6 Steps to Successfully Launching a Dream

From Jeff: This is a guest post by Andy Traub. Andy is a blogger, podcaster, and founder of the Take Permission Network. You can find him on Twitter @andytraub. He also just released his first book.

There’s a profound impatience for those of us who are building our own platforms. We want what we want — and we want it now. But we sometimes fail to see what it takes to see a dream through to the end.

Launch Dream
Photo Credit: samthe8th via Compfight cc
  • We see Seth Godin fund his Kickstarter project in hours.
  • We watch Michael Hyatt launch a book, WordPress theme, conference, and community all in the same year.
  • We see a quiet guy named Jeff get hundreds of people to sign up for his online course and sell tens of thousands of books without leaving the comfort of his home.

So how do you do that? How do you and I get what those people — those successful influencers and authors — have? How do we successfully launch our dreams?

We can read the books and buy the courses (and I suggest you do), but at some point we must take responsibility for creating our own art. Because it’s not enough to dream; we must do the work.

Do what they do… not just what they say

Dave Ramsey says if you want to be rich, then you should do rich people stuff.

I want to grow my platform, so I’m doing what people with larger platforms have done. I’m following the advice my teachers taught me: not just taking the tests, but doing the homework.

In other words, I didn’t just study; I applied the concepts. And it worked.

Here was my dream for this year: Self-publish a book in every format imaginable for my readers — and do it four more times in the same year. I’ve already done it once (and am excited to do it again). Here’s what it took:

1. Decide to do it

No one picked me. No one said “You’re a writer.” I had to choose myself. I didn’t ask permission to make my work matter; I had to take it. And after years of reading books, I finally decided to act.

Convinced I could create my own art, I decided I wanted to write a book. And I did.

2. Fall in love with 5 a.m.

My friend Jon built a powerful personal brand in a short amount of time. How did he do it? By being selfish at 5 a.m.

There are no excuses before sunrise, nothing holding us back from writing a book or working on that business plan. Nothing other than our own laziness, of course.

I get up early, because I have three young kids. For me, this is the best time to get my work done and still be a good dad and husband. It’s a matter or focusing on the right priorities at the right time.

Look. I know you’re busy, and I’m sure you’ve got responsibilities like me. And you need to honor those, but you also need to honor your dream. The secret to not flaking out on your friends and family while still pursuing a dream is going to work before your world wakes up — that’s what I’ve found, anyway.

3. Follow a process

Success is not an accident. Not for those who build powerful platforms. It’s a result of consistency and following the habits of those who have come before.

A little course called Tribe Writers helped me identify my worldview, build habits to become more consistent in my craft, and determine the best route for publishing a book. I wouldn’t have written this book otherwise.

Without an intentional process, we can’t succeed; it just won’t happen.

4. Be transparent

Admit it: In an age when everyone has a voice, we’re drawn to people who don’t have it all figured out. It pays to be transparent — and that’s part of the beauty of building your own platform.

You don’t have to pretend to know everything; in fact, it’s more interesting when you don’t.

The best part about being transparent is you don’t have to fake who you are. People want heroes, but they also need sojourners. Not just idols, but fellow travelers.

If you’re honest and humble about your process, you can be both.

5. Be generous

When Michael Hyatt launched his book, Platform, he gave away a ridiculous amount of content to his readers — just for buying a $25 hardcover. I know I did. Most of us love to consume abundance, but we’re afraid to give it. It’s human nature.

In less than a month, over 600 people signed up for free copies of my new book. It took me three years to build an email list to that many subscribers, and in three weeks, I doubled it.

What’s more, the most common feedback I get from those who’ve downloaded my book is they love it so much they’re planning to buy another copy.

The lesson? Generosity wins.

6. Ship your work

If you’re hesitating to ship something — and “shipping” means it’s in the world, not on your hard drive — then post a public deadline.

I’d never written a book before, but I put out a deadline of mid-January for my book. And I stayed on schedule. Not because I tried to be perfect, but because I shipped.

Perfection is a myth and more often an excuse to not ship. Thankfully, I’m not a perfectionist; but unfortunately, I’m not a great finisher. Publicly declaring a deadline has been exactly what I needed to ship. And it caused me to finish.

Maybe following these six steps will allow you to do the same.

Note: Andy just released his first book, Early to Rise. You can join him on his publishing journey (and learn more about how he self-published) here. Or you can jump straight to the Amazon page (affiliate link).

