Marketing benchmarks for your side hustle

“If you don’t have any previous numbers to go on, you can use these that work pretty well across industries (though your mileage may vary) for your first project: 1% of eyeballs on your sales page can convert to customers; 3% of an interest (email) list for your project can convert to customers.

There are several factors that impact these numbers: from price point, to the assumption we laid out at the top (how much people actually need/want your thing), to how good your sales copy is, to the quality of the prospects hitting your page, to your pricing strategy, etc.”

Side Project Marketing (Delicious Brains)

I see this all the time in the community Slack teams I belong to. Folks asking about metrics and reporting and what they should aim for. Especially around this time of the year. Everyone’s setting goals and figuring out their plan for the next twelve months.

Benchmarks aren’t perfect but they’re better than nothing. And when you get your baseline in that first go-round, you can step back and think about where to go next.

E.g. in the first month or year of a program I’m interested in setting a decent benchmark and then looking at how we grow 10%, 15%, or (dream big!) 20% through each iteration.

Added emphasis on the word program, by the way. I dig campaigns. The splash n’ sizzle n’ all the noise leading up to it. But I like programs way more. Stuff that’s perpetual, cyclical. That’s the foundation. The campaigns sit on top of it. It’s never a “did we pass or did we fail?” — it’s “how well did we do, and how do we do better next time?”


Promotion-first content planning

Instead of treating distribution as the final step in the process, we should treat it as the very first. We start the content creation process with a single distribution channel in mind. We reverse-engineer it, and uncover the common characteristics that cause content to perform well. We build those hallmarks into the fabric of our idea.”

The Secret to Content Promotion (Animalz)

Thinking about where you’re going to promote your content should have a major impact on what content you create.

Different content resonates in different ways depending on where in appears. What works on Reddit will probably differ from what works on LinkedIn, or Twitter, or Instagram, or email, or paid promo.

Business Community

Thought leadership content

You know movement-first content when you see it. It’s sometimes called thought leadership content. Some people call the posts ‘essays’ instead of articles. It looks and feels very different from content optimized for search since it isn’t beholden to any SEO tactics like word count and keyword density.”

How to Scale Content Without Sacrificing Quality (Animalz)

As Google culls traffic referrals in favour of keeping users in the SERPs, I expect more marketers and publishers to pivot towards content worth subscribing to.

Thought leadership content — or, as Animalz describes it, “movement-first content” — fits squarely into that category.

It’s the sort of content that picks up steam through social shares and newsletter citations. It’s the pontificatorials that busines folks drop as LinkedIn Pulse articles.

Predictions about the future. Opinionated essays. Rants. Reviews.

You know the type.

Now, as someone who’s spent the better part of the last five years chasing SEO-friendly content, I’m really excited for this pivot. Because it means, hopefully, a return of original voice and style and stream-of-consciousness blogging that made the early web such a delight.

These writeups are also great fodder for prompting conversations. And as the pendulum swings back from a radically open web to a connected mesh of niche communities, those conversations are going to matter more and more.


Blog posts take hours to write

“In 2014, the average blog post took about 2.5 hours to write. Today, bloggers are spending a lot more time on a typical article; time spent per post has risen 44%. The average blog post now takes 3.5 hours to write.

5 Years of Blogging Statistics (Orbit Media)

Business Tech

Improve your UX design with copy docs

“Copy docs stem from the advertising world, where they’re typically called copy decks. A copy doc is a single document created in a word-processing tool like Microsoft Word, Dropbox Paper, or Google Docs. It holds all the copy for a single project: a landing page, a series of mobile screens, a set of onboarding emails, or anything else.”

How to improve your design process with copy docs (Dropbox Design)

Something that’s irks me to no end is when I see product mockups or screenshots with filler text that makes no sense.

Text is just as important to the product experience as everything else (arguably even more important for things like dashboards).

If I’m drafting a product announcement or a guest post about a product, I don’t want the embedded screenshots or demo videos to have lorem ipsum filler fluff.

Enter copy docs.

Riffing from the source article:

“Many user experience writers (UX) and content strategists are familiar with design tools like Sketch, InVision, and Balsamiq. These are great resources for a team to share feedback on wireframes, mockups, and prototypes.

