Story

Launch

Jul 21, 2015

I launched Cushion last week! After a year and a half, I finally did it, and if any sentence deserves an exclamation point, it’s that one—and this one! Unsurprisingly, I didn’t have the energy or capacity to write about the process leading up to the launch or in the thick of it, but I’ll try to put myself back into that mindset as best I could.


For the past seven months, friends have been asking me, “When are you going to launch?” And for the past seven months, I’ve been answering with, “At the end of the month.” I truly intended to release Cushion at the beginning of the year, but like most expected launch dates, it was a ridiculous goal. In my head, I thought I was at 95%, but realistically, that was on a scale of 0-150%.

There were countless features that Cushion needed to launch with or it would’ve fallen flat on its face. And, I know the whole MVP approach with the urgency to get anything out there and iterate later, but Cushion already had an MVP—the beta. The beta wasn’t feature-complete by any means and I still put it out there for people to use. It became my training wheels for the real release—I could get it the hands of others while still making an income from it. The “beta” label was less about its stability and more about my self-consciousness. I knew Cushion wasn’t up to my strict standards yet, so I labeled it “beta”.

As the months passed, I kept aiming for the end of each month, but I’d blink and find myself in the following month, still with a laundry list of to-dos. I finally set my sights on July, put my head down, and didn’t look up until all the loose ends were tied. Once I put the finishing touches on the app, the marketing website no longer felt like it belonged to Cushion—it was underwhelming and lacked personality. The website made Cushion seem like a side project, when it was actually a mature app—ready for launch.

I stepped away from the app and focused all of my attention on the website. I considered all of the problems I saw in the last one and amplified their solutions in the new one. Color has always played a big role in Cushion, so I filled the screen with it. Instead of downplaying its feature groups to small 2-liners, I gave them all their own pages in addition to summaries on the front page. I wanted everything to feel sufficient and consistent.

As the weekend approached, I started transitioning Cushion’s messaging from beta to release. “Thanks for testing out Cushion” became “Thanks for trying out Cushion.” Little by little, Cushion started to emerge from its shell. By the end of the weekend, everything was ready. Even though I was a couple weeks ahead of my end-of-the-month goal, I knew this was the moment. I felt like I put the last piece in the puzzle and I would launch that week no matter what.

The morning of the launch, I jumped out of bed after lying there with my eyes open for hours. I went about my typical morning routine, but with an extra skip in my step. I walked awkwardly to the studio—trying my hardest not to sprint there. I got to my desk and just sat there, watching the clock, and waiting for the right moment.

I hit send on the announcement tweet and just watched. As soon as I lifted my finger, notifications started to flood the top-right corner of my screen with favorites, retweets, and congratulatory mentions. As friends and long-time supporters spread the word about Cushion, I locked eyes with Cushion’s server graphs, expecting the worst.

But everything was fine. I didn’t need the extra servers I spun up for launch, but I felt much more comfortable with them there just in case. I spent the day just walking around the studio, watching the notifications drop from the top of my phone. I kept an eye on the graphs, but there were no fires to put out or gaping holes to fill, and no bugs that slipped through the cracks. After 10 months in beta, Cushion was a smooth ride through launch day. For the first time this year, I felt relieved.

The day after launch, Cushion reached #3 on Product Hunt and #1 on Designer News. Traffic saw a jump from launch day, but my Twitter streams were now filled with new faces instead of friends. I spent the day responding and just making myself available to answer questions. It felt strange not working on the codebase, and I had absolutely no urge to work on it. This week was for me to enjoy.

On the third day, I sent out the announcement email to the newsletter list of 3,000 strong and another wave came through. Like the days before it, Cushion remained calm and steady—no fire drills or hot fixes.

For the months leading up to launch, I expected the big day to be pandemonium. I imagined myself pushing fixes directly to master as beads of sweat rolled down my forehead. That day never came. Instead, I relaxed with friends at the studio and drank champagne that we found in the fridge. I like to think of that day as the perfect launch I would’ve never imagined.


Now that Cushion is live, I can finally forge ahead on all the features I’ve been postponing. I also anxiously await July 28th—the day the first trials start expiring. Because of the 14-day trial, I only have a rough idea of how well Cushion is doing. Based on the initial reception, however, I’m very optimistic—I think Cushion scratches a specific itch for a lot of freelancers.

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Archive

  1. Funding Cushion
    Story
  2. Hiring a Team of Freelancers
    Story
  3. Taking a Real Break From Work
    Story
  4. Slack as a Notification Center
    Dev
  5. Document Your Features
    Story
  6. 300
    Story
  7. Vacations
    Design
  8. Offering Discounts
    Design
  9. Waves of Traffic
    Story
  10. Less Blogging, More Journaling
    Story
  11. Retention Through Useful Features
    Design
  12. The Onboarding Checklist
    Design
  13. Spreading the Word
    Story
  14. From Beta to Launch - The Subdomain
    Dev
  15. From Beta to Launch - Sign up
    Design
  16. From Beta to Launch - Messaging
    Design
  17. Launch
    Story
  18. Authenticating with 3rd Party Services
    Dev
  19. Intro to Integrations
    Design
  20. Inspiration vs Imitation
    Story
  21. The Emotional Rollercoaster
    Story
  22. Designing Project Blocks
    Design
  23. Everything in Increments
    Story
  24. Deleting Your Account
    Design
  25. Designing the Subscription Page
    Design
  26. Rewriting the Timeline
    Dev
  27. Restructuring the Individual Project Page
    Design
  28. Project Blocks
    Story
  29. Redesigning the Homepage
    Design
  30. Multiple Timelines
    Design
  31. Archiving and Estimate Differences
    Design
  32. Multiple Financial Goals
    Design
  33. Zooming in on the Timeline
    Design
  34. Currency
    Dev
  35. Preferences, Accounts, and a Typeface Change
    Design
  36. Sending Out the First Email
    Story
  37. Currency Inputs, Notifications, and Invoice Nets
    Design
  38. Dots and Lines
    Design
  39. Calculating in the Database and Revealing Tendencies
    Dev
  40. Improved Form UX
    Design
  41. Cushion is Online
    Story
  42. Schedule Timeline Patterns
    Design
  43. A Slimmer Schedule Timeline
    Design
  44. The Schedule Timeline
    Design
  45. Plugging in Real Data for the First Time
    Design
  46. Transitions and Project Lists
    Design
  47. Death to Modals
    Design
  48. The Individual Project Page
    Design
  49. Estimated Incomes and Talks with Other Freelancers
    Story
  50. Statuses to Lists and the Paid Beta
    Story
  51. The Timeline
    Story
  52. Invoice Terminology
    Dev
  53. Modal Forms
    Dev
  54. Wiring the Backend to the Frontend
    Dev
  55. Balancing Design and Dev
    Story
  56. Timecop, Monocle, and Vagrant
    Dev
  57. Going with Ruby and Sinatra
    Dev
  58. Ditching local-first and trying out Node.js
    Dev
  59. Switching to AngularJS
    Dev
  60. Building the Table with Vue.js
    Dev
  61. Clients, Projects, and Invoices
    Dev
  62. Introduction
    Story

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