By now you've probably heard me mention Audience Ops, my productized content marketing service business, which I started in 2015 and continue to own and grow today.

Well, I thought I'd take a moment to tell you the backstory of why (and a bit of how) behind the initial launch of Audience Ops and where it has come since then.


My decision to start Audience Ops was perhaps the most consequential and intentional career move I've made to date... And I almost went a completely different way entirely (phew).

I was selling my first business...

It was early 2015 and I was deep into the process of selling my first business, a productized web design service for restaurants.  As the sale was coming closer and closer to a done deal, I felt like I was going a little crazy.

I was excited and eager to complete that deal, achieve the exit and move onto something new.

But that last thing—something new—was what terrified me.  I had no idea what I wanted to do next.

And I knew that if I don't figure out what that next thing will be—quick—I could easily burn through the cash I earned from selling my business, and I'd be back at square one: Resorting to consulting.

Software? Music? Something else?

My first idea was to start a software business.  I had an idea or two for a SaaS product and figured this would be a good time to go for it.

But then reality hit:  Even if I "validated" the software idea, I knew from experience that the investment of time and money to build that product—even just a bare bones minimal viable product (MVP)—would basically eat up a large portion of my savings, all before there was an actual product that could generate revenue.

Then I had another "brilliant" idea... Why not get back into my first passion—producing music—and build a business around that?  When I was younger, I dabbled in composing music for television and film and thought that now that I'm more experienced in business, maybe I could do something in that space.

Another reality check:  Nobody in my existing audience or professional network is remotely interested or connected to the music industry.  I'd be starting completely from scratch and at a complete disadvantage.

So I tabled the music idea (better keep that in "hobby" territory) and gave some more thought to the question of "what's next?"

My path of least resistence

Finally, a moment of insight:

I realized that I need to start a business that meets these key criteria:
  • Serves people who I'm already connected to (leverages my network)
  • Can launch and start generating revenue quickly
  • Will position me to eventually expand into other products down the road.
Immediately, it was clear:  I'd return to my tried and true productized service model for this next business.  Having used it in my last business and developed a playbook of key strategies, I knew this was what I needed to do.

Only one question remained:  What would this new productized service be?

Tackling an expensive problem

One of the more interesting benefits of the productized service model is this idea of dual-sided value. This was very much at play when I contemplated the specific problem my new business would solve.

On one hand, I wanted to price my service in the 4-figure dollar amount range because this would mean I wouldn't need to land too many customers before the business generated significant monthly recurring revenue.

On the other hand, if the problem I'm solving for customers is worth that price, then it's likely even more expensive for customers to try and solve it themselves, which makes for an exceptionally strong value proposition.

So it didn't take long for me to identify what that expensive problem that I think I'm well-positioned to solve would be.

Solving "content"

In my previous business, nearly all of our customers came from search engine optimization, which was largely driven by our ongoing commitment to content.  Specifically, blog content, email newsletters, lead magnets, guest articles, and social media.

It took me years of trial and error to fully systematize our content marketing operation to a point where I didn't need to touch it.  I had writers, editors, assistants, and automation all powering our weekly content calendar with our distribution channels all dialed in.

And having spoken to many fellow entrepreneurs about what I had done with content and hearing their frustrations with outsourcing content for their businesses (they didn't have the time, the quality wasn't good enough, the cost of hiring a full-time marketing person is too expensive, etc.), it was clear:  This is a widespread problem.

And so Audience Ops was born.

I spent a weekend putting up a sales page and detailing the packages and what I thought should make up the best possible end-to-end content solution.

The following week I emailed it to a bunch of my friends and contacts (all founders of online businesses) and asked them for feedback and/or introductions.  That resulted in our first 3 paying clients within 30 days!

Within 3 months we had surpassed $7k in monthly recurring revenue.  That's when I purposely had to step on the brakes.

Refining our system & process

I paused sales for the next 3 months so we could focus on getting all of our systems and processes for producing content at scale fully dialed in.

I also hired a few more writers, editors, assistants, and our first project manager. I'm proud to say that nearly all of them are still working at Audience Ops all these years later!

We built our new client onboarding and research process, so that we could write confidently for nearly any audience or industry (though we focus primarily on B2B online businesses).

We built our weekly content production line so that we can produce high quality articles, lead magnets, and emails that rise above the "noise" and resonate with our clients' target customers—all while being delivered and published like clockwork.

As we grew, we enhanced our management team and internal processes, all aimed at keeping quality high as we scale our capacity.

For me, it's been thrill to see this business grow as fast as it has.  And while I'm still pretty involved in sales consultations and coaching my team, the day-to-day operations largely run without me—and for good reason!  My teammates are way more talented than I am when it comes to writing, researching, and content calendar management.

Audience Ops today

So that's the story of how Audience Ops started.  Today it's been running more efficiently than ever and continues to grow.

Interested to learn more?  Check out:
Brian Casel
Productize & Scale