For those of you that are new to the blog, every month I expose the financial details of the business on the blog.
I do this to help promote financial transparency in both our personal and business lives. Our society makes the sharing of financial details so taboo, that many people are resistant to getting help when they need it. In my mind, the more people that are willing to share… the better.
I usually share these details in a separate post each month. This month I’ve decided to include it here, as it’s extremely applicable to the topic at hand…
Speaking of the topic at hand. Let’s get to it.
I set a big, perfectly attainable goal for my business. I worked hard, but not smart. And I failed. I fell short. I came up way short, actually.
Most of you know that two weeks ago I launched my second premium product, Sell Your Crap. I’ve talked a lot about it recently, so I won’t be going into specific details regarding the product again here.
What most of you don’t know (unless you are in my inner circle) was my goal for the launch.
My goal was to sell 200 copies in the first two weeks. I wanted to break $10,000 gross in that time frame.
For some of you that may seem really high. Others may think thats low. That’s cool, but I will let you know that those number are completely reasonable. Meaning not impossible, not automatic. Reasonable.
Well, I failed.
I didn’t hit 200 copies sold, nor did I gross five figures in these first two weeks. In fact, I failed rather spectacularly (at first). Typically, in product launches the first day (launch day) makes up the majority of sales. It’s almost always your biggest day and helps get momentum the continues throughout the first week or two.
On my first day, I sold 4 copies. Four. Like the number you can count on one hand. The number that is less than 200.
Let’s stop for a moment. There’s more to this story, however, we need to rewind. We need to get more background information.
It all started 6 months ago…
It was a dark and rainy night 6 months ago when, sitting in my office, it happened… burnout.
Creative burnout. Nasty, hard creative burnout. (Actually it didn’t happen instantly one night, but it sounded like a good transition.)
After launching Unautomate Your Finances, I had incredible momentum. More specifically, it seemed like I couldn’t do anything wrong. Everything I wrote went over well. People were tripping over each other to subscribe to the blog (o.k. maybe not, but thats how I remember it).
I knew what my next step was. I needed to continue to pour myself into creating amazing, valuable content on the blog. I needed to continue to expand my audience and reach out to mentors. I needed to start working on my next guide (I had been planning to do SYC next for a long time).
My path was clear. So what did I do?
I stopped blogging. I stopped talking to my mentors and friends. I stopped planning out “Sell Your Crap”.
All I could think about is how much I didn’t want to write. If I heard credit card, budgeting, or conscious spending one more time… I was going to puke. I was tapped out. Done.
So I started doing everything but what I needed to.
I played video games. I google’d “how to become a firefighter”. I contemplated selling Man Vs. Debt. I APPLIED TO WORK AT STARBUCKS (and then skipped the interview when I got called).
You could say I was lost.
What I realize now is that I didn’t lose my passion, I just buried it. I didn’t lose any writing skill (you could argue I’ve never had any to start!). 🙂
…I lost my mission.
Thing I did wrong #1: I lost my mission…
Rather than focusing on my message and my mission… I simply broke things down into “next steps”. They became chores. Crap I had to do in order to get to some mythical place where everything would be peachy and happy. There would be rainbows and monthly income of $5,000 in this place. Probably unicorns, too. Everything would be awesome…
If I could just get my next guide out. If I could just execute a HUGE guest posting surge. If I did these steps… I would get this awesomeness in my head.
Guess what happened? I hated the idea of those next steps. I attached negative feeling to them. They became hurdles I had to jump over, not obstacles which helped promote my message.
So for month I did nothing. I resisted like never before. I outlined the Sell Your Crap guide for 5 months, before I started writing the first sentence of actual content. I currently have a Google Doc with 15 huge blogs, how I can best help their audiences, and a list of potential guest post titles (with bullet points). I’ve emailed maybe one or two of them.
I huddled up and went into planning mode. Planning was easy. Actually doing something was… hard.
And so my momentum faded. Readers who had followed our story and devoured our content moved on. Connections wilted away and my passion became buried.
Thing I did right #1: I started writing…
Luckily, I had an epiphany. In the exact same random day, two of my mentors called me on my cell phone. This is not common. Two mentors with extremely busy schedules and extremely large audiences, were taking the time to call me out of the blue. On the same day.
In both cases, my end of the conversation went like this:
“Um, hi… Hey man, what the hell are you doing calling me?… Oh, yeah, I’ve been busy… Yeah, I know… Yeah, I know… I’m just burnt out really… Yeah, you’re right… Yeah, I know… Yeah, I’m planning on getting back into it… Yeah, your right, that is just an excuse… Yep… Yep… Thanks for calling, man… I owe ya.”
So I wrote. I started. I wish I could tell you I came around to my senses on my own, but I didn’t. It took tough love from two people I deeply respected.
I kept writing… for two months. A lot – 70,000-80,000 words. If you don’t write… that’s… a lot. Just trust me on that.
Thing I did wrong #2: I didn’t restrict the scope.
The problem was… I just wrote. I had an outline (a nice one that I spent 5 months on), but as I wrote and researched… it grew. And grew.
The basic advice goes something like this. “Break your guide or project into easily digestible chunks. Create a schedule and complete each chunk one at a time.” Right, uh huh. I’ll get right on that.
That’s not how I work. And unfortunately, that means things take longer… are much more stressful… and generally fail harder. 🙂
My initial goals was to have a primary guide of around 20,000 words and three modules between 5,000-10,000 words each. That’s seemed like a neat set up. It made my ADD and obsessive compulsive brain feel comfortable.
As it turns out, the eBay “module” itself grew to 35,000 words. That’s almost twice the main guide. So what did I do when I finished it?
I rethought everything. What does this mean? How can my “module” be twice as long as the main guide? THAT DOESN’T MAKE LOGICAL SENSE. The *main* guide should be the biggest. The module should be the same size. How am I going to write 35,000 on Amazon?
At this point, you probably are either nodding your head… or think I’m batshit crazy. But this is the real process I went through when this happens. And I know from talking to hundreds of entrepreneurs that I’m not alone.
We have this idea that our projects need to be packaged in a certain way. That things have to line up, be neat, and make logical sense. That may work for Coca-Cola… or Microsoft. That may work for the factory down the street. But for a solo, creative entrepreneur?
Screw that... Pour your soul into creating the most valuable product, art, or information you can and then get it out there. You aren’t Coca-Cola… and thank God for that. Now stop acting like it. (I’m talking mostly to myself for future reference).
Thing I did right #2: I set a launch date.
Listen very carefully. Whatever you are doing… a product, a non-profit event, or a website… set a freakin’ date.
That’s the first step.
The second step? Do something that locks you into that date. Like scheduling a guest post on one of Time.com’s 20 Top Blogs and several of the most popular personal finance blogs on the internet. Send out invitations. Build excitement. Do whatever takes so that you can’t possible delay it past that date.
Good. Now you’ve locked yourself in. There’s no turning back. So, go do it. Do whatever it takes. Get ‘er done.
Seriously, this is my number one productivity tip. Set a date. And forcefully lock yourself in.
At the end of the day, there’s always something else you can add. There’s always one more email you can send or an extra chapter that’ll fill out the content. If you let yourself, you’ll go crazy trying to *complete* the project.
Get it to 80% and pull the (@#&%# trigger. Launch it out to the world. Go live and adjust on the air.
Thing I did wrong #3: I didn’t get it to 80% in time.
So I took all my own advice from above, except for the whole part about actually launching it. Most of you know that a day before my scheduled launch date, I decided to push it back a week. What you don’t know is why.
I severally botched estimating how much time the details would take. The majority of content was done, but there was a tone of detail work that needed to be finished with affiliates, landing pages, inserting screenshots, formating InDesign, blah, blah, blah.
I thought 3 days was enough. It wasn’t. I was off by a multiple of at least 4.
Then Milligan got sick two days before launch. Courtney took care of everything, but it still zapped my time, energy, and emotions as I was fretfully trying to get everything wrapped up in the last moment.
That night, Sunday night after Milli went to bed, I realized that if I was going to launch “on time” I wasn’t going to be able to include the final versions of the craiglist and amazon modules. I could have the Main guide and the eBay module done (the bulk of the value), but I wouldn’t be able to format and insert the screenshots for the last two modules.
At this point, I had two options. Launch without the two extra modules and add them later. Or delay the launch a week, which included emailing the founders of several huge blogs and explaining my decision and blatant failure.
Neither option was great, but I chose the latter. I sent the emails. This goes against the advice I would give to anyone else, but whatever. That’s what I did. Luckily, everyone I emailed was more than happen to bump guest posts back a week. So, for better or worse, launch would come next week.
Note: If/when you decide to do this, you probably owe it to your readers to blog about it *before* launch day. Rather than put off a post telling them it’ll be delayed *until* launch day itself. Sigh.
Thing I did right #3: Created Kick Ass Content
Let’s be really honest for a second: there are a crap ton of launches these days online. Everyone seems to be creating and launching a product, which I think (in the long run) is a good thing overall. The medium will become more popular and accessible to a large audience with more content.
However, the downside is that you have to do something to differentiate yourself from the masses.
This extra week, I worked no less than 100 more hours on the product. I ended up adding even more content. I polished the layout of many of the screenshots. I completed the craigslist and Amazon modules to be packaged together with launch.
I didn’t get it perfect, far from it… but that’s not the point. The point is it’s good. It’s really good.
