Learning the hustle and my first launch
I launched something. That’s wild! With my own two heads I built a thing and put it out into the scrutiny of the general public within a mere two days.
And it felt awesome.
The tool I built was .colors() - read “dot colors” - which I described as a color picker for people who live in their text editor. The idea behind it wasn’t meant for public appeal. It was made solely, because I deal with arrays of color codes very often and sometimes it’s hard to keep track which color is which.
Yes, there’s color preview in my text editor, but it still felt easier to look at the colors in a somewhat bigger size to really get that association. So after a very frustrating week I bundled all of my anger into code and spent a few hours building it out. You can read the details here.
Launching on IndieHackers
IndieHackers is a wonderful community that is a part of the maker community that’s been growing massively recently. It was originally brought to life by Courtland Allen. I’ve been following the site since approximately May 2016 and it focused mostly on interviews of successful founders back then. It has since evolved and these days it’s a lot more community oriented.
Given that it is a place for founders and potential founders to gather and discuss ideas and strategies, I felt it the most safe bet to post there at first, and it paid off tremendously. I got my first 50 or so users from the site and received feedback from Courtland as well. That eventually led to the second version of the app.
So for quickly validating a rough idea, I think IndieHackers is a wonderful site!
Launching on HackerNews
HackerNews is alien to me. I enjoy reading the articles posted there, I like testing the stuff in ShowHN but whenever I post anything HackerNews just utterly shuns me. And it as no different this time. I posted my link to ShowHN with the most neutral title that I could muster, all in tone with the fellows over there.
I got two points and ten page visits. No comments. Nothing. I’m still trying to figure out this microcosm of programmers and skeptics, but I have yet to grasp it.
Launching on my feeds
After gathering first feedback for the app I decided to post it on my Twitter and mailing list. I immediately lost two subscribers, which stung a bit, but that’s just how the world rolls. You can’t please everyone. Nevertheless about half of the mailing list opened it and five people clicked through. Considering I only have 28 subscribers, I’m pleased enough with that.
Launching on ProductHunt
My launch on ProductHunt was a very wild ride, but also the only launch I had a strategy for. I’ve learned from Pieter Levels and Alex McKenzie that ProductHunt resets its leaderboards for the day at midnight PST which is 9am in my corner of Europe. So naturally I prepared everything in advance and sent out my submission around 9.30 on Monday.
We got off to a slow start on Monday. I managed to garner maybe 13 upvotes by the end of Monday, which wasn’t enough to get me on the front page. When I went to bed I was honestly a bit disappointed and thought that I had peaked with usage.
Boy was I wrong.
The next morning I woke up to my phone’s notification bar being filled up completely. I had various emails, notifications and other goodies waiting for me. For some reason overnight I managed to grab a frontpage spot and I stayed there for most of the day on Tuesday! I ended up at almost 130 points and got almost 1,000 unique users from the feature!
Launching on ProductHunt has been amazing!
Gathering feedback via form
Before putting out the app I added a little feedback form running via Formspree. This paid off quite well and I received feedback from eight different people, much of which already made it into the application with the first update. As it turns out giving people a chance to give you feedback easily and directly is very much appreciated by them. I definitely plan on doing this for future products as well.
As of the writing of this article .colors() has garnered 1,312 unique users in 1,374 sessions. Of those 1,312 users the app had 54 returning users. This works out to a “conversion rate” of 4.11%, which seems pretty good to me. Some returning users have visited back more than once at this point. It’s quite nice to see people actually enjoy using something you made, even if it’s only a statistic.
The biggest day was of course the Tuesday on which I peaked on ProductHunt. It caused the traffic to spike up to 631 unique users and the long tail is still in effect. As I’m writing this there are three more users active on the page, all which come from ProductHunt.
.colors() is absolutely free to use. I don’t charge anything, because I felt that its use was too limited. I did however add a link to my PayPal.me page with a preset amount of EUR 3.00 - which is about what a cup of coffee costs here.
I can proudly report that so far I have made exactly EUR 0.00 from .colors(), but that was to expected. It’s just an opportunity for people to give back if they feel like it. Maybe some money will start trickling in from hardcore users of the app. You never know!~
Where do I go from here?
Now that .colors() is out my focus will reverse back to TaskZen, which I plan on releasing next week. At least the MVP version of it. I will still update .colors() from time to time based on the feedback I receive and what needs I have for the tool.
It turns out that scratching your own itch can create quite a stir by itself. Sadly I don’t often have ideas for scratching my own itch in that regard, so I’ll have to keep thinking about that every now and again.
Thanks for tuning in and see you soon!