Justin Jackson – The Freedom Ladder: Financial Independence through Products – MicroConf 2017

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    • First — I love you guys
      • Vegas: the first 48 hours are amazing. Then there’s a cliff
      • Went to MicroConf Growth. After 2 days, I’m exhausted
        • Then all you guys show up. So much energy
    • Today — 5 tactics and 4 principles for achieving independence through products
    • Say “hi” on Twitter
      • @mijustin
    • Bio
      • I’m just an idiot that Mike and Rob found on the internet
      • Want you to think: “If this guy can make it work, anyone can make it work!”
    • I understand where you’re at right now
      • You’re not satisfied with the way things are
      • Want your life to be better
      • For me: was tired of sitting in traffic every morning. I hate it. “How could my life be better?”
      • We know it can be better, but have little imagination for what that looks like
      • You discovered someone who’s making an independent income from digital products
        • My heroes!
        • Jason Fried
        • “How did they get up there?”
        • “How do you get from no audience, no idea, and no revenue to quitting your job?”
    • My journey
      • Started in software in late 2008. 28 years old
        • Had to start at the bottom. Customer support answering phones
        • Discovered 2 things that would change my life
          • Read “Getting Real” by 37signals
            • You can build something that helps people, deliver it through the internet, and they’ll pay you for it
          • Startups For The Rest Of Us
            • For the first time in my life, I realized it could be different
      • I have 4 kids
        • What my schedule looked like: Get kids to school 7am. Drive to office 8am. Work 9-5 Eat dinner 6-7. Etc. Collapse in an exhausted heap @ 10pm.
      • Two things to overcome:
        • Find more time
        • Make enough $$$ to support my family
      • Things I tried to find more time:
        • Waking up early
        • Staying up late
          • Tried Gary Vee’s advice “JUST STAY UP TIL YOUR EYEBALLS BLEEEED!”
            • Terrible advice.
        • Working on the bus
        • Working during my lunch hour
      • Got a remote job
      • Started a podcast with my friend Kyle Fox
        • ProductPeople.tv
        • Focused on “people who build digital products”
      • Started a newsletter at the same time. “Get my newsletter for product people”
        • People were asking me the same questions over and over again
          • “How can I keep motivated as a solo founder?”
          • Reached out to patio11 and Rob Walling
            • They both said they had support groups of likeminded solo founders
            • Noticed a trend
          • Hypothesis: “Give me a support group so that I can stay motivated as a solo-founder”
        • Built “Just Fucking Do It” Campfire chat (2013)
          • My first spots sold out in an hour
          • Mistake: didn’t think any more would sell, didn’t shut off signups. Meant to limit it to 10 people. Woke up — 35 people.
          • Wife: “it needs an appropriate name…”
          • Earned over $70k
          • Just a small side product, but provided real value
            • Samuel Hulick
            • Rob Williams
        • Built a LOT of products. Two got traction
        • January 1, 2016, was able to go full time on these products
        • Indie income
          • $10k a few years ago, up to $150k
        • I now make a full time independent income from the things I make with computers
    • How can you do this?
      • First: find more time
        • Ideas
          • Take a 1-week sabbatical from work to focus on your project
          • Wake up early (put in 1 hour before work)
          • Work from home one day a week
          • Negotiate shorter work hours
          • Get a remote job
      • 5 tactics
        • 1. Choose your audience
          • #1 mistake: Don’t start with an idea. Start with people.
          • e.g.
            • Parents with kids in diapers
            • Folks starting a podcast
            • Freelance designers
            • F# developers
            • 40+ joggers
            • Commuters
          • Good markets:
            • Easy to reach
            • Highly motivated to solve their own problems
            • Ability and willingness to pay
            • A group you’re EXCITED to serve
            • A group you’re personally connect to
          • “Where am I already being paid for my skills and expertise?”
            • Example: Darian Rosebrook. Designer in the banking industry
              • Could go…
                • Vertical (banking; your industry)
                • Designers (horizontal; your peers)
          • A group you’re already connected to.
            • Case study: Francois had a consulting business where he helped Shopify store owners
              • Noticed people kept coming to him with request
                • “We have an Instagram page. We want that sucked into Shopify, create a gallery, then make each of those images a product they can buy”
                • Sounds totally clunky
                • He built a solution (a web app)
                • It’s now his full time income
            • Freelancers / consultants are already being paid for skills and expertise. Can see the patterns and problems
              • Can turn that into a product
        • 2. Research your audience
          • Most important thing! No one wants to do it
          • How do you find good product ideas?
            • You want to hit a nerve that makes people say SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY
              • ONLY way to do this is to listen. Understand the progress customers are trying to make and what struggles stand in their way

