How I launched my first product and made $3,080 in my first month while working full-time
In early 2015 I had a brand new website with little to no traffic, no audience, no product and was making no money from it. I had (and still have) a full-time job and work 40+ hours a week. One of my goals for 2015 was to build an audience and launch a product that generates a regular and passive income.
Well, I’m pleased to say that in October of 2015 I launched my first product, the Personal Productivity Toolkit, which does just that.
Do you have “too much to do” and “not enough time”. Start my FREE email course, the 7-Day Productivity Plan and become a Jedi Master of productivity!
I’m guessing that most people have thought about leaving their job behind and like the idea of living the “freedom lifestyle”. One where you are your own boss and you get to decide how and when to work. There are hundreds of stories of successful entrepreneurs who have done just that; created an online business that gives them the freedom to work on their own terms that supports their financial needs.
Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those stories. I’m still working at my job and the income I receive from the Personal Productivity Toolkit is far from what I need to support my wife and me.
I don’t know about you, but when I read these stories I’m often met with this sense of overwhelm. I think to myself:
That’s so far away! How am I supposed to get from where I am today to where those people are?
The dream is so far away it feels unachievable.
Don’t get me wrong, those stories are great! They’re truly inspiring and I hope to have my own real success story one day soon. It’s important to remember that a LOT of work goes into these stories and the people in them have worked extremely hard to bring their dream into reality.
Instead, this is a story about how I took the very first step. This is the story about how I created my first product while working a full-time job and how you can do the same. It’s a story about how you can bring that dream just a little bit closer.
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the marketing and business side of the product. Instead, I’d like to talk about how I actually made the product while woking full-time. How I balanced this massive project alongside a job, family and other commitments. How I made the time to do something when there’s usually just “not enough time”.
Allow me to set the stage and tell you where I’ve come from to get to where I am today.
My name is Paul and I’m 24 and I live in Auckland New Zealand with my wife Hayley. Since September, I’ve been working at a startup where we’re taking the process of applying for a mortgage and putting it all online to make it super quick and easy to manage your mortgage.
In 2014 after reading The 4-Hour Work Week for the third or fourth time, I decided it was time I started to try and create this freedom lifestyle for myself. Inspired by independent entrepreneurs like Pat Flynn, Natalie Sisson, and Nathan Barry, I started to think about ideas and topics I could blog about which would eventually lead to a product launch. I wanted to talk about something I’m passionate about, that people would be willing to pay to learn and I arrived on the topic of productivity.
At the end of 2014, I set up my website and started publishing blog posts once a week. In the first quarter of 2015, I launched a free email course call the 7-Day Productivity Plan (sign up, it’s awesome!) to take people through the essentials of productivity. I used feedback from this email series to develop a more in-depth online course. While continuing to publish blog posts once a week, I spent the next three months creating an online course which I called the 6-Week Productivity Program. I beta tested the course with some people from my email list and used the feedback to iterate the product into what I now call the Personal Productivity Toolkit.
I launched the toolkit at the end of October and generated $3,080 in sales during the first month of the products life.
This wasn’t the life changing launch I had hoped for, but it proved one extremely valuable thing to me; people were willing to pay good money for something I had produced out of thin air. This was amazing to me! That I could sell something to people all around the world who I’d never even met.
When I think about building my business and selling a product, I remind myself of what Gary Vaynerchuk says in regards to patience:
Gary Vaynerchuk #patienceisavirtue it just is! ⌚️. Too many people want things “now”… And their actions are stunningly in the direction of life not being that long, way too many people are executing as if they are done working/building in 12 months… Patience my friends … You have to “romance” your business … It takes time … I may seem hyper but I am a 🐢 in a 🐰 costume … Patience is the top ingredient in my game! #patience #marathontraining
I’m in this for the long haul and although I haven't left my job yet and the income I receive is fairly small, I know that with patience and hard work I’ll be able to grow my product revenue and bring my vision into reality one day soon…
Finding the time for a side business while working a full-time job
So, how did I balance work, family and other commitments alongside this side-project?