What’s your dream? How have you launched it? Share in the comments.

125 thoughts on “6 Steps to Successfully Launching a Dream

  1. I am starting a web design and development business, a podcast (coming soon), and several eBooks on the burner. I have not shipped them, but they’re being loaded as we speak (or, write). Thanks, Jeff!

  2. Excellent post. I decided to do and not wait for permission. The biggest fear I had to overcome was writing. After reading your material I declared I am a writer. It’s scary, but I am doing it anyway. I started reading ‘Wrecked’ and it has blessed my life.

  3. Thanks, Andy, for the reminder and encouragement. I was having the “I’m frustrated with building my platform” conversation last night. You are reminding me that I have to keep on with the work and invest a little more in my voice. Perhaps that little thing called Tribe Writers has become a next step?

  4. I love that advice from Dave Ramsey, just heard that one recently after we went through his financial peace university. I’m trying to apply each of the 6 points above. I’m learning that generosity and vulnerability/transparency in your writing is key. This is great advice, Jeff! 

  5. I know you personally for a few years now Andy, and watched you do some of these things. I’m behind you, support wise, and on the road to doing some of these same things. Thank you for the bravery, and example you have been. 

  6. I refuse to fall in love with 5 am if it means waking up early… if it means staying up late I am totally okay with that.

  7. Andy, I am always awake early. I do have to jump on my typist though, she likes to sleep in. I will declare a deadline and publish my book this year.  I look forward to reading your book. 

  8. Great post, Andy & Jeff! In total agreement with Andy’s statement: “I hate getting up early. I love being up early.” Thanks for sharing these 6 empowering steps and your  personal example. Congratulations on a job well-done!

    Largely as a result of the Tribe Writers course and the support system of the class members, I’ll be launching a new website and releasing my first devotional eBook, God Speaking on Feb. 5th. Thanks for the encouragement Jeff and Andy! 

    1. I like watching it too…it’s just a lot uglier from my point of view. Everybody sees what’s public. I see the 412 edits I made after I thought I was done. All good stuff but never think it’s easy. Easy isn’t worth doing.

    1. Thanks Larry. I agree. Waking up early isn’t the goal, it’s what we can accomplish during that time. Sometimes we need to accomplish resting, praying, listening…not more work. Go get ’em.

        1. How long’s the ebook?
          Available free with subscription to your newsletter and/or on Amazon?Got what you need to do the enewsletter? I made a Mailchimp resource to help if you want it. https://www.MasterMailchimp.com

          1. Thanks, Andy — I’m going to use your MailChimp resource! And yes, the ebook will be free with the subscription. I’d like to launch them simultaneously (“I just wrote a book! Subscribe to my newsletter and you get it FREE!”). I also plan on offering it on Amazon. 

            I’m working on the outline now and don’t plan to make the book lengthy. I need to get over the hump and SHIP so I can get some momentum going.

  9. Great post, Andy. As well as being loaded with practical advice, it just reaffirms all we’ve been learning in Tribewriters. You are really moving! Putting feet to your dreams. 

  10. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out what my dream is.  It seems to have changed.   I am one of those sick individuals who naturally loves to get up before the sun (and the son 🙂 )   I use the time to work on things I love liking writing and quiet time.   I love your #4.   I’m definitely drawn to others who don’t mind sharing their weaknesses and the fact that they are still figuring things out as they move forward. 

    1. Eileen, opportunities are drawn to people in motion. You won’t figure out your dream by thinking about it. YOu need to do stuff. If you suck at it or you get no joy then that’s not your dream…but you need to start doing. thx for your comment. 

      1.  That’s very true.  Actually wrote about that today.  I know it takes action.  It seems like it’s something I’ve learned in other areas of my life but having a hard time applying it to a dream.  Looking forward to reading your book.   

  11. Really good post. 🙂

    As for what I am doing? I’m a writer. Writers need to ship product. So I’m publishing twelve titles this year (five are a serial, one a compilation of that serial).

    Why twelve?

    Because it’s a ludicrous number.  😉

    Because it’s a crazy goal.
    Because when I hit that goal, I will have more than tripled the titles I have available on the market, making this a banner year.

  12. Bravo.

    This post hits the target for me! 

    I have a dream, it’s crystal clear.