 

  • People buy products for one reason only: to make their lives better

 

            • They don’t care about anything else
            • Most important thing I’ve ever discovered
            • The position of a product person is inward, not outward
          • People were asking “How do I figure out what jewelry buyers want?”
            • So I went into a jewelry store, filmed undercover
              • Observed:
                • 90% of products are for women
                • 100% of the people in the store were men
                • 100% were men buying for women
                • The men all looked REALLY nervous
            • Find the answers
              • Where are they now?
              • What do they want?
              • How could their life be better?
              • What obstacles stand in their way
            • Jewellery store
              • Who: boyfriend
              • Super power they want: impressive romantic boyfriend
              • Obstacles: they don’t know shit about jewelry. Or romance!
        • 3. Observe
          • Places:
            • Current consulting clients
            • Online — wherever people hang out
          • Hypothesis from just 10 mins in the store: “Free me from the anxiety of wondering what to get my girlfriend so I can be an “impressive” romantic boyfriend”
          • Mailchimp: “Send better email. Sell more stuff”
            • Sell more stuff is the superpower
          • Magic words to use in your hypothesis
            • Give me
            • Help me
            • Free me
            • Make the
            • Take away the
            • Equip me to
          • Help me [with this obstacle] so I can [achieve this dream]
        • 4. Create a TINY product to test your hypothesis
          • Becoming a theme at MicroConf this year!
          • Don’t go out to prove it. Go out to disprove it
          • Put something out into the world, and see if you can get conversion (dollars or email addresses)
          • Ideas
            • Workshop (online or in-person)
              • Start with this
                • Almost every human struggle can be solved manually, through teaching
              • Example: Basecamp
                • Started in 2003 doing workshops. Before they launched Basecamp

 

  • If you can’t get five people to show up at a workshop, how are you going to get hundreds to sign up for a software product?

 

            • I like doing local workshops
              • I want you to feel the struggles
              • Want you to feel the pain of no one showing up! You’re not failing enough
        • What you learn:
          • How hard is it to find customers?
          • Did I hit a nerve? Identify their #1 struggle?
          • How hard is it to get people to pay?
          • How satisfied are people?
          • Do I like them?
      • 5. If it works, iterate
        • E.g. Excel sheet $19 → web app
    • Principles
      • 1. Your personal context is important
        • Family situation
        • Career experience
        • Financial situation
        • Personality type
        • Skills and expertise
        • Personal health
      • 2. Where you’re at now will determine what type of product you launch. That’s OK.
        • People who stand still don’t make progress
          • Nothing happens from the sidelines
          • You gotta be in motion
          • You have to DO STUFF
          • The only reason I’ve had success — I’m stupid enough to do stuff, and tell people. Do stuff, tell people.
      • 3. Choose your market carefully
        • Everything starts with the group you want to serve
      • 4. People use products for one reason only:
        • To make their lives better.
        • If you can put something in the world that does this, people will pay you for it
  • Q&A
    • “Is the “mi” in “@mijustin”: Iron Maiden backwards?”
      • People have had a loottt of guesses. I used to work for a company called Mailout Interactive. When I started on Twitter, I thought I’d only be tweeting stuff for them
    • “Do you agree with @patio11’s advice of don’t start a software product first?”
      • Yep. That advice of start small is spot on.
      • Put on a local event that scares you.
      • I did one in Vegas: 2 people showed up. IT’S BETTER FOR YOU TO TRY THINGS AND FAIL, THAN TO SIT ON THE SIDELINES NOT DOING ANYTHIN
    • “Where do you suggest people get started with workshops?”
      • Crowdcast is a good tool for it.
      • I just use YouTube live events. Create, set to unlisted, send out a link, people can book, then I send them the unlisted link. Sat morning, 10-11. 45mins presenting. 15mins questions. After — send them link to the YouTube video.
    • “Did you have slides prepared for the workshop?”
      • Yeah. I’ll have slides. On YouTube you can share your screen, and I’ll intersperse that to moments where I wanna be a human being they can see
      • Paul Jarvis does them with just slides
      • I just follow a slide deck. And the deck becomes another resource / asset
    • “I love interacting with people, talking with them. But on the internet I’m pretty scared to expose my identity, to put stuff out there”
      • To be honest, that’s the one disadvantage. Books and courses are personality based businesses, usually.
      • A few ideas: you can still run a local workshop and get a ton of ideas. Figure out their struggles. There’s ways to be anonymous online… you can focus on SEO… Workshops — you’re getting together with 5 people in a coffee shop, you’re not building a big public brand. Meetup.com. Observe the problems, offer something technical. Or team up with a bigger personality

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