I have a long standing tradition here at Far Beyond The Stars of doing my best to be as helpful as possible to the readers.
I believe this is one of the single most important reasons that Corbett Barr of Think Traffic identified Far Beyond The Stars as one of hisexplosive growth case studies.
I don’t pay attention to stats that much, but I got momentarily excited that Corbett had pegged my subscribers-per-month growth in the range of blogging greats as Adam Baker, author of Unautomate Your Finances, and Glen Allsopp, author ofCloud Living. Wow.
Anyway, this is why I’ve decided to write a post on how to create your own successful minimalist business product launch, instead of simply talking about my own. If you’re not interested in how to launch a product, and simply want information about Minimalist Business, scroll down to the bottom of this post.
How to blow people out of the water with a minimalist business product launch.
Instead of telling you how I’m going to do a launch on Monday of my new e-book, Minimalist Business, I’ll tell you how you can make your own minimalist business product launch better.
I’ll also point out which launch strategy I’m going to take, so you have some idea of what’s going on Monday.
A big part of running a minimalist business is facilitating a quality launch. If you launch the right way, a couple of hours of effort will propel your work to success. If you launch poorly, there’s a big chance you’ll have to cold call people to make individual sales.
Cold calling isn’t a minimalist business strategy, it’s a counterproductive strategy. We definitely don’t want you to have to do that.
Many of the readers here at Far Beyond The Stars are also going to be launching their own minimalist business products sooner or later, so I want to make sure you have the tools to make them successful.
STRATEGIES FOR MINIMALIST BUSINESS PRODUCT LAUNCH SUCCESS:
1. Born to be freemium.
One of the most powerful launches that a minimalist business can do is to release a completely free product.
When your business is small, and you don’t have a large readership, it’s important to build credibility in your niche and also good will from the people who will be reading your work. The most important way to do this is to release a free product.
One of the best examples of a free product that contains massive amounts of value for readers is Chris Guillebeau’s A Brief Guide to World Domination. With this free product, Chris established his credibility online as one of the masterminds of digital product distribution and working online from anywhere.
How many people do you think read Chris’s free e-book and were so inspired that they went ahead and purchased his more extensive products such as An Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself, orArt + Money? I imagine quite a few. Why wouldn’t you? After reading his free products, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that Chris is one of the foremost experts on working for yourself using the Internet.
One of the most important elements of a minimalist business is establishing enough credibility with visitors to your home-base (usually a blog) that they know for certain that buying your premium product will contribute value to their lives.
A free product can go a long way towards proving to the world that you have knowledge to contribute.
The old mentality to business was to withhold value until someone paid for it. This is no longer a smart business model, because there’s so much free value available on the Internet that readers aren’t going to pay before they see the value anymore.
Pay your value forward, and the people who you help will support you.
- Easier to publicize and distribute a free product.
- Long-term gains in readership and authority.
- No publicity if the product sucks.
- No direct income generation.
2. Reward your current supporters.
Many people think you should launch a product after you’ve developed a significant readership. This is true, of course! When you have a large audience you’ll definitely be able to support yourself with a premium product.
However, only a lucky few have a large audience to start off with. The rest of us won’t be in this situation, so we need a better strategy than simply waiting to be famous. Fame doesn’t come from waiting around.
I only had around 700 subscribers when I launched The Art of Being Minimalist in February.
Contrary to what I’d read everywhere on the web, I found that once I launched the product my popularity began to skyrocket.
I have a couple of theories about why this happened:
- Having a premium product establishes you as an authority in your niche.
- Having a premium product gives supporters a way of supporting you (so I didn’t have to spend time doing other work).
- Having a premium product allows you to support your supporters through affiliate sales, this creates a stronger community.
Given these findings, I believe that when your readership is small, it’s in your best interest to release a product for free for 24 hours to the readers who support you now. Then start charging for the product.
This strategy rewards your existing community for sticking with you through the awkward adolescent years of your minimalist business. It also gives them an opportunity to see how valuable the information in your product is, so they can advocate for you.
Obviously, if your product contains no value (believe me, there are plenty of these out there.) This strategy will definitely not work.
If you release a bad product and your readers aren’t enthusiastic about it, they’re not going to support it.
They call it democratization of media for a reason. People vote with their money for the work that helps them the most. This is why The Art of Being Minimalist completely supports my lifestyle, because it’s a quality work — I continue to get enthusiastic emails from readers after they’ve finished telling me how the book changed their perspective on freedom.
I’ve seen many other similar blogs launch products that didn’t quite live up to expectations of their authors — these products don’t support their authors.
Quality work markets itself. Bad work vanishes into the ether. This is the way the world works in the online age.
The lesson here is to offer your free product for 24 hours to the people who support you, and ask them to honestly tell you if they believe in what you’re doing. If they’re into it, you will have no problem achieving world domination.
If your current readers give you a luke-warm reception to a free product, then maybe you should kill it now and go back to the drawing board until you can write something that authentically helps your readers.
On Monday, my friend Sam Spurlin of The Simpler Life is going to be launching his e-book using the above strategy, based on my input. Be sure to check it out, and get a copy while it’s free for 24 hours.
- Initial spike in publicity.
- Eventual profits.
- Large group of possible affiliates.
- If the work isn’t quality, no one will be tricked into paying for it (which isn’t a strategy anyway.)
- Your existing audience will get the product for free, so profits have to come from new community members as they discover you.
3. Publicly create your product.
One of the more innovative strategies that I’ve seen lately is the way that Leo Babauta is creating his newest e-book, focus: a simplicity manifesto in the age of distraction.
