Hey, my name is Ollie and I’m the co-founder of MindJournal. We’re a men’s journaling brand that has helped thousands of guys to live happy, healthier lives all through the power of our journal.
MindJournal is more than just a journal — it’s a secret tool to help guys build a more resilient version of themselves. Using our guided framework based on scientific research — MindJournal helps guys to feel calmer and more motivated to handle anything that life throws at them.
To date, we’ve helped over 3,000 guys from all over the world and as of May 2018, we launched our latest edition. We’ve helped all kinds of guys — from guys at rock bottom to entrepreneurs at the top of their game — achieve one thing, feel more in control of their emotions and significantly improve their life satisfaction and self-worth.
Our new edition launched in May 2018, along with our brand redirection and a complete overhaul of our online store (we shifted from Squarespace to Shopify). And our journals are flying off the shelf. We’re currently on target for our forecasted monthly revenue of £6,500 per month.
Our previous editions are harder to provide figures for as the first one was crowdfunded via Kickstarter and the second was part of a book deal with Penguin Random House.
The Kickstarter edition successfully raised £45,000 in just 25 days — which was almost 3x our goal of £17,000. And the book deal was £31,000 minus agent fees.
But the important factor is that none of this money matters. We’ve never seen a profit from it, it’s always been a case of ‘feed the beast’! We created MindJournal for the love and the fact that we wanted to create something that could genuinely help people.
Our reward is not financial — it’s the messages we get from guys that tell us how much the journal has helped them. And how grateful they are for it. That’s our currency.
I’ve always been a believer that if you do it for the love, then the money will come. It’s a happier, more positive state of mind to build a business from.
Date Started / Years in Business
MindJournal officially launched on Feb 29, 2016. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was when we hit the live button on our Kickstarter and unleashed MindJournal to the
World. The two years since then have been a real rollercoaster journey. I’ve experienced every emotion possible and at times wanted to throw in the towel. But my co-founder is my partner, and together we’ve helped each other when we’ve hit a bit of a rock. But it helps to have a teammate, it’s not only more fun but you balance each other out. What I’m not good at, she is — and vice versa.
Being a couple that lives and works together, doesn’t work for everyone but it works for us. Don’t knock it until you try it. If you can build and home, family and life together — then you can easily run a business.
For years I’ve tried to find mentors and other founders to go into business with. And they’ve never quite worked out for a number of reasons. The best business partner was the one I was already with.
At the beginning (or even now) do you maintain a full-time job while launching?
On the side of running MindJournal, we’ve maintained our design studio — Well & Good. It’s not the easiest of juggling acts but since we’re self-employed we’re in charge of our own time which definitely helps. We tend to work in defined sprints, rather than trying to work on both at the same time.
We split our time 80/20. With 80% of our time focused on the design studio and our clients. And the remainder on MindJournal. We try and do 4 weeks on client work and
then 2 weeks on MindJournal.
Over the past 6 months, we’ve tried to automate as much of our businesses as possible, especially with MindJournal. This has helped us maintain a better work/life balance and not burn the candle from both ends too often.
How did you acquire customers/subscribers/users?
Prior to our Kickstarter launch in 2016, we did the usual things of putting up a hype site to gain awareness and build an email list, but we knew we needed big exposure to smash our funding within 25 days. For this to happen, we knew we needed some major press interest.
So for 2-3 weeks on the run up to launch we built a press list of contacts to reach out to, and build a press kit with a press release, images, videos etc. We then crafted a snappy email that we hoped would grab their attention from the thousands of pitches they receive daily.
And luckily it paid off. But it wasn’t just because of that quirky email, it’s the fact that we had an emotional and powerful story behind us. My story. And a lot of the success we had was down to the fact that I had to dig deep and face some demons and share my story with the outside world.
The exposure not only secured our Kickstarter goal but grabbed the attention of book publishers and by then our audience was growing organically.
But a good story can only last so long. Now we harness the power of email marketing an creates engaging newsletters with relevant content for our audience. We’ve never focused too much on social or advertising, however, we see that changing over the coming months as we plan to grow the business.
What software/platforms/tools have you utilized since launch?
Shopify is what we use for our current online store, and is what we used post Kickstarter. We used Squarespace for a bit, primarily to host the book version and an Amazon affiliate program we ran. But if you’re serious about creating an e-commerce store, don’t look elsewhere, just use Shopify. Custom development is really reasonable and there’s a huge amount of support, apps and functionality wrapped inside it. I think it will become the WordPress of e-commerce.
We use MailChimp for our newsletters, and we use automated workflows to abandon cart emails and newsletters and welcome emails.
Abobe Creative Suite
This is our core design software that we design all of our products in.
We use UNUM for scheduling Instagram posts as it allows us to design our grid. And we use Crowdfire for scheduling other posts.
We use AdEspresso for paid advertising as we’d heard some great things about it and we’re complete novices when it comes to PPC.
Slack for team messaging, although we sit next to each other – it’s more for suppliers. Newton for emails because it rocks and I hate Apple Mail. Todoist for lists and tasks. Flow for project management. Dropbox for all our files. Evernote for all notes and research and writing. Grammarly for editing blog posts and newsletters (I’m terrible at spelling so everything gets checked in there, even this interview!). Spotify because without music there’s no point. Headspace when I need to take 10 minutes to destress or feel less anxious about something.
Always A3 sketch pad for brainstorming ideas. Pentel Sign pens for sketching and
drawing ideas. AJOTO pen for note taking in meetings. CIAK notebook for everyday
notes. BOSE Q35 headphones when I need some Headspace time.
Reply for outbound mass email. Norbet/Find That Email/RocketReach for finding editors/journalists email addresses.
Which have worked / not worked?
Which have worked / not worked?
The only way to find the best tools for you is to go out and try them. Always see how far you can get without something first though, as then you have a way of benchmarking the value of the new tool you’re using. AdEspresso is a good example of that. It costs quite a bit per month but it took me less than 30 mins to set up a retargeting ad. When I tried to do that on Facebook, it took me 4 hours. Time is more important to me, so the quicker something takes — the better.
How did you fund your startup and how do you make money/revenue?
Kickstarter helped us launch. But personal investment has kept the lights on. If sales of the new edition continues to go well, then hopefully it will become self-sufficient.
To date, what have been your biggest challenges as a company? What have you done to overcome them?
Cashflow by far. When you’re dealing with a real product and inventory and suppliers and a million moving pieces, you need access to cash flow. We’ve never had any kind of
savings to dip into so for us it’s come from personal loans/credit cards. Which is massively high risk, but we’ve always believed in the mission we’re on. We’re lucky that
we do have a well-paying business on the other side of MindJournal that helps keep our heads above water!
If you had to do it all over again, would you? What would you do differently?
HELL YES! I would do a lot of it the same and a lot of it quite differently. But hindsight is a
beautiful thing, and everything we’ve learned is making the product better and our
customers happier. We made some mistakes, but if you don’t fail, you don’t succeed.
Lastly, if anyone reading this wants to know more about your company… where do we send them?
If you’re a startup or a brand and you need some creative help with all of this, then check out our design studio Well & Good. We create branding, copywriting, website design and Packaging. www.wellandgood.studio
If you want to buy a journal or find out more about what the hell I’ve been rambling on about, head to the MindJournal store — and give it a go! www.mindjournals.com