Once you reach the point in which you feel you are ready to launch your project, there are a few things you may want to consider before, during, and after you launch in order to get the most out of every single step.

Launch With The Basics, Grow Over Time

One of the main goals you should always have from the moment you decide to start working on a project is to find ways in which you can minimize the initial workload and launch your project with the bare minimum. By simplifying your project for the initial launch, it gives you a bit more breathing room in terms of initial workload while at the same time putting you and your project at an advantage by leaving people guessing and wanting more.

Now obviously if your project is one that needs to be carefully thought out, you don’t want to cut any corners that will bring the integrity of your brand or product into question. What I mean by simplifying is instead of working on everything from branding, product research, product development, a website and then launching it all at the same time, consider breaking some of these milestones down into smaller releases so that you build awareness ahead of time.

For example, say your project is an actual physical product that either needs some time to be ready or needs to be mass produced. If you start working on your project and you reach the point where you have a working prototype and solid branding but haven’t gone into mass production yet, consider releasing a basic informational website with an option to pre-order or to have a potential buyer get notified when the release will be by entering their email.

By doing this you have two advantages that you didn’t have before. As a result of having a pre-order option, you now have a confirmed buyer that is interested in your product. Also if you set up a form to collect emails so a potential buyer can be notified, you now have their consent to receive future emails from you. Thus growing your email list which you can then use to reward early adopters or supporters with discount codes or sales.

Consistency Is Key

Once you set up a routine in which you can successfully manage to incrementally release your product while still working on the larger release, it’s a good idea to keep a consistent flow of updates regarding the progress you’ve been making and when you plan on having another large release of your product. By keeping people in the loop of things and making them aware of how things are going will make them feel as though they have something to look forward to and will keep them engaged with you and your product. 

People love being the first to know about a certain product or service no one else knows about. The earlier they get excited about what you’re working on, the better position you will be in once you continue to provide updates because those people will either go and tell their friends about your project so they can follow your updates or wait until the main launch to begin bragging about how they knew about your project before anyone else. 

Keep People Guessing

The key to all of this is knowing what to share and when would be the right time to begin sharing. If you’re anything like me, you have a paradoxical balance of enjoying being secretive with what you’re working on while at the same time enjoying the process of sharing updates every step of the way. Both of these ways of working on your project can each have their advantages and disadvantages. It’s all just a matter of knowing what makes sense for your particular situation and having an outlined plan or schedule for sharing (or not sharing) updates with your potential customers. 

Preferably an equal balance of the two could make advertising easier to execute from a branding perspective. By keeping the right levels of secrecy while still providing people with just enough previews that will leave them guessing and wanting more should be what you aim for. 

Ideally, whatever route you decide to go with should be the route you stick with all the way. From initial brand awareness through initial launch and every launch after that. Keeping consistent with your output and advertising tactics will not only help strengthen your branding and advertising possibilities, it will also make people view your brand or product more favorably because they will learn to know what to expect from you in terms of advertising but not necessarily *what* they are expecting you to release. Appeal to peoples emotions and they will keep coming back to your product. 

Assess and Improve

Once you finally reach the point where you are just about ready to launch, consider what decisions you made along the way and what steps you took to get to this point. Think about the ways you could improve or may have done things differently. Being aware of all these things can bring you closer to your end goal which should be making the best product or service you can possibly make. If you made some mistakes along the way and had to learn things the hard way, keep that in mind in case you decide to launch another version of your product. That way you know what not to do and can be more efficient with your output next time around. 

Learn From My Mistakes

I now want to give you all an example from one of my personal side-projects named Aetheraeon Clothing. Which is a clothing company I started on my own from the ground up, worked on for 4 years, and eventually gave up on because of mistakes I made along the way. A few things to note are that this project brought me incredible amounts of fulfillment and training for learning how to be resourceful when faced with starting up your own business alone. In order for all of this to make sense, I want to give you a little back-story on how this entire project came to be. I’ll try to keep this as short as possible.

Aetheraeon Case Study

Aetheraeon was an inevitable culmination from my early beginnings as an inexperienced designer wanting to break into the clothing and apparel scene since high school. With a strong desire to find a concept that made sense and was cool took a while but eventually I found it.

I first came up with the idea to start up Aetheraeon after listening to the 4 disc concept album “The Alchemy Index” by the band Thrice. The album had a total of 4 discs, each disc contained six tracks with songs written based on one of the four classical elements: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air.

I had a basic understanding of what alchemy was, like most people, all I knew was that it had something to do with a bunch of old dudes trying to change things into gold, and something about trying to live forever. But after that first listen, something sparked my interest. I wanted to dig deeper and try to do some research as to what exactly alchemy was.

I started by looking online and found out a lot of information fairly quickly. I found out that alchemy was basically the predecessor to modern-day chemistry and was used as a way to study, interpret, and maintain a sense of understanding of what makes up the world around us. I learned all about the alchemical groups, the four basic elements, and most importantly of all, I learned that each element had a logo symbol attached to it. And the fact that I am a graphic designer who loves looking at a good logo made me incredibly excited and I took it upon myself to do something creative with all this newfound knowledge about alchemy.

