A 7-Figure Course Business… and the Surprising Strategy that Built It with Chandler Bolt (Transcript)

Here’s the thing — while it’s true that courses tend to be more profitable than self-published books, this question (“What’s more profitable?”) kind of creates a false dichotomy.

In other words: it makes it sound like you have to pick one or the other.

But, in reality, these two strategies can work together to create far better results than either typically does on its own.

This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 57. Listen to the episode here.

Chandler Bolt:

I think it just fits so well into growing any business is, the book’s the instruction manual, and it brings people in, it teaches your methodology. And look at any online entrepreneur, 70, 80, 90% of them have a book. And it’s the book teaches the methodology and it popularizes the methodology and it plants your flag.

Gillian Perkins:

We became entrepreneurs because more than anything, we want freedom. We want to be in control of our own schedule, income, and life. But unfortunately that isn’t always the reality of being a business owner. I’m Gillian Perkins, and I’m on a mission to take back entrepreneurship for what it’s supposed to be. In every episode, I’ll share with you how to get the most out of every hour you work so that you can work less and earn more. Let’s get to it.

Gillian Perkins:

Hey there everyone and welcome back to another episode. Today I am joined by my friend Chandler Bolt. Now Chandler is the CEO of Self Publishing School, selfpublishing.com. And he’s also the author of six best-selling books. His most recent one being called Published. Self Publishing School is an Inc 5,000 company the last three years in a row is one of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies in the US. So Chandler, I am so excited to have you here on the show. Welcome.

Chandler Bolt:

Hey, great to be here. Thank you for having me.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, first of all, just congratulations on where you’ve grown your business to at this point. That is so cool.

Chandler Bolt:

Hey, you’ve been a part of that. And yeah, thank you. It’s been a wild ride and I’m sure we’ll talk about some of the fun parts, but then also the rollercoaster, which I think doesn’t get talked a lot [crosstalk 00:01:47].

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. That’d be great. I would love to get into some of that. I know a lot of people who are just starting their business out now, some people like that are listening right now. And they have questions for like, what is this ride going to look like over the long term? Where am I taking this thing? And how do you get from here to there? So that’s really the first thing I’d like to talk to you about. Later on I’d love to get into talking about self-publishing and how you’ve used books to grow your business as well. But first of all, could you kind of give us just the big picture story? How long ago did you start Self Publishing School and what has that growth looked like over these past years?

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah, so we originally kicked off in 2014 and we did our first kind of cohort of students. There’s a bunch of lessons along the way. One of the first being I’d written and published a book, dropped out of school. The book was making a few 1000 bucks a month. And I’m trying to start this other business. And then this other business is just totally failing. And then meanwhile, people kept asking me like, “Hey, how are you doing this publishing books thing?” And I get on the phone with them for an hour, teach them everything I knew that I could in an hour and say, “Hey, good luck. Hope this helps.” For free just to be a nice person. Right? And it’s one of those things like somebody can only smack you in the face so many times before you turn around and look. And then you turn around and look, and there’s all these people wanting help with that thing.

Chandler Bolt:

So the question I would pose to people listening is what is that thing for you right now that maybe you’re ignoring, but people keep asking about it or they’re interested in that thing? And so that was what kind of turned my attention to Self Publishing School. And then we said, “All right, let’s just test this.” So we launched this thing called best-selling book system. We got 44 customers. I think it was about 80,000 bucks into that first cohort of students. And then that was the proof of concept. So that went from, I can do this successfully to, can I teach others to do this successfully? And then that was when I was like, all right, I think we had over 60% of them write and publish a book within six months or something like that, which was just crazy. And so then it was like, okay, we can replicate the success in others, now let’s scale.

Chandler Bolt:

And so then we relaunched as Self Publishing School. And then all along the like definitely taking my own medicine. So we use books to grow businesses or to grow our business, my business. That’s what we teach as well is like using books to get more lead sales and referrals. So I launched another book and that kickstarted Self Publishing School. I think we went from zero to $1.32 million that next year, which was like our first year of Self Publishing School. And then we’ve just continued to scale and went from zero to 20 million in five and a half years. So we’ve just, we’ve scaled over the last five and a half years a lot. And definitely messed a lot of things up along the way, learned a lot of big lessons. But that’s kind of what the journey has been and to where we’re at today, which is just helping more people publish books and changing lives through books, which I have a lot of fun doing.


Getting Your First Students

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. Well, what a crazy amount of growth and I’m sure it has been quite the adventure. Question for you, how did you get that first group of students?

