Yesterday I had a great interview with Chandler Bolt about how he wrote over six best-selling books and started a 7-figure business – Self Publishing School.
Watch the video interview or read the transcript below!
JB: All right so here we go, three two one. Hey everyone, this is Jack Born, and I’m here with Chandler Bolt, and it’s great to have you here, Chandler. I’m excited to be talking with you today. So for those of you who are not aware, Chandler is the founder of Self Publishing School, and he’s also the author of over six best-selling books, and some of his background, which I’m sure he’s going to go over in just a little bit, he actually dropped out of college, and within two years, he was a best-selling author many times over and also had a seven-figure business. One of his books is called “Book Launch: How to Write, Market, and Publish Your First Best-Seller in Three Months or Less,” and he used it to start and grow a six-figure business.
So I know this conversation’s going to be extremely interesting and applicable to almost everyone who’s a Deadline Funnel client, so I’m excited to dive into this. So Chandler, great to have you here.
CB: Yeah, hey Jack, thanks for having me, I’m excited for this.
JB: So why don’t you give us a little bit more in-depth detail into Self Publishing School, who you serve, and how you help them grow their business.
CB: Totally, so Self Publishing School, it’s an online training program. We teach people to write, market, and publish their first book in 90 days. So ideal people are people who want to use a book to grow their income, their authority, or their business. So we teach both non-fiction and fiction side of things, but especially on the non-fiction side, that’s kind of out sweet spot.
CB: So that’s kind of the set up, that’s what we’ve been building out, and really just scaling, obviously with the help of Deadline Funnel a ton. That’s allowed us to take what’s … our industry is mostly launch-based, and that’s allowed us to even out revenue, which, for those of you who are business owners, you go to the highs and lows whether it’s seasonality, whether it’s launches, whether it’s promotions or whatever else, you know that it can be pretty stressful and just hard to scale a business, right? If you don’t have that leveled out revenue, so that’s kind of, that’s been our experience, is that’s really helped us to scale it, which ultimately helps make sure that we’re helping more people, we’re getting more books published, like peoples’ books are getting published every single week, because the program’s evergreen and because we can continue to drive people there.
JB: That’s awesome, so why don’t you take us through a little bit about what your annual calendar is like. You don’t have to get too far into the weeds, but do you still do some actual launches during the year, or do you kind of mix and match evergreen and launches, or do you just do full evergreen now?
CB: We mix and match evergreens and launches, we do two big launches, we’ll do one either in January or February, we’ll do that, and we’ll do like July/August usually, and it just kind of fluctuates. So two times a year, spread out about six months, we evergreen the rest of the time. We spend a decent amount of money on paid traffic and we’re also focusing on SEO content based stuff, so they just continue to drive leads that way. So that’s our overall promotional calendar, we have done summits in the past in the summer, and those have worked pretty well. You know, we’re not going to do that this year, but we have done that in the past. So that’s kind of our regular calendar, but I’m really focused on building scalable, paid customer acquisition campaigns and funnels, because I think if you’re not doing that, then you’re obviously going to hit a plateau with your revenue.
Where I’ve been frustrated in the past with my business is not growing as fast as I want it to, I’m sure a lot of people can relate to that. Even though we’re doubling revenue year over year, right? So we started in February of 2015, we went from zero to 1.32 million by the end of that year. We did a little over 2.2 last year, we’ll do at least five this year. So we still have a good trajectory and good growth, but that’s been made possible by just the evergreen side of things, because if you were to look at our P&L before that, it was like, “Wow, incredible month … negative, negative, negative. Wow, incredible month,” right? So that’s what’s been really helpful.
JB: What were some of the keys that helped you start off with such an amazing year and then grow from there? What were some of the big things that you did really well?
CB: Yeah, our biggest strength probably is strategic partnerships, so I think that’s obviously affiliates and things like that, that’s what really helped us. Making relationships with people, there are bloggers, there are podcasters, they’re influencers and they have big audiences. And also just treating that, like doing that really well, making sure that they’re treated well and always thinking about it like, “Why would they want to do this, and how can I make this a huge win for them?” I think that’s where everybody screws it up, it’s like, “How can I get as much money as possible with as little work as possible and leech onto these other guys’ audiences?”
