48-hour Product Challenge

Amy & Alex created JFS for their 24-hour product challenge. I am following their lead.

My product challenge runs from noon March 31st, to noon April 2nd.

If I were to do a 24-hour challenge, I would ship on… April Fool’s Day. Thanks to internet marketers who make April 1st the dumbest day on the internet, I get an extra day to show people I mean business.


What good is your GitHub profile if you don’t have a single line of Ruby code you can call your own? What if you could replace the tutorial apps on your GitHub with custom-built software that you know inside-and-out? Ship Ruby applications like a pro with RubySteps: The Playbook.

Follow @RubySteps to receive live updates on the challenge.

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Day 0 - Setup

Just doing a little bit of planning to prepare for the 48-hour challenge…

I plan to get a basic mailing list landing page up before the challenge officially begins.

Then it’s off to creating & launching a product in 48 hours!

My starting Trello board

Setup - done!

I did my initial setup. I think I scheduled the announcement email correctly… I’ll find out tomorrow!

I’ve spent a total of 1 hour, 18 minutes on the challenge thus far. Setting myself up to do some good work :)

Trello after setup

Day 1

Here we go!

12:00 PM - and we’re off!

After a good night’s sleep, I got the feeling that I actually had three products in the Trello board… so I took an axe to it, leaving only the Playbook stuff. Which is good, because the “Draft playbook” card is just a placeholder for what will become a bunch of cards - one for each chapter / game.

Also, I figured that once I have the pitch and outline done, I can open pre-sales! So I added a gumroad card to do after I finish the pitch and outline. Motivation… :)

btw if you think this project organizer looks awesome (and it is!) then you can sign up for free AND get me a free month of Trello gold.

Trello day 1 - and we're off!

1:00 PM - we have a pitch!

Friends and family know that I’ve been working on a pitch for a RubySteps course for MONTHS. Turns out it was waaaay too big. People would have to spend a few months doing lots of work, and nobody wants that. People want eaaaasy :)

This is probably the easiest part of the whole process then, precisely because I’ve done soooo much work on a pitch before this. I just took the massive pitch that I and cut it way down, moved things around…

Et voilà - RubySteps: The Playbook (the pitch)

HUGE shout out to Amy & Alex from 30x500 for teaching me the research and pitch-writing skills… but mostly to me for spending an insane amount of time doing the work to come up with ~700 words that might actually encourage people to buy ;)

1:45 PM - outline DONE

Thanks to the nifty pitch, the outline was mostly done - now I just needed to get it in to Trello where I can keep track of my progress, along with Ulysses where I write.

I started by creating a folder structure and placeholder notes in Ulysses:

Ulysses outline

Ulysses probably has some label or tag feature for keeping track of progress, or I could hack something up with titles… but it just feels SO GOOD to move items to the done column in Trello :)

Plus Trello makes it easy to copy a card, along with any embedded checklists… which for my chapters I kept simple: 1. Draft 2. Edit 3. Polish.

And, yep, the “Draft playbook” placeholder card is gone, in favor of one card per chapter:

Outline in Trello

Now that I have a solid outline for my book… I’m going to put it up for sale :)

2 hours and 41 minutes so far, including last night’s setup (which will be included in all time reports from now on).

2:30 PM - I have a product!

Sweeeet. Buy RubySteps: The Playbook for an extra-special pre-release discount! Only $9 :)

Next step: a quick announcement to the list, and then a lunch break.

Product buy button

3:00 PM - Blasting the list…

I sent a quick email to the subscribers on the RubySteps mailing list. I don’t want to annoy the hell out of them, of course… but I do want to let them know that RubySteps: The Playbook is in motion and that they can get in on the best deal ever, today-only.

It’s set up in the auto-mailer and should be good to go. Time for lunch! And then the real fun begins… writing :)

Blasting the list

3:09 PM - First sale!!!

Well how about that… Amy & Alex really do have a process that works. I was responding to an email when the first sales notice came through… NINE MINUTES after sending it out to the list :D

…and it wasn’t even my mom!