I don’t think everything I write is awesome, but I know that guide is. It’s valuable, thorough, and can realistically change people’s lives. This is the biggest thing I did right in the whole process. I’ve chosen to differentiate myself by the quality of the final product. That’s only one way of dozens you can do it, but you’ve got to choose one.
Now, this also brings in a flood of problems. I could have (probably should have) allocated more time to acquiring affiliates, writing the landing page, and executing a pre-launch sell to my email list. This stuff got put on th backburner, because I was so obsessive about the actual content.
Ultimately, the goal of everything you do should be impact. And impact means writing valuable content AND getting it into the hands of people who need it. You need a balance of both. I did one side of the equation very well, but came up very short on the second.
Thing I did wrong #4: Left the landing page until the last minute.
I hate writing landing pages. It’s an unnatural, but necessary part of the equation. I don’t mind selling, when I believe in the product as much as I do. But this belief alone doesn’t make me good at selling. It’s a big weakness.
As with most weaknesses, I leave them until the last possible minute. For the Sell Your Crap launch, that meant midnight the night before launch. Sigh.
Between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. I made a lot of decent progress. The graphics were in place. I had the section headers all filled in, along with many of the transitions.
I still needed to type out the benefits of purchasing each guide, which I was going to include as bullet points next to the pictures. Simple. Straight forward. In the meantime, in order to get the formatting correct I entered in the following:
- Benefit 1 goes here
- Benefit 2 follows up
- Amazing Benefit 3 to round things out
That is literally what my sales page said. It was just a placeholder until I could come back to it. Did I mention that I was editing the ACTUAL version of my sales page. The actual page was live, there was just no incoming links to it. This is called obvious foreshadowing… we’ll get back to this in a second.
So it’s 5:30 a.m. or something like that and I realize that my Get Rich Slowly guest post (with a link to the sales page) is going live at 7 a.m. eastern time. Yikes!
No big problem. I can finish it up by then. All I need to do is place the links to the shopping cart into the page (none of the links were active or live yet) and fill out the bullet points with the actual benefits. Should be easy.
Error saving page. What the…
Error logging back into wp-admin to edit. Error going to website. Error loading landing page.
Error. Error. Error.
My site crashed. Not just crashed as in the hosting is down. Crashed as in EVERY ONE of my essential files had extra spaces put into there files, which caused exactly 0% of my site to load or be accessible for edits.
I knew right away this wasn’t good. I was on my second straight all-nighter, running on the fumes of caffeine and the delusions of complete and utter exhaustion. I was so close to getting it complete and then… boom.
Several calls to my primary tech guy, Andrew Norcross, wen’t unanswered. Who would have thought he was sleeping at 6 a.m.? Weird, I know. Next, I took to Twitter, where dozens of people tried to help me, but it was all for naught. The problem was actually HUGE and would require hours and hours of experienced work to put back together completely.
Traffic started pouring in from several guest posts, including one on Get Rich Slowly early on. Visitor after visitor hit a error page with no content.
O.k., I thought. Not the end of the world. Hang in there. I knew had a guest post on Zen Habits coming up soon (an audience that is not only huge, but that I had never guest posted for), but I assumed it would be posted in the afternoon or evening. There was still a lot of time.
And then the Zen Habits guest post went up… at 9 a.m… with the site still in pieces. In the first hour, ~500ish new readers came to find out more information on my new shiny product and found nothing. A white page with black error text.
I can count the number of times I’ve really cried in my adult life on one hand and I remember each of them well. On no sleep for three days… at the moment that was suppose to be one of the best for my business… I put my head down and cried.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse… it did.
My friend Matt Jabs had desperately been working on getting the site back up and running. Finally, he was able to get the home page and the landing page to load. Yes! Excited I logged into the blog to edit the landing page quickly… Error.
Error saving. Error opening.
The landing page was live, but I couldn’t edit it in any way.
So let me paint the clear picture for you. Rather than being bounced, hundreds of people were now being sent to a landing page with NO LINKS and which literally said: Benefit 1 goes here, Benefit 2 follows up, Amazing benefit 3 to round things out instead of the actual benefits.
Doh. I couldn’t think of a situation worse than people interested in your new product getting an error message… and then I was confronted face to face with it.
So much for first impressions. After around 30 minutes of this mess, we pulled the landing page back down and returned to just giving people blank error messages.
Fast forward 6 hours…
After several hours of whining on Twitter about the situation, Matt and Norcross got the site pieced back together and back to normal. It was late afternoon by that point and although traffic was still trickling in from the guest posts, I obviously hadn’t posted my own content yet.
I decided I would go to bed… and launch the next morning. A lot of damage had been done, but everything would have to wait until tomorrow morning. I wanted to sell 50-100 in the first day, in order to be on the way to my goal of 200 in the first two weeks.
I sold 4 on my “launch” day.
Note: Never again will I edit a live landing page with filler text. Never again will I make a page “live” without links. Never again will I wait until the last night to do the landing page. Never again will I *not* redirect the landing page to the homepage up until the time I’m ready to go live. 🙂
Thing I did right #4: I didn’t give up…
I contemplated a lot of things that afternoon as I headed to sleep… but I didn’t give up. I woke up the next morning and I launched my post. I sent the email out to the Militia members. And I began to send the guides out to affiliates and allies, something I should have done a week before, but that was still on the to-do list.
I just kept plowing forward. There is no long, flowery lesson here. You just can’t give up. If you want something… never, ever give up.
That’s it… giving up is not an option.
Thing I did wrong #5: I sent a spammy email to my email list…
I immediately tried to make up for the shenanigans of the day before by sending a super spammy email to my email list. One of the crappiest things I’ve done in a while.
While almost noone unsubscribed (2 out of 1,000+), I used a spammy email subject line. Guess what happened? It went to spam. Shocker.
At least half of the people on the list got it filtered into their spam folders. I know this because people emailed me to tell me. I know this because it went to MY SPAM folder. Haha. Gmail filtered my own email to myself into spam.
For future info, do not use this email subject line ever:
[ManVsDebt] “Sell Your Crap” now available! Whoo-hoo! *20% Off Coupon inside*
Honestly, it was probably the last 4 words that did it. But looking back over the content of the email… it was spammy too. So no matter what the reason technically, the real issue is I tried to be someone I’m not.
A lot of people on this list did end up using the coupon code for 20%, but I felt dirty. I felt scummy for sending the email. I sort of want to apologize. I sort of wanted to send a follow up that said the first went to spam. I had no idea what to do, but I know I don’t like the feeling that I had when I realized what had happened.
My only “advice” here is *don’t let the desire to have a big launch turn you into something or someone you aren’t*. Screw your conversion rate if you have to compromise your closest allies and supporters in the process. That’s just as bas as selling a shitty product. I don’t want to do either. And I won’t do either in the future.
Thing I did right #5: Said “Yes” to every interview…
After I did get around to sending out the guides to my allies, many request came in for interviews. After reading the guide, people wanted to help spread the message. Some had audiences of 10,000+, others had audiences of a few dozen. It didn’t matter.
I said yes.
I’ve done around 40 interviews in different formats over the past two weeks. I’d love to do 100 more. Not in the hopes I think they will send me traffic or sales. And not because I hope it strengthens relationships with other bloggers. Those are both benefits, but not the main benefit.
The main benefit of these interviews is what they do to me. Each time I have to present information, I get better and better. I get more clear in my passion and my goals. I get more experienced in how to relate my message to different audiences.
At the start of writing this product, I knew a lot about selling your stuff. We had done it ourselves and I had helped others do the same. But now, after I’ve written 65,000+ published words and done dozens of interviews, I feel like an expert.
I feel like if the Today Show called me today, I would tear up that appearance. I know what people struggle most with and I know how to help them 1000x better than when I started. It’s confidence. Putting yourself, your art, and your soul on the line gives you unbelievable confidence.
If you ever have a chance to do an interview of any sort (to push forward your mission)… for Pete’s sake, say yes!
So what about the last two weeks?… How did things turn out?…
I was just about to share those details! So you already know that on my spectacular launch day I sold 4 copies.
The next day, I officially went live on the blog and sent the spammy email out to the list. I sold around 30. Not bad, but not great. You see, with Unautomate Your Finances I sold a bunch in the first three days and then it fell off the map (it sells around 1 a day now). This is extremely common for launches – most sales will come in the first 72 hours.
So while I was happy I sold more than 4, I was really scared of what would happen over the next week or so.
Much to my surprise, the sales didn’t dive off that much. I didn’t sell out or anything, but 5-10 copies were being sold each day… every day. Weird. It was slow, but steady… like the tortoise running the race.
Each day, my spirits rose a bit. On top of the sales, emails began pouring in. Customers were blown away. Other bloggers couldn’t believe the amount of content it included. Each sale and each email slowly built back up my confidence.
I realized that I had put way, way too much energy into making a “HUGE OMG LOOK AT ME” product launch. I put way too much weight on how well those first few days went (they were terrible and filled with mistakes) and not on the fact that I was creating a legacy product.
And that’s what I ended up with… a big piece of my legacy project. I’d take a virtual bullet for Sell Your Crap. I believe in it much more than any single project or content I’ve ever written. It’ll be around for years in one form or another. I may use parts of it for a print book… I may change parts of it into interactive workshops… I may not change anything.
The point is it’s out there. I did so many things “wrong” but it doesn’t matter now. Even God can’t change the past.
