October 12, 2017

What is your biggest challenge this month?

12

Now that October's in full swing, what do you think will be your biggest challenge this month? And how do you plan to overcome it?

Also, take some time to read what other people are doing and leave a few words of advice and encouragement. 🤗


  1. 12

    I'm working on the features that power the Indie Hackers community. I'll start with improving user profiles, so it's easier for us to learn about and connect with each other. Then I'll move on to product timelines.

    So my big challenge this month is learning, researching, and brainstorming so that I can Make Something People Want™. I really want to avoid spending a solid month hacking on the wrong things.

    1. 1

      Woah, love the product timelines idea!!

    2. 1

      What's been your approach to user research for features that affect the community? Do you do surveys, etc or is it more often 1:1 conversations with people?

      1. 1

        I start with lots of conversations so I can understand what people want. I mean things they want in general, not just what they say they want from this particular product. So things like more traffic to their websites, reliable feedback on their updates, a window into what other makers are doing and using to get ahead, etc.

        Then lots of brainstorming and building. It's up to me to figure out how to design features that provide what people want, while at the same time making them fun, easy, and low-friction to use.

        And I'll do a lot of user testing for this product, too. It doesn't rely on network effects or reaching critical mass to be useful, so I can test it and tweak it with a limited subset of people. Luckily that includes myself, since I'm an ideal user, so I'll start there.

        1. 0

          That sounds like a great approach and a good balance of getting ideas from people and knowing what you'd want. Always good when you are building a product that you use daily :)

      2. 1

        We've largely used forum threads[1][2][3] to learn what the community is looking for. That said, with a large new feature implementation, you have to balance user feedback with your best judgement on how a given tool will provide the most value for users, and go from there.

        Product timelines will involve a lot of educated guesswork and theory until we release a version for actual users to poke and play with.

        [1] https://www.indiehackers.com/forum/post/-Kvmk0voM4oxs3Xgxhxv

        [2] https://www.indiehackers.com/forum/post/-Ksa5Subd9s4JtgkjS-b

        [3] https://www.indiehackers.com/forum/post/-Ki0Re-XrkQMdqIn2aWm

        1. 1

          Oh cool, I didn't realize there were threads on what the community was looking for. Newbie here :)

          I'll keep an eye out for the next one!

  2. 7

    I'm working on finalizing my MVP for Hirely.

    I have a working version of the app, now I need to get the design and user experience to the point that it will be fun to use and nice to look at.

    The challenge this month will be to find the right balance between good design & not wasting too much time on what's not essential.

    Thankfully I had a fellow indiehacker reach out recently offering to give me some design advice.

    1. 2

      Hi @oscarejes, like the idea of Hirely - would be interested in becoming a potential first customer. Am also thinking about a side project in the hiring/employment space, but in a very different vertical to yours...

      Feel free to reach out for a chat - I'd love to hear about your experiences so far!

      1. 0

        That's cool - add me on twitter and let's connect.

    2. 2

      Thankfully it seems like a lot of design is trending to minimalism and simplifying user experiences. Hopefully the indiehacker can offer designs that keep things simple for the MVP and still look good.

      1. 1

        Yeah, the minimalism trend is a godsend. Also, it's a B2B app - so I think that there's less of a need to dazzle the users with a fancy design.

        1. 0

          Good point. Another bonus of being in the B2B space :)

    3. 1

      i was going to say that looks a LOT like carrd but then noticed it is HTML5UP so still AJ!

      1. 1

        Haha, check out this tweet that I posted. We think alike.

    4. 0

      Looks awesome, keep up the good work!

  3. 4

    My biggest challenge is not writing any new code. All I will do this month is marketing. Just Marketing. Only Marketing!!

    I plan to drive traffic to https://hacksource.xyz by answering Quora questions, posting on Product Hunt, Reddit, HackerNews. In addition, I'm starting up social accounts in an effort to build a following.

    1. 2

      This is my challenge as well with TheyMadeThat. In my case, I've limited it to simple bug fixes only.

      1. 2

        Nice! That makes sense. I'm considering a similar exception and SEO related changes. Just need to be careful not to get carried away once I open the text editor...

