You’ve decided on creating your own product or launching your service. That’s terrific. Now check this five-step plan and get your project finished. Keep reading and by the end of this article you’ll find yourself well on the way to your first creative product by treating it like a project.
Not yet convinced? Here are the 7 reasons why creating your project five-step plan around your own energy levels is crucial:
- Work with reasonable milestones balanced with your lifestyle.
- Set reasonable expectations in line with your energy.
- Define your best topic(s) and market.
- Know how and why your product will help people.
- Adjust your plan to make it the best and most creative it can be.
- Build it out.
- You can be ready to launch in as little as 90 days.
So, let’s get started!
Pre-Step – Two Days
Choose the idea to unfold
Start with a list of topics that interest you. It could be gardening, or sharing tips on parenting for first-time moms; or it might be a self-improvement… Keep brainstorming. Make it fun and bring your family and friends into the mix. They may have ideas you don’t have. Anything can become into a wonderful product.
The Magical Minutes Within Step One of your Five-step Plan
List the ideas you know something about. Be honest with yourself. You’re interested in lots of things, but may not know much about some of them. For example, you enjoy planting flowers. But do you know enough about gardening to create lots of information around it?
Then, look at each item and ask this question: “Is this something I could write, or talk, forever about?” Keep all the ones you answer, “Yes,” to.
List all your “Yes! ideas” and order them with your most favorite idea being first.
Don’t be a fabulous expert. That would be boring! Plus, your unrefined product is more than enough to many.
You know enough to do this. You have enough knowledge, energy and enthusiasm to create this and you do not need to ask for permission.
Step One – Two Weeks
Learning Their Struggles
Your project has to meet ONE NEED people have. Give them the answer they are looking for. Find your crowd of people who NEED what you have to offer. Your time and energy are valuable so invest your resources in a product your audience NEEDS.
The Magical Minutes Within Step One of your Five-step Plan
Make a list with 100 people in your network
Mark 10 people on this list who could need your product
Contact them. Email works well. Keep it very short and ask if they would like to catch up to talk around that topic.
Keep a list of whom you’ve contacted and who has responded.
For the people who responded, ask them about their struggles. You want to know what frustrates them. Add their responses to your list. This is going to serve as the starting foundation for your product. If they respond and are not interested, include that, too. It’s valuable information.
If there is no reply, wait a few days and try again. No answer, still? Try one more time in a week. If they still don’t get back to you, understand this isn’t about you. It’s about their lack of time. Or they are not interested and don’t want to hurt your feelings. And that is OK!
Pick-up the phone and reach out to the people who showed interest. Listen to their feelings and frustrations (around your topic). Ask questions and take a lot of notes. In all cases, don’t keep them on the phone more than 10 minutes.
If you want to research your topic more, go to forums and social media. Valuable insight stay hidden in these places.
- You know your energy levels. Stay in good work/life balance. Make the most out of the days when your energy levels are high. Take it easy when it’s hard to move from one minute to the next.
- Two weeks sounds like a long time. It’s tempting to skip tasks or postpone them until tomorrow. Make an effort to work everyday and thick off each item on your list. You will be happy once it’s all done!
- What if your topic isn’t quite right? In it’s own way, that’s good news. You have only spent a little time in this process. You haven’t poured your energy into a topic where there isn’t much interest. If this happens, go to the next topic on your list and repeat the process. One will be perfect for sure! If the very first topic on your list validated high interest levels, congratulations!
Step Two – Two Weeks
Drafting the Solution
What is your creative solution for your audience struggle? Outline a product that brings value to them. So keep their comments in mind at all times. While your primary purpose is to help people, you also want to build a solid business.
The Magical Minutes Within Step Two of your Five-step Plan
What is the frustration of your client?
And so what? Why would you care about it?
How are you solving it?
What can you do TODAY to help these clients?
- Get it all on paper. When writing a draft, don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar or anything else. Don’t even worry about a title. You can tweak all those things later. Use your energy to transfer what’s in your head to paper.
- Set it aside. When you’re finished with the draft, set it aside for a few days and then go back to it. Does it make sense? Do you need to change things around? Make sure everything is in the right place.
- Edit. Once all seems right, edit it for spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc.
Step Three – Three Weeks
Test and and Get Feedback
This feels frightening! You’ll feel resistance about doing it. But you need to test it and see for yourself if what you offer meets your client’s expectations. Be sure it responds to their struggles. If it does, they will tell you. If it doesn’t find out how you can make it better.
The Magical Minutes Within Step Three of your Five-step Plan
- Go back to your lists from Step One. Pick the people who seemed most interested.
- Contact them and invite them to take a look at your solution.
- Give them a deadline to test it, otherwise they may never get back to you.
- Some people may not be comfortable giving you feedback. So give them an out: “I really value your opinion. But if you can’t, that’s okay. I understand.”
