Category Archives: appsumo

Sifting for good/bad ideas

Fresh off a trip from Cabo, I went back to Austin, did laundry, packed the exact same clothes, and headed off to our AppSumo Getaway in Seattle:
http://www.appsumo.com/how-to-make-your-first-dollar-seattle-getaway/

Some of the people who came were already running businesses, some were not.

I noticed something while talking to the people who DID NOT have a business going….

There were lots of ideas floating around in their heads (and even written down), but no apparent framework to make sense of those ideas.  

I realized something I accidentally did back in the day, and still to this day, that has helped me immensely: I would write down tooonnsss of ideas, and rank them.

Read that last part?
The part about “ranking them”?

It’s immensely important.  So lemme take you through the simple process I use to find business ideas, product ideas, ways to make money…..

I first am fully aware of this:

“The best way to get a good idea, is to have a lot of ideas!”

I write down a ton of ideas.  Anything.  The point is to get the brain jogging:

  • Bad ideas.
  • Good ideas.
  • Funny ideas.
  • Stupid ideas.
  • Wacky ideas.
  • Ideas that solve problems.
  • Ideas for stuff I personally want.

Just by it’s nature, this list will contain some gold, and some crap.  Mostly crap. But who cares, it’s just a freakin list!!  (usually mine are written somewhere in a notebook).

Now here’s how to sift your list of ideas for gold (in a semi-scientific way):

You rank each idea on a scale from 1 to 5 in several areas:

  1. Easy-ness – How easy would it be to get this going?
  2. Fun – Is this fun for me?
  3. Profit – What’s the potential profit here?

Total up the numbers, and almost instantly….the piece of paper you wrote these down on will turn from a random list of ideas, to a piece of paper telling you which ideas you should move forward with.  

Here’s a ghetto example I made in 2 minutes:

Obviously some ideas will be easier for some than others based on skill/talent.

So in my particular case, this list has shown a book about Kopywriting will be my best bet.  A yogurt stand however, doesn’t seem very fun (although I love GOING to them and pretending my CakeBatter yogurt with 9 pounds of chocolate toppings is “healthy”)!

So this my friend, is a key difference between a regular-ole list of ideas….and a list of ideas which tells you which one to go with.

Now I’m a big pencil/paper kind of guy, but I thought I’d make a cool “Idea Calculator” for you to use.

Simply click on the Google Doc, and save it for yourself.  It’ll auto-calculate your ideas, and tell you when something is promising (usually anything over a “10″ is decent):

Here’s your Idea Calculator (save it for yourself in any format you choose to start entering your own):
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuaB65FccS9sdDVZVWU1ZFZYaXdaQVNsMWZPdF8zNmc#gid=0

The point of this is to get you to start ranking your ideas with a number…..so you can spend less time sifting through ideas, and spend more time trying the winners.

Cool huh!?
Neville – Enjoying the awesome Seattle summer weather (and surrounded by 25 nerds in a house)

1 story plus 2 lessons = 3 minute video

This is a business AND kopywriting lesson in one, on how to keep things retardedly-simple (with 4 quick examples).

When you watch this vid, try to think of ideas to hone your own business message (or flat out create a new one):


(YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjbnL0fmflY )

 

So you’ll learn two lessons from this one story:
Lesson 1.) A lotta wantrepreneurs over-complicate the hell out of contracts.
Check out the contract Noah and I made for a project (and yes, it’s real).


Lesson 2.)
A lotta people over-complicate the MESSAGE their business sends out….which makes it too damn complicated…and thus useless since stupid people like me can’t understand it. I’ll show you some good examples.
Enjoy the vid!
-Neville


FYI
you can go to Kopy.tv to easily see all my vids.

 

 

A lesson in kopy (sellin’ vs. story tellin’)

(This is an email I originally sent to the email subscribers of the KopywritingKourse):
————————————————————–
We’re trying to shift the copy on our AppSumo deals to be more “real”….and it was a struggle for me personally.

When Noah was co-working at my place a few years ago…..I got the idea to start writing the sales copy for his new project “AppSumo” as this jovial/hilarious/fat/racist/sexist Sumo.

The name “AppSumo” was perfect, and the logo was perfect too:

….this fat bastard made it easy to get away with saying ANYTHING!

Fat jokes.
Butt jokes.
Jewish Jokes.
Woman jokes.

….it was all fair game and VERY few people complained out of 100’000′s of people (if you’re not pissing SOME people off, you’re doing it wrong).

People would constantly ask “Who the hell wrote that copy!?” and try to hire me for their own copy.  It’s HUGE compliment when people are willing to spend thousands of bill$ just from reading our sales pitches (to boot, they’d usually end up buying a bunch of stuff from AppSumo too)!

The copy was mainly educational.  And it would SHOW EXACTLY what the product would do for a group of people, and even how to use it.

It also had humor….but that was secondary.  Educating people was priority #1.

After pawning off most of the writing to other copywriters, the quality went down.