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. Great question. So it was a couple of things. Well, first and foremost, just like, I’ll say this, backup just a little bit. This is something I’m very passionate about, until you have sales, you don’t have a business, you have a business idea. Okay.

Gillian Perkins:

Amen.

Chandler Bolt:

So the most important thing when you get started is getting your first paying customers. Customers vote with their credit card and they vote with their wallet. So people will tell you, you have an amazing idea. People will tell you have an amazing book idea, amazing business idea, whatever, but until they vote with their wallet, the words don’t really matter. And so we focused on sales and that was like, “All right, we’ve got to get our first paying customers.” And it’s a philosophy that I learned from a guy named Dane Maxwell. And I just kind of call it now is like sell then build.

Chandler Bolt:

And so anything we do, we sell it, then build it. So pre-sales are validating an idea. And so that’s what we did. We did three webinars over the course of three weeks. We were very scrappy, so scrappiness is like a through line in everything I’ve done. Scrappiness, discipline and work ethic are probably just kind of just the through line of what I do and what we do. And so it was a lot of scrappiness, like Facebook messaging every single person, every friend found this bot that did that and said, “Hey, will you share this webinar with someone you know who wants to write a book?” And then had two kind of anchor affiliates that I’d built relationships with previously. And they promoted on the webinars. And we did an application and then we accepted 80, 90% of those folks like ‘accepted’ and say, “Hey, you have the opportunity to enroll.”

Chandler Bolt:

They enrolled. And then we did phone calls with people who didn’t buy. I said, “Hey, you got any feedback? Why didn’t you buy?” And they gave feedback, which was really helpful. Also some of those people ended up buying, because they just needed a couple of questions answered. And so that rolled into the first cohort. I mean, we’ve done a lot of things. Affiliates were a huge part of how we grew early on. Now they’re kind of making a comeback in the business, podcasts interviews, webinars. I mean, all those things are still very much at the forefront of what we do.

Gillian Perkins:

So it sounds like you definitely started with that first stage of small business growth of validating your idea with kind of a test run. Love that. And so just to recap, basically you used like a grassroots approach to get people on live webinars. Yeah?

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. Oh, for sure.


Sales Strategy

Gillian Perkins:

Talking to people directly and using affiliates, and then you sold on the live webinars and you have an application process, and I know that’s something you’ve continued to this day. Can you talk to me about your strategy behind that?

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. I think so that is something we do now. So, I mean, if people want to join Self Publishing School, they’d book a call with the team, fill out an application, chat with the team. And I guess previously it was an application, no phone call, and then we would send an email and they can enroll. I believe it’s better for the customer and it’s better for business. So because we were not just like an online course, it’s really like an education program. And we’ve got coaches, we’ve got group coaching, we got one-on-one. It’s almost, it’s like a hybrid service and course component. And so because of that, it’s a higher price point, which is more difficult to sell via email only, but also is like it serves the customer and the prospect.

Chandler Bolt:

Because when we get on phone calls and these are 45-minute, hour long phone calls talking about, “Hey, what are your goals with your book? What are your challenges with your book? What are your next steps? Whether you work with us or not, what are the very next steps that you need to take to make this book a reality and to use this to grow your impact, your income and your business?”

Chandler Bolt:

And so laying that out and if they’re a fit, then it’s like, “Yeah, okay. Here’s how you work with us.” I think it’s such a value add. And it’s funny, We have an STR team as well. They do outbound calls to people who watch webinars and things like that say, “Hey, how can we help? Saw you checked out the webinar.” And they’ll basically qualify and then book an appointment with the team. And so that’s not even like the call model. But it’s so funny I see when somebody on my team… I just got to read this because I think this is kind of cool. And I think this speaks to this. He says kind of to the rest of the team, he says, “Do y’all ever feel like we play a much bigger role in people’s lives than our positions suggest even people that don’t put calls to the team, even people who never work with us.”

Chandler Bolt:

He says, this is like people were going around online, which I promises this has point. He’s like, “These people were interacting with dozens of companies in an impersonal webinar, seminar, [inaudible 00:09:26] type relationship, but at the center of the web, we’re with them, the only one-to-one relationship amongst all their professional conversations. And the true touch point where they feel deeply known is the 20 minutes that they spend with us.”

