Several of you folks have asked me to write a post about the genesis and the journey of Non-app Calendar.
Here is my attempt at answering the questions you might have.
In this blog post, you'll read:
- Where the idea for Non-app Calendar came from
- How I built it and put it up for sale
- How I spread the word about it
- Some of the collateral benefits
- What's next for Non-app Calendar.
The genesis of Non-app Calendar
I started working on the process behind Non-app Calendar about three years ago. I had just started working on my new company and was juggling tasks such as product design, marketing and client work in order to collect the necessary cash flow to launch our products.
At the time, I was an avid user of the Pomodoro technique and was trying to split each big task to make it fit into the 25 minute timer. I felt productive, yet my days were still chaotic. I would work for 2 to 4 Pomodoros on business development, then 3 to 5 Pomodoros fixing an important problem for a client. Constant content switching was making the day feel more erratic than it really was.
Then I stumbled upon a great article about how
the founder of a pretty big startup was managing his week (if someone remembers said article, please ping me on twitter) Jack Dorsey is managing his work week (thanks Luis for giving me the link to the post), I decided I needed a better system. In this blog post, he explained how allocating days (versus just hours) on a single big topic was helping him stay productive. So I opened Sketch, a design software, selected an A4 landscape Artboard and drew 7 big rectangles - one per day. I then printed it, took post-it notes, and cut them so I could use one per half-day. From now on, every Sunday I would decide what my week was going to look like. I would allocate one half-day per point of focus, then identify the most important tasks for this focus and subdivide it into 25 minute chunks.
I love having a physical calendar for this. It makes my schedule real. Something more difficult to derogate.
Plus, disconnecting (for real!) while planning and thinking about your objectives and next action is the best way I've found to do it properly. It doesn't mean you can't complete this offline tool with a digital one of your choice. That's actually what I do by completing the calendar with Cultured Code's Things.
Since then, I've been using this technique on and off. Every time I feel the need for a strict plan in order to regain control over my schedule, I'm relying on this system.
Aside from my main business, I'm advising a few startups, entrepreneurs and managers. The question of organisation is a recurring one. They often want to know if I have a process I'd recommend to them, and I would share this pretty simple system that I use.
Slowly, with time and their feedback, this little process has evolved to something more complete. If I don't already have one, I now try to determine the one most important task that I will work on tomorrow before going to bed.
As entrepreneurs or managers, weeks are often the execution of much bigger goals that will take months or years to reach. That's why the Non-app Calendar includes both a week, a month, and a year view.
Here is an excerpt of the "How it Works" section from Non-app Calendar's landing page:
Write down your one, big goal and clear details about it.
How does it look once you've achieved it?
Then, split this goal into smaller sub-goals. One per month.
If you want, you can also add some numbers you want to reach.
For instance: number of followers, page views, revenue, etc.
In the grey box, report the matching goal from the Year view for this month. If you want, give some details about it.
Once you're done, fill the week boxes with per-week achievements.
In the grey box, report the matching goal from the Month view for this week. As usual, you can add details about it.
For every weekday, write down the single most important task in the red rectangle, and write a secondary task you want to complete if you have the time.
The rest of the calendar should be used as any other calendar. Write down what needs to be done!
How I built and put it up for sale in just a few hours
I spent last Sunday working on boring stuff, including both personal and business budgeting. After dinner, I felt the urge to work on something more creative. So I decided to open Sketch and started thinking about how I could turn my organisation process into a beautiful framework people and myself could print and fill in while being away from the computer.
One and a half hours later, I had a weekly view I liked. So I shared it with a couple of entrepreneurs and asked for their feedback. Just a few minutes of waiting and I already had several people willing to order the framework.
I put myself back to work on creating the month and year view. Then I made what would become the first page of the PDF, a manual giving a recommended way to use Non-app Calendar.
The following night was pretty short but I woke up on Monday with a really cool, tiny product I could start to distribute.
Setting up the selling environment for Non-app Calendar
The very first thing I did was to setup the payment and delivery platform. I needed one that could handle or help me deal with the VAT mess (see new EU law for more details about it).
Paddle is an awesome service. It makes it super easy to sell your stuff. The whole process is intuitive, the dashboard is clear and everything is exactly where you think it should be.
Two other things that made me a fan of their service:
- They completely handle the VAT problem. You only have to focus on selling and they take care of the rest.
- The support is incredibly good. They answer fast and straight to the point.
Well, you probably got it by now, I highly recommend them.
Less than three minutes after creating my account, Non-app Calendar v0.9 was available for purchase.
Here's a peek at the process of creating / editing your product on Paddle:
Straight forward, isn't it?