    The challenge for me is, do I have enough courage to lay down my fears and pursue my dreams?

    I am asking myself, is it worth stepping into the arena to dare greatly?  Will the world miss out if I do not create my own art?

    I’m willing to take the chance and just ship it!

    Thanks Jeff & Andy for cheering on us dreamers!

          1.  Yeah, but more importantly he comes highly recommended by Jeff whom I trust.  I’m 2 weeks in and am learning a ton! Thanks Andy and I can’t wait to dig into your book!

  13. My dream is to become a NY Times best-selling author. I’ve launched it by pursuing the goal of getting a book publishing deal this year. My strategy to land the book publishing deal is to grow my online platform by:

    – Writing a guest post every week for 2013
    – Giving away my book (which sells on Amazon) for free to email subscribers to my blog

    January is in the books. I wrote five guests posts. Now it’s on to February.

    And Andy, I’m married and have a two year old as well so I can relate to what you are saying. I schedule time in the mornings and a little late in the evenings to pursue my dream and make things happen. Thanks for sharing part of your journey!

    ps – Add one more person to the 1,200 on your email list!

      1. I’ve heard it said that a goal is a dream with a deadline. So becoming a NY Times best-selling author is my dream. And landing a book publishing deal this year is my first goal leading to my dream.

  14. This is just the post I needed! I set some large goals for 2013, but some get pushed aside by the “day-to-day.” Time to get cracking on one of them right now! Thank you so much for not only the information, but the great encouragement this post provides.

  15. Thanks Andy and Jeff … I am a TribeWriter … albeit sometimes a slow one.  But I realize this is a marathon and not a sprint.  Thanks for the honesty, transparency, and encouragement.  Just what I needed to keep me on the path of successfully launching my dream.


    1. Nicholas, I don’t know anyone who does this fast and well. So drop the “slow” label. It’s just not true. You can do it with purpose and give yourself a timeline but I don’t believe faster is better in our world of writing and publishing. Delaying and stalling are the enemy. Avoid those but do take the time to do it right! Keep shipping my friend. What’s next for you? What can I look forward to?

      1. Thanks Andy. What you can expect from me is a first draft of my book. Which has only been marginally outlined (but it is in my head). It’s the date of delivery that scares the heck out of me. I am copywriter and paying the bills by writing my butt off (fast as if my life depended on it) is how I spend a lot of my time. I think the disconnect on speed and delivery/shipping lies in me not taking my own personal deadlines seriously. I sure take them seriously for clients who pay $$$ for my work. But when it comes to my own personal deadlines … fast becomes slow becomes delay. Ok. Guilty as charged.

        I want to be realistic … but also push myself. Hence the Tribewriting course. So, now with all that blabber out fo the way. YOU CAN expect from me … a draft of my first book on … ______! (Dangit, I did it again. Held back the date so I don’t have to be accountable.)

        I’m actually not being funny with this. It just feels like the first time getting off the ski lift and staring down a black diamond run … real or imagined. Just being honest. How about this …? I will map it out and come back to you with a date by the weekend. There. Now I am accountable for something … with a date!

        1. Throw out a date then work backwards. Dreaming is free my friend so just pick a date and start walking towards it. You won’t go anywhere without a destination.

  16. Phew. Definitely something I needed to hear in this moment. Supposed to be working on my next book* right now while the kids nap. So glad my moment of distraction was actually a refocus. Thank you!

    *(I’m also on a journey of self-publishing a few books this year. Kicked it off with the one that launched Christmas Day >> https://www.beginnerbeans.com/2012/12/shine-beginners-guide-to-living-more.html. Excited for the others I have planned!)

    1. Trina, are you on track for publishing this year? Multiple titles? You feeling good about that? 

      I plan on publishing a marriage book next. It’s about all the stuff I do perfect in my marriage. The book is one page long and it’s about emptying the dishwasher.

      1. Ha ha! Yep, I’d buy that book for my husband 🙂

        It still being January, I’m feeling optimistic about publishing this year, but there’s still plenty of time for change. My next launch date was going to be Spring, but I only just now realized how I can make this book unique in its market. So I have my work cut out for me! Haven’t posted the date of that one yet… I’ll save that until I’m a little more sure I can make myself meet it. Apparently rushing last-minute to meet a deadline doesn’t make me a great wife/mom.