  4. 4

    We've been having a tough time driving usage and getting feedback for https://getalbatross.com/. Just rolled out some lifecycle emails that I'm hoping will help with both of these issues. Know we need to make improvements to the product to make it stickier. But I want feedback form our users to drive those.

    1. 2

      It could just be me, but I would show a screen shot or two with dummy data on the landing page. You have a nice UI. No sense in hiding it

      1. 0

        Tend to agree. Help me visualize the product before I sign up.

        Also I’d say avoid making your main CTA the pricing page. At least given how you currently have the tiers setup. Try to directly drive free signups by just asking for the email. Just sell it as free without a price page. Don’t ask for money until user tries to add projects or users. I maybe wrong on this but as a user don’t make me make decisions until I have to.

        Better yet, just allow me to get straight in the product and create estimates. If I want to save them, require that I create account then still apply me above flow

        1. 0

          We just updated it and included screenshots and a better call to action. The plan was always to improve the landing page, we were actually trying to make it a little harder to sign up originally to validate the idea. https://getalbatross.com/

  5. 3

    I started October by kicking of my project to build four apps over the next 12 months and write about the experience.

    I'm now designing and building the first app which is a bar discovery tool. Thanks to this community, I learned about Airtable which I've started using and is great for data entry. My app is location based so geo-point (lat, lng) lookups are key. Unfortunately, Airtable doesn't support that type of query. My challenge this month is figuring out the best path forward. I think I have two options:

    A) Put the basic search functionality in the app and on the users phone. Pros: No central service to support or scale. Cons: Can't easily test and tweak new search algorithms

    B) Build a search service and host on something like Heroku. Pros: I can quickly tweak algorithm to improve it. Cons: I'm not as confident in my tech chops to do this :(

    I'm leaning towards doing option A for the MVP so that I can launch quickly.

    1. 2

      I'm leaning towards doing option A for the MVP so that I can launch quickly.

      Not a bad idea. Then, depending on your remaining time over the 3-month period you can look more into the Heroku solution.

      What's the ultimate point of your four app project? Is it to get practice building new apps quickly? Or do you plan to go all-in with these apps as business opportunities next year? (Or both?)

      1. 1

        The ultimate goal of the four app project is to force myself to focus and validate four ideas. At the end I will hopefully which ones have some traction and I should focus on to grow into businesses.

  6. 2

    This month, I should really stop coding and focus on marketing instead. As most of you know, that's a hard thing to do for a coder!

    I make WordPress plugins over at https://studiowombat.com/. I've got one plugin (catering e-commerce store owners) that's proven to be a winner (getting 1 - 2 sales per day). So far, I've been getting sales through sharing the link on a few Facebook groups, but that is not something I can keep doing as I fear it may seem spammy.

    So I'll have to think of more ways to get this plugin in front of the right people. If you know how to help, don't hesitate to let me know ^^.

  7. 2

    I'll be trying to find balance between promoting (thus getting a few excited beta testers + get others to sign up), ingesting feedback, and actually coding up my new project that's also my first foray into the world of bots: www.zephir.io

    I find it's really a balancing act at this stage because of how everything seems to be pressing yet nothing really takes precedence. I want to collect feedback as early as possible, but the product is still really rough so I also want to craft it some more. As a sidenote, this did not started as a bot, and hopefully it will graduate to a fully-fledged app sometime in the future (pending user adoption) but it definitely got me excited again about this field. Happy to discuss that as well!

    1. 1

      Nice, great idea for a bot!

      Curious how you pull data about the open spots. Do you have to extract them from another site? If so, you should check my service Page.REST to make that task easy.

      1. 0

        I think adding tabs for the code samples, to show python, .NET, swift, ruby, golang, php, elixir (just for the kewl factor) would be a really great growth hack for Page.REST. People in the Code For Cash Slack channel could help you with this. Zeke from Keygen.sh did this and has really helped.

      2. 0

        Thanks! Right now it's basic scrapping of Windfinder (one of the more accurate for kite forecasts out there) but I hope to get actual API access at some point. They won't bother before you show real traction, too much effort on their side.