Chandler Bolt:

And he’s like, “We’ll give them recommendations that sort of drop out of the sky on them. People grappling with immense visions about their book without directions or next steps. And we’re helping them give direction whether they work with us or not.” So I think that in it’s sense it’s like captures, and that’s not even like the book of call model, but just like, I don’t know, at the core of, it’s just humanizing, which I think you do an amazing job of this. This is why I think your audience is so engaged and people love you. It’s like, you’re just so engaging. And it’s like that personal touch of, okay, this is a human on the internet that I feel a connection to or that I have a connection to or has called me or emailed me or responded to my email or whatever. And so it’s just like humanizing those relationships, which I think it’s the same goes a long way.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. It’s amazing how far just being a human can get you going. [crosstalk 00:10:29] that big mistake a lot of people make is they try it out, automate things too soon, especially, before they have done that validate phase of growing their business.

Chandler Bolt:

Oh my gosh. Yes. And I think that’s one of the things we did early on that made a huge difference is even just the, “Why didn’t you buy calls?” I mean, we don’t call them that publicly obviously. But it’s just like, “Hey, give us some feedback.” And some people are like, “I didn’t want to put my credit card online without talking to someone.” It’s like, “Perfect. You’re talking to someone.” [inaudible 00:10:57]. But then also the flip side though, is that we got, I mean, a bunch of those people didn’t buy it. It was great. Because they were like, “Hey, what did you think? How did you hear about us? Why were you interested? Why did you decide not to buy? What did you think about the price?” We went through all those things.

Chandler Bolt:

And so then we had a spreadsheet full of customer information and data that then the next time we launched, we used the terminology that people told us in the emails, in the videos, in all that stuff. And people would comment. They’re like, “Yeah, it feels like you’re reading my mail. It feels like you’re saying exactly what I’m thinking.” And it’s like, “Yeah, well, because-“

Gillian Perkins:

That’s because we copied and pasted what [crosstalk 00:11:38].

Chandler Bolt:

What you said, what someone like you said in the last one. So just that the human to human, but also doing the non-scalable things, I think goes a very long way across the board in perpetuity, but especially in the early days.


Sales Call Conversion Rates

Gillian Perkins:

What are your average conversion rates on those sales on those sales calls?

Chandler Bolt:

On those sales calls, 25 to 33%. And I think lately we’ve been training like 27, 28, 29%.

Gillian Perkins:

Right. So well worth the money that you pay your sales reps.

Chandler Bolt:

Oh, for sure.

Gillian Perkins:

For [crosstalk 00:12:09] those calls.

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. I think it’s well worth it for everyone involved. It’s well worth it for the sales rep, it’s well worth it for me as the business owner. And it’s well worth it for the customer. And even the 70% of people who don’t work with us, I think that they are glad that they booked that call and it’s helpful for them. They’re like, “Okay, cool. I got some feedback.” Even just talking out loud, my goals for my book. Maybe I hadn’t even thought of my goals for my book. And I was forced to verbalize those, what are my real challenges with the book? What are the next steps that I need to take? And whether they work with us or not, it’s like, I feel like there’s clarity and there’s value added.

Gillian Perkins:

That’s one of my main goals whenever I’m creating some sort of funnel or some sort of sales system that I want someone to actually have a positive experience through it, even if they don’t buy, I want them to get something out of it. So whether it’s information they learn or whether it’s something that they get to process and figure out, or even if it’s just that honestly the content that they consume entertains them.

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. Totally.

Gillian Perkins:

Even that I want them to enjoy being ‘funneled.’

Chandler Bolt:

Yes, yes. And adding value. I mean, that’s my theme for the year. And sometimes I’ve been really challenging my cell phone this year. It’s just like, okay, how can I add value in every single interaction and how can we as a company add value? So it’s like every touch point, every email, every podcast interview like this or webinar or call that we make, that there’s value added. And people are like, “Oh, that was helpful. And I’m looking forward to the next time or to the next interaction or next experience.” We’re not there yet but we’re working on it.



How to Significantly Scale

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. Well, it’s, I think it’s a great goal to have. So you started out Self Publishing School with this pre-launch phase and you got this initial cohort of customers going from there to, I’ll say to where you are now, but I just really mean to a point where you had significantly scaled. What are some of the biggest tools that you use to get there?

Chandler Bolt:

And tools being like tools or strategies or what are you thinking?

Gillian Perkins:

More like strategies. Yeah. So I’m thinking probably one of your big tools was using affiliates.

