Side Hustle: Getting to Launch

As a full time employee building something on the side, it can be quite easy to get overwhelmed. I found a few key strategies that have helped me maintain my sanity over the last few months:

  1. I worked on the site only when I actually wanted to, so that I would enjoy the process and not burn out (reasonable considering the many other things going on in life).
  2. I worked on one tiny feature/bug at a time, so that I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed by all of the things I still needed to do (not to mention the complexity of the completed project!).

Being new to the one man web project world, these defense mechanisms have allowed me to take a laid back approach to development of my new website. I followed the old idea that you build a brick wall one brick at a time, and my wall had no timeline.

These philosophies were critically important in getting me this far with a product I’m still excited about and enough energy to continue. However, as I approach the completion of my project, and launch is in sight, my defense mechanisms are naturally fading away.

I can clearly see each piece of development left; I can see that I need some sort of definitive marketing plan; and if I don’t work at a constant effort, I’ll miss the launch timeframe I had in mind. It’s time to make a list.

Creating a List

Making an actual to do list can be terrifying at this stage because you see how much you still have left to do. I had to take a few deep breaths when I saw the number of outstanding items.

The list can be broken down into a few categories:

  • Final development features
  • Design features
  • Minor bug fixes
  • Launch specific (hosting setup, etc)
  • Testing
  • Marketing

Once a list is in hand, the greatest thing you can do is cross off as many items as possible. Anything that is not absolutely essential should be dumped. After Adam’s recent post, developing half a product, I decided to abandon an idea for a new feature (a difficulty setting).

You can always add things in later that you deem necessary, but the goal is to launch as quickly as possible and get some real user feedback. Don’t set back your timeline just to add in things that don’t add value to your product.

Everything launches with bugs, and that’s okay. Maybe if I say that enough I’ll actually believe it.

Soft Launch

I’m a fan of a soft launch (I’ll let you know if that changes shortly). I hate to say I’d turn down press from major sports blogs for my site right at launch but it would make me quite nervous. If something goes wrong or breaks, you’ll never get that shot again.

A soft launch allows you to put your product out there, get a few visitors, and make any tweaks that are necessary. Then you can call up your favorite niche bloggers, turn on your adwords campaigns, and wait for your huge influx of visitors.

Marketing is an ongoing process anyway. Scheduling your heavy marketing to start a few days after launch provides and extra cushion to make sure all your systems are go without sacrificing much at all.

In the words of 90’s websites, check back soon to see my new site!

2 comments

  1. Good to hear from you Brad! Looking forward to seeing your site!

  2. Awesome Brad, can’t wait for the launch! I too am a huge fan of the soft launch. Every site I’ve ever worked on would have been a disaster if the launched product got a ton of traffic right away…both technically and the usability. From my experience it takes a little time of being live to work out those kinks. Then a few months down the road you feel confident to start really marketing the site.