AppSumo How To Make Your First Dollar – The good, bad and ugly

noah kagan how to make your first dollar review

Well folks – I never really thought I would be enrolling myself in a course aimed at entrepreneurs in this life. Entrepreneurship for me was something that carried an aura, and that would come naturally to a person when the time was ripe.

As it so happens, I never see any time as the right time.

One of AppSumo’s training courses – “How To Make Your First Dollar” changed all that.

Appsumo logo

Before hitting you up with the course details and review (if I can call it that), a bit of background is necessary.

Noah Kagan is the Chief Sumo of AppSumo. He is a successful marketer who has been in the likes of Facebook,,  and now runs multiple businesses. If you have not heard, AppSumo has more than 700k subscribers and is generally regarded as a super successful website.

What attracted me to Noah’s websites AppSumo and Okdork was that three fold

– Fantastic free tools to use on your own website

– An invaluable message and take away

– Humour sprinkled throughout the posts 🙂

The tools from AppSumo are top notch even if they are kept completely free of cost. I particularly like SumoMe, which gets installed in 47 seconds but is a natural in collecting emails in a completely non-intrusive way! Another day, another story.

Noah does not stop at that. He comes out as self-depreciating, quick talking, and confident guy who seems to genuinely help people.

noah kagan how to make your first dollar review



Anyhow, I started with SumoMe, followed Okdork later, and finally got a couple of emails that proved very valuable in learning the ropes of what exactly “starting a business” meant.

Noah is good at what he does – oh yes, he is. How else will you explain a pessimist like me singing along a course that is costing me real money?

I started getting bombarded with emails that were not salesy emails, but full of stuff that I could *actually* use. They were inspirations in their own right.

And, none of those emails said “you copy this and you can succeed”, “you click here to earn a million dollars”, or “you have 10 seconds to click 5 times on this button or I will laser-gun you”. Oh, the disappointment!

What those emails said instead was –

1. How Noah Kagan started AppSumo for $50?

2. A 24-hour business challenge to create a successful, profitable business

3. A ton of other free stuff that you could never really think of by locking yourself in a room

[ Note that (2) was actually quite old, but it is email marketing 101. ]


So, to cut the long story short I was hooked.

Specifically I was intrigued by how to get that one dollar out in the first few hours, and scale it from there. The more I read about how Noah set sail on his multiple journeys to earn money, the more I fell into the lovely trap.

Then you also had people like Kurt from Shoestring 101 heaping praises on what Noah did.

There was never really an opportunity to say no after all that selling that isn’t really selling.


Enrol for “How to Make Your First Dollar?”

As with a lot of stuff in AppSumo, enrolling for a course (or deal) is fun.

how to make your first dollar review noah kagan

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Just click the shiny button, and follow the link. The real genius lies behind getting you to this page (read through the post again if you missed this). Once you are on this page it is most likely that you are already sold to the idea.

But there is more.

When I went to this page - the board simply announced that they don't have any more spots left. They want not more than 300 people at any time, and that was simply a bad day. I received an automated email after 3 days announcing that the registrations have re-opened.

AppSumo Make Your First Dollar Review does it really work Noah Kagan


If you look back and analyse the sequence of activities, you can see that it is is cool marketing. Yes, you may perfectly understand they are creating supply shortage and increasing value, but that (coupled with social proof of so many people talking good things about the course) created a positive loop for the course.

I absolutely knew that this course meant some work for me, I could fail and it was perfectly OK, and I could run my ideas against a few like-minded people and connect with them. All realistic expectations, and those were well-addressed within the course.


Making your first dollar

As it is customary, I am really careful with any money I spend. Dollars for me are not in abundance and that helps my cause.

In a lot of reviews I saw people bringing a positive vibe about the course, but they also said it was "kinda" cheesy. You should get in the course to know more - but that cheesiness "kinda" makes it fun.

Take this example - your first assignment is to make $1.

Without going into details of what exactly happens - I will jump on to the morale. It is quite easy to ask money, but asking is not what many people do. The course makes it easy to bring a "that's no big deal" tone to this activity.

The course even has your name embedded in an template that you can send out to friends in an email, Facebook post, or Tweet!

make your first dollar what to expect noah kagan

The course is organized in a fun, straight-forward way. You don't have to jump around in hoops, or learn Java in 24 hours. At the same time, you will not sit back watch videos and feel proud of yourself of having the money well-spent.

And, I got an answer to one of my useless, but most feared questions.

"I need to read more books, have more time, and do more research before I can really start."

