Lessons From The Trenches: Prelaunch Edition

Those who follow my twitter or facebook account may know that my friend, Bill Journee, and I prelaunched our joint business site. It was the culmination of an amazing, and insane, fortnight. Its called Social Media Solutions and is looking awesome.

In my last post, I talked about how I got into the NEIS program. What I didn’t say was that literally minutes after getting accepted, I contacted Bill asking if he wanted to work together on this project.

15 days. We got the bare bones of a business up in 15 days. This was the closest I had come to a launch and it taught me more than any blog post or course could have.

This post may at times have a slightly negative tone. Thats because the lessons we learned came from mistakes. We had agreed that we were willing to learn on the fly rather than delay putting ourselves out there. It was hard and exhilarating but so worth it. I’ve been gushing about its success to Bill all day.

1. You WILL screw up

Its inevitable. Mistakes happen. Bill and I went through the process so many times to ensure it went seamlessly. Then we moved it onto our server, went public, and everything went smoothly. Until we woke up this morning.

One client encountered about 3 errors all up. They were tiny, and just oversights, but it was still a blow to my self esteem. We’d poured so much of ourselves into this project and felt completely spent this morning when smoothing out the kinks.

The mistakes taught me so much about work/life balance. I learned that its really important to distance yourself from your work. It also taught me about taking care myself so that I could handle whatever stress the day threw at me.

2. Communication is key

Bill and I are good friends. We’ve been helping each other with mutual freelance projects and had developed an understanding of how each other works.

However, 5 hours before launch the communication just broke down. We were exhausted, slightly cranky and on edge. We were trying to work out the bugs in e-junkie and I kept on accidentally undoing Bills work because we never fully clarified how we were going to try and fix the problem. Bring on the unnecessary stress.

I also may have prelaunched the site on facebook while forgetting that Bill had put an IP block on it so only we could see the changes. Fortunately, we were minutes from prelaunching and it didn’t cause a fuss but it reminded me that we were partners in this business. We weren’t just two people trying to do our own thing on the same site. I would like to publicly thank Bill for not yelling at me during this launch.

This was a vital lesson. We now need some processes in place to ensure we are communicating clearly. I know this is something we will be figuring out as we gear up for the full site launch.

3. Be prepared for criticism

This was a fascinating side effect of this launch. I had a couple of people send private DM’s pointing out spelling errors and picking up flaws in the shopping process. These were from friends who I trusted so I was very thankful for their help. Even so, it was tough knowing that you could slave over something and make silly mistakes.

This was a very useful lesson. If you work really hard supporting your network, they will support you. It made me feel really special as I put a lot of effort into my online connections.

4. Not everyone will be as excited as you are

This lesson was hilarious. We were so pumped about the launch that we didn’t realize how small it was in comparison to product launches. The small scale was intentional. We didn’t want to be swamped with work but wanted to promote the brand, and ourselves while working on the main site.

There was some buzz, but I had forgotten one of the key lessons of social media. Building trust takes time. I was able to reach out to a number of my close friends who showed interest and support in the business which was amazing. These people had heard about my struggles with freelancing and were genuinely excited to see me get it off the ground.

Now that we are out there, its the fun part. Now is the time where I get to dive into the community and see how we can help people. This will give us the chance to learn so much before the full launch and also build up more trust in the twitter community.

How I can help you.

Now that this prelaunch is out of the way, I can focus on finishing the e-course and tweaking the blog. I’m really excited about delving back into content creation.

  • I’ll be doing a guest post campaign for the ecourse launch. I had to delay a number of offers due to my schedule but I will be setting aside a fortnight for this campaign. If you’d like a post, I’d recommend getting in early. Either reply in the comments or shoot me an email.
  • If you are looking for help setting up wordpress, you can check out Social Media Solutions. We have two basic offers available including free wordpress installs. We will be adding consulting and twitter support when we fully launch. You can get access to special deals by signing up for the waiting list.
  • I’ll be answering a lot of social media questions on the smsols account. I try to keep my personal account for chatting, rather than self promotion, so love that I can share awesome content about social media.

Comments

  1. jadecraven says

    For some reason, your comment has made me really wish my name was Ted.

    Its been fun and we are already making money from it. Its helped a lot with NEIS and, hopefully, I can now spend more time on my own work. :-) I really need to fix this blog.

    Thanks Iggy!

  2. reallyusefulwebapps says

    Best thing I hear today which is apt, is -

    “You can't make an omlette without breaking some eggs”

    Good luck with it – no one will remember any teething issues in a month!

  3. kimmwood says

    You two make a great team!
    Thanks for sharing the lessons from the trenches – will be helpful to many of us. Looking forward to the excellent adventure,
    Kim

  4. tonyhollingsworth says

    Go Jade,
    This is all very exciting, and inspiring for other who hesitate to launch their own ventures – look what you've accomplished already! Inspiring, and loving that you are sharing your adventure so transparently.

    All the best,
    Tony

  5. says

    #4 is especially important to highlight and I'm glad you did, Jade. Unless you've built up a lot of trust & influence on a large scale, you'll probably won't see many buzz about your product anywhere close to the level you are.

    That's why it may actually be more effective to do “soft” launches until your reach that point. Instead of pouring time & effort into a grand “event” product launch, just release it with fairly little fanfare and see what sticks.

  6. says

    Congratulations on your product launch. It's amazing how much you learn by doing and not just reading or thinking.

