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Meet Justin Welsh, a one-man-band business guy who’s making waves on the internet. He’s managed to surpass $2M in yearly revenue, which is no small feat!
Justin’s primary gig is a knowledge-based business. He crafts learning products that equip other entrepreneurs with the know-how to use social media for their business. His aim? To make his operation lifestyle-friendly. It’s highly automated, doesn’t employ full-timers, and is backed up by a part-time assistant. What really drives his biz is his massive social media following, boasting 380K fans on LinkedIn, 330K on Twitter, and a 100K strong weekly newsletter called ‘The Saturday Solopreneur.’
He’s got a range of products, but the ones that take the cake are his two digital courses that guide entrepreneurs in using social media to expand their operations.
First up is ‘The LinkedIn Operating System.’ This 2-hour course lets folks in on how to use LinkedIn to grow a customer base. With over 11K students on board, it’s known as the go-to LinkedIn guide and brings in about $80K per month.
Next, there’s ‘The Content Operating System.’ This course gives students a sneak peek into Justin’s content creation process. It uncovers the secret sauce he uses to pen down a weekly newsletter and high-grade social media content in just a few hours. This course, also priced at $150, has over 4,500 students and pulls in around $45K each month.
Apart from these courses, Justin offers newsletter sponsorships, subscription emails, and sometimes takes on coaching, advising, and public speaking gigs.
All things considered, Justin’s business raked in a little over $1.7M in 2022, and he’s gunning for closer to $2.5M in 2023. Not too shabby, huh?
In 2019, Justin Welsh found himself as the SVP of Sales at an up-and-coming LA startup, PatientPop. Over four years, he played a crucial role in pumping up the business revenue from zero to a whopping $50M in ARR. However, it came at a cost – Justin was on the fast track to burnout city.
By early 2018, running a $50M department and leading a 150-strong team was taking a toll. To cope with the immense pressure, he turned to food and drinking, messing up his sleep cycle and piling on 40 pounds.
Things spiraled out of control in December 2018 when he experienced a major panic attack at his home in Culver City. After a meltdown of epic proportions, his wife dialed 911, thinking he was on the brink of death.
Waking up the next day, Justin decided it was time for a massive lifestyle overhaul. He broke the news to his CEO about wanting to step down, lost a considerable amount of weight, and geared up to set up his own consulting business.
While he didn’t have a clear customer base for his venture, he did have seven months to iron things out. Having always been a doer, he decided to share his journey of building PatientPop on LinkedIn, where his potential clients were lurking.
LinkedIn, at the time, wasn’t exactly the hub for sharing advice or showcasing leadership. So, Justin’s content was like a breath of fresh air, attracting a follower base of 20K. After investing $20K in a sleek Squarespace website, he was ready to kick off his consulting business in August. He hit the ground running, raking in $40K on his launch day.
As his LinkedIn audience swelled, he noticed a peculiar trend in his inbox. Instead of queries about sales and marketing, people were more interested in his content creation process, his follower growth strategy, and his method of converting followers into customers.
Embracing this new interest, Justin rolled out his first digital course about LinkedIn, dubbed ‘The LinkedIn Playbook,’ in 2020. Priced at $50, it sold about 1,500 copies within a year.
Earning $75K from digital products was a far cry from his previous executive salary, but it was an eye-opener about the potential of social media. The feedback from his customers was also encouraging – they were applying his teachings and scoring customers for their businesses and side gigs!
As his consulting business flourished, he found himself drawn more towards the world of social media and less towards coaching founders on sales and marketing. The flood of messages requesting social media guidance and new courses was overwhelming.
So, in late 2020, he doubled down on his LinkedIn activity, forayed into Twitter, and ramped up his total social following past 300K. This move set the stage for the launch of his flagship courses in late 2021.
After witnessing his daily course revenue leap over $1,500, Justin decided to close the curtain on his consulting business and dive headfirst into social media, educating folks on the nuts and bolts of solopreneurship.
When Justin decided to craft his first flagship course, ‘The LinkedIn Operating System’, he wanted to bring something new to the table. He wanted to debunk “best practices” and based his approach on a few educated guesses.
