I’ve been freelancing for seven years.
I freelance because it supports both my life and my creative writing. Writing poetry, fiction, fan fiction, game fiction, and everything literary in between has and will always be the end goal.
There’s this growing frustration, however, towards freelancing that’s weighing me down.
For two years, I wished, dreamed, and brainstormed for ideas on how to establish a more stable and sustainable source of income where I didn’t need to put in writing hours all the time.
My first two products
I signed up for an account on a platform called Gumroad, which takes the guesswork out of setting up a product for sale. I jumped at the opportunity and created my first product: Catching the Butterfly: 13 Ways to Discover Ideas and Turn Them Into Creative Work. It earned zero sales.
The sales weren’t important though. I grew to love self-publishing as a process and wanted to create and put out more.
I’ve seen lots of bloggers repurpose their blog content into a book, so it sounded like a great idea for a second product to put out.
Knowing I had a four-year old freelancing blog I planned on shutting down, I took all the blog posts and turned it into Freelancing: A Comprehensive Guide. Zero sales too.
My journey as an author and creative entrepreneur has finally begun. There was no turning back, and I have no plans to.
The product launch sprint
Two months ago, I discovered Gumroad’s course, the Small Product Lab, which promises to help anyone interested in creating and launching a product — in 10 days.
The concept was so intriguing. Could one really create, launch, and sell a product in just 10 days?
At that time, I had four books and a freelancing program for sale. I decided to sign up and give this product launch sprint a try. I’ve been wanting to flex my creative muscles again, so this sounded like a great opportunity to do so.
Unfortunately, I failed to complete the Small Product Lab.
I had so many ideas, yet none of them looked like they were going to make it to the end of course nor did they seem interesting enough that people would want to buy. I watched as the course folded, empty-handed.
Lucky for me, Gumroad soon announced that they were doing Small Product Lab a second time on the 27th of July. While the sting of failing the first time remained, something—call it intuition, gut feelings, or the inner voice if you will—told me to give myself a second chance and have another go at it.
This second run offered something new though: a dedicated Facebook group, which is great because I could get direct feedback from people if I ever get stuck at any point in the course.
With determination to create and ship a new product at the end of ten days, I jumped in with five main tasks in mind:
- Complete all ten challenges, no matter what.
- Report your progress to the group.
- Ask for feedback and suggestions from fellow SPL members.
- Give back. Help your fellow SPL-ers.
- Earn at least $1 for my small product.
The tips you’ve been waiting for
I’m happy to say that I managed to create and launch The Solo Creative’s Guide to Trello while completing all of the course’s challenges.
It earned a total of 19 sales since I launched it during the course.
The process was just as interesting. I made both good decisions and several embarrassing mistakes. I had to force myself to focus on finishing instead of adding more features or fussing over the product’s look.
The most important thing to take away is that it is possible to create a product in a short amount of time. And if 50–100 people could do it, so can you.
If this is something you’d like to do, but don’t have the time or luxury to join a course like Small Product Lab to do it, here are my best tips to create and launch in 10 days:
Tip #1: Don’t think about sales.
Focus instead on creating your product and launching it out into the world. Leave sales out of the equation for now.
Thinking too much about your product’s saleability will create self-doubt, hesitation, and uncertainty inside, especially if this is the first time you’re putting something out there. And because you’re unsure, you’d feel the urge to take the product back for further proofing.
Don’t think about your impending sales. Think instead of bringing your best ideas to life.
Tip #2: Create something small and viable.
Focus on the introduction. Begin with the first stroke. Scribble that first line.
At the end of the day, you’ve already broken your big project down into teeny-tiny tasks that’s manageable and set to finish.
I started out with just a 41-page guidebook and a template for my bonus for $19. As soon as I launched it, I created a timeline for adding and releasing updates to the product. As soon as I released the final updates to the product, I raised the price to $39.
Tip #3: Find an accountability partner.
Accountability is crucial if you want to get anything done. It’s what curbed my incessant need to shelf projects and start new ones.
Find someone who can keep a close watch over your progress. Choose a partner who isn’t afraid to remind you when you’re slacking off on your project. He or she may be members of a Facebook group, your best friend, or a fellow maker.
Tip #4: Work, and work consistently.
Have you ever found yourself straining to get back to work on your product? This is you resisting and struggling to get back into the momentum of your work.
I realized that this is exactly what was happening to me after reading “The Art of Momentum: Why Your Ideas Need Speed” by 99U’s Jocelyn K. Glei. To keep from losing interest and passion for a project, you need to keep “stoking that creative fire regularly to keep the flames high.”
Tip #5: Celebrate your wins.
As you progress through your project, make it a habit to celebrate your wins, whether on your own or with your accountability partners.
Motivate yourself to keep on going till you reach the finish line by noting down the things you accomplished, the best moments of the journey, and lessons you’ve learned along the way.
Every morning has become something to look forward to since I started creating and launching my own products. It’s changed the way I work by opening new doors to opportunities I wouldn’t have discovered if I had stuck to traditional freelancing.
You can make the same difference for yourself too. I hope you’ll feel just as pumped about sharing your best work with the world as I am.