Like that’s how people look at it, and it’s like, I don’t know, for me personally, I would rather build real friendships and real relationships with people, and it’s like cool, if this works great, if not I’m not going to bug the crap out of you for months to promote my thing, right? And I’m never leading with that, so just as a byproduct of that, we became really good at the strategic partnership. So that helped, and then that gives you enough traffic to really test and refine what you’re doing, I think. Because then, you know, the launches would cover up the negative profitability that we were experiencing on our paid traffic, long enough for us to get the hang of it, right?
They were so lucrative that we could just bankroll that and just dump that back into paid traffic and lose money, or as Perry Marshall says, “You’re paying for an education.” Right? In those beginning times. And so we were paying for an education there, and then that’s helped us to where now we’re starting to get traction, where we’ll spend, we’re slowly scaling, but we’re about 700 something bucks a day on paid, on Facebook traffic. And that’s profitable, and so we’re continuing to scale that.
JB: So when you went from losing money on paid traffic to figuring it out, were there some big wins that you figured out, or was it a lot of small improvements that added up?
CB: Lot of small improvements, and a lot of just … you don’t want to bang your head against the keyboard, right? It’s just like, “Bam, bam, this is still not working.” But then one big thing that changed for us is we started doing more evergreen webinars as opposed to, we were doing video series. So we were trying to make our launches evergreen, which Deadline Funnel’s great for that, right? Like we had the fanciest funnel ever, it was like all behavioral based and they would get to the cart in as little as five days or as much as two and a half weeks depending on if and when they watched the launch videos. So if they watched the launch videos we’d say, “Hey, thank you for doing that, here’s the next video.” Like if they didn’t we’d say, “Hey, I saw you didn’t watch the video.” And so it was all this complicated stuff, they’d drop on the sales page, there’s a dedicated Deadline Funnel for them, all those things. And then we’d close … it’s like this massive funnel and it’s just way too complicated, and we were trying to replicate the launch but on an evergreen basis.
And we were driving enough traffic to do it and to have the social proof around the launch like the comments under the videos and all that, like that wasn’t an issue, I think it was just a flawed funnel. And potentially a flawed offer to paid traffic, but what really changed is when we went singular with the offer and when we met evergreen webinar, like we just started running with that. That’s worked a lot differently. We’re also doing a free to plus shipping book funnel, that’s working decently well, but we really need to … and what our goal is to start just getting better, start getting better at that. Like rolling out different funnels because we just stuck to that one funnel and we were trying to optimize this one funnel. So that would be my biggest takeaway and piece of advice for people is like, just try a bunch of stuff. And for us, the reason we weren’t trying so much is because we built this massively complicated funnel, so now imagine building another funnel and it’s like, “Oh wow, this is going to take forever.”
As opposed to now, our philosophy is more like, “How fast can we spin up a funnel and start driving traffic, driving 1,000 bucks into it, and then get baseline metrics?” Then that will decide okay, do we need to add some sophistication or add some extra layers like text, voicemails, direct mail, or other things that we can add onto that, or do we just need to cut our losses and move on from this model?
JB: You know, it’s so interesting that you bring that up. I’ve been teaching a concept called the PPD funnel, but in teaching this funnel, I’ve really gone over many many times to keep it as minimally viable as possible. In other words, do like the lean version of it and then add complexity on, because just like you were saying, you get results a whole lot faster.
CB: Here you go.
JB: So I love hearing you say that, because it’s really easy to have these real elaborate plans and take six months to actually build it out before you even have the results.
CB: Totally agree.
JB: That’s really really interesting. And so now just to recap, you said that you want to try to spin up a new funnel concept and see if it has legs, like you might still be losing money I would imagine, but you see hey there’s life here. This could work if we just tweak a few things.
CB: Exactly, and Jack I’m so glad you reiterated on that because I think it’s really important for people. To be frank, I think it’s just because I wanted to look cool. It’s like, “Oh when I could explain to somebody like you, I can be like, ‘oh, it’s behavioral based and it tracks this and it does this,’ it’s like, none of that matters.” I think it’s just me thinking that if I made this super cool and complex funnel, like it’s got to convert better and I can brag about it to people, right? But now it’s like no, don’t reinvent the wheel, let’s just get something simple, ugly, and throw some traffic into it.
