Launching Products & Snorting Cocaine

My goal with this blog and my new podcast is to share my knowledge and teach you how to build, launch and market your products.

But I’ve got to be honest with you about something, something that I think I’ve been struggling with for the past few weeks. Maybe putting it out here will make it easier for me, maybe some of you are going through the same things, or maybe no one will ever read this. Who knows.

I’m not one of the “greats” yet. I’m not Nathan Barry, who makes six figures a year releasing books about design & publishing. I’m not John Lee Dumas, who gets hundreds of thousands of listens for his podcast every month. Fuck, I haven’t even had a “true success” yet, no exits, I don’t have thousands of users on my product.

In fact, I still have a regular old 40-hour a week day job to pay my bills.

I talk about things like how I made $2033 in FOUR DAYS when I didn’t even have a product yet. How I got 2200 pre-signups for my SaaS before launch…in two weeks. How I built the new version of Kobra in a mere 36 hours. How I got over 10,000 unique visitors to my blog in its first month.

And it’s not like I’m just talking a big game, I mean, I really did all of those things. But the truth of the matter is, I’m not there yet. In fact, I’m not quite sure I even know where there actually is.

I’m sure I sound like the rich guy bitching about money problems to some of you right now, but that’s not the point.

So here’s the truth:

I get high from launching, and I’m going through withdrawal.

That exhilarating feelings, when you’re in the spotlight. It seems like everyone is looking at you, everyone is interested in what you’re doing, even if in reality it’s just a few people.

When I send out that email saying that the sale is ending in two hours, and I’m logged into my Stripe account watching complete strangers that believe in me, that believe in my product, so much that they’re actually paying for it. I made $650 in that last two hours.

When the counter hits 0 and you hit “deploy.” Then the trickle starts.

First its just a few people on your site, then 20, then 50, then 250 people all at the same time. And they’re there looking at something I made.

When I get emails from readers of this blog or people that’ve listened to my podcast and they tell me that I’ve changed their lives. That, my friends, is a high like no other.

I guarantee it if you put your mind towards something, you will be met with that same success, and you’re going to feel that same high. You’re going to be the most pumped up you’ve ever been in your life, you’re going to believe that, even if just for a moment, the world revolves around you.

And then it’s going to come crashing down.

Now, I’m not saying that all of the sudden you’re going to fail. It’s not like you lost your product, it’s not like all of the sudden you’re a nobody. But something happens.

The launch is over.

You’re still met with success, it’s just not like the success of your launch. Right now I’m happy to see 10 or 15 people on Kobra at one time, but that’s nowhere near the peak 250 during launch.

Launching products: it’s one helluva drug.

I imagine this is what taking cocaine feels like. That first bump, that first line, it feels absolutely incredible. You’re on top of the world, everything is amazing. Things are going thousands of miles an hour around you.

But then you get used to it. You need more of the drug to keep yourself going. Then, eventually you pass the tipping point and you become dependent on it. You actually NEED to feel that feeling again.

You’ve become a launch junkie.

The Law of Diminishing Returns

The Law of Diminishing Returns is a concept in economics that states (in a nutshell) that if you increase the amount that you put into something, but leave all other factors the same, that you will continue to get less and less returns.

When launching a product, it can seem “easy” to get those first few hundred people on your site. It may seem like it actually requires little effort to do so.

However, after your launch, you put in the same amount of effort and the rate at which you encounter “success” can get harder and harder to increase. This is the law of diminishing returns at play.

I think what I’m experiencing right now is actually the law of diminishing returns at war with my psyche. I just want to be amped up to the level that launching gets me at all times. But it’s getting harder and harder to get to that level.

Now the real work begins. Without a major feature release or announcement, there is no large increase of users from Hacker News, Reddit or other forms of publicity.

Right now, there is only pushing forward and getting through this. Bettering my product, interacting with my users and trying to build the best god damn product they’ve ever seen.

I feel like I’m in the “rehab” state right now. All of the sudden there is no more cocaine rush, there is only the hard daily life of business, marketing and programming.

Every time I release a feature or talk to a user, I get a little whiff of that sweet sweet drug, but it’s not as strong as the launch.

Last time this happened to me I gave up, but this time, I’m not taking “No” for an answer. I will not give up, I will succeed. I will push forward through these withdrawal symptoms and I will prove that I’m fucking in it to win it.

My story has only just begun.

(Please note I’ve never taken cocaine, sorry guys)



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  • Shawn Michael Hartwell

    Your writing style gets me every time with it’s blend of personality and impersonal facts. This is what I’ve got to aim for when it comes to my writing — I’ve got to find my voice, haha. That sounds so cheesy though.

    Actual chemical compound drugs aren’t the only drugs out there and we’re all deludid by what a, “drug,” is these days anyway – We just follow the spoon-feed bullshit from the government pointing their fingers while making statements like, “Cocaine is a bad thing!”

    I don’t claim that it isn’t but guess what – That cup of joe you’re ingesting each morning is just as much of a, “drug,” if we keep using such an umbrella term.

    All this to say: You’re right Matt because we all go through this period of high when we do things. You launch your blog and you feel that rush of having arrived and DONE SOMETHING. It doesn’t last though and we can’t let it become our motivation…

  • Chris Holtzhauer

    Great post Matt. I love it the title too, definitely grabs your attention. I definitely feel you man, I am a launch junkie too and just like you am making a commitment to see it through this time around. I think since we live in a time where we have so much instant gratification and see things that seam to happen “super fast” we get bummed out when it doesn’t take off like it does in the movies. We forget that in reality these things can take a little time. You have an awesome product, glad you are making the commitment to not give up on it. I’m also really enjoying your content and podcast. It’s awesome to keep up with what you are doing, someone in the beginning stages.Keep up the great work.

    Chris Holtzhauer