A Digital Nomad’s guide to fucking up a 10 day product creation challenge twice - and still be on time

Or: The most depressing 14h, that got a keyboard key stuck to my forehead


It was approximately six days ago, when I joined the Gumroad Small Product Lab challenge. At least the email, I received in my inbox this morning, said it’s day 6.

Back then I had shiploads of product and service ideas in my head. But all of them were so big…

These things never seem impossible to me. I just get the next idea in the middle of bringing the first to life. And since I know myself so well about this topic by now, I just stopped creating in the moment I have the idea. Instead I would just do nothing until the next idea hit me.

Yes, I know. From bad to worse.
Anyway. I needed something to change.

And so the email, Gumroad sent my way, was very welcome. It said something that made me listen: Create only a small product within only ten days.

How it went so far

Well… You saw the title of this article, right? Spoiler Alert.

First off, I thought I had signed up one day too late anyway. Turns out: Due to the time difference, this wasn’t true. Lucky me.

Because Dinosaur.

Day 1

They are talking about my goal… I know my goal. I’ve been writing about it (and living it) on About Wings for months.

I want people to get out of their daily routine and do something crazy. See, that there is more than just their job, a TV and a bed.

My goal: I want to inspire people to travel more. Hence, I want to make travelling and everything related very simple and easy.

Day 2

Write down what product you could make. In their daily email, Gumroad sent us a surprisingly helpful Spreadsheet. I didn’t use it.

Actually, up until now, I hadn’t actually thought about anything. I hadn’t even read their emails properly.

FAIL.

However, that night I started talking to my boyfriend. It was on the way from my uncle’s office (which we can co-use for the time we are in Vienna) to Hermes, our van.

The reason was, that I had opened a page where Gumroad showed example products. And it was true. They were only small products.
It made the whole endeavour look so freakin’ easy, all of a sudden. Achievable.

I read the emails to my boyfriend aloud. We agreed, that it would be an interesting project. I realised, that it might actually help me get going.

Day 3

Okay, so I knew my goal. That was pretty simple. Day 1: Check.

And so, I started writing down ideas into the surprisingly useful Spreadsheet. I evaluated them by how excited I was about them and how long it would take me to create them.

Looking at the example products, I already had something on my mind: HTML email newsletter templates for Travel bloggers.

Pretty nichey, I know. And it was meant to be very nichey. Yes, I just made that a word.

I’ve found a product. Day 2: Check.

An ugly product creation plan.

Then I started to do, what day three actually said: Make a plan.
Split up every task that needs to be done into many small bites. Possibly simplify your idea even more.

Set up the plan for the next seven days. Day 3: Check.

I was happy and excited, when I went to bed:

Creating three HTML templates within seven days. What could possibly go wrong with that?

Day 4

I am still terrible at writing HTML!

I started my day very motivated. First, I needed to find something to write code in. Found.

Make the first drafts on paper. Drawn.

It starts to creep up on me: I have to code this.
I hate coding. Who’s idea was that again?

About eight hours of pittiful tries to write HTML and desperately looking for HTML builders later, I smashed my head against the keyboard and decided, that it was time to give up. Before I would break the computer in rage. Or the computer me.

FAIL.

I felt horrible. Depressed. Useless.
Never again, would I attempt to code anything!

But I can’t help it. I’m a tumbler. If I fall over, I get up again.
That usually leads to even more depression. Because I mainly do it, to not get depressed properly. And when things don’t work out again… well.

I looked up and down my list of possible products.

One of the ideas I have already had about two weeks ago:

As a nomad I don’t see my friends very often. And while I love my friends and think about them frequently, I don’t always have internet. And if I do, I’m usually so busy working, that I just don’t think about sending a message.

Next thing that usually happens, is close friends complaining, that you don’t get in touch often enough. People get upset. I don’t like it when People get upset. Especially if it’s my fault.

And I had already tried to do a little research about this before. Seems like I’m not the only one who has that problem.

And so, I came up with the idea of a service that automatically sends personalised emails to your loved ones in your name, every other week.

They would be very generalised emails. But so personalised and full of questions, my customer’s friends would have to answer.

All the traveller would have to do, is wait for their friends replies in their inbox — and answer.

nomadsfriend.com was born!

And I’m still horribly nervous, that people would judge me, as an insensitive monster, that never thinks of it’s friends and lets a robot do the job.

But at the end of the day, the computer only gives your friends a chance to get in contact with you, without getting anybody upset. Worth 9,99€ a month? I think so.