        I had seen your service somewhere else, but in the end I did it myself (can't quite remember why, probably because my scrapping was easy enough to already fit in a few lines of code). Will definitely consider it next time though

    2. 0

      I find it's really a balancing act at this stage because of how everything seems to be pressing yet nothing really takes precedence. I want to collect feedback as early as possible, but the product is still really rough so I also want to craft it some more.

      How far along are you with both promotion and development? In the case of kiteboarding, it might be possible for you to simplify your workload by batching: first, validate the idea by talking to people and sending them to your landing page — and don't focus too much on coding just yet. If there's enough interest, build an MVP as quickly as possible, deemphasizing ongoing user engagement for the time being. Then, when the MVP (or, preferably, the SLC[1]) is ready for beta-testers, shift your attention back to users again, gathering the feedback you'll need to shape your MVP based on what users want.

      [1] https://blog.asmartbear.com/slc.html

      1. 1

        Honestly, not far with either. Good idea though, test the waters with the landing page in its current form then prioritize dev accordingly.

        First time I read about this SLC, sounds a bit like MVBP (although that apparently never really took off). Thanks for the feedback!

  8. 2

    I launched on December 19th and I've been posting monthly on the 19th. So my "Indie Hackers month" is not quite October, but from September to October. I achieved the goals I set out for this month...

    I'm thinking of building a dashboard to measure my marketing funnel, and then making that public-facing.

    1. Visited site

    2. Used widget to calculate job prospects

    3. Signed up for free trial

    4. Completed onboarding

    5. Joined Slack

    6. Used Job CRM

    7. Subscribed

    Once I have the measurements in place, I will be able to show expected value of a visitor and see where my bottlenecks are – then I will fix through better ux/ui and reminder emails :D. Maybe I will look into Drip.com for the marketing flow.

    I would also like to price-segment Code For Cash by introducing a "concierge" level of service where we offer services like coaching you on improving your freelancing business, introducing you to prospective clients and helping you with your outreach emails. Some people have already subscribed to that, albeit informally, at $200 monthly.

    Finally, I would like to beef up our internal requisition system (usable by both developers and hiring managers) to structurally provide for best practices.

    This is helping Code For Cash become an actually valuable middleman.

    Note: this is all just ideation, not commitment to action. Today I finished my goals for this month and have one week remaining.. so I'm going to spend a bit more time thinking and plotting before rolling up my sleeves and getting things done.

    Edit: Updates, additional reflection–

    I am torn between wanting to optimize the existing business (because it seems achievable and I have a lot of information) and wanting to launch new features that would enable me to access bigger markets and potentially change things. Today I felt very upset for a while that I have been working on this project fulltime since late November and have maybe $3500 in MRR to show for that. Next year, I need to grow revenue substantially more than that. The opportunity cost is otherwise too high.

    I think $20K MRR would be a perfectly fine result for end of Y2. Anything north of $30K MRR would be "awesome".

    Anything less than $12K would "suck"

    1. 1

      I would also like to price-segment Code For Cash by introducing a "concierge" level of service where we offer services like coaching you on improving your freelancing business, introducing you to prospective clients and helping you with your outreach emails. Some people have already subscribed to that, albeit informally, at $200 monthly.

      👏

      I'm thinking of building a dashboard to measure my marketing funnel, and then making that public-facing.

      Do your current analytics tools give you much insight into where users tend to drop out of the funnel?

      1. 2

        Yeah, totally. Check this out:

        https://imgur.com/a/bgPkc

        So, one approach for me would be to spend this next month focusing on executing all these ideas, which would definitely bump up the numbers and indeed perhaps even lay the foundations for a totally acceptable lifestyle business.

        Another approach would be to pivot to a totally different solution (to a totally different, well-defined pain) with better product-market fit and foster a situation where hypergrowth is feasible

        Currently reading the book Nail It and Scale It and doing customer interviews... haven't decided which tack to take

        1. 1

          Currently reading the book Nail It and Scale It and doing customer interviews... haven't decided which tack to take

          The suspense is building. Looking forward to the answer.

          1. 1

            The answer is I have to keep it up with customer interviews and better understand the pain, so I can revise the messaging.

