Well, the final day of my marathon was reached yesterday and I, er, failed to create and set up 7 Products In 7 Days. I did 3 though.

I have 4 more lined up and with a bit of work I can get those out too, but it may be the new year now before I’ll have time to look at them.

In the process I learned something I’d like to share with you. It’s the kind of thing where you already know it, but you don’t really *know* it until you do it.

A bit like the difference between theoretical and practical.

For instance, I *knew* that I could create products very quickly, in a day easily, in just a few hours even.

And I *knew* that setting up a web page was a total pain in the butt, and took ages to do. But that part was in my blind spot. I knew it took ages to set up a web page properly, but my brain played a trick on me and I ignored it, instead concentrating on the product creation part.

Here’s 7 lessons learned and shared with you…

Lesson 1

What I should have done was give myself two days per product. The first day for actually creating the product, and the second day to set up the site to promote and deliver it.

That way I wouldn’t have felt so wiped out and feeling I’d missed something. And I wouldn’t have had to cut corners when doing all the associated set up work.

Lesson 2

The creation process can wipe you out. I had to drink a *lot* of coffee to keep my brain ticking over, and even so I found myself making mistakes. And let’s not forget that the creation process isn’t just limited to the product either.

I had to write the sales copy too and I really don’t think it’s that good. It’s just about good enough, but I’m not proud of it. Even so, it was hard to do as I was so tired.

Lesson 3

Autoresponders take way more time than you think they do to set up properly. I use:-

http://www.FrankHaywood.com/recommends/Aweber/

which is an excellent service. But parts of their interface leave something to be desired.

For instance, you would think that when setting up your autoresponder, they would have the links to your custom pages all on one panel wouldn’t you? No, they’re in 2 different places. By custom pages I mean, your “thank you” page and your “confirmed” page.

Having said that, I really like Aweber. Once upon a time, I would have recommended using a self hosted autoresponder, and in some cases that’s probably still okay for low volume niches. But for your main list, you need a service that can pump out thousands of emails to your subscribers without your host throttling them. (Many hosts do.)

And of course Aweber’s deliverablity is excellent because they work with ISPs to make sure your emails get through the filters.

Lesson 4

Setting up the flow through your web site takes A LOT OF TIME.

What do I mean by flow? Well, a (good) typical mini-site has a flow through it. Each page is designed to get the person viewing it to do ONE thing and ONE thing only, and that’s to take the next step.

And the flow can be different depending on what you’re trying to achieve, and what you think is the best for the product you’re trying to market.

I’ve studied this a lot, and tried out lots of different things, and the best general principle I’ve found is the site flow method I use on the SmartDD.com site.

This is a simple 3 step process to building a long term business asset (your mailing list), and also making some money on the way.

Step 1 – Get people to give their name and email address in return for something for free. This is text book.

(I see so many people failing to do even this tiny little very important thing. They offer a download and don’t even attempt to get an email address.

I believe the thinking is that the free ebook or whatever has their affiliate links in and they’ll make money through there. True, but dicey and inefficient. People read ebooks, and if they don’t click through that one time they read it, then it’s unlikely they’ll click later.

If you have them on your list, then you can remind them at a later date.)

Step 2 – Make the offer. Discount the price of the bigger associated item by a third or more.

Step 3 – Give them their freebie or purchase.

There are lots of different ways of creating your site flow, but the one above is probably the best.

I’ve actually 90% written an ebook called “Site Flow Secrets” a few months ago, which I was going to finish off and put out as part of this product creation exercise. I’ll still do it, but not right now as I have some other more urgent things I need to do. More on that in another post.

Lesson 5

Creating your web page can also take a lot of time!

I tend to do all my writing in a simple plain text editor, and then copy and paste it into the medium it’s being presented in and edit there. (This document is being written in my favourite text editor.) I just find it easier without any of the formatting clutter to distract me.

If publishing medium is a web page, then you either have to have a decent looking template you can use, or just go for something basic. I prefer to have a good looking page design created for me (it’s money in the bank, long term), and if time is a problem, I fall back to a basic layout.

That’s what I did for my first two products in this exercise:-

http://www.flipthisproduct.com/keywordinspector/ (opens in a new window)
http://www.flipthisproduct.com/ebooklayout/ (opens in a new window)

both with basic design, just a border round the copy. (At some point I’ll get a proper design done.)

But once you have the page design, it’s not so bad is it? You just paste the copy in, edit it a bit and you’re done.

Well… Yes… If you’re not using a script to control the site flow. Because you have to make sure the page has the relevant script variables embedded inside it at the appropriate points, and then of course you have to test it all out, tweak it, test it again, and so on.

It takes time.

Lesson 6

Don’t forget the support! Even with simple products like the ones above, you’re still going to get support questions. They eat into your productivity if you’re doing it yourself.

(This leads into a brand new product I’m having developed right now. It’s a support desk, integrated knowledge base, and live help system. It should be done in time for a February launch. Low cost too, unlike others in the same feature bracket.)

So you need some method of providing support, either by email or via a support desk. I’ve been using email and help blogs for a while now, but it’s just getting too much.

I’ll be moving to a single support desk (my own) instead in the new year. All the questions and answers will be in the knowledge base.

Now I know this will take time to set up, but long term it saves time because people tend to ask the same questions and some can’t be bothered to read the docs (in my experience). A searchable database is much better.

Lesson 7

Find somewhere you can get some peace and quiet! And clear your calendar!

It just so happened that during the 7 days we had one of our children ill at home for a couple of days, a hospital appointment for my wife, and me babysitting because my wife had to take her mother for a hospital appointment.

And *then* my wife having to disappear to spend a couple of nights at her moms as her mom became unexepectedly ill (now all better).

(We don’t think that last one was caused by the hospital visit, but you never know!)

AND my developer / partner Paul called me to tell me that the final pre-beta of SmartDD v2 was available for me to have a play with!

All these little things here and there contributed to slow me down.

Here’s the first of 2 tips for uninterrupted work.

If you want peace and quiet to write, and can’t get it at home, use your local library. My local library allows me to go book an hour slot on one of the PCs, and often I can get 2 or 3 hours there when it’s quiet, they don’t mind. They let me plug in my memory stick so I can save everything to there.

Or if you want to, you could save direct to your blog as an unpublished document, and then lift it from there when you get home.

And if you REALLY want peace and quiet to work, or maybe you need to create some videos, here’s the second tip.

Take a laptop, go find a cheap hotel and book a room with a desk. Tell reception that you’re there to work on a project you need to finish off and that you don’t want to be disturbed.

If necessary, book in as early as you can, work as late as you’re able, get a little sleep, and leave as late as you can the following day.

You probably won’t need to do that because you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can create a product when you get down to it.

Especially if you’re using a PLR (Private Label Rights) product. (More on PLR another time.)

Conclusion

In conclusion, I failed in my attempt to create 7 Products In 7 Days, but if I’d collaborated with somebody else, it would have been achievable. Maybe I’ll do that in 2008 now that I’ve learned the lessons above.

On the positive side, I created 3 products in 7 days, and proved to myself that creating and setting up just one product per week and really giving it a professional polish is easily achievable if you set your mind to it.

I’ll release the third product tomorrow. (I want to test the site flow some more.)

If you want to learn more about creating your own product and setting up a sales page, or if you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.