In a previous life, I was a developer. I started out as a junior programmer, became a senior one, then a systems analyst, then a software architect, then I managed teams of developers and techies, and was close to becoming part of corporate management, when I finally quit (an extremely lucrative job) and became a full-time entrepreneur. So I've been through the gauntlet, so to speak.
And in this podcast mini-series, I've taken some of the great programming practices that are used to develop software and systems, and I want to show you how you can apply them to your own business, as an entrepreneur and digital creator.
Note: I have over-simplified a lot of the programming concepts for the sake of keeping it simple, so that I don't turn this into a programmers manual :-). Let's dive right in.
Listen to this mini-series via the audio players below, or read the transcript further below the players.
17 Things Entrepreneurs and Digital Creators (Like You) Can Learn from a Programmer (Like Me)...
Just in Time
Just in Time (JIT) is a Japanese management philosophy that was created in the early 1970s by many Japanese manufacturing organizations. It was first developed and then later perfected by a man named Taiichi Ohno from Toyota. The idea was to manufacture cars with minimum delays. Let me give you a highly generalized example: If you are a car company and you're going to be manufacturing cars, then if you're going to manufacture 1000 cars in a year, say. That means you need 1000 times those car parts, right?
Now, are you going to manufacture them all together at the exact same time? Of course not. You're going to manufacture say about 83 cars in a month. Which means, you only need enough parts to manufacture 83 cars for the first 30 days. And by the time you're in week 4, the next set of parts for the next 83 cars should arrive and be ready in your factory for the next month. And then, if you look at the actual factory, arranging it in such a way for maximum efficiency, keeping related items close by so that those who're working on those parts don't have to move around too much and waste time in walking from one location to the other, having the right tools, etc. So minimizing waste, basically wastage of movement, time, material, resources, energy, etc. Doing what you absolutely need to do when it absolutely needs to be done. That's Just in Time, loosely defined.
Now let's apply this concept to something called Just in Time Learning: Learning what you need, ONLY when you need it. Remember, I said learning what you NEED, not what you WANT. So when you have a NEED, it should take higher priority over a WANT. Yes, I WANT to learn how to play the Piano. I WANT to watch that latest #1 most watched show on Netflix. I WANT to read a book. I WANT to learn how to code in Python, and learn CSS, and on and on. I have a LOT of WANTS. But you have to constantly prioritize and balance your NEEDS over your WANTS. And the same thing applies to learning as well.
Just in Time learning will help you stay focused When it comes to entrepreneurs and digital creators, building your website or your online course, or learning how to promote your product or services. So that means, not signing up for whatever new awesome course being promoted by your favorite Guru and their massive army of affiliates. That means, not getting distracted by learning about something that looks new and shiny, and focusing on what NEEDS to be learned. If you need to create your online course, you should be focused on learning just the things you need to learn, in order to get the things done that NEED to get done, right now. Everything else can wait.
Just in Time learning, or Just in Time implementation helps you fight Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS), which is one of the biggest things that affect the productivity of a digital creator. And that's why I started with this first.
One of the things that stops a lot of marketers from launching new stuff, is the need to try and get everything perfectly done right from the get-go. In the programmers world, in the world of developing software and creating systems and SaaS products, there's the concept of Beta releases. And in fact, tech companies take it even further (back) with Alpha releases which is one step further away from the live version. So first you release an Alpha version, you release it to just your internal testing team, then you find and fix a bunch of bugs, then you release the beta version. And this helps you get quicker feedback by getting real users to use it, then you find more bugs and usability issues because real users will use your product in a way that you could've never imagined as the creator. And then your real users will tell you what is missing, you put that on a list, prioritize the items, and continue the process. And then after it has gone through a bit of testing in the real world by real users that's when you launch it to the world.
Now imagine doing the same for your podcast, or online course, or Kindle book. Most people get too hung up over releasing an imperfect product. I've seen podcasters recording and hoarding 3 or 5 or sometimes even more than 10 episodes, before they've launched even one. So imagine that you recorded 10 episodes of your podcast and then you finally release the first one. And your listeners tell you that the sound is bad or the editing could be better. And even if you get it reviewed by your peers, if you do it AFTER you've already recorded 10 episodes, now you have 9 flawed episodes all of which have those exact same issue, and now it's going to take you a WHOLE LOT of more work to go back in and re-record those other nine episodes because the first one was found to have a bunch of different flaws that could be annoying to your listeners.
