You probably noticed some big things happening around here over the past month. And because you’re like me, looking at people ahead of you in business to see what your next steps are, I knew you’d want to know the nitty-gritty details PLUS some of the big lessons I learned and mistakes I’ve made in launching.
There aren’t enough coaches telling you “how the sausage is made,” so I’m excited to share this with you today.
You’ll discover a few things, like…
- the big mistakes first time launchers make and what your first launch should look like
- the financial risk associated with a launches so you can plan for yours
- the team that helped make it happen and how to determine what your team should look like
- what I honestly think about launches, products, and group programs (I’m a little nervous to share this so publicly!)
Ready for an all-access pass to what happened behind-the-scenes? Let’s get to it.
All That You Don’t Need to Make It Work
If you’re like most new business owners I know, you’re looking at what the pros do for ideas on how to reach their level of success.
You see things like high-end website design, complex funnels, techy membership sites, Facebook ads, and so much more. You think, “I need to do that to make great money in my business.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Jumping ahead and copying the pros who are several steps ahead of you in business actually hurts your chances of success, because if you haven’t mastered the step you’re at right now, you can’t master those future steps. Tweet that!
It’s like trying to cook a fancy, three-course meal when all you’ve mastered is mac and cheese. Trying to leap ahead of where you are simply creates more problems and frustrations than taking the step right in front of you.
That’s why you have to start right where you are (even if you don’t like it).
My First Launch
In 2010, I launched my very first product with a colleague. We did everything ourselves. Yes, it was a lot of work, but we also learned a ton in the process. We really saw how much work it takes to create and launch a product, and learning that really helped me better plan for future projects.
From there, I continued to launch offers on my own, doing everything from creation and design to copywriting and customer service. Each launch taught me an essential lesson that’s served me in my business even today.
Did I make big bucks? No way. But it was totally worth it anyway.
Why? When you test ideas, you get paid in experience, and in many ways this is far more valuable than getting paid in cash. Tweet that!
After all of these little launches under my belt, I could see what was working (and not working). My results were becoming a tad more predictable and my approach was becoming a tiny bit more reliable.
Learning My Way Forward
With the next product lined up (it was the upgrade of my program, Get Your First 1000 Subscribers), I decided to set a small budget and hire the help I needed most: logo design and some back-end tech work.
That launch was my second major home run. (The first was the original release of that same program which was around 52 sales at $67 each.)
But because I hadn’t yet mastered a large-revenue launch—and I couldn’t predict what would be successful and what wouldn’t—I didn’t risk the financial outlay of Facebook ads, a big team, or complex technology. I continued to do as much as I could by myself.
(I’ll talk more about this in a future post, because too many of you are trying to buy your way to success through big spending on teams and Facebook ads before you’re ready. And it’s a terrible idea and a total waste of money. Watch for more on this soon.)
The Next Level of Launching
Last fall, after 6 years of being in the online world and four launches of Make It Work Online, I was ready to uplevel.
Up until this point, launching MIWO entailed sending emails and hosting a webinar or two. I’ve been lucky that the popularity and effectiveness of the program has pretty much spoken for itself (this is what happens when you stick with something for years and build a reputation as someone who delivers!).
Because of future plans I have for my business, I knew it was time for me to execute a more complicated launch process.
This time the entire launch was much larger than it’s ever been. With 4+ weeks of free training, a free Facebook group to get coaching from me, professionally shot videos, a massive upgrade of the Make It Work Online paid program, and a calculated Facebook and Instagram ad budget, I decided to put more on the line with this launch than ever before.
It’s a Huge Financial Risk!
With years of experimentation under my belt, I decided to take the biggest risk I’ve ever taken in my business and set a risky yet carefully-planned budget.
Here are some of the things I included in the budget:
- content strategy and massive MIWO program content upgrade
- copywriting help
- blog and editorial review
- design for free training, sales and marketing, and the new MIWO program
- web tech support to upgrade the MIWO program membership site
- virtual assistance and customer service
- video editing
- professional videographer
- social media and Facebook advertising
A high-level estimate is that this launch cost me nearly $40,000, way more than I’ve ever spent on a launch… and far less than many of the big named marketers spend on their launches.
Regardless of how much I spent, you must understand this:
Spending money DOES NOT guarantee that your launch pays off. You have to have the skills to actually bring money in. Tweet that!
You must know what works for your people—for sales copy and Facebook ads and free content and blog posts and, and, and, and…—before you can spend money and know it will come back to you.
Even now, after having done this massive uplevel, I see at least two dozen things that I could do better next time… because I’m still getting paid in experience.
It’s also really stressful!
As you hear me talk about over and over, I LOVE the predictably boring business model where you bring in consistent, reliable income month after month. This is why I teach you to build a one-on-one business, because it gives you that predictability and gets you to six figures EASILY.
After having remained at the same, comfortable level of business success for the past three years (as I’ve been working through and finally starting to recover from Lyme disease), and because I’m a glutton for learning opportunities and growth, I knew I needed to throw myself headfirst into this next evolution of my business: this past launch.
I’ll be honest with you: it was stressful!
Laying out that much money before I even earned it. Not knowing for sure if I’d hit my stretch goals. Wondering WTF I’d do if I didn’t hit my minimum numbers. On top of still not being 100% back to my strong, resilient, fully healthy self.