Hypothesis 1: Low-priced, self-serve courses were the way to go
Justin believed that high-ticket courses needed a significant amount of social capital and hands-on business models. He wasn’t keen on hiring a sales team or spending time convincing customers about the course’s merits.
So, instead of a hefty $1,500 or $1,997 price tag, Justin opted for a more reasonable $150. He figured this price was low enough to be a quasi-impulse buy for folks and high enough to generate decent revenue if it caught on in the market.
Hypothesis 2: Short courses had better completion rates
Before developing his course, Justin bought other creators’ courses to understand the typical user experience. He noticed that most courses ran for 6+ hours, making it difficult for him to commit time to them.
With his course, he aimed to keep it under 2 hours. He visualized it like a theater play – the opening act would grab the audience’s attention. The intermission would be a brief break where he’d hard-sell the second half of the course and encourage participants to become affiliates.
While the average online course completion rate stands at 13.8%, Justin’s course boasted a rate over 45%.
Hypothesis 3: At a low price point, production value was secondary
Raised in a small farm town in the Midwest, Justin found the idea of renting a private plane or a skyscraper office to enhance his image, absurd. He didn’t buy into the flashy gimmicks of presenting an exaggerated image.
He chose to keep things simple – just him, sitting in his office on Zoom, imparting knowledge via Google Slides. He embraced a one-shot approach, shooting each lesson in one take without any editing.
He believed in the old adage, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ Why spend time and energy polishing the aesthetics when the real value lay in the information? So, he didn’t.
Let’s dive into how Justin Welsh launched his business. You might assume there was a grand, complex plan, right? Well, not really. Justin kept it simple and straight to the point.
Back in July 2021, Justin decided to pre-sell his course idea a whole month before the actual launch.
He used Carrd to build a basic landing page, laying out what his course would offer. It only took a few hours because he had become pretty handy with Carrd.
For the pre-sale, Justin sent an email to a list of around 4K people. (Admittedly, he hadn’t put much effort into building an email list at that stage.) In addition, he made three separate posts on LinkedIn.
And you know what? The results blew him away.
After raking in $75K from his first course back in 2020, he matched that figure in the launch month of this new course alone. Now that’s seriously impressive!
Justin isn’t too worried about hanging onto customers since his income doesn’t rely heavily on subscriptions (less than 10%). But, attracting new customers every day? Now that’s his jam. He’s found four solid strategies that have helped his business grow year after year.
Strategy 1: Pump up LinkedIn Traffic
Before 2022, Justin was all about dropping one unique piece of content on LinkedIn every weekday. That’s 260 posts a year! In the latter half of 2022, he upped his game to posting twice a day, seven days a week, racking up over 600 posts. The more he posted, the more love he got. Here’s what 2022 looked like for Justin on LinkedIn:
Strategy 2: Boost Twitter Traffic
In October 2021, Justin decided to add Twitter to his playbook. He’s now clocked in over 500 straight days of posting, boosting his follower count from 8K to 325K in just 16 months. Twitter isn’t as good with stats as LinkedIn, but Justin figured out he snagged a whopping 198,410,000 impressions on Twitter in 2022, driving 129,200 visitors to his website.
Strategy 3: Increase Organic Traffic
January 2022 saw another big move. Justin switched his website from Carrd to a platform called Kajabi. Having a multi-page website was a game-changer.
Justin got busy churning out free articles, guides, and a weekly newsletter, now with over 60 issues under its belt. Organic traffic went from being almost non-existent to driving over 45K new visitors to his website in 2022.
Strategy 4: Crank up Word-of-Mouth Traffic
With over 11K students enrolled in his course, a whole bunch of them are part of his affiliate program. Loads of students, plus a generous 35% affiliate fee, has been Justin’s secret sauce to “swarm the market.” It’s been paying off big time.
To date, his affiliates have drummed up over 1,570+ conversions with an Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) of $130.25, contributing over $200K to Justin’s top-line revenue. Quite the payday, bro!
Justin’s business is currently cruising in the fast lane. After pulling in a whopping $1.7M in 2022, he’s aiming for a sweet $2.5M for 2023. His business was mega profitable last year with around 95% profit margins, but he’s planning on those figures dropping a smidge to about 91% or 92% in 2023, as he’s looking to pour some cash into his biz.