Now, instead, imagine if you released just one episode and then had it reviewed by your peers and people in the audience... you put it on your social media accounts and told them... hey let me know what you think. And then, based on that feedback you can now correct the issues right away in your 2nd episode that you're going to be recording. Then take the feedback from the 2nd episode, and use that to improve your 3rd episode, and so on. And that's how you build on the feedback.
You cannot get feedback if you keep waiting forever to make it perfect, and you can't make it perfect, or even make it better, without first getting feedback.
So remember: Beta Release.
Better DONE than Perfect.
Flawed, but Published.
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product creation strategy in which a new product or service is created with just enough bare minimal features that will be instantly usable and useful to your core niche - your early adopters. And future creation and development of the product is done only after getting feedback from your early adopters and first few users.
There is a slight overlap with the Beta Release strategy, but MVP is about releasing something that would be considered imperfect, and not waiting for it to become perfect in order to release it.
It's about minimalistic minimalism - how to release something that's minimally ready to have an immediate impact on your core users.
Back in 2008, when we launched DigitalAccessPass (fondly known as DAP), it was a MVP. It was a pretty mature MVP product, and we probably could have released it with even fewer features. But there were some features that I was absolutely insistent that we had to have at the time of launch and probably that delayed it by a couple of months. So initially when we launched it had the basic features of being able to protect, content drip content - by the way you probably know this if you've been following me, but I was the one who invented content dripping - the concept of creating content ahead of time and dripping it little by little over time. And until DAP created this feature, nobody had even talked about it, leave alone implemented it. Yes, dripping existed for emails, and they were called Autoresponders. But there was nothing like that for Content. Which is why I called my invention of content dripping as ContentResponder.
So DAP had content dripping, content protection and one of the things we went a little overboard on was having an affiliate module built-in where someone using our software to sell memberships and digital products. And from day one, they could start recruiting their members and buyers to become their Affiliates and for them to start promoting the same product or membership that they just bought.
So right in the welcome email you sent to your new buyer or member, you could insert a shortcode (merge tag), that you could include in the welcome email when somebody just bought your course or your PDF or your audiobook or whatever it is that you're selling. And in the welcome email, you could say something like... "Hey %%firstname%%, thank you for purchasing this course. Here's how you login and access the course. And oh by the way here's your personalized affiliate link - %%afflink%% that has your affiliate code already embedded in it, and you can start using right away to promote this course and we are offering 33% Commission or whatever."
So basically if somebody signed up for a membership, even before their 2nd month's subscription fees hit their credit card, they could earn enough commissions to make all of their future subscription payments free because if it's 25% Commission they have to refer just 4 people, and if it's 33% then they have to refer just 3 people. And that's why it is critical that you recruit affiliates from day 1 of launching your course or Kindle book or SaaS product. I've talked in detail about creating your own affiliate program on this very podcast.
Here are the episodes:
Episode 20: Binge-marketing & D-List Superstars: How to find marketing partners and affiliates
Episode 44: Why You Should Start an Affiliate Program and Recruit Your Own Affiliates to Promote Your Products & Services - Part 1
Episode 45: Create Instant Affiliates, Protect Your Affiliates – Part 2
Episode 46: How Much & How Often To Pay Your Affiliates - Part 3
Episode 47: SEO Benefits from Affiliate Links, Refunds & Clawbacks - Part 4
So Episodes 20, 44, 45, 46, 47
So MVP - Minimum Viable Product - can be extended to a lot of different things:
I call it Minimum Viable <Everything> and is one of my favorite self-made mantras.
Minimum Viable Audience (MVA)
is where you realize that you do NOT need millions of fans or followers - Kevin Kelly's concept of 1000 true fans are good enough to earn you a nice living. I have an insanely awesome course about that - check it out at 1001TrueFans.com.
* Minimum Viable Podcast (don't have to launch with 8 episodes - just 1 published and maybe a couple in the bag, and don't wait for 5000 downloads to find a sponsor - you are your best sponsor, and there are better ways to monetize your show),
* Minimum Viable Channel (don't wait to have a 1000 subscribers and 10,000 downloads to start monetizing, and don't depend on ads), and
* Minimum Viable Book (an epic Kindle book with 30 pages that helps the reader accomplish at least one single thing, is more powerful than a fluff-filled 300 page book).
So "Minimum Viable <Everything>",
And you can see its heavy influence in everything I practice, preach and teach - especially in my course 1001 True Fans: Small Audience, Big Impact: How to Become a Respected, Trusted & Beloved Expert and Build Your Tribe of 1,000 True Fans - Even If You’re Starting with an Audience of Zero Followers, Zero Fans, Zero List and Zero Customers
Design Big, Implement Small
The specific words Design Big, Implement Small are my own, but I basically put a techie spin on the concept of Think Big, Start Small, so it ain't exactly 100% original 🙂
But I think my version is a lot more specific and actionable. So when it comes to software, you have to be able to think forward a 1000 steps, think of all possible features and systems and integrations and everything else that your software can grow into in the future. And you architect the system based on what you need to do now, AND what you will need to do next week, AND next month, AND next year and even the next 10 years.
