In March of 2010 I was in my final semester at university and I was wondering what the hell to do with my life. Then I read the Four Hour Workweek and my world was flipped upside down. I wanted to aspire to that location independent lifestyle, I had hated the 9-5 jobs I previously held and I was determined to make it on my own.

I had a couple ideas for muses and started testing them out. To be honest, most of my muse ideas were pretty bad, but that was ok because I didn’t waste much time on the bad ideas. However, there was one idea that stuck around through my testing.

My final university semester in my senior business class we were required to do a business game (that shall not be named) where students ran a simulated business. The game was quite difficult and most students really struggled. I heard endless complaints from students about how they hated the game, how much it sucked, etc. However, I was able to figure out the secrets to getting a great score in the game, and before I knew it other students were asking me to help them with the game.

I realized that there were probably other students around the country who needed help, so I made a simple blog and put up a couple tips about the game. Within a month I was getting over 50 visitors per day in organic google traffic. By June several people had even e-mailed me begging for any kind of help with the game. I knew then that I was really on to something.

So I took it to the next step and ran a 4HWW Muse Test in August. My only costs at this point were a few hours setting up the site and like $200 for the wordpress sales page theme and hosting. I hadn’t even finished writing the strategy guide yet. If it didn’t work out it was no big deal. I expected to get maybe 1 out of 100 visitors to buy my product which would add up to maybe 3-4 people per week. A couple hundred bucks income per month, not bad.

I started the demand test and what happened? I was getting 3-4 paying customers PER DAY. No one was in more disbelief than I was, I never expected this high level of demand. 5 out of 100 visitors were attempting to buy my product. For reference a 1% conversion rate is considered good for internet marketing, and my conversion rate was an amazing 5%

How did I do it? I got inside my customer’s head. Through my deep customer research with students at my school I knew exactly what their pain points were – they didn’t have the finance knowledge needed to get an “A” grade, they were short on time, they had high GPAs and cared about getting high grades, they were stressed and confused. I articulated their problems better than they could. I focused on a front-burner issue.

When students found my website – stressed out from not understanding the business game and deadlines approaching fast – it was like they found a water bottle stand in the middle of the desert.

Oasis in the Desert. (Photo Credit: Bluelemur)

During my market research I found out that there used to be 2 other similar websites selling strategy guides for this game, but they were no longer around. There didn’t seem to be any particular reason why they disappeared, and it seemed weird considering how much money could be made from this market. Something about this bothered me, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it just sat in the back of my mind.

Then I found out what happened to those other 2 strategy guide websites.

In late September I was reading a forum question posed by a college professor about students using outside websites in order to perform better at the game. The game company representative responded by saying they were taking legal action in order to force the sites to go offline and that one of the students who made the site was forced to publicly apologize to his university for making the guide.

Oh Shit. Now what do I do?

As I contemplated my next move, I tried to do some more research on it.

And then the next day I received an e-mail.

It was from the law firm representing the game company.


Find out what happens next in Part 2 of my muse story.

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Filed under: Escape 9-5

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