            Look at this table from Christoph Janz–

            https://4.bp.blogspot.com/--AMXSvjYgfc/WV1QZedlXdI/AAAAAAAAAkk/EXSkpTfAuNkRUKQ5Uk0Lq0hWF4aykYg9wCLcBGAs/s1600/PMFCriteriaForRabbitHunters.png

            • Most signups come from organic (non-paid) sources: check. I haven't been spending on advertising at all recently.

            • Visitor to signup rate: 2.74%. Not great; below the 3%-5% threshold. Still have to do more customer interviews in order to better understand the pain and how that should line up with messaging.

            • Sales cycle: No/low touch is working. We're seeing 14-day sales cycles. Check.

            • Activity: We're not measuring this yet, but I understand that reading this article would be a starting point.

            • Churn: Stunningly, churn is at 0% so far in October. Waiting for the sky to fall. But already aggressively implementing the product improvements ideas.

            • NPS: Really not here yet. Not measuring NPS. Few organic Twitter mentions. Guessing that the first thing to do is focus on product improvements and then start measuring NPS..

  9. 1

    I am working on getting my first users at http://jinolabs.com (tech news summarization website).

    Hoping to conduct user interview and get feedback so that I can refine features for the MVP.

  10. 1

    My biggest challenge this month is to get feedback on my mac productivity app for learning shortcuts: https://shortcutmagic.com

    The goal is to wrap up the month with a clear path towards a paid online service to power the app (while the app itself will always be open source and free).

    It has been through many iterations, and it's getting to the point where it is actually useable and useful. Friends and coworkers have given me some good qualitative feedback, but I want to gather more quantitative feedback on what's missing and what could be improved.

    Because the app uses assistive access to learn shortcuts, it has been a pain to install and run it in a stable fashion. Especially when Apple releases a new macOS - that tends to break things. Now that most of the issues have been fixed, I'm ready to collect feedback using a simple typeform in the app itself.

  11. 1

    I'm gonna release a new app this month and the biggest challange is to create the design of that. Also I want to update all my existing apps to support iPhone X. I'm abroad for half of the month so it's a bit difficult to get any work done outside of my comfortable place to work.

  12. 1

    For the past 8 years, I have ran my business off my personal domain https://joeworkman.net. If you visit that site now, you will see that the site is far from modern. Funny, I make tools for web designers but I have neglected my own site for years.

    So this month I start designing my completely revamp website that on a new domain https://weavers.space. Over a year ago I started this domain as a community for my users. Now that they are used to that brand and associate me to it, I will be moving everything over there. This hope to have the switch done by the end of the year. But there is a lot of work to do.

  13. 1

    My biggest challenge this month is to find future customers and get on the phone with them, in order to validate my design for the app.

    I'm building a management solution for one-person psychology clinics.

    After I made a survey and get positive responses, I created a Powerpoint design and hope to send it to some future customers, ask them what is the feature of the design which is the most necessary, and build it.

    Good luck to everyone!

  14. 1

    I'm trying to optimize the CTR on the buttons on my affiliate site after succeeding in gaining nice amount of traffic but sadly I can't get enough clicks from them. Till Now.

  15. 1

    1 ) Keeping my new product (https://zoobl.com) super stable

    1. Working on converting free trials to paid accounts
  16. 1
    1. Keep getting feedback for my beta (https://www.earlyparrot.com).

    2. Do at least 3 calls a day - getting feedback. What early adopters like and what they don't?

    3. Fix bugs and prioritise next version.

    4. Implement and integrate payment.

    1. 1

      I've taken a look at your landing page. It's not 100% clear what the product does yet. Do you have some more information we can read up on?

      1. 1

        @poehah thank you so much for the feedback. Could you please send me what is not clear to my email gaetano@earlyparrot.com

        Check out https://www.earlyparrot.com/features and https://www.earlyparrot.com/support/home/knowledge-base/ for more information.

        Thank you so much ;-)

  17. 1

    In fact i'm thinking and thinking about the project that i'll working on in next years, I try to get the most out of indiehackers and do some brainstorming , i'll write down each new idea came on mind like the interview style here in indiehackers .

  18. 1

    Getting sign ups for addonadvantage.com.au weekly ChangeLog email so I can start to look at revenue options.