So you DESIGN the system to handle any and all future grown and scale and complications and external systems and changes. But you only implement in really small portions. Your long-term vision and plan and architecture doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, it will NOT be perfect, because as time goes on, you, your system, your customers, you will all evolve. And with evolution comes changes that are unpredictable. You never know how your product or service is going to look in 3 months, leave alone 3 years. So you can't get stuck on trying to think of every imaginable feature that you'll want to implement. But you still have to have some idea as to where you eventually want to go. It's like asking How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Not that I want you to try and eat and elephant. But you get the idea. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. But you still have to get a lot more specific than just saying, I want to travel the world. You still need to plan out some things first. You don't have to have every single day's itinerary decided right now, but you still need to know which countries you're going to visit first, which cities in those countries, are you going to stay at a hotel or an AirbnB, are you traveling by air or the road or on the water, etc. And your entire journey will still have to start with you packing your bags and get to the airport for your first flight to your first destination.
The same goes for your online course, or membership site, or your SaaS product, or your agency. You have to map out all of the possibilities that you think you could venture into, think big, create a roadmap for where you are now to where you wish to be next week, and then next month, and then next year, and then next 10 years. Not talking about just in terms of revenue. Not just talking about in terms of scale, or how many employees, etc. But I'm talking about in terms of the FEATURES of your product or service. And maybe even more products and services to extend your company's portfolio. And when it comes to your online courses, it could be about... you could say, ok, I'm going to create this complete digital marketing academy. And I'm going to have information in there about creating Kindle books and podcasts and YouTube videos and building an audience and selling online and promoting a business online and so on. And you could come up with a roadmap of all the digital content and training and coaching and community that you want to build. And then you go out there and work on the first chapter of your first Kindle book. Design big, and implement small. And because you have just 1 product to begin with, you don't slap on a subscription right away. Sell it as a one-time product in the beginning. You still haven't created enough value YET to charge for it as a subscription. Yes, subscription should be your ultimate goal, but start with a one-time product. And start making sales, and building a list of customers, who can then be turned into affiliates automatically if you use a membership plugin like DigitalAccessPass.com.
And the best way to brainstorm and do a massive brain dump, is to use a mind-map. And I show you exactly how to do that in one of my best mini video courses called Brainstorming Badass: The Abso-Frickin-Lutely Fastest way to Brainstorm and Churn out ideas for the next 33 years - for your online courses, podcast, live streaming videos, webinars, Kindle books, YouTube channel, and any imaginable type of Content Marketing. And it's sold as part of my Digital Creators Academy at https://SubscribeMe.fm/academy/
According to Wikipedia, "In mathematics and computer science, an algorithm is a finite sequence of well-defined, computer-implementable instructions, typically to solve a class of problems or to perform a computation. Algorithms are always unambiguous and are used as specifications for performing calculations, data processing, automated reasoning, and other tasks.
So the keywords there are... sequence of well-defined instructions, unambgious and specifications.
No programmer or developer, who's experienced, will straight away sit down and start writing code as soon as they're given a task. They will first come up with an algorithm for the overall project, or task. So an algorithm is a specific list of instructions that are a critical first step to solving problems or performing tasks. And algorithms are not just for computers and developers. There's a very good chance that you've come up with one yourself at some point, or followed one. Here's a great example of an algorithm: A cooking recipe. It's a specific list of instructions on how to cook something.
I recently made amazing chicken fried rice at home, after watching a YouTube video, which shows the list of steps. Some of the steps have to happen in order. So if you write down the steps for the recipe, practically anyone can make decent fried rice. Instead, if you just showed up in the kitchen without a plan, without a recipe, without the ingredients, then even the greatest chef in the world can't make a great dish. Now of course, you could argue that a great chef can do it without a recipe, but that's because they've done it a hundred times before and the recipe is in their head. So whether it's on paper, or in their head, there is still a recipe. And THAT is the benefit of an algorithm.
For eg., when it comes to creating an online course, you need a list of things you are going to cover, in which order, and show how to implement that list. So whether it is cooking a dish or creating software or an online course or even writing a book, you start with the list, and the more specific and ordered that list is, the better your end product will be.
