Ideas, People & Products

You’re likely familiar with the term “Product-market fit” - it describes the point in time when a product finds traction within a market.

Find product-market fit, and you’re off to the races.

But how do you find it? It’s especially difficult to figure out as an individual “creator.”

I have a theory that I’d like to share.

It happens in three stages:

  1. Build a network of ideas.
  2. Build a network of people.
  3. Build a network of products.

Let’s break it down from the top, using Visualize Value (and myself) as an example, so we’re not just talking theory here.

Build a network of ideas.

This is the work we do to arrive at a set of constraints that allow us to create every day.

It’s the process of overlaying your skills, experiences and interests to find a starting point for creating things that communicate your unique point of view.

For me, a career in graphic design and communication, combined with a personal interest in philosophy and commerce - led me to start experimenting with visualizing ideas that I’d found hugely valuable.

Creator-market fit puts you in a position where you’re expanding your skill set regardless of external exposure. 

It's publishing articles, tweets, videos, podcasts, whitepapers, diagrams - anything that allows you to consistently externalize your point of view into an asset that delivers your message without you.

Your idea network becomes a body of work that you can point to, developing a more comprehensive understanding of a subject, and building hard communication skills.

Even if no one sees your work, (the odds are almost impossibly small given that we’re having this conversation on the internet) you still win.

On to the next stage of the journey:

Build a network of people.

Now we're publishing consistently, the real work starts.

Producing and publishing becomes a signal-refining exercise. We put things out into the world and listen for feedback, from both the market, and ourselves.

If we aren’t doing something that is inherently interesting to us, we don’t get smarter or better, and neither does our work, so we give up.

If the market isn’t getting a perspective from you that they can’t find anywhere else, they give up.

The signals we’re receiving from both directions (ourselves and the market) should be weighed equally. When they’re not, we end up doing work we don’t care about for people we’re not interested in, or both.

The real outcome of this exercise is a network of relationships that become the foundation for your products.

Who are the people consuming your work? What do they have in common? Why do they appreciate your point of view?

For Visualize Value - 6 months of articulating concepts that consistently referenced self-organization, internet entrepreneurship, and applicable philosophy, built a network of people with a common aspiration, leveraging the internet to build independent income.

Finally, build a network of products.

The effort and energy required to produce content that searches for people on your behalf is far less costly than developing products and then attempting to find an audience.

It also builds a body of work that increases the value of your time, regardless of whether or not you end up developing a product.

This is an effective hedge in many directions, you're upskilling, building proof of work, and increasing your market value as a service provider.

You can approach this from the opposite end (build a product then produce content to tell people about it), but if you’re wrong, it’ll cost a lot more and you’ll learn a lot less.

For Visualize Value, this journey began with the Daily Manifest, a product built in response to the common challenge of our audience "I can't stop procrastinating."

Then, How to Visualize Value — a comprehensive guide to building a visual design skill set from scratch.

Next, Build Once, Sell Twice — the philosophy that drove the process of productizing my experience as a design practitioner.

In development, The Permissionless Apprentice — where to get started if you have no experience to productize. (launching sometime in Q4)

This whole process is driven by understanding the gaps that exist between the people who consume the ideas we publish, and the products we've built.

I explain this process in some more detail in the video below:

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