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. Yeah. For sure. I mean, affiliates were big time in the early days. You got to get real good friends with SAM, sales and marketing. And so a lot of people hate sales and marketing, and I think myself included. And, but just realizing that unless you have revenue, revenue is the gas in the car that you can drive and without gas, your car is sitting still. Yeah, there’s a lot of systems and strategies and things that we’ve done, but the early and relentless focus on revenue and focus on serving customers and really to this day, that’s kind of the… And we’ve ebbed and flowed and gotten distracted and all that stuff over the years.

Chandler Bolt:

But really, even now it’s like, we’re coming back to, I talk to my team all the time. I was like, “If this doesn’t help or make customers happier or get us new customers, we shouldn’t be doing it.” Those are the only two things you should be doing in your business. Making customers happier or getting new ones. And so it’s every hour of my day is it’s been on one of those two things. If it’s not, I probably shouldn’t be doing it. And so we just try to laser focus in on that. And then there’s a bunch of minutia of this like 7 Figure Principles podcast, and 7 Figure Principles YouTube channel. I think you and I talked about this when we talked a few weeks ago, it was just like, that’s the non-sexy operator, like operations style stuff that I feel like has really been the core of why we’ve grown so quickly is because we operate very well and we execute very well.

Chandler Bolt:

But really the revenue and the focus on revenue early on is what allows us to hire for that, to invest in that, to all that stuff. And then just that I think, yeah, affiliates, going more premium. I think that’s something that I very much believe in because then you can surprise and delight. You can over-deliver, you can do all kinds of stuff like that, but those were kind of some of the things early on.


Roadblocks While Scaling

Gillian Perkins:

What are some of the biggest roadblocks you ran into as you were trying to scale?

Chandler Bolt:

I mean, where all roads lead to me. So I am the biggest roadblock almost at any point of the company’s growth. Gosh, I mean, I think that’s a big one, right? Michael Hyatt has, this is one of my favorite things from him is he says to ask the question, what about my leadership led to this result? And so anytime you don’t like something in your business, the question to ask is what about my leadership led to this result? And so I think that’s a question that I constantly have to ask and then I constantly have to challenge my leadership team as well. Is to ask that question, it’s like, “Oh, perfect. That something’s going wrong in your department, what about your leadership led to this result? And then Chandler, what about your leadership led to this result?”

Chandler Bolt:

But just like, I think just getting better and I think a big roadblock was my leadership abilities and or lack thereof. And I think I was a great manager, but a horrible leader. And so just really focused in time. And what I try to do is every year is theme, I’ll have three goals and a theme. And usually it’s like, all right, what’s the biggest bottleneck for my personal or professional growth? And to us, to me growing faster, to Self Publishing School growing faster and how can I knock that down? I think that’s actually maybe one strategy or whatever that just, it feels innate. But then when I talk to other people, I’m like, oh, other people don’t really ask this that often. And so I think it is one thing that is the reason why we’ve grown very quickly is because I wake up every day and ask that question.

Chandler Bolt:

It’s like, what’s the bottleneck to us growing faster? And the one thing they call it’s like the one thing such that would make everything else easier or unnecessary. So if we just did this, so what’s that one thing or what’s the bottleneck? And so I think identifying those along the way and at one point it was my leadership. It has been a bunch of other things. And I’m trying to think because it’s such a long journey or, I mean, not very long in the grand scheme of things five years, but it feels like a lifetime, right? It’s like the problems that we faced with our first 40 customers in that cohort are totally different than the problems of a 30 something person organization that we have right now.

Chandler Bolt:

And so I think it’s for most people, I would say the challenge is being self-aware enough to know what you need to grow in. And being able to identify those things. But then also having a growth mindset to like, “All right, I need to fix and improve these things as I’m going along the journey.” And then there’s access in those stuff from a business person but that changes.

Speaker 3:

The episode you’re currently listening to was originally offered as a live stream inside Startup Society, our training program for digital entrepreneurs. Each week in the program, Gillian teaches a live workshop for startup members, including a teaching segment, like what you’re listening to right now. A tutorial segment that demonstrates how to take action on the lesson and an open Q&A period where Gillian and guest experts work directly with each member. Members also get access to Startup Society’s library of business training courses, monthly co-working sessions, and other events, and our private community forum. If you’re looking for affordable business training, mentorship, and accountability, then visit startupsociety.com/podcast, to learn more about the program and apply like to join. Now here’s Gillian with the rest of today’s episode.


Strategic Referral Process

Gillian Perkins:

So one of the big things that has to be done to grow any company is, as you said, getting customers, right? So we need the sales and the marketing. Now I know that a big part of your strategy in getting customers is actually publishing books. Talk to me about how publishing books fits into your sales process.