This is defined as the process of quickly mocking up the future state of a system, and validating it with a broader team of users, stakeholders, developers and designers.
So when it comes to creating, let's say, an app. You don't just start developing the app first. You create a bunch of fake and made-up screens that look like the final product. The data is all made up, the buttons are not submitting data anywhere, they're all just dummy data. It's just a simulation. Same thing when it comes to any hardware product - you don't just start spending thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars on building a mold of a phone casing because you're going to make a phone. You create a fake version of it. Like they create clay versions of a car design. You can 3d print so many parts now for so cheap. So you create a fake model of the final product. And that's your prototype.
If you've seen Shark Tank, you've probably seen entrepreneurs bring in a "working prototype" of a product that hasn't launched yet. There are a lot of hardware products on Kickstarter.com that create the sales video showing a working prototype, and they need to raise the money first to actually order a mold and pay their manufacturers in China or something. And the sales video shows how the product WOULD work, but it's not the actual product.
Same way, you don't have to spend a year creating what you think is the most amazing online course, or WordPress plugin, or SaaS product, only to then realize that no one wants it.
Instead, you create a mock-up of everything: I have come up with a phrase for it - I call it, Sell First, Create Later. A sales page that sells your product or service, touting all of the features and benefits of what the eventual thing will have. And of course, you don't say it's ready now. You pre-sell it. Like a book is pre-sold on Amazon weeks before it is actually published. Or like a Kickstarter raising funds for something that hasn't been manufactured yet.
You can sell an online course that hasn't been created yet. Of course, your sales page has to do a great job of explaining every feature and benefit and how it's going to help the buyer.
And the best way to get early feedback on a course that hasn't been created, is to offer it as a Webinar. And sell access to the webinar. Or give it away for free to build a prospects' list. Doesn't matter. The act of just having to do a webinar will force you to create a great presentation. Which means, you'll think about every feature and benefit. You'll create a table of contents. You'll come up with the most impactful content to present to your audience in a short period of time. It'll make you think about the product and the delivery and the marketing. And all of that will help you later when you create the full-blown course. And you can get feedback from the attendees. Ask questions. Send them a survey. Send everyone in your audience a survey. Tell them you're creating this thing, and it can do all of these things. And give them the full list of features and benefits. And table of contents. And all of the chapters in your course. And all the sub-chapter titles. And ask them what they think about the course. And ask them if they think anything's missing. Ask them how much they would pay? And of course, tell them that no matter what their answer is, they'll get it for, say, $50, or $500. Just make it like a 90% discount. Tell them that upfront. That even if they say they'll pay $500, they'll only pay $50. So that way, they're not worried that whatever number they say, that's what you're going to charge them, and all of them will low-ball their guess.
So, the best way to do a Rapid Prototype of an online course, is to create a Webinar. And then spend a lot of time promoting it, and building an audience, and getting all kinds of feedback about it. And once you've built an audience, either by giving it away for free, which will also help you build a list by the way, then now you have a ready-made audience to buy it even before it's launched. Even before it's CREATED, actually. And you can also have a bunch of pre-sales, which brings in some money, which will help you with your expenses while you create the course. Or even just give you some motivation to go create it before they ask for a refund. After all, the thought of LOSING money, is usually a bigger motivation for most people, than the thought of MAKING money. Loss hurts more than gain excites.
So whatever your future product or service is that you're thinking of launching, be sure to create a rapid prototype of it, and then use it to build an audience, or make some pre-sales, without even worrying about creating it. That way, if the prototype doesn't get people excited, especially when you offer it for free, then you'll get some idea about what to change about your product or service, or even change your audience because maybe you're reaching the wrong audience, and there's no product-market fit.
Repeatability (or Duplicatability (Duplicability?)
Here's a direct quote from a scientific website, sciencedirect.com: "Repeatability (or test–retest reliability) is often used to describe the variation in successive measurements of the same variable taken under the same conditions (e.g., same observer, location, instrument, and procedure) in a short period of time."
So that's one of of the biggest principles of the scientific community, that whenever they test something, whether it's an experiment, or medicine, or anti virus, or a new formula, or some new invention, the results have to be repeatable given the same conditions.
If you mix a bunch of chemicals together, and you give the concoction to a test subject, like lab mice, and you're able to cure cancerous cells, and then everybody celebrates, and the big-boss comes up to you and says, Ravi, you've just won us the jackpot of a lifetime, you're going to get a million dollar pay-raise per month for creating this amazing medicine that cures cancer. We're going to save millions of lives and since you have a piece of the company, we're all going to become billionaires! So quick, give us the formula and let's start going through the clinical trials process asap because we've billions waiting, baby!
