Harry Dry (@harrydry) is the founder of Marketing Examples, a fast-growing showcase of successful startup marketing stories. When I first spoke to Harry on the Marketing Mashup about a year ago, he was on 5,000 subscribers and £1k revenue. Now, he has 6x that amount with 30,000 subscribers and 50,000 Twitter followers. An incredible growth story from a smart marketer.
On Marketing Examples
- I've given a little summary of Marketing Examples, how would you describe it?
- Where did you come up with the idea?
- How is your revenue shaping up with the audience you have?
- If you could choose one case study as your favourite, which one would it be?
On Audience Building
- When you first started Marketing Examples, how did you get your first 100 subscribers?
- You're an expert on Twitter, now with 50k followers. What did it take to grow a Twitter audience so large, so quickly?
- What's been the biggest struggle building Marketing Examples?
- What advice would you give to other indie hackers trying to build an audience?
- Talk me through your decision to add a new personal touch to Marketing Examples?
- Tell me the Kanye Story in 30 seconds
James: Hello, and welcome to the indie bites podcast. The show where I bring you short bite size conversations in under 15 minutes with fellow indie hackers.
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Harry Dry is that founder of Marketing Examples a fast growing showcase of successful startup marketing stories.
When I first spoke to Harry on the Marketing Mashup, probably over a year ago now, he was on about 5,000 subscribers - that's email subscribers, and about $1,000 in revenue. Now he's times out by six with 30,000 email subscribers and. 50,000 Twitter followers, which is an amazing growth story and I've been thoroughly impressed with the work you've been doing Harry over the past year.
So Harry, I've given a little summary of Marketing Examples. How would you describe it?
Harry: Good to be here, man.
Marketing Examples is examples of real world marketing. It does what it says on the tin. It's short, sweet and practical. I think the differentiator of just other regular kind of marketing blogs is that they write for search engines. They're trying to rank on Google that, you know, they'll write a thousand words on a topic and I think that often that can just be compressed into to one image into one sentence. So I try and make it as easy to consume as possible to the point as possible. That's Marketing Examples.
James: Give me a few examples of the case studies that you've written on Marketing Examples. What was some of your favourites that you can think of off the top of your head?
Harry: I wrote one in the early days about how Nike sold its first shoes, which was my first like breakthrough case study. This one took off a bit. I gave me, it gave me a big boost.
That's I guess the lesson there is that everyone focuses a lot on new channels to sell things like Instagram, Twitter, and yeah, definitely works and has lots of relevance, but Nike sold thier first thousand shoes just by going athletic track meets and talking to the runners and selling to them face to face.
And I think that in marketing now that's really underappreciated to just basically just making friends with people and then people buy from their friends. So if you're a runner and you get to the people who sell Nike shoes, you buy Nike shoes. So I think that's something people don't do so much in marketing.
I guess another one, which did really well was this copywriting tips piece , I think copywriting articles are just long and there's no real examples and I was just proud of it cause I took a course in copywriting and read about four books in copywriting and I turned all of that into 17 images. Which is why I like it cause it was just the ultimate... I think Arsene Wenger has got this line:
'the golden life should be to do something so it becomes an art form'
and a sounds pretentious to say it but with that one article it was the closest I'll get to being like Arsene Wenger, I think, in marketing.
James: I you said that quite nonchalantly, but I think that sums up very much what Marketing Examples is. You said you read four books, you did copywriting courses just to write this one case study or marketing examples issue. That just shows the level of quality you hold yourself to for each of them.
Now tell me when you first started Marketing Examples, where did you come up with the idea? How did it originate?
Harry: I was working for a web development company in London and grinding away, you know what it's like, and, I want to start up something. I never really wanted to be working for a business.
I feel like every sort of indie hacker has got the perfect product for them to start. It's based around their 'equation'. So you've got all these little things go into your equation that spits out the product for you. So in my equation, it was like, I don't really want to make a lot of money. Because if you're trying to make a lot of money, that means that you're probably going to end up failing.
So I want us to just do something which was probably going to work - so safe. Another thing in my equation is I really love marketing. So that's in my equation. Another thing in my equation is, I can code a little bit, but I'm not too good at coding. So probably not best is try and start up a really complex SaaS - I'm just not good enough to do that. And then another thing in my equation is that like I'm working for this company. So I can't really put that much time in right now. I didn't have enough money to leave. So you can combine all these different little factors you've got going for you.