First sale

4:00 PM - The first hour - 11 sales, $99 revenue

Sweet… an hour after announcing to my list, and I’m just shy of triple digit revenue! I’ll bet you a dollar I get there today :P

First hour

Now I’m just wondering about that conversion rate… does a view mean someone saw my page with the buy button on it? Or does it mean they clicked the buy link? If anyone knows… please tweet at me!.

Time to get down to business… :)

5:45 PM - First three games drafted - 17 sales, $153 revenue

It’s weird to think that I’m almost a quarter of the way done already… except not really :) I’ve drafted the first three games in the Playbook. I have 11 more games to go. Plus edit and polish… and the intro sections, and the intro for the book, and the table of contents. And some other stuff I can’t think of at the moment. So yeah, not a quarter done at all. But still, I’ve got the games for one whole section out of the way, and that feels awesome!

You can tell from this list that I’m not great at Kanban. WIP limits? Not here…

WIPpin chapters

Day 2

Interesting evening… I took some time to relax and do chores, and I thought I was going to get back on the work, but I ended up having a looooong conversation with my mom instead. I made some progress, but not as much as I had planned. It’s okay though… I planned on tomorrow being The Big Day anyhow.

1 AM - 28 sales, $252 revenue - 5 hrs, 26 min

I wrote out a new game - for one of the chapter intros! I’m not sure what I’ll do with it… I put it in a folder called “cutting room floor.” It felt forced the whole time I worked on it, and then I got to the next game, and I realized why - I was designing a game for a section that was never intended to be a game in the first place!

I moved that to the “cutting room floor” and moved on to the next one… but since I’m tired (hey, it’s late!) I didn’t feel like it was going well. I ended up sketching out the remaining games, so I at least have a good idea of where I’m going with them. I’ll wake up nice and early tomorrow and draft out the rest…

9:45 AM - List update, quick breakfast, and go! - 33 sales, $297 revenue

I just scheduled an announcement to the list, giving out a free game, and letting them know that the price goes up in a couple hours when I release the first version of RubySteps: The Playbook. Time for a quick breakfast of bacon and eggs, and then get back to writing!

12:20 PM - I’m a real beta! - 44 sales, $396 revenue - 7 hrs, 22 minutes

Woooooo I’m feeling good. I just released the first beta of the book, which has 7 of the 14 games, and is about 1/3 of the total book content. I feel like I’ve got some good momentum going.

Here’s something else that’s sweet:

free trello!

People are signing up for Trello through my recommendation link, getting me free access to Trello Gold! Shiiiiiiip it!!!

Seven more people and I will get the free max of Trello for a year. Which means I won’t need my Trello recommendation link on here anymore.

So… I’ll make you a deal, and it leads to both of us getting free Trello gold. You sign up for Trello (for free!) via this recommendation link, and I will add you to my super sweet “Hook my buddies up with Trello Gold” board. As soon as I max out, I will replace my recommendation link with the next person in the list… so anyone who visits this page and signs up, gets YOU free Trello Gold for a month. Sweet, right? Then once you hit 12, we’ll move to the next person on the list. Pyramid schemes ftw :)

I’ll add people’s names to the list in the order that they join… so if you want to start getting Trello for free sooner rather than later, then you should sign up now.

Trello Gold is awesome. I am exceedingly pleased with myself for coming up with this scheme for hooking people up with Trello Gold. True story.

trello gold pyramid scheme

1:00 PM - Trello spots the pyramid scheme…

I think they like it!

trello spots the pyramid scheme

4:00 PM - 2/3 done! - 46 sales, $414 revenue - 8 hrs, 14 min

Whew! I cranked out the rest of the games. 14 in all. I will need to go back and tighten some of them up… but it’s nice to have a big chunk of the core content done.

playbook 0.2.0

That’s all the practical stuff out of the way… now I have a couple introductory / theoretical chapters to write. Despite taking plenty of breaks, I am feeling tired. I’m really glad I’m doing this in 48 hours, rather than 24. That would be too stressful. This way I’m able to take some time and space to get away from thinking. My head hurts a bit. Making something small is way harder than it seems at first.

