One month ago I set out on a mission to build my first real product. I've said something similar a dozen times before and nothing really came from it. Originally the goal was to create a course and launch it on Udemy one month later - on September 12, 2015.
I won't be launching on the 12th. I'm disappointed but I'm also happy, here's what I've learned.
Originally, the plan was to create a course (script, slides, audio, video, sales page, etc) and launch it on Udemy. I had a course in mind, I put together outlines for my lessons and I realized something.
The course had zero value. It touched on a lot of things, but didn't dive into any one of them and thus didn't provide value. I wasn't comfortable with that.
So I took a step back and thought about what was actually important and took one section of that original course and blew it up into an entire course of its own. And I'm happy with the plan I came up with. It was clear, focused, and provided value.
The problems arose with the loss of a week and a half of time (from building the first iteration) and my lack of experience/practice with anything related to recording my actual course.
Put Some Time in Upfront
I've got a bad tendency to just jump into a project. I've done it time and time again before thinking that this project would be the one I stick with, complete, and launch. I would dive right into product development but not do any research on the business itself. That had always been my limiting factor.
I did it differently this time though. I did research, I spoke to people, and I figured out something that I've been able to do that I could teach people and provide value through.
However, I didn't do any research or any practicing with the actual production side of things. I just dove in and learned to record, create slides, edit audio, and everything else involved as I went.
I'm a fan of learning by doing but I could (should) have taken a few hours to practice and make a small sample of work from beginning to end. It would have saved me a ton of time in the end.
Test your Equipment & Process
As I mentioned before I didn't test my equipment. I didn't notice when recording how low my audio levels were - I made up for it in post production but that was additional work I could have avoided had I actually tested things out.
Also, my recording process was so far from ideal I laugh about it now (I was still using this process 30 minutes ago - I'm good at laughing at myself). Again, running through a small piece of work (like a single lesson) from beginning to end would have saved me a lot of time and trouble.
Schedule time & stick to it
Everyone has a busy schedule and when you're trying to tack on something new it's hard to figure out when you're going to do it. But in order to achieve that goal you've got to give yourself time - block it out in your schedule somehow. I didn't do a great job of that for this course but I know the value of it. I've blocked out a specific time of day to exercise and I stick with it. The same applies for new projects/work.
I'm fortunate to be able to see that there are a lot of opportunities around me. But it's also a pain because it's hard to stay focused.
This was something I wanted to improve on in creating this product. I wanted to see it through to my deadline, and I'm happy to say I did that. I didn't complete the course 100%, and I won't launch it in its current iteration, but I saw it through and stayed focused on one new project for the last month.
That's an improvement for me.
All in all it was a learning experience. A frustrating one but a fun one. I might revisit this one day and recreate the course I originally envisioned but I think that will come when I have more experience and the ability to see a larger project through.
This wasn't only a learning experience though. I've got plans to take much of the work I did up front (research and outlines) and apply it to a new project that is smaller, more focused, and in a medium I'm more comfortable and experienced in. Something I can actually see myself completing and can more accurately create a timeline around.
I expect it to be challenging in its own way but I've got this much more experience under my belt to apply.