I’d never told this story publicly — let alone onstage in front of 130 people…
… But as soon as I did, my knees turned near-liquid with relief.
I was speaking at The Copywriter Club IRL 2019 conference with a talk called From Nothing to Something: How to turn your ideas, point of view, and personal philosophies into profitable products.
I’ve been teaching marketing from the stage for years, but thistalk was something special — because it gave me time and space to riff on my absolute favorite thing to do in business: teach people how to design, test, and sell new weird, and wonderful ideas.
But it came at a cost for me (as all the best talks do)…
I had to be up front about something I hadn’t discussed openly before.
Namely: the mistakes I made launching my first big, beautiful idea into the world — a.k.a. The Wordshops, my copywriting courses for unconventional entrepreneurs.
As a bit of background, The Wordshops were a labor of love that took me three years, 10 team members, and $10,000 to build.
To this day, it’s a project I’m insanely proud of bringing to life.
The experience taught me a ton, and the courses have helped students from around the world reimagine not just their Home, About, Sales page copy and messaging, but their entire businesses too.
However, this course also set the stage for some of my greatest missteps.
You see, from day 1 of dreaming up the concept, to interviewing potential customers, to spending hours editing the modules and busting my butt to get everything “just right”, I assured myself these courses would be it for me.
My trap door out of the constant grind of day to day client work.
My source of *~*~*passive income*~*~*.
The Thingie I Would Finally, Totally Build a Funnel Around.
That’s probably why, as I stood on stage earlier this month, I needed to take a deep breath and tell the truth about what happened,
While they were by all measures a success both financially and personally… I also made a rookie mistake along the way:
I went too hard, too fast.
To be fair, my intentions were good. I had a vision of creating a copywriting course so in-depth, so incredible, so everything-you-need, people wouldn’t need to buy another copy-related program ever again.
With that goal in my mind, OF COURSE it had to be picture-perfect on launch day.
However, there was one little fact I wasn’t accounting for…
… This was my first product launch ever. And what we do so easily for clients is so much harder to to do for ourselves, despite what we might assume given our experience levels.
I should have been walking. But I decided to sprint.
So, why didn’t anyone tell me to reign it in? Well… they did. Often.
Smart, experienced colleagues and clients gave me the advice to start smaller and simplify…
To scale back on client work before I tried to go full-time selling my course…
To not give people eeeverything I had…
And of course I effectively ignored, uh, all of it.
After all, I’d done my due diligence, right?
I’d interviewed customers, packed everything they asked for and more into the course, sent the course to beta readers for thumbs-up/thumbs-down, and tested it in groups of 6–8 awesome beta students not once, but twice.
I even had the perfect lead magnet for it — a 5 day challenge around (what else?) blog writing.
This was it. I had a great game plan. I’d checked all the boxes. This was my unsinkable ship, and it was too big to fail.
Sure, I was busting my booty to make it happen, but that’s just the way I do things, baby. Go huge or go home.
Buuuuut as it turns out, wise people give wise advice for a reason.
Because as a result of all the time, effort, effort, and cash I invested… I completely burned myself out on the first launch.
Whoa — juggling a full plate of client work, wrangling a team of 10 to produce a course, and launching it singlehandedly can wear even a hardcore hustler out!? Who knew!
And, while I’d initially envisioned myself doing a massive launch every quarter, I was now faced with two big problems:
- I was tired.
- After a great initial launch and a few live rounds … I didn’t shrink my client workload in the way I’d intended in order to make room to scale.
For a while, I convinced myself I could still make it all work because in some ways it felt like hitting the lottery.
“ I have a course that fills up every time I launch it, and people still buy the DIY version when I’m not running it live!? Surely I can kinda sorta balance alongside client work? Why wouldn’t I want to make All the Moneys?!”
But it turned out, my “trap door” out of client work was more of a plain ol’ trap.
My workload gave me no space to turn the funnel evergreen — and as a result of that and my burnout, my launch cycle vision went unrealized.
After a few months, I decided to put any formal promotion or funnels “on ice” while I recovered.
… And thats’ where they’ve stayed ever since.
I can see now that while The Wordshops were a damn good, much-loved idea?
They weren’t a fit for the reality of my business when they were built.
They were a fit for the vision of the business I intended to build — a vision that has now, for all intents and purposes, gone unrealized and faded away to make room for something WAY more awesome.
As a result, I can’t help as many people as I want to with them in their current form.
And the truth is? As awesome as these courses are, they’re just not the right fit for where my business is going.
