cool. It's a really great place to be able to surprise and delight. And ultimately surprise and delight is something that we want to always try to do. The next thing that you need to think about is, I guess it's obvious, but we'll state it anyway, is actually fulfilling on all of the promises that you make. So you don't want to create a space where you have maybe copywritten something so well that you've created an alternate picture in someone's head of what they're getting that you then have to disappoint them on. So it's important to make sure I can actually execute on all of the promises that I'm making in the build up to the product. That might just be that if you've described the modules in your course as being professionally filmed and well structured and completely architected, we'll go with architected. And then if I open your first video and it's you with a whiteboard going like, oh, so yeah, probably we're going to start with this thing because I think this is cool.

Tommy [00:37:00]:
Immediately that gap between me being like, I thought she said that she thought about this for ages and that it took ages to build and it was the culmination of all of her knowledge. Now I'm like, oh, I'm not sure if this is actually what I thought it was. Whereas if your welcome video is you with the studio setup, it's animated, you've got the pop ups. Here's what you're going to learn. I'm so excited to have you on board. We're just extending that journey of confidence out. And then ultimately, I think the biggest thing, if we continue this thread of information, making data backed decisions when you are running your product, ask questions about people's experiences, do you like it? What would you have loved to have seen? Do you think anything didn't live up to your expectations? What would you like more of? And never hold yourself back from tweaking after you've launched? Yes, a course, if we use the course example, can be something that exists out in the ether. After you've made it, you can put it out there and never think about it again.

Tommy [00:37:56]:
But a really good course is one that is alive and that remains up to date, and that's you saying, hey, in module two we talk about this, but recently I've encountered this opposing idea that I think is still really cool. So I've recorded a new module and I've added it in. That is an incredible way to have your audience stick with you for the journey and to continue that learning experience. And ultimately, what we want is you make an incredible promise. It is incredible and it works. People buy and they experience the transformation that you promised that could be. They do start a podcast and they feel really confident about it, and they get their first guest. They directly contribute their success to your help.

Tommy [00:38:39]:
So it's not just like, oh, yeah, that course was good, but it took me twice as long and I ended up just figuring it out on my own anyway. Ideally, we'd have people say, actors course is the reason that I have started my podcast. And then the output of that is that they're happy to tell other people about it. So that gets you your referrals or your testimonials, or things that you can use to show other people that you're actually providing value. And that's where you get that cycle of something that exists, but that continues to sell and continues to grow.

Akta [00:39:08]:
Yeah, I think that's amazing, because I feel like a lot of us just think about that launch, making sure that launch is successful. I love that you're emphasizing the focus on this is ongoing. We can reiterate, and by doing that, we continue to build that trust. So I think that's a really good answer. Absolutely. I want to talk about pricing. I've left pricing towards the end of this call just because I didn't want that to be the entire focus. I know monetization.

Akta [00:39:31]:
You always think about pricing, but let's talk about pricing. So how do creators figure out what the right pricing should be and also when to change it as well? Because, like Ali's course, for example, I know his pricing has changed throughout the cohorts. How do you decide on the price? And how do you communicate any changes to price as well?

Tommy [00:39:51]:
This is a really good question, and I don't think it's one that there's necessarily a correct answer to. I'll give you my answer, and people can take from it what they will. Maybe there's a stroke of something that resonates with people within it. Pricing, from my experience, is much more arbitrary than I think anyone would actually like for it to be. I've worked with creators who are already making millions who have. Ali's channel has 6 million. I've worked with creators with 10 million YouTube subscribers to do launches. And still they sit down and they say, okay, what price do we think that we can put on this thing? There are a couple of ways to look at it.

Tommy [00:40:31]:
One is, like I talked about earlier, which was, it is better to make the mistake of slightly underpricing yourself and to have to course correct than overpricing yourself and getting a backlash from it. So caution is something that can help. But if we go from the top down, it's what is the actual value of the transformation that I'm providing. So if I am working with someone to, let's say I have a course, it's a coaching course or consulting where I help people to secure five figure sponsorships for their YouTube channel, that transformation, if I can deliver on it, is worth five figures to people. And so if I'm making that offer for hundreds of dollars, it probably creates this little bit of a question mark in people's heads as to like. But if he's actually doing that, if he's creating that much value, why would he not charge slightly more? So we can look at the value of the transformation that we're delivering and then work down from there. There are other factors, like how much do you want to charge? Like what would you like to make? What's the goal? How big is your audience? If you've got millions of subscribers, then selling a lower ticket item, a lower priced item, can still net you a higher result because you have more people to expose to the product. If you've got 1000 subscribers, then you might want to price something a little bit higher or to have a higher priced offer out there because it needs to be higher to net the same output.

Tommy [00:41:54]:
To make a constructive point of all of these balls that I've just thrown up in the air. When you are sitting down at the table and you're talking about the price of your offer, a great place to start is to add up, like the time it's going to take you to prepare the materials, the time that you're going to spend creating it. So that could be recording your course, your hourly rate added up into the assets that you've produced. Add a percentage, let's say somewhere up to 50% of a kind of fee for the time it took you to build the experience, to get there, to be able to deliver that solution, see what that figure looks like. Traditionally, people tend to be quite conservative with the way that they value their time and the way that they value their knowledge. We always undervalue where we're at because we're used to the information that we know. So generally, I'd say multiply it by 1.5 or just force yourself to push it a tiny bit more and then take that price. Bring it to the people that you have hopefully spoken to about the product and say, hey, here's what I want to teach people.

