Lessons learned creating my first $100k product

It took me 9 months to create my first product, and 3 months to make $100k after launch. This is what I learned along the way.

15 months ago, I quit my job as a lead product designer to build my own creator-first business.

7 months ago, I launched my first product.

3 months ago, that product crossed $100,000 in revenue.

And 1 month ago, I launched my second product.

I’ve spent some time reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned about shipping a product to a social media audience over the last 15 months.

Today, I want to go over my 5 most valuable takeaways for someone just starting out.

Lesson #1: Treat each piece of content like an MVP

For those who don’t know, MVP stands for “minimum viable product”, and simply means creating something that provides the most value with the least parts.

This is how I’ve always treated my content, whether it was a post on LinkedIn or a video on TikTok.

This accomplishes two things:

  1. Shifts your perspective from “posts = self-worth” to “posts = experiments”

  2. Helps determine if a topic would perform well as a product

Here is how to do it:

  1. Choose a topic, and get specific

  2. Create an outline of subtopics for that topic

  3. Select a 1 or 2 subtopics that represent that most valuable parts of the main topic

  4. Create posts about each of those subtopics

  5. Create one question you want to answer from each post experiment

  6. Analyze post performance after 1-2 weeks

For example, I published an MVP on LinkedIn. I wanted to answer the question: “Would this make for a good curriculum in a design course?”

The results of this experiment led me to create the first version of my design book. And while this experiment was successful, there were many more before it that had failed.

But speaking of versions…

Lesson #2: Create a “Permanent Beta”

When you start creating your product, you might have a list of chapters or features required before launch.

Cut that list in half.

When I first started writing my course, I wanted to record videos, create templates, and deliver a huge library of valuable content.

But once I discovered how much work was involved, I realized that I would not be able to deliver ANY value if this project was going to take me 6 months to finish.

So I made a decision: I was going to deliver my product in chunks and call it a “Permanent Beta”.

This accomplishes three things:

  1. It allows you to go-to-market sooner

  2. It allows you to earn money and support yourself sooner

  3. It allows you to build your bigger, more expensive vision without running out of money

Here is how to do it:

  1. Create a list of features or chapters for your product

  2. Identify 40-60% of the must-have features for version 1

  3. Create messaging to let your customers know about the benefits they get from being apart of the permanent beta

  4. Create a roadmap for what features your customers can expect

  5. Increase the price when new content is added, but make exceptions for your early adopters

This week’s free resource

By the way, if you want the “Creating content products like a Silicon Valley product designer” talking points I discussed on a podcast back in March, you can grab the Notion file here.

Thanks for being part of this community.

Lesson #3: Start with a landing page and work backwards

Amazon has a product building method known as “Working Backwards”.

Rather than starting with an idea and building the product on top of it, they start with a press release or landing page, and work backwards from the customer’s point-of-view.

It’s a simple yet brilliant concept that I’ve used since 2015.

This accomplishes two things:

  1. Allows you to stay customer-focused when thinking about the value you want to create

  2. Gives you an actual landing page to test with your audience

Here is how to do it:

  1. Heading: Name the product in a way that will resonate with your customers

  2. Subheader: Use a single sentence to describe the value of the product and who it is for

  3. Summary: Give a summary of the product and its benefits. This should be able to stand on its own if the customer stopped reading here

  4. Problem: Describe the problem your product solves

  5. Solution: Describe how your product solves the problem

  6. Quote: Use a quote from your point-of-view about why the problem exists and why your solution is better than most

  7. Getting started: Describe how easy it is to get started

  8. Customer quote: Provide a quote from one of your followers describing the problem or praising your solution

  9. Call to action: Provide the reader with next steps

This format isn’t meant to be the best writing example for a landing page, but it should be the outline you create for yourself when thinking about your product and how to talk about it.

But more importantly, this is about finding audience-product fit. So your landing page should feel like a continuation of the content you’re creating when your followers click through.

But how do you find your customers to begin with?

Lesson #4: Use noisemakers to find your customers

There’s an estimated 4.8 billion people on social media today.

You just need to find 1,000 of them willing to pay for your product.

But doing so among a world of increasing amount of platforms and attention-grabbing content can be tricky.

So you need to send out a few smoke signals, or “noisemakers”, so your people can find you.

Here are some examples of noisemakers I created to attract people who share the same problems and perspectives as me:

A noisemaker is meant to attract a niche audience more than it is meant to go viral.

This accomplishes two things:

  1. Allows you to build on the key points of your personal brand

  2. Allows others to recognize whether you’re a unique voice worth following

Here is how to do it:

  1. Choose a persona you want to attract

  2. Choose an interesting angle on the topic

  3. Be clear, not clever

  4. Specify the who

  5. Specify the what

  6. Specify the why

  7. Twist the knife (e.g. emphasize the pain of the problem or topic you’re discussing)

  8. Engage with your commenters and point them to where they can find you

Lesson #5: Get comfortable with self-promotion

Self-promotion can feel gross and unnatural.

But it’s an absolute MUST if you’re going to succeed in this.

No advice in the world is going to help you take the next step if you're not able to promote yourself, and often.

Here’s my story:

At one point, I was experiencing a decline in sales for 2 months. I was discouraged. Maybe I had reached the shelf-life of my product.

The truth was that I was only promoting my product on Instagram Stories and occasionally on LinkedIn (once or twice every two weeks). Despite having a 700,000 followers, less than 1% of them were ever seeing one of those promotions.

In my head, I was talking about it all the time. But to my audience, they totally forgot it existed.

So I ramped up the posts, hosted a few sales, and self-promoted more frequently than I had ever been comfortable with.

Not only did no one unfollow, but my sales skyrocketed and I made $12,000 in 2 weeks.

Most people start self-promoting quietly and slowly turn up the volume. That’s wrong. Start LOUD and adjust the volume from there.

This accomplishes one thing:

  1. It lets your audience know you have something for sale. This is the entire point of building your distribution network in the first place.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Host a 30-50% off sale every two weeks

  2. Send out soft and hard sale e-mails to your newsletters every 2 weeks

  3. Make 1 soft sale post and 1 hard sale post every week

  4. If you start to notice churn, tone it down by an inch

  5. Rinse, repeat

Stay tuned for next week’s e-mail where I talk about how to build your personal brand in the short-term and the long-term.

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