I started by selling a few copies to the people who showed interest on Sunday. This pumped me up enough to roll up my sleeve and code a web page to show and explain the benefits of Non-app Calendar.
The first version of the website was up about one and a half hour later. That's when the real promotion began.
Promoting Non-app Calendar
Twitter and Product People Club
As I mentioned earlier, I'm lucky enough to be a member of an entrepreneur community called Product People Club. I can't stress enough how valuable being part of such a group is to every entrepreneur.
This is one of the first places I go to get feedback or support about everything I'm working on. I asked them to help me and share Non-app Calendar's website, which they did, and I had a couple more sales coming in almost right away.
I kept tweeting about Non-app Calendar all week (and I still do today).
The second thing I did was to post it on Designer News, since I spent quite some time making the Non-app Calendar look good and it was, (design-wise) the first product I launched. The post was quite a success and drove more traffic than I would have expected.
Since I hadn't setup detailed enough statistics right away, I can't say exactly what percentage of sales were made by people coming from Designer News. But I can tell you that the traffic they send is pretty important and has a really good quality.
To date, 10.10% of the traffic is coming from Designer News.
My first day of sales ended on a positive note: I received an email from a total stranger telling me how much he loved the Non-app Calendar.
I went to bed with a big smile on my face :)
Once again, the night from Monday to Tuesday was short. I was so excited by new sales coming in at such a fast pace, I couldn't resist the temptation of checking my emails during the night.
On Tuesday, I had to spend most of my day working on other projects. My only big plan of the day was to post the Non-app Calendar on Hacker News and ProductHunt.
While I'm a ProductHunter myself, I asked my friend Justin to post it for me. The post was very well received!
At the time of writing these lines it has 195 upvotes (and counting!).
ProductHunt drove a large volume of traffic to the website and generated sales. I can formulate the same same conclusion as for Designer News: ProductHunt's traffic is of very high quality.
I can declare, with no fear of being wrong, that ProductHunt has accounted for a pretty high percentage of the sales that I made.
To date, 29.42% of the traffic to the Non-app Calendar's page came from ProductHunt.
I got so lucky having people tweet about the Non-app Calendar from day one! This also drove even more sales than I would have imagined.
My biggest surprise was to find out, on Thursday evening, about a Japanese web site who made a pretty long review of Non-app Calendar. It's even explaining in Japanese, with screenshots, how to buy it! After they published it, I started to see sales from Japan coming in.
This is so impressive!
What does it looks like?
Here are what the google analytics for Non-app Calendar looks like.
I decided not to share (for now) the conversion rate because they are not relevant yet.
As a mater of fact, I set up a goal in GA on Thursday (2 days after the big launch).
Something interesting I've noticed, the conversion rate is getting better everyday.
Non-app Calendar has been around for more than a week now. I guess the trust is getting built.
Self-esteem and positive vibes
I've received A LOT of feedback. People all over the world are using the Non-app Calendar to brainstorm and to set their goals and actions.
When I was behind my computer, designing in Sketch, I was far from imagining something like that would happen.
As you probably understand, it feels really good to have people emailing you, tweeting to you how much they love what you've created and how much it's helping THEM on their journey toward their goals.
Promotion of my other products, including Story (my upcoming SaaS)
Another benefit I hadn't planned was the opportunity it created for my other businesses. Several people have contacted me, asking for my help and advice about building their own tiny product.
Some of them, running companies, also showed interest in a since-then-retired SaaS, Story, an Operational Relationship Management software.
A few more followers on twitter and on my newsletter
Thank you to all of you who decided to follow me on twitter or to join The Loop, my newsletter.
Building this tiny product also helped me achieve that.
What's next for Non-app Calendar
I've been spending hours this week on designing Non-app Review. It's a complementary product to the Non-app Calendar.
Where the Non-app Calendar helps you break your goals into actionable chunks, Non-app Review is a framework to help you step back and think about what you've accomplished on your way to achieving your goals.
Every week, month and year, you can use Non-app Review to reflect about what happened and identify the good and the bad.
I'll be giving Non-app Review for free to the people who bought Non-app Calendar on the first week. And to the people who subscribe to The loop (my newsletter) this month. Use the form below!
But if you prefer buying it, it will be available for sale in the coming days.
I've also started working on a Manager version of Non-app, aiming at helping managers and their teams. If you're a manager and interested, talk to me on twitter!
Lastly, I've decided to open a few more spots for consulting. They will be offered in priority to people who bought Non-app Calendar. I'll be helping them reflect on their products, their strategy, or help them stay on track when working on their goals and actions.
If that's something that might interest you, please contact me on twitter.
I'm having a blast!
Thank you all for making Non-app Calendar a success.
I'm really thankful to see my little project doing so well.
If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me!