And imagine, if I were like, Um, sorry, I don't think I wrote down the exact measurements of any of the chemicals I used. I was just randomly mixing a bunch of stuff and this happened. Let me go back and start the testing process again.
Imagine that. Imagine being inches away from a billion dollars, and not being able to repeat the process because you never wrote it down. That's why, in the scientific community, it takes so long to come out with an antivirus or major medicinal breakthrough because there are very rigorous testing processes where your peers have to review it, and then they have to be able to repeat your test, and get the same results.
So when it comes to running a business, even though you may not necessarily be saving lives, you still have to be able to duplicate the results more than once if you want to be able to create a business plan that can make money.
Whether it's tracking how many people signed up for your email list, or how many converted, or tracking how your ads are doing, or how your webinar is converting - testing and tracking and conversions - those are all principles of the same thing - repeatability. If you have a process for bringing in traffic, or generating leads, or converting visitors to customers, is it something that can be repeatable? The concept of repeatability or duplicatability also goes back to my most famous tagline I've ever created - DOGPOO and DOSAA. DOGPOO stands for do once get paid only once. DOSAA stands for do once sell again and again. So that part of "again and again" means it has to be duplicatable. And repeatable. And doing custom client work is almost never repeatable. Yes, you can do it for another client, but the work you did for the last client most probably can't be used for your next client.
So for instance, if you edited somebody's podcast then your next line you're not going to be able to reuse the work right that you do previous flight same way if you did custom coating work or treating cut a plug-in or as a developer yes you can use videos some parts of programming logic but for the most part if you did custom gig work for a flight you cannot reuse it.
Can you repeat it? Take any sport. Let's talk basketball for a second, which I'm a huge fan of. If a player comes out and plays well in 1 game, it's not going to get him a huge contract right away. Great, you scored 35 points, got 15 rebounds, and helped your team win - in ONE GAME. The first question everyone's going to ask you is, Ok, now can you do it again? If you do it again, then the next question is still "can you do it again? And again?" And that's what gets you bigger contracts and the money and fame and adulation that comes with it. There's a reason why some of them are one-hit wonders. Because they somehow did ONE GREAT THING, but could never reproduce that ever again. The world is full of one-hit wonders. But it's always the people who can get results again and again, rise to the top.
And this kind of bleeds over into my next point which is....
So before you prove the repeatability of all the duplicate ability of your plan you should not rush to scale it. Back in 2007 when I wrote my first-ever book No Business Like E-Business, I ended up did not want to pursue the path of going for a real publisher sending them the manuscript waiting for them to give me a chance I didn't want anybody to tell me what I can and cannot do. Self-publisher I want control over everything so I decided to go the self-publishing the route and found a print on demand sure call lightning Source there are like the online print-on-demand arm the big guy publishers in the US. So one are the options had if I went with a just a local book printer with a lot of courses and books and stuff talk is that you go to local book publisher make a deal with them and for the lowest price and buy in a thousand 5000 coffee I cannot tell you how many stories of authors I have read who have garage full of stuff books that they can't sell right and then you have to store it and then termites in all kinds of damage water damage all kinds of stuff happening in their garage and the books getting ruined so I did not want to do that I do not like massive investment into something that I don't know it's going to work so publishing on demand Rock was perfect the best color print on demand so somebody will place an order and Amazon would send the article print on demand does backbend Amazon have not yet paid for create space yet so I'm Christmas probably haven't even been created yet so I could tie up Amazon on the back end of a publisher and publisher printable one single copy and then send it to the buyer but the cost of an obviously a little higher than if I bought 5000 coffee in wholesale for the local book publisher but they must 940 right I do not have to pay for anything except the first proof copy which I think I paid like $50 to get one copy printed. I could make Corrections and the re-upload the manuscript, and boom, the book was ready to sell.
The same way if you want to start a t-shirt you don't start Fade Away by altering you. T-shirts sizes and shapes and colors before you have sold a single one you need to be able to sell a single on so let's say you came up with a interesting con weathered something to look local politics or sports or whatever some catchy slogan something funny you start selling it first you make one copy and then you start selling it right away you don't print a thousand t-shirts are it all kinds of sizes and shapes. If you ever seen the the show Shark Tank you'll see that they're having times when they're having entrepreneurs come into the and or the show that he will. You have a whole bunch of stock a line in their warehouses and unable to sell them and they need the money to keep them afloat and then obviously and others people who cannot keep up with the demand on the sharks always love people who cannot keep up with the demand who have a purchase order on hand and just need the money to fulfil the order skip to the next level. So you don't want to just have one or two customers and then like for example if you had a social media agency and you figured out a process to help somebody promote say their podcast podcast and their content marketing and you get your first time you know straight away go and how to fly with a people to help you write you first get your first slide then see if you can go back but that's or somebody like your first client and get one more and then get one more fun and then once it starts to get out of hand then you hire your first person then you get more clients so you have to be able to repeat and duplicate your process before you can go to the next step of scaling it.
