This week a discussion that I created for my product Community Finder got featured on ProductHunt newsletter. In two weeks this product got more attention than my blog in 6 months, and it is quite awesome!
In this blog post I want to share with you why I started that project, how I implemented it and what value I get from it.
Everything started very innocently, I wanted to launch my newsletter (this blog) on Producthunt. Having a lot of lessons learned from my previous launch I decided to go down a different route this time. A quick search in ProductHunt will show that newsletters are not a product type that usually get's a lot of attention (with a few happy exceptions that unfortunately prove the rule). I decided that this time I will not launch a newsletter but I'll launch some additional free product to my newsletter. The product should:
1. Resonate with my target audience,
2. Add value to their day to day life,
3. Be easy to make and maintain.
If you do another quick research on ProductHunt you'll see that a lot of startups don't launch their product but publish a checklist, a handbook a list of articles, interviews etc. That's how Community Finder was created.
Why exactly Community Finder? Well there 3 reasons:
1. I'm always in a lot of communities, if you go to the list you'll probably find me in 1/3 of them. So I had a base that I could build up.
2. I had a basic understanding on how I will build it fast and easy.
3. I was writing a post about communities and the future of advertising, having list of communities will back my article and add instant value to the people that read it.
If you want to start something a lot of people will advise you to do what you love, do what resonates with you, find a market gap and fill it, niche down. All this advises can be valid, but the only thing that matters is the end goal. Why do you wanna do it?
Example: I wanted to launch successfully on Producthunt and as newsletters generally don't perform that much I decided to create fast and cheap product in my domain of expertise.
Your example can be find users for my B2B project. Probably many people, including me can say that going to Linkedin or downloading Clearbit will be helpful.
Before putting your time on anything evaluate your end-goal, current resources and build something that you are part of. Communities are huge part of my day to day life. As a remote worker for 2 years now I'm part of a lot of communities and also I worked in Community management, so I know how they operate and how to find particularly good ones.
Community Finder is no-code-ish project. Why the ish?
Well, while 90% of Community Finder consists of Airtable embedded forms, the remaining 10% is still some HTML/CSS code that I wrote to make it look at least bearable :)
The back-end consists of one big Airtable database that you see on the first page of the project and the Application form that people use to submit new communities. I deployed the Community Finder with Netlify so I spent 0$ and maybe 3 hours to complete this project.
However deploying Community Finder was not the last point of the execution process. Although I added first 15 communities myself to help this project float I also searched for the other communities online. For example I separated areas that I wanted to have on my list like nocode, human resources, recruitment, coding, freelancing etc. Then I just searched for example "top slack communities for freelancers", "best communities for growth hackers" etc, and added all the communities I could find and the ones that are still active.
In a few days people started to submit their own communities, so content was not an issue anymore.
Have a clear plan on how you're going to build something. Right now coding skills are not essential to build anything. You can use a lot of nocode tools. For example you can easily skip my step of deploying something to Netlify with buying Wix subscription.
Think not only about technological excellence but also about about business excellence. Have a plan for at least first 3 steps of your business execution. Example my plan:
1. Add my communities,
2. Search for active communities online,
3. Ask friends to submit their favorite communities.
I had a very simple plan for the promotion. What I did is:
1. Posted a new milestone for Engineering Growth newsletter on Indiehackers,
2. Created the infamous discussion on Producthunt,
3. Shared on my social media, in my case Twitter and Facebook,
4. Sent to my newsletter subscribers.
What also help is tagging the communities that had twitter account when I added them. This helped to bring the attention, and show that this kind of list exists. Some of them retweeted my posts and commented on them, which helped to boost my page in some way.
Posting about adding new communities also helps to show that it's not a one time project and it is maintained and curated. If I was active on other social media platforms (facebook/instagram) and saw any results on Linkedin, I would probably post the updates there too.
Also tweeted and retweeted any other newsletters that mentioned my product. This is one simple action but it's important because it helps with credibility and bringing more weight to the project.
Leverage any platform and channel you have. Just that, do it!
I got 27 submissions for communities, and extended my list to 70. I'm currently getting steady traffic of daily 50+ visits. Also the initial goal of bringing attention to my main newsletter also worked as I get some referral traffic on my main website. So in a larger sense we can say that I reached my goal mentioned in the first paragraph.
So when you get to your end-goal, what are you gonna do about it? If you got that subscriptions, traffic, new signups for beta-list, what should be your next steps?
I urge you to be prepared for the outcomes of your launch.
1. What are the next steps if you reached your main goal?
2. What are the next steps if you failed to reach your goal?
Also I urge you not to have false positive results. If your goal was 50 signups, but you got 40 then the goal is not reached, it's hard but it's fair.
What will you do if your goal is reached? If your goal was to get subscribers or signups for the email list probably the best thing to do is keep communication with the newly signups. If your goal was to get a lot of traffic then probably the best strategy is to either get sponsorships for the website or redirect the attention to your main project.
If your goal is not reached, the iteration should continue and adjust based on the data you got. Maybe your message was not perceived right by your audience, or the promotion channels don't fit with this particular project? Also consider to challenge the goal itself.
Now that I have that attention to the project, and my initial goal is considered reach, what are the next steps? As I showed in my growth matrix article I'd like to start a podcast when I get 100 subscribers, so my next steps would be:
1. Starting a podcast for my newsletter and interview the founders of the communities,
2. If podcasting eats a lot of time then I'll be publishing written interviews with the founders.
3. Enhance my list and improve the website look and feel.
You may have noticed that 2nd point is the plan B for my 1st point. Each of my planning steps has a plan B, and usually that plan B has a plan C.
Having 1 version is not feasible. Of course nothing can be predicted, like neither of us could predict that we would be sitting in our homes for about a month. However, getting small tasks identified and having small back-up plans for the tasks will lift a lot of weight of our future-selfs shoulders.
What are your projects? How are you tracking them? How did you get