Karim Hamidou
Sales page teardown: Workshop — 25 March 2015

Ah the life of the beginning freelancer. Landing contracts. Writing code. Arguing with cheap clients. Looking for contracts (actually spending an awful lot of time on the latter).

Workshop is a service which sends you ten high-quality leads every day. They’ve got an awesome sales pitch which resonated deeply with me1. Let’s see what makes it so good.

Aside: telling people what you’re about

Before diving into the main body copy, let’s talk about the first screen because it’s exceedingly great. It’s very obvious the author spent a lot of time on it.2

Tons of web pages seem to assume that people have the patience to sit through 4 or 5 screens before deciding whether to close the page or not3. This one doesn’t — the first screen is actually a condensed version of the sales pitch. It answers the three questions everybody asks themselves when landing on a new website:

You couldn’t be clearer. The first screen has everything you need to know about the service, maybe subscribe and get on with your life. Bonus points for having a drawing here – it gets the point across really well, without a lot of words.

Body copy

Let’s look at the first two paragraphs.

What’s happening here? Two things: making readers realize they have a problem and selling them on a solution.

Making readers realize they have a problem

The writer starts with a long paragraph about the difficulties of freelancing. He has a deep understanding of his audience it shows. He manages to articulate what makes freelancing hard: having to run a business while all you want to do is code/design.

The following paragraph is really smart because it’s not asking for a sale right away. Instead the author paints us the picture of a life without having to look for leads. How great would it be?

When writing a sales page, you have to keep in mind that people in general tend to forget about their pains. We get numb to them. That’s why you need to present an alternative.

Selling them on a solution

The writer finally introduces its service. This paragraph, is really, really well written. Look at it:

It’s just does so many things right! In a single paragraph, the writer:

  1. Introduces the service
  2. Gets a couple sales objections out of the way(is it actually used by people? Will I need to get involved?)
  3. Anchors the price(the “it’s the cost of a cup of coffee everyday” line is a bit cliché but it’s because so effective)
  4. Positions the service “You’re not buying workshop because it’s cheap, you’re buying it because it works”). That’s a really smart way to position yourself. After all, when the main alternative to your service is manually checking job boards, you can not compete on price nor on quantity. Quality is where things are at.

Handling customer objections

The final part of the sales page is a FAQ followed by a short testimonial. I don’t have much to say about it (it’s still great though!) apart from the opening sentence, which I like a lot.

Having numbers like this make things reassuring. That’s definitely something I’m going to reuse4.

My only gripe is that there should be more testimonials. Sure, Ruben Gamez’s testimonial is quite good and he’s a celebrity of sorts in some circles but it kind of feels out of place with the rest of the page.

After all, this page is mostly for freelancers who have a hard time coming up with leads. What is more convincing: a testimonial from a freelancer just like you or one from someone who probably works fulltime on a SaaS service?

Closing thoughts

As a web developer I know that there’s a lot of different verticals. For example, it’s unlikely to find a Rails programmer who would know how to customize your wordpress website.

One way to grow the service would be to branch into specific specialities — for example having a weekly email for Rails developers. The problem is coming up with leads. Would it be possible to come up with 10 high-quality Rails leads a week? Surely but this would be harder than coming up with generic leads.

The simplest way to grow this service would probably be branching into different specialities. What about copywriters? Illustrators? These are disciplines where there could be a lot of demands and where the returns would be higher.

Key takeaway: Don’t try to sell your service too early. Tell a story.

  1. I still get occasional shivers when reading the expression “feast or famine”. 

  2. Take the opening line. “I send people who need websites your way.”
    The wording is simple but doesn’t say a lot about the leads you’re getting — what kind of budget do they have? — so the author followed up with “This week alone I’ve sent more than $159,215 worth of work.”. This is one example among many others. 

  3. I’m looking at you, fancy parallax sales page. 

  4. Ok, so this is probably the nitpick of nitpicks — and maybe my programmer brain taking over — but I’ve got a hard time parsing “There’s zero risk for the first 30 days”. Does it means there’s actual risks after the first month?

    What about having instead a line like “Try it risk-free for 30 days”?