Start small

This is for all my newsletter readers, or for anyone else building products, launching campaigns, or figuring out how to apply innovation to what they do on a day-to-day basis.

With all the options out there, things can get overwhelming.

You see the status quo, and know things need to change. Lots of things. And so you start making your plan.

You start using all those things you see tech reporters talking about, all the latest toys from Product Hunt, shiny new technologies and programming languages, perhaps you’ll even add blockchain, AI, and do some growth hacking.

And then you don’t get things done.

Either because you’re always shifting attention and don’t see things through, or just because you spend too much time on things that don’t matter. Or both.

For most of us reading this, the question is: is this something people are interested in? Not conceptually, not intellectually, but would they actually use it regularly? Would they pay for it? Would you do things the way you are doing if you already knew it wasn’t going to work?

Serial maker and digital nomad Pieter Levels advocates putting a buy button on websites even when the product isn’t ready. Even when you haven’t started on it. The button doesn’t have to work, it can just show a message that thanks people for their interest and asks for their email address. The point is, you’ve registered someone’s intent to commit.

Every week I speak to about 1,000 people in the music business. Maybe more. Those are the same people every week, and that group is growing. I do that through my newsletter. Which turned into a website, consultancy agency, and now a community. I get my articles cross-posted on popular music blogs, and in newsletters. I get people to cross-follow MUSIC x TECH x FUTURE on various social media, learned to convert people to my newsletter from said social media, generate referral traffic, convert article readers to subscribers, and automated all of those things. But it started small.

It’s me, picking a day of the week to write an article (sometimes long, sometimes short), pick the most interesting music & tech links I’ve come across, and then sending it out with the easiest newsletter tool I could find (Revue). The only tools I used initially were Medium and Revue: both free. I started small and it grew, so other things got added on. Now I have the honour to be able to bring the people I write about together into the same room as I help the c/o pop convention with music tech panel curation (explore the topics).

Start small.

If you want to do something, start doing it. Get good at it. Figure out what people expect and get better. If it takes a lot of effort or a long time to build what you want to build, find a way to build something that mimics it. For example, if you want to start a label, maybe start with a YouTube channel. If you want to start a music service, build a page with music that people regularly come back to.

It’s like building a bridge: your first priority is making sure people can get across – else you won’t even know if people will use it. Once that’s going well, move on to the next step. This is how you make it easy for yourself to make use of all those innovative things you see out there.

Start small.