Stop sending emails, posting Tweets, and Facebook updates telling us about what your product does and start focusing on the story behind ‘why’ it does what it does.
From the developer, and company, side of the conversation it’s a *very* hard to thing to do. But it’s also the only way your going to have a chance to reach real people and gain even a little bit of their attention.
This isn’t something new, I’m just bringing it up because it appears people still haven’t learned this lesson…so to re-iterate:
Historically the challenge has always been in getting access, but we are rapidly approaching the point where anyone can access anything from anywhere. This shifts the challenge to filtering and to focusing on quality, timing, and shared experiences/knowledge.
How do figure out what we want to pay attention to? And what we don’t or shouldn’t? How do we figure out who and where to engage in the types of quality conversations and information we’re actually interested in?
These are the challenges I’m focused on as I continue to build and evolve gawk.it
My dog woke me up around 4am to go outside this morning…and as is usual when he does that, I used the time while he was outside to do a quick check-in on some email and such. Turns out one of my data-collection processes had crashed. Annoying, but it wasn’t a critical one and I was pretty tired, so I figured it could wait until morning to be restarted. I went back to bed.
As I lay in bed trying to fall back asleep I was only mildly struggling with not taking the time to restart that service…instead what my mind got focused on, for no reason that I can actually explain, was a brief Twitter conversation I had with Albert Wenger earlier in the day.
After finishing up the audio book version of ‘Antifragile’, I was on Amazon looking for a book to put on my new Kindle (I went with ‘The way to go’ which is an intro level book on the Go programming language), and it inspired this tweet:
Of all the ‘internet’ companies Amazon gets the most $ out of me…AWS, Audible, Kindle ebooks, Prime, & random physical goods…— Kevin Marshall (@falicon) June 3, 2013
To which Albert then eventually replied:
@falicon yes - but: who gets the most gross margin (not in percent, in total dollars)?— Albert Wenger (@albertwenger) June 3, 2013
And I quickly responded (to quickly in hindsight):
@albertwenger still Amazon (because of AWS). Somewhat hypocritical of me but I actually don’t spend a ton of money online…— Kevin Marshall (@falicon) June 3, 2013
But as I lay in bed trying to fall back asleep, I started to realize that I probably (unintentionally) lied in my last Tweet…I actually *do* spend quite a bit of money online.
In addition to all the Amazon stuff I mentioned, I also spend a decent amount each year with GoDaddy and other registars (for domain names) and I have active monthly subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud, Mailgun, Netflix, and Hulu.
When it’s all said and done, I probably spend in the range of $300-$500 a month on all these online things…so not a ‘fortune’ but certainly not chump change either (I used to pay less than that in rent each month back in the day).
I still think overall, Amazon makes the most money from me (at least I’m sticking with that part of the response)…but the rest of the conversation kept me up long enough last night that I felt I had to at least expand a bit on my answer today…so there you have it!
Oh and yes, I did restart that crashed service already.
Now…I wonder if I can fit in a nap without my brain and conscience getting in the way…
So now that I’ve officially announced the closing of Falicon Programming Inc.
I’m finally free and ready to announce the official formation of my new company, Dig Down Labs LLC.
This new company is what I’ll be building, releasing, and running all my projects from over the next few years (at least), and it will also be the vehicle that I do any/all freelance under.
It’s set up to be a basic passthrough LLC, and I’m currently the sole member of the company. So the taxes and paperwork issues that I mentioned for the previous company should not be as big an issue for this new one.
Additionally, the goals and focus of this company are much more in-line with my current thinking, interest, and approach to the work that I am doing and love.
Actually the core mission statement itself is pretty simple, and I think says it all:
“Building fun & useful stuff for a profit.”
In some ways, it’s all about getting back to my roots and just trying to build great and useful products. Products that start as very simple ideas. Products that are given time to evolve and grow naturally. Products that are supported by profits earned through traditional bootstrapping methods and efforts.
Simply, products that *have* to be good enough day-in and day-out to survive.
With that in mind the primary focus of the company will be building each of it’s products into a high-quality, subscription-based, service.
Occasionally I may explore other revenue models for a given product if and when it makes sense, but ‘subscription’ is what I currently believe makes the most sense and is the most interesting to me in the things I am building right now.
In fact, I’m starting off the company with a handful (12!) of products already somewhat live and you can get a list of them as well as a few details about each from the new company site -> http://digdownlabs.com
I believe to be really successful, you have to have determination and persistence. You have to practice, work, and continuously expand your knowledge base. You need to have a strong sense of direction and goals. A sense of purpose.
An idea not of just what you want, but what you don’t want and what you are are willing to give up, to sacrifice along the way towards your goals.
With that in mind, here is a basic quick list of personal goals for the new company:
1. Build small and focused products/brands that have personality, are useful, and do very few things but do them exceptionally well.
2. Always build towards the intent of long term and perpetual profit.
3. Solve my own problems and scratch my own itches first.
4. Strategically outsource and partner with experts to cover weaker areas and grow each product. Avoid adding in-house, salaried, staff for as long as possible.
5. Keep the resources for each product as lean and limited for as long as possible. Ideally start, test, and evolve each idea for less than 5k it’s first year.
6. Initially target 100k annual revenue goal for each product. Test, evolve, and tweak each product until the roadmap for getting to that initial goal is clear and well defined. Then move all project resources into executing on that plan.
And here are a few things I’m knowingly giving up and/or very willing to sacrifice as I begin this journey:
1. Outside, non-customer, funding. To be successful we will be operating at a small scale and much more like an agency or a client-services business. It is not the type of business that generally lands outside help or funding and so we will not waste any energy or thought on that route. The customers will tell us which products should survive and which need to evolve.
2. Speed to scale, growth, and overall rapid traction. We are not going to build the next Twitter, Tumblr, or Instragram. Our products are generally going to focus on revenue and profits to start above all else - and that means each will have a larger uphill battle to gaining traction. It will take serious time and effort just to get each to the 100k annual goal. Our product’s stories will likely not be sexy or overnight hits.
3. Free time. There will be no funding, and it will take time to get to any level of serious revenue, so this company will likely not be able to be my full time job for at least a couple of years, if ever. This will add to the uphill battle towards overall success.
So anyway…that’s the plan and new direction at the moment. I’m glossing over a lot here as usual, so if you’ve got any feedback, thoughts, or ideas, I would love to hear from you in the comments below!