“Launch before you’re ready” is something often said in the business/freelancing world. I’ve known this for a long time, but it recently hit me square in the face as I was preparing to launch version 3 of the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin.
Not launching made me lazy
With my launch of version 3 there was a prerequisite. In my mind, I couldn’t launch version 3 until after I’d re-coded all the add-ons to be compatible. Otherwise, they’d break on everyone’s site and that’s not cool!
So the logical steps for me were:
- Finish UBB version 3, but don’t release it
- Re-code every single add-on to be compatible with version 3
- Then release everything at once
But re-coding all those add-ons (there are 4) felt like such a daunting task so I put it off.
…for like a month.
The “I think it’s finished” version of UBB sat ready to go on my computer for about a month, but I wasn’t making any progress on the add-ons. I knew that I needed to stage a little intervention with myself to get things moving. So I came up with an idea.
Force yourself to get that shit done!
I launched version 3 anyway.
The add-ons weren’t ready, but I knew that if I went and launched version 3, it would push me to get the add-ons done. I would be a lot less inclined to sit on my ass if there were people out there waiting for me to finish re-coding their products.
So, I released version 3 with a disclaimer that none of the add-ons would work. That way, the people who didn’t use any add-ons could fully use version 3. The people who did use the add-ons could either choose to deactivate them temporarily, or just wait for the add-ons to be ready before upgrading.
And you know what? It totally worked! The fact that UBB version 3 was released and people were counting on me to finish the add-ons lit a fire under my ass. Now, as of writing this, I’ve re-coded and completed two add-ons (Review to Goodreads and Rating Report), and only have 1.5 to go! I’m hoping to get it all done by next week.
I launched before I was actually ready
UBB version 3 wasn’t ready in the sense that it couldn’t be used with all my products. But by forcing myself to launch before it was actually ready, I sped up my development process. I had a whole new reason to be motivated to get it done instead of wasting time.
Fear can hold you back from launching
Another thing that commonly holds me back from launching a new product (particularly a WordPress plugin or theme) is the fear that it’s not perfect. When dealing with products that are installed on another site, it’s not all about pleasing the user. It’s also about making sure it actually works. With a WordPress plugin, one small error can make the customer’s entire site inaccessible! For a customer, that’s ridiculously scary. For a developer that can sometimes be hard to fix because I have to either walk them through FTP, or ask for FTP login details to fix it myself.
Basically, I’m constantly afraid of screwing things up for my customers. So, quite often completed products sit on my computer for MONTHS until I finally have the balls to release them. *cough* Novelist *cough*
But something I’m finally coming to realize is that it’s not the end of the world. Yes, it sucks for my customers if something isn’t working or, worst case scenario, there’s a fatal PHP error that takes down their whole site. But, in my experience, customers are very forgiving. They understand that bad things happen, and as long as I do everything I can to fix the problem quickly, the customer is usually very grateful. They don’t hate my guts! Imagine that!
Still test all you can, but don’t let the fear overwhelm you
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t test your products, because you totally should! Do all the testing you can. But don’t let the fear of breaking things hold you back from releasing a product, or cause you to let the finished product sit on your computer unreleased for MONTHS. That’s just silly!
Odds are, you’ll never FEEL ready. But do it anyway!
I can’t think of a single time that I’ve felt 100% ready to launch a product. Even though it may technically be done, there are always voices of doubt or fear in my mind that hold me back.
Because of this, you need to stop waiting around for that, “I’m ready!” feeling. Odds are, it’s never going to show up. Instead, wait until you’re pretty sure it’s ready and go for it! If you notice an error later, you can always correct it and send out an update. That’s true whether it’s a WordPress plugin, theme, e-course, or e-book.
Launching an imperfect product that you can fix and update is better than not launching at all.