7 Steps to Launching Your Next Big Project

Launching anything new is tough. If you’re like me, you have more on your plate now than you can say grace over. How in the world could you make time for one more thing?

Space Shuttle Atlantis launches from the Kennedy Space Center - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/japrz, Image #14676970

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/japrz

That’s what I thought back in December when I first started thinking about launching a new podcast. I had already been doing a podcast based on an adult Sunday school class I teach. But, after 83 episodes, I stopped in May of 2011.

My friend, Robert Smith, was the first to suggest I start a new podcast. Andy Andrews, his client and also a good friend of mine, had just launched a podcast called In the Loop with Andy Andrews. Robert introduced me to Andy Traub, the producer, who also encouraged me.

In early January, Brian Scheer, my manager, and I met with Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love. He is also host of the 48 Days podcast, one of the most popular business podcasts on iTunes. He told us that his podcast was the foundation of his entire business.

A few days later, I stumbled onto the website of Cliff Ravenscraft, also known as the Podcast Answer Man and host of the podcast by the same title. He was invaluable in shaping my vision for what my own podcast could be and providing the education and training I needed to get up and running.

I officially launched my podcast on Tuesday, exactly two months after Robert first gave me the idea. In the first 24 hours, I had more than 5,000 downloads and more than 700 subscriptions.

Though every project is unique, I have learned that every new initiative presents a predictable set of challenges. I don’t care if you are starting a business, writing a book, or launching a podcast, you have to take at least seven steps to succeed.

  1. Write down a goal and a due date. Many people skip this step. Don’t. There is something that happens when you write down a goal. It’s a way of focusing your intention and clarifying what you want to accomplish. And be sure to attach a date—no goal is complete without it.

    For example, in the case of the podcast, I wrote this down as one of my ten goals for 2012:

    Launch a podcast by February 15, 2012 and acquire 50,000 subscribers by December 31, 2012.

    When I wanted to quit, that February 15th date pulled me forward. It kept me laser-focused. It motivated me!

  2. Confront your biggest fears. If your goals don’t scare you, you aren’t thinking big enough. Most of the value in goal-setting is the growth that must take place in you to achieve them. Often, this is frightening.

    In the case of my podcast, I had to confront these fears:

    • I don’t have any real experience with audio technology. I am not sure I am smart enough to understand it.
    • I don’t really want to spend the money to get decent equipment, especially when I am not confident I will follow-through.
    • I am really not sure I can make the podcast interesting enough. Will anyone really want to listen?

    Those are just a few of the fears I faced. However, I have learned that courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is the willingness to take the next step in spite of the fear.

  3. Get the necessary training. One thing I learned from my dad is that it’s possible to learn how to do almost anything if you are willing to read, take a class, or hire a coach. Not only has someone somewhere in the world figured out what you want to do, but someone has also mastered how to teach it.

    In the case of podcasting, that person is Cliff Ravenscraft. I listened to numerous episodes of his free podcast, The Podcast Answer Man. I also bought his super helpful courses, including:

    Though his courses aren’t cheap, they were way less expensive—and faster—than the cost of trying to learn on my own. (Actually Learn How to Podcast 101 is free.)

  4. Get started on the work. Some things can only be learned by doing. Yes, you can read. Yes, you can listen to or watch online training. But at some point, you have to jump in the pool and get wet.

    In the case of podcasting, I jumped into recording my first podcast. I hated the way I sounded. My compulsive, perfectionist tendency kicked in, and I tried to edit out all the imperfections. It took forever. I almost quit.

    However, Brendon Burchard and Cliff Ravenscraft convinced me (via their training) that the imperfections actually create authenticity and build trust. As a result, I decided to do the podcast in one take and only edit out major gaffs (e.g., a sneezes, big coughs, etc.)

    The only way I figured this out was by creating the workflow, giving it a try, and then reengineering. I am sure I will get better with practice.

  5. Trust the process. This is huge. Usually, when I take on something really big, I only have a foggy idea of how to get from point A to point B. I have enough light to take the next step, but that is usually enough. When I take that step, the next thing I need shows up. Not always, but usually.

    In the case of the podcast, I didn’t know what equipment to buy. I asked a few friends, ordered a microphone, shockmount, pop filter, and desk boom from Amazon. I tried it all out, didn’t like it, and ended up returning all of it.