Anyway. We are still on day four and with my restart I had only reached the product idea yet. Day 2: Check. Again.

A pretty product creation plan.

And so I started working on day three: Make a plan.
I was surprised how quickly that went down. There wasn’t to much to be done. And especially in the startup phase there wouldn’t be any coding necessary. I would still do a few things by hand. But if the idea worked, I could always hire a programmer to make a proper web app or so. Day 3: Check. Again.

1am.
I really want to finish this today. What was the assignment for day four again? Oh yeah: Besides starting to work on your product, create a landing page for people to sign up.

Conveniently, that was the first step in my plan too. In this case, the sign up page was a major part of the product itself.

Gumroad offers some sort of sign up page, where people can follow that specific creator. That’s nice. But I already had another travel related product in there and the page wouldn’t say anything about my new product, unless I changed my personal profile. So I decided to create my own landing page.

The domain was quickly bought. And Wordpress was — as usual — quickly set up. I have a lot of practice with this.

In the morning I had even found a plugin, that would create a landing page automatically. And as I noticed now, the free version only supplied me with one horrible looking template. DAMN.

3am.
I’m smashing my head against the table again — I got worried about my laptop.

I was still looking for a free, but kind of decent plugin, template or whatever for my landing page.

The last plugin I tried was amazing. It had pretty beautiful templates. It was so easy to use, a seasponge could have done it. And then, after I hit publish, they asked me for at least $ 99USD per month.

Unnecessary to mention, it was freakin’ hard to keep that scream in.

At some point in between, I wanted to try out the landing page tool (Audience) from Gumroad again, only to accidentally create the product page for my product instead. The actual landing page tool was still not my cup of tea, though.

I was on the border of going crazy (like my boyfriend, who surprisingly hasn’t become my ex that night). So I did, what every normal thinking person would do in this situation.

I started coding.

6am.
Have I mentioned, that we wanted to be at the Vienna Gay Pride at 1pm, that day? No? My bad.

I closed the laptop.
I had spent the last hours, doing nothing but code. I hate coding. But I had done it. It was a very basic, but kind of alright landing page. Coded from scratch.

I had uploaded it to my server. I had typed the new domain in. And I had seen the code I had just written. Not the website. The code.

Head met keyboard (I still need to replace that key…)

We made our way back to the van. The sun was already up in the sky. We were scared of the alarm clock that would start ringing in a few hours.

Day 4: Done, but not successfully. Still unchecked.

I went to bed thinking, I had wasted 14h of my life.

Day 5

Clever boy, that I am, I hadn’t put anything on my plan for Saturday, since we would spend the majority of the day at the parade and the following night out in my bar. If we’d find some sleep inbetween, that is.

Coming to the office after the parade (we have a shower here), I took the code of my landing page exactly like it was, and didn’t save it as html file this time.
Instead, I created a html file directly on my server and pasted the code in there.

And BÄÄÄÄÄÄÄM.

Day 4: Motherforking CHECK.

The assignment in the email of day 5 was simple: Start posting to several social networks and maybe write an (this) article on a blogging platform. But mainly it said to focus on creating the product itself.

In the end, I even realised, that I was ahead of my schedule, since I had already created the product page on Gumroad the prior night, which was actually planned for Tuesday (day seven). Day 5: Check.

Booyeah!
I screamed and fell asleep on the desk.

Actually I didn’t. We just took a shower each, had food and went out again. Until 5am.

Day 6

Don’t hate me, but this article won’t tell the full story.
Why? Because day six, out of ten is today.

I spent the day, writing the emails, the friends of my customers would get in their names.

I still have to rewrite a lot, but I feel great. I’m still ahead of the game and even wrote this article now (which was an extra part of day five, if you had enough time).

Why did I write this article?

Well — first off — of course, if you are a fellow traveller or nomad and you struggle with the same problem like I did with my friends, I want you to go over to nomadsfriend.com and sign up to the prelaunch newsletter.
Not only will you save yourself a spot (in the beginning I will only take 20 customers, since I want to be able to keep up with the profile creation) but also you will get the first month for free. So don’t miss out!

Secondly, I really wanted to write this article to show, that — even if everything, that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong — it is always worth, getting up again.

And who knows. Maybe you will even be one day ahead accidentally, after you made it out of the dirt.

PS.: Secure yourself one of the first 20 spots now and get the first month for FREE! Be one of the early birds for nomadsfriend.com: Sign up for the non-binding newsletter!