The copy turned into regular bullshit sales copy…..but with a bunch of cheesy Sumo jokes thrown in.

“Yes!  Everyone should buy this!”

“This is a TOTALLY KILLER VALUE!”

“If you want to live the dream of making millions, buy this!”

….barf.

Over the course of about 8 months the whole Sumo-voice thing seemed “played” to everyone at the office.

A change was wanted.

Everyone wanted to put out “stories” rather than “sales pitches”.

I fought this so damn hard.  Even pissing off some people at the office who never get mad at anything (sorry guys)!

Then I thought “Ok….lemme swallow some pride and give this a shot.” 

I started poking around the internet and noticed that EVERY big blog, EVERY big news outlet…..featured STORIES!

People share stories
People don’t share sales-pitches as much.
People don’t share “How-To’s” as much (unless it’s about their specific interest).

(Think about it, how often do you see a non-marketing person share a sales-pitch on Facebook)?

The 1st piece of copy I wrote in this “Story” format was for Prey.  You can see it here:
http://www.appsumo.com/prey/

…..I originally wrote a how-to article on using Prey to protect your computers, but the team wanted a story.  Eventually that’s what was put out…..mainly against my will.

Three things happened:

  1. The post went viral.
  2. Even offline, people started telling family & friends about Prey.
  3. It sold like crazy (a record high for the past few months of sales).

Even Ramit Sethi and Derek Halpern both personally told me “It was some of the best copy I’ve seen in a long time, anywhere. Really terrific job.”

WHOA.  

Lots of sales.
Lots of sharing.
Lots of compliments.
….maybe this “story thing” was a good move.

We’ve since replicated the results with the story format.

NOW….this doesn’t mean I think everything has to be a damn story, but it’s certainly one way you can breathe some new life into what you’re writing.

If you want to test out a “Sales Story” of your own…..you can try following this rough outline I used:

  1. Problem you (or someone else) had.
  2. Something you tried that didn’t work.
  3. You discovered a certain product/service.
  4. The positive results you got from it.

You can even go to AppSumo.com and click the “Back” button on the banner image to see all our previous deal copy.

Checkout the number of shares and comments to spy on which deals did well or not.

….and lemme know if you have any success (or failure) with a “Sales Story”!

Keep being a student. 
Sincerely,
Neville Medhora

P.S.  If you used to read the old AppSumo emails, which do you like better?  Meaning which did you actually look forward to and open the most?  Vote please (I’m a constant student myself, so I love learning from your answers)!

Weird YouTube Video Counts

I’ve always been skeptical about the YouTube view counter.

Every time I post a video it’ll get something like 300 views…..but I KNOW that it’s getting more.  I’ll refresh in a few hours later and the count will still be the same.

Even with this recent email the same thing happened.

An email was sent to about 750,000 people on AppSumo today, a percentage of which either saw this on a page or an email:

When I snapped this screenshot, there were:

  • 225 Tweets
  • Tons of Facebook shares
  • 99 YouTube comments
  • Almost 100 comments on the post.

……yet look at this video counter:


Only 305 views??

Yea right.  The numbers don’t add up.  I can even see people adding new comments all the time, but the views don’t go up.

So what’s up then?  I Googled around and found this fascinating video about this YouTube number count phenomenon.  Hope you nerds out there enjoy this as much as I did!  Enjoy!

 

Cool huh!?
-Nev

Working from home – Pros and Cons

If you’ve ever worked from home before…..or WANT to work from him, this might interest you.

There’s some really cool things about working from home, and really sucky things.

I’ve always liked working from home or coffee shops.

Even till this day, I only go into our office whenever I start slowing down at home. This is simply because I get a lot of GREAT WORK done at home…..but then after few hours I get distracted and unproductive.

Here’s some of the pros, cons, tips & tricks we’ve all learned from working at home:

How we’re un-sucking AppSumo emails

When AppSumo first started (around this time), we used to send out these long, hilarious, and foremost…. EDUCATIONAL emails about every product we got a deal for.

Usually it was me writing these emails.

Then there was a point where two full-times sales guys were adding deals at pretty ridiculous rate.

Deals needed to be tested and written…..and we were testing 2 to 3 a day.

Naturally I couldn’t write amazing copy for EVERY DAMN DEAL at that pace.

So we hired a couple of copywriters.

 

After a while, the format of AppSumo emails changed…..and the deal quality was just average.  There were good deals, but our batting ratio was a bit down (although I’m proud that we were still miles ahead of any remote competition).

This left us with:

  • Very “average” quality deals.
  • Very mediocre copy (it was becoming typical SELL SELL SELL bullshit copy).
  • Customers still loved us, but not with even remotely the same fervor they USED to.

 

So recently we’ve been TOSSING OUT SHITTY DEALS.

If we can’t recommend the deal to our friends and family, it shouldn’t make the site.

This is a heartfelt video that explains if we’re not having fun doing this, YOU sure as hell won’t have a fun experience either.

