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118 Comments

+2,167 new subscribers in 48 hours (one tactic you should try)

Hey Indie Hackers 👋,

So my last post was "9,000 Subscribers in 9 months".
That was while we were #1 on Product Hunt.

We just published one article that generated +2,167 new subs

in just 2 days 😱:

In fact, we've been averaging 60-130 active users non-stop for 2+ days.

Most of it is pure word-of-mouth:

We also saw some familiar faces in our Slack's #new-subs channel
(oh—hi there @csallen✌):

…and even some legendary tech CEOs:

Now, you're probably wondering…

"Wait… what kind of article was that?"

Well, here's the link:

🧠 101 Cognitive Biases & Principles That Affect Your UX 🔗

The key was the content strategy.

I won't lie: it requires a lot of work.
But it can be replicated in any niche.
So we thought we'd share the tactic with the IH community.🎉

The technique is called "R.L.L." (Really Long List).
It was invented by Brian Dean from Backlinko.

He describes the RLL technique in detail in his latest course.

I'll give you a quick overview in 6 steps:

  1. 🕵 Research
  2. Quality
  3. 🧠 Value
  4. 🏡 Structure
  5. 📝 Create
  6. 📬 Convert

Let's dive right in.

PS: We'll use the comments at the end as a Q&A for the IH community.

1.🕵 USER RESEARCH: Guess < Ask

The topic "Cognitive Biases That Affect Your UX" wasn't an accident.
We did a ton of user research (surveys, emails) to find that topic.

We asked:

What's the #1 thing you'd improve in our content?

The most popular answer from our community was:

"I want a list of the psychological tips you mention in your case studies 🔗":

You just have to find the equivalent for your niche.
But please: don't just try to guess.
Ask directly.

(We show you how at tip #1 in our last IH post "9k subs in 9 months".)

2. ✨ TOPIC: Offer a clear benefit for a niche.

There are BILLIONS of "5 Ways To _" list-posts out on the web.
But very few "100+ Tactics For _" high-quality articles.
Especially ones with clear benefits for a specific niche.

That's the power of the RLL.

Here are some examples for different IH niches to help you brainstorm:

3.🧠 VALUE: Be actionable, not descriptive.

Focus on providing examples, tips, and checklists that people can use.

4.🏡 STRUCTURE: Easy to scan = easy to share.

5.📝 CREATE: Divide and conquer

Writing one HUGE LIST is extremely hard.
But creating one list ITEM is easy.
We organized them in Notion.
Write 1 card at a time.
(Fresh Start Effect 🔗)

6.📬 CONVERT: Offer a valuable bonus missing piece

Our research showed that our community CRAVED biases cheat sheets.
Content upgrades tap into the concept of curiosity gaps 🔗 .
That alone attracted thousands of emails.

We used some other advanced content tactics for our RLL.
But honestly the 3 most important things are:

  • Treat your free content like a paid product.
  • Build in small iterations.
  • Get started now

(I recommend Brian Dean's course if you want a content home run).

👇 Now it's your turn

We worked very hard, but this IS replicable for your audience.
I'm curious… would you give this tactic a try?
Why/why not?

If you need help to get started with your RLL
just leave a comment below with:

  1. your niche/product
  2. your RLL topic idea

…so that we can help you brainstorm on your RLL ideas! 👇

  1. 12

    This is seriously awesome. Massive congrats. And cheers for sharing everything Dan!

    I know you said most of it's word of mouth. But mind going into a bit more detail on sources. Where are people coming from on analytics.

    1. 5

      The man himself!
      Thanks Harry, that's very kind man.

      In fact, let me just share a screenshot of our Analytics 🤓 :

      Does that help?

      1. 3

        Great stuff! I'm guessing all those “Direct” will be from people sharing on Slack Groups etc ...

        Seriously impressed with how you encourage people to share your stuff. Makes it so easy. Thinking of doing a case study on it.