If your interested, September finished out with 82 sales and in the first full two weeks Sell Your Crap ended at 105 sales total. Here’s the full breakdown of my income and expenses, which I share monthly:
Net from UYF Sales: $438.60
- Total Guides Sold (Sept): 35
- Income (less Paypal fees): $549.44
- Affiliate Payments: -$110.84
Net from SYC Sales: $2898.06
- Total Guides Sold (all versions): 82
- Income (less Paypal fees): $3452.50
- Affiliate Payments: -$554.44
Additional Income: $1161.11
- Freelance Writing: $300.00
- Thesis WordPress Theme: $51.48
- Unconventional Guides: $460.02
- Private Consulting Project: $421.48
Direct Expenses: -$1642.09
- Hosting: -$14.95
- Aweber: -$29.00
- E-junkie: -$10.00
- VodBurner: -$9.95
- Domain Names: -$11.62
- Shipping: -$16.32
- Amazon (books): -$81.57
- Website Tech work: -$175
- SYC Design/Consulting: -$800
- World Domination Summit: -$254.17
- Unconventional Book Tour: -$239.51
Net (Income – Expenses): $2856.68
Over the last 7 months of monetization, this brings average to: ~$1825/month
Note: If you have any questions about the list above, leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to clarify them. 🙂
While these “numbers” are still far from my goals, I no longer consider the launch a “failure”. In fact, I consider the events of this launch, what I learned, and the final product that came out… to be complete and utter successes.
There are several things that came out of this launch that you can’t measure directly with numbers or dollar signs:
- Clarity of my mission. Finally, I feel clear about it. More on this on Monday.
- Confidence. If you can’t tell, it’s back.
- Appreciation. I took a lot of my early “wins” for granted. I took readers for granted. No more.
I’ve never been one to say that I’m going to “change the world”. I always thought that was a little foo-foo. Until now.
Ladies and gentleman, I’m going to change the world.
I’m going to help people radically change their lives for the better by getting rid of the crap the holds them back.
To quote myself from earlier this year:
Don’t bet against me this year. Heck, don’t bet against yourself, either.
Let’s do this.
242 thoughts on “How to Suck at Launching a Product”
Baker… I looooooovvvveee this post! I love it! I think we can learn just as much if not more by examining a failed attempt as a successful story. Thank you so much for being so candid and sharing your experience – it’s incredible!! Most people would “fail” and then blame everything on everyone else and then give up. That’s not you. I have no doubt that you’ll extract all the juicy knowledge you’ve learned from this and achieve whatever goals you set for yourself in life!!
Thanks, Christine. 🙂 And yes, it was definitely my fault, haha! No one to blame when you are the only one involved! 🙂
Heck of a lesson to be learned, but wow. I’m sure you learned a *ton*. Congrats on putting out something you believe in. Reading that post I can feel a little bit of revitalization that had been missing, coming back.
Can’t wait to see you change the world 🙂
Can’t wait to see *you* change the world. 😉
hey adam! i don’t think you “failed.” i prefer to think of it as “you built endless anticipation for the launch…” but this post did crack me up and i’m sure you taught all of us some valuable lessons. i think we’ve all had similar things happen…. for example, LobotoME notepads were going to be featured on dailycandy.com – to like a gazzilion people – they were kind enough to give me the heads up so we could make sure our server could handle it. anyway, we switched servers to make sure it would, everything was all set and then 9AM — BOOM the site crashed. i have no idea how many THOUSANDS of people could not access the site for hours and can only speculate as to how many THOUSANDS of dollars in potential sales i lost…i cried. i was yelling at my husband. i was yelling at the hosting people. i cried some more. and then i took my kids to the park and prayed that by the time i was back it would be working again (it was, but it took about 7 hours total). anyway, i learned that it was in my case “just notepads” and while it seemed like the end of the world it wasn’t….
anyway, SYC is a kick ass product and i hope it generates lots of $$ & publicity for MvD.
and this officially was my longest comment EVER. cheers, jenny 🙂
Ouch I feel for ya! Thanks for the kind words and your point about “expectations.” It really did boil down to that for me. I built the entire future of the universe into the product launch, which was silly… and damaging. 🙂
Proud to have your longest comment ever!
Wow, Baker, this is probably my favorite post you’ve written so far (and that’s saying something).
The brutal honesty and self-critique is absolutely inspiring, and the insight you’ve given to the process is not just useful, but eye-opening (even for someone else who has done launches, since everyone has a slightly different method).
All I can add is that it IS an incredible product you’ve put out, and I think it’s going to have staying power. I imagine the long-term sales will be even higher than those of Unautomate Your Finances (also an amazing product) and I’d love to see the numbers in a month or two. I have a feeling this case-study isn’t over yet.
Kudos, brother. Keep ’em coming.
Rock on, Colin. Appreciate all your support. Sell Your Crap is already starting to pass UYF, and honestly it should. It’s a much more tangibly valuable product (even though I love UYF). 🙂
Great, great stuff Adam. Thank you for sharing, very openly, the ups and downs and lessons you’ve learned from this. Stories like this are what’s so great about blogging and the online space, learning from one another and ultimately all growing, evolving, and becoming more successful. It’s the selflessness in posts like these that secures your position as someone that people respect and model themselves (and their businesses) after. Cheers my friend.
Very kind of you, Matt. Glad to see you pop up again. Let’s catch up soon.
Love the transparency – putting your mistakes out there for other people to learn from.
I’d agree with you in that the launch isn’t a “failure,” since your next launch will be 20x better with the lessons you’ve learned this time around.
I just started digging into UYF (via the minimalist book sale) – great stuff so far.
Don’t drop off this time! Looking forward to more great stuff down the line.
Thanks, Mike! Not sure I can make it 20x better ;-), but I’ll try! 🙂
Let me know how you like UYF. Always looking for great feedback!
I have learned SO MUCH more from this post than the last 3 info products I purchased. (None of them were yours, but think Dunford, Navarro, LaPorte…). Yeah, that’s blasphemy, but it’s sincere.
Cuz, ya see, I think lots of us who would do some of the “bad” things you describe just don’t get represented publicly.
I’ve only been reading you for about 6 weeks.
Now I’m a fan for life.
Wow, Um… yeah, thank you, Joy! Haha. You named off three big influences on *me*, so I’m glad I could help pass along that in a different way to you. 🙂
Glad to have you aboard. Let me know how I can help!
Thanks for the transparency. It’s great to hear both your successes and your (perceived) failures. Keep it up!
Haha, nice use of (). Thanks so much.
Wow what a cool and honest post. I read every sentence and really enjoyed it, especially because I can relate to it!
I launched my first product 3 months ago after spending 3 months creating the whole thing. It took so much of my energy and effort and I was really expecting it to make way over 100 sales in the first week. I think it made like 20.
I learned a lot from that launch though, and all the effort was worth it. I’m planning a new product and new launch for end of this month, and hopefully I can apply the things I learned from the last time and make this launch a big success!
I hope the sales keep going and that you stay inspired to keep writing! You’re doing a great job here at MvD!
Awesome, Diggy. You know I’m a big fan. Best of luck with your own second launch! Let me know when it’s out. 🙂
Awesome post and look forward to interviewing you for the Gist blog soon and talking more about everything you have been up to!
Keep rocking and being real!
Me too, Shane. Shoot me an email. 🙂
I’m with Colin. This is my favorite post that you’ve written. Ever. It’s so interesting to hear about the back-end of a product launch like this. I’ve never chimed in before with a comment, but I just wanted to say thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work!
Wow, thanks Alan. Glad I could pull you our of lurker-mode. Promise to comment more, mmmk? 😉
I am genuinely feeling more inspiration and I appreciate the candor very much. You rawk!
Deanna, thanks so much for your email you sent. I’ll be responding soon. Meant a lot.
Thank you so much for sharing this!
I was going to launch a tiny little product last Friday. But needed to change servers to be able to support it. Loads of hours attempting the changeover. And now my site has been down for nearly 48 hours!
I’ve been feeling sick about it. But now I know I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE!!! And I thank you so much for letting me know that!
And you too, Jenny.
You definitely are not alone, Barb! I hope this post helped at least a little. 🙂 Good luck on the launch!
I hear you on the burnout. I took a similar leave of absense. Now that I am back, things are even more awesome.
This is the longest blog post I think I have ever read word for word. This is great stuff.
What is this private consulting you are doing now?
And what person or product helped gain momentum in helping you the most in your blogging/product empire?
Nice, now I have another record! 🙂
Consulting is for small businesses and blogs. It’s been private up until now, but I’ll be opening it up soon to everyone. It’s won’t be a big launch, hehe. But It’ll be available on a page for those who need it.
Chris Guillebeau. Not close. 🙂
This should be a book. Seriously, I was on the edge of my seat the whole post.
Glad you were able to triumph over the big bad WordPress monster. And the ongoing sales in spite of everything just show the quality of your product and your community.
Haha, Short Bedtime Stories by Adam Baker. I’ll start shopping it around to publishers. 😉
I’m just echoing everyone else here, Adam, but I wanted to say I really appreciate your honesty and transparency in this post. By sharing your experience so openly you’re helping us learn alongside you. I read every word like some of the other commenters, and I feel like I know you a little better now. Thanks for your willingness to share this!
Nice, Paul. That’s a lot of words to read. 🙂 I appreciate you taking the time, haha.
What a story! I’ve read the SYC guide and can attest to the fantastic content included in it – it’s why I was happy to put a direct link to it on my site. But yeah, reading this back-story to something I could half-see unfolding on twitter is nothing short of emotional!