After countless hours of reading, learning, and doing research I began putting together some ideas and playing around with names and concepts. This whole initial part is the most fun because you are just brainstorming and having fun with stuff. At this point was when I was really doing my research into coming up with a name that sounded cool and actually had meaning that pertained to alchemy as a whole.

Aetheraeon, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is a combination of the words “aether”, which is often referred to as the “fifth element” in alchemy and is the material that fills the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere, and the word “aeon” which is commonly used in reference to a period of a billion years or for any long, indefinite, period of time. So a very basic meaning of Aetheraeon is “infinite time and space.” I don’t remember exactly how I got came to pick those two words but as soon as I combined them, everything just started falling into place.

Once I started messing with concepts for shirts and prints relating to the four basic elements and the other alchemic groups, things began to snowball. I was surprised with the amount of work and ideas and research I was able to produce in such short amounts of time. But when you’re working on a passion project that you are really excited about, stuff just seems to happen. 

And it did for me. For a long time. Until the reality of what starting a business meant started hitting me. I spent hours upon hours designing things and researching alchemy that I was subconsciously pushing myself further away from the inevitable planning of the initial launch. Which to be honest I had no idea how to do or what kinds of planning and research goes into launching a clothing company. I knew it was expensive to do print runs of various sizes and designs that could reach well into the thousands. I just didn’t know it before getting too deep into all of this.

Eventually I did my research and saved up enough money to only afford a 25 print run of 1 design. Luckily I had built so much hype and momentum online amongst my friends and random people that the shirt sold out within a week. After awhile, seeing the fact that it takes serious money to maintain a clothing company like this I decided to take a few months off of working on Aetheraeon to get my mind back into a creative state as opposed to a managerial state.

A few months went by and I eventually became inspired again and began working on new ideas for products and decided to do a print run of large scale poster prints that were much cheaper for me to produce and easier for me to make profit from. I bought a large-format printer so I could print and ship posters myself from home and did that for a good while before deciding yet again that this was just too much for me to handle. 

Things began feeling like chores and the creativity and urge to create was long gone. What replaced them was a sense of things become too business-like and money became a huge factor that started affecting me emotionally. The main things that always held me down was the lack of money and time. I can 100% absolutely tell you all right now that if only I had the amount of money and time I needed in order to design and print up the things I envisioned in my head, I know for a fact Aetheraeon would be at a much larger scale of awareness than it actually was. 

How do I know this? Because I believed in myself and my vision for the project. It’s just that somethings never turned out the way I wanted them to and my confidence and desire slowly started to fade away. And the fact that Aetheraeon Clothing was an entirely self-initiated and self-funded project that involved lots of hours of research, design, maintenance, promotion, ordering, billing, and shipping should have made it all evident that this was a project I was absolutely meant to do. But like I said, not having enough time coupled with not having enough money ends up taking its toll on you mentally and you start to second-guess yourself and your abilities as a designer and entrepreneur.

Analysis of Aetheraeon

So what can we take away from this? What lessons do you think are to be learned here? I can think of a ton of different things I would have done differently in the managing and handling of Aetheraeon if given the chance but in the end, I’m proud of how things turned out along the way. I learned the biggest skill anyone can ever learn and that’s how to be resourceful. I’ve said it numerous times already and I stick by it. Being resourceful is the number one thing that allowed me to continue doing what I did and helped me learn how to think critically when I really needed it the most.

One thing I would’ve done differently though is learning more about the money side of things of running a clothing company. I let my excitement get ahead of me and over-promised and under-delivered on things I wanted to do with Aetheraeon. Seeing as I was barely 20 when I started Aetheraeon, I was still in film school and never had a job before. The most money I ever had at one time was about $100. It wasn’t until I graduated and found a job working as a designer at an agency in Venice that I started seeing real money in my possession for the first time. But the majority of the money I made went towards paying bills. Which put a real dent in my plans because I wanted to use all that money for printing shirts but I only had a couple hundred left over every month for food and gas.

Another thing that would’ve been nice to know before I started Aetheraeon was exactly how little time I was going to have to myself outside of working a full-time job. I know it’s a typical “L.A.” thing to complain about driving and traffic but I had to travel about 26 miles each way every day for work on the 405 freeway. On average it was about an hour each way during peak rush hour. That’s roughly about 2 hours stuck in traffic driving 52 miles in a day. And that’s about 10 hours driving 260 miles in a regular work-week. Put that all together and you get burnt out REALLY FAST and regularly. Now I’m not blaming this on anybody. I’m extremely fortunate to have held the position I did at such an early age without even having a degree in anything. But what I’m saying here is that had I known that commuting would take such a big toll on me, I would probably have rethought things regarding Aetheraeon.

As you can see, I have experience with the ups and downs regarding starting a project from scratch and having it crash at your feet. Since I made mistakes along the way and ultimately had lost touch with the initial interest that made me decide to start a side-project doesn’t mean I’m ready to give up and quit entirely. It’s really the exact opposite. I’m more excited than ever to start something new because I don’t feel weighed down by feeling burdened to continue with a project I don’t feel the same for. The way it is for me, I don’t see Aetheraeon as a failure at all. I see it as a stepping stone or a rite of passage for me to have learned all I needed to learn and take those things and continue on to work on something else based on my new set of skills.