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Ramli John: Book Onboarding

Ramli John Product-led onboarding

Ramli John, whose name is a combination of his parents’ names Ramon and Lina, prefers black coffee. But not any black coffee. He’s very particular about it: his roast needs to be hazelnut-coloured.

Writing Product-led Onboarding took a few dozen of these cups. Especially chapter 9 will go down in his memory as a part that required a mix of caffeine and “head bumps” with the wall.

And it could have been worse without some amazing tools. His main stack for Product-led Onboarding consisted of Trello, Google Docs and Rob Fitzpatrick’s www.helpthisbook.com.

Trello’s visual representation of the writing process helped him with the organisational part. Most of the actual writing happened in Google Docs. He created one document per chapter to make sharing easy. Helpthisbook was introduced later on. This website is useful to work with beta readers. It tells you how long someone spends on a page, where they stop and it gives prompts to receive more detailed feedback.

Trello Productled onboarding
Example of Ramli John’s Trello board

Other factors that helped him through this obstacle race, were, of course, his wife, family and friends. And not to forget: his editor. Before sharing his book with 100 beta readers, he called in friend/colleague Laura Kluz to edit his content. He couldn’t have wished for a more suitable editor than the head of content at his company ProductLed. She has years of journalistic experience, and of course, she knows the content of his book like no other.

“Writing a book is like getting a tattoo”. 

Ramli John

Writing Product-led Onboarding was a beautiful but painful process. Another book will follow but Ramli will make a few changes. Even though he already used beta readers this time, he would build a bigger community around the idea before launchior his following book. He would announce it sooner and embrace writing in public to reap the benefits of more feedback and engagement.

The final piece of his feedback puzzle was his book advisory board. During the entire process, he received tips and feedback from five critical readers. Without them, the book wouldn’t have been the same.

Inspiration

Even though I don’t own a business or haven’t got any important products to sell, I picked up a lot of useful information from Ramli’s book. I believe that’s in part because of his exemplary use of stories. 

Ramli uses an interesting mix of real stories and fictional companies like PartyParrot to prove his point. The reason for his extensive use of examples is because he sees writing as a form of teaching. And the best teaching has examples. 

Before he wrote the book, he did a live course. He used plenty of examples there to make the content easy to understand. Comparing new stuff to something people already understand makes learning a lot easier and more enjoyable.

When he didn’t have an example from his course, he tried to find a new story or metaphor. Sometimes, this meant sitting in a chair and staring at a blank wall until something came up. 

Onboarding readers

A book is a product and a service. In order to get someone to read your book and get them to the final page, you need to do your onboarding right. 

One of the key aspects in onboarding is the Product Adaptation Indicator (PAI). It’s the tipping point; once consumers reach that point, they are highly likely to continue using your product or reading your book. In Slack, a company uses that tipping point once they’ve sent 2,000 messages.

For a book, that point is where the action kicks in. Once readers make it past the “boring” introduction they are more likely to finish the book. So what I conclude from that is: give your first chapters the most importance. 

Onboarding shouldn’t be defined by how many features users have adopted. Instead, it should be determined by how much their lives have been improved.

Product-Led Onboarding

You should also improve the onboarding experience with a welcoming cover and a clear style:

  • Organise the concepts from easy to hard.
  • Use metaphors and stories to illustrate ideas.
  • Be clear about the problem you want to solve and stay on topic.

Ramli John’s book tips

  1. Build an audience and community early on to test your idea. 
  2. Be clear about your outline. 
  3. Teach it first. April Dunford taught about product positioning before launching her book. Rob Fitzpatrick taught his ideas first too. Books are a way of teaching. Doing an email series or online course first, helps you A/B test stories, data and ideas.
  4. Announce your book early. Compare it to launching a startup. Find out how to de-risk it. 

Ramli also has an interesting reading strategy. He always starts at the back because the conclusion usually holds the most important information. If it sparks his interest, he’ll read the book. But again, he reads the chapter conclusions first to decide if he’s going to read a chapter. That’s why he likes books with chapter summaries or bullet points at the end.

And his secret? 

If you want to write a book, find a community. Writing a book is an emotional rollercoaster and it’s easier when you have a community; when your people have your back. 

Fortunately, writers tend to be extremely helpful people. They love talking about their books and they’re easy to reach. Ramli reached out to successful authors to ask how they came up with the title for their books. He got very considerate responses from people like Nir Eyal and April Dunford. Some even gave him suggestions.

And if you think Ramli can help you with your book, reach out to him via one of the links below.

Book: Product-led Onboarding
Author: Ramli John
Published: 4 June 2021
Twitter: @RamliJohn
LinkedIn: Ramli John
Website: www.onboardingbook.com
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