How I Created My First Big Product: A Personal Story
It was February 2018, and everything in my life was as it should be. I was working one-on-one with a long-term client, with whom I have an excellent report, and together we were creating some really awesome content. I had just gotten engaged to my college sweetheart of nearly nine years, and I truly couldn’t be happier.
Around a week and a half after I got engaged, I made the trip from the desert in California to my client’s house in San Clemente, a cute little beach town 100 miles south of where I live. We shot videos, talked about advertising for his site – all the usual stuff – and then he asked me a single question that would change the course of my life forever.
“How are your projects going?”
This question stopped me in my tracks. It stole the breath from my lungs as I realized I hadn’t worked on anything for myself in about six months, because I had been working on other people’s dreams. This was a startling realization as, since college, I have always had a side project that I poured my heart and soul into.
My Journey Through Side Projects
Worse still was the realization that all of these side projects failed or didn’t meet expectations in some way or another. I had a lot, and to show you that I wasn’t always super successful, here’s a breakdown of each endeavor:
Failed Side Project: The Philosopher’s Guide to the Universe
When I was 20, I created my first blog after I discovered the book, “The Secret,” and realized my thoughts and emotions were creating my reality. I was but a novice in mindset and manifestation, but I was so excited about this new world I had discovered that I launched “The Philosopher’s Guide to the Universe.” I cringe at the memory – thank goodness I can't even find the link, it's almost like it never happened.
Guys, it was a blog that I had no business running, and no idea how to do it. I created a kickass logo though, using Cinema 4D (a 3D animation program), and I think the process of making that logo and designing the website was the most passion I had for the entire project.
The whole point of it, I think, was to create a passive income stream so that I would never have to work a regular job again, and also to help people with various mindset issues. I tried affiliate marketing, but I had no idea how to create consistent, valuable content, and so I barely posted on that site and barely any traffic came as a result, so no sales from those affiliate links. Needless to say, that blog failed.
Failed Side Project: Music of Samsara
The next blog came in 2013 with “Music of Samsara.” At this time, I had become quite spiritual and deeply connected to Sanskrit. For those of you that don’t know, “Samsara” refers to the “wheel of life,” and the material world. So, in 2013 I had read Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” and the book inspired me to play music again. As a kid, I was in Chamber Orchestra in school, played in the school’s elite ensemble that hired out for events to fundraise for the music program, participated in college orchestras and honor orchestras, won solo competitions – I was always doing something with music.
Then in freshman year of high school, I got super sick. I could barely go to school, was too weak to play my instrument, and couldn’t attend most of the symphony orchestra classes and practices after school. This dumb fuck kid that was friends with my (also dumb) boyfriend at the time just hated me, and told me that all of my friends were talking behind my back and that they secretly hated me for never showing up to practice (this was a lie told by a bully). I was fairly sure that I was dying, and none of the doctors could figure out the cause of my mysterious illness (random mold in my room, guys), and this news was devastating. So I retreated into myself, and I quit orchestra, never to play the viola again until I wanted to compose the music for my portfolio film in college.
So, back to 2013. I started making a spiritual music album, combining music with theta brainwave frequencies to aid in meditation and healing. I got super obsessed with this. I quit my full-time job at Merle Norman Cosmetics to become a musician and freelance while I did it. Well, if you read my last vulnerable post, you’ll know that this failed miserably and I ended up calling my brother and asking if he would hire me back as a balloon artist in his company so that my car didn’t get repossessed. He totally did, so that was good.
I continued trying to make Music of Samsara work, produced three albums (one of which is on iTunes, the others on Bandcamp – my version of Moonlight Sonata is one of my favorites), but ultimately had no idea how to run a blog, produce consistent valuable content, or make any money doing it. Especially since my first attempt with affiliate marketing failed horribly in that I never got a single click. Oh the woes of having no traffic. I made a handful or two of album sales over the next five years, and I do consistently get streaming revenue, but guys – that’s like fractions of a cent per listen. Hardly a way to make a 6-figure business.
