How I Ended Up Having My Best Black Friday Sale Ever

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This year, I made a concerted effort to have a good Black Friday sale. I started thinking about it early, put in a good sequence of emails, and promoted it more than I’ve promoted anything. The result? My best sale ever. So how did I do it, what were the numbers, and what did I learn? Listen to find out. Plus, in Build Something More, I share the actual revenue, and my thoughts on affiliate programs.

Top Takeaways

  • Preparation and messaging were instrumental. I started thinking about the sale in October – what the offer would be and the direction my business would go in for 2022. Right before the sale, I redesigned the home page to really push the benefits of the membership.
  • Don’t be afraid to send too many emails. I sent 9 emails over 5 days, with 4 coming on the last day. Each lead to at least one sale.
  • I also paid attention to how things were going. When I found the membership to be a lot more popular than initially though, I changed the last few emails in the sequence to highlight the benefits of that instead of the fact that a la carte courses were going away.

Show Notes


Joe Casabona: How did my Black Friday sale and Cyber Monday sale go? I did a lot of things different this year, including planning earlier, sending more emails. How did it go? That’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s solo episode.

But first, Hey, everybody, and welcome to another episode of How I Built It, the podcast that offers actionable tech tips for small business owners and creators. Now that tagline is going to change coming in December a little bit as I focus on creators. Still small business owners, but from a content creation standpoint.

And that ties in a little bit to what we’re talking about today in Episode 245 of How I Built It. By the way, it’s brought to you by Nexcess, TextExpander, and Accessibility Checker by Equalize Digital. You’ll be hearing more about them later on in the show. And you can find them and all the show notes over at

So today, again, I want to talk to you about… I guess it’s kind of a cyber weekend post mortem. I made some notes, I thought it would be interesting to talk about on the show as many of you are small business owners and creators, maybe many of you ran your own Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. And maybe you suffered from some of the things that I used to suffer from that I changed my mindset on.

So we’ll be talking about some of the stats, the tools I use for the sale, my takeaways, my improvements. And in Build Something More, I will actually give real numbers for how much money I made, how many sales, and things like that. I’ll also talk about the email sequence I sent and my improvements. And I’ll be talking a little bit about affiliates and affiliate programs as well. So it’s going to be a pretty action-packed Build Something More.

If you want to sign up, you can do so over at There’ll be a signup form there where you can join for just 50 bucks a year. That is less than five bucks a month, which is less than one of the gingerbread lattes you can get from Starbucks. I say gingerbread latte. I don’t know if they make those anymore, though, which I’m really bummed about because I love gingerbread lattes. There’s like a snickerdoodle one maybe. I don’t know. I can’t do most of that anyway anymore, because those aren’t sugar-free for the most part. But that’s neither here nor there.

Let’s talk about the Black Friday sale post mortem. So if you didn’t see my offer was that everything would be 33% off. So the membership to the Creator Crew. I should say the Creator Crew was not 33% off because that’s already a pretty low price. It’s a really affordable price. And I didn’t want that price to be lower than the launch day price, which I think was 25% off. So except for the Creator Crew, everything was 33% off.

So the Creator crew, which is my higher tier membership, which includes all of my courses, educational resources, and videos, and a few other things that are outside of the bonus content that you get as part of the Creator Crew was 33% off. So you could lock that price in at $112 a year. So it’s not just for the first year, it was for as long as you’re a member.

Now, super-secret thing I didn’t mention during the sale was that the price is going up again in January because I’m also getting rid of the monthly payment option. I want to simplify my offerings. And in October or early November, you could go to the site and there were five different membership prices you could get.

There was Built Something Club at $5 a month or $50 a year. And then there was the Creator Crew at either $16 a month $49 a quarter, or $168 a year. And that $168 a year was two months for free. Maybe it’s closer to $17 if I’m doing my math correctly. But I’m getting rid of the monthly and quarterly option. So it’s either membership and it’s an annual price.