    How did you figure out that this was a good product that people wanted? What sort of market research did you do?

  7. says

    Thank assorted heathen deities for a truly honest appraisal of a project launch. Is anyone else so sick and tired of posts that make it sound as though everything went swimmingly well?

  8. jadecraven says

    Thats what we are trying to do :-) Really, this soft launch was designed to get my business partner work. That was it.

    We are planning on doing a proper launch in that we'll have actual marketing behind it. Before that though will be a product launch and that will be the interesting part. I'll be working hard and leveraging my networks for this.

    Its all a learning curve. I asked Bill if he was prepared to jump into into this and learn on the fly. :-) I'm just glad we're really good friends because this has been so stressful.

  9. jadecraven says

    Thanks Kim!

    Hehe last time I saw you Bill had just decided he was going to freelance (and move to Townsville) and I promised I'd tell people about it because he doesn't like promoting himself. :P Theres still a week until the next twums and we've launched and are working on projects.

    I'll be sharing more about what I learn. Its been so fascinating and more than I could have learned from any course.

  10. jadecraven says

    This was more of a service that we launched. We are doing a full launch, and a seperate product launch, next month and I'll definitely be talking about that.

    I go to a lot of in person meetups and conferences. I've developed a bit of a reputation about knowing whose who in the local social media community and had a lot of people asking me about wordpress related services. When my friend was looking for wordpress work, we decided to combine our offerings and create a joint business.

    So far, it has been successful. He's picked up a fair bit of wordpress work while I'm finishing my course.

    In terms of marketing research, it would probably be best to talk about my next product.

    I know what people want. I do a lot of reviews on big sites and support with affiliate campaigns and I've learned a lot about what works. This product I'm working on was created on a hunch but its one that I know will pay off. I created a mini guide about guest posting and had some friends promote it when I did guest posts for them. This led to about $300 in sales from 2 posts. I'm expanding on it and will be doing a strong guest post campaign for it. I'm fairly confident it will be successful but when it boils down to it, its based on a hunch. My hunches generally pay off.

    I can expand on this further. I believe I also owe you an email. I will get to it, its just been an exhausting week.

    - Jade

  11. jadecraven says

    I've always been one to get my hands dirty and just dive in. Its not something I'd recommend, especially with a friend, unless you know you'll come out ok. It is the best way to learn. I could expand on this in a guest post for you *cheeky grin*

  12. jadecraven says

    It is fun. Its so unbelievably exhilarating. It is frustrating though when you are paying for something awesome like blog masters club and don't have the time to check it out. I'm really looking forward to when my business course is finished and I can go back to learning what I love.

  13. jadecraven says

    I get annoyed when people pretend that everything goes swimmingly. Sometimes it does, but usually there's a hiccup. That's life :-)

    I try to be really honest in my posts so that people know what its like but also learn that inaction is one of the worst things you can do.

    Let me know if I can help you with anything,
    Jade

  14. jadecraven says

    :-) I've often said that I'm an open book. I keep a lot of things close to my chest – especially business related – but like being able to share what I've learned. Honestly? I've been out of blogging for so long I've kinda forgotten how to do it. Its awesome and amazing and scary at the same time.

    I wouldn't recommend going through this with a friend though unless your darn sure of how the other person will handle it. Bill and I are fine but it was a hairy couple of days with both of us freaking out.

  15. jadecraven says

    We'll remember it and laugh about it. I suspect I'll have new teething issues to worry about next month. It is worth it though. So worth it.

  16. remarkablogger says

    I would certainly accept it if you did. By the way, the thing about friends
    (the right friends, anyway) is that they're sometimes the only way you know
    it'll come out ok. Friends give you confidence and accountability.

  17. says

    Thank you for such a detailed response. Most bloggers don't do this.

    Are you going to offer any sort of affiliate program for your products?

    As for the e-mail, wait until you have some time. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate.

  18. jadecraven says

    On social media solutions we are going to have a 10% cut as well as have processes in place for rewarding those who refer a lot of work to us. We are working on this atm.

    I'll be creating an affiliate list and free ebook with tips for affiliates. For my product, it will be 50%. I'll then combine that list with the social media solutions one to make things easier.

    Yeah – I do have a lot on my plate. Overdue on a couple of reviews (for other blogs) + a twitip post. I'm already feeling guilty about taking tomorrow off even though its part work.

    Talk soon,
    Jade

  19. jadecraven says

    :-) Fortunately, I've learned that Bill, my business partner, is definitely a reliable person that you can count on during the tough times. The launch this week was horrid on both of us. We were exhausted, cranky and just stressing to each other.

    Seriously. I normally don't learn that much about a person until after years of friendship so its been a nice lesson. And, its awesome because we are both supporting each other “You're awesome,” “No You're awesome”

    Sorry for the ramble; heading off to neis but can I just say best business partner ever?

    I'll lot down some notes about 'why you have to get dirty to be a good blogger' :P Dirty as in the trenches.

    - Jade

  20. says

    Jade, I wish you the best product launch ever. It is rare thing to hear from people like you and me who are just ordinary folks making extraordinary impact in the internet communities.

    Now that you acknowledge your mistake as human being. You understand that we all are in the process of perfecting all our mistake on a continuous basis. therefore, I like your opinion in this post. Once again happy product launch and congrats. Have a bliss time there…

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