Scaling something by itself is an art and Science and lot of experience and brain power and so on because if you generally see if you know their concert what brought you here won't get you there and same way in in companies in startups. I can only sometimes take it to a certain point and by which time they need to hire experts we can take it to the next level so building something is not the same as marketing is not the same as scaling and Salon that's why when you are a one-person bad it is very hard to be the idea person. The Creator the product that will open Sky the support person. And you have to build an audience and you have to do the content marketing and you have to do the editing and blogging and and SEO and promotion in social media ads and you have to be the bad guy on the marketing guy on that Fiat manager you can see how many hats that are to wear when it comes to creating and running and promoting. My brother you figured it out on your own or you hire a person a partner who can scale it for you like a marketer of like me or even a business coach like me who can guide you in the right on how to steal something the right way because just simply going in throwing thousand dollars gas is not going to scale your business you have to know where to use your resources how to use it and some people just say oh I want to start a podcast to come with my local business podcast takes a lot of time and then you go away from what your tank for mortgages your main business or service and then you were y'all at the whole time about how to promote your podcast so the podcast is not for everybody a YouTube channel is not forever that's what everybody so you will have to know what to do for your niece for your circumstances to scale what you're trying to do and that's where I come in as a business coach.
Write Once, Run Anywhere (WORA)
I talk more about my coaching towards the end of this episode but now let's get on track and on to the next thing out of 17 things entrepreneurs like you can learn from a programmer and that next thing is WORA - w o r a - write once Run Anywhere
And when it comes to programming languages, way back when, if you wanted to run code on a Windows machine, you could only use certain types of languages, and if you wanted it to run on a Mac, you had to use a different language. And that's when, the company Sun Microsystems developed a language that you might have heard of, called Java.
Using Java, to quote Wikipedia, a programmer could develop code on a PC and expect it to run on Java enabled mobile phones as well as on routers and Mainframe equipped with Java without any adjustments so this was intended this was intended to save software. This was intended to save software develop the effort of writing a different version of their software for each platform or operating system they intend to deploy on.
And when I released my course last year, titled DOPE: Do Once, Publish Everywhere - How to Build Trust, Respect & Influence and Reach New Audiences Using Live Streaming, Video, Audio and Repurposing Content on Multiple Social Media Platforms
The idea behind it was Reusability. Repurposing content. About creating one piece of content and being able to convert it to multiple formats, and publish it to multiple content platforms, and leveraging your content and getting maximum exposure to the biggest audience possible, using minimum work of re-creating your content. You can find my course at https://subscribeme.fm/dope , which by the way, you can get for free when you join my Digital Creators Academy at https://SubscribeMe.fm/academy/ .
So always plan every piece of work you do, every bit of content you write, every video or audio you create, ever Kindle book and PDF and blog post, and try to create it with a plan of how you can reuse that and repurpose that into multiple formats and multiple platforms. And if you don't have a dedicated content marketing team creating content for you round the clock like Gary Vee does, then you have to learn how to repurpose your content. So WORA - Write Once Run Anywhere, is the same as DOPE - Do Once, Publish Everywhere.
Junior programmer Mentality
Calling someone a Junior programmer is almost like calling someone a newbie, or a rookie. Not exactly glowing praise. It's almost like saying yeah of course I know you are new to this stuff that's why you're making these dumb mistakes.
One of the mistakes beginner programmers or Junior programmers make is that as soon as been given a project, they're so eager to get started and even more eager to tell their boss they're done, that they end up taking a bunch of shortcuts, they will not think through the whole process, they will not think about the design, how their code could affect or influence other parts of the system, what is the database going to look like, is there a front-end and how does it work with the back-end, what technologies you need to use, is it a web service or a mobile app or a web app and how does that affect the user interface, and so on.
And they will rush to say I'm done which means they may not have tested it properly, maybe they tested like one or use cases, examples in the year college use cases but they didn't test for some use cases - Like you can see on websites when you're filling out long forms. Like what happens if somebody forgets to enter their address in this form, or what if they enter only 5 digits for a phone number, what if the required fields or blank, or what if they enter alphabets for the phone, or their email they entered is incorrectly formatted.