And for me, it was just like, all right, I'm good enough at marketing can't do much in other time. Let's write marketing articles and then I could write them on the weekends, promote them , but there's a lot of people writing marketing articles, but marketing websites tend to suck really.
So I thoughts that with my coding and and my design - I was good at designs. I could make this website, which was like more than a marketing blog. That's where the idea came from. I didn't think many people were doing it and it went from there.
James: Now. You've got the audience of 50,000 Twitter followers and 30,000 email subscribers. What is the revenue like for something like that?
Harry: So at the minute I just make money from sponsors. So there's no kind of monetization of the audience. Which has been really good in a way because I think that most people in my in my shoes would have cashed out by now. They'd be like "right, I've got this audience, let's sell something"
But it only gets easier the longer you go. Actually I've given it a really long answer, the revenue is $3,000 right now paid from Ahrefs, which I'm grateful for.
James: I'd probably say you could get more for the audience you have and the price you're charging them, but fantastic you're making $3k a month for it.
And if we're talking about that big audience you have, not many people will have an audience that size. How did you get your first 100 subscribers?
Harry: Wow. I had seven articles or something like that when I launched. And then I started just promoting them one by one and I would try and write a new one every couple of days. So I remember the first kind of little breakthrough I had was I wrote one about Nomad List and their long tail SEO strategy. I think I might have shared in a Telegram group or something like that and on Twitter, but I think he saw it in a Telegram group, the founder of Nomad List, Pieter Levels, like indie hackers will know him in an indie hacker podcast. And he shared it on his social media and I had about maybe 50 subscribers from that.
And then also I did a bunch of stuff before Marketing Examples, which probably got me another 50. I don't really want to go down this route, but I wrote like a long story about dating site for Kanye West fans. And I've just been on the indie hackers for ages in the, Indie Hackers is the best way to get... it depends what product you got, but if your product's got a cross-over, Indie Hackers is the best place to get the users.
So combination of those things really
James: That's great. And I will make sure I put a link to the Kanye story in the description because you've made a nice site for that, which explains the story really nicely. So with those first 100 subscribers, you're getting a little bit of momentum. How and when did you get first revenue and your first sponsor?
Because it's not like usual SaaS products where you can get revenue start building on it, you have to have an audience to be able to pitch to a sponsor.
Harry: Yeah, I think my lesson in the whole indie hackers journey and wherever it is, it just make a lot of friends is the thing I would say. And not networks. Networks is the wrong way to look at it. So make friends. So I did a talk about this Kanye West thing we're alluding to and in the audience, there was the Head of Marketing at Email Octopus or CMO, something like that.
We just walked back home that night together and chatted about like cricket and just English stuff. Then from the back of that I started using Email Octopus an email provider . I think Tom believed in me a bit . So when I had, I think, 1,000 email subscribers, I emailed Tom and said "I've got 1,000 subscribers now, but take a chance on this and in three months, time, it be like 4,000". Tom did. And then the day Email Octopus paid, they were my first sponsor. And the day they paid, I left my job on the same day. It was 800.. I think it was maybe £600 actually for a month at the start not much, but I just believe that 600 would turn into more overtime.
James: You've built up an audience of 1,000 people before you've got that. And I don't think a lot of people realize that there's a lot of work that's gone into that. Just quickly going back to you saying you launched seven articles. Did you write the seven articles before you launched? You wanted to make it a thing where if people landed on Marketing Examples, they would have the seven to choose from rather than a normal blog where someone starts and they do one article. Is that how you wanted it to play out?
Harry: Yeah, but you know what? I don't actually know it mattered because in hindsight I might have just started with one. Basically you write the article, you promote the article, you write the article, you promote the article. So I started with seven. I started with seven for the idea being that like I could tweet about it, but that initial thing we overvalue and our heads. You want to build up a base before you actually launched properly.
James: Yeah. And I'd consider you an expert on Twitter, Harry. When we had our conversation about Marketing Examples back on the previous podcast, we could have literally spoken for hours about Twitter. You've now got 50,000 followers. What did it take to grow a Twitter audience so large over the year and a bit you've been doing it.
Harry: Gee, you know what? There's lots of different ways of answering this question. That's like going into super detail, which we did last time, I suppose. But, really what it is that I make really good digestible tips, which are so easy to consume, and people like them. I had no real advantages when I started Twitter.
No one was retweeting my content, nothing like that. it was just great content. I condensed stuff, which is normally in articles into something you could consume in 20 seconds scrolling through Twitter. I took a format, which was longer form and made it digestible.
