Here’s what I’ve learned about launching online products.
1. Give tons of free stuff away. The Internet rewards people who teach. Share your best ideas for free, and you will attract an audience of like-minded people. Build an audience before you launch your first product.
2. Build a niche audience. Large audiences are sexy, niche audiences are profitable. Unique creators benefit from a lack of competition and loyal audiences. Build knowledge, gain a unique perspective, and share it with the world.
3. Listen to your audience. Write about what you’re interested in. Then, double-down on what your audience wants to learn about. Listen for phrases they repeat and write them down. Then, once it’s time to write your sales copy, you can speak to your customer directly.
4. Start creating now. Start before you’re ready. Some people spend their whole lives waiting for the sound of a starting gun that never goes off. Don’t wait. The thing you’ve been waiting for is… your own permission.
5. Remember the compounding graph. Audience building is a game of compounding. You start slowly, but once you gain momentum, you can hit escape velocity. The beginning of any compounding curve is a flat line. Keep publishing, listen to your audience, and aim to improve.
6) Have a vision. Your product should come from the heart. Solving your own problems is the best way to do that. Here’s a trick: Find something that bothers you, and if you can find ten people who have the same problem, build a solution. Then, write about your creation process.
7) Write a manifesto. It’s time to craft your story. Write a short (250 word) manifesto about your product. It should have three parts. First, outline the problem. Second, share your solution to the problem. Third, talk about the specifics of your solution.
Here’s an example.
Outline the Problem
Hey, let’s talk about education.
Kids can’t be kids anymore. They don’t have the space to follow their curiosities, explore their intellectual passions, and learn on their own.
School feels like a chore. Listening to somebody talk for 30 minutes (maybe) is a good way to teach adults, but not kids. School should be an active experience. Otherwise, teachers will spend too much time telling kids to listen and be quiet.
Too many kids obsess over grades instead of trying to learn faster — because that’s what the system incentivizes. Teachers are stuck following rigid curriculums.
Unfortunately, the opposite has happened. Kids are trapped at home. They take online classes run by teachers who have never taught online before. When they get bored, they (get on your nerves) bother you — the parent. They want to create, but need guidance. They want to talk, but need somebody who can listen to them. Most of all, they want to interact with their friends, but they can’t go outside.
Our Solution to the Problem
That’s where we come in. Write of Passage Summer Camp is designed to help kids find their curiosity.
We want to help kids become prolific creators. Building things has never been easier. Kids can watch tutorials on YouTube, interact with teachers on Zoom, and turn their dreams into reality with free software.
Summer Camp is different. It’s not a chore. It’s fun. Kids are encouraged to create and collaborate. Talking, laughing, smiling, dreaming, thinking.
Information is free and easy to access. By making information abundant, the internet inverts the learning process. In school, you start with the basics and expand towards curiosity. On the Internet, you start with curiosity and expand towards the basics. A kid with an Internet connection who loves to learn and knows how to create is unstoppable.
And here’s where the experience takes off. Until now, school has always been local. Summer Camp changes that. Kids from around the world will work on projects together, mainly over video chat. By meeting kids from different cultures, they’ll learn about fresh ways of thinking.
Instead of teachers (coaches?) we operate with a light touch instead of a heavy hand. Rather than telling kids what to do, they give direction and offer suggestions.
The Specifics of Our Solution
Write of Passage Summer Camp is a new kind of education. We’ll let kids play — productively. We’ll encourage them to walk the path of self-directed learning with teachers who can guide them and peers who can support them.
We’re re-thinking education from scratch. We’re creating an environment of jokes and joy, laughs and learning. It’s just what the world needs right now: a fresh start and a new beginning. It’s coming to your computer in June 2020.
— David Perell + Ana Lorena Fabrega
8) Build buzz before your first product launch. Remember the 3-2-1 strategy. Three months before you launch your first product, publish your manifesto. Two months before, share a preview. One month before launch, open your product for pre-sale to generate word-of-mouth buzz.
9) Show people your product. When you buy a shirt, you want to feel it. You want to touch the nylon and examine the cotton. Launching an online product is no different. People want to see your product before they buy it.
Here are some ways to do that, written by Jason Fried.
• Overview: Explain your app and its benefits.
• Tour: Guide people through various features.
• Screen captures and videos: Show people what the app actually looks like and how to use it.
• Manifesto: Explain the philosophy and ideas behind it.
• Case Studies: Provide real life examples that show what’s possible.
• Buzz: Testimonial quotes from customers, reviews, press, etc.
• Pricing & Sign-up: Get people into your app as quickly as possible.
• Weblog: Blogs keep your site fresh with news, tips, etc.
10) Share your hit singles. Before a new album comes out, musicians freely share the best songs. The added hype is worth more than the allure of secrecy. Your product should have a hit single too. Share your best nuggets of insight in free online articles, videos, and podcasts.
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