Fear of launch

As product people, we don't want to create something that's just good. We want it to resonate with people.

When I launch something new, my biggest fear is that people won't like it, won't care, or won't show up.

Additionally, a lot of people I know also struggle to promote the things they've made.

These two pain points are related. If you're not confident that people will like what you've made, it's hard to promote it.

No one wants to send out invitations, and have zero people show up for their party.

How can you get over this fear?

You don't.

You never truly get over the fear of launching something no one wants.

But you can reduce it. There's a feedback loop you can go through that will give you the confidence you need. It's a system for discovering products people want.

It looks like this:

  1. Research your audience. Embed yourself in their community. Hang out every day. Listen.

  2. Observe the topics, pain points, and desires that come up over and over again. Make a list.

  3. Prioritize the list. Which topics do you think are most important to this group?

  4. Create something small that solves your audience's #1 issue.

  5. Launch it. Observe the reaction. Gather feedback.

  6. Iterate by making something a bit bigger. Try charging a bit of money for it. How do people respond? How hard is it to find customers?

  7. Keep repeating this cycle until you're sure you've found a problem that people really care about and a solution that they'll pay for.

I realize that this might seem simplistic. But when you show up every day, you'll find opportunities to help people in meaningful ways.

For example, my friend Jarrod is a designer and hangs out with other designers. His friends were having a hard time communicating their value to clients. So Jarrod decided to write The Tiny Designer.

Learning to promote your projects

Once you've created a solution that people need, you won't feel like a huckster. You’re helping folks solve their problems (and that's worth doing).

Making something people want is no good if they never hear about it.

Don't fear the launch!

Working in public will help alleviate your launch anxiety. When you show up, and share your process, you'll see if your work is resonating.

For example, my friends Steve Schoger and Adam Wathan shared tips like this for a year before their launch:

Seeing hundreds of people interact with their tweets gave them the confidence that they were on the right track.

You don't need thousands of Twitter followers to do this! Here are other places you can share your work:

  • On forums

  • In Slack groups

  • On Reddit, Hacker News, Indie Hackers

  • Livestream your work

  • Blogging

  • In presentations or conference talks

These should be blatant promotions. The brilliance of Steve and Adam's "tweet tips" is that they're practical and helpful.

I hope this helps,
Justin Jackson

Published on January 28th, 2016
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