    That was right before I discovered Cliff’s website. I visited his podcast equipment page and went into immediate sticker shock. But he convinced me that the investment would be worth it. I ordered his complete package and love it.

    Another example, I had to submit my finished podcast to iTunes. I didn’t know how to do this at the beginning of the process. I didn’t discover how until two days before I launched. Then I messed it up by submitting the wrong link! Regardless, I kept marching forward, not getting approval until hours before my podcast went live.

  6. Go ahead and launch. At some point, you have to ship. So many people keep fiddling with it, hoping to get it perfect. General George Patton once said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

    I could have tweaked my podcast endlessly. Believe me, I was tempted to do so. But I had set a goal to launch by February 15th. I had shared this plan with my teammates. Therefore, I was committed to making it happen.

    It was scary. I had a thousand voices in my head suggesting I delay the launch for another week. They said,

    • C’mon, what’s a week? This will give you a chance to do it right.
    • You only have one chance to make a first impression.
    • What if no one listens? Are you sure this is a good idea?

    I knew it wasn’t perfect, but I pulled the trigger anyway.

  7. Tweak as you go. The great thing about most projects today—especially web-related or new media ones—is that you can keep fiddling with your project after you ship it.

    In the case of my podcast, I discovered several items I wanted to change immediately. For example, I initially didn’t use a graphic image in the blog post (i.e., “show notes”). I thought the audio player was enough. I changed my mind and added a graphic image to make it more visually interesting.

    While launching your project is a one-time event, constant and never-ending improvement is ongoing. But you can never get to the second if you don’t do the first.

As I said at the beginning, launching any new project is tough. But if you understand the steps, it’s easier to overcome the Resistance and ship.

Questions: What big project are you planning to launch this year? Where are you in the process? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

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  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    Great motivation, thanks AGAIN Michael. There was something about the photo that took my breath away. I asked myself if I’m dreaming big enough. My immediate answer is “No.”

    Two big projects I’m launching this month:
    1)  New look for my website, Hope101.net and launching some income opportunities.
    2)  Finishing up my first book proposal.

    That photo gets me thinking about what IF these ideas really succeed. I could help millions of people live better lives and provide for my own family. It takes my breath away!

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Lori,
      I like your positive attitude and your “what IF… ”  Keep up the great work and press forward!

  • http://www.peterglowka.de/ Peter Glowka

    I love your writing, Michael. It has inspired me to finally start my own Blog a few days ago – something I had in mind for years now. I am really commited to write valuable content on a very regular basis.

    My goal for now is to get the “first ten” readers as you have suggested in one of your older posts. There is no comparable blogging scene in Germany but I see a lack of high-quality Blogs in almost any topic so I try to overcome that on my part.

    On my blog I am writing about strategy, marketing and management. So all you german-speaking business people, feel free to take a look: http://www.peterglowka.de

    All the others: enjoy this great blog! And Michael, keep up the great work!

  • Cheryl Fraser

    Oh, the lizard brain! Even so, we did ship! January 31st we launched a product line at a women’s event where nearly 500 women listened to Wendy Fitzgerald speak. After the event we sold “Remnant” products related to her talk. 14 different products that encourage women to pray, pray and pray.With a portion of our sales we are supporting a couple heading to Thailand to work at an orphanage where children are at risk of human trafficking. We also sold over 300 “slave” bracelets in which all proceeds go to Rapha House which exists to love and heal children who have been rescued from trafficking and sexual exploitation.

    Thank you Michael, for the encouraging words and all of your book suggestions. Every morning your blog seemed to answer questions that we were facing that day! Now we will look forward to your podcasts, thank you!

    Peace and Blessings,
    Cheryl Fraser

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I love this list!  It’s so accurate!  I especially resonate with the first one, writing it down, committing it to paper and in your mind is essential.

  • http://robsorbo.com/ Rob Sorbo

    I suspect your goal of 50000 subscribers has already been met IF you consider your blog traffic, they just won’t be as trackable. I avoid iTunes like the plague, so I won’t officially subscribe, but I’ll listen to it on your blog. 

    I’m kind of going through this process with my own blog. I just secured the domain Robsorbo.com and have already transferred over all of my old content from my old blog (I stuck with Blogger, just because I’m so familiar with it. I know you recommend WordPress…maybe I’ll get there someday). I’m currently working on figuring out a schedule and a general theme of my topics.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You might want to try Downcast or Instacast. You don’t have to use iTunes for either. Both allow you to take the podcast with you.
      I do recommend WordPress but do whatever is easiest to launch.

