In a previous post, I listed seven mistakes I made while launching my side project: Non-app Calendar.
This post got some great feedback from our community, so I decided to write this follow-up post to give you six techniques I used that helped make Non-app Calendar a success.
1) I asked for feedback while building the product.
In order to build and launch my side project in just a few hours, I needed to be able to execute my vision without engaging too much with potential customers. Although, to prevent product blindness (when you're just so focused on building something that you don't see the big flaws), I continuously shared my progress with a trusted group of entrepreneur friends.
Sharing every iteration of the product with them helped me stay motivated and sure I was heading in the right direction.
2) Leverage your network: mobilise them before posting.
Most websites with a voting system have an algorithm that takes velocity into account. The initial traction (number of up-votes you get in the first minutes) can be really important to the ranking of what you submit.
With that in mind, if you're planning on submitting your project on these kinds of websites, you'd better mobilize all your friends and contacts before or right after doing so.
3) Blogging about the whole experience right after.
Our community loves transparency, on both failures and success. Writing a long, honest blog post about the launch helped renew the attention on my side project. Some people who missed the launch saw the article and ended up checking out the product.
It also helped building trust by increasing the number of impressions of the product (see #4).
Another collateral benefit: it forced me to step aside and reflect about what just happened.
4) Remember the rule of the 7 exposures
This rule is important for your own sanity (stay motivated), and to plan your actions accordingly.
As stated by my friend Justin Jackson in one of his blog posts, depending on the kind of pain your product is solving it can take up to 100+ exposures to convince a customer to buy what you're selling.
Let's assume a product like Non-app Calendar is solving a moderate pain (people truly want to be better at reaching their goals), then it could take approximately 3 to 7 exposures for a customer to finally take his card out of his wallet.
5) Launch before reaching perfection
We tend to postpone the date of launch because we think that the product we're building isn't good enough.
While this might be true for a "big" product, for side projects, this is often not true. Thinking that the product isn't good enough just yet, can simply be a defence mechanism: As long as you haven't launched, it can't be a failure.
It can also be caused by the product blindness we already discussed a few lines above.
So if you want to escape this classic trap, here's the only question you should ask yourself when in doubt:
Does it provide value as is?
It doesn't matter if it's not perfect or if it can't please everyone from day one. If it delivers value to some, it's most likely good enough to be launched.
6) Ask for testimonials right away
Right when I got my first users, I asked them to write a little testimonial to put on the website. I'm not going to rant about how important testimonials are in the process of buying (especially if the person interested in your product never heard of you before), but I have to encourage you to ask for them right away. Really. It shows your product is real and has happy users.
Now here are two tips to do it right:
I recommend that you suggest a draft of a testimonial. I usually write a short text and ask the person to add their voice to it. About (90+%)of the time, people will totally rewrite the text. Sending over an "example" gives inspiration and makes it look less daunting than just asking for a free essay.
If possible, link the name of the person leaving the testimonial to their twitter account or website, just to prove that they are real people. Ask the person where they want you to point the link.
These techniques and rules I followed definitely helped me succeed when launching my side project.
And of course, if you enjoyed this post and want to finally build and launch your own product, grab your copy of Non-app Calendar and start splitting your big goals into manageable actions!