So the same way when you are trying to launch a new course, it could be something as simple as adding a new module to existing course, or trying to figure out the chapters for your book, which could then turn into a course, and an audiobook and a Kindle book and maybe that becomes a lead magnet to build your list. It really helps to think through the entire process first. Start by writing down some bullet points. I call it "Start with the last thing first". Like maybe try to create the sales page for that product that you're about to create. What would the features and benefits be? How are you going to try and sell this new thing? What would the sales copy be for this product? What would the pricing table look like? What will the multiple columns in the pricing table look like? What's your offer going to look like? Will you have a silver, gold and platinum version? What will the line items for each of those memberships say? What will Gold have more than Silver? And what will Platinum have more of, than Gold?
So you need to be able to look ahead and think ahead 10 steps. Almost like a game of Chess. You can't just play the move right in front of you. What is the end-goal? What is the funnel? What are you trying to achieve? Who is the target audience for this? Is this thing monetizable? How monetizable is it? Is there an audience for this? Is there a product-market fit? Do you know how to reach that audience?
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So you need to be able to brainstorm ideas and come up with a plan before you write the first line of code, or the first chapter of your book, or the first video of your course.
And I wholeheartedly believe that a mind map is THE SINGLE GREATEST greatest brainstorming tool ever created. Actually, I have a course about how to do that too. It's called My online course Brainstorming Badass: The Abso-Frickin-Lutely Fastest way to Brainstorm and Churn out ideas for the next 33 years - for your online courses, podcast, live streaming videos, webinars, Kindle books, YouTube channel, and any imaginable type of Content Marketing (a $69 value)
It is a part of my digital Creator Academy at https://SubscribeMe.fm/academy/ . And 1001TrueFans.com is also a part of my Digital Creators Academy.
So the take-away is... Look ahead and think it through and brainstorm and make a plan before diving right in. And don't start writing code 5 minutes after you're given a programming task, like a junior programmer.
The Waterfall Method
I can't even begin to tell you how many top-shelf marketers and entrepreneurs take 6 months to a year to even 2 years creating a massive digital product, like a plugin or a saas product. And then they do a big, grand announcement that it's ready, and there are no takers for it. And they can't sell this gargantuan monstrosity they've created. Of course, with their massive audiences, they do make a bunch of sales. It's not nearly enough to even break even on their initial investment in developers and project managers and servers and technology, leave alone, making a profit enough to pay themselves or continue paying their team. I've seen marketers and tiny startups like this go out of business within 1-2 years because they used a strategy called the waterfall method.
Here's how the waterfall method works in the world of technology: Or here's how it USED to work, because no one uses it any more, because it sucks.
So first, someone comes up with a bunch of random ideas on what they want done. And a bunch of other people translate that into technological requirements of what the software needs to do. And then a bunch of programmers or developers are assigned to it. They go off and work for weeks or months together at a time, occasionally following up with the "client" - basically the person who needs this project done. And then weeks or months later, they show a demo of what they've been working on. And usually by that time, it's too late for feedback even for the little amount of progress they've made, because a lot of the infrastructure is already completed, some decisions are probably too hard to back-up on, re-doing any part of it means hundreds of wasted hours of development and testing, and on and on. The whole thing usually cascades out of control very quickly from there.
And that's mainly because the client gets to give feedback only every so many weeks. And everything is divided into rigid phases - and one phase doesn't overlap with the other. And without quick and regular feedback, it's too hard to manage any project, even the smaller ones. And with larger projects, it's literally a disaster to follow this model.
And this also touches upon the Rapid Prototyping strategy I talked about earlier in this series.
And remember, I'm oversimplifying a lot of this stuff because this is not a podcast about programming. It's a podcast about digital marketing and content creation and monetization and delivery. So I am oversimplifying things for the sake of entrepreneurs and digital creators. So if you're an actual programmer, you might thing I'm just skimming the surface. And that's ok, because it is intentional.
So coming back to the Waterfall method: The same thing applies to you as a digital marketer and content creator. You cannot do create a loooong sequence of steps which are carried out in monotonous sequence for a long duration of time without quick and regular feedback from either the client, or in the case of a product developer, it can also be your customers and members who're giving you the feedback.
A typical example of this is someone launching a new podcast. There's a lot of bad advice out there when it comes to starting a podcast. One of the most typical bad advice is you should launch a podcast with 8 or 10 or 15 episodes right out of the gate. I've seen newbie podcasters posting in groups saying hey I have about 15-20 episodes in the bag that I'm getting ready to release with my launch. All because somebody once advised them that the more episodes you have at launch, the better your launch is going be because the more downloads you're going to get.