- Make very sure you’re not selling them the idea. They’ll feel uncomfortable if you do. Use phrases like “beta tester” or “beta reader.” Even “pilot crew,” can reduce any apprehension they have. They want to help, but they do not want to be sold.
- Encourage an honest feedback. Ask questions so they know the kind of feedback you want. Good questions are:
- What did you like best?
- What was unclear?
- Did you experience any results? If so, what were they?
- Did it flow well?
- Was there enough information?
- If they really liked it, ask for a testimonial. This will help you when you launch.
- Feedback may sting. Before reading any feedback, take a deep breath. And don’t take any feedback personal. It’s always about the product. They like you and support and what you’re doing. That’s why they agreed to help you.
- After you read it, put it away. Set the feedback aside for a single day. No longer than two. Then go back and read it again. You may find it isn’t all that bad. And of course, celebrate all the comments that adored it. Don’t let anything that feels negative overshadow what’s positive. It’s easy to forget what’s good about it.
- Send out a special thank you. People helped you test your product. The least you can do is to send them a thank you note. If you can, tell them you will send them a final version free of charge. This builds goodwill!
Step Four – Two Weeks
Improving the Draft
You’ve processed all the feedback. Now it’s time to improve the draft and get detailed.
The Magical Minutes Within Step Four of your Five-step Plan
This step requires attention to detail so work when your energy levels are high and the potential for interruptions are low. You’re working with a lot of feedback from your potential clients. Incorporate what they shared. Highlight what they liked. Even if this steps ends up taking longer, the minute you feel tired or frustrated, stop. Go back to it later when you feel energized and refreshed.
- Edit carefully and with specific intent. You’re going to have some darlings in your draft that you, personally, really liked. But your testers didn’t. You’ll have to remove them. A rule of thumb is this: If three or more people said the same thing, it’s probably valid. If you have a tear or two when cutting, that’s okay. Make the cut, but don’t throw away those darlings. Save them. They may be perfect for something else.
- Keep your original draft in a separate file. Don’t write over it. Duplicate it and make your revisions on the duplicate.
- Be as objective with your own work as possible.
- Gratitude. Be grateful for the feedback as you work with it. This will keep your energy levels high. It will maintain the original enthusiasm you started with.
- Celebration. Celebrate that you’ve come this far. And bring friends and family into your joy and happiness. They’ve supported you as you’ve worked on this.
Step Five – Three Weeks
Building the Product
You’re in the final three weeks! Your draft is done. You’ve obtained your feedback and you know your solution will work with your audience. You’re excited. This is the moment you’ve spent months working toward. Now put it all together and get ready to launch your product.
The Magical Minutes Within Step Five of your Five-step Plan
It’s time for some decisions. Most of your work is already done. What you’re doing here is finalizing it.
- Decide on your format. Will it be written only? Will you include an audio and handouts? Also, are you good on camera? Maybe a screen-cast is the way to go. Work with your own energy and personality.
- An eBook or guide or report are easy to create. If you select any of these, keep them digital.
- If you go with an audio format, you don’t have to worry about a camera. It’s portable, so it’s convenient for your audience. And they can look at any handouts when they have time.
- A screen-cast is more involved because you’re putting together slides. But if you know how to do it and it utilizes skills you have, it’s an attractive option.
- As you refine your draft, tighten it up even more. Make it conversational. Read it out loud. That helps you hear how it sounds.
- Highlight the points in the product where you think a handout would be good. People do like handouts.
- If you’re offering a series of lessons, determine where natural starting and stopping points are. Do you want them in short segments, or long ones?
- Create an introduction. You’ll want to welcome your new clients. Let them know they’ve made the right decision. Explain how the course (or book or audio lessons) work. Tell them the time they’ll need to set aside for each lesson. Or about how long everything will take in total. You may even give them a suggestion or two of how to approach the program. And always inspire them through the whole thing. Keep your tone positive.
- If you’ve decided on slides and handouts, now is the time to make them.
- If you’re going with audio or on camera, it’s time to record.
- Don’t overthink this. The work is basically done. You’re just formatting and creating handouts.
- Keep your energy levels in mind. If you’re recording in some way, make sure your draft script is in front of you. Unless you are really an expert at recording, improvising your way through this is ineffective. Your audience will know it and not respond favorably. But create the recording, or on-camera elements, when you are at your very, very best and most energized. You want your personality to shine. This is almost as important as the content. And ensure you have no interruptions or extra noises.
- CELEBRATE! And perhaps plan a launch party. Invite everyone who has helped you along the way. And always remember your family. Without them none of this would have been possible.
You’re on your way toward launching your very first creative, information product. And you’ve done it all around your interests, your time, your personality, and your energy levels. Well done! Interested to know more about this process, and how to avoid the beginner’s mistakes? Then check my FREE guide “No mistakes!” if you want to learn about the top 12 startup mistakes to avoid when unfolding the new project.