How Daren Smith grew his $85,000+ business with under 10 hours per week with ConvertKit

Daren Smith is the person behind Craftsman Creative, a hub of resources for creators who want to build a six-figure business.

Creators can dive into blog posts, a free email course, a newsletter, podcast episodes, a book, and a paid community to learn from Daren about the mindset, principles, and strategies that will help them reach their goals.

Daren also partners with other creators to produce and co-sell their courses.

Here’s the best part: Daren works full-time as a film and TV producer, and Craftsman Creative is his side gig. His results are fantastic—an email list with over 2,000 subscribers and more than $85,000 in revenue.

Email subscriber growth for Craftsman Creative.

Daren uses ConvertKit to grow, nurture, and sell to his audience and to nurture and sell to his co-creators’ audiences. Thanks to ConvertKit, he rarely spends more than 10 hours per week on this business.

“ConvertKit is the complete foundation to my business. All of the automations, forms, tagging, everything runs through ConvertKit. It’s how I know the interests and desires of my subscribers so I can send them exactly what they need,” says Daren.

Here’s how ConvertKit and its powerful features support Daren’s profitable side business.

1. The momentum of building in public

Like many creatives, Daren used to struggle to make a significant income as a creator. He owned a video production company and felt overworked and underpaid.

When he found an approach that suited him better—adopting a craftsman mindset, which he learned from Cal Newport’s book So Good They Can’t Ignore You—he doubled his income in the first year, and again in the second year.

He realized he wanted to help other creative people make similar success happen. But Daren has always been the guy behind the camera; the logistics and strategy guy. He wasn’t used to being the name and the face that shares ideas publicly… and he had lots of ideas.

To change that, he decided to write a book. “I knew a book would be a nice kick-off point. A book is like a business card on steroids, and I knew it would help me state that I’m in this industry to help creators go from five-figure artists and creators to six-figure business owners,” Daren explains.

He didn’t just write a book—he wrote it in public. He used Twitter to share daily book writing updates and used Jay Clouse’s #Tweet100 challenge to keep the momentum going and to promote completed chapters.

Lots of people got curious and followed Daren’s journey of writing his book. He set up a form on his blog where people interested in the book could sign up for updates over email. After subscribing, they had received a welcome sequence and were tagged with a book interest. The results speak for themselves:

In the process of writing the book and talking about the process, I added over 250 people to a new segment on my email list. I did thousands of dollars in presales and preorders, as well as early access to the community. And there’s the bonus outcome of talking to your ideal audience and learning what they need and resonate with.

Other creators, including Justin Moore, Dylan Redekop, and Josh Spector, picked up on the value he was creating and shared the book with their own audiences. The momentum kept going beyond

Daren’s following and subscribers.

This became a vehicle for Daren to enter the creator space as a teacher and a coach, not just a behind-the-scenes producer.

2. A single, signature lead magnet

There are several entry points to Daren’s email list: the Craftsman Creative homepage, the blog page and articles, the podcast page, live workshops, and landing pages like Master The Creator Economy.

No matter where someone joins the list from, they all receive the same content: a free email course that drips out for five days.

Landing page for the free email course. Image via Master The Creator Economy.

“I see all these different efforts—the podcast, the blog, my Twitter—as different shows within the Craftsman Creative media network. They are different types of content, but they’re in service of the same audience, so they all lead to the exact same email course and compound much faster,” says Daren.

The automation that delivers the same free email course to all Craftsman Creative subscribers.

There’s a statistic Daren loves to reference: only 15% of people will buy from you within the first 90 days from learning about you. That’s why he uses ConvertKit’s filters and segments to slowly roll out value to his new subscribers.

When a person subscribes, they only receive the free email course until it’s over. Once they complete that sequence, ConvertKit automatically adds a newsletter tag and they start receiving regular newsletters after that point.

There are also two emails after the initial five emails in the email course, and that’s where Daren makes a pitch for his book and coaching services. But a subscriber only receives them if they’ve clicked on a link in one of the previous emails.

I don’t sell to everybody. I only sell to people who have shown that they’re interested by raising their hand—meaning they clicked the link, which signals interest. The idea is to create tension between where they are and where they want to be, and position Craftsman Creative as the bridge that’s going to get them there.

3. Partnerships with course creators run from one ConvertKit account

Producing and selling courses for other creators represents another income stream for Daren and Craftsman Creative. It starts off by him producing the course and the creator marketing it to their existing audience. After the initial launch, there are ConvertKit tags, sequences, and automations in place to keep engaging interested subscribers who didn’t purchase.

Craftsman Creative produced over a dozen courses for other creators so far. Image via Craftsman Creative.

Subscribers engage with courses on different topics, typically through signing up for a free preview, purchasing a course, or by clicking on a newsletter link, and ConvertKit automatically tags their interest. So when Daren onboards a new course creator within a category that he already produced a course in—for example, hand lettering—he already has a segment of people he can promote that new course to.

Daren explained this example in more detail:

I worked with a creator whose hand lettering courses sold really well, so I decided to find more hand lettering artists to expand that category—and it’s worked really well. They know each other, they’re friends in their community, they cross promoted their courses and went on Instagram Live together, and share each other’s affiliate links. It’s a virtuous circle of merging their two audiences as well as my own.

The initial course launch sequences come from the Craftsman Creative account, but signed by the creator.

An email sequence from a hand lettering course creator inside Daren’s ConvertKit.

From there, a subscriber gets emails from Daren only if they show interest to keep receiving Craftsman Creative emails about the creator economy.

I have the ability to run multiple businesses simultaneously inside ConvertKit with one email. For example, 150 people are interested in photography, 400 in hand lettering, and 300 in music. None of them are my audience initially, but I’m still serving them through Craftsman Creative.

That’s the power of straightforward yet advanced tagging, segmenting, and automations in ConvertKit.

Fuel your creative dream with the right tool

Every content format you create—on any channel—can build upon one another and compound the results towards a joint goal: growing your email list and selling your products to people who need the exact solution you offer.

You need the tool that will allow you to make that happen on autopilot. This way, you can focus on the creative process and never worry about the technicalities behind the scenes.

That’s exactly what ConvertKit’s creator marketing platform helps you do. You can start with our free landing page templates and work your way up to tags, sequences, and automations. If you don’t have it yet, grab your ConvertKit account today.

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