It does sound logical at first, that if you launch a podcast with one episode and hundred people listen to it you get a hundred downloads. And if you launch it with 8 episodes, you should get 800 downloads, right? Does sound logical when you think about it that way. But it's actually VERY illogical and couldn't be further from the truth. Because if you have ever subscribed to a podcast, an existing podcast that, say, has like a hundred or 500 episodes when you first subscribe to it, then get this... ONLY the latest episode will get downloaded. That's the default setting of EVERY SINGLE podcast app there is. So it doesn't matter how many episodes you have in your feed - when somebody subscribes most podcast apps by default are set to down just the latest episode. So when somebody misleads you into thinking that Eight Episodes at launch memes eight times the downloads at launch, a lot of people make the mistake of hoarding a lot of recordings, waiting to blast them all out altogether like Netflix. And in the process, what happens is that they release ALL of those episodes together and finally at the time of launch a bunch of people will listen to the episodes and that's when they start getting some feedback from their listeners - AFTER their launch. The listeners may tell you that the audio is bad, intro is too loud or harsh, audio levels are not good, it should be mono instead of stereo because they don't want to hear you in one ear and the guest in another ear, this could have been done better or that could've been done better, intro is too long or too boring and your call to action is weird or out of place, too much Small Talk etc etc etc.
And suddenly the podcaster realizes that there are a LOT of things that can be improved but they already recorded and edited and spent a lot of time money and effort getting ready all those 8 or 10 episodes. And now if they have to touch the recordings, it means you have to spend MORE time MORE money and MORE more effort to fix those mistakes. Which is why I have always recommended that you launch with one episode at first - especially if you are a first-time podcaster. Record one episode first. I don't recommend launching it right away. First listen back to it and see how it sounds. Now, the first time somebody hears their own voice it's going to make them cringe because you know the way we hear our own voice when we are talking is completely different from listening to our voice from a device. So you might cringe and that's okay. Rrecord 1 episode, listen to it, have friends and family listen to it and give you feedback. About the content and structure and sound in general, and not necessarily on the depth of your content. Because they might not be an expert like you in your niche. They might not have the experience you have. So get their general feedback. You don't HAVE to take everything they say to heart. Your topic and your niche and your audience is your domain, not theirs. Just take in all the feedback and also have real podcasters listen to it. Join some podcasting groups and ask for feedback. Don't simply promote a link to your show because that's considered spamming right you'll get kicked out of the group. So the key is you have to get quick and real feedback in the very beginning, and you tweak and test and improve things based on the feedback.
My friend Dave Jackson from the school of podcasting says podcasting is not like a statue, but more like a recipe. Now here's what I would add to that. If you were learning to make chicken fried rice for the first time, would you cook a massive amount of chicken fried rice enough for 10 people that can last for 3 days? No, of course not. If you make an insance amount of food the very first time you're trying something, and you screw up, then ALL of that food will go to waste, like if they chicken weren't cooked properly, that could be dangerous actually and people can get sick eating undercooked chicken. You might forget a bunch of ingredients. So the first time you cook a new dish, you just make a small serving. See how it comes out. Taste it. Tweak it. Make a list of what you missed and what you could've done better. Then the next time, you make a little more of it. And you apply what you learned the previous time. And make a better dish. And you get better each time.
That applies for everything - whether it's for creating a podcast, or cooking, or creating a video course, and so on.
And that's why, you cannot use the waterfall method for creating anything, where everything is in sequence, long phases without any feedback, and you end up with a massively bloated inferior product because you didn't get feedback along the way and you didn't improve things along the way.
If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It
Don't modify something that's currently working for the sake of changing something, because that's how you introduce bugs and issues and create too many moving parts.
And fix one thing at a time and don't have too many moving parts at the same time.
So let's say you have a form that's not working, you first see if the form fields are being entered correctly, then you see if the data is being submitted correctly, then you see if the data is being stored in the database, and so on. Troubleshoot one thing at a time. Then change one thing at a time.
The same goes for testing your sales page conversions. You don't change too many things all at once. That makes it hard to know which change worked.
First test the headline, then run some traffic to it, then the sub-heading, then the sales copy, then the offer, then the pricing, etc. If you change all of it the same time, how do you know which change made it better, or which one made it worse?
I also have another one called Don't Touch, It's Friday. I talked about this on my other podcast at CutToTheChase.fm Business, Marketing & Tech Hacks For Entrepreneurs and Digital Creators. Check it out at CutToTheChase.fm or search for the word CutToTheChase.fm in your favorite podcast app.