Digital Marketing Strategy: How To Build and Sell Premium WordPress Plugins (and make $100,000 in 90 days) with Travis Ketchum

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TravisKetchum

Are you looking for a way to quickly build a list of qualified buyers for premium WordPress plugins?

Would you like to discover a method for building a software product that does not require you to be a programmer?

To discover how to build a WordPress Plug-in AND hear how my guest brought in over $100,000 in just 90 days, I interview Travis Ketchum for this episode of the Bright Ideas Podcast.

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

In this episode, I interview Travis Ketchum, Founder of Contest Domination, an Entrepreneur and extremely smart marketer.

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Transcript

Trent Dyrsmid: Would you like to create your own software product but you don’t know how to write any code? Today’s guest built a WordPress plug-in whose launch was so successful it did $100,000 in its first week and it continues to passively bring in $3,000-5,000 a month in revenue and he’s going to share with us exactly how he made that happen.Finally, if you don’t have a big list and you want your launch to be a success, you’re going to love hearing how my guest made that happen for him. All this and so much more.Hey, Travis, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for making the time to do the interview with me.Travis
Ketchum: Yes, thanks for having me on. I’m happy to be here.Trent: As I mentioned to you before we started to record, you and I have a mutual friend, a guy by the name of Chris Guthrie. [sp] Chris was kind enough to make an introduction to you. This all kind of came about after I heard an interview you did on another site where you had some pretty spectacular success by launching a software product. It was a plug-in as a WSO. Real quick, how much revenue did you do with that?Travis: Yes, with Contest Domination as a WSO, we did a little over $100,000 in sales over just a couple months so that was pretty exciting.Trent: A hundred grand, that’s pretty awesome. This was like, what, your 10th or 12th WSO?

Travis: It was my first WSO.

Trent: Confession: I knew it was his first but damn, dude, that is awesome. That is absolutely spectacular. Did you have any idea when you went into this that that amount of revenue was going to be possible for your first WSO?

Travis: No. I mean, I didn’t know anything about WSO. I had seen people do them and people like Chris had told me, “You’ve got to do it. You’ve got to launch a WSO. There’s good money there,” I looked at them and usually the sales pages look kind of clunky because it’s in a forum. I was like, “How much money are these guys really doing on these things?”

They just don’t look like they would perform that well because they fly in the face of everything you expect from a high-converting sales page. We sold like 2,000 in the first 24 hours, 2,000 copies of the software so that blew me away.

Trent: That’s 2,000 new customers into your sales funnel, which there’s all sorts of fantastic things about that and we’ll get into that a little bit later. Before we get into that, I know there’ll be people listening to this show who have never made a dime online and there’ll be people listening to this show who have an existing business but they are struggling with, “Well, how do I get more leads for my business?”

The reason I thought this would be such a great interview is one of the things that people who aren’t familiar with WSO’s might not understand is they’re not only good for making money when you sell stuff but they’re also really, really good for generating leads so we’re going to get into all that.

You had a strategy of not trying to make money on the launch and just getting leads, I mean, giving 100% of whatever was paid on the WSO to the affiliates just for a lead grab.

Travis: Yes, yes, absolutely.

Trent: We’re going to get into all of those details here in just a few minutes but I don’t know you very well, well, I don’t know you at all. This is our, really, first live conversation. We’ve traded a few e-mails. I know my audience probably doesn’t know you so tell us a little bit about your background. You probably went to school and had this vision of corporate life or what have you. I don’t know. How did you get started?

Travis: I don’t know if I had a vision of corporate life per se. I was definitely an entrepreneur kid. I was the one going around, everyone else wanted to go hang out at the beach and I wanted to do that too, but I was more motivated to mow 10 yards and wash 50 cars and grind out an extra buck, even though I didn’t have anything specific I wanted to buy with it. I just knew that if I hustled I had money, if I had money I had options and that started really young.

I did go to school for marketing at Washington State University. I started my first business, actually, when I was in high school, my senior year, after I turned 18, which did pretty well. It went like gangbusters for a few months and all it really ended up being was a arbitrage play in eBay where I was drop shipping hundreds of laptops a day at narrow margins but it scaled well.

Trent: Really?

Travis: Yes. That worked pretty well for awhile until two things happened. One, more people caught on to the opening of the market and so margins were getting pinched. And then, two, this was in 2006, and eBay had a rush about midway through the summer of fake bidders. They were going to “but it now”. It was ending the purchase cycle but it was a fake bid and they were like, “Oh, I’m sending the money through Western Union,” which is obviously not OK.

It went from insanely profitable to kind of profitable to actually costing money just because of the time and effort of going through arbitration with eBay about, “Hey, this wasn’t a real bidder,” and just screwed it all up. I was 18 and I was like, “Hey, I just made way too much money for being an 18 year-old,” I had to pull the plug on it.

Went to school knowing that I wanted to start something else but I wasn’t quite sure what yet. Someone turned me on to Shoe Money. I was like, “Man, there’s got to be some more options here,” I dabbled with a few other ideas that didn’t go anywhere. They were crap.

Trent: Give us an example because we all come up with crap ideas in the beginning.

