• How to Write a Perfect Landing Page

    Last week on Indie Hackers I offered to help people rewrite their landing pages. Online Tarot readings, English lessons for the curious, and many remote job boards. 150 comments later, I’m repeating myself, so let’s put the good stuff down.

    Here’s the format you should follow, or have a really good reason to stray from:

    1. Direct answer to your customer’s pain
    2. Short descriptive solution
    3. Social proof of your solution

    The Direct Answer To Your Customer’s Pain

    If one of these is hardest to answer, it’s the first one. Most people don’t understand their customers well enough or are too afraid to really ask. This is a clear, conversational answer as if your customer is standing right next to you.

    If your customer is annoyed they have to go and find a tarot shop, your answer is “Online Tarot Readings Emailed to You Within 48 Hours.” If your customer is tired of English lessons that bore them, your answer is “English learning for the curious”. The more specific it is, the clearer it’ll be to your audience. When in doubt, say it out loud to a customer.

    Short Descriptive Solution

    The short descriptive solution is the pithy bullet pointed list that expands later into your product or service features. It tells the user that you actually have something under the hood. Be literal, not impressionistic. “cGMP compliant” is much better than “well-tested” or “healthy”. This would be the “log-line” in a movie - the shortest descriptive statement possible.

    Social Proof Of Your Solution

    If you’re not a household name, you need social proof. I don’t care how early you are or if you’re not proud of your numbers. This could be one testimonial from a client hinted at above the fold, a counter with page views, the number of sales you made in South Africa last week, a tree of people who link to you - whatever is real and builds up your business.

    There’s no shortage on the web of people who do all these things poorly, so let’s highlight a few beauties in each category:

    Excellent Pain Speaking

    Leonardo English

    Octobook

    Excellent Short Description

    Kimp

    Mixpanel

    Excellent Social Proof

    Lever

    Trends (happy readers section)

    Your Job

    Wherever you are in this process, write out your answers to the three points:

    1. Direct answer to your customer’s pain
    2. Short descriptive solution
    3. Social proof of your solution

    Don’t try and speak to two different customers at once - you can test a bunch of different ideas separately if you want. Good luck!

  • Recession Dreams

    We’re likely entering a recession. The cascading effects of the shutdown aren’t going to be undone anytime soon. For many, this is catastrophic.

    But for others, it’s literally the chance of a lifetime.

    I’ve had many conversations with people who are bored or unfulfilled in their work. A voice in the back of their head tells them they’re not meant to do this forever. But something keeps them from doing work they are much more excited about.

    I guarantee you that that this voice, the “I always dreamed of doing this thing” voice, sees its opportunity right now. It can smell it.

    If you hear that voice even a little bit, I have two simple requests for you:

    Make a list of all the “buts” that come after “I kinda want to do _____“…

    • But it’s too late for me
    • But I won’t make enough money
    • But getting training is too expensive
    • But I’m not sure if I’d like that life
    • But I’m worried about destabilizing my current life
    • But I’m worried about what my friends/partner/family/enemies would think
    • But …

    After you’re exhausted your buts, try this:

    List 10 very, very small steps you could take toward this dream.

    • I could get the smallest amount of training in _____
    • I could read a book about _____
    • I could research mentors in _____
    • I could do _____ as a hobby
    • I could ….

    Leave it there and don’t force it, try to do nothing. See if that opens up the dream a little bit. I promise you it will.

  • The Red Herring Sale

    The Red Herring Sale causes trainwrecks in almost every client or business I work with. I’ve also experienced it in my own businesses several times. So let’s define it, identify a few indicators, and then flesh it out with an example.

    Definition

    The Red Herring Sale is a sale (or client) that comes up early in your business, offers a relatively large amount of money or other resources, and is the first or second of its kind. But because it’s not actually the kind of sale or client you should be pursuing at that time, it ends up diverting you from real success.

    Indicators

    If the sale came from an:

    1. unknowable chance (it appeared out of thin air)
    2. unrepeatable process (there is no way to replicate it)
    3. someone believing only in you (and not your product or service)

    … sorry to say, but it might be a herring.

    If the sale came from a part of your business or service you don’t particularly like, that is not necessarily a red herring - that’s a misalignment with your value conviction, and it’s your decision to pursue that or not.

    An Example

    When we started building Wordcraft, we tested every channel we could think of. We annoyed friends with a web demo of the game, built a prototype mobile app, did in-person demos around the east coast, skyped with teachers in Taiwan, Lebanon, and Hungary, posted in Facebook groups, ran ad campaigns. All good experimentation.

    One surprise was that a school in the south wanted to pay us $5,000 for a single license. Their enthusiasm was unlike anything we had heard - constant emails, calls, and so on. Couple this with a few other schools that had a lot of enthusiasm and we said “ok, this is our first channel, school sales, mainly in the south”. Time to pound the pavement.

    Two plane trips, 10+ rounds of emails, and a hunt for a notary on a Sunday later, it started to smell like a red herring.

    We didn’t misstep connecting with evangelistic users who formed the core of our community and began viral growth. But there was no underlying repeatability of the process as a sales channel.

    An Outlook

    Early on, bias toward experimentation and you will indeed find a lot of red herrings. The secret is to take them as learning and not the law - don’t bake them into your integrity as an enterprise. Catapult off the learning and relationships to strengthen the form around your underlying conviction.

  • That Thing You Wanna Do

    Mr. Rogers said that in a crisis, look for the people who are helping.

    I keep having wonderful conversations with friends about how they want to be of service right now.

    Couple shout outs, not exhaustive of course:

    Katie Shelly is drawing portraits of people who are helping, enshrining them as heroes.

    Lee Pender talked to me about a new kind of mentorship platform focused on rapid skilling up of students by teams of mentors.

    Alex Royle talked about her desire to study nutrition, helping herself and others live more healthily.

    Will Rahilly, now immune to COVID after his infection, is delivering groceries in North Brooklyn.

    Ben Schechter helped me realize that I was in denial of the way this crisis has upended my life, and helped me move toward acceptance.

    Akiva Saunders and Oliver Plunkett are working overtime to add new curriculum and head to head games for the millions of teachers and students stuck at home.

    The many people participating in mutual aid societies

    Again - a small non exhaustive list of some friends helping right now. If you’re able to stay at home and you are, you’re being of service. If you’re taking care of yourself, you’re being of service.

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