I know from my own little launches not to leave things until the last minute. I didn’t get any sleep the night before my LHG launch, but luckily it all went really well. But yeah, setting dates work fantastic to force you to stick with them – although the goal should be to finish EVERYTHING at least 4 days in advance to give yourself a buffer 😛
I did that for my relaunch and still had things to tweak in the final days. Very glad I aimed for several days in advance to perfect in the final moments.
I would totally cry in your situation too. Seems like the whole world was flowing against you that day!! But LEGACY product is definitely what SYC is 🙂 I see sales from it staying steady and even increasing in future, especially as you write such thrilling edge-of-your-seat content like this! If anything, I’d expect nothing less than a big spike right now – if I didn’t have the guide already I would have been ridiculously tempted to buy after reading this post. It’s not a sales pitch, but it gives such a passionate story behind the content that I want to read it again now 😀
Baker is back 😀
You know I love you, Benny. Thanks for all the inspiration. Can’t wait to share a water together a BlogWorld! 😉
I swear I am going to take a last minute 4hr drive to vegas next weekend! Course if I miss any more work they may just kick me with da boot. Have a great time!
You are awesome. This was your best post in a long time. When you really put yourself out there, I think that’s when people connect with you the most. I’m sorry you had so many issues with your launch, but just think of how AWESOME your next launch will be with everything you’ve learned!
Keep up the great work.
Thanks for the feedback, Martin. Glad you loved the post.
Agreed–this post read like a nail-biting cliffhanger novel…with a happy ending.
Thanks for sharing the down and dirty details of the business end of your blog. It’s definitely amazing how challenging experiences develop our muscles like nothing else–and we’re always different afterward.
Looking forward to seeing how you build from here, Baker.
Haha, I didn’t realize that it was going to be such a “cliffhanger” (several people have used that term today!). I guess that’s a good thing. 🙂
Living in the moments you don’t realize that they may actually be interesting to others going through similar situations. Glad you liked it!
Takes a lot of guts to be that transparent around difficult circumstances so kudos to you.
I am curious any lessons to take away around having a viable wordpress site backup (preferably on a daily basis, or even more frequent) Any idea how much time that would have saved or was it a non factor?
Not sure, Mark. I backup daily, but not sure if that helped this (or was used at all) by Norcross and Matt. I know and do nothing about this stuff. I hire good people for that. 🙂
A dumb question from someone who doesn’t believe in launches, but couldn’t you launch it again? Or launch later on? Or launch in steps? Exactly how important is hype for a quality product?
I don’t get what you mean by “doesn’t believe in launches”. You don’t like them yourself? Or for others?
Either way, there is a cumulative buzz effect when something is new. It’s not a new concept. A product can be both valuable and launched with buzz. It’s not a choice.
You could certainly “relaunch” by adding content or by reaching out to more people and setting a specific date. You can “relaunch” by having a sale. But it’s hard to replicate the momentum that is possible at the original launch. This is true of paper books, as well.
I don’t like the word *hype*. It’s not about creating hype, it’s about getting people excited about a product that you think is extremely valuable. Once again, you don’t have to choose long-term or short-term. You can have both. I just failed at the short-term this time.
Thanks for being so open and honest about what you are doing! It really opened my eyes!
No problem, Lo!
Wow, Adam, WOW. I appreciate this more than I’ll ever be able to put into words. It sucks that you had to go through all of that but because you did…and because you so brilliantly & honestly shared your story…there’s one little individual out there whose confidence & launch-knowledge jumped tenfold (me). It may not mean much in the whole scheme of things but to me…well, it means more than these measly little words can say. Thank you.
Lisa, it *does* mean a lot to me! 🙂 And don’t feel too sorry for me, haha. I brought it on myself. You live and you learn. I’m very fortunate and have an awesome community here. 🙂
haha Baker, I can see myself making the same mistakes (even though I’m nowhere at your level). The part where you couldn’t edit the live page with the filler bullets……. I would have cried too for a long time, lol.
Seems like a costly launch but I think you came out for the better for it. Make sure you never forget how hard you’ve had to work to build up that momentum.
Haha, yeah that was not a fun realization when I couldn’t edit them. Thanks for the support!
this is such a fabulous example of honest teaching. so refreshing…and USEFUL.
Means a lot from you, Danielle.
Agreed, this is some exceptional deeply honest blogging. Particularly interesting to read about your period of creative burnout–it’s something I’ve struggled with from time to time too.
Thanks for putting it all out there and sharing EVERYTHING with your readers.
Yeah, I’m not very intelligent about speaking on the burnout, but it’s an insanely common concept. Check out, Charlie Gilkey is you haven’t. He’s a great source of help for me in that sort of area.
I am so grateful for the un-hype in this post. This was very informative and encouraging for me. Thank you!!!
Saving it on InstaPaper so I can read it again when I launch whatever it is I will launch some day. Even the word “launch” is so intimidating. 🙂
Haha, it doesn’t need to be. Don’t blow it up as much as I did. It’s not that scary, the aftershocks are very empowering. 🙂
This is the kind of honesty and courage that inspires people like me who have no idea where to even start creating what you already have achieved. …And you also just sold me on the product.
Haha, that wasn’t my goal Emily, but I’m glad you’ve jumped on board. 🙂 Thanks for your support!
You think too much. 🙂
I’ve always thought you put a little too much into the launch phase – there is no reason why you can’t continue to sell a product after the first week or so.
Haha, not sure this is that’s a compliment or not. 😉
I’d like to have both. Great buzz at launch and a small trickle of constant sales. I don’t think it’s a choice if you do things right. 🙂
Baker — Like others, I think this was one of the best posts you have written. I appreciate your honesty and your vulnerability. I missed following you while you went through burnout and I’m happy that you’re back. Keep your energy fresh and keep writing. I always enjoy reading you.
Thanks, Lou. You’ve been a great supporter of mine. 🙂
Thanks for this lesson, Baker! As Danielle already wrote, a totally useful piece of teaching many people can learn from – not only for launches, but also for day to day blogging. Totally interesting to get to read a “behind the scenes” of this caliber!
No problem, Fabian. Glad I could give a peak behind the scenes and even more glad you’ve found it useful. Keep rockin’!
Thank you for your openness and honesty. As I am planning my future and trying to learn as much as I can from the people on the net willing to share these lessons will can not be more timely for me.
Grace and Peace,
Awesome, Allen. Let me know if I can help with the planning. 🙂
Baker! Thank you for sharing this so openly and showing us both what you did well and what didn’t do all that well. It’s great to be able to learn from your challenges, and also to be able to cheer you on here. 🙂
I love you, Nathalie. Can’t wait to hang out at Blogworld. 🙂
Your honesty and authenticity is eye opening. Thanks for sharing your ups and downs. Most people are not bold enough to admit their mistakes, let alone publish them for anyone to read. Plus your content is so valuable. I hope the fire stays lit inside you, because lots of people would miss your insights and inspiration!
I’ll do my best to keep it alive and lit! Your passionate comments help with this. 🙂
What I love about this post is that it’s really not far off from many others getting started. I know you’re not exactly just getting started, but I’ve talked with so many that are who’ve had the same crazy problems happen. I was impressed they didn’t quit right then and there.
What I love, is that you actually shared it with the world instead of keeping it hidden and pretending that all went well. Now that you’ve learned some pretty intense lessons I imagine your next projects will be amazingly satisfying for you personally.
Rock on, Andy. I’ve learned these kind of stories are very common, as well. I talk with a lot of other people and entrepreneurs of all kinds… and everyone has at least one or two similar stories. Glad you enjoyed this one! 🙂
Baker I’ve been reading your blog on-and-off for a while, and this is, hands down, really the most inspiring and most valuable post you’ve written. Heck – it’s one of the most inspiring I’ve read in a long while. Congrats!
Keep rocking and change the world!
Thanks so much, Mario. Means a lot to me and I’m glad this one connected so much with you. I hope you’ll keep reading (and commenting). 😉 Thanks!
This post was a perfect combination of authenticity and quality content.
Thanks for giving it to the world.
Thanks for reading it, Tim!
Thank you for being so incredibly honest. You’re are total star. A STAR. I know we haven’t really connected at all but can we remedy that now, please? 🙂
Um, yes. I remember seeing your twitter profile picture from Naomi ;-). Shoot me an email.
Very enjoyable read, although I feel kinda bad for laughing at parts of the story, but not *really bad* since it sorta worked out in the end for you. I especially love the “benefit 1 here, benefit 2 here” thing for some reason.
It reminds me of a few years ago during tax season when our tax program crashed a couple days before a big deadline. We were all going crazy trying to figure out contingency plans. In the end, everything was fine, and it’s actually helped me since. If I get stressed I remember that time and realize things usually have a way of working themselves out.
Haha, yeah! I don’t mind you laughing at all… it is funny looking back on it. And, you are right. A friend of mine was recently going through a hectic time due to a random event that popped up.
We were decided what to do and I said “well, the good news is in three hours it won’t matter anymore.” Haha. The event came and went and everything (like you pointed out) was perfectly fine.
You’re honesty has just made my whole Life seem so much more doable. It is great to see someone I think of as “successful” really show that they, too, have vulnerabilities, imperfections and all the rest.
the autumn tree, leaves shed and core exposed
ready to stand through the ravages of winter
Wow, Amelia… thank you. Haha, I’m *successful* in some areas… and not so much in others. We all are. 🙂 Thanks, again.