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. It’s everywhere. It’s in everything we do. So we practice what we preach, drink our own medicine, eat our own dog food, whatever you want to call it. Yeah. So I really look at books, help drive more leads, sales, and referrals. Those are the three buckets. And so for us, a book is it’s the starting point. So we use it. So yeah, if we’re going to break that down, more leads, these are people who hear about you because of your book. Right? And so my book published is my most recent book. That is just a Trojan horse in the marketplace. So many people hear about me because they read that book. And then so more leads, more sales. So we look at it this way. It’s like, how do you get a book to drive a higher percentage of people who already know about you, turn those folks into paying customers?

Chandler Bolt:

And so what we do there is we have free plus shipping funnels. So that would be like on the leads and on the sales side of things, we give away the book kind of everywhere. So maybe it’s like, if they show up to a webinar, then they can get a free copy of the book. Just all these things we introduce it through almost all of our funnels. So it’s adding value and boosting our conversion rate and all that stuff. And then when I go speak, it’s like, I’ll go speak at a conference and you might be a few 100 people there and I will bring two or 300 books. And we’ve got a booth and we’re giving out books like crazy. And we’re getting contact cards and booking appointments with people. And a lot of those people either sign up on the spot for Self Publishing School. But we’re enabling our sales team like if someone walks by instead of, “Hey, can you talk to us about Self Publishing School?” It’s, “Hey, did you get your free book yet?”

Chandler Bolt:

And they’re like, “Oh no, I haven’t.” And then it’s like, “Okay, cool. Let me give you one. If you were to write a book, what would your book be about?” It’s like, “Oh, I’ve been thinking…” So it’s like, it enables a conversation. And so we give those books away like crazy. And then also the people who read the book on the plane ride home, book a call with the team, sign up for Self Publishing School. So that kind of stuff happens all the time.

Chandler Bolt:

And then the third component is using a book to get more referrals. So turn customers into active referrers. And so that’s where we’ve got a couple ways that we do this as a business that have been fruitful. And so one way is it’s just super simple is we have a URL is I think it’s like self-publishingschool.com/friend, which then now explaining this, I’m going to… I think people are going to cheat the system. But basically our customers, we give them that URL and it’s like, “Hey, if you have a friend that you know who wants to write a book or was thinking about writing a book, just send them that link. We’ll ship them a copy of my book for free. They literally don’t even have to pay shipping and handling.” So it’s just kind of like-

Gillian Perkins:

Everybody who’s listening right now [crosstalk 00:22:59] friend. So for friends, go get [crosstalk 00:23:02].

Chandler Bolt:

So that’s just the way basically our customers because can then become referrers and say, hey, they can give that link to other people. It makes them look good. Because they’re like, “Oh, awesome. Your friend…” When people land on that page, “I say if you’re on this page, you have a friend who either is working with us or heard about us and is having an awesome experience and they want to hook you up. So you should tell them, thank you and put your address below we’ll ship you a book. You don’t have to pay shipping and handling.” And then, and then if they sign up for Self Publishing School, it’s like they get $250 off and their friend gets 250 bucks. So we have a two-way referral program. So we’re just like reducing the friction to refer business, which I think any business owner listening can implement that immediately or immediately after you have a book.

Chandler Bolt:

And so that’s one way. And then if you have a brick-and-mortar business, especially, and I think this is, or really any businesses, give two copies of your book to every new customer. And you say here’s one for you. And here’s one for a friend who needs help with X, Y, Z problem that you help with. And so for me, it’s like, here’s one for you and here’s one for a friend that might want to write a book. And so now all of a sudden it’s like a book… I mean, you’ve heard the saying like a book is the new business card. It’s just a three or $4 business card and people will get a business card and they’ll throw it away probably within 24 hours. But they’ll get your book and they’ll leave it on their desk, they’ll leave it in their office. Every time they see it, they think of you and they might not even read it, but when they need help with that thing, they’re going to reach out to you.

Gillian Perkins:

Or they know someone who can help with that thing.

Chandler Bolt:

Exactly. Or when people come into their office all the time like, “Oh, that looks interesting.” And it’d be like, “Oh yeah, I’m not going to read it. You want it?” It’s like, “Okay, cool.” They just referred you business and through the mechanism of a book. So those are the underlying things that that’s, I mean, free plus shipping funnels are one of the most profitable funnels in our business. We use books as part of our webinar funnels which helps with show up rate, which helps with sales and revenue.

Gillian Perkins:

So you say it like show up to the webinar and you’ll get a free copy of the book?

