I am closing down @productpottery after 9 months. This was my first build in public project. It is a tough decision to let it go after so much work, but I believe I have to take it.
What is the tool?
It is a growth tracking and audience building tool for indie developers.
What is growth tracking?
I saw so many indiehackers doing crazy stuff online and making shit ton of money. Were they all making money from the start? No.
They all started from ground up. I was curious to see how people like @levelsio, @dannypostmaa, @arvidkahl, @yonkfook (and many more) started their journey. These are people that indie devs like me idolize.
What were their first tweets, how much did they share earlier in their journey and how have they evolved.
I would go to their Twitter profile to see their history but searching those old tweets or old numbers is a tedious task.
It is almost impossible to track their MRR growth in a linear timeline, unless you've been following their journey long enough.
I thought why not make a tool that allows indie devs to share all the metric from a platform so that they also can see how are they growing.
The 24 hour challenge
I was not an avid Twitter user when I started (I created my twitter account way back in 2009 when only celebrities used Twitter but never used it). An active lurker and occasional poster on IndieHacker community though.
There I was seeing people claiming to create SaaS in 24-48 hours. I always skeptical if it was actually possible to create a usable product this way.
I never did that before. Since day one of my software development, I had an attitude of being a perfectionist.
I won't release a product till I finished it to perfection. (Now that I see these people, perfectionism is procrastination in disguise)
So the experimenter in me suggested to give this a try.
I posted a tweet about creating a SaaS product in 24 hours. I must say I was a little confident because I already wrote EvenCart (an open source eCommerce software) and had a basic framework ready for quickly creating apps.
When I shared the same on IndieHackers, some people were really interested in what I was creating. Some also warned me that I can not create a usable thing in 24 hours and that it's all a marketing gimmick.
I also got many DMs to know about my tech-stack and progress (thank you guys for those messages. That really had me motivated to work on the product)
I shared my plan, created the product as much as I could in that 24 hours of my work. I did that in 8 hour streak for 3 days and shared my progress (see my pinned thread).
I then started looking for early adapters to try the product and had quite a few people from Twitter and IndieHacker community to help me test it.
Ever since, I added features such as blogging and tweet scheduling. In parallel I was also contacting and talking to people to invite them to use my platform. I was ecstatic when I got my first paid customer 🥳
Note that I still hadn't added any pricing page and all the 9 customers (4 paid and 5 free) were made through direct payments to my bank account.
Twitter API changes
I was a little heartbroken when Twitter API changes were announced. The product was nowhere near to pay the money required to have Twitter API active on the app.
My plan was to use user's Tweets to extract their metric data and show them in the linear timeline for easy growth tracking.
That time, I had stopped working any further on the product. No new features were added, Twitter development was completely removed.
Before I knew, my Twitter app was already suspended and I didn't know that until one of the customers reached out to me, they were not able to login.
I am no longer motivated to work on this product and am closing it. Indie developers don't seem to pay for products, which they themselves can make. Also I now feel the product doesn't have any real need at this point.
I've refunded money to those early paying customers. Thank you guys for trusting me. Sorry that I couldn't fulfil the expectations that I put.
I've learned quite a few things from this failure.
- If you are creating a product for indie community, it better solve a VERY painful problem. Indie Devs don't usually buy things that they can create themselves.
- Always use the tech stack that you already know. Reuse the code from your existing projects. Don't go for learning new tech, just because it's trendy.
- Fail fast. I won't say 9 months is less time, but if I pushed it further, I know I won't be able to let it go anytime soon, adding more to the losses and failed expectations.
- Perfectionism is procrastination in disguise.
- Don't hesitate to ask for help. I've contacted people on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and many of them were ready to help me shape the product with their feedback. People help you when you let them help you.
- Don't follow the herd. What works for one may not necessarily work for you.
- Don't take 24 hour challenge 🥵. That really takes a toll on you. Sharing and building at the same time is one of the most tiring things anybody can do.
I was thinking of a spin-off or may be just Tweet Metric Scraper tool, but at this point, the motivation has not kicked in.
It's a halt, not a stop. I am currently prototyping an app to create personal profiles online. I already have my code from productpottery that I'll be reusing. I bought the domain profiley.me and working on an MVP.
If you read it through here, thanks a lot. You are my real motivator. I'll keep sharing my journey of experiments.
Say hi and connect. I would like to hear your story too.