And so the price of 168 bucks a year, where I say, “Oh, you get two months for free” doesn’t really make sense. So I want to charge the full $199 or $192 for that membership with the downsell being the Creator Crew if you don’t want all of the courses, and you just want the bonus content. So that was one part of the sale.

The other part of the sale, and maybe the more important part or honestly what I thought was the more important part was that my courses, my ala carte courses were going away. So you can no longer as of this recording go to and buy a one-off course. And so those are only part of the membership now.

And the main difference, right, because generally, the membership per year was less than most of the courses, but you get lifetime access to that course. So that’s no longer an option. Anybody who bought the course before December 1 has lifetime access to that course.

The reason I wanted to do that is because I’m fundamentally changing the membership. And we’ll talk a little bit about that when I get to the takeaways. But the thing that surprised me the most was that there wasn’t this big land grab for lifetime courses. The vast majority of people bought the membership.

So again, we’ll talk about that in the takeaways. But first, let me go through some stats. I’ll give some numbers. Again, I’m not going to give the revenue or anything like that. I’m going to save some of that for the members only.

But I will say that I sent 10 emails over 13 days. And really, it was more like nine emails over five days. Because I sent one email on November 17. That was “Hey, here’s what you can expect next week.” And then starting Wednesday and skipping Thursday—I didn’t send any emails on Thanksgiving—I emailed daily.

And then on the last day of the sale, I emailed four times. And so I sent 10 emails over 13 days to 996 people. Those people were exclusive of anybody who has an annual Creator Crew membership or got the lifetime membership when I first launched the membership. So one Black Friday deal a few years ago was you can get the membership for life if you paid I think $400. So that 996 is exclusive of any current annual or lifetime members.

If you’re monthly or quarterly, you still got these emails. If you were in the Creator Crew, you still got these emails. Because I want those people to upgrade to the annual price.

The number of unsubscribes was 14 and the number of sales was 21. So that right there shows that the emails worked. I got at least one sale with every email. I made more sales than unsubscribes.

And honestly, some of those unsubscribes are people who joined my list just for a giveaway or for some other reason. So the people who are actually interested in what I’m saying stuck around. I think that’s a really important thing to keep in mind.

And again, I’ll get to the exact revenue in Build Something More. But the price was 20% of my membership revenue for the year. So that’s another important number is that I did extremely well as far as my metrics for making the sale success goes. I made over 50% more than what I thought I would make, etc.

And then as far as memberships versus courses, exactly one person bought a course. Everybody else got the membership, which I was shocked at. So those are the numbers I’ll share here.

The tools I used Sitewide Sales by my friend over a Stranger Studios/Paid Membership Pro. They made it really easy. It does take a little bit of getting used to. I’m probably going to provide them with some feedback. And if they’re willing, I’ll kind of make a video about how I did it. But it was a little bit unclear. And I wish that there was better integration with the block editor. But that said it worked extremely well.

WooCommerce is my eCommerce platform and LearnDash manages the membership side of it. So it’s like a little bit ham-fisted. And this is because LearnDash didn’t have membership, or they just rolled out subscriptions. So if LearnDash had all of those things, I don’t know that I’d use WooCommerce at all. I probably still would, because there’s a lot of extra great tools for it.

But I have WooCommerce for the shop, WooCommerce subscriptions to manage the subscriptions, and then LearnDash to manage the course access. Again, I might be able to kind of fix that now but I’m not going to mess with it right now.

And then I use ConvertKit for the emails. ConvertKit is my email service provider. I like ConvertKit because I was able to create a segment of all of my current annual or lifetime members that I could just exclude. And when somebody purchase, they got taken out of that sequence. So they wouldn’t see those sales emails anymore. So that was really good.

And I’ll talk about improvements, what I could have done better that I kind of forgot to do. But I’m a big fan of ConvertKit.

So those are some of the stats. Those are the tools I used. All of the links for tools, there’ll be affiliate links for at least ConvertKit and LearnDash. They’ll be in the show notes over at

And so let’s get into the takeaways. But first, we will have a word from our first sponsor, a sponsor that is really instrumental in the infrastructure for all of my stuff. And that is Nexcess.