      • http://robsorbo.com/ Rob Sorbo

        It looks like these are iOS apps. Can anyone recommend some good Android apps or an online tool that’ll manage podcasts?

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          Rob, Listen should do the trick for listening to podcasts on your Android. I use it and love it. 

          • http://robsorbo.com/ Rob Sorbo

            Listen worked. Thanks Joe. 

            Now I just need more podcasts to listen to!

          • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

             Great Rob! It’s a great app. The only feature that would make it better would be a speed option.

            If you’re looking for more podcasts, here are a couple of suggestions:

            Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast
            48 Days with Dan Miller
            Inspiring Words of Encouragement with Zig Ziglar
            Internet Business Mastery

            A mix of business/career/leadership but ones I always enjoy.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Rob,
      Let us know when you get it up and running. Just out of curiosity—why do you avoid iTunes like the plague?

      • http://robsorbo.com/ Rob Sorbo

        If you don’t use a Mac, then iTunes runs kind of slowly (even on the best computer I’ve ever owned, it would take at least 5 minutes just for the program to open).

        Also, I find the layout, controls, and options to be incredibly unintuitive. I’m a computer and tech nerd, but I still found that I had to relearn the program every time I tried to use it.

  • http://www.greatchristiandeals.com/ Steve Rucinski

    I am launching a Daily Deals program aimed at the Christian market called GreatChristianDeals.com we expect to ‘ship’ March 1, 2012.

    Site is live but no active deals yet. 3 months learning the models and hoping to combine my business acumen, love for tech and my faith with this endeavor.Would love to set up an affiliate and merchant agreement with you.

  • http://NathanRouse.org/ Nathan Rouse

    Michael,

    Thanks for walking us through the personal resistance you were feeling as you walked through this project. Your vulnerability is inspiring and helpful. Thanks for your investment in other leaders.

    Nathan

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    Mr. Hyatt, this podcast is incredible!  Thank you for tackling yet another challenge!  I look forward to your next one, and plan on executing your suggestions right away.

    My big project for the year is to publish my ebook that I have been working on for several months.  Things are beginning to take shape, and I need to keep overcoming the obstacles that have been setting me back.
    I have a deadline in place, and as you said, that is the key component in achieving any task.  Having a measurable goal.

  • http://www.onedressoneyear.com/ Anne Winz

    My 16-year-old daughter, the abolitionist, is practicing what you are preaching. A month ago she launched a program that includes a blog, a twitter account and a Facebook group. She is wearing one dress for one year accessorized differently each day to raise awareness and money to help end slavery around the world. She actually pushed her start date up two weeks to coincide with Hunan Trafficking Awareness Day. 

    She absolutely affirms the quote: If your goals don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. She could have waited a year to get it perfect first, but instead, she jumped in and has been tweaking as she goes. Does she know what she’s doing? She’s learning along the way. Is this project too big for her? Not if she faces it one day at a time. 

    She has too many people in her life who tell her how wonderful she is and not enough people who challenge her to take what she knows could be her next big step.  Thank you for resourcing me so I can resource her. Really appreciate the content on your blog. 

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Wow, Anne!  I know you are proud of her.  She will make a huge difference!  Has she linked with Gary Haugen’s International Justice Mission (IJM)?  They are a phenomenal group making a real difference in the tragedy of human trafficking and they may be able to provide her with some resources.  Regarding challenges, they “live on the edge” all the time in their fight!    

      By the way, great job Mom!  Kids don’t make a difference like this without a strong foundation of love at home.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks, John. She is one spectacular young lady, but she doesn’t like it when I tell her that. More than once this week, she has told me that she wishes she were average, not because she wants to do less, but because she wishes her peers were doing more. 

        Yes, she has been in touch with International Justice Mission. You are right. They are doing significant work around the world to end human trafficking.  

        So, about this business of finding people her own age who will help her reach for the stars, any suggestions? 

        • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

          I have a friend who uses an axiom that says “We were born to be exceptional, but conditioned to be average”.   Unfortunately, Anne, no matter the age group, the majority of people don’t have a “reach for the stars” mindset.  However, the great thing is that leaders (like your daughter) attract leaders.  They will come to her.  You can also help her by having her subscribe to Michael’s blog and other leaders who “speak her language”.Your daughter reminds me of another 16-yr-old girl who gave a speech at a leadership conference I attended where she displayed a “holy discontent” for the lack of leadership that our (older) generation was providing to her generation.  She basically gave us a (totally appropriate), verbal whipping for not stepping up.  It resulted in more mentoring and other actions by attendees that helped make change.  I sense your daughter is also motivating people with her discontent.   Keep encouraging her.  She’ll continue to do great things!

  • Stephanie Romero

    The project I am launching this year is an online Christian mentoring site.  Several years ago I had the benefit of being involved in something similar.  It was run by a lady from her blog.  But it eventually dissolved.  I saw many lives impacted and decided to take this on a larger scale.  But I will admit that I have been plaqued with various fears.  The website is finally live but there it sits…I have yet to put more effort into it.  But I know it’s fear standing in the way.  However, your article was very helpful and encouraging….I intend to press on.

    • http://theordainedbarista.com/ Barry Hill

      Stephanie,
      Can you pass on the domain? Do you have a specific niche in the mentoring ministry? This is a very valuable calling and I pray that you are successful!

  • http://twitter.com/LisaColonDelay Lisa Colón DeLay

    I really enjoyed your first podcast…but the format seems super long. I realized that putting it on pause made the whole thing start over. That stinks considering it happened twice to me. 

    Do you plan to continue in your current format (over 30 min podcast)?

    Do you like it better than the Skype split screen interview?
    (btw I took your advice on your post with Guy K. and started my own interview series called NiNJAinterviews (youtube channel) By March 20 videos will be uploaded. Lots of fun!)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your input. If you look at most of the business podcasts, they are 20 minutes to an hour long. 30 minutes seemed like the right length to me. I plan to continue this length for now.
      I don’t know if I like it better than Skype interviews. I think it is a completely different media channel. I plan to continue interviews from time to time.
      Thanks again.

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    Wow, timely advice. I have a dream that has at times left me quaking in my boots, but I’m moving forward anyways. This winter I became aware of the terrible suffering of orphans in Eastern Europe. God has compelled me to do something about it, and I’ve chosen to respond. At first I wanted to adopt but as I thought about it that solution wasn’t enough for me. My desire is to form a team to travel to Serbia to help alleviate these children’s suffering and raise awareness of their need.  I have taken the first steps by writing down what I hope to accomplish and what some of the needs are. I’ve also begun making contacts to develop the plan further. Your steps were a good guide to point me in the right direction! Thank you.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      What an awesome project and vision, Beck!  May God bless your efforts!

      • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

         Thank you John.

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  • Shannon

    Inspired. Thank you. Needed that kick

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  • http://www.ricardobueno.com Ricardo Bueno

    “Just start” and “tweak as you go” are big ones in my opinion. In the book called “The Creative Habit,” I recall the author saying something like, “it’s the writing that’s hard. It’s the getting started that’s the hard part.” And I couldn’t agree more. 

    But once you start… You’re ready to go. Think of it like starting a new exercise regimen. Those first few days/weeks are always the hardest. But once you blow past them, you’re good. 

    As for “tweaking as you go.” I launched my first ever membership site last year. It was hard, it was scary. I wondered if anyone would even sign up. But I did it anyway. I learned about pricing. I learned about delivery (technology wise – what works and what doesn’t). And I’ve learned to constantly tweak as I go to improve based on customer feedback. In March, I’m relaunching it as a full membership site with additional resources. It’s exciting! And kinda cool to think that it’s coming along this far and customers keep staying on-board and signing up. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is an inspiring story. I have thought about starting a membership site myself. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/yogagirlsc Regina Mae

    Hi, Michael!  Thanks to this post, and a few others I’ve ready over the last couple of months, I finally, finally launched my blog this past week! It had been in the thinking stage for too long to admit in print. :) But, thanks to the the information and encouragement I’ve received from your blog, it is officially launched!  Keep it coming. :)

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  • Anonymous

    My Next Big Project is to master WordPress. With a background in print design, this is a whole new world for me. I’ve fiddled with it, and my own site is a WordPress construct, but I want to be able to help others get going with it.  
    I think we often underestimate our abilities. If we are determined to learn and desire to serve, there are few limits to what we can achieve. Thanks again for a great post.

