What I Learned From Creating My First Digital Product – In 24 Hours

Last weekend, I finished a typing marathon at my desk. I wrote and published a sellable e-book in 24 hours.

(UPDATE: I have since decided to release Superpowers for Freelancers for free! Get the full book here.)

For the last 13 years, I’ve been selling working with clients as a freelancer and consultant, selling exclusively my services – i.e I’ll have to put work into every assignment I do.

Nothing wrong with that of course, but for a long time I’ve wanted to make use of all the knowledge I have in another way. I wanted to reach more people and I wanted to start experimenting with digital products that could bring an income, even if I didn’t put constant work into it.

I have a lot of ideas. Constantly. All the time. But that sometimes (all the time) makes it hard to actually get to work on them. As soon as I am about to start, another idea pops up in my head.

Together with being a master procrastinator, most ideas never become more than ideas.

But last week I decided that enough was gonna be enough. I was gonna create that first digital product, no matter what!

To battle my procrastination and to prevent myself from being bored and quitting, I decided to do it all in 24 hours.

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The main thing stopping me from creating more of anything is the need to make it perfect. I’ve got tons of half-finished videos, blog posts, and e-books on my harddrive from the last decade – that was put on hold because I didn’t think they were good enough.

This time, I was gonna publish it no matter what. When the 24 hours were up, the product should be up for sale. And I managed (half an hour late)!

My e-book Superpowers for Freelancers was out! It was not final, but it was good enough. And I’ll be able to keep updating it and making it better.

But it exists and is already working for me!

These are a few of the things I learned from creating my first digital product in 24 hours.

With super-specific goals, you’ll work twice as fast!

Imagine inviting a bunch of friends to your apartment for sunday dinner. Yeey! Only problem is, you haven’t cleaned the joint in weeks. Where do you even start?

As long as you are trying to clean the whole apartment at once, it’ll become this unsolvable task. But as soon as you decide on ONE part of the apartment, something sweet will happen.

When you limit the war zone to your desk, toilet or kitchen sink it becomes much more accomplishable!

In the first outline of the book, the chapters were pretty large. But I realized rather quickly that it made it hard to stay focused and to know what to do.

When the topic of the chapter was broad, I had to do a lot of thinking about what to write. Lots of decisions on whether or not to include this or that. Those decisions take time!

I found out that if I could write out the core message of the chapter in one sentence, it was short enough. The core message acted as a beacon – that is where I was going with that exact chapter, and when I had reached it, the chapter was finished.

Writing 3 shorter chapters was much easier (and quicker) than writing one long.

It is easier to create for a few than for many

The main thing I will do different in my preparation for my next digital product, is to narrow down the breadth of the recipient – the people I am creating it for.

Superpowers for Freelancers is an e-book for creative freelancers. That’s is a lot of different people.

Web-designers, photographers, writers, actors, translators could all fit under the term “creative freelancer” and having a target audience that broad, can sometimes make it hard to create for them.

I especially noticed this when trying to write out examples to visualize what I am talking about. I had to alter between all different kinds of freelance businesses to include as many as possible and to show that the techniques in the book work for all kinds of creatives.

Limiting the target audience could be done by choosing a smaller professional group – instead of “creative freelancer” that could be “photographers”, “web designers” or “copywriters”.

But it could also be done by pinpointing a precise problem or need, such as “How to create your first digital product in 24 hours (for creative freelancers)”.

Next time, I’ll make sure to really concretize and minimize the target audience.

YouΒ΄re the only one that knows what’s missing

This quote, commonly attributed to Voltaire, says a lot.

“Perfect is the enemy of good.”

Even though you know that things are missing and other parts could be done much better, no one else does.

You are the only one that knows what isn’t there. And it is always easier to improve something that already exists, than to create something from scratch.

When I published the e-book, it wasn’t “done”. I knew that I had a few chapters left, that I didn’t have the time to write before the deadline.

But I launched it anyway. And lots of people loved it.

A product can always be better. But often you need to put it out there and have people try it out, before you know what to improve. You can make educated guesses. But you’ll be surprised when you see how much they differ from what people actually think!

Launch before you feel 100% done – feedback from real people is far more valuable than any guesses you make on your own.

Having an actual product makes marketing so much easier

Writing blog post, recording Youtube-videos or podcast episodes or creating other kinds of content is a great way of getting in touch with potential clients, raising interest and building trust.

But just any kind of content won’t do, you need to create things that resonate with your target groups’ problems and pain-points. And not only that, you need to keep in mind that the reason you are creating content in the first place is to sell something in the end.

Being a freelancer in most fields means you are solving quite a few different problems for your clients. It can be hard to know where to start with your content marketing.

Having an actual product – even if it just solves one out of several possible problems that your target audience has – is extremely helpful. Not only by telling you what kind of problem your audience has, but also what you are marketing.

Marketing “yourself” or your “services” is pretty abstract. It becomes much easier when you have something to market!

Having lots of ideas, means you need lots of focus to make something out of them.

If you are like me – a super-creative scatter-brain – creating a digital product gives you a purpose that you can come back to whenever you feel like you are not sure what you are supposed to do.

And it doesn’t have to take longer than a day!

Do you want to download the entire book?

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Live blog: 24 Hour Product


You can buy the book already! Click here to where the book lives.

Whether you are a freelancer, consultant or in any way know how to do something that others are in need of; having a digital educational product, will help you in many areas of your business!