But what about the copy? How do you and your team decide on in-product copy to place in those wireframes, mockups, and prototypes? For many teams, the answer is something like, We copy and paste from an email or a Slack post. It’s scattershot, without a straightforward process. There’s no single place for copy iterations to live or get feedback, the way there is for design.

If this sounds familiar, your UX team could benefit from using copy docs. These are also known as copy decks, content templates, or copy platforms. A copy doc is a one-stop “source of truth” for all the copy in a project.”

I think copy docs are something that product marketers and product developers should jam on together. Why? Because if these designs are going to make an appearance in marketing assets, the text should fit the context.

E.g. if you’re going to use a scenario, telling a story about a fictional user trying to complete some task, the text in the example screenshots should feel like they’re part of that story.

Business Community Tech

Presenting? Make your slides obvious

Make it legible. – Make it simple. – Make it obvious.

If you just do these three things, you’ll have a presentation that anyone can probably understand. And since understanding is the foundation for getting someone excited enough to want to talk to you afterwards, it’s a good place to start.”

How to Design a Better Pitch Deck (Y Combinator)

Kevin Hale at Y Combinator wrote this blog post with tech startups in mind, but the takeaways are applicable to any sort of presentation, whether it be to a local meetup group or big ol’ conference audience.

See also: The YC Seed Deck Template


Money savers focus on the price tag

“When presented with a choice between a smaller dollar amount now or more money weeks later, savers focus immediately on the two dollar amounts, quickly screening out other factors as irrelevant — as revealed by their eye movements.”

Money-savers Focus Attention (Duke Today)

My $0.02: When you’re dealing with someone who values lower prices above all else, they’re not going to stick around. Their motivation is getting the best deal, and if they can’t get it, they’ll go somewhere else.

It’s a race to the bottom in a fight for fickle customers.

If you’re able to consistently offer the lowest prices, you’ll need a lot of volume to hit the same revenue that someone else gets from fewer sales. You either do this through scale or through efficiency.

If you raise your prices and go for fewer sales — but still hit the same revenue — you can put more focus on quality and customer retention. But how high do you go?

Again, IMO: You go as high as you can so that your ideal customer can still afford your products or services.

At a certain point you’ll cross the line into a different market segment, and the customers in that segment may not be the type of customer you want to reach.

Business Life

Advice for new marketers: Focus on the outcomes to increase your value

To truly increase your value, you need to understand what drives the company’s long term growth and focus maniacally on that. This means elevating your mental frameworks from tactics (i.e. “I must publish three articles a week”) to strategy (i.e. “I must find a way to help our events team sell more tickets”). And it means structuring the content operation to lead to outcomes (i.e. “webinar signups”) and not outputs (i.e. “publishing 10 tweets a day”).”

What I wish I knew five years ago about building a career in “content” (Sean Blanda)

This post from Sean Blanda is a must-read for anyone in the content marketing space, or thinking about entering the content marketing space.

My colleague Chris Carfi has a great model for thinking about this. Every time we sit down to talk through a plan, he starts with one question: What does success look like?

By starting with the objective, we can work backwards — figuring out the metrics that indicate success (goals), how we’ll get there (strategy), and the specific tools we’ll use to implement the strategy (tactics).

It’s kinda like planning a trip in Google Maps. You start with where you want to go (objective), then based on how much time you have (metrics), you choose a mode of transportation (strategy) and the route you want to take (tactics).

Sidenote: I need to do this more often with my personal projects. 🤔


Ryan Reynolds adception

An ad for Aviation Gin within an ad for 6 Underground within an ad for Samsung’s QLED television. Hot damn. h/t The Drum. Found this through their newsletter. 🙂

Business Tech

Newsletters never die

“I’ve been writing newsletters for the past couple decades. Which means I’ve seen them die and come back about eight times. And each time, their supposed death comes as just as much of a shock to everyone as it did the time before. They never died. They’re the best communication tool you have. And they are built upon the one internet platform that, unlike all the rest, never lets you down.

Newsletters Are Immortal (Dave Pell)

My recommended order-of-operations for establishing a web presence:

  1. Domain name
  2. Professional email address
  3. Website
  4. Newsletter / mailing list

Everything else follows.

Unlike Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever other platform comes along, newsletters are built on an open protocol (email) that’s integral to the internet.

Email isn’t going anywhere. Newsletters aren’t going anywhere.