Past Side Project: Psychedelic Seeds
In the summer of 2014, my boyfriend (now fiancé) and I were in a psychedelic rock band we called Psychedelic Seeds. I have fond memories of that time, which ran from 2014 to 2016, and we actually had quite a bit of success with that. It was through Psychedelic Seeds that I learned how to promote on social media, write press releases, articles, and create marketing strategies and materials. We had a kickass marketing campaign for our singles “Driftin’ in Space” and “Got to Love You” that I am still proud of to this day. I’m linking to all of this stuff in case you guys are curious about my old side projects.
We had so much success and momentum playing gigs in Orange County and Los Angeles, but it all came to a halt when my boyfriend and I moved to Corona to live with his sister. We just really wanted to move out of my mom’s house because we felt we couldn’t be truly successful while living with a parent (not because she was a bad roommate or anything – in fact, we came to see that she was like the best roommate ever).
I took a job that completely took over my life, just to make rent, and it was just this huge disaster. That whole time in our lives was the biggest disaster. Psychedelic Seeds lost momentum and we never played live again after that. We did create an EP in 2017 though, once we had relocated to the desert and settle in, our drummer/producer came up and we finished the album we started the year before. That album, “Inside Out” is on Bandcamp and I’m actually quite fond of it. If you want to hear me playing viola, check out “The Universe” on that album. I play organ in the other songs.
Past Side Project: Rogue Spirit Etsy Shop
Also in 2014 I started making handmade leather goods and selling them on Etsy. I had the most success I had ever had to this point with that shop, which I called Rogue Spirit. My best sellers were these awesome handcrafted harmonica cases I made from scrap leather a psychedelic fabric. I made several hundred dollars from that, which was just a ton of money to me since my previous income from online sales was like, $100 for an entire year, if that. I think it’s important to mention that I was doing a lot of mindset work over the last several years, and that really opened me up to receive more money.
This is something I may consider starting up again as a hobby, once my fingers heal enough to start sewing again. For those of you who don’t know, my hand got slammed in a metal door by 14 mph winds just over two months ago, and I had a few fractures, soft tissue and nerve damage. I’ve been working through it, doing the best I can on creating content for you and for my clients, and I am getting better. My physical therapy is playing video games, so that’s a bonus. The nerves are still weird but they’re doing better than a few weeks ago.
Failed Side Project: Revolution Frequency
In 2016, I revived Music of Samsara but rebranded it under the name “Revolution Frequency.” I wanted to start a movement. I wanted to bring awareness to the benefits of using these brainwave frequencies and other healing sound waves to better one’s life, and I did get a decent following from that. But, again, consistency was my problem. I would come up with an idea for a blog post, write it, post it, and then be without another idea for weeks, mainly because I had no plan whatsoever.
How The Abundant Freelancer Came to Be
So flash forward to this day in 2018 when my client asks me the simple question, “How are your projects going?” and I freak out. Like FREAK out. Because my response to him was, “What projects?” That brief conversation set off a snowball effect of soul searching and figuring out what the hell I wanted to do with my life. Things had changed so much over the years, and my desires were different than they used to be, though one thing stayed the same: I wanted to create a passive income business.
I had come to the conclusion that one of my biggest flaws in business was focusing on too many projects at once. A lot of these projects would overlap, or I’d start a new side project, get distracted, and ultimately create the most inconsistent content you can imagine. I decided to focus on ONE THING until that was successful, then I would allow myself to branch out. Since freelancing was the most successful thing I had going on, bringing in thousands of dollars consistently every month, I decided to focus on that.
I created The Abundant Freelancer after I failed miserably at linking my first domain, which was nikkikahlcreative.com. Yuck. I hate that. It turned out that I just made a silly mistake and that domain was linked to my site, I just forgot to take the site live. But, before I figured that out, I thought I needed a new domain. I chose The Abundant Freelancer as a name when I discovered that The Productive Freelancer was already a thing, and I like it better anyway. It suits my personality, as I am all about abundance and mindset and productivity is just a vessel to get there rather than the end goal.