James: If you could give me three bits of advice of growing a Twitter audience, what would they be?
Harry: The advice I would actually say is write useful DMs to people. Don't be one of those dicks who just like replies on their own thing and @'s people just to get people to share your stuff. Engage with people on direct message, like off Twitter, and make friends is the most important thing.
Second thing is, pick a niche. If you're writing about marketing, no one wants to know about your cricket match, . You've got to stick to your lane, unfortunately on Twitter. Get known for something, that's number two.
Number three is, fit your content onto Twitter and not the other way around. So like I'm writing articles these days, I write them for a newsletter, but I know in the back of my mind, these things are going on to Twitter. You can't shove something, you can't force it on. That's what I see people do it all the time. They're trying to force something on. It's gotta be built for the platform.
James: What's been your biggest struggle, would you say? Or biggest challenge building Marketing Examples?
Harry: I think that for me, my biggest struggle has been nothing to do with Marketing Examples. It's just been working for yourself. It's tricky. Like I'd go to the cafe every day and they're like my best friends it's something which is hard for all of indie hackers cause I think, especially if you work for yourself and it's something which doesn't probably get enough airtime. but like the site runs itself. It's just that the hard thing is, real life people you miss, that's the struggle.
James: Yeah, I think that's a really common thing with indie hackers, especially those that have started to get success with their projects and they leave their full time job. How do they stay committed to working on it? What have you found you've done that has helped you with that?
Harry: Honestly, just think I haven't worked out at all. If I had the answers, I have no answers for that and it's still something 'm trying to figure out, I think that, it's the thing probably the at most forefront of my mind. How do you work it out? I don't know.
James: I think that's a sensible answer. No one has the answers to all of this.
You in the last few weeks, have added a personal touch to, Marketing Examples. It's now called Harry's Marketing Examples. Talk me through why you made that decision.
Harry: People buy from people. Let's say 'Growth Hackers' launches a product. No one cares. No one supports them. Let's say Wes Bos launches a product. Everyone cares. Everyone supports them.
It's that simple people support people. People don't care about brands just.
James: Great answer. And I said I'd put this in the show notes, but Harry , talk me through the Kanye story in 30 seconds or less, your time starts now.
Harry: All right. So I'm lying in bed and no idea what I'm doing with my life. I see a Donald Trump dating app online, and I think ah damn, I love Kanye West, so let's do that. Signed up Yeezy Dating domain. Made a dating site for Kanye West fans and it went viral.
I'm losing my mind. My dad comes in. I'm like, get out dad, the site's crashed and put it up again, three days later from help from Indie Hackers people. Get loads of users, go on to real life date later from it. Site's doing great site and then starts not doing so great cause I've no idea what I'm doing from a marketing perspective.
I realized that all I had to do was getting contact with Kanye West cause it was the only way out of this mess. I took up some billboards around the world to try to get Kanye to phone me and back the idea. He doesn't back me, but it's a cool story with the same.
And that's it.
James: Great. All right, and you can read the in depth story at, was it, thekanyestory.com?
Harry: Yeah thekanyestory.com.
James: I think that was a fantastic effort. Harry, you've been a fantastic guest as always, really insightful. We're going to end on some quick fire questions I ask every single guest.
First of all, what's your favorite book?
Harry: A man's search for meaning by Viktor Frankl.
James: Perfect. And your favorite podcast?
Harry: I would say IFL TV is my favorite source of audio. It's a boxing channel.
James: What indie hacker do you admire? Who people follow?
Harry: So many actually. I'll go with Pat Walls because I think that he's not false in any way. That's why I like Pat Walls
James: Final question. What are you most excited about for the future, Harry?
Harry: Marriage and relationships, most exciting thing in the world, biggest decision we'll all make in our lives. And it's like the partner you end up with, that's the most exciting thing in the world. Right?
James: Superb answer. Harry, you've been a fantastic guest mate. Thank you so much for joining I'll leave links to everything we discussed in this episode, in the show notes. Have a good evening.
James: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Indie bites, I've got some more fantastic episodes lined up for you, including the founder of Indie Hackers himself, Courtland Allen. To make sure you don't miss out on that episode, head over to indiebites.co and subscribe to the mailing list. If you've enjoyed this episode with Harry, I'd love you to leave a review on iTunes, it really does help the podcast grow.
Finally a huge thanks to Charlie and Weekend Club for sponsoring Indie Bites. You'll find a link along with the code to sign up in the show notes.
That's all from me. Enjoy the rest of your day.