Freelancers: You're Five Products Away From Freedom


Freelancers: You're Five Products Away From Freedom
Thomas Myer
@myerman
#sxswproducts
  • How many of you have products? (many)
  • How many of you are making the money you want to make from those products (none)
  • PSA: http://sxsw4japan.org trying to raise at least $50k, already at $40k.
  • What does freelancing look like?
    • my neighbors thinks maybe i am drug dealer.
    • the hardest thing I do all day is walk outside in my bathroom.
  • $100/month -> $100/week -> $100/day.
    • I will probably never be 100% free from clients. 
    • My first litmus test: can I make $100 per month? If I can do 10 of those, then I’ve got some money that can make a difference. It’s not enough to stop working, but it is enough to turn down the worst clients.
    • From there, can I get to $100/week. Because ten of those is $4K/month, which is a substantial contribution.
    • And the end goal is $100/day. Then you could stop working.
  • What would happen to my business if I went away for two weeks?
    • As a freelancer, my business would not survive. I am my business.
  • 5 Guys in Kilts
  • When you go into the product business, you do things you might not otherwise do. You get a tech support call, and you have to field it.
  • You make money all the time. You wake up, and you have five orders. You have money.
  • Get Off My Lawn
  • http://myerman.com
  • http://tripledogs.com
  • Written eight books
    • Six month lead time
    • Do lead to little checks here and there
    • “Lead Generation on the Web”: Took two weeks to write. Still get checks from it.
  • ExpressionEngine
    • Didn’t have a backup utillity
    • So wrote one.
    • But lots of tech calls about weird problems
    • Took about a week to write.
    • Went to $100/month almost immediately.
    • You must have tech support. Because customers get really pissed if they have to wait even 24 hours. 
    • Makes money, but not that profitable because of all the support calls.
  • Mojo Addons
    • Backdoor: Allows the admin to never be locked out by the client.
    • Backup: Allows to backup.
  • Built horizontally: If you write a backup utility for one platform, then port it to many platforms, and leverage the investment you have.
  • You have to write a readme and other support document, because it beats having to answer 50 support calls.
  • Report: So, You Think Your Children Are Safe on Facebook?
    • $17 ebook on Lulu.
    • Not going through any publisher.
  • StoryStarter
    • iPhone app to randomly generate a protagonist, antagonist, setting. 
    • Started selling
    • Then wrote StoryPrompter, then BlogPrompts.
    • Each took less than 3 days to write and ship.
    • Got 500 suggestions on what to do next, including things like “include a genre”.
    • The real people in the marketplace are the only ones that matter.
  • 26-year old Amanda Hockling
    • making $2 million per year from Amazon kindle sales
    • Publishers don’t give you an advertising budget or any help pushing your book
  • 99 cents -> $2.99 -> 99 cents -> $2.99
    • You sell at 99 cents, and start to move up
    • Then when you are at top of best seller list, you sell at $2.99 to make money.
    • When you move back down the bestseller list, you go back to 99 cents.
  • Making 10% of 7 dollars from Amazon for a book that sells for $40.
    • For a book that sells at $2.99, and you keep 70%, you are keeping more.
  • For $97 you can learn how to become a freelance social media manager.
    • Let’s Get Social - The Most In Demand Job in the World.
    • 43 minute page.
    • Lots of content to help sell it, but at $97, it is worth it.
    • And then sells access to her time/network, limited to $10/month.
  • Basecamp
  • WooThemes: Wordpress themes for all types of web publishers http://woothemes.com 
    • design web themes, and then sell them.
  • Genesis - web site design. $97. Awesome new web look in an hour.
  • “Build Your Own Wicked Wordpress Themes”
  • Create a teaching business
    • Teaching Sells
    • Put together workshop materials / interactive learning environment. 
    • $100 product. You become a member, get access to their goodies.
    • If you are an expert in a topic, you can put together the content. It could be about tech, gardening, knitting.
  • Clickbank
    • affiliate network of products
    • you make the product, it goes through the clickbank platform
    • other people in the network sell your product and take 50%.
    • more than $1B in sales for clients
  • Etsy
    • crochet pattern: party pet costume
    • it is so much easier to sell via etsy than to try to put the internet pages up yourself.
    • the time saved can be used to make more products.
  • Questions
    • Q: Do you have one LLC or many?
      • We became an S-Corp a long time ago, and haven’t really thought about it since.
      • Don’t attempt any of this as a sole proprietor because there aren’t enough legal protections. 
      • If there is something not congruent with triple dog media, we might create another imprint.
    • Q: What’s this about basecamp?
      • 37signals got tired of working with clients. they made basecamp, sold 50,000 seats at $5, and suddenly they no longer had to have clients.
      • lesson: productive your process.
      • lesson: take something ugly and complex and simplify and beautify it.
    • Q: What about piracy?
      • O’Reilly says: it’s just the cost of doing business. 
      • But O’Reilly makes it easy to get the live edition, get updated information. make it easy.
      • You can get the o’rielly books via bittorrent, but o’reilly sells a ton of books. 
    • Q: How do you choose a product?
      • it’s got to be viable to generate $100/month
      • tiny little group for whom you can totally solve a problem: the number one complaint of authors is that they need ideas.
    • Q: What do you think of sites that ask for donations, or kickstart where you ask to raise money?
      • I’ve never found that it works to ask for donations. 
    • Q: You showed several different options for learning products. How do you decide where to distribute? all of them? focus on one?
      • I’ve been trying all the different ones, and seeing what works.
      • We can launch a book on pay.com, and start getting metrics immediately. “oh, it sells at 2am in japan.”
      • The 80/20 rule takes place almost immediately once you start getting data back.
      • If you have to find out where the fish are.
    • Q: What if you are trying to do video? None of them seem to work very well.
      • Yes, you are right.
      • You need optimization to convert page impressions to sales. because we can see many cases of 5,000 impressions, and 0 sales.
      • video could help with that by showing off the product
    • Q: You are apologetic about your UI. But you focus explicitly on your market. You are just a doer. Any advice about what to do if you are more hesistant because we are perfectionists?
      • No one will know what you are putting out there. You are not Apple. You don’t have a global brand. Just put it out there. Then you are a doer. 
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