What's on your hard drive?

Back in 2008, I was frustrated and stuck.

Every morning, I'd drive one hour downtown to work. Every evening, it was an hour home. 2 hours a day. 10 hours a week.

That long commute was killing me.

I started listening to podcasts and discovered folks like Rob Walling (Drip), Jason Fried (Basecamp), Nathan Barry (ConvertKit).

It felt like they were living life on their own terms.

But how could I, a guy sitting in his car, get to where they were at? It seemed impossible.

"I think most of us would be well-served by ignoring the advice of the super-winners, and instead seeking out & learning from those who are (at most) 1-3 "steps" ahead of us on the journey." – Chris Hawkins

Learn from Darian Rosebrook's story

Darian Rosebrook, Designer

Darian is a designer living in Mt Vernon, Washington. He had the same challenges as me: a day job that took most of his time, and a new baby at home. But his dream was to build an audience and become an independent maker.

So what did he do? He started small.

He looked on his hard drive, and found two design assets he'd used for other projects:

He decided to put them up for sale on Podia, at $10 each.

To promote it, he posted it on his website. He also told friends in a Slack group about it, and posted a few tweets.

What happened?

He earned his first dollars on the internet!

"Getting those first sales was enough for me to believe that I can actually make something people are willing to pay money for. I was fairly unknown in the design space too, so it was surprising." – Darian

Here's what he learned:

"You'd be surprised how many things you make in in client work that could be turned into a product. Even old pieces from other designs that are just lying around on my desktop or client folders." – Darian

The key is to just get started. Doing something is better than sitting in your car and doing nothing. Now that Darian's launched his first products, he's closer to his goal of quitting his day job. It might take 2-3 more years of working at it, but that's better than waiting forever!

What should you do?

1. Look through your hard drive

You might already have assets that you could turn into a small product! Here are some examples:

  • An Excel sheet that you use to calculate cash flow
  • A PDF checklist you use before you launch a new project
  • Photographs that could be used as stock images
  • Music you've composed that someone could use on their podcast
  • Old sketches you made for a client, but they never used

2. Turn those assets into a sellable product

Now it's time to take the item you'd like to sell and put some polish on it!

For Darian, this meant cleaning up his illustrations, and creating the .ai, .svg, .png, .jpg files.

3. Get a digital storefront

I recommend using Podia. They'll give you a product page, host your files, and handle the checkout and delivery process.

Upload your files, upload a header image, and set a price!

4. Promote your product

To make sales, you'll need to get the word out. Here are a few channels to try:

  • Online communities, Slack chats, Facebook Groups, and forums
  • "Show DN""Show HN"Product Hunt
  • Your mailing list or Twitter audience
  • Your friend's mailing list, or Twitter audience

If you get to this stage, please reply to this email and let me know! I'd love to help you get the word out.

Justin Jackson

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Published on October 20th, 2017
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