“The idea that, oh well, I shouldn’t charge money for this because… some reason.
Justin Weiss spent years noodling on side projects. He made every excuse in the book for not charging for them, including some we haven’t often heard:
At the time, it seemed like, ‘Why should I charge money for this? This is a passion project of mine.’ So I should just release it for free.”
But last year, he decided to make a change.
Justin took 30x500. In the first 3 weeks of droppin’ ebombs on his blog, he added his first 50 mailing list subscribers. (ebomb, n: our special brand of educational content marketing.)
He kept at it, just an hour or two a few times a week. He researched his audience using Sales Safari; he wrote ebombs; he came up with a simple formula, really, to make writing those ebombs dead simple.
He started a book on the wrong foot; threw it away. Twice. Then he went back to the basics — focusing on his audience research — and wrote, launched, and presold a beta book. He revised and shipped the finished book.
Justin has sold nearly $20k of copies of his book, Practicing Rails, so far.
He didn’t get on Hacker News or Product Hunt, and he didn’t advertise. He wasn’t a famous insider and he did’t have a huge following. He just built his blog, built his list, and sold from there.
All in an hour or two a few times a week, in the morning, on the side
Justin also has a job and a little kid.
If my description of this exciting process seems rote and workmanlike, it’s because the process is rote and workmanlike. This is exactly what Justin did: He used 30x500 to take something people angst about, that they treat like their BIGGEST EMOTIONAL STRUGGLE EVER — writing a book — and turned it into something he could simply do, the same way, over & over until he had created a wonderful result.
It’s not that his book is formulaic, but the process to create it is a formula. And maybe his ebombs have a distinct pattern to them, but they help people, and people share them, and nobody’s complaining.
The process isn’t exciting. The results are.
Like Flaubert wrote, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” Except minus the “violent” part. Impactful, shall we say?
If I could snap my fingers and teach the entire world one thing, that might just be it: The drama of “creative work” rarely helps, and often hurts. It’s energy and value just… burning off. Energy you could pour into results.
If you’re in the place now where the “fun” and “excitement” has worn off and you want to get real and make a product that helps people, and one that earns you money… well, you definitely want to listen to Alex’s interview with Justin on our podcast:
Listen on your iPhone with iTunes: Stacking Bricks Podcast episode lucky number #13. Don’t forget to subscribe for automatic updates and never miss an episode!
You can also listen right here, right now:
Stacking the Bricks Podcast
EP13 - Justin Weiss's shift from side projects to successful product launches