  17. Perfect advice! Having published my first novel not even three months ago and getting close to publishing the second, I fully agree with your advice here! 

    Although for me, 5am is actually 4:30! Those early hours the most productive times to write! The rest of the day is too busy and full of distractions.

    1. Stacy, if you weren’t a woman I might ask you to occasionally call me and make sure i”m up at 5am. In the meantime thanks for inspiring me to get up early! Funny thing my 3 year old said yesterday…she seems to be getting up earlier and earlier. “Daddy, I wake up early because I want to see what you are doing downstairs.” 

      Little stinker! Guess I need to join the 4:30 club.

      1. Publishing my ebook was a really big step for me to stop thinking about it and actually do it. Now I’m working on a podcast, thanks to encouragement from you and others. I’m also getting my children’s book edited as well as diving into the original big book project that was my first publishing goal. I also took on a new volunteer role at our church that is very much in line with  where my dream seems to be taking a sharp and unexpected turn. I keep moving forward, and trust that these steps are helping me move in the right direction. So excited for how well the book is doing and what an impact you are having on so many!

  18. I living my dream Andy! My dream is to help people stop settling and stop making excuses os that they can live the life of their dreams. I wrote two ebooks and have a traditional published book coming out in May. I also started speaking and I’m speaking all over the world 🙂

    It’s amazing what happens when you ship! Why didn’t I do this sooner 🙂

    1. Dude, I feel the same way. THis is so much fun. The money is nice too but it really is just wicked cool to have people support you and comment publicly on it. It feels like “Andy” is a different person when I read those amazon reviews. I appreciate you brother. Hope we meet someday soon.

  19. Well, thanks to Tribe Writers, my dream of becoming an author is fulfilled. I self-published a book in November to Amazon, and I recently did another one…the prequel to my novel. My next dream is to get the full-length novel in print format.

    1. Sweet Tessa! Way to SHIP! What’s the next three steps to making the printed novel a reality? Do you need to get an agent, work on proposal, polish the writing? Do tell!

      1.  I am currently sending an e-mail to a small publishing company to be considered by them…fingers crossed! The proposal is done. As far as polishing…I’m sure they will want me to do that. 🙂

  20. I love this Andy. Great practical tips and inspiration from someone who has made their dream come true…You! I’m taking steps towards my dream by going through the Tribe Writers course and being part of the Dream Team over at http://www.HolleyGerth.com. My biggest obstacle is focus and sticking to my plan. I’ve got a number of different jobs and I tend to hop from one to the other. I did start a Contributor Community Site, http://www.CirclesOfFaith.org, this fall that is part of my dream. And that’s been very exciting!

    1. Man do I feel ya! I spin lots of plates and it gets tiring. Setting deadlines is HUGE! Also I think killing some projects is healthy. I’ve NEVER regretted opting out of a partnership or killing a project once I’ve done it. So is there something you need to kill so you can get more focused? Deeper is always harder than wider so that’s why we do so many different things.

  21. Ok Andy, as usual you have inspired me!  I will have my cookbook ready by 5/7/13–because they are all prime numbers.   Ready is defined by . . . I may need help with that.

    I am so fortunate to have Tribe Writers encouraging me to be my own best.

  22. Great article Andy, and thanks for added motivation. The goal for finishing my novel is 4/1/13 so now I have to set some other goals since I have made that decision.

  23. You know you’re an interneting teenager when you read “shipping” and immediately think of your two favorite fictional characters as a couple

  24. Andy, per #2, I was up at 5:30am today. 5 is my goal. You are right-this is absolutely the best time to “be selfish” and pursue a dream. Looking forward to checking out more of your writing. 

  25. Great post.  For me, I’m already living the dream because it doesnt’ matter if I sell lots of books and make lots of money.  I love to write.  However, I am taking much of the advice from those who’ve successfully built platforms.  Although I have also self-published, I’ve taken a slightly different path.  I’m focusing on writing several titles.  I admit that I haven’t got my first book in as many places as I could, but I’m focusing on writing follow-up books with the intention of moving into the traditional publishing industry in the future.  After I hone my writing with a few books, I’ll shop for publishers.  My first book “A Train Called Forgiveness” is available at a few online stores including Amazon and in Kindle, but I need to work on getting it into more formats.  But right now I’m in the process of getting the second book, “At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy,” done.  But as I said at the start: it’s the writing itself that I most enjoy.