Chandler Bolt:

Exactly. Exactly.

Gillian Perkins:

You just have to pay shipping?

Chandler Bolt:

Well that’s a free digital copy.

Gillian Perkins:

Oh, I see.

Chandler Bolt:

A free digital copy or audio. So PDF audio so that there’s no delivery costs, no hard cost for us. And then just using a book to get leads. I mean, that’s kind of what I talked about a little bit a go.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, it sounds like more than anything these books are just an amazing lead generation tool for you because they’re a physical thing that people perceive as valuable. People are willing to opt in to get, very unlike how people feel about eBooks for the most part these days [crosstalk 00:25:50].

Chandler Bolt:

Totally. It’s like, this is a legit book that you would pay five to 20 bucks on Amazon or in the case of inside the book one of the things that we do that works really well is give away audio or video at the beginning of the book. And you might’ve heard me talk about this before, but the look inside feature, people can look inside, preview the first 10% of the book. But when they do that on my books, it’s like, “Oh, I get the audio book for free, Chandler’s an idiot. He doesn’t know this.” But of course I know that because that lead is worth way more than the four bucks I’d get on the Kindle book. So now all of a sudden, instead of paying for leads, I’m getting paid to get leads and we’re just funneling leads off of Amazon, whether they buy the book or not. And then there’s an audio component, like you said, has inherent value. Eight to 15 bucks is what they would pay for an audio book.

Chandler Bolt:

It’s like, “Wow, Chandler’s given this to me for free. What a guy.” And then there’s the other piece, which is video, which that’s a webinar, which that’s a conversion mechanism for Self Publishing School. So either way they’re coming into our ecosystem and all roads lead to Self Publishing School.



The Productive Person

Gillian Perkins:

So these books are a really good lead gen tool, but if someone’s audience is small, would this strategy still help them if they don’t have a lot of people to tell about the book yet?

Chandler Bolt:

Yes. Absolutely. And so I launched my first book at 19 years old is, called The Productive Person. It was about productivity hacks for entrepreneurs and kind of like what I learned from running my first six figure house painting business, while also being a full-time college student. So that was what my first book was about. I had no audience and the book sold like crazy. And I think we built an email list of 4,000 people within the first 90 days or six months or something. It was crazy. And so then we had the opposite problem that most people have, which is we had a 4,000-person email list and we’re like, “Well, hold up, what do we sell these people? I heard we’re supposed to have something else to sell when we want to grow our business. So what do we do?” Versus most people have a product and no email list. Right?

Chandler Bolt:

And so I think it’s a checkpoint or a good starting point for most people is like, “All right, I’m going to commit to something. I’m going to get it done.” And then we walk people through the launch piece and okay, launch it successfully, leverage that, get some podcasts interviews, get some PR publicity, stuff like that, which then will help sell more books, but also help get more leads for your business. You’re kind of creating this ecosystem through the event of a launch. And so you’re using the event of a launch versus if I just said, “Hey, I want to tell people about my business.” No one cares. But if I said, “Oh, I’m launching a book about this topic that’s related to my business now-“

Gillian Perkins:

[crosstalk 00:28:39] a lot of people care a lot.

Chandler Bolt:

Yes, exactly. Exactly. And it’s a Trojan horse to bring your business.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I know I’ve told you before the story of my book launch, but I didn’t realize how many parallels there were actually between my first book launch and yours. Because I also launched my book with absolutely no audience and discovered, wow people get really excited when you’re launching a book. I easily got on several podcasts when, if I hadn’t been publishing that book, I would not have stood a chance to get on at all, because I know they’re qualification to put me on them. My book was also in the productivity genre. And I also, like I said, I had no email list. And just because I promoted an email opt-in in my book, which I honestly did a horrible job. I practically literally said, “If you want more free stuff, then go to this page and type in your email.” And the page said, Here’s some free stuff you can have. I didn’t even tell them what it was.”

Gillian Perkins:

It was more free resources. But I grew my email list about 1000 people in a matter of just a couple of months because of that.

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. That’s awesome.

Gillian Perkins:

And then I didn’t have something to sell them just like you were saying. So I started trying to make something to sell those people. And then I realized this wasn’t really what I wanted to do because I was focused on other things. And I ended up starting a new business and not really utilizing those 1000 email addresses that I had almost at all. Because I never ended up selling them anything because I decided to pivot. But yeah, I just hadn’t realized how many similarities there were there.