Travis: One of the ones that I was most jazzed about, I was like a freshman in college, is I wanted to call it DropBox and I actually owned a typo on the domain DropBox because DropBox hadn’t really been launched yet. That wasn’t like a common brand like it is now. The idea of it wasn’t software for synching.

The idea was I saw all the Greek systems creating t-shirts and I thought it would be cool if you had an online configurator for t-shirts where, if it was a frat or a sorority, they would fill out a profile ahead of time and advertisers could subsidize the cost of the t-shirt printing.

Like if you’re doing an event shirt like for a rafting weekend, maybe Coca-Cola say, “Hey, our male consumption 18-24 isn’t as high as we would like,” and they could subsidize the cost of printing fraternity t-shirts or group events. So if normally your shirt would be $12.00 a shirt based on your volume, maybe Coke wants to pay a couple bucks to buy a sleeve or buy the backside, obviously, a lot of moving parts there and sponsorship problems. Yes, that’s an idea that I spent time on that just went absolutely nowhere.

Trent: How much revenue, like goose egg?

Travis: I never even actually fully launched it. I got to the stages of qualifying what it should be and all of my advisors at school were like, “This is a terrible idea. You should just not ever do this.”

Trent: OK. Like everybody else in the beginning, you didn’t light the world on fire. How did you get to the point where you thought, “I’ve never built software before but I’m going to make software.” Or maybe you had built software before. I’m actually some things which I shouldn’t do. How did this Contest Domination idea get up in your head?

Travis: A series of events happened that kind of put me into the affiliate world and as I got more comfortable and familiar with it in my own kind of affiliate mini campaigns, nothing crazy, I ended up being a JV manager for a couple different people because I could always talk to people and make a biz-dev type deal. So because of that, I’ve kind of had this intense focus on performance-based software and marketing.

I was watching all of these people that were willing to share things like Groupon and everything else where they were incentivized to share and the amazing power that had for leads. Then I looked at the readily available kind of prepackaged contest market and most of the stuff there I didn’t feel like was hitting the nail on the head because it either did one of two things.

It either only rewarded the user for the act of sharing and not the performance that came from it, so that doesn’t reward your influencers that can maybe tweet once and give you an extra 100 leads. That only rewards people that are on every social profile but might not actually have a following. Or they were overly complicated, where it’s like to get points you’d have to go create a YouTube video with a backlink or you’d have to do all this crazy stuff which, again, only rewarded someone who had the time to do that.

I wanted something that was simple, that was e-mail-based as far as collecting entries and if an influencer came through, like if Michael Arrington decided to enter a contest and tweets it out and it takes him less than a minute, that’s obviously infinitely more valuable than even 300 maybe qualified people taking the time to create a YouTube video for you with no following.

I thought that if I could focus in on something that was performance-based yet simple, that there might be something better. Then I started the journey of finding a developer and a designer and trying to put the pieces together.

Trent: We’re going to get into that. I want to hang around here this idea, the genesis of the idea for a minute. At this point in time, you’ve never built any software. You don’t write code, I’m assuming.

Travis: I don’t write code. The closest I ever really came to writing code, and I said this in the Mixergy interview too, is being like a stubborn, defiant nerd in high school. Instead of learning, back of my hand, most of the formulas you were supposed to memorize, even though I was good at memorization, instead of spending the few minutes to just memorize the formula, I figured out how to write the applications on my TI-83+.

It would just ask for the variables and then spit out in long form the solution so it was perfect every time. The thing that used to make me angry is I would mess up little, basic math stuff sometimes, like in the sequencing and it would screw up my end result. I’d get dinged the whole way through it. I got really upset about that, so I would write and bug test these apps that would ask for the variables and spit out the perfect answer every time. Then I would go through and just make small, little errors at the end so that I didn’t get 100% because they didn’t like us to do that.

Trent: Yes. I don’t even know what a TI-3 is. What is that?

Travis: It was the Texas Instruments, the high-end graphing calculators and you could actually write your own codes. It wasn’t crazy. We’re talking maybe 15, 20 lines to make it all happen but I was like going through the manual that comes with to figure out how to write an application that would graph or show me in long form how I got an answer so I could then write it on the test. I guess that’s technically cheating.

Trent: OK, You’re really not a software developer.

Travis: No.

Trent: You decided that you wanted to create some software. Tell me a little bit about just kind of the psychology that went into it because a lot of people who, and I know I’ve fallen victim to this, I thought about building software years ago and I’m like, “Well, I don’t know how to build any software,” so I never did anything with it. What was it that gave you the belief system that made you think, “Yes, I could do this”? Did you have someone in the mastermind? Did you have a mentor? How did that happen?

Travis: I knew that the way I was currently doing things, which was very much tied to opportunities of working for someone else was only scalable so far. I knew that if I wanted to scale my income and I wanted to scale the end production of my time, it would require some kind of unit, software unit of some kind. I went beyond just trading hours for dollars. Even though I was working for myself and that was great, I knew I needed some function that could accelerate that.

That’s only really possible through software to extend your total production value and you had to own it. So to own it, that means it has to be developed under your company so you have to hire a developer and a designer but to me that was a worthwhile risk because if you do the same thing you’ve always done, you’ll get the same results you’ve always gotten, right?

Trent: Yes.

