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Launch Watch – The Accidental Success Story

I created Launch Watch on a whim. I’d just gotten a phone call saying my cat had a 50% chance of pulling through an operation. I couldn’t stop crying so bought the domain name, migrated some content over and started working on it.

Yesterday I hit 1000 visitors/month. Not bad for something I squeeze in between other projects. In this post, I’m going to share the background.

I used to work for a launch coach.

Not any launch coach – the Launch Coach. We’d come to an arrangement where I was going to work full time as part of his business. One of the initiatives we were going to work on was a concept called Launch Watch.

I’d helped set up interviews for his Lessons Learned series and they’d proven popular. I was discovering more stories then we could feasibly cover on his blog. We were going to focus on the top launches and create a destination where people would go to first when they wanted someone to cover their launch.

Thom Chambers had just launched In Treehouses and I wanted to use a similar model. Dave argued that it would take too long – some launches are over within a week. I agreed and so we decided to use custom post types, and link to the content as part of his weekly newsletter.

At Blogworld, this plan still looked like it was going ahead. Shortly after, stuff blew up and I ceased working for Dave. I had permission to use this concept but didn’t want to step on any toes, so shelved the idea.

I toyed with reviving it for 6 months

During the next 6 months or so, I hid online. I hate drama and didn’t like the fact that I was caught up in one, so tried to draw as little attention to myself as possible. A lot of my friends were coming up to me with their latest launches and initiatives but I had nowhere I could talk about them.

I didn’t want this site, JadeCraven.com, to be a collection of all that is awesome. I’d been evolving and knew this site would eventually extend beyond the business.

The goal was set. I was going to create Launch Watch… eventually.

I kinda didn’t want to launch it.

I procrastinated. The .com was taken, so I spent a while trying to come up with a new name. I had no idea what format it was going to be. I didn’t know if people would respond to it, or what type of content would resonate.

I launched it on a whim because it was the only way it would get out there. Slowly, it grew. My friends would email me with ideas about monetization, occasionally. We’d work together to cover their launch and help people in the best way possible. I was glad I procrastinated, but it meant I was very behind with my plans.

I still don’t know what I’m doing.

This is the fascinating, brilliant and inspiring thing. I am flying blind with this concept. I know it is serving a need, so I continue to do it. I got a lot of initial feedback from people saying that they loved the concept, but got very few ideas about what they specifically needed.

I love it.

I’m pushing the edges of content curation and testing an idea in the field. I did this before with digital magazines and it is so professionally satisfying.

The coming months will see experimentations with static pages listed in the sidebar, product reviews, guest contributers and launch analysis.

What I’ve learned so far:

  • Monetization will be best via the back channels. I’m making $1-200 in affiliate income so far, but it’s not worth the amount of time put into it.
  • This is a news site. Too much personality can be distracting. This means I have to work harder to justify my statements.
  • My microsites were a flop. I’m taking most of them down and shifting the content to Launch Watch.

Your thoughts?

I’d love to know what you think of the Launch Watch concept, and whether you have any ideas or suggestions. I think it has the potential to really take off.

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