Several Days and a Weekend Product Challenge

Day 6, 12:15 PM – DONE!

The clock stuck 12 noon about 15 minutes ago. If I hadn’t fretted all morning about pricing and just general launching terrors I would have made it on time.

I’m going to take the rest of the day off from product stuff and focus solely on client work. Moving forward I aim to have version 1.0 done in a couple weeks. Although I’ve been told by several people it takes about a month worth of editing.

As of 12:15PM this is what I’ve got left to do. I didn’t manage to complete the book in 6 days.

It was exhausting and terrifying but at least now I can say I launched a book.

No idea what I’m talking about? Read below for the details behind my book launch.

About a week or so ago Amy Hoy and Nathan Barry embarked on their 24 hour product challenges. The purpose was to launch a tiny side project that had been on their minds for a while. Nathan earned about $4,314 while Amy has grossed about $3,681. Those are pretty impressive numbers for a full day’s worth of work.

But They’re Famous on the Interwebs!

I know what you’re thinking. They only earned as much because they’ve got a huge audience a ton of followers but that misses the point. Their purpose was to just finish something small that had been nagging on them for a while. This is what I find fascinating and motivating.

As a lot of you know I committed to writing my own book:The Freelancer’s Guide to Recurring Revenue. It’s been months since I made that commitment but I’ve made little progress. Well today that changes.

Do. Or do not. There is no try.

Over the last several years I’ve been on the product bandwagon but just made a ton of excuses:

I’m not a precious little snowflake. I know people who have dealt with cancer and still got something out there. One of which is one of my hero’s and managed to inspire millions with a lecture.

Why now?

You could say it’s on a whim but I’m going to have to pull an MJ here and manifest some motivation:


I know, I know. It’s supposed to be 24 hours but I’ve got clients. I’ve also got an out of state Christmas Party to travel to this weekend. It’s not as sexy as 24 hours but my commitment is going to be over several days and a weekend. But, if I do this right I can prove to others that this can be done with other things occupying your time. So let’s do this!

I’m committing to shipping a small product (version 0.1 of my book) by 12 noon, Tuesday Dec 15th.

Day 1

12:00 PM Setup

I’ve made the commitment, announced it to Twitter, my list, and a couple of other channels where people are doing the same thing. I’ve also got my standup desk setup to promote good posture and get rid of all this nervous energy feeling. All my slack windows and email notifications have been turned off to eliminate distractions (this includes Twitter). All my computer is running is Spotify (with the Deep Focus playlist playing), the Ulysses Demo (tried writing in VIM and I raged quite Pages due to all the notifications for not being on Yosemite yet), and chrome. I’ve got the following links open in Chrome to help guide me through this process:


As I’ve been thinking about the book and doing research I’ve discovered that recurring revenue for Freelancer’s take a ton of forms. With this in my mind I decided to make each form a recipe. The intro section is going to cover the fundamental skills you need to be successful with each recipe. Similar to a cookbook.

My stomach is grumbling so I’m off to a quick lunch. Glad today is leftover day. After that I’ve some client work and some meetings to attend so I’ll fit in writing where I can.

2:00 PM Update

Had a quick lunch and wrapped up some client work. I decided to head over to my go to coffee shop since my eyes were getting a little heavy. What did I find when I checked my email? A client email requesting something is done ASAP. That’s just the way things work sometimes


This coffee shop has a 1 hour window for the internet. My plan is to wrap up what this client is requesting and to spend the rest of the time writing. Sounds like a good opportunity to utilize a couple of Pomodoros.

I’m purposely trying to ignore everything that may derail me. This includes any type of notification (twitter, email, slack), any type of hard decision making (what should I eat now), and anything that may be negative (the number of unsubscribes that may have resulted from this little challenge).

5:30 PM Update

I was derailed a  little by some client meetings but I managed to get a couple more writing sessions in.  I also had some bouts of self doubt but I’m doing my best to just stay positive and keep moving forward. Looking at my timer it looks like I got at least three hours in towards the book which is a lot more than yesterday!

One thing I’m really happy with is a template of what the recurring revenue recipes are going to look like. Here’s a preview:

Recurring Revenue Recipe

It sounds like my kids are home. In fact, my youngest just pressed his face against my home office door. Want a home office pro tip? Don’t get doors with windows :)

I’m off to dinner and getting these kids in bed. If my wife brought work home then I may get a couple more writing sessions in. Otherwise, it’s back at it first thing in the morning.

9:45 PM Update

Well it’s time to call it a night. I got a couple more sessions of writing in and I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. Including the content I’ve copied over plus the content I’ve written today I’m at about 20 pages. I wouldn’t be surprised if this number was cut in half after editing but I’m going to save that until Monday or even post launch. Gasp!