Sponsor: This episode is brought to you by Nexcess. Look, I know what it’s like to spend too much time managing your website instead of your business. In fact, the previous host for this very show made it harder for me to focus on creating content, because I was always trying to fix some problems with my website, especially on new episode days. And that’s why I switched to Nexcess.

With Nexcessmanaged WordPress hosting, I don’t have any problems to fix because Nexcess fixes them for me, usually before I even know about them. I don’t need to worry about my site going down on new episode days or updates or backups. I don’t even need to worry about plugging vulnerabilities. Nexcess has me covered. That’s why I can be so consistent.

And now they have membership sites with WP Quickstart. A membership site, especially if you’re a creator or small business owner like me can be a fantastic way to increase revenue. But there are too many moving parts for most people who just want to set something up and start making money. Membership sites with WP Quickstart does it all for you. That is great hosting.

So check out Nexcess today if you want a website and not a project. For a limited time, you can get 50% off your first six months. Just go to, that’s for 50% off your first six months. Thanks so much, Nexcess, for being a sponsor of How I Built It.

Joe Casabona: Okay. So let’s talk takeaways. My first takeaway, the biggest takeaway is I was extremely surprised that the membership was a lot more popular than the courses, which at this point are no longer for sale ala carte. A couple of months ago you heard an episode with John Warrillow. I should say. I should probably rephrase that, but I’m not going to.

A couple of months ago you heard an episode with John Warrillow about the importance of subscriptions to any business. And that conversation convinced me more than anything else that I need to mix the ala carte courses and move only to subscription. I think we recorded in August and it came out in October.

From that point, I wanted to reshape my membership and focus on what exactly members would get out of this. And so the Creator Crew is a place where creators can go to learn how to create consistently and make money doing it.

And a lot of my courses really don’t cover that sort of thing. I’m still pretty heavily embedded in the WordPress space, but I’m moving out of that more for a bevy of reasons that will likely be the bonus membership episode for this month. It’s just something that’s been weighing on my mind. I’ll probably talk about that in the members-only episode this month. But I want to focus more on creators. So that’s the value proposition of the Creator Crew.

So that kicked off a lot of ideas in my head. A lot of ideas in my head. That kicked off a lot of ideas for how I would position my Black Friday, Cyber Monday sale. And ultimately, I landed on, you know what, this will be the last hurrah for ala carte courses. After this, so December 1, would be the would the… before December 1, I should say would be the last time that anybody could get a course and have lifetime access to it.

On December 1, and moving forward, if you want to access the courses, you need to become a member annually. And I think annually is something that I internalized a couple of years ago from my friend Brian Krogsgard who was guest number three on this show. He has since moved out of the WordPress space. He successfully exited Post Status, which is a very popular WordPress membership. He’s doing crypto now.

But he mentioned on the show that he only does annual memberships because it’s a lot easier for a member to look back over a year and determine that they got value out of your membership than for somebody to look back over a month and determine if they got membership. So the churn he found is lower for annual memberships, right?

Because think about it. Let’s say you pay monthly, let’s say you’re paying me 19 bucks a month to be a member at Creator Courses or the Creator Crew and you go on vacation in July. And so you’re just not in front of the computer as much. Then it comes time to renew in August. Maybe you just like to take the summer off. So maybe it’s a couple of months. And then it comes time to renew in September and you’re like, “Well, I just paid almost 60 bucks for nothing” and you churn out.

Whereas if you look back over from November to November, and you think, “Well, you know, Joe had that really good series on using TextExpander, so that was worth the money to me.” Or “Joe’s series on affiliate links helps me make this money back fivefold. So I’m going to keep being a member in hopes that I’ll continue to get that value.” And so now you pay annually to get access to the courses. And that thanks to John Warrillow.

Honestly, that conversation as well as Brennan Dunn’s course on Black Friday, Cyber Monday got me thinking about this stuff really early. And so one of the reasons I think that this is my most successful Black Friday, Cyber Monday sale ever is preparation and messaging. I started thinking about this in October, what I would offer and what the direction of the business would be for 2022.

