3 Parts, 1 Simple Plan for Building an Empire

I’m building an empire. In the interest of helping people who might otherwise be inclined to believe that Stuff Just Happens, I thought I’d share my plan with you.


Now, before I am rich and famous, so when people accuse me of being disingenuous when I say I make my own luck, I can say “Dude, didn’t you read my blog?”

My plan is a twist on this simple and well-known classic:

  1. Collect underpants.
  2. ???
  3. Profit!

Unless your underpants are made of money…

OK, I jest. My real goal is to:

  1. Make kickass software and change the world of interaction design for the better
  2. Inspire & help a thousand designers/developers to launch their own products
  3. Make a helluva lot of money

Yes, I want to be rich, famous, and influential. Gee, is that all?

Well, I think so. Wouldn’t want to be greedy, now!

Plan or do not plan, there is no luck

If you take yourself seriously, you have to plan. If you don’t take yourself seriously, you don’t have to plan — and, as we all know, a failure to plan, yadda yadda, plan to fail, look at me, I’m using parallelism.

Sometimes worn-out clichés (like “A failure to plan is a plan to fail”) are irritating and empty-sounding due to their worn-out-ness — like Avril Lavigne. But, unlike Avril Lavigne, the very reason they are worn out is because they’re right.

Planning is a love letter to your future. (Avril Lavigne, on the other hand, is not.)

I take myself seriously. And I loooooove my future and want it to feel that special love through time!

So I plan.

My plan: Core components

So here’s my plan, in glorious detail, all the better for you to steal.

I have a business model that I’ve used over and over, and the basic building blocks — the template — are these three bits here:

But if those are building blocks, what do I plan to build, exactly?

Three separate houses

The things I’m interested in, and good at, fall quite cleanly into just three subjects: design, business, and code.

I decided — after much painful deliberation and many false starts — that I’d be able to have the greatest impact if I treated these as separate categories with separate audiences:


Stacks of blocks, going upwards… They’re verticals! Get it?

And, inside each vertical, I’ll create the ingredients and follow the recipe: advice, attention, and products.

Now what? Or, the beautiful cycle of build-sell-teach-sell

From these silly little diagrams, you might guess that the next step — now that I’ve chosen categories and components — would be to go about givin’ some advice, gettin’ some attention, and sellin’ some products.

Fuck yeah!

It really is that simple.

  1. Create awesome products
  2. Sell those awesome products
  3. Tell the awesome story about how you made and sold the awesome products
  4. Package that awesome story as a product (leavened with advice), and then sell that, too

You’re happy. They’re happy. Your wallet’s happy. Everybody’s happy!

Happy happy joy joy money money!

Everybody’s really happy, in fact.

So far, out of 1,400 sales with a 60-day return policy, only two people have ever asked for a refund on our JavaScript Performance Rocks! ebook.

That is an unheard-of 0.14% return rate, friends.

And the first Software as a Service I designed and built with my husband and friends? Well, Freckle time tracking is doing very nicely indeed, with 18% month over month growth — of revenue.

That is the sweet smell of success: great audience, great product, great money, happy customers.

And it’s all built on the base of great free advice and tools, and then figuring that hey, those people who love your free advice and tools will also happily pay for more — more in-depth, better-packaged, better-orchestrated, holistic, synthesized, and analyzed.

Plans are beautiful. You should get yourself one.

In conclusion: Copy me, please.

Planning is so underrated — some days, I look at the current chatter about startups and products and think people are hell-bent on playing Internet Roulette with their future success. And I just can’t stand to watch.

Plans don’t have to be complicated, as I’ve demonstrated. Mine is the spirit of simplicity: make stuff, and sell it, then teach other people to make stuff, and sell that.

It’s a good recipe, and very flexible. I hope you’ll try it.

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There’s more where that came from!

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  1. Kristen Hazard

    Amy, awesome plan. As a student in your first Year of Hustle course I’m super stoked you are on this path. I hope to collaborate with you one day when are plans may converge. You’re a great teacher.

  2. b

    well now, as a coder, I’ve been toying with the whole underpants gnome guide to making money for a long time now……my personal plan is step 0 write code step 1 …… step 2 big profit. see, by subscribing to a zero based array of the underpants gnome guide as opposed to a 1 based array, I will undercut all the competition by 1 step…..at least in the eyes of every user, which means when I come to describe the hows and whys of my system, its unique selling point is that you get big profit on step 2 instead of step 3 which is obviously better isn’t it? :)


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