Update 10 Oct 2015 - the product is live!! The product I created as part of this challenge, Developer to Author, is now complete and launched. It is currently available for 50% off while it is in beta.
Creating, launching and marketing digital products (books, apps) is really, really hard work. Creating Master Drupal Module Development took a huge amount out of me - it was incredibly rewarding but it was also incredibly time consuming, draining and came with a lot of sacrifice.
My research, along with years in the Drupal community, taught me that many people really struggled to master module development. The steep learning curve is well known. I set out to help people climb that learning curve without the pain. The feedback I received from people who have worked through the book has been amazing. The joy of helping people is what it is all about.
People might wonder why I sell the book for a modest $19 to $39 (depending on the package) rather than giving it away for free to help even more people. It is a simple case of economics - if I can generate revenue from product sales, I have more time to help more people. The bulk of the content I create I give away for free and the more I can do that, the better.
So with the aim of increasing product revenue, I know I need to create more products. This way so I can spend more time creating content to help people.
Product pioneer, and one of my teachers, Amy Hoy, has recommended building small products for years. Product guru Justin Jackson set out to launch a small product every week and he documented his progress on the excellent Build and Launch podcast. And then I noticed the Gumroad Small Product Lab. I applied, got accepted and here I am. In the middle of a 10 day build and launch as part of the Small Product Lab.
With this product, I didn’t have time to do all the research that would normally be required for a larger product. I didn’t have that much time to decide on the product. But I did know the audience I want to serve - the same audience I already serve on BeFused.com - web developers. I am a web developer and I love serving and helping web developers.
So what about the product?
Creating a technical product in a 10 day window is tough. So instead of that, I decided to leverage something else that I have experience in and could help people with - how to create your first ebook. I did a talk on this at a Drupal Camp last year and received great feedback. My editor had already transcribed my talk, so I had a great base to work from. Punching above your weight is important when launching products, and leveraging what you already have is a great way to do that.
My talk is called From Developer to Author. I’m not going to waste time coming up with a new name, so the product is also going to be called From Developer to Author.
The Gumroad Small Product Lab
Each morning , participants receive an email from Gumroad with the tasks for that day. These range from choosing your niche, building your landing page, getting followers etc. I have done all of this sort of thing before, but it is really cool to follow along with everyone else on the challenge. If you are interested in joining the Small Product Lab in the future, you can join here.
Below is my day by day progress report, so you can get a sense for what is involved.
Day one - decide on your product (Monday Sep 28th)
This part of the challenge involved brainstorming themes and evaluating them based on a combination how fast you can deliver and how excited you are.
I chose “From Developer to Author” for my product.
Day two - make a plan (Tuesday Sep 29th)
By working backwards, we were tasked to come with a plan of what we need to do each day in order to be able to launch in 9 days.
I created an outline of the product based on my talk, and added that to Trello along with all of the other associated tasks. You can see a screenshot of my Trello board here.
Day three - your landing page (Wed Sep 30th)
Most people used Gumroad for the landing page. I found that a bit limiting, so I built my landing page using Lead Pages (I already have a Lead Pages account). Here is [my landing page].
I’m not overly happy with the design of the landing page, but I’m going to go with it for now. I can perfect it once the product is launched.
Day four - basic marketing (Thurs Oct 1st)
Basic marketing means sharing something helpful with the audience, ideally where they hang out online. It also means helping people in the community.
Today I spent a lot of the day working on the product itself. In the end, I didn’t get any marketing done, so I am running a day behind.
Day five - packaging it up (Fri Oct 2nd)
Today’s task is to create the product description and a cover image, with a focus on the customer. Then put it all together as a pre-sell product on Gumroad (I'm yet to do this).
I made more tweaks to the landing page and uploaded an edited version of the pitch and product description. At this stage, I don’t have cover image but I am going to leave that for later.
Day six - Breathe (Sat Oct 3rd)
Today is a bit of rest day on the challenge and a chance to take stock and catch up.
I am running a little behind on the tasks from the challenge. I could have used today to catch up, but instead to focus on the product itself. So I took myself off to a coffee shop and spent hours writing and editing. I'm pretty pleased with the way the product is shaping it.
Day seven- Price your product (Sunday Oct 4th)
Today's task is to decide on a price. I'm going with $15 for the final product and a substantial discount this week (probably 75%).
I got the product up on Gumroad, so customers can starting buying with the discount. I have also changed the name to The Self-Publishing Guide.
Day 8 & 9
I was heads down finishing off writing the book and battling with a cold to add to the challenge! I've created a new cover and changed the name back to Developer to Author. The reason for changing the name back is because the product is aimed at developers (and designers), so it makes sense to include that in the name.
Day 10 & 11 - launch day
Putting finishes touched on the product and getting ready to launch! I've opened up the presell and got a dozen sales already!
You can checkout the presell here