6:00 PM - chapter complete! as they say - 47 sales, $426 revenue - 9 hrs, 58 minutes

I knocked out the rest of the chapters. Feeling really awesome. I don’t actually like tracking each chapter in Trello, it turns out. More on that later. For now, I’m going to chill out for a bit. I’m not done yet… but I am in a great spot.

9:30 PM - settling in - 49 sales, $450 revenue - 10 hrs, 29 minutes

As mentioned, the draft is done! Part way through it, I realized that I hated checking items off of individual cards in Trello… but most of all, I had a huge WIP column. These chapters weren’t all WIP… I was just working on a draft! So I archived all the chapter cards and reverted to draft… which instantly felt better, because my board was small again. Then it felt super awesome when I moved the draft chapter to done!

draft done

Of course, having finished the draft this evening, the last thing in the world I want to do is edit the damn thing! In a spooky twist of fate, I personally completed another challenge this evening: the 21 Day Kettlebell Swing Challenge. It’s only $2.99 - awesome!

This is the second time I’ve completed it, and I felt great. Especially AFTER having finished the draft, and knowing that I have all this momentum going in to the final day tomorrow. It also helped me answer a question that had been on my mind: how do I make sure that people actually use the Playbook?

This led to two new cards: 21 Day Challenge Repo and Heroes Hall Page. You should find out more about them in the next update…

9:45 PM - first customer feedback: “I’ve no idea WTF you’re on about.”


Whoops! I probably jumped the gun by sending out the games… I thought they’d be useful to people, but it turns out they don’t make any sense without the introductory chapters.

I was not planning on sending another update until the final release, but, duh! I have something that’s useful, so, ship it! And now I have some good feedback on when “something that’s useful” actually is. It doesn’t need to be the whole thing… but it needs to solve more problems than it creates, at least! Lesson learned :)

11:15 PM - getting ready for a final push… - no new sales - 12 hrs, 2 minutes

I’m almost there! I started working on a new pitch page for a free course, which I extracted from a late addition to the playbook. I am all set up to finish out the day tomorrow… and I gotta say, I’m pretty friggin beat. Going to get a good’s night’s sleep and do the final push in the am. Most importantly… I am going to complete this challenge!!!!! :D

mise en place

Day 3 - The big finish

2:20 AM - couldn’t sleep - 50 sales, $462 revenue - 13 hrs, 31 minutes

Well, I couldn’t sleep. I don’t know if it was because I stayed up last night, or because I drank 2 liters of root beer today (A&W 10, only 10 calories per serving, soooooo good), or because I know I’m pretty close to the finish. I re-jiggered my Trello board a bit, and did some more work.

I am aaaaalmost done. In fact, I have the product done enough that I can ship it. I will do another round of polish on it, and then that’s it.

That only leaves me with a couple things left to do… I need to announce the 21-Day Challenge to the list. If they sign up, they get the first three games from the playbook for free. I want to improve on that pitch page too, but it works enough as-is: three people have already signed up for it, and haven’t even told anyone about it! So somehow the funnel of visitor -> list signup seems to be working okay…

Then it might be time to think about product tiers. I have some ideas…

almost there

4:30 AM - I fucking did it - 51 sales, $465 revenue - 15 hrs, 28 minutes



Over the last 41.5 hours, I have:

All that I have left is a little bit of polish… and that’s optional. I’m happy with what I have. It’s not just “not bad”. It’s good.

From here on out, I Turn Up the Good.

After 8 months of busting my ass, and 15.5 hours of getting my ass in gear over the last 41.5 hours… I FINALLY have a product that people can buy. I have a product that people ARE buying.

A humble little ebook that will help people take a teensy, tiny step in their programming journeys…

and I couldn’t be any more proud of myself right now. Because I fucking did it.

12:15 PM - officially DONE! - 76 sales, $489 revenue - 16 hrs, 15 minutes

I just shipped the v1.0.0 release! It’s been a crazy couple days but I’ve had a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone who has followed along. Talk to you soon!

Tell your friends ;)

<3 Pat

all done

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