A famous learning project for aspiring copywriters is the Gary Halbert Challenge. One part of this 30-day challenge is to read a number of books twice.

Additionally, however, there is also a list of hands-on assignments. For example, you have to copy a number of famous sales letters by hand. Moreover, you have to copy lots of headlines by hand, take extensive notes on your readings and finally write a sales letter yourself.

Even though the Gary Halbert challenge is not really realistic, I think its general structure is a great template for how an independent learning project should look like. There is a clear target, a timeline, a reading list, and assignments

The purpose of the assignments is to solidify and to apply the knowledge gained from the books, and they are arguably the most important part. You need to practice your newly learned skills to keep from losing or forgetting them. Moreover, you need to elaborate on your learnings to be able to spot holes in your understanding.

This got me thinking about what possible assignments for my Bootstrap MBA could be.

  • Taking notes on the books I read seems to make just as much sense in a bootstrapping context as it does for copywriting.
  • I could try to clone products like Instagram to learn software development.
  • I could copy tweets by bootstrappers that went viral by hand.
  • I could eventually launch products myself to test what I've learned about software development, ideation, and marketing.
  • I could publish tweets and podcast episodes to apply the lessons I learned about personal branding.

The possibilities are certainly endless but not all of them make sense in my humble opinion. Below you can find the list of assignments I eventually settled on. You can see that I prefer to stick to real-world exercises instead of mock exercises but this is really just a matter of personal preference.