JB: So can you go one layer deeper into what your webinar funnel looks like now with the leads opting in for a download, or what are they opting in for?
CB: Yeah, this is, I mean, we’re probably not doing this the way that a lot of people are doing it and having success. I know a lot of people coach against this or teach against this, but we’re literally just dropping straight into the webinar.
JB: Oh wow.
CB: So there’s no download or anything before it, so we’re sending to the webinar. They can either do a just in time in the next 15 minutes, or they can schedule for later that day. Sometimes later like the next day or something. So that drops them into the funnel, they watch the webinar, that sort of thing. We’re running video ads, that’s worked pretty well for us. That seems to get our lead cost the lowest. You can get click costs and you can get everything lower if you’re just doing straight up regular ads we found, but there’s just … I haven’t been able to definitively prove it yet with data. I do have a hunch, though. Well I know our lead costs are lower when we do video ads, but I haven’t been able to definitively prove that even if we paid more for our leads, they would be worth more on the back end, yet.
I have a hunch that that’s the case, but if you just imagine you’re building a rapport with someone in an ad, then you go to the landing page, we find that our clicks are usually more expensive from videos, but the lead costs are almost always less. When they click, it’s an opt-in.
JB: They’re interested.
CB: They’re like, “I’m clicking here to go to this webinar,” not like, “Oh this picture looks kind of neat,” click. And then they’re on this landing page and they’re like, “What’s going on here, I’ve got to figure this out, no I’m out, I’m already distracted.” Right? So it’s less of that and it’s more of a qualified click which leads to a qualified opt-in which leads to them, I think, actually showing up to the webinar, which leads to them paying attention through the funnel and then hopefully converting on the back end.
JB: Is your offer on the webinar similar to what you were offering in your more complicated funnel?
CB: It is, it’s similar but more simple. So in our more complicated funnel, it’s what we normally do for our launches, which is we say, “Hey we have $1,000 version of the program and we have a $2,000 version of the program.” You choose which one you want and if you want payment plans in on the webinar it’s just the $1,000 price point. That’s it, so it’s just like, “Hey, we’ve got this thing for you, here’s what it is, you can buy it and if you want to buy it you can either pay full price or you can pay the payment plans, and here’s the order form.” Not like-
JB: Real straightforward.
CB: Here’s the sales page where you can click which one you want and then get confused and not buy and then worry about your decision and then all that stuff, it’s just straightforward.
JB: Got you. Then, just a little bit more detail. After they see the webinar … let’s say that someone registers, I register but I don’t show. How many days are you pursuing me before that deadline kicks in?
CB: I’m pursuing you one day before you know that there’s a deadline on the offer, so it’s more of a replay like, “Hey we missed you yesterday, here’s the replay. This is available only for a few days.” And on that replay page there’s a Deadline Funnel, so that’s the first time they see the Deadline Funnel. Then the next day and the next day and for the next I want to say three, maybe four days. I think it’s five days all told post-webinar, so I want to say it’s four more days maybe it’s three. But it’s three or four, and then we follow up via the sales page and that same Deadline Funnel timer is on those sales pages.
So that’s that, and then … so we also do some other things like we’ll send text message during that time from our support person, we’ll send a voicemail from me. So the next day we say … they get a voicemail from me that’s like, “Hey this is Chandler. I saw that you just checked out my webinar yesterday. I wanted to say thank you, I hoped you learned a lot. I wanted to let you know that if you stayed until the end you saw this. If you didn’t here’s the download, like a discounted price on this program for the next few days only. Give us a call at this number, we can answer any questions you have.” Yada yada yada, right?
So then they can call in and talk to someone on my staff that’s doing phone sales. So that helps, and then they have the Deadline Funnel kick in, then we do a one day court reopen afterwards. So we wait for a day and then do a one day reopen and say … it’s the classic Ryan Deiss “Although I can’t make it any cheaper, I can break it out for you.” So like although I can’t discount the price any further, I can break up the payments, and a lot of you said that you need some help on that, so here’s a six-pay. So this is the first time that we offer a six-pay it’s one day only Deadline Funnel timer, there we go.