One thing that I’ve really loved about this challenge so far is it’s forcing me to make a lot of decisions on the fly. There’s a lot more doing than sitting around and thinking. See you guys in the AM. I’m going to get a full nights sleep so I can be even more productive tomorrow.

Day 2

6:30 AM Update

Had a good night’s worth of rest (6+ hours) considering my excitement . When I woke up I forced myself to have a healthy breakfast and water to get my day started right. My goal was to get in one quick writing session before the family woke up and that’s done!

I’m really liking the way this book is starting to take shape. Ideas for chapters and sections are starting to come naturally as I write more. I’m going to take a break for a couple hours to help my kids get their day started and out the door for school.

10:00 AM Update and Standing Invitation

Got the kids to school without yelling. A big win considering I’m still grounded (no TV for four more days) for yelling once yesterday. I spent the rest of the morning going to the coffee shop, planning the things I needed to do for clients, and answering several emails with questions on freelancing. I guess that makes me qualified to write a book?

Seriously though, if you ever want to reach out to me with questions I can be reached at rmcastil via twitter and ryan at via email. I’m pretty proud that I’ve maintained Inbox Zero for 7 years straight so I guarantee I’ll read all the emails I get.

12:00 PM Refocusing

I started to get worried about the time I was spending on the setup sections of the book so I decided to take a step back and focus on what I was trying to deliver. Luckily I already had a pitch page to help me focus.

The entire premise of the book is to help freelancers overcome the feast and famine cycle with recurring revenue. If I didn’t deliver this in any shape or form by Tuesday people could potentially feel cheated and ask for refunds which to me is the worst case scenario.

I’ve settled on 9 recurring revenue recipes as you can see here:

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 12.27.18 PM

Think I missed something? Feel free to let me know.

2:30 PM “We have the best jobs guys”

This was probably the least productive of all the time blocks so far. I got distracted and frustrated with the tools I was using and just feeling tired overall. This resulted in some procrastination in the form of random highlights from the Tonight Show.

To further my procrastination I jumped on our weekly Master Mind call just to see what everyone had been up to. Good thing I did. My pal, Sean Fioritto ended his update by saying “We have the best jobs guys!”. Indeed we do. Time to get back at it.

11:30 PM Cutting the Fat and Ending on a High Note

Well the writing must have stalled after 2:30 because I can’t remember exactly what I did! This caused me to reflect on several things that I did wrong:

The good news though is that at 5:30 I stepped away from everything and may have had one of my best Olympic lifting classes. Life’s funny that way, when you think everything is going against you, you get a win.

Moving forward I’m going to give up tracking time with harvest, trying to wake up early, and worrying too much about formatting. On launch day it’s going to look the way it looks. Since I’m self publishing I have all the power to update it and send out updated copies.

I’m off to bed. I have no idea if I’m going to get any work in tomorrow but that’s okay because it’s the weekend :)

Day 3

4:00 PM Sneaking Something In

I didn’t expect to get anything done today with a two and a half drive to a birthday party we were scheduled to attend. During the drive though we let the kids watch a couple shows and I surprisingly got a ton done. I let my wife interview regarding the book and we were able  to generate a ton of content. Plus I think she finally has an idea of the kind of work I do while she’s off at work ;)

Day 4

9:00 PM Value Driven Writing

In the software world there is this concept of outside in development. “Outside” usually refers to a feature but it can be taken a step further by thinking about the value to the business the feature is bringing. Starting from there you can eventually start to work on the internals.

Since working on this book I’ve found a similar process to work for me. I went back and asked myself “what value is this book providing to the reader?” Once I hit those points I was able to get more granular and work on nitty gritty details and principals.

Day 5

10:00 AM Update

In a couple of hours we’ll only have 24 hours left in the challenge. It’s time to start making hard calls on what will be in the book and what will not. Embrace the constraints!

6:00 PM Update

Well it seems like I’m somehow behind schedule. I wanted to be editing at this point but I’m still producing more content. The edits will probably have to wait until after the launch.

At this point I only see two worst case scenarios:

  1. I don’t launch ever.
  2. 100% of my customers feel like they were ripped off and demand a refund.

For a little bit of reassurance I sent a preview of the core content to one of my friends and he gave it a thumbs up.

Day 6

11:00 AM Dealing with “The Terror”

Launch day is here and I can honestly say I’ve been worried, anxious, stressed for the last 14 or so hours. I did get to bed on time but the same questions went through my mind as I woke up: “Are people going to demand refunds”, “How much should I sell this thing for”, “Should this be a pre-release of my book or just a cliff notes version”.

I’ve jumped into several of the Slack channels to find some kind of reassurance but people have had mixed advice. The best advice or response I saw so far was “why do you have to decide now then?” And the honest truth is I don’t. I can decide to charge more or less later. There is no point in dealing with refunds unless I actually get an email demanding one. I can just promise a pre-release of what I have and decide later whether it will evolve into the full book or not.