And that helped me nail down something really good that I can start sowing the seeds for. If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll know that I started talking about this back in October, what to look for and what the potential offer could be. And then right before the sale, I redesigned the homepage of Creator Courses to really push the benefits of the membership.

And something I feel I’ve internalized really well over this year because it’s been a repeated message from a lot of people, smart people, people much smarter than me is customers buy solutions not features. So if you go to right now, you will see I set up the problem, I then position the benefits of the membership. So you have to scroll a little while before you actually get to the features of the membership. And by that point, you know that I’m solving the problems of finding time to create and promote content.

You know that I’m promoting the benefit of finding a process to capture ideas and I’m solving the problem of having a diverse income. And that you’ll get all of that with the Creator Crew membership. And then you learn that you get access to all future and current courses, the automations library, and a bunch of other things. Then I asked if you’re ready to do this, and then I hit you with the pricing table. And then I moved it over to the Black Friday sale page as well.

So if you visited that site, you would see 33% off membership, here’s what you get in the membership. Oh, yeah, you also get 33% off these courses, which will no longer be offered individually starting on December 1. So that redesigned homepage and positioning the benefits was I think really important, because I got from several people who signed up, you know, “I really follow you for the WordPress stuff. But I do need to create content better.” And that made me feel really good about, first of all, everything I learned and implemented. But also, I feel like I found the right niche.

And so after the first email on November 17 went out, the one that was basically like, “Oh, by the way, this discount code actually still works, actually works right now if you want to get in on it,” I saw that there was more interest in the membership. And that was confirmed after the second email went out. And so after the initial emails went out, and I saw more interested in the membership, I kind of called an Audible with the emails. And I made some changes to that email sequence. But before we get into that, let me mention our second sponsor, which is Text Expander.

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And now let’s get back to it.

Joe Casabona: Okay, so I wanted to put TextExpander there because it kind of talks about automating email, text expansion, and things like that. And I did end up calling an Audible on my email.

So the first email sequence just focused more on the courses because I thought that’s what people wanted. But then when I found that they were more interested in the membership, I decided to focus more on the membership and do kind of the “Oh, yeah, the courses are also available.”

So in especially the last emails of the sale, I really focused on the benefits of the membership. “Oh, by the way, you know, you’ll get access to this automation library. If you want a sample of the automation library, click this link and you can see what kind of automations I’m making available. Oh, if you want to see some of the things that you’ll learn, I’ve made these videos available during the sale, so you can watch them and determine if you want to become a member.”

And that worked. My highest volume of sales came in that time. It was probably a combination of the urgency as well as seeing concrete benefits. And then the second thing I did was add two more emails to the last day making it four total. Shout out to my friend Brian Richards who convinced me to do this because it absolutely helped. So I did a 24 hours left in the sale, 12 hours left in the sale, four hours left and 30 minutes left. And each one of those led to at least one sale.

So my biggest takeaway here is, yes, preparation, messaging and positioning are really important. But as a small business owner yourself, don’t be afraid to send too many emails. And I will link to a blog post I wrote the same week I’m recording this, which is right after cyber weekend, about kind of people who feel that there are too many emails sent and how you can manage your inbox better.

But as a business owner, especially business owners in the tech space, I think that sometimes we are a harsher critic of the technologies we see all the time. So too many emails. We’re friends with a lot of business owners who are sending a lot of emails and so we’re like, “I hate getting all of these emails. I’m sure my customers don’t want to see them either.” But really, we’re providing our customers a service by letting them know, “Hey, time’s running out. Hey, have you been interested in the membership? Because now you can get it for even cheaper.” So understand that we’re helping our customers or potential customers.

The people who are not interested, who will never be interested will unsubscribe. And that’s a good thing. Because I don’t know about you, but on ConvertKit I pay to be in a certain subscriber tier. And so having those people on my list cost me money. And if they’re never going to buy anything from me, I don’t really want them on the list. And I don’t want them to be on my list and I don’t want to be in their inbox either. Because I don’t want to crowd their inbox with things that aren’t useful to them. So don’t be afraid to send too many emails. That’s I think the biggest takeaway.

