Case Studies, Grow Your Business

How Tracy wrote a book that made $130,000 giving parenting advice

Tracy Cutchlow was an award-winning journalist for more than a decade. Her work was even a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

But, in 2012, Tracy left her successful career to do something completely different: become a mom full-time.


Zero to Launch student Tracy, the author and founder of Zero to Five

Her background as the editor of two bestselling brain-development books helped prep her for some aspects of being a mom. But like most new parents these days, she’d spent about 15 minutes around newborns before having her own.

She felt clueless.

“Most of the parenting advice out there wasn’t really helpful. It was usually generic stuff without any real answers. I just had to find things out on my own.”

Tracy realized she wanted a book of valuable parenting tips, tricks, and insights — based on scientific studies — that would “just tell me what to do.”

Six months later, she decided to write the book herself.

What did the best research say about getting a baby to sleep through the night, how much your kid eats, potty training, the best strategies for discipline, and how to boost brain development? She wanted to know for herself. She figured other parents did, too.

So she summarized that research into practical, bite-sized tips. And that became her book.

A great idea but unsure how to market it

Writing the book was challenging enough, but once the book was written, Tracy hit a huge roadblock: marketing the book.

As a journalist, she’d always focused on writing great content, grateful she didn’t have to  pay attention to the sales side of things.

“I had zero clue how to get my book attention. To be honest, at first I didn’t want to market it.”

But she grew determined to find the best way to launch her book and help as many parents as she could with her advice.

The “hold-you-by-the-hand” approach

Tracy started researching book marketing online when she realized she already knew the best person to help.

“I’d actually been following Ramit for years — all the way back to when he was writing about personal finance. This is funny, but I used to be a personal finance editor at MSN Money, and I considered trying to hire Ramit as a columnist. So I was very familiar with his work.”

“I watched him become successful at marketing and building online businesses. I knew how much effort he puts into his courses, and how effective his strategies are.”

So when the Zero to Launch course opened up, she joined. “I knew I would come away with a plan, and that would dramatically change my confidence in selling my book.”

What she appreciated right away was the program’s “hold-you-by-the-hand” approach.

“It is not just a bunch of strategies thrown together; it is a tested plan that you can follow.”

Crushing her fear of self-promotion

In the course, Tracy learned how to overcome her fear of self-promotion and her self-doubt.

“I went from thinking ‘Who am I to write a parenting book? I’m not a brain researcher or child psychologist. Why would anybody buy my book?’ to thinking, ‘I do have expertise in parenting, and I know this can really help people.’”

Tracy launched a website to help market her book and started writing weekly blog posts.

Because of what she’d learned, she quickly went from zero to more than 1,000 subscribers in just 3 months.

And over the course of a year, she nearly quadrupled the size of her email list to just over 3,800 subscribers.

subscriber growth

Tracy’s subscriber growth over the past year

The first thing she did, after learning how to do deep customer research, was to rewrite her website home page and other marketing material.

“The vague clichés on the back of my book cover are a good ‘before ZTL’ comparison. Now I’m able to write compelling copy that better resonates with my audience.”

Before and After — how Zero to Launch helped transform her marketing copy

copy transformation

Here’s the transformation her marketing copy went through after going through the course.

Behind the scenes of her $130,000 business

So far, Tracy’s book has earned $130,000.


But what she finds even more rewarding is that she’s created something much bigger than just another parenting book — she’d building a real business that helps real people all over the world.

Zero to Five

Tracy’s site:

Since launching her site and increasing her book sales, she’s also gotten much more exposure and attention to her brand. She’s written viral stories for the Huffington Post and the Washington Post. She’s been invited to speak at events to teachers and new parents.

And she plans to take what she’s learned from Zero to Launch and build an online course that could help even more parents.

But Tracy says the best part of all is hearing from people she’s helped. “I’ve gotten emails from parents saying, ‘I can’t thank you enough.’ The book is being used to train child care providers.  And today I found out that an agency in Nebraska is giving the book to hundreds of at-risk families.”

“I would never have expected any of this, and that makes the entire thing worth it. To be able to really help people with something so important is a very cool thing.”

The unexpected (but successful) ways you can earn money online

Even if you’re afraid you don’t know how to market your idea—even if you don’t have an idea—we will take you from Zero to Launch. Tracy did it, and you can, too.

Want proof?

Check out this free downloadable PDF of 30 successful online businesses you can model.

From training cats to use toilets to teaching people to use computers, in this guide you’ll see many examples of the weird (yet successful) ways people are earning good money online.


Get started with these 30 successful online businesses you can model today.

Main photo: Copyright Betty Udesen / Pear Press

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