He’s not into dropping dough on paid ads, but he’s totally down for spending on stuff like:
He’s also got his eyes set on branching out from LinkedIn and Twitter, exploring Instagram and maybe even YouTube, as he sets up a new studio office. Most of his investment is all about spreading his message across.
There are three main markets: health, wealth, and relationships. Choose one and niche down. Ask yourself, ‘What niche is filled with potential buyers where I can offer significant value and help the audience either alleviate their pain or achieve their desired results?’
Once you have your niche, you now need to select a specific target within that niche. For example, Justin Welsh started with helping solopreneurs who wanted to grow their business and make more sales with the help of LinkedIn.
You can help solopreneurs grow their business and make more sales with the help of Twitter’s organic reach, or Instagram’s organic reach, or TikTok ads.
You can help busy solopreneurs lose weight with the help of the keto diet.
Brainstorm and think outside the box. Remember, the more specific you are, the better.
Here are some good examples:
Target: Online business owners, aged 25 to 35, who want to grow their business with the help of LinkedIn’s organic reach.
Target: E-commerce business owners, aged 20 to 29, who want to make more sales with the help of TikTok ads.
Target: Busy online entrepreneurs, aged 25 to 45, who want to lose weight following the keto diet.
You get the idea, now on to the next step.
You already know your niche, and you have selected a specific target within that niche.
Now, you simply need to ask yourself, “Where is my target audience already congregating online?”
Then, select one or two platforms at most. There’s no need to spread yourself thin by being everywhere. Choose the platforms where you know you can reach your target, either organically or through paid ads.
And that’s really all there is to it!
Take the one or two platforms you selected and go all in. Make them your playground. Dive into the nitty-gritty of those platforms, learn every nook and cranny, and figure out how you can make them work in your favor to bring in traffic organically.
Now, I can’t stress this enough, but you’ve got to be obsessed with it. I mean, seriously obsessed. There’s no magic guide or ‘Platform for Dummies’ that’s going to teach you how to do it. These platforms are living, breathing entities. They change every single day – new trends, new formats, you name it. So, it’s up to you to get your hands dirty and learn it yourself.
Just think about it. Justin Welsh now sells a course on how to use LinkedIn to grow your business, but he managed to succeed even without the information from the course (really, let that sink in). He only created that course after he found success with LinkedIn, so the information in that course isn’t the secret sauce you might think it is
While the information can be helpful, it’s not the magical solution you might think it is.
Justin posted once a day for a year, then twice a day in the following year. After you post 500 posts or more consistently, you will understand how things work: what works and what doesn’t.
So get obsessed and stay consistent. That’s the only way to gain an edge and leverage these platforms in your favor.”
Now, as you’re learning more about the chosen platform and consistently posting content, think about one thing: how can I offer the best value to my targets consistently?
Building a large following is just a byproduct. There’s no way that after a year of consistently posting valuable content and obsessively learning what works and doesn’t work on your chosen platform, you’re not going to have a good following of at least 10k to 50k. It’s just impossible. Just let time run its course.
While building your following, make sure to have a cool website where you can offer some sort of a lead magnet in exchange for your target’s email.
Your email list is a crucial part of the success of your online business, so start building it as soon as possible.”
You have your offer and a following of people who like and trust you. Now, it’s time to spread the word. Start sharing your product with them. Kick-off with your email list, then create social media posts about the product.
Then, it’s a cycle of rinse and repeat. Cut back on what’s not working and double down on what’s yielding results.
Continue growing your following, keep sharing valuable content, and keep generating income with your irresistible offer.
As your business grows, your knowledge base will expand. You’ll know how to launch better products, how to attract more customers, and essentially, how to improve your operations.
I swear to you, it’s this straightforward. There are no secret tricks or mysterious methods that only the guru trying to sell you his $997 course knows. I promise you, I’m really speaking straight from the heart here.
The process is simple. The strategy, easy to follow. Put in the work, stick with the plan, and let time do its thing. If you stay consistent, if you stay committed to your one business and resist the allure of the next shiny object, I guarantee you, you will find success.