And the other thing I was going to say here is that for a long time I hated pop-up models. Because I saw them all the time, I knew how they worked, I knew that people were using them a ton. But you know what? They work. They get people to join your mailing list.

So I added one and then one of my brother’s friends busted my chops about it. I basically said, “Hey, you complaining to me makes me $0. But people who sign up for my list with that pop-up modal join my membership.” It works. And I’m going to do things that work because I’m not just spamming them with sales emails, I’m providing them value. And if you can show people that you’re providing that value, then you should let them know as many ways as possible.

People are visiting your site for a reason. They need a solution to a problem they have. What if you just walked into a restaurant and you said, you know, “What do you have to eat? And they’re like, “Well, we have food.” “Okay, like what should I get? What if they didn’t have menus or signs or anything because they didn’t want to bother you? Well, you see menus everywhere. So we don’t have menus. You want to let your customers know what you have to offer.

So that’s my biggest takeaway. Don’t be afraid of sending too many emails. If you’re really sending too many emails you’ll hear it, or you’ll see it. If you’re getting like dozens of unsubscribes with each email you send, then yeah, maybe you’re sending too many emails. But if you nurture your list…

I email my list once or twice a week. Once a week, everybody gets my Build Something Weekly email, where I provide links and the latest episode of the podcast, and some general musings. And then for people who haven’t opted out, on Wednesday, they get the live stream notice, letting them know that I’m going live.

And so if you nurture your list, and they know who you are, and they know what you’re about, selling to them a few times a year isn’t going to bother them. That’s a whole other episode though. Maybe I’ll have an episode like that.

I had Jason Resnick on the show a while ago, but I think maybe it would be good to bring him back. Jason, if you’re listening, let me know. I’m going to make a note in my notebook right now. Because, you know, season 11 in 2022 is going to focus on creators and an email is a big part of it.

Anyway, I got a little bit on my soapbox there. But don’t be afraid to send too many emails. Nurture your list, tag your list and know them and send them the emails that are relevant to them. So those are the takeaways.

Before we get into the improvements, I want to tell you about our third sponsor. And doing this right before the improvements is good because Accessibility Checker by Equalize Digital who is the third sponsor will help you improve your website and make you more accessible. So let’s get a word from Accessibility Checker by Equalize Digital.

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Joe Casabona: Okay, we’re back. Thanks so much to all of our sponsors for supporting the show. So let’s talk about the improvements. First of all, post-sale I did have to make a lot of changes to the site. I had to mark in WooCommerce… This is probably a good video for the membership. But I had to mark all the videos or the courses out of stock. And then I had to set the setting in WooCommerce to not show out-of-stock items.

I had to do it that way, first of all, because I didn’t want to just unpublish them and create a bunch of dead links, though they should all redirect to the homepage now. But also there are some variations on the courses and the memberships that I was getting rid of. And because I still have active subscribers for those variations, I couldn’t just delete them. So I made them out of stock and then I told WooCommerce, “Hey, don’t show out-of-stock items.”

And then I had to go through each course and change the LearnDash kind of “buy now” link to go to the membership page, and created redirects so that people can stumble upon a place where they can… you know, there are a couple of things that are kind of still technically open. But now they shouldn’t be accessible.

One is the timing didn’t really work out for me on this. But I submitted a very light version of Podcast Lift Off to AppSumo as a way to build my list. I need to keep that open for a little while longer just in case anybody does buy. But honestly, you get a lot more value from the membership. So I had to keep that sale open. But for the most part I just created a bunch of redirects.

Also for next year, I do need to do better list building. Again, if you’re on my newsletter, you’ll know that there was a period of a couple of weeks, from October to November, where nobody was joining my list. And I could not figure out why. And it’s because I got a little bit too clever and accidentally broke something. So I need to do better… Well, I’m not being as clever anymore. I’m just using straight up ConvertKit forms, which is smart.

