Hey guys! This is a guest post by 30x500 alum Ryan Castillo, author of 7 Recurring Revenue Recipes for Freelancers and reformed procrastinator.
Hi. My name is Ryan and I am a whiner.
Or at least I used to be, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
For the past three years I’ve failed to ship a product, and complained about it the whole time.
But I’ve turned things around. I self-published a book that’s made me $2,425. And that’s just the start.
I want to share what changed for me, so it can help you quit whining and start shipping.
Let’s start with a catalog of my failures:
- Failure to do the work
- Failure to follow the steps
- Failure to admit fault
And then I’ll show you how I turned all that around.
Failure to Do the Work
When I took 30x500 in 2012, I thought I could skip one of the most crucial steps, the Sales Safari. That’s where you go out, observe your audience’s real behavior, and figure out what they need, want, and buy.
I thought I already knew my audience. That kind of thing comes easy to me.
So I skipped past the research and waited for the next step.
But when learning how to create Ebombs came around, I fell flat on my face. Trying to make an Ebomb without having done Safari was like trying to do division without first learning subtraction.
I quickly fell behind and eventually dropped out.
Failure to Follow the Steps
Last year, 3 years after I dropped out of 30x500, I decided to give products another shot. I had been freelancing in the meantime. The money was good, but I couldn’t see myself doing it when I was 40.
So I attended Amy & Alex’s BaconBiz conference, joined a new action-oriented 30x500 alumni group called “The Forge”, and took on a weeklong shipping challenge in December to finish a pre-release version of my Book.
I was finally taking action. The next four months were spent finishing the book.
In March, the Forge community was hosting sales-page teardowns, where we review each others’ work and make suggestions for how to make it better.
Thinking I was hot shit, I submitted my landing page.
I had been doing work, but I didn’t use the steps I’d learned in 30x500. I made stuff up instead of using the 30x500 formula.
And based on the teardown, it seemed like everyone could tell.
Failure to Admit Fault
After that teardown, my ego took a huge hit.
I took it personally and wondered if Amy even liked me. I considered quitting products all together.
A couple months later we lost our son, Graham, in the second trimester. It made me numb and want to quit everything.
A couple days later I wrote this in a journal to cope:
Things do not always work out the way we expect. The greater the expectations the greater the disappointment. And here lies the trap.
We become consumed in our disappointment. This isn’t wrong. It’s a natural human emotion. But it’s easy to get stuck in a rut.
This has been us for the last week. Continuing to be content with feeling numb due to our loss. But this is unfair.
In our grief, we become selfish and start to ponder questions concerning why this should ever happen to us. But this cheapens what Graham brought to our family.
For several months he represented hope for our future.
It didn’t happen then.
But soon after that I had my Fuck This moment.
In July, we had a family reunion which was also a celebration for my nephews we were shipping off to college. I found myself envious of their energy and accomplishments.
Here I was, a 34-year old, jealous of 18-year olds.
I was reflecting my life and all the missed opportunities. As if everything in my life was downhill from there.
Then it hit me:
My failure to do the work and to stick with the process were everywhere around me. Not just in 30x500.
I could see it in the way I got through high school and college, the way I performed in sports, the way I got my first job, the way I started my own business, and most importantly in the way I approached parenthood.
For a good part of my life I had just gotten by.
I had relied on natural talent and not done real work.
I thought “showing up” was all it took to be a good Dad. But I knew there was more to it than that.
Ever since I became a parent, I wanted to help my children reach their full potential. But how could I do that if I didn’t have the same aspirations for myself?
If I wanted to set a better example for my children, to evolve as a person, I had to admit my faults.
I had to start taking action.
Becoming a Shipping Machine
So I made two practical decisions:
- I wanted to create a real habit by starting small.
- Every victory, no matter how small, should be celebrated.
I committed to taking 30x500 seriously…and actually following the steps.
I started each day in my audience’s watering hole (that’s a 30x500 term for where an audience hangs out).
My mission was simple: Before I could do anything else in my day I had to help at least one person.
Once that was accomplished, I’d join my family at breakfast and I’d high five my kids. Even if it was something as small as a comment on reddit.
This celebration was important but it started to have a bigger purpose.
My kids were starting to become involved in my success. I was no longer just a Dad that started at the computer all day. I was the writer.
I was the shipper.
After two straight weeks I decided to make things a little more complicated and commit to the Ship by September Challenge.
It’s been a month and a half since my Fuck This Moment.
Since that time I’ve done the following:
- Shipped over 80 comments in several watering holes.
- Followed the entire process of Sales Safari all the way to coming up with a pitch.
- Shipped 8 Ebombs in newsletter and article format. One of which resulted in a reader making $42k.
- Found another watering hole. Got included in their newsletter and was invited to host a live mentoring session. Also by the nature of stacking bricks, someone instantly recognized me when I joined their community!
- Hired a copyeditor and finished editing my book. It was re-launched last week!
All of this was done while consulting full time. It had taken me 8 months to make $1,200 off of pre-sales, my first real launch sequence topped that in a couple weeks! All because I followed through.
In the process of writing this post I took a look at 3 years of old 30x500 emails and personal notes. The notes confirmed, I whined a lot. I asked a lot of questions and sought a lot of “advice” as a way to procrastinate:
Any time I was whining, I was avoiding the work.
The bottom line: Do the work.
That’s the advice I’d give my slightly younger self:
- Do the work. You’ll fail if you don’t pay attention to the details and the process.
- Products are an investment. Wins will not come instantly. You’ve got to take action every day and remain consistent to see real results.
- At its core, the 30×500 process is about helping people. If you accomplish that daily and efficiently you will affect more people. The more people you help, the more people that will buy your products.
Which just so happens to be the advice that Amy and Alex have been giving all along.
From the desk of your editors…
Ryan, thank you. We are so proud of the huge changes you’ve made. Keep up the wonderful work and you will go so far. And readers, Ryan’s book is 7 Recurring Revenue Recipes for Freelancers.
If you’ve made it this far, you might be wondering…
Why are we sharing this messy, human story with you? It’s not the kind of glitzy success-story-case-study-testimonial you find on other sites.
Why? Well, because…
The middle parts of success are always awkward.
We focus on the caterpillar (pretty awesome) and the butterfly (totally rad) and forget that in the middle, the caterpillar is basically an incoherent pile of goo. We forget this because it’s so wrapped up in itself, we can’t even see inside. We forget that the middle even happens. So it is with human success.
The middle parts are the hardest and ugliest and they don’t capture our imagination.
But without that awkward middle, you’re fixed in one form, forever.
Alex and I focus so much on the unsexy stuff — the doing the work — because Ryan’s right. We want you to succeed.
Consistency, growth, habits — it’s not sexy stuff. Showing up and doing the work that doesn’t seem like it’s working until one day suddenly everything clicks? Not overnight success. Not Ferraris and McMansions. Not desert islands and mojitos.
What it is, however, is the only way to create lasting change…for yourself, for your family, for the strangers whose lives you will improve with your work. It’s the way to help people and make good money doing it.
And it’s the way to create the life you want.
If you’re ready to give up the sparkle and glitz, and hang out with people who have been there and who will be totally real with you…then you’re in the right place.
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