We talk about it here:

 

P.S.  If you ever see a shitty deal on AppSumo….please yell at me.  We’re not saying every deal will be perfect for YOU, but we don’t wanna become the same-old sleazy sales bullshit internet marketing you see everywhere.

Headline and image results from Craigslist product

In this previous post I tried testing out 4 headlines, and 3 images for this Craigslist Hiring Course …..the goal was to see which headline and image would convert the highest.

Well, the results are in…..and there were some pretty clear winners!

For the image tests, here’s the winner:

It was the very first image I Photoshopped for this deal:

Most people (including me) thought this image would do the best. It’s by far the most descriptive of the group, and the least distracting.  The images with the Sumo kind of took away attention from the text.


Now for fun, take a quick guess which headline test would win….before you peek at the results:

  • HEADLINE 1: Hiring Sucks. Let Craigslist do it for you….here’s the scripts to use.
  • HEADLINE 2: Hire Someone by tomorrow. Use these Craigslist scripts…
  • HEADLINE 3: Craigslist hiring scripts. This is the new way to hire. No sifting through countless crappy candidates.
  • HEADLINE 4: Hire someone by tomorrow. Use these Craigslist scripts…
  • (notice I’m an idiot, and the 4th headline is a duplicate).  Smooth.

 

THE  WINNER BY A LONG-SHOT:
1st PLACE HEADLINE (#2):

Hire Someone by tomorrow. Use these Craigslist scripts…

2nd PLACE HEADLINE (#3): 
Craigslist hiring scripts. This is the new way to hire. No sifting through countless crappy candidates.

LAST PLACE HEADLINE (#1):
Hiring Sucks. Let Craigslist do it for you….here’s the scripts to use.
I originally thought Headline #1 would’ve won.  Turns out the “Hire someone by tomorrow” proposition for people was the best (Usually every Craigslist success story I’ve had happens within 17 hours of posting…..so this isn’t some “made up” headline).

 

 

 As for the Craigslist Hiring Course itself….I’m proud to se people have been pretty happy with it (aka getting results)!

I just happened to use Craigslist 2 days ago to post a job the old boring way. Lots of qualified/unqualified resumes to review and sort to go/no go folders…
Anyway, the course was great! Head spinning with ways to use GoogleDocs/Forms. Integration of GoogleForm, video, AIDA – simple to do and full of value for me!!!
–AppSumo Customer


Very interesting lesson. I think I have learnd 2/3 things (Typing with HTML, Using a video, using Google form).

And most of all, very attractive lesson. Usualy I get bord. But this was exciting….
I had the sensation to really learn something…

Please, continue revolutionize.
–Alex

 

Sincerely,
-Neville

I wonder which headline and pic will win

Whenever I write kopy for a product I launch on AppSumo, I write FOUR headlines.

I also make THREE images for the product.

….those headlines and images then get split-tested in different variations.  The AppSumo “machine” shows each combination thousands of times, then picks the combination that works the best (a.k.a.  has the highest conversion rate).

FOR EXAMPLE:

The latest product I did called Hiring Sucks, has 4 headlines as follows:

  • HEADLINE 1: Hiring Sucks.  Let Craigslist do it for you….here’s the scripts to use.
  • HEADLINE 2: Hire Someone by tomorrow.  Use these Craigslist scripts…
  • HEADLINE 3: Craigslist hiring scripts.  This is the new way to hire.  No sifting through countless crappy candidates.
  • HEADLINE 4: Hire someone by tomorrow.  Use these Craigslist scripts…

 

I also made three different images in Photoshop (each needs to be exactly 440×248 pixels in size).  Here they are:

FIRST IMAGE: Simple visual and text.

 

 

SECOND IMAGE: Sumo with staggered words.  Weird to read.

 

 

THIRD IMAGE:  Plain sumo with hiring bling necklace.

So for everyone that looks at the deal today (it went live at Midnight this Thursday (9-20-2012), it might be a little different based on the split-test version you are seeing!  Cool huh?

Click and see which combination you are getting shown:
http://www.appsumo.com/craigslist-hiring-course/

I’m curious to see which combination eventually wins out (the “machine” always keeps testing, but the results are usually clear within the first 2 or 3 days of launch).

Pretty cool eh?  

I’ll update with which combination wins out.
My guess is the 1st image and the 1st headline.

Peace.
Neville Medhora

P.S.  Did you know I occasionally tweet?

@nevmed

How to think of which products to make

People always ask me, “How do you come up with so many products to make?”

….well the answer is pretty simple.  And it’s NOT always simple as copying something you’ve seen done successfully by someone else.

Here’s the 5 minute video (excuse the sweat….I just came back from the gym)!

 

Basically this video boils down to the phrase:

“To make money, solve a problem.”

Just 10 More Minutes

Here’s a video Noah and I did about putting forth “Just 10 More Minutes” on stuff you wanna make GREAT ….not just “good”.