How to Survive Your First Launch

How to Survive Your First Launch

Launches are a nightmare. I’d heard this from peers who’ve been through them but only actually discovered it firsthand when I recently opened the doors to Damn Fine Words, my writing course.

I was confident. I was ready. Everything was all set…

And then it all hit the fan.

Not that anyone noticed. In fact, the launch looked smooth as silk from the outside. Behind the scenes? It was a whole ‘nother story, folks.

So today I’d like to share some of my launch experience and the lessons I learned with you, so that you can prepare for your own launch nightmare… and turn it into a sweet, dreamy day at the beach.

Lesson 1: You’ll suck at estimating time.

No matter how much time you’ve given yourself to prepare for the launch, you haven’t given yourself enough.

I’m not kidding. Human beings are notoriously bad at estimating time. We consistently under- and over-estimate time-based tasks. We unconsciously exaggerate how much time we actually spend on what we’ do and cut ourselves short on the time we truly need to get tasks done.

If you think you’ll be ready to launch in one week, give yourself two weeks. If you think that promo email will take an hour to write, assume it’ll take three.

Always, always give yourself more time than you think you need. Trust me: You’ll thank yourself later.

Lesson 2: You’ll forget a million details.

You can plan your launch down to the tiniest to-do, but despite your most meticulous efforts, you’ll probably overlook several key tasks. And you’ll completely miss some crucial ones.

That’s because people tend to create to-do lists based on larger tasks – “set up a series of promo emails”, for example. But those aren’t tasks. They’re reminders.

That series of promo emails? To get that “task” done, you actually need to set up your newsletter, fix the format, write the emails, check the sequence, add links, and schedule for delivery. Whew! And even all those tasks have sub-tasks as well!

Plan your launch down to minute details – and go as deep as you can. Try to think of all the steps that go into completing the task. Write them down in checklist format.

You won’t think of everything, but you’ll have less slip through the cracks.

Lesson 3: You’ll screw something up – and that’s okay.

Don’t bust your head trying to get your launch perfect. Something is bound to go wrong.

And that’s okay. The world won’t end, lightning won’t strike you dead, and your audience won’t come after you with pitchforks. They’ll probably just email you and nicely say, “Hey, this doesn’t work right. Can you help?” or, “I’m trying to do that, but I can’t, for some reason. What’s up?”

Fix the issue, email them back and life goes on. Everyone’s happy.

Stressing about getting your launch perfect is a sure way to make sure that you never actually launch at all. Striving for perfection is a form of self-sabotage… so crush the urge to tinker forever and just LAUNCH, already!

Lesson 4: You’ll piss someone off – and that’s okay too.

You know the saying: You can’t please everyone all the time.

That goes triple for launches.

You’ll probably hear from that one person who got up on the wrong side of bed and decided that taking it out on you was a Really Good Idea. Maybe he hates your marketing strategy. Maybe she thinks your price point is ridiculous. Maybe he thinks your mother’s ugly and dresses you funny.

Whatever. Roll your eyes and carry on. You can’t please the critics, so why bother wasting energy on them?

Smile, thank them for their thoughts, and go do more important things. Like getting on with your launch.

Lesson 5: You’ll wonder where your friends went.

If you’re lucky, you have friends who’ll support your launch just because they feel the love and believe in the awesome product you’ve created.

And if you have those kinds of friends, hang onto them. They’re awesome.

But most people won’t help you out with your launch, even if you’re buddies. And that’s okay – they’re busy with their own stuff. They have their own priorities. You shouldn’t depend on others to pitch, promote, and cheer for your stuff.

That said, you can still ask people for help. And some will totally surprise you by generously offering their time and support. (On that note, thank you Brian, Liz, Karl, Adam, Peter, Andy – you guys were fantastic!)

Lesson 6: You’ll ignore your life.

Did I mention launches were exhausting?

Yeah, big time. And they’re stressful. There’s a lot to do. There’s a lot to remember. There’s a lot to take care of. And while you’re stressing and scrambling (because trust me, you will), you’re going to be riding an emotional roller coaster that ranges between “WOO HOO!” and “Oh shit”.

So that means you might not be sleeping well. You might be skipping meals or eating poorly. You might be up early (did I mention you might not sleep well?) or stay up too late. You might feel tired and elated and frantic and stoked and panicked and excited and all sorts of things.

All at once.

After a few days, you might not even feel coherent… let alone sound it to your family and friends.

No launch should ever overtake your world, even for a day. It’s just a launch. Of course you have hopes riding on it, but this isn’t a life-or-death situation. Really.

Take care of yourself. Eat. Sleep. Take breaks. Laugh with your family. Sit in the sun. Go for a walk. Work regular, normal hours each day and have a regular, normal life.

‘Nuff said.

Have you ever launched anything? What was your experience? Have any lessons you learned or tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comment section!

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.