Earlier in 2018, I launched my first full product, an eight-week course and group coaching hybrid that showed people how to get their articles published in major publications.
Months later I am still picking up the scattered pieces of myself — bits of my once-carefree attitude here and bits of my pulverized soul there.
To describe your first product launch as an “emotional rollercoaster” is apt but too … soft. Imagine — well, actually, rather than just asking you to imagine the experience that I went through, I’m going to share a play-by-play of my bananas-six-week-launch, as told with everyone’s favorite thing on the internet: GIFs (that’s with a “J” sound, buster).
At first, there’s tons of excitement and anticipation…
In your mind’s la la land, everything will go off without a hitch while you envision the finish line all like:
Then the actual work of preparing for the launch begins.
Oh boy, look at this dizzying laundry list of things to do, including…
- Writing 15+ emails for the email funnel!
- Sending outreach emails to other influencers within your network!
- Preparing guest posts and podcast appearances!
- Connecting all payment options to your cart and figuring out other technology!
…Oh, shoot, the sales page, too!
Time to get to wor — just kidding, LOL. It’s actually a lot of this first…
Then the realization…
…hits you like a bullet train and you blame your past procrastinating self all like…
BTW, the eagle-eye readers among you might point out that my six-week launch plan sounds like insanity. (It was.) The extra long lead time is to give myself breathing room to pre-sell the course and to buy more time to … finish building the whole thing. I am just one person, and one thing to note:
Less than midway into it, I knew it was a soul-destroying, amateur mistake that led to my terrible burnout. Then seeing other people seemingly making money got me like…
But we’ve jumped too far ahead in this tale.
The launch commences. Bring it!
I want to keep things as simple as possible. The idea is to get people onto my brand-new email list, have a funnel ready, and hard sell the course at the very end. Easy peasy, right?
And so it begins. My landing page that lets people sign up for my email list goes live. Gosh, I wonder, would anyone join?
The emails go drip, drip, drip.
Me as I keep checking my email service to see how many people joined my email list every five minutes.
Hours go by. Then days. More emails go out. Still frantic…
Meanwhile, I keep busy because I actually have a magical never-ending to-do list, such as procrastinating on writing my sales page, testing whether the checkout cart even works, yelling about technology, refreshing my inbox every five minutes to see if anyone popped in with a question I could happily answer, and so on!
More people continue to join the email list and more emails go out.
At this point, I should share a bit of my strategy for more context: I’m thinking that I want to give first dibs to people who were already on my email list before I open the course to the general public. So I plan for a two-week “pre-sale” period. But I realize that the timing of my email funnel wouldn’t line up with this pre-sale period for people who join my email list much later.
In other words, some people would receive the invitation to buy my course early after the pre-sale period. I know … I’m making it more complicated than it needs to be! This, essentially, is what it feels like I’m doing:
And so I scramble to get more emails written to prepare in advance…
Oh, and the thing about product launches is that all semblance of self-care flies out the window. Basic adulting like eating and showering?
What about sleep? LOL, more like:
UGH, WHY DID I DECIDE TO HAVE SUCH A LONG SALES PERIOD? SOMEONE PUNCH ME.
In a perfect world, you’re a tech wiz and everything works juuuuuust fine. Reality:
And the worst part is that there’s always something tripping you up, raining on your parade, peeing in your cereal, etc.
All the meanwhile you’re trying to look calm and collected at everything seemingly going wrong, but really it’s like…
Weeks pass, and people are starting to reach the final two emails where I plan to hard sell the course, and the sales page needs to be ready.
OH SHIT, IS THE SALES PAGE EVEN READY?
The feeling of overwhelm is high, and there’s a sinking feeling that things will not be ready for showtime, but … gotta power through.
When the sales page is live and out in the wild…
Let me tell you: The anticipation of converting that first sale is a doozy, especially when it’s the first sales page you’ve ever written. I can only think, “Did I do the thing OK?” or “What if people think my sales page is dumb?”
READY OR NOT, IT’S THE MOMENT OF TRUTH.
OMG, MY FIRST SALE!
Pre-sales have been open for only one day, and I have one paying customer — score! I HAVE BEEN VALIDATED.
Then for two weeks while the pre-sale cart stayed open — nothing. Just crickets and myriad nights of lying awake in quiet terror of a flop.
I swear to myself I will never do a launch that lasts longer than two weeks ever again. This is all I can do to soldier on.
I realize something else needs to be done.
By this point, I realize that my email funnel is not converting my tiny list as much as I initially wanted. I need more leads, so I spend time chatting with potential customers on calls and on Facebook.
Sales pick up from this extra effort, but there’s still at least a week to go before I can close the cart to begin preparing for the actual course start and … getting some peaceful sleep.
BUT OF COURSE, THERE’S PANIC WITH A FLURRY OF THOUGHTS:
Maybe people aren’t buying until the last minute? Maybe my emails were too aggressive? Maybe I should adjust the price? Maybe my sales page sucked? MAYBE EVERYTHING I DID WAS WRONG?
There are many moments throughout when I feel like curling up in a ball to tell myself that I gave this a good run and it’s time to just pack it up. I mean, I have six students, which is a solid group for a brand-new course. Right? RIGHT???
I decide that I am going to see this to the end or else I’d hate myself. I have time and I am going to give this every bit of remaining fight I have like:
It’s the last week of sales.
And I absolutely cannot wait for this torment to be over. The uncertainty of how many people would join in the end has me like…
It’s my last push to cart close so I send my “last call” emails and put out a call on Facebook. It’s getting very real…
I’m down to the last 48 hours of cart open, and as if on cue, five more sales come through from my last-minute pushes.
That’s the second wind I need, and I get aggressive with chatting with prospects on Facebook. I follow up and let them know that the course is about to begin. They have to let me know they’re in NOW.
Four more people join. I’m up to 15 students if you’re still keeping track! And the best part? I broke my revenue goal!
Two more people get shoved in at the very last minute, bringing the total number of students to 17.
The launch … is over. Finally.
Holy shit, I survived the long, drawn-out clusterfuck I had gotten myself into.
Elation. Depression. Anxiety. Heartbreak. Doubt. I felt it all. Even emotions I never knew existed, like “joyful nausea.”
Was my first-ever launch a success? In many ways, the answer to that is an emphatic YES. I hit my revenue goal. I launched a real product born out of sleepless nights and elbow grease. I learned a lot, and now I have a product that I can launch again and again … like a real business, ma!
And now that the experience of this launch feels but a distant memory from a different lifetime I am ready to do it all over again.
But this time with a MUCH shorter sales period. And
more better sleep.