Tommy [00:43:02]:
I want to sell it for this price point. What do you think? Bring it to people in your network. Ask other creators. Do some market research. See what the price of other solutions is. Vet your price as much as you can before you go public with it. And if it comes to it, and you have arrived at $500 for your product and it just doesn't sit right with you, ask yourself why it might be that it's a limiting belief on your part. Impostor syndrome.

Tommy [00:43:31]:
I don't think that I can justify asking someone for $500 because I know how much that is. For me, that's something that you might need to just adjust to. That can just be some personal friction that we need to work through. But it might be that you say people are going to pay $500 for this and be disappointed. And if that's true, if the people that you give access to the course to check that for you are like, yeah, I'm not sure if this is worth it. Just lower it. It's not the end of the world. You can build that back up, you can add bonuses, you can add extra modules.

Tommy [00:44:02]:
Over time, this all comes back to make the decision as informed as you can and push your personal boundaries. Don't push the boundaries of your audience. If your audience are happy to pay a price, that's causing you a great deal of internal friction because you just don't feel like you can justify charging that much with all the love in the world. It's probably a you thing. Yeah. So, like, information validation and iteration are the three things.

Akta [00:44:31]:
And what about when you decide to change a price of a product? How do you communicate that change?

Tommy [00:44:37]:
I will always default to transparency. So it's just, hey, let's say, for example, that you're selling a load of units and you realize that you probably should have priced it a little bit higher. The first step would to just be saying, hey, this is super popular. It's so popular that I need to have a think about how to deliver it to people, or so many people are buying it that we're going to have to up it so that we can actually fulfill on the course that is something that we have done in the past with Ali's part time youtuber academy, for example, other creators who are doing like paid communities will often say, every hundred people that join the price is going to go up because there's an increased demand on actually making sure that the customer experience is the same for the increased number of people participating. The ship 30 for 30 guys. Nicholas Cole and Dicky Bush. They just say that every time they do their cohort, it's going to be more expensive than the last time. So it's a wonderful.

Tommy [00:45:35]:
They're just upfront about it and it is a great tactic for more people buy this time because you know it's going to be more expensive next time. Transparency is good. Ideally you can make the price increase a little bit sweeter by saying, hey, I'm going to increase the price x days from now. You have until then. When we increase the price, we're going to add in this bonus or some other special thing. But if you join before the price goes up, we'll do an extra coaching call or like a one to one onboarding or you'll get access to this thing. There are ways to not have to explain your choice, but to give people the time such that there isn't any friction around it. Ultimately, if someone looks at your product and says that better be the same price in a year's time or I'm going to go crazy, they're probably not someone that you want to work with anyway.

Tommy [00:46:26]:
And so if you can soften the blow, be transparent about it, be informative, share why it's going up, if you can, then it's very unlikely that if people have time to buy at the same price that they're going to bite your hand off for changes.

Akta [00:46:40]:
Yeah, absolutely. I like what you said, especially about softening the blow a little bit. I feel like that makes it less daunting to actually communicate that change. I feel like a lot of creators want to scale and diversify and build more. So I see people doing digital products, doing community, doing courses. Is there such a thing as having too many products? What do you recommend when you're working with people?

Tommy [00:47:06]:
This is a really good question. I think a lot of people can fall into traps that aren't necessarily critical, but that can hinder your progress in the amount of money that you can make and the amount of value you can provide. Brendan Burchard, marketing guru, recommends broadly having four products that ascend in order of price. So we'll call it a product ladder and effectively what you have is a very low ticket item, your lowest price, which is just all you're doing there is you're getting people to take their cards out of their wallets to pay for a thing, and then you're blowing them away with value. Then you have another product which is more expensive, which further delivers on this promise that you're making. How to start a podcast. You might have a more expensive product, which is how to negotiate the sponsorships, how to negotiate your first five figure sponsorship, which runs in a ladder of like what you should know about starting a podcast, how to start when you're advanced. Here's what you need to know.

Tommy [00:48:06]:
And then you might have your highest ticket thing. Be like, jump on a call with me every week and I will connect you to my network and we'll work together. And what a lot of creators do that isn't aligned with that is they pump out four different digital products all at the same price point. Now what you're creating is like you have this competing. You're competing for real estate in your own videos or in your own products. It's not clear where your audience should go for specific channels of knowledge because every fourth video you're talking about your podcast course, but every second video you're talking about your YouTube course. A lot of people would benefit more from creating one product value ladder that scales in price, but that continues down the rabbit hole that you know, your audience want to learn about. And I think that the nicest way to think about this is the 99 one rule, which is 99% of your content always remains free.

