Initial Insights from Shipping First Information Product

by Tommy Leung on August 16th, 2020

I shipped my first information product on Tuesday, August 11th, 2020. It is a beginner game development course being sold on Gumroad.

It was launched to minimal fanfare and very little promotion. No one suggests you launch a product this way and I don't either. However, I was looking to get the experience of going through all the motions of creating and launching a product more than making sales.

Maybe it is stupid but I also took the route of building it fast to get it out there instead of putting in several months

Product Evolution One

I had been working on a product to sell for about 4 weeks before I shipped this one.

The first idea was this big thing about programming patterns for game development in JavaScript. I was going to have a book that went through various patterns from the basics to more game-specific ones with example code for each.

In addition to the book there would be a set of videos that demonstrated using each pattern. This would be in a second tier.

And to top it off I would include a TypeScript version of everything for bonus tiers.

It was a big deal. I spent 1.5 - 2 weeks working on it before pivoting due to the slow nature of creating such a product.

I believe I understand programming patterns well but I don't teach it regularly so there was quite a bit of researching necessary to ensure that my descriptions were technically correct.

Then coming up with interesting code examples that related to games took quite a bit of time. One could just use the completely academic examples but that just didn't feel right to me.

I had written first drafts for about about 5 or 6 patterns when I decided to change course and do something simpler.

Product Evolution Two

The second attempt at making a product ditched the book entirely and focused on videos instead.

A lot of the problems with writing a technical book is getting the code to format right. It just isn't easy. I may need to revisit how I go about books in the future.

Demonstrating how to implement game mechanics and features is much simpler on video and you can include source code for each video instead of having it as a book. Some people prefer books to videos so this probably reduces the size of potential customers.

But, I could get this done much faster.

I started to develop a course for creating a top-down, vertical-scrolling Space Shooter. The idea was to have a course that goes through the process of creating a complete game.

I spent a week or so working on it only to realize that this wasn't going fast enough either.

It was faster than the previous product idea but still too slow. I thought people would buy a course like this but I could also be wrong. I wanted to get something out there quickly to test the waters. I had spent the last year working on MVPs that no one cared about so I didn't want to make that error again. 😎

Part of why I kept making these large products was because I wanted to sell something in the $100 range.

I only reconsidered that bias after seeing this tweet 👇

Switching my mindset from $100 to $10 opened up a whole new world.

So I pivoted again. I've now spent about 3 weeks creating a product but I didn't want to let sunk cost keep on a path that wasn't right.

Product Evolution Three

At first, I simply came up with a different game that was smaller than the Space Shooter product.

I let myself think about it for a while and then quickly came up with an even smaller idea!

I've been making YouTube videos for months and some of the most popular videos I had were series where I went through making a specific type of game. This was something that my audience knew from me.

So, it dawned on me that I should create a product more like what I've already been doing on YouTube!

And that is what I ultimately ended up making. It took about a week and a half to make from start to finish. It has a free 6-part YouTube series and then an additional 10 videos going over more advanced topics for $12.

Add another $8 and it includes 2 videos on helping you debug problems on your own, a TypeScript version of the project, and all 6 original YouTube videos so you can watch everything offline.

I was ready to make no sales at all since I wasn't even sure the topic was that interesting. The YouTube videos themselves have not performed that well. I probably should have made a course for the videos that were already popular. 🤔

Nonetheless, I ended up making 2 sales since Tuesday for a gross total of $40. 💰

The most intriguing thing so far is that there has not been many visits to the Gumroad page but conversion--given this very small sample size--is about 8%.

Key Takeaways

For a first product, I think a low price point where you can spend a minimal amount of time is important. It should still provide value but not take you months.

Being able to test the waters quickly has significant value.

Create something that is inline with the content and value you are already offering and just offer more of it as a product.

Making that first sale has a magical feeling to it. This was the first dollar I've made from a customer since I started in April 2017. 🙏

Give me a follow on Twitter @iamSuperTommy to learn more about my journey to bootstrap a profitable business.