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We've all dreamed about doing it. Saving up a bit of money, quitting your job, and building a nice business for yourself that frees you from the 9 to 5 corporate life.
And some of us have done it. But the reality is only a handful of people actually take the plunge. Even fewer become successful. Most fail and return to the corporate gig.
After studying Dru Riley of Trends.vc, I believe if more people understood the simple rules that Dru follows, not only would more people quit their jobs and pursue their dream, but more people would become successful at it.
A few examples of Dru's rules for life include: "Life is short. Not fair," and “Perfect is a myth. Make a choice,” and “Set goals. And work backwards.” (See the end of this issue for more of Dru's rules).
Dru Riley has the power of taking enormous tasks (like building his 6-figure newsletter business) and distilling the challenges into simple to execute progress goals. By doing this he's able to make the tasks not only possible, but meaningful.
Every week Dru takes a new industry or new trend that he's interested in and distills it down so people can easily grasp the concepts and how to take advantage of it.
His newsletter currently boasts 36,000+ free subscribers, nearly 1,000 paid members (Trends Pro) with 800 people active in the community. At a price point of about $200 to $300 per year, I estimate he pulls in around $200,000 to $300,000 annually. He recently introduced a $1,000 "Masterminds" product.
[NOTE: These numbers are an estimate based on articles and third-party interviews with Dru. I personally reached out to Dru several times across different platforms for an interview to verify his stats but he did not get back to me at the time of publication 😕. You there, Dru?]
Now he routinely gets investment offers or people wanting to buy his newsletter.
Want to learn how to build your own highly profitable, one-person newsletter? Let's dig a little into his past so we can discover the steps he took to build it.
Dru taught himself Ruby on Rails out of college and worked in Atlanta for five years as a software developer. The skill that transferred from his job to Trends.vc was logic. "If you get something wrong, it's your fault, it's never the computers fault...you told it what to do," Dru said. "In a similar way when I'm looking at things like predictions or opportunities I'm just looking at incentives and as long as these incentives stay static," you can predict what might happen in the future. "It's the ruthless logic of not what you want to happen, but what might [actually] happen given current incentives and the current players."
Before starting Trends, Dru saved $250,000 to cover his runway until he found a project that worked. It ended up taking him three years.
"I was reading Tools of Titans...[and something I read] made me put a date on my phone," Dru said of when we was going to quit his 9-5. He always saved money for his planned escape and 250K felt like enough to "build a plane while it's on its way down." He also felt like quitting his stable job was a great motivator to make this new project of his actually work. The positive feeling of him succeeding was stronger than the negative feeling of watching his bank account drain.
Dru knew he had about 37 months of runway to start bringing in income. But in the last six months, after thinking he may have to go back to work, he received a $15 donation for one of his Trends.vc reports.
He decided Trends.vc would be his winning project and never looked back.
But Dru struggled at monetizing his newsletter. He received great feedback on the free reports—people loved them. But they just weren't paying. He tried multiple ways to monetize including selling each report individually and trying to sell every alternate report. But this didn't work.
"It felt bad particularly because a lot of people said 'oh you should charge for this,' it was almost like pulling the market out of me." Dru said in an interview. He was comfortable waiting longer but people were encouraging him to turn on paid. Despite the lack of success initially, Dru knew it was going to work.
He decided to keep each report free, but hide parts of the report behind a paywall. Now when a reader really wanted to dive deeper into one of the weekly issues, they would subscribe to get all the good information on the topic. This monetization strategy works well for him.
He had a major inflection point when he launched his newsletter on Product Hunt. This took his newsletter from around 6,000 subscribers to 25,000. It supports the argument it's better to launch on Product Hunt after you've built your audience to the thousands in order to gain a critical mass needed to succeed on launch day.
I've dissected all of Dru's interviews, dived into his writings, and distilled all the high-value content into the bullet points below to save you time. Read on to learn more about how to build a six-figure newsletter business...
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