***Update: The 24-hour product is live!
The product I’ve been working on for the past 24 hours is live and already selling. You can buy 10 Days to Better Design here. If you haven’t been following along, you can read the full story below: *** I love creating new products. There’s a certain thrill that comes from bringing an idea to life with a tight deadline. I’ve written and published a book in 90 days and it was a huge success. But lately I’ve been working on something that will take far more than 90 days and is much bigger than a book. As planned, ConvertKit is taking all my focus. But I’ve had this little idea in my head… Before we get to that, let’s take a little detour and talk about small products.
Ever since writing Authority I’ve advocated that new creators start by selling small products. Instead of writing a 400 page book and then learning that you can’t sell it, start by creating a single small tutorial then build and grow an audience around that. Sacha Greif did this with his ebook Step-by-Step UI Design. Instead of a full-length manuscript on design, Sacha’s book is a short walkthrough on how to design a single web application. It’s short, packed full of good advice, and only took a few weeks to write. Sacha sold this little book for a few dollars (at first just $3 and $6, but he later raised the price to $6 and $12). It turns out, small products can be pretty successful. Sacha sold $6,663 in the first 24-hours. I’d like a few more examples of small products that have done well, so why not create one?
A side project
So I’m taking a short break for a little side project to make this small product that has been stuck in my head. But since I don’t want it to interfere with my major business goals, I’m only giving it a day. That’s right: 24-hours to plan, build, and launch a new product. From start to finish. My time starts today (Monday) at 12:00 PM Eastern and goes until tomorrow (Tuesday) at the same time. So 24 hours from now I will have a brand new product up and available to purchase (which I hope you’ll do!). Best of all, I’m doing it all in public.
Want to build a following? The simplest way is to work in public. Just share what you’re building, why you made certain decisions, and the results from building it. Every hour or two I’ll be posting an update in this post to share the process and let you know where I’m at in the process. From planning the product, to designing the sales page, to the actual launch—you’ll find it all here. I’ve got basic recording equipment setup so I can record quick videos and get them online without taking too much time away from my actual work.
With a little help
About a month ago I setup a Creative Market account. I’d known about them for years, but had never made a purchase from them. But on that fateful day I found a photo that I really liked and purchased it. Within 10 minutes I’d made another purchase, then another. That first photo was like a gateway drug to amazing design resources… I had no idea what I’d been missing out on. Unlike most stock photo sites (which suck) each of these photos had pre-made actions so I could easily include my own designs within the photo. I know how to replace an iPhone screenshot in Photoshop, but I’ll gladly pay $3 to not have to do the work. Anyway, since that fateful day I now have over 50 items in my Creative Market purchase history. Their library has been instrumental in providing little details that I need to create great designs faster. And I plan to use their library today to make creating this product and the accompanying marketing materials even faster. Luckily for you, in addition to sponsoring this project, Creative Market is going to help you out as well. They’ve given me 100 $5 gift cards to give away, which I’ll be doing in batches of 10 or 20 throughout the day. Alright, enough setup, let’s get down to business.
What’s the product?
This new product is a series of 10 design exercises to help you become a better designer. Think of it as the homework for my design books and Photoshop course. It’s going to be hands-on and very practical. It’s how I’m going to get you to start applying these design principles in real life projects. Anyone who purchases will get 10 lessons, dripped out by email (through a ConvertKit course), one per weekday. The exercises are platform agnostic, so you can complete them using Photoshop, Sketch, or your favorite design tool.
Right now I’ve got half a page of notes on what the product should be. I haven’t started any actual work, though I’ve been thinking about it all weekend. For a price I’m thinking somewhere around $10-15. Probably with two packages. To deliver the course I’m going to setup checkout through Gumroad and then connect it to ConvertKit so that each customer gets the exercises dripped out automatically. That’s all I’ve got. I don’t have a product name or a clear idea of what most of the exercises will be. Have a suggestion? Post it in the comments below. The first update will be coming very soon. If you think this is a fun project, why don’t you tell your friends so they can follow along as well?
11:00 AM update:
My friend Amy Hoy just decided to join the challenge! Here’s what she has to say about it:
“I’m committing to JFS my long-planned Just F***ing Ship, a short ebook that focuses on the joy of finishing and how to just f***ing do it. It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for 2 years at least, but other, bigger projects have always eaten up the energy for it. Ironically. This challenge is going to be a lot of fun.” –Amy Hoy
You can follow her progress here: http://unicornfree.com/2014/24-hour-product-challenge Here’s a quick video update of where I’m at in the process: And last (but not least) here are the first 20 free $5 gift cards from Creative Market: https://gum.co/VCva/batch1 The free gift cards are first-come, first-served (though don’t worry, if you miss this batch I’ll be releasing a few more after the next update!)
12:00 PM update:
Only an hour in and I just finished the first lesson! Great support and words of encouragement have been flooding in. Here’s one of my favorites from the comment section below: “Love it, and I’ll buy it whatever it is, however it turns out. :)” -Tom Here’s another quick video update with details: If you have any ideas for design exercises that you’d like me to create, don’t hesitate to drop them in the comments below or tweet them out to @nathanbarry. Also, the first batch of free gift cards from Creative Market got snatched up in the first 3 minutes! Here’s the next batch of 20, grab yours now! https://gum.co/VCva/batch1
2:45 PM update:
We’re a few hours in now and I’m making a lot of progress. As of now, I have the first drafts of four different design exercises done. Here’s a quick video with details: I’m still working on creating the Gumroad product so I can offer pre-orders, but when that’s finished we’ll be posting an update and giving 10-20 people early access to the course materials for testing and feedback. I’m really excited to share these design exercises with you. It looks like Amy is making great progress on her challenge too: https://slash7.letsfreckle.com/r/75gpco9bbo4qik378x344enx9 Creative Market gift cards are going really fast! Here is the next batch of 20 free $5 gift cards: https://gum.co/VCva/batch1 If you end up downloading any stock images or design resources from Creative Market with your gift card, I’d love to see what you make with them! (Just tweet me @nathanbarry or drop a comment in the comment section below).
