Stages of the Builder’s Journey — a Blueprint for Aspiring Creators

Dear Everybody,

I channel successful creators in my personal life and at Gumroad.

Here’s what I’ve learned from them in the past six months, in their own words.


Don’t wait until you have a big following (i.e. start now)…

  • “I had fewer than 300 followers when I started”

  • “I had fewer than 400 followers when I started”

  • “I had fewer than 500 followers when I started”

Create without a plan (i.e. just be creative)…

  • “This started as an experiment”

  • “I wasn’t trying to build a business”

  • “I didn’t set out to become a creator”

  • “This wasn’t something I thought I’d be doing”

Put yourself out there (i.e. publish)…

  • “I wrote online”

  • “I started blogging”

  • “I posted what I was thinking”

Get good at something specific (i.e. build skill)…

  • “I did it for a long time”

  • “I wrote and taught for a decade”

  • “I earned credibility through experience”

  • “I did the same thing over and over again”

Repeatedly help others (i.e. add value)…

  • “I gave away what I was learning for free”

  • “I started to get a reputation for helping people”

  • “I took what I learned the hard way and relayed that to others”

  • “Because I was helping people, my prior qualifications were irrelevant”

Engage with people and listen closely (i.e. pay attention)…

  • “People started saying, ‘Hey, can you help me do this?’”

  • “People were interested in learning from me specifically”

  • “I started getting asked a lot of the same questions over and over again”

Feel the heat in the market (i.e. notice imbalances)…

  • “I couldn’t encapsulate everything in one reply”

  • “It was impossible to explain in a short comment”

  • “I realized there was a limit to what I could answer”

  • “It started to become a supply-and-demand issue”

  • “That spillover became the opportunity”

Locate proof of demand (i.e. create deliberately)…

  • “I posted a thread and got a big response”

  • “I proved there was an opportunity to elaborate more”

  • “I found out there was pent up interest about a subject I knew well.”

Pick a topic (i.e. find your niche)…

  • “It's something I love.”

  • “Other people respond to it”

  • “I have a lot of background in it”

  • “It’s a thing I know how to do well”

  • “This comes naturally to me and I get excited about it”

Build for the sake of building (i.e. take a leap of faith)…

  • “I took baby steps”

  • “I had no idea whether it was going to make money”

  • “I knew what I wanted, so I decided to write my own”

  • “It wasn’t until later I realized I could sell something”

  • “I did something independently in my area of expertise”

  • “I didn’t know how to do it, but I thought, ‘At least this can be a start.’”

Package your expertise (i.e. build a product)…

  • “I started thinking about how I do certain things”

  • “There were people paying for what I was doing”

  • “I bet there were other people like that”

Time box the effort (i.e. give yourself a deadline)…

  • “I decided to publish on Christmas Day.”

  • “I challenged myself to finish it in a month”

  • “I gave myself three weeks to write the whole thing.”

Focus and commit (i.e. go all in)…

  • “Every day I wrote at least half a page”

  • “I worked hard to summarize everything I knew”

  • “I was writing on weekends, nights, mornings, and lunch breaks”

Build in public and in private (i.e. incorporate feedback)…

  • “I got extra eyes and filled in weak spots”

  • “I brought on a professional editing team”

  • “Comments from other people made the product a lot more valuable”

Press publish (i.e. go live)…

  • “When I was done I said, ‘Here’s this thing I’ve built’”

  • “The great part is people getting value out of it”

  • “I was surprised by the success of the launch”

  • “It was far more successful than my expectations”

Let one product inspire others (i.e. repeat the above)…

  • “I would just love to keep doing what I love”

  • “The true reward of this work is I get to do it”

  • “There’s a saying, ‘The destination is the journey’”


Thank you for reading!  

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Sincerely,
Justin