If you’re interested in starting a side-business, this is one of the biggest challenges you’re going to face. Look at it this way; if you sleep for 7 or 8 hours a night and your job takes up another 8 or 9 hours, that’s two-thirds of your time gone!
To use your remaining time in the most productive way, start by creating a “time budget” for your side business.
I made a promise to myself that I would work on this side-business for a minimum of 15 hours a week.
You can then plan out exactly what you need to do:
- Set up some projects using Asana or ToDoist where you can organise the tasks related to the different parts of your business. e.g. I had projects like Content Calendar, Website and Product.
- You can then list everything you need to do within each of these projects. So for the Personal Productivity Toolkit I listed all of the resources I would need to make, chapters to write, videos to shoot — EVERYTHING. This included everything to do with the launch like setting up a checkout system, creating a sales page and writing guest posts.
- After listing all the jobs you need to do, rearrange them into a logical sequence. I had to ask myself which tasks needed to be completed before others. For example, I knew I would need to write the book first as this would determine what would need to be included in the other resources and coaching videos.
- When everything is in the right order you can add due dates to the tasks. It can be tricky working out how much you can realistically get done in a typical week (especially while working full-time). That’s why the next step is so important.
- You can then schedule time in your calendar for working on these tasks. The reason this is so beneficial is that it forces you to assign an actual amount of time to an appointment. So when I added something like: “Edit coaching video 3” to my calendar, I would have to work out how long that task was going to take to make sure the appointment wasn’t going to conflict with other things on my calendar.
TIP: I love using Sunrise Calendar to do this as you can sync your tasks from Asana or ToDoist and have them overlaid on top of your appointments.
By going through this process of organising your tasks and scheduling them in your calendar, you can plan when you’re going to work on your side-business alongside other things you’ve got going on.
Make sure you add everything you’re doing into your calendar. Block out 8 hours for your job, time for exercise, social events… EVERYTHING!
If you refer back to your time budget and then look at the different blocks of time in your calendar, you can make sure you’re getting the right balance each week — you’re not doing so much that you burn out and neglect your family and friends and not too little where you’re not making consistent progress towards reaching your goal.
TIP: Don’t try and schedule all of the tasks at once. Instead, get everything into a logical sequence and then conduct a “weekly review” on a Sunday where you plan and schedule your tasks for the following week. Feel free to move appointments around as you need to throughout the week.
Avoid these common mistakes
It’s been a really great learning experience. Here’s your opportunity to save a tonne of time and avoid some of the mistakes I made:
1.Trying to do too much at once
When planning your week, it’s very easy to get carried away and budget a bunch of things to do and over commit. I’m sure you’ve been there before — you have 10 things you want to get done and it sucks at the end of the week when you’ve barely finished half of them.
Be generous with the amount of time you allocate to tasks as there are always going to be complications that set you back.
Take my word for it — don’t try and squeeze too much into your calendar.
2. Don’t rush through your tasks
This goes hand in hand with the first mistake but it’s important to mention. As well as not over committing, don’t rush through the tasks you’ve set for yourself. If you do it’s highly likely you’ll do an average job and have to go back and redo the work later, taking more time than you would have otherwise spent if you just slowed down.
3. Ship it fast!
This is something I really wish I had done. Not that I’m disappointed with the finished product, but by not shipping fast I was taking on more risk. Risk in the sense that I could have spent a tonne of time making something that no one wanted. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case, but you get the idea.
If I was going to do everything again, I would have launched a basic version first and used the feedback to develop a more in-depth product later.
This will definitely be how I approach my next product launch.
TIP: If you have a product idea already, check out the Fizzle 30-Day Just Ship It Challenge. The course will guide you through how to build and launch your product in under 30-days. Check it out, you won’t regret it!
4. Value your down time
Taking time off to relax, unwind and socialise with friends and family is really important. Yes, you’re going to have to hustle in order to get a website made and a product launched, but be careful to avoid burnout.