3:30 PM update:
Alright, I have 5 design exercises done now—at least the first drafts—and I need help from 10 people to review them. So, we’re doing preorders! If you want to get an inside look at the exercises and help me make them a lot better, grab one of the 10 slots. Preorder the design exercises product (that doesn’t have a name yet). Note: you should only preorder if you have time in the next few hours to do an exercise or two and provide me feedback. Otherwise save those limited spots for those who can.
4:00 PM update:
I’m working on the product name, but don’t have any really solid ideas yet. Or at least I’d like some more opinions before I settle on one. Want to join in? Voice your opinion in our public Google Doc.
7:30 PM update:
Seven design exercises DONE. I opened up the Google Doc for product name suggestions earlier and the response was fantastic. At one point there were fifty people logged into the document! Here’s a quick video update: I’m heading home now to put my kids to bed and take a break. We’ll be releasing the next batch of Creative Market gift cards tomorrow! Be back on later to keep pushing this forward. Note from the editor: Hey everybody, this is Dan Gamito. I’m helping Nathan grow ConvertKit, ensure our customers are as successful as possible, and administer the publishing side of his business. Managing a six-figure per year publishing business while building a software company comes with a lot of challenges, and we’ve been putting a lot of effort into ConvertKit lately (which can be stressful sometimes). Thanks to you, his amazing audience, Nathan is having a really great time. It’s really fun to see him running with this, and if nothing else, your encouragement and support throughout the process helps us remember why we do what we do. Thank you for being here! -Dan
10:00 PM update:
Just got back to the office and I think we’ve settled on a name for the product thanks to the help we got in our Google Doc. Here’s a quick video update: Today has been a bit crazy since DNSimple went down. ConvertKit went down for a while as a result, which was stressful since it interrupted service for our customers. Sometimes you never know something can break until it does. Anyway I’m also super impressed with Amy’s progress today. Looks like her partner-in-crime Alex Hillman has jumped in to add his expertise: https://slash7.letsfreckle.com/r/75gpco9bbo4qik378x344enx9 Well, time to focus on some marketing tasks. Next update coming tomorrow morning!
6:00 AM update:
I got into the office at 5:15 AM and immediately started working on the landing page design. Here’s a video summary of what I came up with as well as the Creative Market resources I used to make the process go much faster: The internet in my office is having trouble today, so these videos are taking a long time to upload. I’ll stick to text updates going forward, then add the videos as they come available.
7:30 AM update:
Alright, the landing page is coded and a draft of it is up on my site. If you know how I usually handle product URLs I’m sure you can guess the new URL. I also got Gumroad -> ConvertKit setup through Zapier. So you can technically purchase the course now! Though you shouldn’t because there isn’t any content in there yet. Only 2.5 hours to go!
9:00 AM update:
I have 8 of 10 exercises finished. The other two just aren’t going to get done before launch—which is just an hour away! All of the content is now in ConvertKit, ready to go out to the first purchasers. Now to put the finishing touches on the sales page and checkout process.
10:00 AM update
The product went live on schedule, but without the last two lessons. My goal is to finish those today and get them added to the end of the ConvertKit course. You can buy 10 Days to Better Design here. Soon I’ll have updates that involve sales numbers!
Throughout the last 24 hours a lot of my friends and audience members have been asking me “will you share your revenue numbers?”. The answer is absolutely! But first let’s talk logistics. Once you have a product (in this case a course), there are a few things that need to happen for sales to start happening. Here’s a video showing how I set the product up in Gumroad, then linked it to ConvertKit through Zapier so that when a person buys the course they’ll automatically get enrolled and start receiving the content they just purchased right away: Now let’s talk sales numbers. Just a few minutes after posting the sales page we passed $100 in sales, with most people opting for the full bundle. A few minutes ago we passed $1,000 in sales! Here’s a screenshot: Gumroad handles the payments, Zapier connects every purchase with the ConvertKit course, and as we speak, ConvertKit is automatically delivering the first lessons of 10 Days to Better Design to almost 100 customers! Now that we’ve covered logistics and revenues, I still have some free $5 gift cards from Creative Market to give away. Here they are: https://gum.co/VCva/batch1
36-hour update & course preview:
We’re about to pass $3k in sales! I’m already getting fantastic feedback from students taking the course, and I’ve been working like a madman to get a hub put together where they can post their design exercises along the way for feedback. Details about that in the next update. In the meantime, I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking about how the course looks and functions. Instead of writing about it, I made a two-minute video preview of 10 Days to Better Design: And finally, the last ten Creative Market gift cards are available for FREE here: https://gum.co/VCva/batch1 Don’t forget, you can always purchase 10 Days to Better Design here.
72-hour update & live coding:
It’s amazing to think that we’re just about to pass 400 customers. Just a few short days ago this product didn’t exist, and now my email inbox is blowing up with support requests and progress updates! Not only that, but students already seem to be getting a lot out of the course. A few people have been asking what platform I used for the 10 Days to Better Design landing page; turns out I just hand coded the site, and I recorded the whole process live. If you’ve ever wanted to see a website design coded live, here’s your chance. Here’s the screen recording of me live coding the 10 Days to Better Design sales page: If you haven’t grabbed a free Creative Market gift card yet, here’s the last batch: https://gum.co/VCva/batch1 Thanks again to Creative Market for sponsoring this challenge, their resources have been really useful throughout the process.