JB: Boom, awesome. So let’s talk a little bit about exactly how you get people to write a book in such a short period of time. I know people would be interested about that. So how … number one, I don’t want you to give away the secret sauce, but there’s an entire course and training behind how to do this, and there’s no way we could cram that amount of information here. But give us some information about how it is that someone who wants to write a non-fiction book and use it to build their business, how can they do that in such a short period of time when so many people struggle for months and months and months and months and months?
CB: Yeah, it’s a great question. So for us I think there’s multiple things that we do, because we have a higher success rate than any online program that I’ve ever seen. In the book space especially but just that I’ve ever seen in general. On our first cohort of students, this was the first time we launched like a ghetto version of the program, and we had over a 60 percent success rate on our students within six months, meaning they wrote and published a book within six months. So that doesn’t count anyone after. The sample size was a decent size, we had 44 students. So basically that means that, what’s the math on that? I think it was over 30 of them had written and published a book within six months which is like, that’s pretty unheard of in an industry where you’re lucky if you get 10 percent of people to even open the course. They put it on their “shelf esteem,” right? And then they feel good about themselves-
CB: Yeah, the shelf-help. So there’s a few reasons for that. So we have a high level of accountability, we have coaching and support, both one-on-one coaching with our certified coaches as well as support in the community. And then we also break it down into micro commitments. So one of the biggest frustrations I had with online courses in general and especially with writing a book is like, I’m kind of like a straight and narrow guy, like if you give me what needs to be done I can put in the grunt work to make it happen. But sometimes I just need you to lay it out step by step, right? So for me, I was frustrated. It’s like, okay it’s great that you’re telling me all the things that I could do, but I want you to just tell me what I should do in what order and like step by step, right?
So that’s kind of one of the things that we do is we have a 90 days calendar, and it’s like literally day by day we tell people, “Hey you’ll be successful if you only spend 30 minutes to an hour a day.” And a lot of people say stuff like that, but it’s like, “And here’s exactly what you need to do every single day.” So if you want to get into it and you want to do it, then you just follow this, and if you want to take 9 months, 12 months to do your book, cool, work at a slower pace. But if you want to run with the 90 day pace, here’s what you got to do. So we really just break it down step by step. And a lot of things are things that I learned from … I work with a company called Student Painters in college. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Student Painters, College Pro, College Works, all similar tech companies. They teach you how to run a business by running an exterior painting company. It’s a college internship.
So they have all these levels of accountability and accountability costs and all this structure because it’s like a franchise-type model. And so I though to myself, “If they can teach 18, 19, 21 year old kids how to run very successful,” like for me I did six figures. So good size companies that are kids that are just interested in partying and whatever else. If they can train them, then this has got to work for regular people that are even slightly motivated to write a book, right?
So I took a lot of the same principles and applied them to this, so that’s kind of what we teach you and I think that’s why we’ve had a really high success rate.
JB: I see, so you break it down into really really really tiny chunks that someone can follow every single day.
CB: Totally. I just want to make this clear that sometimes it’s at the expense of people refunding. I think what I see a lot of times is as soon as someone sells the course, their number one priority is just to get the person not to refund. So they structure everything in a way that’s like, “How can I get this person not to refund?” Now that’s certainly important, right? We’re very focused on that, but for us it’s like, we value students’ success over refunds. So sometimes pressuring someone like, “Hey you need to get your assignment done,” is going to make them be slightly overwhelmed and be like, “Ah shoot, I knew I didn’t have time for this, I need a refund.”
CB: And we get that, but we would rather have more successful students because we know that in the long run they’re going to tell other people about the program, and it’s going to be way more beneficial. So we kind of prioritize our students’ success over just the short-term refund dollar amount.
JB: So someone who purchased with the hope of buying shelf-help, they may eject.
CB: Yeah, they might eject out of the aircraft.
JB: That’s funny. So how much success are your students having with using these books to build their business? I think it’s fantastic that you have a 60 percent success rate, that’s amazing. But are you students having some pretty good success using it to grown their business too?
CB: Oh absolutely. They’re having tons of success. I mean I could go all day. Whether it’s a brick-and-mortar business or something else like one of our guys, David McKay, he wrote and published two books in 89 days. He sent me an email the other day, it was a year to the date. He said, “My books have brought in over $10,000 just from the books.” He said, “But from the business from those books, it’s brought in about $45,000 in business.” So $45,000 in a year from when you enrolled in the program, that’s pretty solid.