So this is my announcement: as of April 2nd 2019, I’m officially pullingThe Wordshops offline.
The good news is, you can still get your hands on the DIY versions from now ’til then for a crazy awesome closing price of $297.
(The original price point was $497, so get it while it’s hot y’all!)
While some of the content will live on in other forms to help more people on bigger scale, this is your chance to get the DIY Wordshops in all their four module + editable workbooks + video training majesty.
Already have access to The Wordshops? Don’t worry, your access will remain open permanently.
Mind you: I’m not doing this because The Wordshops aren’t selling anymore.
(They are — and I’ve also had customers tell me it is, hands down, the best copywriting course they’ve ever taken.)
This isn’t because I’m not proud of the content.
(I am. I busted my butt to make it a top tier offer — like, dissertation-level-copywriting tier. To date I still think it’s the best thing I’ve ever made.)
This isn’t because some Winds of Woo cried out that The Wordshops didn’t serve my soul anymore or whatevs.
(They’re my heart’s work — me, pouring my entire process out of my hands and onto paper.)
It’s because sometimes, to get where we’re going and start climbing our next mountain, we have to lighten the load, and leave a few things behind.
One truth that gets pounded into the head of every creative is that for every Very Good Idea we have, a hundred Pretty Good Ideas must get left in the dust.
And to be honest? This “kill your darlings” philosophy is my least favorite part of this gig — but also the most necessary.
Because while it’s easy to kill off a bad, half-baked idea, it takes a lot of self-reflection and heartache to bury a good one that just isn’t meant to follow us into our next evolution.
We’ve gotta teach ourselves to take the lessons we’ve learned and move along.
Just like yourself, I’ve got a graveyard littered with dead darlings, including:
Youngblood Collective, a mastermind for young creatives starting online business.
The Naked Launch, a totally transparent launch funnel where I let readers in on the back end of what I was sending/creating when, and why. (Long story, but I might still do this one.)
An encouragement coloring book for entrepreneurs feeling down in the dumps.
A concept for digital immersion theatre mapped out in a forgotten notebook somewhere on my bookshelf.
Each and every one of these ideas were blessed and buried because they were too unwieldy to take with me, or they were intended for a different time in my business, and weren’t a fit for the things I really wanted to do and the people I really wanted to help in the present and near-future.
The good news is, all of this has taught me the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned in business, which I shared with that audience of 130 people:
There is so much more to be gained — and presumably, fewer darlings to kill — when you hold your ideas lightly.
That’s why, for every concept I’ve launched since The Wordshops, my approach has been completely different.
I start small and simple with low up-front costs, which gives the concepts space to grow and evolve into the best versions of themselves according to both the needs of my audience, and the needs of my growing business.
It’s a principle I live by and swear by, and share with my students too.
This doesn’t just allow me to create and sell more, but allows me to fit new offers and concepts I’m crazy excited for into the ecosystem of my business in the present… instead of trying to build some monster offer for a vision of my business 6 months from now — provided everything goes perfectly, of course(which it never does.)
And hey, my loss is your gain. The Wordshops are on awesome sale right now until I pull the plug next Tuesday.
So if you want to get your hands on this course that contains essentially my entire approach to copywriting?
But until then, I want you to remember without a shadow of a doubt:
It’s OK to start simple and small with your ideas (especially when they’re awesome) to make sure they’re a fit for where you are, and where you’re going.
It’s OK to roll out high quality content without perfectly polished design in the name of figuring out what will work, and what won’t.
And it is OK to kill your darlings to make space for what’s to come — no matter how beautiful, well-built, and badass they might be.
If you’ve made mistakes like the ones I did in this story? Be proud.
This is all part of the journey.
Learning how to build ideas from daydream to launch, and how to accept when they’re not working and/or in need of reshaping makes you a smarter, battle-tested business owner, and a better creative and teacher all around.
I know you’ve got a million brilliant ideas in your head. Some will live. Some will die. Some will weigh heavy on you while others expand.
But what matters most is that you take each as an opportunity to learn how and why ideas work for you, so you can make smarter, faster decisions down the line as you and your business grows and scales into evolutions of itself you can barely imagine now.
Because that’s what this whole being-creative-for-money thing has always been about, anyway.
So good luck. Godspeed.
And go lightly.
If you’ve made it to the end and need the link again, The Wordshops are now on closing sale for $297 each. Get ’em before I shut down on April 2nd.
If you’ve already purchased The Wordshops, fear not! Your access will remain open permanently.