Travis: I kind of went on this little bit of a witch hunt so that was my main driving mission is like, “I don’t care what it takes. I have to figure out a way to get a quality developer, a decent designer, to help me make a product that actually solves a real problem.” Finding the real problem was actually the easy part. Then it became the execution of it.

I asked people that had done it well, I was fortunate enough to have the Chris Gutherie’s in my life that have done something like that before to kind of set the ground work of what’s even involved, to give you kind of an overview. There are still quite a few blanks to fill in but it’s such a worthwhile thing to do.

Trent: And what were you doing to put food on the table? Obviously you’re at zero revenue from your software at this point in time, so were you just running JV’s and working for other people?

Travis: Yes. I was promoting some different JV programs for some speakers and authors. I had my blog, which I had written about just kind of my experiences doing that and what successful campaigns have looked like in the JV world. Then obviously there’s a handful of affiliate type things so I wrote simple guides like “How to Set Up WordPress on Bluehost,” the affiliate Bluehost, little things like that, affiliate links and stuff like that was enough to cover my base plus a little. It gave me enough breathing room to make a bet on developing my own thing.

Trent: OK. Let’s go into the development process. The very first thing that you had to do before you ever go to hire a developer or a designer was what?

Travis: Decide what had the greatest profit potential while solving the biggest market problem that wasn’t currently being solved. Most people that are entrepreneurs have thousands and thousands of ideas. At some point through the day there’s just fire. You can’t help it. There’s like, “Oh, this would be cool,” or, “This would be cool,” and just keying down to kind of like saying, “Maybe that’s not as cool as I thought it was,” or, “Yes, this is really cool,” and you looked it up and there’s already 10 people doing it.

Just kind of qualifying down that lead list of ideas until you get to maybe 5 or 10 that sound like they have some promise and then going through your due diligence process of, “How big is the market, really? How much do people make that are in my marketplace? Can they afford to buy what I want to build them but not quite afford to build it themselves from scratch?” Figuring out the different market information like that and then deciding, “OK, this is something I want to build. I think it’ll be successful. The price points seem to be bearable by the marketplace. Now how do I build it and bring it to them? How do I get it in front of that audience?” is the next part of it.

Trent: How did you figure out who your market was going to be and how did you figure out if they were going to be able to afford it or not?

Travis: It’s relatively open data, especially for WSO-type launches. People were loving to buy WordPress plugins. WordPress is obviously a popular platform and I saw a use for it not only in the Internet marketing space but for – I’m going to say this loosely – real businesses and regular businesses have a use for contests as well so I thought, “OK. I can focus on the Internet marketing space to launch this but there’s growth ability above and beyond that.”

WordPress seemed like a natural first step because it was relatively cost effective to produce. People could understand it. It was simple to use and that gave me data on what people are willing to pay for a list-building WordPress plank.

Trent: How did you find out what they were willing to pay? Was it because you were looking at what else was selling and looking at the price points?

Travis: Yes.

Trent: OK. All right.

Travis: So that gave me a ballpark of where it could sell and then I also looked at ClickBank, which is the main marketplace I launched in to start with and I saw that most things there were selling for $97.00, $147.00. There’s another contest software out there for $147.00. I thought, if I wanted to expand on an Internet marketing space and I want to get the Mom&Pop shops in this, I don’t think they’re willing to spend $150.00 to then pony up their own prize and so on and so forth, so I priced it low. Even on the ClickBank side of things I priced it at $37.00.

I knew that if they were interested and they sought out a contest solution, that if $100.00 is what they’re willing to bear and I can make it better and make it $37.00 and the math on my Excel sheets still says I can turn a profit, we might have a winner.

Trent: Yes. OK.

Travis: That was the train of thought anyway.

Trent: OK. So you’ve researched it. You’ve conceptualized. You still had to figure out, because you can’t just go to a developer and say, “Hey, I have this idea in my head. Make it,” so there’s still some stuff that happened before you could actually engage a developer. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Travis: Sure. I think pretty visually so when I think about an idea, it kind of starts forming in my head, loosely, kind of like a foggy picture but it’s there. Like I said on Mixergy, I actually took a really basic, kind of like Paint program, like the equivalent to Microsoft Paint but it’s a free one for the Mac. I did a really ugly, hideous wireframe of kind of like, “This is what a user would hit in step one. This is what a user would hit in step two,” and then just try to conceptualize it in words what I was trying to achieve.

Then I gave that to a developer and said, “Hey, do you understand what I’m trying to build here? Can you bring it back to me in developer-speak – ‘if this then that’ – kind of talk and make sure we’re on the same page? If we are, how much will it cost me for you to develop this?”

Trent: OK. You had something that was enough information that whoever you were going to hire was basically going to be able to grasp the idea.

Travis: At least get the gist of what I was trying to do and maybe fill in a few of the blanks.

Trent: Your first developer, it didn’t work out so well, did it?

Travis: No because I went cheap and it bit me in the butt.

Trent: It’s a valuable lesson so if you don’t mind sharing it, I’d love it if you would explain what you did wrong maybe.

Travis: Sure. At first, since I was on my own, I was totally self-financing it. It was kind of a solo gig. I was like, “OK. I know I need to spend money but I don’t know how much. Less is better if I can get away with it,” and that is the wrong kind of thought, I now know.