        1. 1

          Thanks man! Yeah actually we descoped a share widget from our launch because we thought it would be too much. But some people mention that they would have like to have one. Kinda hinted us to add it so I'm building this right now 😅

      2. 1

        Curious, why are you guys using Active Campaign vs. Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and other similar products?

        1. 2

          ActiveCampaign has been the underdog for a bit.

          • Balance: It has a great balance of flexibility and power.
          • 🎯 Needs: We're very power users when it comes to automations and complexe email marketing automations ( @louisxavierl is a master in that field ).
          • 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Familiarity: We also know its limits very well since I've been using them for almost 6 years now.

          I used Hubspot for my previous startup. It was great, but it tried to do too much for our needs.

          Especially as two indie hackers who aim to stay as small as possible for as long as possible.

          I prefer to take the very best tools for specific jobs and combine them.

          Warning:

          • 🐌 Speed: ActiveCampaign's front-end is often slow. The automation can have some delay. Most users wouldn't notice, but our more complex automations are limited sometimes.
          • 🌀 UX: The UX can be confusing for some day-to-day actions. Especially if you're not used to their information architecture.

          We almost made a case study about them (still have the recording), but never released it for different reason.

          PS: Heard nothing but great things about Convertkit and I've been following Nathan Barry since 2013. Now that I think of it, it's weird that we don't use CK… 🙃

  2. 3

    I was wondering who the "legendary CEO" was, then I took a closer look... WTF 😱

    Like I already said, big fan of your work!

    Was wondering why your homepage has no navigation links. I've seen others doing this (The Hustle for example).
    We marketers usually do this on landing pages that get PPC traffic, but doing it on the homepage... isn't it a bit too much? I mean, somebody who doesn't know you would probably like to see at least an example issue before signing up.

    1. 3

      👔 RE: CEO:

      • Haha 🙂. Fun fact and total disclosure: we sent him the wrong email after he signed up and he unsubscribed 😅. Oh well. We live and we learn!

      🏡RE: Home page:

      • TLDR: Very good point. In fact, @louisxavierl and I were just discussing in Slack the idea of putting back the nav because it just doesn't feel 100% right.
      • BACKGROUND: We have a cookie. Normally if you're an identified subscriber on the same device, you should see the nav. We set that up as an experiment while doing a email promotion campaign (squeeze page). We had very strong signals since most people who come through the home page are referrals, so 20-60% optin rate depending on the source. So we left it that way and started an AB test, but yeah—it feels a bit off so we'll stop the experiment. 🙂
      1. 2

        What?! Oh no! 😂😂😂

        1. 2

          Haha, yeah true story.

          Interestingly enough—the fact that we sent him that email made us realize a major pitfall in our email automations for ALL the current new subscribers.

          We fixed it and saved us 40+ hours of work.
          Everything happens for a reason!

      2. 2

        Update: Done, you should see the homepage navigation in incognito now on https://growth.design/ . Thanks for your feedback @andreboso ! 🙌

        1. 3

          Yeah I see it, much better! 💪

      1. 1

        For the CEO? I can neither confirm nor deny this statement. 🙃

  3. 3

    Just subscribed. One of the best organized sites I have seen in a looong while. Incredible.

    1. 1

      Woah, that's very kind Lukas—thanks! 🙏
      I'm curious, what was your biggest takeaway from this post?

  4. 2

    Was going through the most popular articles of all times in IH and came across this amazing curation of content. Inspired me to work on a master piece for my newly launched newsletter.

    Amazing content - and you got yourself a new subscriber.

    1. 1

      Thanks Leticia :) I'm sure you'll do great.

  5. 2

    Your site is a design degree, except fun and useful!

    Love the product, I recommend it to literally everyone i know in the product space

    1. 1

      Wow, that's very kind of you to say. Thanks Vee! :)

  6. 2

    This is a great read. Lot to learn I still have.

    Thanks!