    Have recently changed the home page layout to explain what an add on is (reasonably known term for accountants and bookkeepers but not business owners which is ok at this point as I'm aiming at accountants/bookkeepers mainly) and what the other services are.

    If anyone has any feedback as to messaging on the main page, hit me up!

    1. 1

      I like your idea, but I think you can chose a better WordPress theme that will help you sell this better.

      Your home page looks like a blog, so I totally skipped over the intersting bits in which I can explore the addons.

      1. 0

        Cheers poehah, could you expand on that for me pls? Which elements on page gave that impression?

  19. 1

    My side project [www.aliasbot.com] was finally published in the Slack App directory so now I'll be focusing on the marketing strategy.

    My plan is to post about it on HN, reddit and various dev slack groups. I also want to find a hunter for PH so I'll be emailing a tons of people.

    1. 2

      Love this! Do you have any info on how Slack apps are usually doing in terms of profit?

      1. 0

        thanks for checking it out!

        I don't have any specific numbers on slack apps and profitability. I do know however that there are bunch of companies making paid apps which are being used by thousands of companies.

        The Slack app directory is still relatively small so you can make something that hasn't been made yet.

        Also almost all of you customers on Slack will be companies too, which means that you can find customers that pay money for you app. They are already paying for Slack so they don't mind paying for another app if it saves time.

        Shoot me an email if you want to know more about the Slack platform it's super developer friendly and tons of fun!

        1. 0

          I have an idea for a Slack app so it would be great to have a little chat about how to get it off the ground! The only thing I'm wondering is if it is worth it, hence why I'm so interested in figures :-). What are you doing to market it?

  20. 1

    It's going to be time management for me. I got myself a little too motivated with my last article! I'm now working simultaneously on a few different projects. Full time job, consulting on the side, and then working on two smaller projects that I think have promise is a lot of juggling. Haven't even had a chance to do any more writing.

    I'll need to take things one day at a time, make sure I'm moving forward on something every day.

    1. 0

      Full time job, consulting on the side, and then working on two smaller projects that I think have promise is a lot of juggling.

      I'd say so! Nevermind having time for writing — how do you eat three meals a day or manage to sleep?

      Provided one (or both) of your small projects picks up a bit of steam and begins to find success — in traffic, revenue, or however you measure success — there's your next compelling article right there: How I Built [Fidget Spinner] with a Full-Time Job and a Part-Time Consulting Gig. Title needs work, but you get my point. 😉

  21. 1

    Focusing on the top of the funnel. It's easy for me tweak the product and UI because that's where my brain naturally goes. However, it doesn't matter how great the site is if I don't get people in to check it out.

    I'm trying to stay focused by going back to my quarterly OKRs. I also have a whiteboard that's basically in my face with the top of the funnel numbers I'm trying to hit.

  22. 1

    I'm struggling to find a way to integrate Squareup with my app. I need a specific function performed but it seems that the tech is not there and the API's don't allow me to code it myself. Right now I'm trying to brainstorm a smart way to get around the issue. It's possible, I know it, I just haven't found the solution yet.

    I have a vast selection of photos of comically huge whiteboard attempts at a solution that I'm hoping to look back on one day and wonder what I was worried about!

    1. 1

      why not Stripe instead?

      1. 0

        I'm using Stripe for my billing, but Squareup is used by most of my customers, so I need to find a way to link my system into it. I made some progress yesterday that makes me think I'll work it out soon.

    2. 1

      Can you do this function manually? As in when a request comes in you go to Squareup's app and do it by yourself?

      1. 0

        Nope - that's the reason I'm struggling. I need to find a way to make the app work in a way it's not designed to. I need it to display a dynamic QR code when an order is placed on the POS device, which isn't a native feature. But I think I can leverage the picture section of the item inside it and some API trickery.

    3. 1

      I have a vast selection of photos of comically huge whiteboard attempts at a solution that I'm hoping to look back on one day and wonder what I was worried about!

      We've all been here before. And the comical part, at least for me, is that afterwards the solution tends to be painfully simple. Like the engineering equivalent of searching for the hat you're wearing on your head.

      1. 1

        I hope so! In actual fact the potential solution I'm working on is exactly that.

        I actually have "What would this look like if it was easy" written permanently on top of my whiteboard for this exact reason.