The answer you are looking for isn’t out there. Can you guess where it is? Inside of you! Action!


Who is this course for?

The Make Your First Dollar course is for everyone, or not.

You will find the maximum benefit if -

  1. You know at the back of your mind that you can do something more than what you do currently
  2. You want to become an entrepreneur but you have always been afraid
  3. You don't know where to start
  4. You don't want to be left alone but connect with other similar minded folks
  5. You think you know the theory but have never really taken any action

It may not be as useful  if you have already read your share of motivation/entrepreneur books, blogs and articles. You will certainly not like it if you don't want to do ground-level tasks but revel in "ideating" alone.

Also, it may help to go in with good humour. You are doing it wrong if you are expecting to read this up, and take a PhD on entrepreneurship.

The course requires a lot of action on your part. You can also BS your way out of it, but I recommend going through the motions - there are valuable lessons in there.


What will you learn?

I can list a hundred bullet points below - as is my usual writing style.

Instead I will choose to write only one that is of any real use -

You will learn how to think like an entrepreneur, and just go "do it" rather than "thinking it"

Other than the examples provided at the beginning of this post, one of the other examples is provided by the AppSumo team itself. They took up a challenge to create something useful in 6 hours. After coming up with a few brilliant ideas, the team just went back to create a check list for productivity.

You will see the AppSumo way in the check list.

  • The check list is simple
  • There are tools that you may not know, but also tools you may know
  • Tools and tricks are useful, and fun
  • List is fun to navigate

The check list also comes with an outstanding social proof - it has been downloaded 22,000 times.

The course will make you enter quite a bit of data. Most of that data will not get validated, and will not get discussed - unless you want them to. You are going to enter details about what you are thinking, and you will learn to unlock your mind while doing it.

Noah Kagan Make your first dollar good bad ugly review

The content is engaging as you expect it to be.

For example, let's say you want to create a book. Or, producitivise the book idea.

In the typical Noah style, you will learn to start small. You will be advised to just get the book cover with the title and some description, and ask for feedback. People need to want something for that to be successful.

You will write about the book title, and what the book is about. After that, you get something like the below..

htmyfd review instant feedback

If that's not engaging, what is?


The course is divided into three phases -

  1. You start conceptualising stuff
  2. You validate, make your first sale
  3. You scale

You will be guided by professionals, and you are assured of an answer to your questions.

For the course to be effective you have to focus on ACTION! This is not a course where you will not do stuff. For example, when you see something like below..


htmyfd review activity based training to start business

.. you will get your back out of your house and to the place where your customers are.

You will get nuggets throughout the course through videos, brilliant case studies, email and document templates, checklists, plans, and more.


You will get help!

You can reach out to the AppSumo team if you are stuck. That pretty easy - you just click a big button that says "I am stuck".

And, people do reach out to you to help in anyway they can. Ultimately it is your business - so you take the complete ownership. If you want help to understand where you are going wrong - just ask, you certainly get that here. The team is willing to share even more marketing methods customized to your own business.

You also have a forum on the inside, and a Facebook group. If you are stuck, want general advice from the community, rant or boast - that is the perfect place to start.

Want another example? - see the below email.

appsumo cares about your success

Yes, this email is a way to retain people when they are trying to leave.

But, how many people in the IM space have you seen taking this kind of interest? How many people will look at what you had been doing - and try to check on you *after* doing that?

I have seen exactly zero companies doing the exact same thing.


If you do follow the course details, and become more established with your business, AppSumo will promote you if you are willing to share your success story. Win-win for everyone involved.


Anything bad about "How to Make Your First Dollar"?

I have a few complaints.

  • Too focused on the starter crowd that is "ask friendly"
  • I believe the course is excellent for people who indeed take action on the go, but I am lazy. I wanted to check out the bird's eye view first and get details next. This kind of thinking and no-action do not work - again, this may be a problem specific to me
  • The course is almost too simple. I know you are promised help. The action is supposed to happen over a few weeks while you do things in the real-world, but again it did not quite work for me that way


Bottom line

I know I covered a lot of good, rather than the bad and ugly - but I can't really help if the course is good :). Noah did not quite pay me in cash for getting this ad out for him. But his course did talk more than money.

Overall the course did inspire me to do something more than what I am doing right now.

Did it teach me anything new - not much.  I have read a few things about lean start-ups, and my patience (or the lack of it) to get ahead did not help here.

Read more from AppSumo and Okdork newsletters. Or, better yet jump to earn your first dollar from your own successful business. Do let me know how it went!

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