The site started out as a portfolio website that I could show potential clients, but I fully intended to develop it into a resource for other freelancers, teaching them what I now know about creating sustainable income working from home. I intended to eventually create courses and other products and scale my business to the passive income level so that I would no longer have to trade time for money. The next hurdle was coming up with an idea of what to sell.
My First Big Product
I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to sell. I created my first guide, “The Abundant Freelancer: Get Paid for Every Minute You Work,” as a template for freelancers to help them record the hours they work and accurately calculate how much they should get paid for each project. When I first started freelancing, I’d just guess at how long a project took, and so I lost a few dollars here and there. That adds up. Then I made a few fonts on my iPad, which was totally fun and cool and I like doing it so I will be creating more. But none of these was like, The Big One, you know?
So I asked myself, “What am I really good at?” The answer came quickly – content creation. Oh yeah, I’m really great at creating content for other people, even though I was never consistent at creating it for myself. That client I mentioned earlier is one I create killer content for. When I took over his social media, I developed this worksheet to help me break down the main concept of his business so that I would have a lot more ideas of things to create content around, so that we could always have a consistent flow of content going out. That worksheet is the freebie I offer on this site.
I had SO MUCH SUCCESS using that for his social media, growing the following and sparking engagement on his platforms from basically non-existent. I was astounded by this success, and how easy it was for me to create content for his site on a consistent basis. I made that worksheet in like December of 2016 or something like that, months before I even thought about possibly using it to create a product.
After I became aware of this success, I started offering consulting services where I worked one-on-one with clients to help them create a content strategy that they can put into place themselves. I basically gave them the framework to go off of and then they set about doing it. They’ve had a lot of success too. I got this testimonial from one of my consulting clients: “Your one consultation call started a snowball of ideas in my brain that just keeps on growing.”
I’d done several of those calls before I realized there might be something to this, and quickly saw that there is a cap to how many people I can help one-on-one. The evidence of this content strategy being the key to unlocking my clients’ creativity fueled a desire to provide this value to more people than I had time to work with on a person-to-person level. Thus, the Content Creation Workbook was born.
The Content Creation Workbook
This is my favorite thing I’ve ever created. It required the most thought, the most hours, and the most passion of any project or product I had ever worked on. I had to constantly revise to make sure I was giving all the information needed to create a content strategy that produced consistent, niche content, and adding more pages as I kept thinking of ways to create more value for those who purchased.
I started the pre-order price at $20 because at the beginning, I really had no idea what it was going to be. I just trusted my intuition, followed my logic, and ended up producing a product that I am quite proud of. The students I have in the (included) coaching group are excelling and I am so excited about their progress and the content they’ve been putting out on their blogs and social media. And the testimonials I am getting from them like actually made me tear up with happiness because I’m really helping people. Personally, I consider myself a success if I help just one person, and there are many that I am helping now.
It’s overwhelming to me because I put my heart and soul into this Workbook and the ladies who dove right in are already having so much success. It makes all of the effort I put into developing and marketing the Content Creation Workbook totally worth it.
“Content planned for August, with the help of your workbook, and posts to Instagram and Facebook scheduled for the next week. Even an article published on LinkedIn today. Your workbook is amazing!” – Elaine B.
“I’m diving into the Six Degrees of Separation worksheet and, Nikki – literally – this is turning into the outline for the book/workbook/course I’m feeling called to create.” – Caitlin E.
I love these women. Seriously. They are absolutely killing it and I am so proud of all the work they’ve done in such a short amount of time. If you’re interested in learning more about the Content Creation Workbook, click the button below. You can even try out that page Caitlin is talking about before you commit to buying, to see if it works for you – it’s the freebie I offer.
Speaking of freebies, I offer five with purchase of the Content Creation Workbook because I wanted to offer more in value than the cash value you exchange for it. One of these freebies is that coaching group these ladies are a part of, which gives you direct access to me so that I can help ensure your success with the Workbook. You’re never left to figure it all out on your own!
Thank you so much for reading my story here, it’s always so nice to connect with all of you and hear some of your stories and how you relate to mine. Drop a comment below if you want to chat or share your story with me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing it! Oh, and if you do end up checking out any of my old side projects, let me know.