I wanted to start by just asking my network because I do have a decent amount of one or two tier away connections so I thought, “Hey, I’ll just throw it out there I’m looking for a WordPress developer. If anyone has a good recommendation, make an intro please,” and I put it on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

I know a guy who is a Google app engine developer who has a pretty big following on Google+ and he’s like, “Hey, I’ll repost it and I’ll see if I can’t get someone for you.” I got a referral through him who I later found out they didn’t even really know each other, that he just happened to be, bumped into each other on Google+, which is kind of a weird community to start with. I got this referral and he gave me a cheap price and Chris referred me to someone and he gave me a much higher price. I’m like, “These are pretty dramatically different.”

Trent: What were the prices?

Travis: The cheap price was $750.00 and the expensive price was like $4,000.

Trent: OK. That’s a big spread.

Travis: Yes. There was one other person that was kind of in between but they even, just flaked out. I was like, “OK. Well, so it’s really just these two options without having to scavenge the Internet to find a development agency.” A lot of time agencies are people that have a big reputation for developing marketing-related products will be like, “Oh, $20,000,” something crazy, so I went with the $750.00 guy and that was one of the worst experiences of my life.

Not only did he infinitely delay it to start with but then the code he gave me was total, utterly useless crap. The way I tried to explain it when I passed both developers ultimately, booked both offers to make it, as I said, “I realize that I’m a little more technical than most people but I need to you build this as though a 15 year-old, female, fashion blogger in Florida or wherever is trying to set up a contest on her blog, she needs to be able to use it. That’s how simple it needs to be. Just upload, unzip. Like we all know, install, activate, fill in the blanks and you’re good to go.” That’s what it should have been.

The first developer’s idea of that type of usability was like going into your C-panel, installing PHP Scripts, even stuff that I’m like, “What? How do I do…?” and I’m not an idiot. I work with hosting quite frequently even I was like, “Are you kidding me? I can’t use this. This is totally unusable.” There was a big debate as far as him delivering or not. It was just a mess.

I went to the new developer and was like, “Hey, I know you’re more expensive. I know I should have come to you in the first place. Can you use this code? I paid for it,” and he looked at it and he was like, “It’s garbage, dude. I can’t use any of it.” I ended up paying the $4,000 plus the $750.00, which, shame on me. I deserve to pay a little extra.

The first guy took months to try to get it to me and the more expensive guy, because he was sitting on a big code base of his own from prior projects, it took him days from the time that he said, “I’m starting on it,” to, “Hey, here’s the first beta,” and it was pretty close to done.

Trent: In a couple of days.

Travis: Couple of days. It’s crazy.

Trent: That’s pretty awesome.

Travis: He was that good and he was sitting on that much code. He was good, he had been hired so frequently that a lot of these functions were similar to other projects and his contracts always say he can reuse his own code. He wrote it by hand at one point but he just compiled it and then did some unique things for this plug-in.

Trent: For people who are listening to this who have never built software before, I’d like it if you’d expand on that a little bit because they might not understand this whole process of having objects that are premade and already available and building software, kind of like, Legos. D you want to talk a little more about that?

Travis: Sure. Probably the best analogy I could use, is imagine if you need to do some kind of remodeling project in your house. If you want to do it yourself, you probably don’t have all the tools so you’ve got to drive to the store and get a special kind of hammer and a special kind of nails and, oh, you forgot this other tool.

You’ve got to go back to the store and get a saw blade, whatever. If you hire a carpenter to come in and do it, he shows up, his truck is full of everything he needs and even though it’s a new project, he can knock it out in record time because he knows how to do it and he’s got everything that he’s used in prior projects to do it.

That’s probably the best analogy I can think of because you think about it, “Yes, you can do it. You can save some money but you take a lot of time and you have to get everything you need for the first time.” That’s an infinitely slower process than someone who, that’s what they do. Is that a good explanation?

Trent: Yes. I think that’s an excellent explanation and I think folks who are listening who have never built software before will get that.

Travis: Hopefully they’ve never had to remodel their own wall.

Trent: Yes, that as well. One of my questions, and you’ve already answered it for me, was, what’s the number one mistake that most people make when they’re going to build software? I think I know what the answer is. I think you’ve given the answer but just in case I’m offbase, what do you think the number one mistake is that people make?

Travis: They trip over pennies to try to get dollars. Obviously, in the long run, that $750.00, we make that back in a matter of days now. The $4,000 is roughly a month of income on that plugin now even many months after the launch.

Trent: You mean it’s still doing $4,000 a month for you now?

Travis: It varies. It goes anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 of profit a month after paying an affiliate without any active promotion, just hanging out.

Trent: Wow. That is because of the ClickBank product that you created?

Travis: Yes.

Trent: We’ll get to all that in a minute. Before we get to there, I want to talk about the WSO – and if anyone’s listening to this, they don’t know what a WSO is, well, I’ll let you explain it. What’s a WSO?

Travis: I didn’t really know what it was either until I decided that this is something I wanted to launch. A WSO is just a warrior special offer, which is the marketplace, essentially, warrior forums, which is a forum dedicated to Internet marketers.