Tommy [00:49:03]:
1% of your content is paid for and 1% of your audience will pay for that content. If we use that to get us to paying customers, you can kind of apply it again, which is you will always have a smaller percentage each time of people that will go up the value ladder and that will continue to buy the more expensive products. But if they're all within that ecosystem, then you know that there's a through line for people to explore. And I've worked with creators in the past who are like, oh, I have 20 digital products, like I have courses and ebooks and stuff, and none of them are priced above $150. And they're like, why isn't it selling? Why am I not making a bunch of money? And I think it's because people might buy one thing from you and they have no idea where to go. Yeah, if you have your ladder, you can say, hey, you finished this thing. I hope it was enjoyable. If you've got any questions, let me know, I just want to let you know that over there I have the adventure continues.

Tommy [00:50:04]:
It's slightly more expensive. There's no pressure. Like, I'm here to ask any question or answer any questions that you have, but I just wanted to let you know that it's over there. And you will get a certain percentage of your audience who continue to go up that ladder. And that gives you an ecosystem of products that you're proud to promote. And the only other thing I'd add on to that is because it is a ladder. It's a funnel that you're sending people down. You only ever need to really talk about the top of that funnel, which is your lowest priced item.

Tommy [00:50:33]:
You can say, look, I have a bunch of stuff around how to start a podcast. I'd recommend that you start with my one dollars everything that you should know guide, and it'll give you all the information you need. It'll tell you about everything else I do. You might have a ten K podcast mastermind on the back of that, but it gives you something that in all conversations with people, you can say, hey, I've got this $1 thing.

Akta [00:50:54]:
Check it out. I love that ladder because it also makes the whole thing seem less overwhelming versus building, like, ten completely disjointed products. And you're making all these separate landing pages for, and it just seems chaotic. And I feel like creators can get really overwhelmed because we tend to do that. We have so much going on and that kind of, like, streamlines it in a really nice way. I'm going to end now with a quick fire round. So I'm going to ask you five questions that I ask everyone that comes on air, starting with, what's your favorite thing about being a creator? Because you are a creator yourself as well.

Tommy [00:51:27]:
I think I have to call it that. My favorite thing about it is the excitement that people seem to have for new ideas, new challenges, new environments. This is a really new space, and I never used to see that excitement in the traditional working environment. So that fills me with energy. It's just contagious, and I love that about this.

Akta [00:51:51]:
And what's something that gives you the most inspiration for your work?

Tommy [00:51:55]:
The transformations that other people experience in their lives, not in their finances. So hearing someone say that they took certain steps or overcame certain challenges, and now they're just happier or they've been able to do the thing that they could never do. That to me, is like, beautiful. I want to create that feeling for more people. I want creators to message me and say, hey, one creator that I worked with was able to retire his dad from being a taxi driver as a direct result of the product that we launched together. And that's amazing and that inspires me to do more as opposed to someone just saying like, yeah, I make ten times as much money and now I can buy the flashy cat. It's real life transformation.

Akta [00:52:37]:
Oh, I love that so much. What's a tool that helps you as a creator?

Tommy [00:52:42]:
Feedback. When you're a copywriter or you're working with selling stuff, you can read all the books and that's great. And it gives you a basic intellectual foundation. You will grow so much faster and to such a higher quality if you spend time getting feedback on your work that could be making stuff for people, send it to them, get them to roast it. But message other copywriters, ask what you could do better. Feedback is the tool for growth, in my opinion.

Akta [00:53:14]:
Definitely. And what's something that helps you with your creator work life balance?

Tommy [00:53:19]:
This is a really good question. I think too many creators can not have a work life balance.

Akta [00:53:25]:
I know. I feel like this is a question that everyone always pauses a little bit and they really have to think about it.

Tommy [00:53:31]:
This is me, like, interrogating myself as to whether I have them as well. I think having things in your personal life or the life part of the work life balance that are genuinely exciting for you, that you have stuff that forces you away from the laptop if you want to be forced away. Some people, like their hobby is what they do for work, especially in the creative space. That's great. Having things you're passionate about lined up that mean that you have to shut it down and go spend time with people. That's how I trick myself into stopping, at least.

Akta [00:54:01]:
Love that. And what's one final piece of advice that you'd give to other creators?

Tommy [00:54:05]:
You never have to figure it out on your own. In any aspect of what we do, there is no challenge that is better for you not asking for advice or insight or help or for the path that other people have walked before. And I would go as far as to say that there is no increased victory in figuring it out for yourself. The best, smartest, most successful people I've seen are the people who draw on the Internet brain as much as possible to build things. And so your outcome is better, but the journey is more enjoyable for incorporating other people and other people's experience into it as well.

Akta [00:54:44]:
Yeah, definitely. And I feel like this episode is so helpful for those creator journeys and helping creators figure out. So thank you so much, Tommy. I mean, I love all the conversations I have with every creator that comes on air, but I feel like this one has so much value for audience on monetization, which is what most of us are trying to do. So thank you so much. It's been amazing to hear from you.

Tommy [00:55:06]:
Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate that. Thank you.

Akta [00:55:09]:
You can find Tommy on his website and Twitter. And if you're a creator who does sponsorships, check out Passionfroot. We help you to streamline your entire workflow. I'll see you in the next one.