And I also created some better, more relevant opt-ins. And so right now Creator Courses was just kind of a bunch of landing pages. But there’s going to be more stuff to help build the list, including pop-up models to get people to, you know, kind of get a sample for what the membership has to offer.

Also, I already did improve my sales sequence, my welcome sequence to sell the membership, which I wasn’t doing very well. I had a call with Jason Resnick about that. And he said, “I think your main goal needs to be to sell Creator Crew.” So I made that improvement. So now as I build the list and I have that better welcome sequence in place, you know, I think that I’ll be in a very good spot for 2022.

Something I forgot to do this time around was tag people who clicked but didn’t buy. This is usually something I tried to do. Because then the next day, I’ll send a follow-up email asking them why they didn’t sign up. Just to give me an eye… which I guess I could do. I can send to that same list. “Hey, I just had this big Black Friday, Cyber Monday sale where the membership was the lowest price it’ll ever be. And the courses were no longer going to be offered. I was just curious, is there a reason that you didn’t purchase?”

That helps me understand my list a little bit better. Because if they say something like, “Well, I really want to learn basic WordPress stuff,” well, then I can recommend them to WP101. Or, “well, you know, it’s interesting, but I really want to see content on automating in WordPress,” well, then I… I pick that because I’m working on a series about that exact thing. But I know I can push that and let them know it’s coming and give them a sample. And then maybe that will convince them to sign up.

And then the other thing I need to do now is I have some work to do across multiple properties to push to the membership. We’ll talk more about that in Build Something More. But as far as what the offer is going to look like next year, I just don’t know because this was a big shift.

One of the best times to have a sale according to Jason Coleman who runs PMPro and Sitewide Sales is when you’re going through this big shift because it kind of gives you an excuse. So I positioned it so that the courses were going away right after Cyber Monday. And I was able to put them on sale that way. So so next year maybe it’s a bonus call, maybe it’s a course only available during Black Friday or something like that. But well, I have lots of months to think about that.

So to sum up, I had more sales than unsubscribes from sending 10 emails over 13 days. I made 20% of my membership revenue on the year from this Black Friday sale. I will talk about actual revenue numbers in Build Something More, which you can sign up for over and I use Sitewide Sales, ConvertKit, WooCommerce, and LearnDash for the tools.

My biggest takeaway was I was surprised that the memberships were a lot more popular. But it also helped me prepare and position my messaging better. I called an Audible in my email sequence because of that. And you shouldn’t be afraid to send too many emails because people who are actually interested in what you’re saying aren’t going to unsubscribe from being sold to. The people who do unsubscribe because they’re being sold to probably are never going to buy from you anyway.

I know I talked about that for a long time as a rant. But case in point, I get emails from Untucked and Mack Weldon every single day. Untucked’s emails are one of three. “Hey, this sale is coming. Hey, this sale is happening. Hey, we’ve extended the sale.” And I don’t unsubscribe. Because I like what they sell. And on the off chance that I do need more Untucked shirts or whatever, I’ll buy them.

Mack Weldon is a little better, right? They just kind of let you know like what’s in the catalog. And I get these insider emails because I’ve spent too much money with them, where they’ll send it to their email list that there’s a new product first before doing the formal announcement. And I say on those lists, because I like the products and I want to know when there’s something new I can buy. So don’t be worried about annoying your email list.

And then for the improvements, I want to improve the site experience a lot better over the next month or so. I want to build my list better, I have a better welcome sequence. And I want to gather as much information as possible from my subscribers over the next year. So that I can create a good relevant Black Friday sale for next year.

In Build Something More I will be giving you actual numbers, I’ll be walking through my email sequence, and I’ll be talking a little bit about again affiliate sales, how much money I made from affiliate sales, as well as running an affiliate program.

So I want to thank you for listening. Thanks to all of our sponsors. They are TextExpander, Nexcess, and Accessibility Checker by Equalize Digital. Their support makes this show possible. I want to thank all of the Creator Crew and Creator Crew members. Your support allows me to do a lot of really cool stuff and make money by creating content. And I really appreciate that.

To get more information about the membership, our sponsors, and all the show notes, you can head over to If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.

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