Trent: Most discussion forums you’re not allowed to say, “Hey, buy my stuff,” but in the warrior forum they have this section called “Warrior Special Offer”. I think it’s still $40.00, isn’t it, to run a thread?

Travis: It’s like $50.00.

Trent: Is it $50.00 now? Yes. Boy, the guys are making money running that thing. Anyway, so you pay your $50.00 and you can put up your thread and you can say, “Buy my stuff.” There is a little bit more that goes into it than that. Now you’ve got your product done and you need to sell lots of it, and you did, 2,000 units I think you said, in the first 24 hours.

Travis: First 24 hours of the WSO but the WSO wasn’t the first thing I did.

Trent: OK. Let’s back up. What was the first thing you did?

Travis: The first thing I did is, because I wasn’t even convinced that I wanted to do a WSO yet, I had gone through all of the approval process and everything to get it onto ClickBank. Then I just opened it up to my very small, existing audience and it did a couple thousand dollars in profit in the first month.

It was on ClickBank exclusively for about a month before I did a WSO. I didn’t make all of my money back but I made about half of it back with very little promotion. I was like, “OK. If I can do that once I get some real JV’s onboard with this and do a real launch, then we might actually have something.”

Trent: When you did that very first launch just to your own list, how many people were on your list back then?

Travis: It was kind of embarrassing. I only put it on my blog list, which was like 400 or 500 people. It was like nothing.

Trent: OK. What’d your sales page look like? Was it just a video demonstration of the software and a “buy now” button or what was it like?

Travis: Actually it looks just like it does now because I hired one of my friends to help me crank it out and he did a nice job.

Trent: What’s the URL?

Travis: ContestDomination.com. It has a product image. It goes through the features. Now that I’ve had it in, since then, some social proof now that I have more people using it and I can take snapshots of the actual performance. It’s pretty basic and straightforward, no video, just text and a couple of images.

Trent: Very simple. That’s a thesis theme, it looks like.

Travis: It’s actually not. It’s a custom woofing.

Trent: It is. OK.

Travis: Yes. They did a lot of custom stuff to it though.

Trent: OK. Very cool. You test market it on your own. It did well. Then you thought, “All right. Clearly I have something here that the market likes, that they think is worthwhile. There’s people buying it.” By the way, did you track your conversion rate on this sales page when you ran it to your own list?

Travis: Yes. I’m a numbers guy. With that small of a sample size, it’s pretty inconclusive. At the end of the day, that sales page converts around 4-6%.

Trent: Wow. That’s pretty good.

Travis: With my own list, it’s not even a fair comparison, to be honest, because those people knew me really well. It was a small group. They’d been following me for a couple years and I had kind of teased them that it was coming up so I don’t even want to say the number because it’s totally outlier. It’s irrelevant. I understand why you’re asking but it’s not a number that people should get excited about because it doesn’t indicate the real market success.

Trent: No, but now we’re all curious.

Travis: It did like 30% from my list.

Trent: That’s pretty awesome. That obviously speaks to the relationship that you had with your list. I think that that’s something that’s important for people to understand and that’s why it’s so important to blog or put yourself out there and build a list because this is one of the things that can happen.

Now you thought, “All right. This is a great product. People love it.” You’d sold some copies. You got some feedback from your customers. Was there any revisions to the software that you made between your first release and when you did the WSO?

Travis: No but there was one almost immediately after launching the WSO because once I had thousands of people using it, the squeaky wheels made a lot more noise then.

Trent: All right. We’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s talk about the WSO itself. You’d never done one before. There is a very specific process to creating a successful WSO so at the kind of high-level, in the interest of time, obviously we don’t have time to go into absolute detail, but what are the steps to a successful WSO?

Travis: You talked about credibility and I’m glad you brought that up. I had never, in fact if you look at my profile now, it still says technically 0 posts because it doesn’t count posts on a WSO thread. So I didn’t have my street cred in the Warrior forum. People didn’t know who I was. Everything I was doing was kind of below the radar or for other people. My work was out there but it just didn’t have my name on it so no one really knew who I was.

I was like, “OK. Well, obviously credibility’s huge so let’s find someone who is well-ingrained in the Warrior forum and has repeatedly been successful launching products and let’s just work out a term sheet that makes us both happy.” Essentially they end up being like the JV manager for that particular launch because they’ve got the JV connections.

People trust them on the forums so let’s kind of leverage their brand equity a little bit and their connections and just share the revenue because it’ll be significantly more successful than if I just get on there, blazing, as my own because then I’m just giving a discount to people who just didn’t buy on the first wave of my tiny list. That wasn’t the goal. The goal was new leads, new revenue, new people I’ve never been exposed to before.

I partnered with a guy named Mark Thompson. It was a great experience. He repeatedly gets WSO of the day, which is the product, for those who don’t know, it gets kind of hand-picked as the best product for sale of the day, which then gets further promoted by the forum guy himself.

Mark really helped lay out like, “Hey, we’ve got to do this for the forum. These are the price points. This is how we should tweak your existing funnel to work for a funnel for the Warrior forum and then he just leveraged his connections in a way that was awesome and drove a ton of traffic to the WSO.

Trent: So what did the deal, if you’re at liberty to disclose, and you don’t have to say, obviously, anything you don’t want to, but what did that deal look like with Mark because you didn’t know him before? Did you get referred to him?