Even though I’m committed to success without sacrifice, scheduled a massage for mid-way through, slept a full 8-10 hours every night, ate well, took mid-day walks on the beach, and even had friends visit while I was launching, the launch was still challenging.
What You Witnessed Was NOT All Me
To pull off this big of a launch, I had a team like I’ve never had before, and I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done.
Since I’m always wondering who’s behind the scenes in other people’s businesses, I want to share who’s behind the scenes in mine.
Becky is my assistant, my right hand. She handles all of the backend work, including things like customer service, loading emails into Aweber, monitoring the chat and Q&A during the first webinar, and making sure of the Make It Work Online clients are taken care of. Whether you’re here learning from me for free or are a paid client, everything gets to you and functions because Becky’s on top of it. She is my sanity saver, and my business simply would not run without her.
Adrianne is my content strategist and has become my second brain. She helped me massively upgrade the Make It Work Online program structure and content and add tons of new resources. (They’re so awesome!) Plus she helped strategize the right blog posts for December and January and fine tune the launch and sales emails to make sure I’m sharing my message as clearly as possible. The free and paid programs would not be to the caliber they are if it hadn’t been for Adrianne.
Michelle is my designer, and I rely on her eye for all things design. (I’m wildly unskilled in this area.) For this program alone, she updated the look and feel of the Make It Work Online sales page, determined the right layout for the free training and paid program materials, and improved the look of my webinar slides. Everything looks more “pro” because of Michelle’s eye and design touch.
Dan has been on my team the longest of anyone, supporting my website and backend since 2011 (I think?!). He makes sure the upgraded WishList membership site is working and does all sorts of techy backend stuff I’m not even aware of. It all “works” because he’s making sure it does. (Thank goodness!)
Steph is my on-call virtual support specialist for one-off and last-minute tasks like video editing, proofreading, image sourcing, and document formatting. She was even on call for me as I drove from Oregon to San Diego for our winter respite and realized there was a typo on a free training slide. A text and a few on-the-road emails from my phone later, Steph had it all taken care of like no one else can.
Erika and Katie are my social media and Facebook advertising specialists. They designed, managed, and executed the Facebook ad campaigns for the free training and helped keep our free Facebook group running as smoothly as possible. They also managed my free training opt-in and content LeadPages pages, and Erika was on all three webinars to ensure that each one went as smoothly as possible. The social media strategy simply would not have happened without them.
Thomas shot all of the videos of me that you saw in the opt-in, confirmation, and free training videos. After painfully trying to do video on my own for years now (and wasting too much money on equipment and time on trying to figure it out—and not succeeding), I gave up and hired a pro. Not only does working with Thomas make video-shooting way more fun, the end result looks a heck of a lot better than when I tried it on my own.
Kendrick is my sales coach and dear friend. She offered many early planning ideas, real-time adjustments, and last-minute changes to my launch and sales strategies. She spent countless hours on the phone with me to make it all happen. Everything I know about selling I learned from Kendrick, and I simply would not have been the business I have today had I not met he.
My editor (who asked to remain anonymous) was essential in taking my blog and editorial content from a concept in my head into a well-written, share-with-you-worthy piece. Her masterful writing skills helped me ensure that the messages were articulated just right and the final pieces were solid, flowed well, and were typo-free. With so much writing required for a launch, having her brain helping me saved my brain from a total melt down.
Plus, I had other friends and colleagues who supported me with brainstorming, planning, troubleshooting, good-vibe-sending, and sanity-saving throughout the entire process. Thank goodness for them, too.
What I Really Think about Launches
All of this said, including how much work a launch is, how much it can cost, and the huge team to manage, would I do it again? Do I think launches are worth it?
Here’s the truth (as if I could share anything else!):
Will I do it again? Yes. Absolutely.
Are launches worth it? I’m not sure.
As I mentioned earlier, I always gravitate toward new business challenges, even though I don’t care for the stress of learning new things. (That’s the irony of being human, I guess!)
So yes, I’ll keep launching and learning to launch better, simply because I know it’s my next growth area as a businesswoman.
But the reason I’m not sure it’s worth it is because I still find it way easier to build a multi-six-figure business offering one-on-one services where no launches are required!
From an effort/reward perspective up to this point, it’s far more profitable and predictable to build a one-on-one, service-based business than it is to launch courses, groups, or programs. Sure, with time, I expect this to eventually change. But it’s a long haul.
The truth is that when you’re starting out in any online business, launches are simply not the way to riches, regardless of what anyone else might be telling (or selling) you.
The other reason I’ll keep doing launches is because I want to help more of you build successful, thriving, online, one-on-one businesses. You get better results in Make It Work Online than in working with me privately (because of the way the program and group are structured, in that magical Jenny Shih way), and I’d be doing you a disservice to work with with a very limited number of one-on-one clients at a higher price tag.
Plus, Get Your First 1000 Subscribers is just about done with it’s second massive upgrade (ohhh, it’s soooo good!), and that’s a digital program which I will launch again.
You Have to Fill Me In!
Now that I’ve spilled the beans (Adrianne told me this post was “ballsy”!), I’m dying to know what you think about all of this!
- What surprised you?
- What’s your biggest take-away?
- What questions do you have for me?
- Have you tried to launch before?
- How did it go, and what did you learn?
I want to plan some future posts around what will help you most, so the more you share in the comments, the more I can tailor those articles to your needs.
Fill me in!