  • Bmwbear129

    I am at the ending stages of publishing a book and boy, sure wish I had read this before I just told the person editing the book that there was no deadline since I was considering self-publishing!  I have never been a goal setter, not sure why, but it’s a struggle for me.  After reading this, I may just have to set a date for the launch of my book because I am anxious to get started on the second one!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

       Time to set the deadline Brenda!

  • AnneFCW

    Another great newsletter. I was very inspired by the newsletter about vision before strategy. It pushed me to write down my vision for the year, which included something I’ve always wanted to do–write a book. I did put a goal down to complete a manuscript by the end of 2012, but after reading this newsletter, I need to break that down to short-term goals as well. I find myself ‘fearful’ to start, afraid of what I won’t/can’t accomplish, yet the thought of writing this story fills me with such joy. That, as well, will help keep me going. Thank you again. I appreciate you and your messages.

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    Thank you for sharing your experience of launching a podcast. I’ve been interested in the process and have subscribed to a few quality podcasts (yours included).

    Godspeed on reaching your goals.

  • Tim Hallman

    I’m planning to have our congregation start a second worship service this fall, Sunday September 9th. We have most of the vols for worship, but we don’t have the vols for kids ministry. That’s the biggest challenge right now we have to overcome. 

  • Nathan

    Thanks for the good encouragement.  For me pulling the trigger has been scary.  I’ve recieved a few rejection letters and now I’m getting shy about my material.  The down side is, I complete it and review, edit, review over and over and never get to the point where I feel I can send it.  While I wait the windows of opportunity get smaller.  Your words about deadlines helps.

  • Mary Brotherton

    I don’t believe in coincidences.

    I’ve been casually following Robert Lee Brewer’s blog, My Name is Not Bob, for a few months. In April, he initiated a clever way to drive traffic to his site by incorporating what he calls the April Platform Challenge. Today’s challenge was “read at least one blog post and comment on it.” He even included a list of some of his favorite blogs. It was a long list. I didn’t know where to begin, so I scrolled to a blogger who didn’t use a cute name – simply Michael Hyatt.

    I was blown away when the first blog was precisely what I needed to read. I’ve been considering my own podcast, after a friend suggested I’d be good at it, but I simply didn’t know where to begin. Now, I know. 

    Thank you.

    Like the Terminator, I’ll be back.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for dropping by, Mary. As you consider podcasting, check out the PodcastAnswerMan.com. That’s where I learned how to do it. Thanks again.

  • Montarious

    Thank you for this Post. I have been contemplating starting
    a Blog for years, but as you mentioned the fear of would it be grammatically
    right, would people read it, or more importantly how would I handle the
    rejection if nobody reads my blog has kept me from getting started? After
    reading this Blog, I am confident by the end of the week I will be posting my
    first Blog.  Thanks Michael for making a difference.

  • johnmarkharris

    Do you do it all through WordPress, or do you keep the actual media in something like Dropbox and then post it on WP with a link to feedburner?

    The later is how I used to do it, but now, one can simply put the media on their WP host, then input the unique podcast feed right to iTunes using a “podcasting plugin” that’s what I’m thinking about doing.

    Thoughts? Have you touched on these more technical aspects before?

    Blessings!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Actually, I host the media on LibSyn.com. It is designed for hosting podcasts. I create an embedded link to the media in Blubrry PowerPress. I set the category in WordPress to ”Podcast.” It is the feed from this category that I use with Feedburner. I submitted the feed to iTunes. You only have to do this once. After iTunes approves your podcast, they just grab each new episode from the feed. Thanks.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Actually, I host the media on LibSyn.com. It is designed for hosting podcasts. I create an embedded link to the media in Blubrry PowerPress. I set the category in WordPress to ”Podcast.” It is the feed from this category that I use with Feedburner. I submitted the feed to iTunes. You only have to do this once. After iTunes approves your podcast, they just grab each new episode from the feed. Thanks.

  • http://www.thebiblicalleader.com/ John Reinagel

     I am currently working on the launching my first blog focused on Biblical leadership. Your blog posts, podcasts and book have been an inspiration to me. They have provided me with great practical advice as I prepare for my next big project. 

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  • http://atimetohealjournal.com Beth Marshall

    Thanks for that, Michael.Perfectly timed.
    I’m about to pitch an idea to provide free audio content (30 second nuggets) to a website I am a guest writer for. Currently in the prayer/outline stage, but
    you’ve inspired me to set a date and run with it!