Travis: I got a referral to him and I had kind of heard of him before, mainly because he had another list-building product and I just sent him a cold e-mail. I was originally interested in putting his list-building product as an upsell on the ClickBank sales process of Contest Domination. Then over a couple weeks, as I was looking into the WSO and realized that he actually had a big footprint there as well, we decided to, instead of integrating our ClickBank product, to just do a WSO with it because we’d get more leads and more money.

Trent: OK. Essentially there was no relationship there, contacted him. Do you think it was mostly the fact that he looked at the product and thought, “Hey, this is a really kickass product. I know I can sell a lot of this. Sure, I’ll work with this guy that I don’t know,” or was there anything else that happened in there that got him onboard.

Travis: I think he realized the product was a quality product that hadn’t been launched, like nothing like it had been launched in the Warrior forum before, which is important. But I think what ended up happening is we both got on a couple Skype calls and just talked to each other. You have to kind of do a gut check and say, “Is this a decent person? Are they going to do what they say they’re going to do? Can I trust him at least somewhat and is this potentially beneficial?” You have to take a leap of faith.

With him, I kind of get the feeling that he’s a straight shooter. His terms seemed generous that he threw out. I said, “Hey, let’s just jump on it. Let’s do it.” It took just a couple minutes talking on a call after a few e-mails exchanged for us to decide to work together because we quickly found amicable terms and we both felt comfortable with what each other did, I guess.

Trent: What did those terms look like?

Travis: I ended up sharing a percentage of profits that was a large percentage but less than half because I had had the cash outlay myself.

Trent: Yes. You have gross revenue, then you have affiliates getting paid, after that is profit and he got a meaningful percentage of that.

Travis: Correct, Yes.

Trent: OK. And that worked out for you, obviously.

Travis: Yes. He, at the end of the day, probably made more on the product than I did because he had a bigger list to promote it to as well, which counts under the affiliate payment but that’s fine. It’s deserved. It’s his asset and he brought a lot to the table. I feel like it was money very, very well spent.

Trent: I think that that’s something that some people maybe get hung up on. I remember maybe two, three weeks ago, I found these guys that had this software and I thought it might be applicable for one of the niches that I was in. So I called them up and we had this conversation and they didn’t know anything about marketing so I had proposed some ideas and I said, “What do you want to share?” and they said, “Well, 25%.” End of conversation.

I thought to myself, “Man, you guys just don’t get it. Having someone like Mark,” – and I’m dwelling on this because I hope there’s some people listening to this interview who are thinking, “I built it. I should get the bulk of the revenue.” If that’s your thinking, you’re going about it the wrong way. I know why I think that is but, again, I’m interviewing you so I want you to share with the audience why you think being really generous is worth it in the long haul.

Travis: Well, especially if it’s your first product, it’s even more important, I think. You have to look at it this way: it’s guaranteed profitable user acquisition, guaranteed profitable user acquisition. For anyone who’s serious about Internet marketing, they know that the real money is in the list. I’ve made a multiple since then off of the list. I’m not saying that to brag. It’s the legitimate asset that I walked away from with that.

It’s what I can leverage into new products. It’s what I can leverage into a new version of the first product. That’s my list. That’s my communication with my users. That’s my asset. There’s no way, starting out, that I could have added 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 people to my list in a matter of days. Guaranteed profitable on the Internet plus including the promotions that happened after the fact.

So be generous. Reward people for their time because then they’ll want to work with you again too. If you come out with something else, they’ll be like, “Man, I made a killing working with this person. I definitely want to work with them again, no questions asked. I love it. I’m in. Let’s do it,” and you’ll get another wave of thousands of people.

The next thing you know, you have a big list that not only are you making money on your front end launches, but then you’re making $2,000, $4,000, $8,000, $20,000, $30,000 a month off of an e-mail list. That’s not unrealistic if you do it right over time.

Can you tell us a little bit because you talked about the list and you alluded to some of the things that you’ve maybe done since? It sounds like this launch was really a game changer for you because I’m going to guess that your average monthly revenue before this product was launched was a very different number than your average monthly revenue now after the launch, even though the launch is over, so to speak.

You kind of alluded earlier in the interview or maybe it was before we started recording and we were talking, there’s this kind of cash that keeps coming in without a whole lot of promotion. Can you tell us a little bit about why getting that list is so important and then what it is that you’re doing to make this a residual income product?

Travis: Sure. But just to give some context to it, it’s not like I was making chump change before. I was working my tail off for other people and getting compensated well for it. I don’t have to work as hard as that anymore. I put in hours but it’s not as stressful and I make about three times as much, just to give some context, of what I made before and, like I said, it wasn’t terrible money to start with.

Trent: Do you feel like sharing the number?

Travis: Not really. All I’m saying is you can have a decent job and if you can leverage that into a product and a list, you can make exponentially more money for the same amount of time and less stress, in my opinion.

Trent: OK. That should be sufficient to convince people.

Travis: It just works. Trust me. As far as what I’m doing since then to make it more of a residual income is two things. The one, I still have kind of an evergreen sales process for the plugin. It’s still doing quite well because there’s either reviews out there about it that people are sending traffic to the sales page.