    1. 1

      Thanks Alex! Honestly, starting one card at a time in Notion can be surprising. Just make sure you pick the right topic with some user research first 🙂 .

      1. 1

        Clearly :-)

        I'm at the point where I'm still polishing my LP first, then I'll have to move on to "marketing"/posting, which kinda freaks me out. No users yet really, just a few interested subs.

        1. 1

          You'll do great don't worry.
          Just think of it as providing value.
          Brings the focus back to good vibes. 🙂

  7. 2

    One of the best posts on IH that I have seen. Very well done 👏🏻

    I am actually in the process of creating something very similar - an all-in-one SEO resource that contains all possible websites, podcasts, a newsletter, software and even niche things like Facebook groups and WordPress plugins to use (I have over 18 different categories for now) that you need to know or follow, learn, read or use.

    The way you designed and structured your page is very similar to what I had in mind, but I was thinking of creating an info product and selling this, instead of a free post.

    Any thoughts on this?

    P.S. Was your landing page custom-built or you used any software?

    1. 2

      Hey Benas 👋 Good job for trying that out!

      💡 SEO tools:
      I think it's definitely a good idea. In fact Brian DEan (the person from whom we bought the course with the RLL strategy), did a RLL on SEO tools: https://backlinko.com/seo-tools . Ranking against him for that keyword might be hard from a strictly SEO benefit to be honest, but it clearly shows that there's value there, big up!

      💵 RE: Free post vs Selling:
      We did have people who hinted that we could sell this, but after some deeper user interviews, we realized that our gains from putting it out for free and monetizing our premium content would yield a better overall experience for our community (and potentially higher revenues for us, but that's too early to tell).

      🛠 RE: Tools
      I pretty much custom coded the whole thing. Made some Wordpress shortcodes tied to our Notion so that we could import quicker. It's a bunch of hacky JS etc (I'm not a dev so that took me a while, but oh well!). As long as it gets the job done!

      1. 1

        Thanks, Dan, for your thoughts 😊

        1. 1

          Sure thing! 👍
          Oh and one last thing…

          You might want to have fewer categories.

          If you have too many people might be overwhelmed.
          (that's a perfect example of Hick's Law 🔗)

          Maybe 3-5 main categories with sub-categories (e.g. h3 tags)?

          1. 1

            Thanks for the tip, I'll keep it in mind!

  8. 2

    Thanks for this amazing postDan. Will apply to my recently launched newsletter. I need to figure out the best content to deliver, the one that makes impact and offer a benefit for the readers

    1. 1

      Hey Leo👋. Sure thing, happy that it helped. Just by asking your early fans (if the signal is strong enough, it could be literally 10 at first), you should find a great topic for a RLL worth sharing!

      When people sign up, do you reach out personally to ask them something like:

      PS: I'm curious… what made you sign up?

      We did that for most of the first 10,000 signups.
      Built relationships and learned a TON about how to position our content.
      Probably the most under-rated startup tactic (especially since it's free).

      1. 1

        To be honest, I hate when I subscribe and have to answer some questions like this... see my comment on your other article.

        But the post is great, keep going and thanks!

        1. 1

          Totally respect your opinion!

          It really depends.

          Imagine your favorite brand (let's say Tesla).

          Let's say that Elon Musks asks you for YOUR opinion in a Twitter DM.

          Would you answer? (assuming you don't hate him of course)

          Most people would.

          It's all about:

          • 👁 Context
          • 🤝 Authenticity
          • ⏰ Timing
          • 💛 Intention
          • 📝 Copywriting

          Those 5 elements make or break those touch points.

          As entrepreneurs, our job is to find the best way to deliver the most value.
          That requires user research, as uncomfortable as it may be.
          Skipping that step is like throwing a dart in the dark. 🎯

          Hope that helps 🙂
          I'll get to your other comment soon!

          1. 1

            Sorry, I wasn't clear enough.
            I meant from the end-user point of view, I hate to be asked such questions, not as a founder or so.

