Instagram: The Nuts & Bolts


Gumroad Small Product Lab

When I heard Gumroad was hosting another Small Product Lab, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved. Everyone who signs up is working towards one goal, and one goal only - getting a product out there. It could be anything from a piece of jewellery, a painting, a music single, a podcast to an online course, a webinar or an ebook. 

The concept that makes Gumroad's Small Product Lab so appealing is this - its simplicity. Simplicity is something I struggle with. I have ideas, loads of them, which I mull over and complicate, when what I really need is to pare it right down, strip away all the fluff, and to set myself some strict parameters and even stricter deadlines. All this, of course, is better accomplished within a community of workers bees all working on their own products at the same time. 

So, for eleven days I'm working through a set of daily goals moving from product development, outline, design, decisions about pricing, building a community, to social sharing, actually making the thing, and finally the launch. Eleven days is not a lot of time from concept to shipping, but the sense of urgency is working in my favour. Everything is broken down into bite size to-do's which arrive in my inbox every day. There are multiple channels for accountability, from an online Facebook group (which is ridiculously encouraging), to a shared google doc with everyone updating their daily checklists. Not to mention the cool prizes that can be won if you complete your tasks on time, and the opportunity to be mentored by some creative heavies. 

I know I went on and on about how much I was learning from Gumroad in an earlier blog post (which you can read about here), but I'm not kidding when I say there is something very powerful about this model of creative work. What exactly do I mean?

There is something very powerful about this model of creative work.
— I said that :)

It is time bound, rather than open-ended

With only 11 days to ship a product, you're forced to make decisions and not get lost in the detail. My personal tendency is to overdo the research phase. I love learning and reading, and get carried away by all the wonderful things I could include. But with only half a day to plan a product outline, I just haven't been permitted to indulge this particular weakness.

It is product focused, rather than process focused 

All that matters is getting your product listed on your landing page, so that people can actually purchase it. This is a direct affront to my perfectionist tendencies. Not quite the perfectly designed cover - too bad. It's got to get out there. 

It is community driven, rather than a lone-ranger project 

Because other people (200 other people, in fact) know I've embarked on '12 Dry Brush Vectors' or '12 Paleo Lunches' or 'Zero to Instagram' in my case, there is a built-in incentive to finish the job. Knowing that I'm running a race with fellow competitors makes a difference. I'll know and, more frighteningly, they'll know if I don't finish. 

Right now I'm feeling challenged to do and to make, which is a welcome change to thinking and dreaming. If you find yourself stuck on the dreaming phase, and need help getting to the doing, I'd like to invite you to join me for the next Small Product Lab, which starts 7th December. 

What ebook, online course, tutorial, or other product have you been dreaming about putting together? I think you have what it takes to make it happen. Oh, and because I'm nosy, I'd love to hear your ideas. Pop me a message in the comments and let's chat some more.