Kudos to you for your honesty, transparency and ability to learn from your mistakes. We can all learn a ton from not only your words, but also from the insight into your process and growth. You’re still a hero to me- thanks and keep it up!
Haha, not sure I deserve *hero* status, but I honestly appreciate the kind words. 🙂
I was getting confused if you were talking about me or you. I go through so much of the same angst. I have ADD, the same as you, and while there are definite perks of having ADD, believe it or not, for instance, we’re creative and fun to be around (and yes, I did go to modesty camp), there’s definitely the challenges, like chronic miscalculation of time and how long it takes to do something. The bottom line – you created an awesome product, Sell Your Crap, which I purchased early on. I’m working thru reading it now. While my home is pretty organized, it’s not huge and I need more space, especially if I bring in a roommate which I’m contemplating. I’m going to get it by selling off stuff I’m not really using, i.e. some informercial purchased exercise equipment and DVDs, never or barely worn clothing, shoes, gadgets, kitchenware – all sorts of stuff. I can’t wait to get started!
Haha, Robin. Thanks for your passionate support. You know I’m here to help you whenever you need it! Give me a call! 🙂
P.S. Sell that crap!
wow wow wow wow Adam,
it takes LOTS of guts to publish a post like this. What you had to encounter with your launch was unbelievable – the universe was really testing you.
I can relate to your “spammy” email you send out – when under pressure, we sometimes do things that don’t fit our character AT ALL. It’s great that you are open with it.
I glad you had at least solid results the days after the disaster.
The experience you gained from this event is invaluable – I felt the pain just reading about your problems.
Here’s to a longer, more successful run of your product. And that this event taught you how to create an ASS-kicking launch the next time !
Keep rocking man, keep rocking !
Thanks, Mars. There were a lot of factors I can blame, but like you pointed out… pressure made me act out of the character I normally would have. 🙂 Appreciate the kind words!
Has this post gone viral yet? 84 comments! Unbelievable!
I don’t know what to say beyond this: I’d like to have your input whenever I decide to launch a product of my own. Your observations were that valuable.
Thanks so much for keeping it real and showing all of your mistakes to the world – it takes a lot of guts and heart and toughness to do that, and it’s proof that you’re a class act.
Beyond excellent, man.
Haha, far from viral. Maybe I should have called it 17 Lessons on Launching a Product and put a digg button right after the title? 🙂 Seriously, though, I really do appreciate the awesome conversation. Stoked to have this many people chiming in!
what I like about your post is that while most people would pretend that their launch went fine and that they sold a lot of copies, you are telling the truth about how it went.
This gives me another point of view of blogging where, sometimes, things don’t go as planned and making money becomes difficult.
Great job man!
Thanks, Mike. Yeah, it’s better just to be honest. It’s easy then having to keep up some big image. The book is slowly, but surely catching back up due to it’s quality. If anything, that makes me even more proud! 🙂
Great post. Probably the biggest point that hit home with me: “I just kept plowing forward. There is no long, flowery lesson here. You just can’t give up. If you want something… never, ever give up.”
It seems any time I get an idea or want to set forth and create or start anything (like a productive blog, an e-book or even beginning to write a novel), I tend to give up…..even before I start sometimes.
There is a lot of motivation in this post and a lot of great knowledge.
Keep up the great work, the useful products and the never get down attitude. I look forward to many, many more posts from you 😀
Anthony, I’m a serial half-finisher too. More like I get things to the point where they hit a plateau and I just quit (see creative burnout above). 🙂
By the way… your daughter in that small picks looks freakishly like my own! 🙂
That’s actually my son :O, but it’s ok, his golden locks get him mistaken for a girl from time to time (plus, the picture is tiny as well). But i do agree, my little man looks like a natural twin for Milligan 😉
I know you probably get quite a bit of email, but I will be shooting you one later and I hope you have a chance to respond. Just have a few questions to ask, nothing too ground breaking.
Keep it up!!
Doh! Sorry! I’ll be looking for your email!
I very rarely read an entire article, but this one had me hooked. Thanks for sharing, the experience as much as the expertise.
Haha, no problem!
Good analysis of the past few months. It’s always good to look back to learn and to look forward, using that information, to forge ahead.
Let me know if you need anything.
Thanks, buddy. Appreciate all the help over the last two years. 🙂
good stuff adam..i have been a reader of yours for a bit but this is my first comment…thanks so much for your valuable insights..it gives me much to think about in the coming months as i get ready to launch a few projects of mine…thank you so much…i have my finances in order but i got your ebook the other day as part of karols package deal so i look forward to reading it..I am sure there is still something there for me to learn to keep me out of trouble…be well and good luck!
Whoo-hoo! Another reader pulled out of lurking-mode. 😉
Let me know what you think of UYF and best of luck on your own upcoming project!
It’s funny Mr. Baker, you could have avoided the whole WP error disaster by a barebones knowledge of HTML and CSS, along with an FTP client. I won’t confuse you here if you aren’t aware of how it works, but you could have created that landing page completely outside of WordPress, using the URL you’d originally intended to. Less than ideal, but in a pinch it would have served beautifully.
But this is still the best blog post I’ve read in 2010. 😉
Looking back there are a lot of things I could have done differently. The entire time we thought we were just a couple minutes away from fixing the issue, so it was difficult in the moment to see the forest from the trees (or trees from the forest).
Best post in 2010? Whoo-hoo! 😉
That is one of the most honest reads I’ve had in a very long time. I’m new to the “blogging” world and loosing everything and errors has been a learning process for me as well. I’m blessed to have the great K. Gajda as a close friend, so he becomes my tech guy a lot…hahah.
Love the drive. Love the honesty.
Thanks for sharing!
Holy cow… if Karol is your tech guy… may God help you! 😉
Seriously, though I appreciate it!
I appreciate your honesty in sharing!
There is so much to be learnt from your lessons & Baker, you launch ain’t a failure, I believe those lessons will make you stronger for the next launch!
TOTALLY AWESOME piece of post!
Whatever doesn’t kill you… makes you stronger? Right? Not sure about that, but I’m running with it this time. 🙂
This post is full of epic and win.
Inspiring. Honest. Blunt. Self-deprecating. All the elements of a great post.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucious
Keep it up man. Enjoying your journey.
Haha, best comment on this post! “Full of epic and win”… love it. Thanks so much.
Wow, did this ever put wind back in my sales! Well done Baker, well done!
No problem, Josh. Looking forward to digging into your fitness guide. 🙂
And I’m looking forward to hearing what you think. 🙂
Wow~ I’m a first time visitor and am floored by both your honesty and transparency. On a much smaller scale, I have been experiencing some similar setbacks….. just today, I wrote about my propensity for ‘talking, not doing’.
This has been me lately, “I huddled up and went into planning mode. Planning was easy. Actually doing something was… hard.”
But your wisdom and teachable moments, combined with my recent self-reflection have given me a new perspective. Thank you.
Best of luck on this and future projects….
Thanks for stopping by, Danielle! I hope you’ll stick around. It’s awesome to know so many others are sharing the ups and downs. I know I’m not alone!
Relate I can….
The Minimalist Path became just what it became to you. Work and not a focused mission. I had a similar unheralded launch in August and I made the long-drawn out decision to move on. I sold TMP in early September and it was probably the best thing for me personally. I am glad to see you didn’t sell MVD but I understand your feelings/emotions that you have dealt with over the last 6 months. I plan on making a comeback but I need to find my new mission. Thanks for being one of the many to inspire me to get back on the horse (as Corbett said to me).
Yes, Dave… I’m not too happy with you! (But I know you’ll be back soon)
As a side note, I saw your proposal video on Facebook. First, congrats. Second, nice technique!
This was a brave post. Seriously. I always tell people that I only remember my losses from my athletic career clearly and the wins are a blur. This post in itself was a guide on how to launch, or not launch, a product.
Thank you for letting us in on the gory details!
No problem, Katy. I experienced the same thing when I used to be in the gambling world. People always remembered their “bad beats”, but never remembered any of the times they got lucky. 🙂
Epic post. Loved it. That’s it.
Whoo-hoo! That’s it. 😉
Thank you so much for your honesty, Baker. I so needed to read this. My wife sent it to me after I was feeling a little resigned after a recent campaign of mine didn’t yield the results I was looking for. Thank you for the inspiration and for reminding me to keep on going.
Wow, thank your wife for me! Glad she shared it and appreciate you taking the time to comment.
Wow. I think you just raised the bar for authentic honesty.
You have a lot of great ideas, and you’re also a talented story teller. I think your story of a product launch disaster would go well as a video post.
Keep up the good work!
Nice! Thanks. I didn’t realize how powerful the *story* itself was going to be until I started getting feedback like this. So glad it was captivating. 🙂
I have been a SOLID follower of yours for a while and THIS POST is WHY I come back time and time again. You tell it like it is, you give it your all, you are transparent and honest in a way that is so refreshing and easy and RAW.
Don’t despair, keep on doing what you do and your readers will follow. Everyone has an “oops” moment at some point–you’ve obviously learned and have shared (for which I’m sure all your readers are thankful for) and you are honest about the outcome.
Amazing post. Well done.
Ammie, thanks for coming back time and time again. You say this is why you do, but in reality… the fact that you keep coming back is why I’m able to share so much! Thank *you*!
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Hey Baker, I was very sorry to hear the launch was such a nightmare. I have had my own stuff to deal with so felt bad for not supporting you but maybe it was for the best:) I can always come on board in the future when you’re good and ready!