Another guy, David Rogenmoser, he went from basically he did his book, brought in $3,364 I think within the first 60 or 90 days. But then within 18 months he leveraged that book to build his list and a seven figure business. So he had a million bucks within 18 months of publishing his book, and he started from scratch. So there’s a lot of stories like that, and that’s because really we teach … I teach using your book to drive leads, and I’m looking at our hourly report for last month, and a lot of our top channels that aren’t paid traffic, they’re all the books. It’s like, “Oh, a book that I published three or four years ago brought in 30 leads last month.” Like these books keep bringing in leads, and what I like to say, especially for people who maybe have a brick-and-mortar or a service-based business.
So this is my most recent book published, right? This is like kind of a big book for me, but what I like to say is like, a book is a silent salesman. So if this is in your hands and you’re reading this book, it’s a silent salesman. I’m spending hours with this prospect, in this case it’d be you, and now we have a relationship. So I’m not saying a word, the book’s saying it for me. So by the time we were to meet, if you’re like, “Hey I’m interested in publishing a book,” or by the time that you watch one of my videos or something it’s like, we have a relationship. A lot of selling has already happened, right? That’s where I think it’s powerful for business owners.
JB: So what about beyond, say a service or service-based or brick-and-mortar business? What about a more competitive space like, for example, marketing? So there’s a lot more … just hundreds and hundreds of marketing books. Can someone still use a book and self publish it using your methods that you teach and to get traction with that?
CB: Totally, but I would definitely recommend not to just publish a book on marketing, right? You’re going to have to go way way down deep, and that’s how you will. My very first book was in time management, just like, “Oh yeah, never heard of any books on that.” Like say getting things done, eat that frog, like you could go on and on and on, right? But we went down time management for entrepreneurs who control their own schedule. That’s why that book was kind of a big hit, right? So that would be my biggest piece of advice for people is it doesn’t matter what market that you’re in, and it can and will work for you, but you got to figure out your sliver.
JB: Cool. So how can people learn more about the Self Publishing School, what would be a good way for them to get to know more about what you offer?
CB: Yeah, so there’s a couple resources that might be helpful, all free training. So we’ve got self-publishingschool.com/free. That’s if you want to check out that webinar funnel that we were talking about, you can actually just go through it. Secondly, we’ve got blog posts, it’s kind of like the end-all, be-all. So it’s how to self-publish a book and it just goes through step by step. Then lastly, what might be helpful because this is more of a software crowd, I would imagine, maybe not.
JB: I would say it’s more … so a lot of our clients are course creators, online course creators.
CB: Got it, cool, cool. Well then maybe this won’t be applicable, but I was going to say that we’ve got how to choose which software to use to write your book. That’s a question that we get a lot from people. It’s also a blog post.
JB: Cool. Fantastic. Well listen Chandler, this was great. Thank you for sharing your backstory, the market that you serve, how you help them, and also of course being really open and honest about how you use Deadline Funnel in your business. This has been a great conversation, thank you.
CB: No problem, and hey Jack, I just want to thank you for Deadline Funnel because no joke, since we’ve used it pretty much since we started the business. There’s a lot of software that don’t scale with companies, like they’re either way out of reach when you first start and you’re like, “Wow, I can’t afford that.” Or like you grow and the next thing you know you’re like, “I’m looking for the next-level enterprise.” But that’s one thing … like Deadline Funnel’s I would almost say without a doubt the one piece of software that we’ve used in all phases of growth, and I can’t see us stopping any time soon. Since doing that, we’ve brought in, probably over five million bucks in business since we started using Deadline Funnel. So it’s just a powerful tool and something that I really believe in, I just appreciate you making it and making it so easy to use.
JB: Awesome. Well you know we really pride ourselves … nothing makes us happier than hearing stories about how entrepreneurs like you are using it, and I was sharing that with someone the other day and they said, “Just think about not just that.” So if I’m helping Chandler’s business, it’s not just that, Chandler’s now can reach more people. So in the same way, you’re not just helping an author, you’re influencing all the people beyond that. So it’s just really, really cool to be able to see something that you think of do great things in the world, and I know you have that feeling too. So thank you very much for sharing that.
CB: No problem, thank you Jack.
“How to self publish a book in 2017” blog post:
“Which Book Writing Software Is Best?” blog post: