Today, I talk to Darrell Vesterfelt, who is a longtime friend who helped grow ConvertKit in our craziest growth times (from $100,000/mo when he joined to $500,000/mo in just over a year).
Darrell is one of the best marketers I know. He is the Founder and former CEO of Good People Digital, the Co-Founder of Homestead Living, and Co-Founder and COO of the School of Traditional Skills.
In this episode, Darrell breaks down the goal and execution of an online summit that accumulated an astonishing 101,000 attendees as a brand-new brand! Tune in to find out why you can’t have a marketing strategy without value and vice versa.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Darrell’s transition from New York to homestead; how his marketing skills translate to homesteading
- The importance of authenticity in the homesteading world
- A rundown of Darrell’s various businesses
- The publication and publishing house, Homestead Living: what inspired it and where it’s going
- The structure, marketing strategy, execution, and conversion rate of the School of Traditional Skills Summit
- The best marketing strategy according to Darrell
Links & Resources
- Homestead Living
- Homestead Living on Instagram
- School of Traditional Skills
- Homesteading Family
- Good People Digital
- Everything Worth Preserving
“DARRELL: At this point, summits have been a thing that have come and gone for a lot of people. It was a really cool thing. They’re less common. We said, ‘Well, what if we tried this and we call it the Traditional Skills Summit?’ We had 101,000 people join the summit, which was huge. Essentially, we launched our company with 101,000 people on our mailing list.”
[00:00:29] NATHAN: Today, I got to talk to Darrell Vesterfelt, who is a longtime friend, and helped grow ConvertKit in our craziest growth times. He led our whole growth team and all that. I think we grew from 100,000 a month when he joined to $500,000, $600,000 a month, in just over a year. It was completely wild. He’s one of the best marketers I know. He’s spent a ton of time in different industries, whether it’s B2B or software, or course launches or all that. He’s just been around a long time. Now, he’s fully immersed in this homesteading world. You’re going to hear about his background there. We get to talk about, actually, probably the most interesting thing is how we took a summit, which is an idea.
It’s been around a lot in online marketing, probably less popular now. He just took that summit and executed it at an incredible level. Then, over 100,000 registrants for the summit, and basically launched a whole business off of it. I think you’ll enjoy the episode and let’s dive in.
[00:01:30] NATHAN: Darrell, welcome to the show.
[00:01:32] DARRELL: Thanks for having me. It’s good to see you.
[00:01:34] NATHAN: It’s so good to see you. We’re going to hang out in person because you’re going to come for Craft + Commerce to Boise and stay on the farm, which is going to be a lot of fun.
[00:01:44] DARRELL: I’m really looking forward to it.
[00:01:47] NATHAN: Speaking of farms, years ago, well, you and I built a software company together, a little thing called ConvertKit. For everyone who doesn’t know, Darrell was instrumental. We’re here from what, 100,000 to 500,000 in MRR in 12 months? Something ridiculous.
[00:02:00] DARRELL: Twelve months, yes. I think it was a little bit more than that. But yes, basically, 100,000 to 500,000, 600,000 in about 15 months.
[00:02:07] NATHAN: Absolutely next level, we pulled off. Normally, you and I are jamming on all things growth, and audiences and creators, and all that. You’re fully in the homestead world now. It’s great that you’re going to come out into the farm. But tell me about the transition from New York City Darrell to homestead living Darrell.
[00:02:33] DARRELL: Yes. It’s a wild transition. It makes a lot of sense to me, because my grandpa’s a farmer, and my family has a centennial farm in Michigan. It’s a historically protected centennial farm in Michigan. I grew up in really rural areas. As soon as I graduated high school, I went straight for the city. I was like, “I’m out of here. I don’t want to do this.” I moved right to Minneapolis, right into the urban core, like downtown. Then I’ve lived in all kinds of cities since then, and most recently in New York and Nashville.
It just kept calling me home. I had met Melissa Norris and then Josh and Carolyn Thomas from Homesteading Family, and they just both looked at me with side eyes like this, smiling, “You’ll come home a little bit.” The more and more I dug into the content with them, the more I was like, “This is calling me home in a big way.”
We now live – this is my old home, we call it the Garden Cottage. It was built in 1880. It’s in Stillwater, Minnesota about 35 minutes outside of the city. We are just testing out if our family likes living outside of the city and more of a country environment and we love it. So, we’ve been here for almost a year. Love it out here. Yes, I would say 80% of my time now is focused on the homesteading world, which feels like home, but also is a lot different from the New York Darrell, that you also knew.
[00:03:55] NATHAN: Well, there’s something interesting, a lot of people in the creator business look to their own niche for inspiration, right? What’s the person who’s right next to me doing, all that. Sometimes they do it as, how can we partner? Other times it’s like, “Oh, that’s the competition.” Competition in the creative world is sometimes it’s competitive, sometimes it’s like, “No.” The market is plenty big, you can actually – you can both get your goals faster if you work together.
But what I think is most interesting is when someone takes ideas and skills that are honed in one industry and brings them to another industry. I’m going to see you doing that, you’re phenomenal at sales, business development, growing software companies. You’ve scaled a bunch of things for tons of different course creators that I won’t list them all off, but name brands in the creative space that everyone would know, and now it feels like you’re bringing this just dialed in professional level of marketing to the homestead world where the audiences are really big. They’re growing fast, and yet, not – I wouldn’t say unsophisticated, like some very, very sophisticated marketers and creators in the space. Yes, tell me about some of the things that you’ve brought over? What that transition has been like? Am I right that you’re deliberately taking things learned in one industry and bringing it to a new one?
[00:05:18] DARRELL: Yes. To me, it was, I was talking to a mutual friend of ours, Matt Paulson, not long ago, and he said, “It seems like you might have found one of the last areas of the Internet where Internet marketers haven’t messed it all up yet.”
[00:05:34] NATHAN: Well, good thing no Internet marketers listen to this show. Because if there are, stay away from the homesteading world. We’re just hanging out and having a good time here.
[00:05:40] DARRELL: I built big enough moats at this point. I think we’re good. Part of the issue is that Internet marketers can’t infiltrate this world because authenticity is so important in this homesteading world, right? You can’t have – and I won’t name names, but there is a large homesteading website that I think gets a lot of traffic. But within the niche, everybody knows that it’s an Internet marketer that built the site, and everybody knows that the content is a little bit suspect.
[00:06:07] NATHAN: Oh, it’s not someone’s lived experience. It’s from like, “Okay, ChatGPT, what do homesteaders want to know?”
[00:06:14] DARRELL: What niche, more than any other, is going to be suspicious of AI and other things like that.
[00:06:20] NATHAN: Or you just hire making a content farm, basically. We like farming. We don’t like content farms.
[00:06:26] DARRELL: It has to be lived. It has to be created by people who are living it, have lived it, know what they’re talking about because they’re going to get sniffed out really quickly, if not. I’ve been really lucky to find folks who are living the lifestyle. Melissa Norris is a business partner of mine. She’s a fifth-generation homesteader. Josh and Carolyn Thomas, who are business partners of mine, they live on 40 acres in Northern Idaho and they grow most of their own food. They live the lifestyle. They eat, drink, breathe it. It’s not a different niche where you can maybe learn about it really quickly, and then jump into it.
For me, it made a lot of sense, because it really was like coming home. It was like my grandpa was a farmer, I grew up this, we had big gardens growing up. We either hunted or grew most of our food. At different points, we had different farm animals running around our house. This was normal for me. It was a homecoming for me in a lot of ways. I can take everything that I had learned and the other spaces and bring it back to this niche. I wasn’t posing, because this was a big part of my life growing up, and I also had business partners who were living the lifestyle too. So, it made a lot of sense.
It is a really well-protected niche because the authenticity piece is so big. But it also is, most of the people who are creating this kind of content, it’s their second or third thing that they’re trying to do. They’ve got a 40-acre farm or a large family or lots of animals are taking care of.
[00:07:56] NATHAN: And they’re probably homeschooling or something at the same time as well.
[00:07:59] DARRELL: Yes. Homeschooling, there’s a lot going on. Marketing was not their core competency like it was for mine. I had spent more than a decade, 15 years becoming my core competency in marketing and growth. Now, I’m coming back to this niche where they were spending 15, 20, 30 years developing this niche, and now we’re starting into the marketing world, that was just a good match and fit.
[00:08:20] NATHAN: Yes, I like that. Because you have to deeply understand the market. There are so many things that come from it. Well, just like the other day, Hillary and I were trying to leave the house and we’re like, “Oh, the pigs just got out.” All right, well, I guess we’re going to be 10 minutes late because we got to go get the pigs back in their pen. Someone outside the space is not going to understand that. They’re going to be like, “What problems do homesteaders run into?” There’s no story that comes with that, or, like the way that you get your kids involved, or anything like that.
[00:08:53] DARRELL: The reason we started Homestead Living is because I’ve also been involved in the publishing world for a while, as you know, and a lot of the large publishers were looking at some of these content creators. They’re like, “Oh, they’re just farmers. They don’t get it.” The reality is, is like, no, they’re incredibly savvy business people. Their audiences are huge. Their audiences are really powerful because of the authenticity piece.
People underestimate them a lot. That underdog stuff gets me – I get chills, even on the back of my neck, thinking about it. It’s like, these are the underdogs. “Hey, Big 5 publisher, you don’t think that these people can sell a bunch of books? Well, guess what? We just created our own publishing company, and we sold more books in the first three, four months than you guys did with a similar book in a whole year. We can do this too and we’re not going to just take 12% or 15% royalty on it. We’re going to just keep the whole thing.”
[00:09:46] NATHAN: There’s a phrase, I don’t know whose it quoted from. Chips on shoulders. Put chips in pockets. As you’re talking, that’s what I think of, because you’re someone that I’ve always known and I have this too, right? Has that bit of a chip on your shoulder, and then you just channel it into fantastic execution. Then, it’s like, “Look, I’m completely unashamed about making money.” Absolutely. If we’re delivering this much value, let’s absolutely make money.
I’m curious from the – as you talk about the underdog side of the chip on your shoulder or any of those types of things, is that there are things that come to mind of how that serves you, and how that serves your business partners.
[00:10:26] DARRELL: I’m also big into understanding personality. I’m an Enneagram eight. Anytime somebody challenges me, I’m like, “All right, tell me I can’t and I’ll just show you three ways that I can.”
[00:10:38] NATHAN: Right. It’s the Michael Jordan in The Last Dance, and then I took it personally.
[00:10:42] DARRELL: Yes, then I took it personally. I mean, that’s just a part of my individual personality that I think is really motivated by those things. Finding a niche where it’s like, you’re misunderstood. You’re underrepresented. People look down on you, look down their nose at you, and think, “Oh, you’re just a farmer. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just a homesteader. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” It’s like, “Oh, these are my people in more than one way.”
Also, when everybody’s going to doubt you and everybody’s looking at you like you might not understand where they can slide one over on you. It’s my people in more than one way. That chip on the shoulder, I think, is in a lot of ways, what represents the homesteading nation across the board is like, “Hey, we want to do it our own way. We don’t want to be told how we have to do it, or when we have to do it, or why we have to do it. We’re going to do it in a way that’s right for us.” That chip on the shoulder, I think, is the underlying current of the homesteading world in so many ways. You have to have a chip on your shoulder a little bit to undertake such a big thing, which is, “Hey, I’m going to do things different than everybody else.” I like that. That’s, again, my people.
I was born in a trailer house on a sand hill in rural Michigan. I’m not supposed to be here. I’m not supposed to be doing this thing. So, the idea of like, “Well, what’s the bigger mountain to climb?” I’m going to go climb that one because the reward is going to be bigger. The challenge is bigger, the reward is also going to be bigger. That chip on your shoulder is one way of putting it, but it’s also like, I just like climbing the bigger mountains. It’s more fun. It’s more fun for me.
[00:12:18] NATHAN: Yes, I like that. Let’s talk about the different businesses that you have. Because I think it’s interesting we get into creative business models and so much we talked about. But maybe just give listeners a rundown on the main businesses that you’re running, and the models of each one.
[00:12:34] DARRELL: The oldest one is an agency called Good People. This existed pre-ConvertKit, my time at ConvertKit. I kept it to the side while I was working at ConvertKit, and then resurrected after I left ConvertKit. But it’s an agency focused on work with creators. Right now, we focus on websites, email, newsletters, and course marketing, course marketing, and launches.
Again, you mentioned some names. We even did the nathanbarry.com website one time, long time ago. Those are the kinds of things that we do there. It’s a team of 15 people now, and it’s a great business.
I started the agency business because it was what I knew early on, trading time for money, and then how can I scale that piece of it. Honestly, it’s where I met both Josh and Carolyn, and Melissa, who are business partners in other businesses. That’s the agency, good people. Then, next project is School of Traditional Skills, think MasterClass, but for homesteading and traditional skills. Classes from sourdough bread making to gardening, to bone broth, to milking goats, to sharpening knives, to all kinds of stuff.
Right now, there’s a total of 15 classes with a new one releasing every single month. We built a custom software for that as well. Custom LMS platform to house that, and that’s going really well. That’s, actually, a venture-backed company. We’re really excited about our partners in that. That launched in September of last year, so September of 2022, it launched. Then, the last business, the third one is Homestead Living as a magazine.
[00:14:27] NATHAN: Yes. I’ve read about half of it at this point. I think Hillary’s read the whole thing.
[00:14:33] DARRELL: It’s a magazine, both print and digital, and then book publishing. Again, I think, I talked about this a little bit before. But when the big boys were not taking us seriously, we just went and built our own. I figured out distribution and printing and all of it, and we built a publishing house by homesteaders for homesteaders, and growing an audience through the magazine to help sell more books for all of our folks in the future too.
[00:14:59] NATHAN: For the magazine, give me a sense of scale. Like, this is new, something you just – the first one just came out, right?
[00:15:04] DARRELL: Yes. We launched in – we launched digitally in March of ‘22. We have 14,000 paid subscribers for that. The book released in – the book is called Everything Worth Preserving. It’s a hardcover, full-color, cookbook-style book about food preservation by Melissa Norris. That released in January. We’ve already sold 11,000 copies of that, since January. The print magazine, we have already sold through our whole first print run. There’s a compilation of all the digital from a year and print version. We’re on our second print run of that right now. Our email list is, there’s a weekly email called Homestead Weekly, that goes out as well. That’s about 20 – just over 20,000 people.
[00:15:52] NATHAN: That’s awesome. What do you think, I think a lot of creators get tired of doing things entirely digital, and they either – they try to express things in the physical world somehow. They become a homesteader or they – even with what we did with the I’m A Creator books from ConvertKit. Just trying to take these ideas and bring it like we want something tangible. Just seeing your photos and your words in full color on a real page is something special about it. What do you think, is it something more creative to try to do? How would you approach it?
[00:16:27] DARRELL: It’s 100%. I think it’s exactly what you said. I’ve been totally digital. I’ve been anti-physical products for a long time. But what we found is, there’s just – I mean, I can pick this up and hold it and touch it. My grandma picked this up, and she’s like, “Oh, wow, Darrell’s job is real and I can see it. There’s something here.”
I think it’s brilliant. There also gives like a product matrix, where it’s different, right? So, there’s digital. What we did is we brought people in digitally first. Those 20,000 people on our mailing list, those are 100% buyers of something we’ve sold. When somebody comes in and buys a digital version, the number one question they said, is like, “Can I also get this in print?” It is a hard process and I won’t underestimate that. Finding the printers, doing it right, finding distribution, all took a lot of work.
But there’s also a fun aspect of it, where our product mix isn’t just a course or a magazine or a membership. There are also physical aspects of it, and people really, really love that. Because to me, it’s much easier to expand product line to an existing customer, than it is to bring in a new customer, way, way easier. So, bringing in the physical side of it is really cool.
Then, I just love the game of business so much, Nathan. It opens up a bunch of different doors on the growth side where it’s like selling these things wholesale, or different and unique challenges. There are a lot there. What we’re looking at is like the gold standard of what we’re trying to accomplish is what Chip and Joanna Gaines did, is they had this massive audience, and they built this entire big e-commerce brand and media brand around what they did, from a single point of the TV show, and then it turned into a bunch of other things.
[00:18:23] NATHAN: For anyone who doesn’t know that, Magnolia Network. They have a town. They have all kinds of stuff.
[00:18:30] DARRELL: They own Waco, Texas, basically. Yes, that’s the idea. Is like, hey, there’s digital stuff that you can consume, digital media, print media, and then also, you can move into an e-commerce side. But I just think it’s great for many, many reasons.
[00:18:46] NATHAN: Yes. I’m just thinking about, well, what’s interesting about what you did is you went all digital. To be clear, it was an online magazine, which is different – it’s still written content and photos. It could have been a blog post. It could have been – there’s a lot of different ways that you could get this information out. But this is just a little bit different packaging on it, and the perceived value is higher. Then, it lets you come back and say like, “Here’s the physical copy of it.”
[00:19:14] DARRELL: It was like one piece of content used two different ways and sold two different ways. Some people bought the print and didn’t buy the digital. Some people bought the digital and not the print. Some people bought both. Now, you’re just again, you’re creating more on-ramps into your company, but you’re also creating more ways for a single user to buy from you.
[00:19:31] NATHAN: Right. I like that. What do you think – where do you think that business is going? Is that, keep moving back and forth between publishing full-length books and the magazine? Or is there something else on there, that’s fine as well?
[00:19:47] DARRELL: No. So, we’re viewing it as a media company. The whole idea is how can we do homestead media well. We’ve got five other books under contract that will release in the next 18 months. We’re going to continue down that pathway of the books. But from the book publishing world, I love – I mean, as you can see, I love books. I read a lot.
I love that medium a lot, and I wanted to create books that are heritage, high-quality books in our space. We’ll do more of that. But the publishing industry is so – I mean unless you’re James Clear, or Mark Manson, or some of these guys in the 1%, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. So, you maybe get an advance like $10,000 to $25,000 in advance to write a book, and the amount of work that goes into writing a book, if you were to do an hour-by-hour breakdown of what you make.
[00:20:39] NATHAN: It’s not pretty. Don’t do the breakdown.
[00:20:41] DARRELL: It’s bad. It’s really bad. Then, in this day and age, you’re then responsible to sell it, mostly, especially at that pace, right? The, it’s like, I’m writing it, I’m selling it, all you’re doing essentially is designing it, laying it out, editing it, and then maybe getting me a little bit of marketing. But I’m probably a better marketer than you are as a publishing company, at that level. Again, the outliers are the people that we’ve talked about where a lot of money goes into marketing that really makes sense for those folks.
For us, it’s like, great. Well, what if the publishing house just did a lot more, but also gave you a lot more too? Our royalty cuts are between 35% and 50% to our authors.
[00:21:22] NATHAN: Right. Rather than 8 to 15.
[00:21:25] DARRELL: Yes, eight to 15, whatever it is, 20%, if you’re really lucky. But also, what if we built a marketing arm where it’s not solely on your shoulders? That’s the whole idea then of building the magazine. We’ll likely launch a podcast network, specifically of homesteading-type podcasts in the future state. We might do some short-form video stuff or some YouTube stuff in the future, but we’re viewing it as a media company. More magazines, more digital growth on our magazine, books, and trying to create an ecosystem where we can all succeed together.
[00:21:58] NATHAN: I like it. Okay, so one thing that I want to talk about a lot is the summit.
[00:22:04] DARRELL: Yes. For School of Traditional Skills.
[00:22:06] NATHAN: Yes. Switching to the other business. This summit, you built an email list. How many people attended the summit that you did?
[00:22:15] DARRELL: To give a little bit of context, we built the MasterClass style company called School of Traditional Skills. It was two years in planning. Josh and Carolyn had this vision originally. They’re incredible people. If you are even remotely interested in this world, you need to check them out. They’re incredible people.
[00:22:31] NATHAN: What’s their site?
[00:22:33] DARRELL: Homesteadingfamily.com. Really lots of great content there. They’re honestly some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. I really love working with them. But they have this vision for, hey, we want this content and this lifestyle to be able to reach more people. School of Traditional Skills was born from their vision originally, and they invited me in to be a partner with them in launching this out. We’d spent a lot of time developing content and had filmed a lot of classes, and we had nine classes and we want to launch it out, and how are we going to launch it was the number one question.
At this point, summits have been a thing that have come and gone for a lot of people. It was a really cool thing. They’re less common. So, we said like, “Well, what if we tried this”, and we called it the Traditional Skills Summit. We did a lot. We did affiliate marketing, we did advertising, Facebook, Instagram, other advertising types, to try to get as many people to come to this free summit. We took then, modified content from the classes that we had developed, and had then – it was a streaming of some of that content, plus, then live Q&A and questions and conversation with the creators.
It was really great. We had 101,000 people join the summit, which was huge. Essentially, we launched our company with 101,000 people on our mailing list.
[00:23:59] NATHAN: The summit’s fascinating. It gives you this event to market, whereas normally what we’re used to doing as creators is like, “Okay, put out the blog post, and the email list of 12 people.” It’s this methodical process. The summit has a date to it, and it’s inherently collaborative because you’re pulling together speakers and all of this. So, I guess what I’m curious about is how do you go about putting this together. Obviously, you have connections in the space, but that is huge to go from a business with, I won’t say zero audiences, because Josh and Carolyn, they have the audience and all that. But they don’t have an audience of that size.
[00:24:41] DARRELL: Their mailing list is much larger. It’s a brand-new brand, right? So, as a whole new brand, right from nothing, nobody’s ever even heard of School of Traditional Skills before. Also, we didn’t want to cannibalize their audience either. We wanted to have our own. We wanted the brand to stand on its own two feet.
It was a huge undertaking, Nathan. I won’t lie. It’s not something that you can just pull together and do overnight. But the reward was huge for it. Because after doing this stuff for 15 years, it really is a simple formula. If what you’re doing is valuable, people will want to be involved in it. Full stop. That’s why we did so much planning behind it.
What we did is it was four days, there was 24 hours of free content over those four days live streamed. We did all kinds of planning. We actually had our instructional designer help craft the session. The sessions were not largely based on selling. They were not largely based on getting people to do anything. We just wanted to deliver 24 hours of value to people over a four-day period. I think that’s why I was so successful. I think that’s why summits were largely taboo, is because they became these things that people just threw together really quickly with the goal to sell. This was a huge deal when we were at ConvertKit, and why I think a lot of our webinars were so successful is we just said, “Hey, we’re actually not going to ask you to spend any dollars today on the webinar. You’ve been asked to come to 15 webinars today. It is totally played out. We’re not going to ask you to spend any money today on the webinars. We’re just going to offer a ton of value, and then we’re going to give you a bunch of stuff for free, and then you can go away.” It’s that same mindset of it.
Basically, what it was, it was a two-hour session, three times a day. We invited in, we call them instructors to come in. We had our editors, our video editors put together some small portion of the class, and the classes are 10 to 15 videos. So, they would take a small takeaway. What is a piece of value or content that can live on its own, and we’re going to teach that for this two-hour session, and then we’re going to dive deeper. It’s like the Behind the Music idea.
All right, so tell me more. There’s only so much that can be communicated in a 10-minute video telling me so much more. Conversations would go and we’d open up for Q&A. There’s just a ton of high value with really high-level people. Some folks, like, Justin Rhodes was a part of it. Joel Salatin, Sally Fallon, some of the biggest names in the space too. There’s another big draw, is that where else can you go other than maybe going to a conference in person, once a year, that you can hear all these people talk?
To us, it was like, what’s the maximum amount of value that we can add, and then after all of that, then we can put the marketing strategy behind it. You can do marketing strategy well, but if the value is not there, it’s going to be shallow, and you can do all the value, but without the marketing strategy, it’s going to be lonely. Those two things really have to go hand in hand. We spent a lot of time. We spent months and months developing the content, and we marketed it for about six weeks. It wasn’t a huge amount of time marketing it. But there was a six-week window where we marketed it.
I think we did so well with it, because people knew just from attending our free stuff, how much value they’re going to get if they’re going to also buy.
[00:28:16] NATHAN: Yes. I want to focus on the curriculum design for a second because I think the approach you took is really interesting. You’re not asking the instructors to come and create new material, like, “Hey, go make a new presentation and go present this.” You’re taking content that they’ve already made, and you could edit something nice and tight, that’s going to feel super high quality, right? You’re just like, “Wow, this is fully” – like a film crew did this, obviously. But usually, when you’re thinking about a summit, it’s like, “I mean, it’s you and me on Zoom?” If we’re on top of our game, we’ve got decent backgrounds and decent mics, and that’s about all you’re going to get.
But just the full video production in that case, but then, what’s interesting, is you’re not having to give away too much of the content, and you avoid the objection of like, “Well, why would I sign up for the school when I just got this?” It’s that taste. Then, the other thing is like, “Well, why am I here live to watch something prerecorded?”
You’ve touched on it really, interestingly, of giving super high production quality, a taste of the content that they’re ultimately going to buy, and then, also, the real-life interaction and going deep. “Oh, I can actually ask Justin Rhodes this question that I’ve been dying to ask him after following his YouTube channel for forever and building his trick shot”, which I have done all of these things. It’s just, you’ve packaged it up together in a really interesting way that I think most people miss when it comes to a summit. They’re like, “I don’t know. I grabbed like five speakers with big lists, and we’re pulling it all together and hopefully, we can drive plenty of affiliate sales.” However, it works.
[00:29:58] DARRELL: That’s the shallow part, right? So, it’s like, great you did a lot of awesome marketing for it, but then it’s shallow. You get one shot at that. People are not going to trust you the next time you come around and say, “Awesome. We’re going to do this summit again.” They’re like, “I’m good. I went last time. You’re just trying to sell me something all the time. It was like, low-quality Zoom conversation.” You’re exactly right. There’s a ton of strategy and thought that went into it. You’re right. We gave them a taste of what value they would get if they bought. That to me, is the other key, is like, we’re not giving away the whole class. We’re saying like, “You’ve seen the quality of the content now. Want more of it? Over here. You can come get more of it.” It really ticked all the boxes for us.
[00:30:37] NATHAN: Yes. I love that. Okay, so when it comes – was there anything that you learned in the process of producing that, that you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t know that before. Now, this is going to be part of my process for every summit I do in the future.”
[00:30:51] DARRELL: It takes about 10 times more effort than you think it’s going to. That’s the biggest takeaway is it’s a lot of work to do it well, Nathan. I think the other thing that we really learned is redundancy was key. We actually were pretty smooth. But we had redundancy for everything that we did. If a page was going to go down, we had both a web flow and a WordPress website, just in case one were to go down for some reason, because we knew that so many people were going to be involved in it. We had a whole team of customer support behind the scenes asking questions.
The one thing that we did learn is, through that time, I think we got 15,000 emails. People like asking questions in a four-day window. So, it was a lot more – there was a time where we were all sitting around in a circle just responding to questions because there was a lot going on.
[00:31:44] NATHAN: Reminds me the first ConvertKit team retreat where we all sat in the living room and answered support tickets.
[00:31:49] DARRELL: I remember that. I remember that very well. That’s exactly what it was. There’s a lot – doing it well takes a lot of effort. So, it is a thing that works. But it is also a thing like don’t do it halfway. Our mutual friend of ours, Tim [inaudible 00:32:04], one of his famous lines is no half measures. If you’re going to do it, do it. Do it all the way. I think the world wants more quality content, and this is a fun way to do quality content, but just go all the way. Don’t do it halfway. Don’t phone it in. Don’t just do a bunch of marketing around having it halfway. But yes, I think the amount, I was surprised by the amount of emails that we had gotten responded to. Then, lots of redundancy, just in case. Because if something crashes, then you have a backup.
[00:32:36] NATHAN: I want to go to the attendee side, and then after that, the conversion side. But what were the things that worked the best to get those 101,000 people to sign up for the summit? I’m sure there was an 80/20 in – you did a lot of things and some of them worked better than others.
[00:32:52] DARRELL: Yes. The two things that worked really well for us, were just a Facebook ad video invitation. We spent a good amount of money. It was not a cheap thing. We invested quite a bit into it. But we got pretty good conversions –
[00:33:08] NATHAN: I know. Five figures, six figures?
[00:33:10] DARRELL: Six figures, yes. So, a six-figure investment in that. Totally worth it for us. But it converted really well, and then, it was a really great way of doing it. Again, that video format I like to like content. Hey, here’s a video invitation, so you get an idea of the quality of the tone of voice, then to a video-type production. That was really big. Then, affiliate partnerships was the other big one. This goes all the way back to our ConvertKit days.
[00:33:42] NATHAN: Right. But I think a lot of people, if you haven’t been in this space for, you know, eight years or something, 10 years, then you’re like, “Okay, how does that work?” Yes, break down how affiliate partnerships are done.
[00:33:56] DARRELL: So we – I stole the ConvertKit playbook is, our product was a subscription. We allowed the partners to promote the free event, and then we used the email subscribers from that free event than to do the selling for them, which made it a lot easier for our partners to promote. They were promoting a free event.
[00:34:22] NATHAN: Actually, they never pitch.
[00:34:24] DARRELL: Never have to pitch anything, which was huge. Allowed us to get into partnerships that we probably wouldn’t otherwise have had, because nobody really likes to sell. There’s that 5% of people that really like it, but nobody really likes to sell. Even me. I don’t like selling and I really don’t like selling something that people don’t want. I think that’s probably true. Unless you’re a sociopath, nobody really likes to sell something to somebody that they don’t need or want.
What we were able to do is like, “Hey, here’s a free event. It makes it really easy.” More people want the event than they want to buy something. It allowed our partners to be able to promote something that was a ton of value to their audience. They didn’t have to feel weird about selling something from somebody else. They could just offer this free thing. That was really, really big for us. Then, we were able to do segmentation, right? People who were engaging in our stuff, then we could sell to the people who we knew were interested.
It allowed us to – I said this before, the authenticity was huge in the homesteading world. We never had to cross any ethical lines for anybody. Everybody got to do the best-case scenario for it. Then, we paid them a 30% recurring commission for everybody that converted that they brought through. We had some people get some great returns on making a, basically an introduction to a free event, and then we did all of the selling and marketing on the back end.
[00:35:54] NATHAN: Okay. I like that. The video ad in particular worked really well, and then the partnerships.
[00:36:03] DARRELL: You’re exactly right. There’s 80/20. There were four partners that did 80% of the work, and then there was a whole handful of folks that we’re really grateful to have been a part of. But it is that 80/20. It was like one video ad, invitation ad did really, really well. We had a bunch of other ads that performed mediocre, but one that really did well. Then, a couple of partners that did really well.
[00:36:27] NATHAN: I think it was Chris Guillebeau years ago that talks about the 98/2 rule when it came to affiliates. You’re like, “Oh, 80/20.” So, 98/2, it’s like, “Oh, I guess 98% of your results are going to come from 2% of your audience.” He was like, “No, no, no. Only 2% of your affiliates are ever going to sell anything, and that’s going to drive all of your results.” It could be so lopsided. But you can also be surprised at which ones you’ll line up a deal and think, “Oh, this person is going to drive great results.” Then, they just don’t. Someone else ends up with a smaller audience, working way harder, writing better copy, sending up the follow-up email that promotes it, and driving much more result.
[00:37:08] DARRELL: This goes way back to ConvertKit. I learned this when we did 150 webinars in months, or whatever we ended up doing.
[00:37:14] NATHAN: It was so many.
[00:37:16] DARRELL: I was a crazy person. I would have taught a webinar. If you could bring three people to a webinar, I’m going to teach a webinar.
[00:37:21] NATHAN: That’s three times as effective as a demo.
[00:37:24] DARREL: It was way more effective as a demo, but also you didn’t know who was who, right? Huge person lists. Probably the people with – some of the people with the biggest list were not our best affiliates, and it was, some of the people that we meet might not have assumed were going to be affiliates, end up being affiliates. That was true back then. It was true now. So, we gave everybody a shot. I don’t know that I would do that again, because I got a little bit more gray hair, and I’m a little bit older. I don’t know that I can do the same face that I did back then.
But there were some people that really surprise you. You don’t know who that 98 is necessarily because maybe some of the biggest lists of the biggest names might not be right. Then, that 2%, there are some folks that way – I think our third highest affiliate was maybe the second or third smallest.
[00:38:14] NATHAN: Wow. I mean, there’s a big difference. You, having an affiliate that’s like, there’s one that sends out a single email to 50,000 people and gets whatever conversion rate. Or someone else who’s like, really plugged in and posts in certain Facebook groups, and is texting their friends, and, “Hey, I think you’ll like this.”
[00:38:32] DARRELL: It’s like, “Hey, great, you’ve got 150,000 people on your list, but you have 15% open rate. Or you have 25,000 people and a 40% open rate.” The engaged list is way much better than the larger list. There are so many variables in it that you can’t just look at size to say, “This affiliate or this partner is going to work well.” There’s a whole list of things. Also, how does the offer land with a particular audience? Whether it’s a free offer or the paid offer, how does that land with a particular audience that you can’t guess at that stuff sometimes? People will surprise you.
[00:39:07] NATHAN: When you’re thinking about the content, you’re teaching 24 hours of content, so six hours a day over four days. That was three lessons, three sessions per day, basically? Would you do that same cadence again? Was that too long? Too short? What would you change?
[00:39:24] DARRELL: We’re doing it longer this year. We’re going to do it again in September. We’re going to do five days. We may shorten the sessions, but we’re actually going to do it over a longer period of time so that more people can be engaged with it. We’ll likely do three sessions a day over five days to get more content out to people. But instead of two hours, we may do 90 minutes, make it a little bit shorter.
Again, it’s like a lot of experimentation. Josh, who’s my business partner and founder of School of Traditional Skills, he was the host for all 24 hours. He was real tired. He was real tired. Even though he wasn’t the one teaching, he was just hosting and asking questions, it’s a lot.
Again, I don’t want to – this works, but I don’t want to overstate how much work it is. I understand how much work it is. It’s a lot. To do it well, there’s a lot, but the results can be really, really great. We’re going to five days, probably a little bit shorter per session, but that gives people more opportunity to engage and then a wider breadth of content that they can engage with.
[00:40:27] NATHAN: Then is Josh hosting everything again? Or are you going to bring in a couple of hosts?
[00:40:29] DARRELL: No, he’s going to host again.
[00:40:32] NATHAN: The things that we do as creators to ourselves, but it’s not –
[00:40:35] DARRELL: We’ll give him a nap when he’s all done.
[00:40:37] NATHAN: Okay. Going longer, because my gut reaction is like, “Oh, man, four days.” I’d tighten that up a little bit. But that’s interesting. What evidence did you see that made you say, “Ah, next year needs to be longer.”
[00:40:51] DARRELL: Honestly, if you’re asking me like, what was the ROI or the evidence, there’s no evidence. Our heart is to give more value and that’s what we wanted to do. To me, when I think about this, and School of Traditional Skills is a big part of what we do, is we’re not trying to build a brand that’s going to convert somebody in 30 days, or convert anybody ever, really. That’s not the first thing. The first thing is how much value can we offer? We’re not asking the question of what’s the evidence that tells us to go longer. It’s like, the question we’re asking is, how can we add more value to people?
To me, this is a part of the long-term brand we’re trying to build, is again, yes, probably right, it was really a lot of work. We were all really tired. We were all up early in the morning, and we’re all up late at night. We’re all doing a lot more. It’d be so much easier to condense it down and do it over two days. But that’s not the number one objective. The number one objective is how can we add more value this year than we did last year?
When we ask that question, and we filter everything through that, it’s like five days. People want more content. People wanted more content last year. I said, “Great, let’s give it to them.” That’s the number one question we’re asking. We may not convert that the same per session, or we may convert more or less. I’m not sure. But we know over the long run, if you answer the question of like, how can we add more value? You’ll win over the long run.
[00:42:18] NATHAN: How do you think about brands like CreativeLive as inspiration for this? Because you’ve referenced MasterClass early on as inspiration for the School of Traditional Skills. Really, CreativeLive is, with the level of quality that you’re talking about, is similar to this model to the summit.
[00:42:38] DARRELL: Yes, it is. The hard part about what CreativeLive does and why it might be a harder business model for us, is it’s really hard to do some of the teaching live.
[00:42:50] NATHAN: Come with me, we’re going to butcher a goat. Bring the camera closer. I’m sorry, but I don’t have Wi-Fi signal out here to live stream this.
[00:42:56] DARRELL: Well, that’s it. There’s that part of it. What if the animals – I mean, usually, it’s comically hilarious to be filming with us sometimes, because a cow or a goat is not necessarily going to do what you need it to do.
[00:43:08] NATHAN: Right. You’re trying to show how to milk a goat, and the goat is not feeling it today. Sorry.
[00:43:13] DARRELL: Not feeling it today, or like, what if it’s raining? Or what if it’s 105 degrees? Or who knows? There’s a lot of variables that go into it. That’s why, to us was, we wanted to bring the value in the way that we do instructional design, and then the quality of the recorded content. But we actually do – we do a live session like the summit every single month. When the new class releases, we do a similar thing every single month for our folks. There is an element of that that’s happening on a regular basis, where same thing, there’s a lot of prerecorded content that comes in where people can see up close and hands-on.
We just did one a couple weeks ago for raised bed gardening, because it’s spring, and a lot of people wanting to get to gardening. How do I build raised beds? It’s hard to do that part live, but we can, from month to month, on a smaller scale, we have between 10 and 15,000 people come to those. On a smaller scale we’re doing that, month over month too.
[00:44:11] NATHAN: I guess, what’s interesting and what made me think of CreativeLive is that their model was we’re going to teach the class live and it’s totally free, if you want to sign up and watch it live. That gave them the event and it pushed everything to it. They gave it a fun dynamic for the instructor and an instructor wasn’t having to shoot over three or four days or something. It was like, “Nope, come here. You got to be on it with your material.” Remember friends, like Chris Guillebeau or Jeff Goins or others teaching their sessions. Then, if you wanted to watch it on your own time, either again, or you missed it, then you got a subscription and you paid for it. You either, I think, bought it one off, or had like a $99 a month CreativeLive subscription for unlimited.
It’s interesting because I think we ran into this with ConvertKit, anything that you’re selling all the time, someone could just buy it anytime, and so they don’t. You miss – events are really powerful because it gives us urgency for promotion, urgency for conversion. Looking at some of these models that are great at expanding the top of the funnel and bring urgency, I think, is fascinating.
[00:45:24] DARRELL: Yes, I think so too. I think, what’s interesting about – so we do a similar model with our monthly events, where we don’t teach the whole class, we teach a portion of it. But what I like about it, too, is it’s validating in real-time. So, not every class is created equal from a marketing perspective, which is key. Even though there might be a class that adds a ton of value, it may not be the best on-ramp into the class. I think that’s interesting for CreativeLive, too, is, hey, if 25,000 people showed up for this live free, oh, I think we can put some marketing behind it because we know that people are really engaging with it. If 4,000 people show up, maybe it’s mid-tier. If 400 show up, it’s like, oh, we might not invest a lot of money into the marketing of this, even though there might be some value to it.
But there’s so much that you can learn offering the free events that, again, not all classes are created equal from a marketing perspective, and so much that you can learn. The 80/20 principle or the 98/2 principle is true here, too. You’ve got to figure out what are the things that are working and just double down on them as much as you possibly can. Again, going back to our success, early stage at ConvertKit, it was that. It was like, there was one topic that we taught over and over again that people really wanted, and it just continued to work over and over and over and again, and we didn’t have to teach a new class every single time we taught something, because it was like, we found the one that worked, and we knew that the other three that we tried didn’t work, so we could just focus all of our efforts on the things that work. From that aspect of validating what works and what resonates with people, I love it a lot.
[00:46:58] NATHAN: Right. I’m trying to remember. Going back to those ConvertKit webinars, what were the things that worked well? Do you remember?
[00:47:06] DARRELL: Your first 1,000 email subscribers.
[00:47:09] NATHAN: Yes. That was right.
[00:47:12] DARRELL: The two things that you taught that were like, at the time, was blowing people’s mind was inviting 10 people.
[00:47:18] NATHAN: Yes, starting with just 10, texting your friends, all that. Yes.
[00:47:22] DARREL: Yes. That, and then, it was asking them what content they wanted and where they consumed it, and then going to those places and publishing there. At that time, it was like, that was so much value, right?
[00:47:35] NATHAN: Right. Then, we got into some simple automations and other things. We taught some more stuff there, but that was the main hook.
[00:47:42] DARREL: It was like, at that point in the lifetime of ConvertKit, it was like most people wanting to learn how to get started, and that was it. It was not – there was no discrimination. You can start even if you don’t have a big audience, you can start – if you’re not Pat Flynn, you can start tomorrow, and what was crazy, and I remember one of those webinars, we had a – it was a partnership, two girls. They had 1,200 subscribers on their list just from inviting their friends and family in three days.
Man, there’s no discrimination. If you put in the work, you’re going to see results from it. I think that’s why people liked it. There was no – it was like a six-inch hurdle that people could jump over instead of a six-foot hurdle.
[00:48:22] NATHAN: Talk about the summit. Obviously, getting 100,000 people to register is fantastic. Producing all this content is amazing. But the ultimate goal is to drive sales and turn School of Traditional Skills into a sustainable business. Because no amount of like, I want this to exist in the world, and so I’m just going to do it. That can work for six months, maybe a year or two if you have deep pockets. But making an impact in the world takes a profitable business model. This is the part where we make it profitable. What works as far as driving conversions and how did you think about that process?
[00:49:00] DARRELL: Yes, the same thing. Honestly, what we do, and I think this is true of all marketing, Nathan, is it’s not super complicated. We ran just a simple sales sequence after the summit for people to sign up. We had a discounted rate for what we called the founding members, which were people who were at the summit. Prices went up after that. It was like the deadline effect for that. But the product was really good.
I started sales when I was 19 and I sold cell phones at a mall kiosk. This is when I learned how to sell. To me, it was like, I was a good salesman and also a bad salesman at the same time because I didn’t sell something to somebody that they didn’t need, and I didn’t sell them more than they needed ever. To me, it’s so much easier to sell into market when you’re absolutely confident in what you’re selling, and the value that you’ve created.
I’ll strum this chord again, is like, our product was so much value for the price we were selling it for. When we launched, it was nine classes, and the cost of it was $190 a year or $19 a month. Each one of those classes was probably worth $190 on its own. There was so much value, right? Not only that, you knew in October, because we launched in September. October, another one was coming. November, another one was coming, December, another one was coming. So, the value of the product was growing over time.
That’s why we invested two years before we even started selling anything, is we wanted the product to be a no-brainer. What’s an offer so irresistible that people can’t say no? Well, let’s create that for them, and we did that.
One thing that I’m really big on, Nathan, is I’m not the best copywriter in the world. I’m not the best like tactical salesman. But when I believe in a product, I will not stop talking about it, or we will not stop talking about it, and it will do the work for you. That was a big part of it is, like, “Hey $190 to sign up for the year. Guess what, you’ve got nine times that value this month, 10 next month, 11, 12.” That’s a huge piece of it.
That’s why we did so well at ConvertKit is you were building the exact product that you wanted, so, there was so much value to it. We didn’t have to trick people into buying it. We didn’t have to use scammy tactics of like, “But wait, there’s more.” We didn’t have to do any of that. You just don’t have to. Create stuff that you think is so wildly valuable and just tell people about it.
We had a five-and-a-half percent conversion rate of our list and a six-day window to our product and did really, really well from it, which I think is a great conversion rate for the scale of audience that we had at this free summit. It’s not because we had some, although I think our copywriting was really great. It’s not because we had a bunch of bonuses or tripwires or tricks. It was like, we just created the most valuable thing we possibly could think of, and then we offered it to people at a price that we thought was really fair. Honestly, that’s the best marketing strategy in the world, is just sell something that’s really, really valuable.
To me, I get so fired up about this because there are no freaking shortcuts to this. There are no shortcuts. I feel everybody’s wanting some marketing hack or some growth hack or some secret of a launch that is going to help them get to some big seven-figure launch. The reality is, it’s very, very simple. It’s, understand who you’re talking to, create something that is wildly valuable to them, and be fair to them in the way that you price it. There’s just no shortcuts or no secrets to it. There are a lot of tactics that are important to know, but that is 95% of it in my mind.
To me, that’s what we did. We spent two years building a product that was so, so valuable because we didn’t want to have to hit an ethical line or feel like we had to trick people into buying something. It’s just like, “What do people want?” We knew that very well. We very, very much understood our market. We built the exact product that we knew they would want, and it did its work from there. There are just no shortcuts. There’s no – there are a lot of people who take the shortcuts, but the business has a very short shelf life.
[00:53:25] NATHAN: They’ll kill it with one summit or something else.
[00:53:29] DARRELL: Yes. Great, cool. You did a huge summit, you had a great conversion. But you had a 20% refund rate. Or people are murmuring under their breath about what the quality of the content is. That’s just not it. We have less than a 3% churn on our product so far. That’s huge because it’s people that are engaging with the content. We have nearly a 50% active user rate, which is huge. Again, there’s just not a shortcut here. What’s the shortcut is to spend as much effort as you possibly can building really quality stuff, and understand exactly who you’re talking to, and give it to them.
I get so fired up about this because I spent 10 years of my marketing career trying to learn all the hacks and the tricks. It doesn’t matter, man. Sure, you can become marginally better by learning all that stuff, or you can just be really excellent by creating really, really quality stuff.
[00:54:27] NATHAN: Okay. One thing that stood out to me, is that all your selling happened after the summit finished. Is that right?
[00:54:34] DARRELL: We lightly offered it at the end of the days, throughout the days. But I think, 85% of our sales came after the summit was over.
[00:54:43] NATHAN: Did you have any – was there any bonus at the end of the day or any reason for me to buy during versus afterwards?
[00:54:52] DARRELL: No. The same offer for that, I think was a six-day window. Four of the days were the summit, and then, there were two or three days after the summit. The offer was the same for everybody and we wanted to give everybody a fair shot at it, which was just a price discount. There was no like, a bunch of bonus bundles or bonuses or things like that. It was just a really simple price discount that was exclusive for that group of people.
[00:55:19] NATHAN: Traditional conversion rate theory would be that you should have some expiring – there should be deadlines throughout, every day, that there’s a special bonus for that day or the price gradually increases.
