Seven years ago, I ran the first Black Friday sale at BrentOzar.com just for fun. I always like shopping for stuff like TVs around this time of year, even if I don’t actually buy anything – it’s just a fun diversion for looking. However, it caught on with consumers in a big way, so over the years, it became a really big deal for the business. In 2018, we crossed the half-million dollar mark, and then things got better in 2019 as well. Every year, leading up to the sale, I put a lot of thought into two things: What…Read
It’s time for my annual update on the wild ride. If you want to catch up, check out past posts in the Brent Ozar Unlimited tag. This post covers year 8 of the company: May 2018 to April 2019. Erika and I moved to San Diego. San Diego home office We’d lived in Chicago for years, but I was tired of the winters. Ever since my first trip to California, I’d felt like I belonged there. It took years to make the financial numbers and personal timeline make sense, but we finally pulled it off in August 2018. I loved…Read
It’s time for my annual update on the wild ride. If you want to catch up, check out past posts in the Brent Ozar Unlimited tag. This post covers year 7 of the company – April 2017 to April 2018. This year was about making financial sacrifices. One way (certainly not the only one) to build an app is to work through these phases: Start by solving a pain manually with hourly rate consulting Gradually turn it into a productized service: a standard, fixed-rate consulting package Build tools so you can deliver the finished product faster (thereby increasing your profit),…Read
I’ve used WooCommerce for years to sell training and online services, but I recently started using Gumroad. Here’s a quick comparison: The short story: Gumroad is for people who want to sell stuff right away, easily. WooCommerce is for people who want more power and control, and are willing to spend a lot of time managing their store. Now for the longer story, starting with my background. I’m a data professional: I help companies make their Microsoft SQL Server databases faster and more reliable. In my work, I sell training videos, live webcasts, and online service subscriptions at BrentOzar.com. I…Read
When last we met, dear reader, I was super excited that I’d broken $500K in Black Friday sales – a goal that I’d been working on for a while. I was really proud of that. That moment triggered a lot of introspection, though. In my post about year 6 of the company, I wrote about how the business was a stool with 4 legs: training, consulting, online services, and community. At that time, I didn’t have the skills to make the consulting leg of the business consistently profitable, so I laid off Angie, Doug, and Jessica. However, I kept Erik…Read
In 2013, mostly just for laughs, I ran a Black Friday sale on BrentOzar.com. It did way better than I’d expected – turns out a lot of y’all love Black Friday shopping as much as I do – so I gradually put more work into it over time. Woohoo, WooCommerce! Here’s how it did over the years: 2013: $52,780 2014: $84,577 2015: $167,728 2016: $181,457 2017: $439,550 – a great jump upwards that I was really happy with, but ever-so-slightly disappointed because I’d set an Epic Life Quest task goal of $500K. That goal seemed bonkers, but I put a ton…Read
For last year’s Black Friday sale, I set a goal of $500K in sales, then did a ton of prep work: Set up a new training class lineup with labs Added a new Live Class Season Pass so folks could attend my classes all year long Added a handful of guest instructor courses Wrote a multi-day email launch sequence To handle the doorbuster deal load, upgraded our web site hosting at WPengine to a $6k/mo plan It paid off with a big sales jump: $440K, well above 2016’s $181K but still shy of my ambitious goal. Later, after the sale…Read
It’s time for my annual update on the wild ride. A brief recap of what’s happened so far: April 2011 – we started the company. April 2012 – year one finished, but I didn’t blog about it right away. I wanted to get it into the rear view mirror for perspective before blogging. April 2013 – year two finished, so I blogged about year one. April 2014 – year three finished, so I blogged about year two. April 2015 – year four finished, so I blogged about year three. April 2016 – year five finished, so I blogged about year four. April 2017 – year…Read
When I first started kicking around the idea of letting guest instructors run classes at BrentOzar.com, I did a brain dump of how I wanted to do business, and shared it with the guest instructors. It’s working out pretty well, so I’m sharing the more interesting parts here for those of you who like reading the behind-the-scenes type stuff. In here, BOU means Brent Ozar Unlimited, and “you” means the instructor. You exclusively own your material. The speaker owns the intellectual property (IP, aka slides/scripts/materials), and BOU doesn’t get any rights to it. Longer term, if we do the recorded…Read
Our human resources team Small businesses usually like working with other small businesses. Similarly, large businesses working with other large businesses. During the sales process, small businesses tell me things like, “All the decision-makers are on this call” and “Let’s move forward with this right now. What do we need to do to start tomorrow?” Large businesses are more likely to say, “Please fill out this 26-page PDF to be eligible for a bidding process that will start in three months.” I’ve long believed in this as a kinda-sorta unwritten rule, but I got an email (and a bunch of…Read
Hi. I’m Brent.
I live in California with my wife Erika. I'm on an epic life quest to have fun and make a difference.
I co-founded Brent Ozar Unlimited to help make your SQL Server go faster. I also maintain sp_Blitz® and the open source First Responder Kit repo.