How we sell 500 tickets in 10 weeks


March 27, 2015

Do me a favor. Google “what’s the best credit card for students?”

Ok, now Google “best credit card.”

See the top result? Shockingly, it’s not a massive corporation like Amex or Bank of America.

It’s NerdWallet. A scrappy-as-hell personal finance startup founded in 2010 by Tim Chen.

NerdWallet’s business model is dead simple: they create amazing personal finance content then earn affiliate cash when users sign up for a credit card through their site.

This model has helped them become a 150+ company in 5 years without raising any outside funding.

Pretty interesting, eh?

But it’s not like they’ve always been a bad-to-the-bone content-creation machine that gets millions of visitors each month. In fact, the company started as a Tim’s personal blog and only made $75 the first year in business.

At Hustle Con, Tim’s gonna explain how he grew his small blog into a massive content-machine that gets millions of monthly visitors and regularly outranks big companies like Bank of America, Mint, and everyone else.

This talk is for you if you struggle to get new users to your site or can’t afford to buy expensive ads.

In the meantime, I wanna show you how we’re using content marketing to sell all 500 tickets to Hustle Con in 10 weeks for around $300 a pop.

Admittedly, we aren’t as big as NerdWallet but, after reading this post, you’ll know exactly how we use content marketing to create an audience and are on track to sell out Hustle Con.

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Here’s how we sell 500 tickets in 10 weeks

Step 1 – Craft content

John and I create two content pieces a week: one infographic and one blog post. Each infographic takes three days to make. One day to interview the founder to get the info, another to craft the infographic (John does design, I write), and another to revise.

You can read a step-by-step explanation on how we create content here. If you create content, that link is a must read.

Step 2 – Spread

Ok so once we have the content complete, we write a funny/interesting email and send it to you (like this one). If the content is good enough, you share it on Facebook and our audience grows. This link shows how we write each email.

However, when we first started we didn’t have an email list. To build the initial list, we posted our blog posts and infographics on Reddit (example), Hacker News (example), Product Hunt (example), and a few other sites (entire list) and asked influencers to share on Facebook. This strategy got us around 2,000 emails in 3 months.

As of today, each piece of content gets around 2,000 to 5,000 visitors the day it’s released. In the first few months though, we’d consider anything over 1,000 a win.

Step 3 – Collect emails

We create content so we can collect people’s emails who are interested in Hustle Con. If you noticed, we have large email boxes throughout the site (example). About 7% of all visitors submit their email. For the first few months we only only collected 10 or 20 emails a day, but now our site collects around 80 emails a day. A low day will be 30 while other days will be 200.

Step 4 – Build a relationship

Ever heard of a construction worker who married the woman he cat called? No? Yeah that’s because it never happens.

Getting folks to come to Hustle Con is like that. We wanna build a longterm relationship with you, not a one night stand…so we work hard to build trust. We do this by regularly sending you emails packed with useful tactics or entertaining stories. Each email takes about 8 hours to write.

We set up our email on a MailChimp autoresponder campaign. It works like this: we send weekly emails to our initial list of 6,000 people. Each email contains useful tips or an infographic.

After you read our content, about 5% of you share it with your friends. Your friends then come to the site and enter their email. They’re added to an email sequence (here’s the entire sequence) that automatically sends them all the previous emails, spread out over a few weeks. This way the new subscribers don’t miss any old content.

So each day we automatically have thousands of different emails sent out. Copy our ideas.

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