I was working on a sales page for a product I’ll be introducing soon, and was reminded again of how important it is to use internal deadlines for projects that tend to creep. You see, I took an amazing copy writing and marketing course last year and wanted to apply all the elements of the thorough process I learned. But that would have required 1 or 2 days of work and this is a very low-priced product. I though about slapping up a quick few paragraphs but that didn’t feel right either. I decided on a deadline of 1 hour for an initial draft and committed to using just some of the techniques I learned not the entire process, and low and behold I finished it.
What is great about internal deadlines, whether they are a date or a length of time, is that they force you to access how important a project is and how much income potential it has. In my case, I realized that I would have to sell a lot of copies of my product to make those extra hours spent writing copy to pay off. Sure, my less-polished copy probably won’t sell as much as really great copy but I’m betting that I’ll come out ahead with my approach.
When I started this project, I quickly saw myself slipping into a quagmire of continuous improvement but never getting done. With some projects, you have a clear idea of “done” but with something like this the temptation is to keep investing time because it keeps getting better. At some point, you have to look at the trade-off of quality and time and see if it’s really worth it. Will 5 more hours spent generate enough additional sales to make it worth it? Often, the answer is no.
This is valuable for almost any project. Start with a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish by doing the project and then decide how much time is appropriate to invest in it. Make sure the time is proportionate to the benefit, then stick to your limit. You can always go back and put more time into something and make it better, but once time is spent it’s gone. Don’t overestimate how much impact something will have and invest too much time in it. At the same time, don’t do a half-baked job on something critical. In this example, I spent a lot of time on the actual product because people are paying for it and I want them absolutely wowed. But the sales letter? That needs to be good enough to communicate the value of the product to the people for whom it’s right. It doesn’t need to win awards or be the best ever.
What do you spend too much time on? Come on, be honest and tell me about it in the comments.