Sell Your Sawdust

September 3, 2020  •  Product Development

It feels good to create a product people want. Be it a book, a course, or service, your revenue-generating work carries the bulk of the load in your monetized platform. But at some point, you have to offer something new.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could leverage the work you’re already doing into a new product?

First Steps and Next Steps

As Ned Ryerson said to Phil Conners, “Watch out for that first step, it’s a doozie.” Like all great comedy, this little maxim from “Groundhog Day” is rooted in a relatable human truth. It is hard to get started on a new venture. Be it the writer’s empty page, the architect’s first pencil mark, or the first jog of a new exercise goal, a blank slate is intimidating—exciting, too, but intimidating.

There’s a perfectly good reason for this. While there is more to our identity that our work, we often do identify ourselves by our work. If you meet someone new, odds are “So, what do you do for a living?” will be among the first 2–3 questions you’ll ask them. This sense of identity creates pressure. We wonder if our discernment is on point or fear the prospect of failure. And because we rely on our work to make a living, the pressure mounts rapidly.

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It turns out, the next step can often be just as hard as the first as each new opportunity brings back all the same thoughts, doubts, and concerns as before. “What if I can’t do it again?” This is why the writer and creative guru, Stephen Pressfield, coaches creatives to begin their next project the day after they finished their last. Momentum, once lost, is hard to recover.

This is true of the products you sell. As overwhelming as it is to come up with your platform’s first product, the next product can be just as elusive, if not harder. That’s why we recommend, as Bryan Harris introduced in our Module 5 Masterclass, that you sell the sawdust—the materials you use every day which could be easily transformed into a new product. 

How to Sell Your Sawdust

One of our Platform University students, Mike Kim, shared his story on how a simple downloadable product quietly made him $9,675 without any major promotion or launch:

When I started my consulting business, I thought back to the early years where I spent seemingly endless hours drafting project proposals. After a while, I started getting enough client inquiries that I found myself just duplicating my previous proposals and changing the terms around.

It didn’t hit me that I had a product on my hands until I realized that I would have paid hundreds of dollars just to have this templatized when I started my business.

These kinds of business forms are one of the few things that consultants and freelancers don’t share with others. I always wondered how other professional service providers drafted their proposals.

Since I didn’t have many for reference, I just created this based on the work that I’ve done with clients over the years.

Since then, I’ve used these same forms to initiate contracts with some of today’s top thought leadership brands, including the John Maxwell Team, StoryBrand, Catalyst, and Suzanne Evans.

–Mike Kim

Want to be like Mike? Follow these three steps to identify the sawdust in your professional workshop and create your next product:

  1. Identify a habit or tactic you’ve used to solve a problem that your audience has as well.
  2. Turn that tactic into a template, which you can upload to Teachable or Gumroad to sell.
  3. Email your audience with a link to the product to let them know you created this to help them win.

It’s shockingly simple, yet a quick win like Mike’s could buy you some breathing room—and expand your influence—to help create your next big thing.

About John Meese

John Meese is the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur himself, John is on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch. He is the founder of Cowork Columbia, co-founder of Notable, and regularly publishes interviews and insight at