But there’s a big threshold to get over for many – or so it seems – to actually create that product. It is hard to actually create that product.

I don’t believe it has to be hard, or take a huge amount of time.

To prove that, I want to create a e-product in 24 hours (while still getting a good amount of sleep).

I’ll start at 15.00 (Swedish/London time) on Saturday February 2nd, and whatever happens, I will put it up for sale at 15.00 on the 3rd!

You can follow the whole process live in this blog post that I will be updating continuously, and/or by email. I’ll also update on Twitter and Instagram.

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Update 15.00 – Take-off!

So, i might have cheated a bit. Even though I want to go from 0 to finished in 24 hours, I might have kept a notepad on me during the week.

The creative cave is set up, and I am ready. So! What will this be?

Even though I nowadays have taken a few steps away from writing, and began experimenting more with podcasts, videos and such, I will make this 24 hour project with written words.

One thing I know for sure; anything that you are not completely comfortable with – like being able to do it without thinking – will take much longer.

So, while I could’ve made a video course or something, I want to write this out. That is what I really know, and that is where I can express myself the best.

So, in 24 hours, you will be able to read (the first version of) my new e-book!

I’m gonna jump right into fleshing it out, and will be back at 16, with a more concrete synopsis of what it will be πŸ™‚

Update 16.00 – The topic is set!

This far, I’ve reached a humble 771 words. But I have a pretty clear picture of what this will be about.

Usually, the intro is the last thing to write, but I wanted to concretize the theme of the book and writing an (first draft of the) intro was a good way to do it.

The working title for the e-book is Superpowers for Freelancers!

Here’s the first draft of the table of content (don’t worry, the titles will be re-written to something much cooler πŸ˜‰ )

Outline for the book

My idea is to share about 10 concrete ways to supercharge your creative freelancing business, by opening up your mind to a different way of thinking about it!

So, now when I have the outline ready, it is time to get those characters on paper (or the screen)…

Update 18.00 – 2084 words and counting

First two chapters are written – I’m doing it Hemingway style and trying not to think too much about if it is good or bad or even grammatically correct. I’ll fix that in the editing round πŸ™‚

It is evening here, and pitch black outside. Starting to feel my brain shutting of, though it has just been a few hours.

I’ll fight a few more hours, and then wake up fresh tomorrow πŸ™‚

Lots of nice words from people, really appreciate it!

Update 19.00 – Porridge and red wine

No more words since last update. Decided to take a break, walk Liva (my hairy and four-legged daughter). Also cooked an amazing dinner – porridge and red wine.

I’v realized how important it is to be super-clear on what each part (chapter) of the book is supposed to add to the whole. What is the purpose of THIS specific chapter?

I would love to be able to finish the first draft for HALF the chapters before going to sleep tonight. I think it would feel better to wake up tomorrow, knowing I’m half way through.

Update 21.00 – Almost at my half-time goal.

I was aiming for 5000 words before bed today. At the moment we are clocking in at 4100 words, but taking into calculation that it is super late (and i suck at being productive late in the day) and that I’ve had one glass of red wine too many, i think we’ll call it a day now.

I’m pretty confident that I’ll be able to do reach my goal tomorrow, when rested.

It’s been a interesting day. It is hard and a bit stressful, but when you know that it will just be for a relatively short period of time, you’re able to cope.

Sleep tight, and we’ll see each other tomorrow! πŸ˜‰

Day 2: 9.30 – Not feeling very comfy…

So, I’ve reached almost 6000 words. Biggest obstacle this far, has been because I’ve tried to include too much in each chapter. A few chapters has been divided into smaller, which made it easier to write.

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure the written chapters will need a lot of editing. I haven’t really gotten into the usual flow while writing.

It might be good to read everything through, to see if there is a flow in the way the book is structured.

I want at least 8000 words done by 15.00 today, feeling worried that might not happen….

Day 2: 11.30 – Ok, we are back on track!

I’ve gone through most of the book now, and I am feeling much more confident! When reading it from start to finish, it actually makes sense πŸ™‚

When I wrote it chapter by chapter, and moved them around as i did, I ended up with the feeling that it didn’t have a red thread.

But, after a first editing round, i realised that the first draft wasn’t as bad as I thought! I added a few things here and there, expanded some chapters.

It is coming together! Not to certain about that 15pm deadline though… Gotta go!

Day 2: 14.00 – One hour to go!

Alright! 7000 words a the moment, and i’ve decided not to write anything else in the first version (I will definitely do updates and improvements after the book has been launch in its first version).

To-do’s before launch:

  • Basic formatting in Pages
  • Install Stripe Payment button on website
  • Create a landing page
  • Fix any kind of book cover!
  • Break a leg.

Day 2: 15.21 – It is out!

Well, last hour was a blast! πŸ™‚ I managed to install the Strip payment on my page, create a cover illustration (thanks to Canva) and write up a landing page for the book.

At launch, the book is around 7 500 words. I’m gonna leave it like that for now, and after a good nights sleep, I will get back in the saddle tomorrow and start adding new chapters.

Buy the book here!

Most certainly, I will concretize and maybe even split up some of the chapters.

It’s been a fun 24 hours. And it is amazing to see that it is actually possible to create something good in just 24 hours. Releasing the book as betaΒ helps getting rid of the it-needs-to-be-perfect-feeling, it gives room to improve it while still having a product to sell.