            1. 1

              Got it, sure thing, no worries!

  9. 2

    Amazing post! I'll try that aswell in the future!

    I'm curious, what are you using for those Slack notifications? What service is resolving the emails to company data? Thanks!

    1. 2

      Thanks @tobiaslins!

      We built a custom Slack bot in a Google Cloud function.
      It enriches every new signup with Clearbit and does some cool stuff.

      That allows us to

      • 💛 Make our feed more human
      • 🦠 Notice virality pockets by countries/source
      • 🎖 Manually reachout to VIPs (we do some very basic binary lead scoring)
      • 🌚 Keep an eye on spammers

      We talk briefly about it in tactic #1 here: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/growth-design-case-studies-2/9-000-subscribers-in-9-months-5-key-tactics--LuiEi5_6rrGrhNko448

      What are you considering trying for your RLL?
      (Your niche is product analytics and AB testing?)

      1. 1

        That's amazing!
        I would love to use Clearbit but its soooo expensive for huge amount of lookups.

        Exactly, I'm currently trying to write a lot of blog posts (or let other people write them) regarding conversion optimization and other analytics relates stuff!

        1. 2

          Yeah it's not cheap 😕. When we started and calculated that it would save us about 15 hours per month (we were manually looking up every email and scouting Linkedin), so that 200$/month was a no-brainer for long term (and it paid off in connections and influencer promotion). But we only considered it once we hit about 500 new signups per month last summer.

  10. 1

    Hey Dan - This is very educational! I am using these tactics for a very specific niche in rental investing. How did you gain the first let's say 1,000 subscribers? I have very unique and actionable content with a low bounce rate and high conversions and I am yet to embark on growth research so I wanted to get tips on going in the right direction.

  11. 1

    Awesome post! I really admire your effort and results :)
    So much that I wanted to check your content myself but I did not receive any mail after subscribing or by trying to upgrade the content. I tried with 2 different emails (gmail and hotmail) and no email arrives, nor is it in any of the spam folders.

    1. 1

      Hey Maurice, thanks for the kind words. We had some stack issues with the UX of unlocking case studies. We removed every limitation for now so you can freely read them until we fix things up.

  12. 1

    You can make your own blog to promote you digital products. learn more about it here
    http://fsapk.com/

  13. 1

    WOW! I love this! THANK YOU FOR SHARING! I’m trying to get into the real estate niche and I’m still at the research stage of psychographics. Based on the real estate forums I follow a free course on using Canva seems to be popular. Thanks again guys!

  14. 1

    Great insight Dan from the post, already using your product, loved it.

  15. 1

    Love it! Also love the way you've formatted and written this post - it's bursting with value and insights.

  16. 1

    I love your website UI! Really useful and novel info as well! Had a question though did you code it yourself or use web builders?

    1. 1

      Hey @rarahustle , thanks! Most of it is custom coded.

  17. 1

    Thank you for sharing your insights!

    I learned a lot during building https://amicu.app/ (reminders to keep in touch) and I'm planning something like:

    101 tips to "master" | "become better at" personal relationships.

    Feedback is welcome.

    1. 2

      My instincts tend to be better for B2B content/niches, but this sounds very interesting! Good luck!

  18. 1

    Wonderful tips @danbe - learned a lot from your tips above

    Now I'm trying to be creative to breakdown my list into useful content for a specific group of people

    1. 1

      Thanks @felix12777 ! Sure thing—the key is to make it digestible for your audience. Best of luck!

  19. 1

    Good one! Loved the site design and structure. Just signed up for newsletter.

    1. 1

      Thanks @Acheilies . Welcome to the community!

  20. 1

    What's your workflow for creating the animated usage videos?

    1. 2

      I often use Screenflow :)

  21. 1

    This post and your website are absolute gold. My god. Incredible work. I'm shocked I haven't come across your stuff before.

    @danbe, read a few of your case studies: I can see how your experience would lead you to identify and categorize UX experiments, thoughts and concepts, but I'm curious about the psych theory.

