“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”
– Victor Hugo
That’s how things felt with the Content Creators Planner from day 1. That’s not to say that it wasn’t without challenges (because holy moly did we have challenges), but I think it’s safe to speak for both Jodi and myself that we knew we had something special with the planner.
It was literally three years ago this month (August of 2018) when I reached out to Jodi with an idea for a content planner. I’ve shared the story many times of how I sort of “fell into” the planner/journal idea (I had dipped my toes into bullet journaling earlier that year and realized just how big of a market the planner and journaling space was).
I didn’t do anything about it, then something nudged me to reach out to Jodi.
We had connected online about 5 years prior, had hopped on a few skype calls (yes, pre-Zoom) but hadn’t ever collaborated on anything together. I knew she was a brilliant designer and figured I had nothing to lose.
She immediately said yes (on Facebook Messenger while on a Mediterranean cruise ????) and when she was home and settled we jumped in.
Within two months we had sketched and designed pages, as well as come up with the framework for the content strategy. As soon as Jodi showed me the first pages she had done in In-Design I took a screenshot and posted them in the Content Creators Facebook group with overwhelming validation that what we were doing was needed.
Black Friday Cyber Monday
We knew the planner wouldn’t be ready (at this point we were still pricing printers and looking at different options) for Black Friday Cyber Monday, but we wanted to see if we could get some buzz going during the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
So we ran a giveaway.
The giveaway went great. I’m not sure why, but we only ran it for 4 days (Friday through Monday of that weekend). In hindsight, I would have run it through the following Monday (we ended up with over 500 subscribers from that contest, so we probably could have tripled that had we run it longer).
For some crazy reason, I can’t remember I thought it would be a great idea to run a Kickstarter to launch the planner. At the beginning of December. Never having run a Kickstarter. Makes sense, right?
We launched the Kickstarter on December 3rd and the week before Christmas we realized we weren’t going to hit our target so we better pivot. We raised a chunk, but with Kickstarter, if you don’t reach your funding goal you don’t get any of the pledges.
The other trick with Kickstarter is you also don’t get the contact info. of the people who’ve pledged, so we had to message them one by one to let them know we were going to pivot to a pre-sale on our website.
So the week after Christmas Jodi got WooCommerce set up and we sent out an email to pre-sell the planner on New Year’s Eve.
Fortunately, it worked.
By March of 2019, we had the final version of the physical planner in our hands, and Jodi and I met in person for the first time at a private mastermind in St. Louis (you gotta love the internet… where else can you start a business with someone you’ve only connected with online, and never met in person?).
The rest of 2019
Looking back on 2019 it seems like a bit of a blur. When we got back from the mastermind event we jumped into Facebook ads (we actually created the funnel at the hotel in St.Louis – or I should say Jodi did. I hadn’t slept much and desperately needed a nap).
Life then threw us for a curveball.
Jodi had some personal things come up at the beginning of June that took her out of commission for a bit and in July my world was turned upside down when my Mom passed away, unexpectedly.
I was also in the process of moving. Somehow we managed to keep things going (our ads were running still), despite everything else.
In October of that year, we hired our first ad agency and had a rollercoaster ride scaling our ads. We hit our highest month in January of 2020 with over $65k in sales. It felt like we were unstoppable.
And yes, then the world went into lockdown.
I moved to Boise, Idaho in March of 2020, and by now we had also started looking for a new ad agency (long story).
Much of 2020 was spent trying to get our Facebook ads working again. The second agency we hired wasn’t a good fit and we parted ways by the end of the summer.
Navigating 2020 from a business standpoint was challenging to say the least (which I’m sure most of you had your own unique experiences as well).
We launched the newsletter (which has been great) and did what we could to keep things going.
Sidenote: We both have our own individual businesses as well. Balancing all of this has required patience and trust that it’s working exactly as it should be right now.
We turned off our Facebook ads in the fall of last year (even after having worked with one of Facebook’s ad reps) because it felt like we were constantly running uphill. We needed to regroup.
Fast forward to 2021
We had good sales during the holiday season (even without ads), got through the first quarter, moved out of Boise, back to California for two months, and headed to Costa Rica on May 31st, where I’m currently living (and love it).
It’s hard to believe that we’re winding down the summer of 2021 already, but we’re excited about what’s coming.
We’re working on version 2 of the planner (and are committed to getting that in your hands this year!) as well as redoing the Masterclass, Trello product, and finishing the Content Promotion Code course (it was a stand-alone workshop and it’s becoming a course).
What we’ve learned
- Most things take longer than you expect: even when planned out and executed consistently. There are always unforseen circumstances (tech, people, life, etc.) that can throw you for a loop. It’s O.K., get back on track and keep going.
- Growth & traffic require a plan: from day 1 we were committed to running ads. We also produce content (obviously) as part of our traffic strategy. With the upcoming release of version 2 we need to craft a new plan, which includes the right joint venture partners and affiliates (more on that later).
- You need a team: We have someone that handles customer service (which will increase with paid traffic), and we outsource our fulfillment & shipping. We need to expand our team a bit in order to grow this. What that looks like and who does what is yet to be determined, but it’s going to be necessary.
- Partnerships work when you have different skill sets: One of the reasons Jodi and I work so well together is that we have different skill sets. We definitely have a lot of similar abilites with marketing, but our personal skills don’t overlap. Our personalities are also very different which allows u
These are just a few of the (many) things we’ve learned… but it’s been a fun ride and I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else.
Version 2, updating the masterclass and Trello product, then hopefully another platform (Asana would be next).
We’re excited to integrate our planner with Jarvis.ai (not required to use the planner), provide some training on how best to use the planner with Jarvis, and see where that takes us.
Thanks for being on this journey with us!