Gillian Perkins:

So this podcast we’re on right now is called Work Less, Earn More. Publishing a book sounds like a great strategy for getting leads, but publishing of books also sounds like a very time-consuming process. How long does this actually take? Is this something that someone with not a lot of time on their hands could actually, should actually realistically take on?

Chandler Bolt:

I think so. I mean, obviously I’m biased. Yeah, a couple of the two biggest excuses that we get for not writing a book is I don’t have time and the timing’s not right. And it’s like, it’s on the maybe someday list. And I think the timing never will be right. And it’s just such a fundamental piece of, I think, of growing your business or just like, for some people it’s like, “Growing my business, I don’t even have a business yet.” It’s like, it’s a starting block, which even is cool to hearing that in your story. Because it’s like, oh cool. Even though you didn’t even end up doing a business about that book, it was like, okay, I got momentum, I’ve got sales, I’ve got an email.

Chandler Bolt:

We always say, it’s not about the book. It’s about who you become in the process of writing the book. And so it’s like all those fundamental skill sets that you learned in that transferred and probably even helped you get super clear on like, “All right, this is what I want to do. Is this other thing not letting me get laser-focused on that.” And so how long can it take? What we walk people through is like, hey, blank page to published in as little as 90 days. And we try to cut down the process and save people time and make it faster, which I know you went through the process. How long did it take you again?

Gillian Perkins:

I spend right at a month, about 32 days, I think writing the book and then another few months, and you’ve got three months or so to get it published.

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. So that’s awesome. I mean, what’s that 120 days? Which is amazing. How long would you say were you doing an hour a day, a couple hours a day? I mean, I know there’s times-

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I spend about an hour a day. I think it was probably a little bit more at the beginning of the month. And then as I got a little bit more tired at the end of my marathon, then I was spending a little bit less time. But yeah, about an hour per day for the writing process. And then I don’t really know how many hours I spent after that. Maybe like 40 hours total working with editors and editing myself and getting things formatted. Yeah, probably about 40 hours.

Chandler Bolt:

Cool. That makes sense. I feel like that’s pretty typical what we see. So, I mean, that’s probably a good gauge for a lot of people is, “Hey, hour a day, over the next three to six months, that’s about what it’s going to take.”

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I think that that is really realistic and comfortable. It didn’t really feel like a big stress or it was really a hard, it was more just having the endurance to keep working on any big project for a few months. But it was pretty easy to fit into my day. Even though at that time I was building my online business, running a local business and I had a couple of kids. So there was plenty on my plate, but by just getting up an hour earlier, which isn’t always the answer to everything. But [crosstalk 00:33:24] if it’s something that matters to you?

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. For sure.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. I just woke up an hour earlier for a month and wrote for an hour and then went on with my day and it did, it changed my life. It really did.

Chandler Bolt:

That’s awesome. I do think it’s not the answer for everything, but I think it is the answer for a lot of things, it’s just waking up a little bit earlier.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. It definitely at least for like a season, right?

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah.



Advice for Building an Online Course

Gillian Perkins:

So you run a business where you are essentially selling online courses. They’re more premium than that. You have more of a service component, but you are running this course business and you’re selling these books and I can see how these things are working together. What would be your just a final words of wisdom to anyone who is working on building an online course business?

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. I mean, I think oftentimes people view them as independent and they’re actually pretty linked. There’s the chicken or the egg like, “Oh, do I do the course first? Or do I do the book first? Or do I do one or the other?” I think that for me personally, the books feed everything I do over on the core side of the business. And so it’s like, that is the profit engine is using the book to grow your business, to get more leads, sales and referrals. But they work hand in hand. And if you do the work to write and publish a book, well, you’ve created the course pretty much. You just didn’t know it yet. And the flip side, if you already have an online course, you’ve written the book, you just didn’t know it yet.

Chandler Bolt:

It’s like the way that you structure the course is the same way that you’re going to structure the book. The way that you structure the book is the same way that you’re going to structure the course. And I just look at it as like if the kind of like the best analogy would probably be okay, I’ve got a 2004 Nissan Altima with 210,000 miles on it. And say I wanted to change the radio in that. The first step is I could grab the Nissan instruction manual, and I can say, “All right, let me see how I’m going to do this.” So your book is kind of the instruction manual. And then if that’s not working, I might say, “Okay, let me go on YouTube and say how to change the radio for ’04 Nissan Altima.”