On the sidebar of the contest, since it works so well as a tool, people will use it frequently, and on the sidebar is an opt out for them where it says, “Powered by Contest Domination” so we get a handful of hits everyday from people who are running contests and leave that enabled. They can just put in their ClickBank ID and get a commission for it. I’m cool with that.

Trent: Oh, so everyone who’s using the plug-in by default, unless they turn it off, they’re actually an affiliate that’s promoting you.

Travis: They have to put in their ClickBank ID so by default it’s just promoting it. They can put in their ClickBank ID or disable it. There’s not a ton of options. It’s not like it’s hidden or buried. I try to be upfront about it but it is an opt-out versus opt-in. That alone keeps a steady stream of new people coming in. These interviews are great, just kind of spreading the word about it. That organically does pretty well. The only overhead there at this point is really support because the same technical overhead I have, it’s a blip on the radar for everything else that I have to pay for anyway.

Then when you have those leads to, I try to do about two campaigns a month where I promote a paid product, someone I know that I’ve vetted, that I’ve tested the product myself. I think there’s a real use case for it. I think it’s relevant for my audience. About twice a month I’ll do a paid promotion to other plug-ins where they pay me an affiliate commission and to keep those leads warm I usually try to send out free actual content, just kind of keeping them nurtured and warm with content.

Twice a month is a paid campaign where they pay 50% or more of an affiliate commission on what’s being paid out. That alone is just easy money. It’s not abusing my users because, like I said, I always vet the product. I know the person is going to take care of my users. It’s actually useful and I can see a use case for it and they’re happy to get it when it’s still cheap.

Trent: Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. So some people listening to this are thinking at this point probably, “Hey, Travis seems like a pretty smart guy. Is there any way I can get a hold of him?” How do people get a hold of you? Obviously they know the plug-in is at ContestDomination.com. I don’t know whether we can offer any kind of, do you have any kind of discount codes that my listeners could be able to get or anything like that?

Travis: It’s a pretty rudimentary process, so I don’t have any discount codes on hand that work automatically but if anyone shoots me an e-mail after purchasing saying they saw this interview, I can send them a version that has additional skins for free.

Trent: Cool.

Travis: How’s that sound?

Trent: Yes. That’s excellent.

Travis: Ten extra textured skins to help them change the look and feel so if they thumb through a buy a license and just forward me the receipt and say they saw this interview, I’d be happy to upgrade the product they have access to.

Trent: What’s the e-mail address they would have to use for that?

Travis: Just travis@contestdomination.com.

Trent: OK. Obviously if anyone wants to get a hold of you for anything else, that’s probably a sufficient e-mail address for them to use.

Travis: Yes.

Trent: All right. It’s been a fascinating interview. I’ve learned a whole bunch, Travis. You seem like a very, very smart guy. Congratulations to you on the success that you’re having.

For those of you who are listening to this, thank you very much for tuning in. If you have questions or comments of course, please just use the form that is below the interview.

If you’re not yet ready to be a BrightIdeas Premium member, but you would like to get the transcript or the audio file so that you can download it onto your mobile device, there’ll be a way just below this video that you can opt into the list. It’s totally free and you’ll be able to access all of that stuff.

So that’s it for now. Thanks very much, everybody. Talk to you again in an upcoming interview.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this episode:

How To Build a WordPress Plug-in and Earn $100,000

In this episode, Travis shares with us exactly how he created his own widely successful software products without knowing how to write a lick of code. Travis will tells us about what he did to make his first software launch a massive success.

In Travis’ own words, he went from working his tail off to earning “exponentially more money for the same amount of time and less stress”.

You’ll hear Travis discuss the software development process, his marketing plan, and how he recruited a super-affiliate to help him ensure his launch was a huge hit.

Listen to Travis outline the step by step process he went through to make this happen.

What Makes Him an Expert

After a small launch to his own mailing list, Travis debuted his software as a WSO.  In his very first WSO release, he attained ‘WSO of the day’. There is an extremely high level of competition for WSOs, so this was quite an accomplishment – in addition to having a product that people want to buy, there are so many details to get right.

Travis not only got it right, but he also brought in over $100,000 in his first 90 days and added 2,000 new customers to his list.

If you don’t yet know what a WSO is, you’ll hear how you can use them to generate revenue and build your list.

Software Development Made Easy

You’ll hear Travis talk about the development process, the exact psychology that goes behind software development, and how he arrived at the decision that he needed to create a software product.

Travis shares what you need to consider to make certain your product will be a big hit.  He provides a list of questions that you’ll want to ask even before the first line of code is written.

Next, Travis imparts his process he uses to outline his idea and convey it do a developer.  It’s so simple that you may not believe how quickly his developer was able to go from concept to final product!

Listen to the show to find out more about software development for the non software developer.

What Travis Did Very Right (& Very Wrong)

Travis reveals how he gained instant credibility with customers who had never before been exposed to him or his brand.  This was a key component that enabled him to land so many new customers in such a short period of time, and was something that Travis did very right as he sold his software.

I also asked Travis for the  #1 mistake people make when they’re going to create software.  Hear Travis share a story about a huge product development mistake that bit him in the butt, but turned out to be a valuable lesson for him and us.  Once he corrected his mistake, he was able to create a product that sold like hotcakes.