I think there’s too much emphasis on launches anyway. I said to Diggy that the goal for me and anyone is that a product has legs and keeps selling longterm and that’s what seems to be the case for you.
I’m doing my first product launch on 29 Oct (affils on board 1 Nov) for Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps. In many ways I’ve felt like a failure because there is a pressure to get things out fast but that’s not my style.
I’m more comfortable knowing that my product is of the highest quality and that anyone who buys it or recommends it will be glad they did. Like you I can stand by my work 100% and that’s a great feeling. My ebook and podcast is ready to roll. Now I have enough time to sort out the landing page (in this case a whole new website) and the affiliates via ejunkie. There is a lot to be done and I certainly never realised how much it involved before.
Anyway, I’m so glad you’ve got your passion and joie de vivre back and thank you for sharing the trials and tribulations of launching a product with us. Really appreciate that. I can’t wait to meet you at BlogWorld:)
Awesome, Annabel! Looking forward to meeting you to.
I totally agree that a long-lasting, quality product *is* the priority. Which is why I decided that would be where I focused my energy, even during that last week.
However, I don’t think it’s a choice. I think you can have both. If you do things correctly, you can have a great long-lasting product that generates a great amount of buzz and helps a lot of people early on.
That’s what I aim for every time! Sometimes it goes better than others. 😉
I’m taking notes: a great long-lasting product that generates a great amount of buzz and helps a lot of people early on. Yes, teacher. It’s scary stuff because no matter how well you plan and prepare things can and do go wrong at the last moment on the Internet.
I’m terrified. You are a fearless adventurer leading the way with this and I’m following along with admiration.
See you in Vegas!
Baker – I think the biggest mistake you made with this launch was setting a date and not sticking with it. What’s more you didn’t even update the blog with the new launch date. I had to check your twitter account to find out what was going on. Suffice to say, this turned me off and I decided not to purchase the product.
I work in a field where we make the majority of our $$$ through product launches. Here’s my #1 suggestion for you – never, ever delay a product launch. Second tip – always give yourself at least a week from the time you expect the product to be ready for launch to the launch date that you’ve advertised to smooth out any bugs and ensure that you can stick to the launch date.
Jacob, thanks for your advice.
I did update my blog with the new launch date. I updated it on the original launch day with a post that explained why I was delaying it a week. I’m sorry the fact that you missed this post turned you off. (In the post, I mention that I should have done the post on Monday the day before).
I disagree with saying “never, ever delay a product launch”. It’s never going to be your first choice, but there are always cases where it’s beneficial. Whether or not I should have delayed this one can be debated. I *do* agree that I would have made more money in the first two days had I not delayed launch. But that isn’t the primary measure of my impact for my business.
I’m with you Baker on waiting to launch. There is nothing worse than a product that even the author doesn’t like. I despise having someone tell me they rewrote the section right after it was done. It reminds me of college text books- you might as well rent a space in a dumpster right after you are done with the class.
Thanks for being honest. Thanks for the great content. Thanks for reminding us all how hard it can really be to run a small business. Thanks for letting us know it’s ok to fail. Thanks for showing us you can still succeed even when you fail.
Thanks for all your support and help over the year(s), Craig! 🙂
Thanks for sharing all of that. As one who tries to learn from other people’s mistakes, hopefully there’s a lesson or two in there that I can take.
Also, it’s nice that you’ve started posting content again.
I’ll do my best to keep it up! 🙂
So many lessons to be learned here, Bajer. I believe you will change the world.
I’ve been following you for a little while and I’d love for you to share your story with my audience. Contact me and let’s set up an interview. I have a few thousand people who would love to hear it.
I think you’re the only dog blog that I will follow…ever. You’re funny. Okay, I’m sorry, because what happened was NOT funny – it sounded stressful, heartbreaking, terrifying, exciting, and about 9000 other words, but not “funny” – BUT the way you write pulls everything together as an enjoyable, empathetic read.
There’s something: all of your readers are quite empathetic. Now, I think that’s something that anyone aspiring to be successful would envy…an empathetic, tuned in audience.
I bet about 76% (judging by the responses – length, detail, etc) DID NOT SKIM; they read. That’s just not fair. Most people do not read, they skim. I envy that…
I think the radical honesty helps. That, and you’re easy to relate to.
Oh…right…I’m commenting on the blog, not the layout or the comments.
I like the article ;] It’s interesting, kept me tuned in, and gave me some facts that I may have NEVER CONSIDERED RELEVANT TO BUSINESS. Is that bad? I think that makes me stupid!
I mean, really. Shouldn’t half of this be common sense? (Fun Fact: Saying something is “Common Sense” is never helpful; it assumes to much about the programming of the individuals involved.)
So. Question. By the read, it seems almost as though knowledge/learning and sharing that generates more “wealth” to you than money…. So what’s the deal with that? A business guy who shares his secrets … well, there’s someone worth listening to.
Oh man Baker, that is quite an ordeal! I’m very happy you got through it all! IT definitely shows your perseverance! Put it this way, if you can go through this, you can go through ANYTHING!
I’m glad your sales picked up greatly. I’m happy to do an interview on FS or Yakezie.com if you’re up for it. Generally it’s just 7-10 questions over e-mail.
Up to you and good stuff hanging in there and coming back!
Oh and btw, how many blogs can say they have 7,800 subscribers! That’s huge man! Not to mention all the Twitter followers too. That’s gotta count for something yeah? Of course!
Wow, what a roller coaster ride! I echo everyone commenting before me … thank you so much for your truth. Experience is the best teacher!
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I got a huge kick out of reading your trial by fire effort of building “your brand” and admire your honesty. I have enjoyed using ebay, garage sales and donations as a way to simplify our lives and we still have a ways to go. I’ve been working on a blog but it’s mostly about keeping it simple with a family of 5 in Sleepy Hollow, NY. Check it out when you have a chance and wishing you and your family great success!!
Thanks, Baker. This is the kind of stuff I crave to read, the real nuts and bolts of it all, no bs. Thanks.
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You didn’t let it get you down. That is the best part of the story. I love my copy!
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I applied to waitress again 23 days after quitting my full-time job (with thousands in savings) because I was at a complete loss for writing/promoting/public relations. I promised myself after waitressing in college I wouldn’t be doing that again unless times were desperate. I also put in a bid for a project to become the executive director of one of the most royally effed up non-profits in town. Ran my September cash flow, without savings I made about $700 more than I did working a corporate gig.
Isn’t it funny the things we fall back on when we get worried/lose direction?!
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Bwahahahaaha! so funny dude! I bought sell your crap the day it came out so I must have been one of the 4 sales on the first day. But get this, I had never read your blog and I knew nothing about manvsdebt either. It was pure, utter random coincidence and chance. I was already involved in selling my own collection of ridiculously expensive clutter to pay off my credit card debt and stumble/googlesearched/found your website. I watched all the interviews that day and I got so psyched about this minimalism/blogging revolution and just KNEW it was exactly the same direction I was going in. Since then I have been selling stuff full time (I had already quit my job) and reading the blogs of everyone you interviewed. I’m so happy to be a part of this. It feels so good to just let stuff go, it’s amazing!!! About the launch, I did all the same things when I launched my first magazine Renegade Hack in Cape Town. Except I was not nearly as elegant in my failures but I also learned a lot and they were good times. So I’ve never blogged before and have no idea how wordpress works but I’ve been recording my progress from spendaholic to thrifty minimalist as inspired by you guys on my blog
I hope you don’t mind my mentioning you on my blog Im so inspired and excited I just want to get rid off the stuff and make more space for joy and travel in my life. Thanks for being so human and real. Its deeply cool of you indeed.
FYI i just reposted that comment minus a link to my blog. It seems to think I’m a phisherman when I include the link so better to leave it out maybe. Possibly not best internet etiquette either, sorry!
Got here via your Zen Habits post. This is an incredibel post and I plan to subscribe to your site because of it.
I’m a screenwriter and this post is a perfect example of excellent storytelling structure! If you were my student I would give you and A+ for structure, pacing, emotional content etc.
Great post! As a VERY new blogger, I appreciate reading about your challenges. Your transparency on this is so helpful to the rest of us. Thanks! I look forward to buying and reading SYC.
All I can say is … WOW … thank you, Adam, for pouring your heart out into this post and sharing with others really how difficult it is to deal with unexpected and horrifying experiences (esp. when your livelihood depends on a great product launch). This is a fantastic lesson in helping others to realize that we are all human. We succumb to the same “crashes,” literally and figuratively. We experience heartache when something “fails.”
But trust that you have not failed in the end. You’ve already succeeded. By pouring your heart and energy and wisdom into a great resource to help others, and actually COMPLETING it, you’ve already succeeded. And that, my friend, is true success. Congratulations man. You’re doing just wonderful and I’m so happy for you. 🙂
This story is a true gem in the glitzy blogosphere.
You’re really real now, not a Pinocchio rockstar hiding behind screenshots & flowery verbiage.
I’m stressing about my site launch (which isn’t like anything I’ve seen around this neck of the woods) in time for Blogworld.
It’s so lovely knowing we’re NOT alone w/ trouble. 🙂
Thank you, & I’ll try to find you @blogworld!