Chandler Bolt:

That in my mind is like, it’s do it yourself, then done with you or do it with me, so help me do it. And so that’s where I look at like an online course component is like, all right, I can do it myself. I have the instruction manual, but then a lot of times people read the instructions manual and you’re like, “Yup, I kind of get it.” And I mean, if it’s a Nissan Altima instruction manual, it’s actually probably like, this means nothing. I need more help. But I think a lot of times you read a book is like, “Oh, I get this and I still have some questions, so I need to go in the weeds. And I need you to walk me through this.” So that’s the done with you. And so that’s the ascension path to your course.

Chandler Bolt:

And then I think the higher rung of the ladder, which we don’t do currently, but you certainly could is, do it for me. That would be me saying, “All right, I’ve watched the YouTube video, I’m not interested. I’m going to pay someone.” I’m going to go down the street to the mechanic and say, “Hey, here’s a couple of 100 bucks. Can you put in this new radio?” And so I think just when you look at that kind of Russell Brunson would call it the value ladder. I think it just fits so well into growing any business is, the book’s the instruction manual, and it brings people in, it teaches your methodology.

Chandler Bolt:

And you’ve seen like, look at any online entrepreneur, 70, 80, 90% of them have a book. And it’s the book teaches the methodology and it popularizes the methodology and it plants your flag. It’s like, this is my thing. And then it’s a spoke that goes into everything that you do, whether it’s back in the day T. Harv Ekerwas wrote Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, and that launching like a whole education and workshop business. Whether it’s Rich Dad Poor Dad launching an entire brand or whether it’s, I mean, Russell Brunson using Expert Secrets, Dotcom Secrets, Traffic Secrets to grow click funnels, like just time and time it’s a proven model in the nonfiction space of using books to grow businesses.

Gillian Perkins:

How do you find the balance between giving information away for free in your books versus your premium program?

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah. Well, I mean, one of my favorite quotes is if you give away your best stuff for free people will pay you to tell it to them again. And so that, I mean, that’s my philosophy is just like give away all the best stuff for free. And people will say, “If the free stuff was this good, I can’t imagine if I paid you money. Or I can’t imagine it and I want to.” So just that’s my philosophy is don’t hold back and the right people are going to be attracted. And then along the way, there’s all this, I mean people come up to me all the time at conferences and stuff like that, they’re like, “Hey, I read your book published. And I published a book.” It’s like, “Awesome. That’s great.” That was a life that was changed because of that book. And a bunch of other people in that book, they read it and they said, “All right, cool. I need some more help. So let me work with Self Publishing School.” So that’s just kind of my philosophy.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah. Well, you mentioned that there’s a book that my friends can have for free. What is this book and where do they get it?

Chandler Bolt:

Yeah, you can get a copy of my book published for free. It’s self-publishingschool.com/friend. And you can also find on the website and we got a-

Gillian Perkins:

I’ll put a link on the show notes. What is the book about? What are people going to get out of it?

Chandler Bolt:

It’s about how to go from blank page to published author in as little as 90 days. So it’s kind of the methodology that we teach. So that’s the core, if you’re thinking about getting started with writing a book, that book we’ve got a post on our site on how to write a book that’s very comprehensive. And in that as well, we have a, it’s called a book outline template generator. You press a couple buttons and it’ll spit out a 25-page Google Doc that’s pre-formatted like, oh, here’s the title page. Here’s the table of contents. Here’s the, all that stuff. So that’s really helpful if you’re like, “Okay, I want to start writing.” And then instead of having a blank page, you have a 25-page Google Doc that you can start typing into.

Gillian Perkins:

Yeah, that sounds amazing. Okay. Well, thank you so much, Chandler. This has been awesome. Thank you for being so generous with your wisdom and with your knowledge and for taking the time to be here on the show today.

Chandler Bolt:

Thank you for having me on.

Gillian Perkins:

All right. Well, that is everything for today. Thank you so much for joining me for today’s episode. If you found this episode helpful and you would like to participate live in future recording sessions, then be sure to visit startupsociety.com/podcast, to learn more about all the benefits of membership and apply to join. And finally, it would be a big help if you left Work Less, Earn More a review on Apple podcasts. Not only will this help us reach more people, but it’s also going to give you the chance to potentially win a 12-month membership to Startup Society. All you need to do to enter is post your review on Apple podcasts then email a screenshot to contact@gillianperkins.com. Thanks again so much for listening. Now let’s wrap this up. I’m Gillian Perkins, and until next week stay focused and take action.

    Sean McMullin

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    Robbie Walsh - February 12, 2021 Reply

    Such a great read! Thank you for sharing your views, i loved it!

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