    Are you working backwards, finding psych theories and then finding examples in action, or working forwards, using an extensive understanding of psychology as you navigate through products?

    Super curious. I'd love to upskill. Thanks in advance.

    1. 2

      Thanks man! That's really appreciated 🙂 .

      You'd be surprised the extent to which mental models are cognitive biases shape your brain.

      I'll just requote Gabriel Weinberg (same quote I used in https://psychology.design ):

      Knowing the names of cognitive biases and mental models is important. That’s because once you have a name for something, you can start to spot it in the real-world. And once you start to spot it, then you can really start to use the tools [and reap the benefits].

      No single model mental is a make or break.

      But together they make a lattice of frameworks that allow for better decisions.

      (Charlie Munger talks exhaustively about that).

      So to answer your questions, 3 things:

      • 👁 Pattern recognition: The time we spent studying the principles allows us to spot the patterns way faster that before.
      • 📚 Frequency & Depth: We look at hundreds of product per year LX and I. (And I'm talking about really deconstructing the core foundational user psychology at different steps, not just scanning a Product Hunt release for example). I've been in SaaS products since 2010. Even exited one. But I've never learned as much about high-quality user experiences that convert as in the last 16 months with Growth.Design.
      • 🌍 Diversity: As you probably saw, we're industry and medium agnostic. B2B, B2C, Fintech, SaaS, Physical (Tesla). It doesn't matter. We don't operate in any specific niche. It's a HUGE advantage for us because we do that full-time. We can take deep niche best practices from one area and detect (or use) them in other industries.

      Does that help? 👋

      1. 1

        Fantastic. Thank you.

  22. 1

    Great job on your RLL. Your site is very unique and your cases are always superbly researched and crafted. Best wishes for the future of Growth.Design!

    Here's what I want to work on:

    1. Beginner level Twitter
    2. 108 Example Tweets from Twitter Pros
    1. 1

      That's very kind, thanks Wit!

      I believe in radical candor so I'll give you my first reaction:

      "What's the real benefit of being a Twitter pro"? (is that a thing?)

      I mean sure—social signalling is interesting for some.
      Having a few thousands followers is cool for a bit…

      …but I'd assume that most people use Twitter with a clear goal in mind.

      • Attract users.
      • Reach leads.
      • Growth.

      You get the idea.

      I'd focus on that end goal first.

      Then merge in the Twitter elements if that's really what you want, assuming you validated your niche.

      Does that make sense?

      PS: Full disclaimer: I'm also probably biased, because Twitter is statistically our worst traction channel in terms of lead conversion rates etc. Linkedin is 2-3x more valuable for us. I know some folks have better success though so it might be very contextual—take this PS with a grain of salt. I just like to challenge ideas to push them to their optimal potential. Best of luck!

      1. 1

        Josh Spector recently posted what I had in mind. It's not so much direct conversion as engaging with interesting people and an audience.

        That said, you guys do "email list" which is even more honed in for targeting than Twitter. 108 Lead Magnet Campaigns would be very great product too.

  23. 1

    Thanks for the great article! A lot of useful things to think about...
    I have a question, though - which tool did you use to make screencast videos?

    1. 1

      Thanks Zen! :)
      Screencast videos?
      Which ones?

      1. 1

        Well, they are actually gifs but I guess they were video? For example, that one that you used for this article.

        1. 1

          Oh! Got it!

          • Cloudapp for the basic ones
          • Screenflow for the more nuanced ones
  24. 1

    Awesome idea, awesome product, awesome design.

    But beware of these principles.

    Priming is a very controversial topic and even the guy that originally endorsed priming (Kahneman) no longer does that: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23154288

    Also, I'm not sure if you're aware of the Reproducibility Project:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reproducibility_Project

    Basically, the authors took these psychology studies and tried to reproduce them (get the same result with the same methods). They succeeded in reproducing only 36.1% of the results. 36.1!