Hello Adam, I read your post on Friday when it first came out and I’ve been planning to write this long comment ever since. First, I just want to say that I think what you minimalist bloggers are up to is great and I really think you guys are on to something but I think it’s much deeper than you may realize. Honestly, I think your main issue is attachment to outcome, You seemed way to attached to this launch being a rip roaring success as your head thought it should be. The problem is we cannot predict the future and we really have no idea what’s going to happen next. So to set that goal of $10,000 I think was to set yourself up for disappointment. I mean you could set the goal and that’s ok but your attachment to it is what caused you to suffer as you did. Frankly I have to ask, what is the point of leaving the hell of debt and consumerism and doing a job you hate only to replace it with the hell of having to blog when you don’t want to and having to write a product your heart didn’t seem to be into all the time and suffer when your expectations (attachments) were not met. Seems to me this is just replacing one false god with another. Maybe the real issues, find peace has nothing to do what we are doing. Personally this mantra you guys are pushing, that the key to freedom is to quit your job, start a blog, hopefully make money with it and then travel the world and do what you love — is not for everyone. I mean as you have demonstrated making money at this blog stuff is really really hard when you get right down to it and is no panacea.
It’s the attachment to outcomes that causes the suffering, so what if you had to push your date back. So what if the server crashed and you could not make changes. So what! If you were not attached to selling and trying to force this whole dance to go the way you felt it should go then you could have just relaxed into this process. We have to realize there are other forces at work here and success is not just a matter of our brute force efforts. Unfortunately, I had to learn that lesson the hard way.
I thought the idea of blogging was that it was supposed to be fun and joyful. Otherwise why not just keep our day jobs. Anyway sorry to go on and one about it but I think you are skirting the edge of some spiritual principles here that need to be dealt with. When my computer crashes like that I take that as a sign from the universe that I need to stop. When I feel tired I just stop. Too old for all-nighters. What good are all those all-nighters anyway. We only live once. I am sure you crated a great product to help people I just wish you had enjoyed the process more that’s all. I mean what exactly are we teaching people here anyway. I mean we need to really examine that question. Cause if were just telling them to trade one form of suffering for another than what’s the point. Maybe we are missing it. Maybe it’s all a lot deeper than blogging.
One reason sales may be slow is that there is a recession on and people don’t have much disposable income.
Thank you for such an honest, authentic, and inspiring post! I could feel what you were going through as I read along and I appreciate you letting us in like that. I’ve been burnt out for a while and it seems like every time I try to write or create, it just goes nowhere. Or even worse I get worried about posting it and then it goes nowhere. I think that’s even worse. In any case, thank you for reminding me that even though things seem like there is no fixing them or that they are just a huge mess that there really is always a way through it if you don’t give up.
Thanks again! 🙂
Wow! Thank you for this incredibly transparent blog post. I’m glad you balanced out what you did wrong with things you did right so it wasn’t a complete nightmare. I believe things will go well and sometimes rocky take offs have smooth flights the rest of the way. I bet this is a perfect example of such an example.
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Thanks for being so transparent. When I asked you about how the launch had gone at the UBT in Cincy, I had no idea it had been like this! You didn’t let on at all!
Thanks for the encouragement (both direct and indirect). I’ve felt exactly the way you’ve described and I haven’t even launched anything yet and have only been blogging for five months.
Sell Your Crap” now available!, that’s classic man! No wonder the spam filters caught that one. I really enjoyed the post and at least you had decent success and took the action to implement. When’s the next launch? 😉
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An inspiring story we can all learn from.
I never worry about the first week of sales when I launch something like this. What I worry about is those long term sales. How many can I sell a day after the hype washes off?
Wow, awesome amount of honesty! I admire you and what you’ve achieved, even if, in this case, there were some major downpoints you still pulled it back and made it work. Here’s to not quitting!
I admire you for your courage in revealing the details of your launch results. For that, you’ve been inspirational! I wish you continued success with your book and more to come! I’m pretty sure that you are going to hit it on the nail soon!
Wow Baker! I know I’m late to this party, but this was an incredible post. Your product is FANTASTIC and you absolutely should be proud of it. These lessons you’ve learned and shared about launching it are incredibly helpful. Thank you so much for your transparency — its awesome!
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Thank you for sharing and congrats!
Thanks Baker, I’m new to your site (came her from Danielle LaPorte) and this post was totally a reason to come back! I wish you every continued success 😀
wow, first thanks for sharing and second, thanks for sharing so honestly. I am pretty certain I took a whole lot away from the lessons you learned. (that doesn’t mean I still won’t have to learn them myself. 🙂
Adam, I’m pretty sure you’re as awesome as I think you are. Even more. LOVING your thing. A lot. Go!
This post should absolutely be subtitled “How to turn a massive fail into a massive win.” 😀 You’ve gained more than a few new readers (myself included) because of links into this post.
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Thank you so much for your absolute honesty – that is truly not something I’ve seen from many bloggers; your transparency is not only refreshing, but it’s inspiring as much as a successful launch could have been. I am still navigating the world of monetizing my own travel blog and products, so I was simply floored that you laid everything out on the table. Your launch strategy. Your personal burnout. The work that you put into this business. The failure and how you plan to learn from it. Just, thanks. 🙂 Your candid honesty is inspiring.
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I’m a big believer in manifesting and the power of intention and to say that I have been in a funk because of finances is an understatement. Somehow I manifested you and your words and I am so crazy thankful.
I’m spending a few hours drinking this site in…because I need to rest and refocus and I think I can do that here.
Weird coincidence. I happened on your site while doing some research. Earlier today I was at an event where the Dalai Lama was given the International Freedom Conductor Award. One of the great quotes of the day from him was about truth and transparency and how it creates an immediate heart to heart connection, which brings us closer. Not to be too whoo-whooee but your post made me think of that quote!
Congrats on surviving and making lemonade from the lemons. And congrats on having the balls to talk about your ‘failure.’ I’m a new fan!
Wow Adam that post has made me feel soooo much better – not to take your obvious pain, stress and near exhaustion from this product launch as a feel good factor for me, but for making me feel normal.
I launched my first product ever two weeks ago and I have to say I was 3 days late from my own launch date and the landing page alone (plus testing, links, more testing, edits and more edits) took 2 of those days.
I can relate to the 4 X as long as you think comment because I never fully acknowledged that creating killer content is one thing but marketing it properly takes almost as long.
So congrats to you on recognising all the great lessons you’ve learned, knowing that it will be the kind of lesson that money can’t buy and you will totally ace your next one.
The trailing off after 72 hours is definitely true – I had 3 wonderful days of support and then it dwindled right off.
Makes me more determined for next time!
Thanks for the truth and honesty
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I’m backing up my site IMMEDIATELY after reading this!
Baker, wow, this is one hell of a post. Thank you for your transparency, and for always being so open – it really does serve to inspire, encourage & help the rest of us.
Hope you & the ladies are doing well – say hi to Millie!
I love this post so much, I just wrote a post about it! Ha!
Product launches can be big money makers, but more importantly you learned from your experience and you are sharing this amazing lesson with the world. I think we will all come to find that while product launches can work great to spike your sales, it is possible to have the slow and steady trickle that ends up making you just as much money in the long run.
Thank you for being so genuine and honest with us and yourself! Great work.
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I had thought about buying SYC a few weeks ago (when you first mentioned it), and then I forgot about it… then I came back today to *actually* buy it, and I found this post about it.
Halfway through I started wondering if you were going to talk me OUT of buying your guide… but now that I’ve read the whole article I am 10 seconds away from buying and I LIKE YOU. haha
Maybe that’s a bit forward but I just wanted to comment that it’s really awesome to hear some of the nitty-gritty details of what goes into a product like this, so thanks for sharing, and I can’t wait to read the guide!! 🙂
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What a great background tell-all story! Thanks for sharing so much that can help many writers with the drudgery that goes into marketing what we write.
Adam this is one of the most raw, honest stories of what *really* goes on with a first (or second, or third) product and launch. Killer insights – everyone needs to read this before creating something. The product/content is always king. Details are always underestimated. Marketing will always tempt good people to do tacky things. Grown men will always reach their teary-eyed breaking point. I love this game, and love hearing stories like yours, reminding the world just how crazy a ride it can be.
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I suggest you read “The War Of Art” by Stephen Pressfield. You’ll recognize yourself in those pages, as I have. I wonder sometimes when the adversity comes at you staccato like that whether it’s God testing you or you testing yourself.
Keep on keepin’ on and I will buy SYC. But only because I want it…not out of empathy.
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Hi Baker. I’m Melody! When I clicked through to your site from Jonathan’s article on bybloggers I was expecting a “sell your crap” business product site. I’m so excited that it’s about clutter holding you back! and financial freedom!
You may like this article I wrote for Laura Roeder’s site: http://lauraroeder.com/2011/01/is-clutter-holding-you-back-from-business-success-yes/
Enjoyed learning through your experience because I start an e-book course in a week. I figured I’d start backwards and learn what has to be done on the amazon and publishing end. I’ve written tons of things over the years and always wanted to do a book. I’m finally doing it. Well, I’m learning how to do it! We’ll see how it goes. I’m kind of scared about the work going into a launch now! lol
Really enjoyed your site & I’m thinking about buying Sell Your Crap. I may even review on my website. Melody
I too would consider your venture successful, even if you didn’t reach your goal of 200 sales. And, BTW, it’s nice to see people writing about their errors…it lets me know I’m not the only one who makes mistakes (but learns from them, at least occasionally).
Thanks so much for this post! I recently graduated from law school and got fired from my first “real” job after only three months. Talk about flat-on-your-face failure. It’s nice to see your positive spin on difficulties and it’s encouraging to hear the “don’t give up” refrain from someone who’s been there. Thanks again, and good luck with your current and future ventures!
