This Is Why You Should Build In Public And Ship Before You’re Ready

Never create a digital product until you've sold it. Here's why

Nov 9, 2022

Man wearing white and black plaid button-up sports shirt pointing the silver macbook
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash
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    My first son was born in November 2017.

    In the months leading up to his birth, I began stressing about our expenses and decided I wanted some extra cash for peace of mind. By then I had already been coaching for a few years but didn’t have any additional hours to spare. So I decided to create an online course.

    After 200+ hours of work, I made $1,136.22. Or $5.68 per hour.

    But I came out on the other side with a lesson that has proven to be invaluable:

    Never create a digital product until you’ve sold it

    If you’re thinking this is unethical or illegal, you’re not alone.

    But you’re also wrong. Pre-selling is both ethical and legal. In fact, you pre-order a bunch of things. For example: tickets to a concert, books, iPhones.

    Even your Tesla.

    What is the purpose of pre-selling a digital product?

    The benefits of pre-selling are two:

    1. You validate your idea.

    When I decided to build my course, I asked a couple of my friends and some of my former clients if they thought this was a good idea. They all said yes.

    But when it was time to pull out their credit card… crickets…

    2. You fund your project

    When people want your product, they’ll be happy to pre-order.

    And you can use this money –their money– to build the product. Based on the number of buyers, you now have an initial budget. You can use that to pay a graphic designer, a VA, a video editor, a copywriter, or yourself.

    You won’t have to put a dollar out of your pocket to build this product.

    Now, whenever I think of a new product to build, I quickly create a landing page with some basic information and a checkout form.

    I send my audience to that page and, if I get a decent amount of interest, I go ahead and create it. If I don’t, I refund those who paid and move on to the next idea.

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