Make sure you can sustain the work that you’re doing by getting enough sleep and taking time off to relax and unwind.
On a few occasions, when I had my head down for too long, my wife Hayley had to bring me back down to earth and remind me of her existence. Be careful not to neglect the people closest to you as this is only going to add stress to your relationships and flow over into your work.
Make sure you do these things
Having spent a LOT of time listening to podcasts, reading books and blog posts about how to create an online business, I’ve noticed some common trends in the mountains of advice out there. The last thing you want to do is spend all your free time on things that don’t matter. It’s far more productive to spend this time on the most high-impact tasks within your business that are going to have the biggest contribution towards your goal.
I’ve applied these ideas within my own side-business and highly recommend you pay particular attention to the following:
1. Do something you care about
When working on a side-business, you’re going to be putting in long hours to bring this idea of yours to life.
You’re going to doubt yourself.
At times, you’ll feel like quitting.
This is exactly why you have to do something you really care about. So if you come up with an idea that sounds good because it might make a lot of money, forget it. Instead, focus on something that has meaning to you and is something you could talk about (in-depth) for years to come.
A good way to test a few ideas is to set up a website with your name as the domain (I bought PaulMinors.com and this is still where I do all my work) and then blog about a few topics that interest you. Write a couple of posts on each topic and see where they take you. If you find yourself wanting to dive more into a particular topic then go for it. You might find that a topic that you thought interested you is actually pretty dull or there’s not much to say on it.
Spending some time, in the beginning, finding your purpose, your WHY, is going to be time very well spent.
For more inspiration, check out Simon Sinek’s famous TED talk, Start with Why.
2. The goal isn’t to sell a product, the goal is to add value
If you only focus on selling a product and making money, you’re going to set yourself up for failure.
This is not a get rich quick scheme. This is a get rich slow and steady scheme which takes a lot of hard work.
If you look at anyone selling online courses, ebooks or coaching packages online, you’ll notice that there’s usually a blog, podcast or some other source of value behind the product.
Before you can sell a product, you need to build trust and show people that you’re someone who delivers value and that can help them to solve a specific problem in their life. To do this, you need to give away a tonne of value for free. I do this through my blog, podcast and the 7-Day Productivity Plan. All of these channels are designed to educate and deliver value so that I can build the trust necessary to sell a product.
3. Build relationships
This goes hand in hand with the last point; focus on building relationships with your audience.
I love it when I receive emails from people who have read my blog or completed my email course who have made an improvement in their life. It’s incredibly rewarding and I love seeing people coming back to the blog on a regular basis updating me on how things are going.
This adds to the meaning behind your work that I touched on before and it inspires you to keep going.
4. Build an email list (social media is secondary)
When it comes to launching a product online, by far the best vehicle for doing this is an email list. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Periscope are all great for connecting with your audience, but nothing beats email when it comes to selling a product.
Building an email list should be on your list of top priorities when you start out. Don’t half-arse it either. Simply adding “Sign up for updates” to the sidebar of your site is one of the least inspiring things you can do. Give away something of value like a short ebook or email course as an incentive for subscribing and advertise it everywhere.
When it comes to connecting with your audience, sharing blog content and launching your product, email is going to be your weapon of choice — build your list.
Some email providers to check out are:
I believe starting a side-business and using this to help people with a topic you care about is one of the best ways to spend your free time.
It’s not easy and you’re not going to be an overnight success, but with some hard work and patience, that little side-project could turn into something great!
I’ve found that the things I’ve learned throughout the course of building my website and launching a product have also been incredibly handy within my work life. I’ve been able to apply the same ideas and boost my productivity at work as a result of the lessons I’ve learned.
If you’re even remotely interested in working for yourself or setting up an online business, I urge you to start today. Just take one small step… go and register a domain or set up a Wordpress account.
Thanks for reading! To learn more about me, head on over to my little slice of the web at PaulMinors.com.