How Kelsey of Paper & Oats Made $20k Launching Her First Course to 900 Subscribers (Using Your First 1K®)

Kelsey Baldwin is the graphic designer, Etsy seller, and infopreneur behind Paper & Oats.

She is a student in my Your First 1K® course (which you can find here). 

A few months ago, Kelsey sent me this email:

"Your First 1K® was a huge game changer for me, it helped me to actually be strategic about my email list which resulted in it growing from around 400 when I started the course to nearly 2,000 six months later.

Your First 1K® also kick started the creation of my first online course, The InDesign Field Guide, which earned $20,000 in it's first launch (just 6 months after starting Your First 1K®.)

In Your First 1K®, I also got to know 2 other designers who had been acquaintances before, and we've now formed a mastermind group where we chat daily about our current projects, get feedback + advice about our businesses, and we even met up for a retreat this year and had a blast planning + scheming for the new year. Our mastermind has been an incredible benefit to all of us, and it all started in Your First 1K®. Your course was a great foundation for me to learn about strategic list building and product creation in an easy-to-follow format that I could apply to my business right away. Thanks for all the work you put into it, it's been a fabulous resource for me, and many others."

I was like, girl we need to tell your story!

Kelsey has generously allowed us to ask her all about her business, her launch, and what she's going to do next with what she's learned in Your First 1K® (her second course, Etsy on Autopilot!). 


Tell us about you and your online business!

My business Paper + Oats has been many things, but I dove in deep with it in 2013 after a fresh divorce and with a baby on the way.

It started as a graphic design studio, but has evolved into providing education on digital products and design topics, blogging about single motherhood and solopreneurship, and selling printable planning kits on Etsy.


What were your list and revenue metrics before starting YF1K®?

I had two main email lists I was growing during YF1K®.

My main list started at 450, and I started a second list that was specific to my new course interest, and it started at zero!

My monthly revenue from digital product sales only on Etsy (not including freelance work) was about $2,000.

use digital products in your online course

 What were your goals before you started the course?

I honestly didn't set many goals for myself during the course besides wanting to launch my first digital product.

For the first launch, my goal was to make $10,000. By the time the launch period ended, I had doubled my goal, making $20,000 from a list of about 900 subscribers (the course-specific list).

Tell us about your product launch!

I started work on my first online course as soon as I started YF1K® in May 2015. I launched the course 5 months later in October and sold a total of 80 seats to the course – 19 via a joint webinar with another YF1K®-er and the other 61 at full price during the regular launch period ($299 each).

I doubled my sales goals and couldn't believe it went so well! I used techniques I learned in YF1K® to grow my list while I was building my product, and the funny part? I didn't even finish YF1K®!

I still had a couple lessons that I never went through because I was so excited about creating my course.

So even with just taking half the course, I learned enough to launch my first large digital product and make $20,000 from it!


What were the concrete results you achieved from taking YF1K®?

I made $20,000 from the first launch – woohoo! My main email list grew from 450 to 1,800 by that launch (in 5 months time).

My course-specific list grew from zero to 900 in that same time frame, and I launched mainly to that list, not the main email list. And I had a great boost in confidence that people actually wanted to learn what I had to share!


What was your biggest takeaway?

Promotion is super important, once your product is created.

I put a lot of time into my promotion strategy, and I still get a lot of compliments on how I market my online courses via email marketing, blogging, and social media.


What are you looking forward to the most for your business?

Since YF1K®, I've launched that first course again (The InDesign Field Guide), making about $18,000 on the second launch.

I also did another joint webinar and course bundle with that same friend from YF1K® (Jamie Starcevich from Spruce Rd.), which made a little over $7,000 total on a list of about 600 people (only about 300 were live for the webinar).

Launch your first online course

I also am in the process of launching my second online course. That course-specific list started in December at zero, and by the time it launches in June, it'll be at over 1,500 subscribers.

Mariah's Main Takeaways:

1. I say this a lot but it's so true: You can do a lot with a little list. Kelsey made $20,000 from a list of 900 people, which she grew over a few short months. You do not need tens of thousands of subscribers to make tens of thousands of dollars in revenue!

2. Courses can be a great additional income stream, and they don't have to be your only income stream. Kelsey was already making money online with templates and printables she sold on Etsy. She didn't abandon that business to make courses, but she added digital courses to her existing business model with tons of success!

3. The course you create is an asset that you can sell again and again. As Kelsey explained, she made $20,000 on her first launch. Then in her re-launch of the SAME PRODUCT (!) she earned another $18,000. Then she did a webinar promoting...the same product!...and made another $7,000. She will continue to sell and promote this product she created once, and that single product has now earned $45,000 on it's own. 

4. This process is replicable, and you can make multiple products using the outline and skills you learn in Your First 1K®. So now Kelsey has created Etsy on Autopilot using the same steps and strategies. She now has this toolbox she can use to create multiple courses or products. If just one of those products is earning $45k in a short time, imagine what happens when you add a second or third offering. 

5. You can do this. You really, really can. It isn't magic or luck - it's just a series of steps you take that lead to the outcome. Anyone can do it IF they put in the work. Kelsey put in the work. 


Your First 1K Case Study: Kelsey of Paper + Oats

Find Kelsey at

Kelsey is a student in Your First 1K®, our program that helps new bloggers get their first 1,000 email subscribers and make their first $1k from their own digital product, in 60 days.