    I would treat these "principles" as mere ideas and would split test everything.

    If you want to take this to another level, I'd really appreciate if you add to each principle a) Are there reproducible studies that proved the effect b) Are there any meta-studies (studies analyzing studies on the topic) for the effect.

    Keep up the good work :)

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing Mark!

      RE: Repro:
      Yes you're right: a key point that we'll cover in a later piece of content is that the emotional state of the person drives a LOT of the repro of a concept.

      • I could show you Coconut Water drink now, and no amount of priming would work.
      • But the same priming right after you completed a marathon might have a much higher lift.

      What happens before a key actions matters a lot.

      It's also why I'm always a bit uncomfortable when people share AB test results without the context (e.g. the classic button color crap). It's the context that makes something work and tap into the psychology of user experience.

      So yes, I agree!

      In fact, someone left a related comment on our blog.
      Thought you'd find it relevant:

      A point often missed in behaviour science is that before using any of these tools the user needs to be in a certain state.

      Example lets take Social Proof. The pre-condition for that to work usually is that user has to be in an uncertain and unknown state. Then the human behaviour of going with herd kicks in. Say if the user is in a certain state then probably time & authority will work better.

      My request, therefore, is that if we can have a say a section informing that this works best when a user is in XX state and is complemented by YY another tool

      Definitely something we'll add post-MVP!

      Talk soon! 🙏

  25. 1

    This is an absolutely fantastic post. Thank you very much!

    1. 1

      Thanks Jake, that's very appreciated. :)

      I'm curious… what's your number #1 takeaway?

  26. 1

    Great article Dan. I will try to apply the experiments above.
    How did you create the page itself? What is it made in?

    I own a travel/digital nomad blog.Can you give me a few ideas of an RLL topic ?

    1. 2

      Thanks Neo. 🙏

      Depends on your sub-niche.
      (e.g. "aspiring digital nomads" or "hardcore veteran nomads"?)
      I like to say that the nich-er, the better.

      Many DN are pre-nomad.
      They "want the lifestyle" but don't know where to start.

      But assuming that you're targeting the aspiring folks, to freestyling a bit, something like:

      The Ultimate Digital Nomad Checklist: 101 Things You Must Do Before You Quit Your Day Job
      (a bit long to my taste, you could probably remove "the ultimate", but you get the idea)

      It really comes down to finding the what's their biggest pain point preventing them to getting to their desired state (i.e. a "happy successful digital nomad").

      I'm sure just talking with them you've heard a TON of great examples. 🙂
      Pattern recognition will point you to the right topic.

      1. 1

        thanks Dan. And last question...how did you build that cool page? Which language/framework?

        1. 1

          Good ol':

          • Wordpress.
          • HTML.
          • JS.

          I'm not a dev so I learned along the way.
          The tools don't matter much to be honest.
          The key is organizing the information (we used Notion).

          Hope that helps?

          1. 1

            Notion is amazing. i checked it out. Can you create mini infographics with it? e.g. export in png/jpg? thanks!

            1. 1

              Notion is made as a collaboration/wiki tool.

              Think of it as the super-child of three parents:
              GSheet/GDoc, Trello.

              The "export" phase for us was a massive custom function in a field property that generated the codes required by our custom Wordpress shortcodes. :)

  27. 1

    Amazing advice and results. Congrats to you both. There's so much content between the RLL, gems and the case studies... 🤯

    Hoping my product can help folks launch their own RLL. Let them focus on research and curation, not the tech stack.

    I subscribed but was bummed to see you're not using the sniper links anymore. Is there a reason you guys stopped using them?

    1. 1

      Hey Curtis! 👋

      Thanks man that's very kind.
      The 💎GEMS will be back in a new format soon—so stay tuned!

      Indeed we paused the Sniper Link for now.