      1. Good point, Andy.  I haven’t been stressing out about getting in other formats, but it would be nice for potential readers and customers who use other formats to have access.  It’s just something I’d like to work on in the future.

  26. Solid advice, Andy. Congrats on your book and the guest post here. I’m intrigued by your vocation as podcast host extraordinaire. Looking forward to continue learning from you.

  27. Great advice Andy. As a person that has a terrible habit of putting things off until an idyllic non-existent future, there’s no better advice for than to get started right now. Setting deadlines for myself (or inciting incidences as they’re called in Donald Miller’s Storyline) is something I’m terrible at, but have to do in order to get anything done. Thanks again!  

  28. I am just beginning the adventure.  I’ve been writing for 26 years and am taking the leap.  CHOOSING to leap.  I found your blog today and love it already.  I plan to study, work hard — and (most importantly) write. 

  29. Andy – as one of those who subscribed to your list to receive updates on Early To Rise, I can attest to the power of generosity. I felt almost guilt-tripped (in a good way) to help you out since you had been so generous to me. A lot of people talk about being generous, so I think it really takes something crazy generous to trip our triggers now.
    You’ve inspired me to be ridiculously generous myself!

  30. Thank you for what you said about transparency and being a “fellow sojourner” rather than someone with all the answers. I’ve been getting up earlier, too, and like the idea of setting deadlines. I will put that one into action.

  31. Hey, I LOVED your post! Every one of the posts hit home with me, especially the part about 5 AM. That is actually my blogging time – from 5-6 AM. But it’s really helping me grow. I’m also greatly challenged by the generosity thing. I love giving things away but there’s that other part of me that wants to bring in income from my blog, to help pay for hosting, etc, and I’m not sure how to balance the two. Would welcome any thoughts on that if anyone has any. 🙂

  32. Hey Jeff! You nailed it with the 5am wake-up routine. In fact, I’ve been practicing this routine for 1 year now and I have to say, it increased my productivity ten fold. I can never go back!

  33. This is a great post Andy,

    The 5am part speaks to me especially, as I have a young family and it’s super difficult to get things done at certain times of the day.

    I also enjoyed the part of announcing a public deadline to force you to ship. Great advice.

    Sometimes I wonder if studying others can be an excuse for not thinking, not imagining, not asking questions and doing it differently. But there is no reason why you cannot and should not research and re-imagine.

    Going to announce something public shortly.

    Geoff TalbotBlogging and commenting in Seven Sentences

  34. Like many others, I’ve published my own goals for 2013 and I’m certain that doing so will give me the appropriate kick in the rear to accomplish all of them!  

  35. Thanks for a great reminder! One of my dreams is to have a successful blog, that will lead to my ability to publish a book. This year my goal towards that dream is to build an email subscription list of 100 (I have 14 now!) and double my Twitter followers. 

  36. Writer’s ship and I love putting my work out in the world because I’m dying to share my work and see what people think.

  37. Great post and one that provides a platform for starting out. Thats the problem isn’t it. Everyone can have an idea, everyone can have a want. But fewer people go to the next stage of executing/launching their dream.

    I see it a lot where people have a dream but then the story comes out of why they can’t do it. Luckily some have coaching with me so we can make the abstract explicit in order to make it actionable. You have provided a useful example of that in this article Andy, look forward to reading your book

    The Confidence Lounge

  38. Great points!

    I particularly like the ideas presented in the fall in love with 5 a.m. section and the Be Transparent section.

    If you are transparent and paint your weaknesses red, no one can use them against you. All they can do is  watch while other people resonate with the same struggles you do and begin to form a stronger relationship with you.

    As for 5 a.m., it brings up a good point. There’s always room in the schedule somewhere – it just takes setting real priorities and learning how to be flexible.

    Thanks for sharing your own journey!

  39. This is inspiring me to start planning out my dreams. Even though I can’t start fulfilling my dreams yet (lack of funds haha), I guess it would help to have goals to fulfill and use them as my motivation.

    I love your first point: ‘No one picked me. No one said “You’re a [whatever it is I want to be].” I had to choose myself.’ I should constantly tell myself that 🙂

  40. Thank you for what you said about transparency and being a “fellow
    sojourner” rather than someone with all the answers. I’ve been getting
    up earlier, too, and like the idea of setting deadlines. I will put that
    one into action.

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