This one lesson will help you manage expectations and will create a better product, much more quickly than you might expect.

If you’d like to save money, time and frustration, listen to the show now.

About Travis

I’m into marketing, but I have a sense a humor and very particular way of doing things.

I don’t settle.

Currently located in Seattle, WA and having attended Washington State University (whose Entrepreneurship program is notably & consistently in the top 10), I’m surrounded by motivated geek culture that inspires me every single day.

This is after all the land of Microsoft, Amazon, too much caffeine and the great outdoors.

I do my best to “do right” by the clients I work with & the people I hire.

Feel free to ask anyone I’ve done considerable work with before – they will tell you the same.

More important than being featured or mentioned across some of the top blogs and websites in my field, I just want to make cool things and help people do the same.

Thanks for Listening!

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  • Peter Knight

    Really motivating interview and a kick in the behind because I’ve been putting off launching a WSO. It does seem he nailed so many things, from leveraging the right forum, the right person to being able to instruct a developer to create a userfriendly plugin. Damn impressive.

    I’d love to know more about what the customer support looked like after doing the WSO. What are the customers like coming from the warriorforum? What’s the refund rate like for software products? I know that info products do attract a lot of refunds via the forum but for software? That would be interesting to know. Hope you guys do a follow up interview.

    BTW found this site through your Mixergy interview, great stuff.

    • Trent Dyrsmid

      Hey Peter,

      Glad you’ve found your way here to the BI community. Welcome aboard 🙂

      I’m sure if you contact Travis directly, he’d answer those questions for you.

      Cheers,
      Trent

    • Peter,

      Great questions! Doing a WSO is definitely a learning experience, and while I’m not nearly as involved with them now as I used to be.. they are an amazing way to test an idea, get quick validation (or rejection) and pretty much always build a list of at least several hundred people in a short amount of time.

      The support question is huge here – I think that’s where most people fall down in doing WSO’s, because they either aren’t willing or just aren’t prepared to deliver amazing support. I knew going into this exercise that my goal was go generate a list of long-term customers. To do that I needed to set a precedent that I felt comfortable with in terms of customers service and the respect I wanted to show my users.

      It has paid off in huge dividends and is largely responsible for my continued success today. Also, if you are REALLY on top of your support desk right out of the gate and resolve issues quickly for people you’ll see them posting love for you in your thread comments which really influences conversions for cold traffic.

      That being said there are a few ways you can help offset the insane pressures that a support desk can create (but keep in mind you’ll never 100% be able to avoid a spike in support needs on launch day).

      1. Hire an awesome developer. Seriously, this is the best way to mitigate support desk needs, costs and headache. If you’re software is doing really well the first time, you won’t be left holding the bag so to speak when the herd comes running in with a mile long list of issues.

      2. Do your best test your software with different frameworks or whatever popular environments you think people will be using your solution in. This won’t catch everything but it’s a good way to save some embarrassment if the most popular theme or plugin for your audience causes an issue.

      3. Set a budget for your developer to do patches and fixes. As mentioned above, even the best testing and a great developer won’t catch everything. If you have a budget for fixing issues you can then gather the stampede of potential issues, and bundle them together into one nice to-do list for your developer which is going to reduce costs and give you the “a fix is coming next week” response to give your effected customers.

      Most people are reasonable and can wait about a week, but that’s only possible with coordination between you and your developer.. as well as understanding you have to grease the wheels a little bit with the developer for quick improvements to keep your customers happy.

      This brings us to refunds…

      Some people have atrocious refunds on the forum, but I honestly believe that’s because they do the sale and then fall off the face of the planet with their customers. This simply can’t happen if you ever want to gain momentum and grow a real business without always chasing your tail. Not only is it morally the right thing to do to give phenomenal support but it’s simply a good business decision as well.

      I feel like we had one of the better refund rates as far as WSO’s go, but you’re always going to have serial refunders who will refund 24-48 hours before your refund policy expires. It just happens, but even with that we stayed in the single digits for refunds which isn’y bad given the community and trend for much higher refunds from what I’ve seen others do.

      Hope that helps!

      • Trent Dyrsmid

        Thanks for such a detailed answer 🙂

      • Peter Knight

        Amazing answers, wow – thanks for the detailed response. Super insightful. The single rate refund rate you reached is really good. The product must have delivered on the ‘easy to use’ scale, which is hard to get right. I’m thinking if I do a WSO launch I will throttle signups in order to keep support as responsive as possible (and since it’s genuine scarcity, it can go in the sales letter as a buying incentive).

        Thanks again Travis and Trent, that was above and beyond, much appreciated.

        • Trent Dyrsmid

          Hey Peter,

          Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Glad to hear that you found the interview so helpful!

  • Hi

    For the Dummies amongst us: Can someone explain what a “WSO” is?? 🙂

    Thank you and best regards from Greece,
    David

    • Trent Dyrsmid

      WS) = Warrior Special Offer

  • Slowly working my way from the back of all the podcast and as the one before this was have my gears turning too. Travis mentioned how his first software development was to help other and keep it simple for the user just gave me an idea for a WordPress plugin to solve a problem. Thank Trent and Travis.

    • You’re welcome. Glad to hear this episode inspired you 🙂