He’s simply writing the book in a public venue, so people can read and comment on the work until it’s done.
The transparency of this strategy creates good will with potential buyers, because they can read and enjoy the quality work before paying actual money for it.
I imagine once Leo finishes the book, he’ll package the e-book and sell it like he does with A Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life. Once he does this, his readers will be able to support the work that went into creating this quality work.
I have no doubt that I will pay money to read Focus once Leo finishes it, even if I’ve devoured most of the pages before hand. The reason is that the book has already contributed incredible value to my life, before it was even finished. Creators who contribute value deserve our support.
- Quality assurance, if no one enjoys the book while you’re writing it, who will enjoy it when you sell it?
- Feedback during creation.
- Consistant publicity.
- Less control over launch, information is already free.
- No big launch payday.
4. Perfect is the enemy of done.
Some projects are simply too large and important to wait until they’re completely finished. The reasons for this can vary immensely.
You might need reader feedback in order to know exactly what pieces are missing. The project might be so ambitious that you will never finish unless you just set ship date.
The great thing about the Internet is that you can revise and update products. There’s no permanent copy that can’t be changed after you push it out. This fundamentally changes the way that media is produced, and I think we’d be wise to start embracing this change.
We’re used to the idea of physical books being produced. Books need to be done when they’re sent to the printer, because no one can fix them after they’ve been sent to Barnes and Noble. With digital media, this isn’t the case.
When software companies release products, they know there will be bugs that they haven’t identified. There will be missing features that either weren’t finished at the release date, or they didn’t know the feature needed to exist.
Chris Guillebeau used this strategy with his launch of the Empire Builder Kit last month. He released the kit for 24 hours to his current supporters. For a project as big as the Empire Builder Kit, a launch like this is key. It limits the amount of people who will purchase the product to a smaller amount, and also to people who are already familiar with your work.
This gave Chris a month to revise and update the product with feedback from the early adopters. On May 18th he’ll be re-releasing The Empire Builder Kit, at a slightly higher price (I think) than the original release.
The early adopters will receive a revised copy with all of the kinks worked out, and people who missed the initial opportunity will be able to pick up a copy.
This rewards the people who helped him make sure the final product was perfect, because they were able to pick up the product at a reduced price before it went out to a wider audience.
The other benefit of this plan, is it gives the early adopters a month to plan their own affiliate launches of The Empire Builder Kit.
Because Chris offers a 50% commission on the kit, his supporters only need to sell two copies to their supporters in order to make back the money they spent in their initial investment in quality work.
- Reader feedback and profits.
- Ability to make product better after launch.
- Product might not be “done” at launch.
- Possibility of disappointing buyers, if the work isn’t done enough to contribute value.
The strategy for the launch of Minimalist Business.
As you may have guessed, I’m taking strategy 4 “perfect is the enemy of done” for my initial launch of Minimalist Business.
I wrote about this in more depth earlier this week, but the reason is simple: Minimalist Business is an incredibly ambitious project.
The ultimate goal is to teach anyone who’s willing the skills necessary to establish a one-person location-independent micro-business that will support their existence through automated passive income. After working on this project for 4 months, it’s become readily apparent that it’s not an easy subject to teach.
I’ve done my best to put everything that I’ve learned about the process down in writing, but there will missing pieces. I’ll do my best to revise and update the knowledge base as new technologies become available, and fill in the gaps that early adopters notice and report to me.
The Minimalist Business details:
At this moment the guide is clocking in at just over 115 pages of, what I hope you will agree is incredibly valuable information for people who are interested in launching a minimalist business to support a location independent life.
Here are some details about the upcoming release of Minimalist Business:
- It won’t be perfect. I’ve done my best to include my thoughts on everything from generating passive income and time management, to affiliate income opportunities and realistic strategies for working less than 10 hours a week in order to create a profitable business. However, there will be some things that I didn’t think to include. That’s why everyone who purchases the early adopter version on Monday will receive free updates for an entire year.
- I’ll be relaunching a revised and updated version of the guide in a month or so, which will be available to a wider audience as well as my affiliate network. With the second version I’ll do my best to answer all of the questions that people will inevitably come up with the release of the first version, as well as give the e-book a complete copy edit.
- The version I release on Monday will be available at a significant discount for early adopters. Those who are willing to take a leap of faith with me and enjoy a product that’s hugely informative, but not necessarily perfect deserve a price break. I foresee putting in hundreds of hours over the next month answering questions and helping early adopters establish their own minimalist businesses.
- There will be three different release packages with different features. The first will come with a significantly discounted consulting package, the next comes with a 30-day quick start guide, and the last will simply contain the e-book. I’ll be finalizing the pricing over the weekend, and I’ll let you know on Monday.
- [UPDATE 12pm] Concerns about this came up in the comments: there will be an effectiveness guarantee. Anyone can get their money back at any time if they feel that the product isn’t right for them. It’s a digital product, so no harm done if you either don’t like the product, aren’t interested in creating a minimalist business, or simply aren’t successful in the endeavor. I’d never want anyone to feel that they spent money on something they shouldn’t have.
What do you think?
I’m not going to have a lot of time to answer reader questions in the comments this weekend. I’ll be busy pumping the last bit of value that I have left in me to assure that this guide is as awesome and helpful as it possibly can be.
Whether or not I have time to stop by, I’d love for you to keep the discussion going on in the comments
Which of these launch strategies do you think works best for you? What other strategies have you seen that worked well? I’m sure the community here at Far Beyond The Stars would love to hear your take on launch strategies for success.