[00:55:35] DARRELL: Those things work, by the way. For sure, those things work. For sure, like fast-action bonuses.
[00:55:42] NATHAN: Yes, what was the reason to not go down that path?
[00:55:46] DARRELL: The particular audience that we’re talking to is really sensitive, really sensitive to that like, maybe smarmy or spammy marketing tactics.
[00:55:56] NATHAN: You can tell when it’s a hard sales pitch.
[00:56:00] DARRELL: Yes. So, that was a part of it. It’s, again, getting back to understanding your target market, is we didn’t want to be those people to this group of people. Those tactics have really worked in other niches that I’ve worked in, especially B2B. It’s like, “Hey, if people don’t have a reason to buy, they’re probably not going to.” That just wasn’t going to work with our target audience. We really had a deep understanding of who our audience was, and we didn’t want to be those people to that group of people, because it wasn’t going to work. It was a really strategic decision to really simplify it.
[00:56:33] NATHAN: Anything in that conversion process or sales pitch that you would tweak for next year?
[00:56:39] DARRELL: I would probably sell even less. Even though we made mentions of it, I would probably sell even less during the actual live events, and just focus more on letting the email do it on the backside of it. Because by the time we got done, there were people who showed up for all 24 hours of content, and they were the first people to purchase. One thing that was really interesting that we did learn that I’ll share is, we offered a lifetime option, which I was very against, at first, but we have a really great advisor who is a subscription advisor, and basically took what we thought our LTV was going to be. We anticipated a three-year LTV on our subscriptions, and we just sold a lifetime at a five-year value.
We knew that we could collect the money upfront for what we anticipated the LTV to be, and it was really big for us. Because we did raise money for the company. But we didn’t raise a lot of money. So, we were able to get a lot more money upfront, for the folks who were really bought in early, which then allowed us to continue to develop the content that we’ve developed over the last nine months after the summit.
[00:57:44] NATHAN: Yes, and raising money, a lot of people were like, “Raising money for a creator business?” But when you think about the number of courses that you’re producing upfront and the video teams that you’re flying into Idaho is already not – and I can say this, because I live here. Idaho is pretty remote and you go to Northern Idaho.
[00:58:07] DARRELL: Yes. Everywhere we film is remote. Everywhere we film is remote. It is like you fly into some small airport, you drive an hour, two hours from there. There may or may not be internet on the property. Who knows? It does cost.
You were even skeptical of me raising money at the beginning. You’re like, “Hey, this is cool. I have no doubt that you’re going to make it work. But, I don’t know.” We did get questions about this. But we spent a good amount of money developing a lot of quality content every day and then kept that going throughout the last nine months. There’s a lot happening that goes into creating that level of content, and that’s why we wanted to raise the money is we probably could have bootstrapped this. We’re more than competent and able to do that. But it allowed us to shortcut the development of the library of content that we now have, versus just launching with one or two. I think that was a huge part of the success of the conversions for that live event is, there were nine available, versus one or two that we maybe would have been able to bootstrap.
[00:59:07] NATHAN: Yes. You could also have ended up in a situation where you had to ramp up over time to meet your quality bar. The first few courses you’re like, “I mean, the content is great. But the production quality is not quite there or something else.” You’re able to just come in at your quality bar from day one, and years from now – well, I mean, years from now, you’re not going to look back on the first one and be like. “Oh, God.” Actually, in a way I hope you do because I think there’s so much – you always want that when you read the first book you wrote. You’re like, “Yes, I could do so much better now.”
[00:59:42] DARRELL: But it’s not this. It’s not like taking a phone and creating content. It was like, we had a crew out there. We had professional sound and lighting and, it is a complex thing to produce that content, like we said, for all the reasons before, like, animals, and weather, and trekking through the woods.
One of the places that we filmed at was like 1,200 acres. Just moving equipment through 1,200 acres is no joke. It’s a lot. We wanted that quality out of the gate, again, knowing that that was a part of the success that we knew that we would need to have that level of quality. So, raising the money was key. Then also, subscription businesses are just great from a valuation standpoint. So, we knew with things like MasterClass, and I think, ConvertKit was very similar, hey, we can look at things like MailChimp, or these bigger companies that have been around for a long time and know that there’s a way for us to value this company in a way that makes sense long term.
We sell MasterClass, and we’re like, “Hey, we’re not necessarily going to become MasterClass and have a $1.7 billion valuation.” But if we can carve out our niche, and do our niche really well, this can be a really valuable business, even if it’s not a $1.7 billion business someday. But we know there’s a lot of value here for our group of people. It’d be a win for everybody. A win for our users. A win for the founding team and a win for our investors. Again, that’s the kind of business that I want to be a part of.
[01:01:11] NATHAN: I love it. Because when you have that mindset and approach to partnerships, then you’re just like, there’s endless people that I can do business with, and be friends with for a long time versus – I mean, we all have come across people who have this string of failed deals. They have great ideas, but the execution wasn’t there, and people are like, “We’re still friends. But that was rough.”
[01:01:37] DARRELL: Yeah. It’s like, “I love you, but I don’t trust you.”
[01:01:38] NATHAN: Yes, exactly. I’m curious, right now, like in the homesteading space, you’re really scaling these two businesses. Is there something else that you’re launching next? Or is it, those are the two things. Now, go build them into skyscrapers?
[01:01:55] DARRELL: We’re building these into skyscrapers. You and I have had this conversation for many years about strip malls or skyscrapers. We want to build these businesses and really invest in this community. So, this is the main focus over the next however long, indefinite period of time. We really think there’s a lot of value that we can add to the world. This is what you’ll be able to find me doing for a long time.
[01:02:20] NATHAN: I love it. Well, where should people go to follow you and then follow the businesses?
[01:02:25] DARRELL: Yes, I’m really boring. So, just go to the businesses, schooloftraditionalskills.com or homesteadliving.com. Check those out and follow me on Twitter, but I don’t tweet, @dvest.
[01:02:37] NATHAN: Is life better if you don’t tweet? I’m just curious.
[01:02:41] DARRELL: Maybe, maybe, maybe. It might be.
[01:02:45] NATHAN: The balance of being a behind-the-scenes operator, and somebody’s like, “Well, what do you all day?” I’m like, “I work on things instead of just tweeting.” There’s pros and cons.
[01:02:59] DARRELL: Yes, there is. Those are the two companies, schooloftraditionalskills.com, homesteadliving.com, check it out, and then hit me up. You can email me, Darrell at either of those domains and I’d be happy to chat more. So, lots of fun going on, and watch out for what we’re doing over the next couple of years.
[01:03:15] NATHAN: Sounds good. Thanks for coming on.
[01:03:16] DARRELL: Thanks, Nathan.