This is SO funny – in a terrible way. Live and learn. Keep at it, you’re way ahead of me.
Hi Baker, I’m new to your blog but so far I’m loving it. I just wanted to thank you for your honesty! As a fairly new entrepreneur who is considering the plunge into the realm of having an online presence, I NEED to hear this stuff – the real story. So far, everything else I’ve read is all about the successes. Thank you for telling me about the “failures” too. It helps, big time.
Great post. I just came back to visit your site after nearly a year. And it is so timely. I’m just getting started myself, trying to make a go of doing what I love – helping people learn languages and am working on launching my first product. So this post was great. Encouraging, empowering and game shaping. Looking forward to working through all your posts in the coming weeks. I feel I’ve a lot to learn. Thanks for helping me! If you guys ever make it to Turkey, you’ve a place to stay with my family! Have a great day!
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Nice post, the great thing about it is that you never gave up, kept on going, congrats man!
Edison failed hundreds of time before he succeeded, people only remmember your success.
If you do not fail how can you learn what will work. Learn from your mistakes and you too will succeed. I make more money now because my failures taught me how to make the right decision.
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What a fantastic post. I love that you share your lessons so we can all learn together. Thanks!!
This is going to become required reading for all of my marketing employees — great, succinct work here!
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Adam Baker, I’m not lazy and I love your post 🙂
David Walsh summed up my sentiments exactly:
“Killer insights – everyone needs to read this before creating something. The product/content is always king. Details are always underestimated. Marketing will always tempt good people to do tacky things. Grown men will always reach their teary-eyed breaking point.”
I’m dawdling with my own product – having never done a real launch before, I have not set up the traditional infrastructure. You’ve given me some awesome points to keep in mind.
Here’s to changing the world.
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Wow, I’m floored at what you had to go through to get your product out. I found your site from a link at Steve Kamb’s Nerd Fitness site. You definitely have a good writing style and I subscribed to keep up…aaaaand if I ever release a product I’ll be sure to not follow what you did initially but I thought you came through it quite well.
This post is VERY helpful for me. The reluctant entrepreneur…Having talent is as scary as having faith in it and sharing it. Thanks for handing me a mirror for my own “Project psych-out meltdown” otherwise known as depression and self sabotage. You’ve earned a new “follower” today 😉
What an incredibly refreshing post — honesty, transparency, and rock solid help!!!
Soon to turn 76 in a couple of weeks, the process of closing a private practice and converting to on line product/service/teaching offerings is exciting, stimulating, as well as challenging and scary. For months now every evening after closing my Center I have been researching how to do a ton of stuff I don’t know diddly about. That has meant watching lord knows how many launch videos by “experts” — all of whom tout the multi-millions they have made and how “simple and easy” their $3-5k courses will make everything. Not one single one of them EVER “told it like it REALLY is!” I got so weary of listening to the same old potato warmed over, ended up unsubscribing from all but 1 or 2. The over the top hype, hard sales pitches, etc. and hoopla were so depressing, I began to wonder if that was the only way to follow my dream.
Finally — someone with the guts to speak up, speak out, and let the newcomer see what goes on behind the scenes. Not only did your post not discourage me — it confirmed what my gut had known all along. Every business, and I have owned several, requires tremendous work and effort; everything has a price.There are pros and cons to online business just as there are in every life experience. And when we know about them, we can better discern the road that works best for us.
Apparently launches are one of the ways most often used to get an online business up and running successfully. However, for several weeks, I have been at a dead standstill trying to convince myself I needed to go that way as well.
Each time I asked myself, “would the big launch approach bring me joy?” The answer was “no,” which led to the question, “Then why would I want to do it?” Most likely for the carrot of more money, more quickly.
Having been there, done that — your post helped me to clarify the route that’s most in sync with my priorities, values, and long-term goals: It reminded me that the most joyful successes of this life came when I allowed myself to be a tortoise rather than a hare.
Thank you so very much for your generously open sharing of your launch, which was an incredible learning experience from which you will take a quantum leap up the lader.
Keep on Being Amazing!
Wow man, I read through your whole launch experience and I don’t know how you managed to stay together in one piece. Even with the cry moment.
I really admire you inner core strenght, I consider myself a guy that never EVER quits and I think I would have call that a day for the first time in my life.
Really touching, awesome fella, no doubt you’re getting BIG man.
Take it easy,
Really, really love this post. Read it the whole way through and consider me a follower!
Completely feel for you with that nightmare launch. I would’ve broke down completely, cried and given up at that point. You’ve done amazing to keep going and get to where you are now. Huge kudos, and what a brilliant set of lessons you’ve learnt from it (including point out what went right! So many people forget that this is just as important too). Thank you for sharing!
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Wow!! Normally when I visit a site for the first time, I browse around a bit, you know, to see who’s running things, what they’ve done, that kind of stuff. But I was pulled in from the heading to the very last word! Baker you are an amazing soul! I am an official fan. Thanks for being so transparent and sharing something that most people would rather avoid telling. Your attitude and persistence through this whole ordeal speaks volumes of your character. You’ve already changed the world…keep at it 🙂
Man – I really feel for you there. My wife was quite concerned and asked if I was OK – she’d been watching my body language as I read this! I’ve had some fun with sites going down, but nothing on the scale of this. What can you say? Good learning experience! I came here from the “Write Epic Shit” section at Think Traffic, and I’m so glad I did – your writing here is certainly epic, and an inspiration. There are some lessons for me here that I hope have sunk in so I don’t feel the need to learn them the hard way!
Thanks for sharing 🙂
Most tragic moment, yet had me laughing my ass off was the point when the site came back up, and the “benefits filler” was there. Oh man, I felt bad, but I was laughing hard.
Great lessons, and especially that if you create a truly amazing, kick-ass product or program that you pour your heart and soul into…people will forgive you. Not that it’s an excuse, but many of us are great content creators, and crappy marketers.
Haha! Great post! You know how to write! I’m not much of a creative person, but I do love that feeling when you get an idea and from there, you’re on a role and feel invincible!
Wow. I’m completely blown away Adam! This is one of the most motivational posts I’ve read in a long time, and it’s about how you failed lol! There’s so much I’ve reflected on, and learned from this post, it was a real treat!
A great post. I love honest posts – they’re so refreshing. I got very close to burn out recently but have kept going. I’m about to launch my first product/course so your insight is very useful. I think I’m going to revisit my strategy now and offer it as offline courses so I can get some money in to outsource the sales page and course platform. I don’t fancy doing this myself – although I could if I put my mind to it!
Hi Baker, I just had to leave a comment.
Your writing is just amazing! Incredable how you capture attention!
I’ve learnt a lot from this post. Thanks.
Thank you! for this post! I think anyone can learn from what you have shared – how to look at our mistakes and learn from them. And believe it or not, many of the things you did ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ directly apply to my experience trying to finish a graduate degree: not losing your mission, setting a date, and NOT giving up… thank you!
hey thanks so much for sharing all this insider stuff…I’m about to launch my first product and will take all the guidance I can get. helps to have a glimpse into the ‘behind the scenes.’ good luck to you!
I’m bookmarking this page. I have to say I love the lessons learned. The great thing about writing a post like this is that you get to list out all of your wrongs and rights. This is really good to do as it helps cement in your head just exactly what you did and how to do it again.
Loved reading them- despite the fact it was painful for you. We all learn from success and failure. Kudos again.
Wow! First time commenter here, and as a SUPER fan of Pat Flynn, I LOVE your open heart and even as I go into dinner service in my restaurant, I had to finish reading your post.
I’m working on my first product and launch, and your post was great. Much success to you and your future, I’ll be here watching you RAKE IT IN!
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Quite the story. I think you salvaged a lot from the experience. Good on you.
Great article. It really resonated with me, because I found myself in a similar place at the beginning of 2013, though, probably on a smaller scale. My blog and new podcast were gaining traction, but I just had trouble staying passionate about it. I was focused too much on what I wanted from it and not focused on creating the value. My motivations were a bit screwed up.
Like you, I try to create “epic shiznit” on my blog. I create posts that are 1,000’s of words. It is hard to stay motivated to create posts like that. I want every post to be timeless and “evergreen”. Well, I think I have balanced some things out and now I find myself creating new epic content for the RIGHT reasons. This article helps to give me confidence that I’m on the right path and that huge success could be just around the corner, if I continue to focus on creating value for people.
I picked up some useful ideas here, too. Thanks for taking the time to put this all together.
I wish you the best in the future.
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I’m touched by the stubbornness of your zeal to succeed. You are that roch that refused to die so you refuse to fail. I’m working on developing my SEO traffic skills. This makes ready to try a million different contents a million times.
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This post just taught me more than you can even imagine. See, I get way too many ideas in my head and tend to develop and move on to the next great idea before really fine tuning and finishing the one before it. I guess you would call me small biz ADHD. 🙂 I am going to read this again and again. Thank you.
That was some good shit.
I almost am glad that you failed because it made for such a good post. You likely think otherwise 🙂 But it seems you learned so much out of sucking so, so hard, that next time around you’ll blow the doors off. Congrats on sucking on your launch!
Wow, thanks for being so brutally honest and self-reflected and sharing your lessons with us – reminds me of the mindset of an athlete! This being the first blog post I’m reading from you I’m excited to dig into more.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned is: listen and follow your own rules. It seems it’s always easier to give advice to others than taking it from yourself.
And the #1 rule of success just got confirmed again: persistence pays off.