      Two reasons:

      1. We paused the double-optins until we launch phase 3 of our roadmap. The 15% email gain (of single optin) is worth is so far. Most people really do subscribe to receive our content so we have a low unsubcribe rate so far.
      2. We wanted to use the Sniper Link for the bonus delivery, but we noticed that our email provider is too slow to deliver the bonus email. We had a UX dead end where our sniper link led them to a gmail with 0 results for the search query 😅.
      1. 1

        Awesome, keep the content coming, it's great.

        Glad to hear the sniper links are still useful. Today is the first time I read about them and it just makes so much sense. My inbox is the exact opposite of inbox zero (inbox infinity?) so a sniper link is super useful. I was thinking of putting together an API to generate those links. Why isn't everyone using these!?

        1. 1

          I was wondering the same thing.

          Started a blog post that I never finished on some edge cases.

          It will probably stay in draft for months to come still so in case that's useful to you:

          https://growth.design/sniper-links/

  28. 1

    This is awesome stuff. My niche is outdoorsy men's fashion. I spend tons of time answering related questions on Quora & Reddit.

    From that, some RLL ideas I have are "99 Ethical Brands you Can Feel Good Supporting", "77 Time Tested Style Rules and How You Can Break Them".

    1. 2

      Very interesting!

      I'm probably the worst person to ask about fashion (I always dress in all black—weird, I know.) to be honest 😅.

      But first the first question that comes to my mind is:

      Is finding ethical brands they can support their biggest concern?

      In other words, what's the most common/important JTBD in their day-to-day?

      (e.g. I would have assumed that finding clothes that last longer would be more interesting for the outdoorsy type)

      But again, I know veeeerrrrrry little on the topic. If you spend a lot of time in Quora & Reddit, that's a great way to be exposed to that language (kudos!)

      1. 1

        Finding clothes that last is definitely a more important idea. That's an awesome idea. I'm going to get cranking this week.

        1. 2

          As long as you start with your target audience and their deepest hopes, pains, fears, dreams, and barriers, you'll be directionally good. Best of luck!

          1. 1

            The seriousness you discuss this with is money. Thanks for the help!

            1. 1

              Thanks Ryan. Best of luck!

  29. 1

    Amazing write-up, thanks for breaking it down so clearly for us - that's an art. I've been trying to find a way to engage with more freelancers / agencies (current customers of my tiiny.host) and I think something on the lines of "101 ideas for getting more clients" would do really well. Unfortunately I don't have a huge email list to query.

    Also just discovered that you were previously CEO of OfficeVibe. Such a cool product in a crowded space. My current employer uses it and its so engaging!

    1. 2

      🙏 I appreciate that 🐰🦶, thanks!

      💡RE: RLL Idea That's a good start, maybe add "101 ideas to get more clients as a freelancer" at the end. You target persona should read it and know EXACTLY that it's the holy grail for him/her.

      🕵️‍♀️ RE: User Research: Even 5 phone interviews can be more than enough if they are the right people. You'd be surprised how willing to help people are when they know you genuinely just want to help them. Alternatively, a dozen good emails threads of deep emotional copy and yield very good results too!

      🏢 RE: OV: Indeed I was! It was a fun ride and a great team. Tons of learnings (both on the human-side and product-wise). Useful product too (but I'm biased!). Back when we started the space was wiiiiiide open. Side note: I remember when VCs and many companies laughed at us during our pitch in the beginning:

      Oh, you want to engage people at work? There's no money there. I'm out

      5 years later it became obvious that there was a $$$ impact. It became the "hot new thing" and VCs were prowling. Oh well, I'm just happy that it gives a voice to employees personally, especially in those COVID remote-working times. 🙂

      Hope that helps. Cheers!

      1. 2

        Brilliant points thanks! Haha that VC story is hilarious, I love hearing about them.

        Next piece: "101 VC rejection stories that turned out to be million dollar ideas for entrepreneurs" 😂

        1. 1

          Haha! That'd be an hilarious RLL right there!

  30. 1

    Wow your site is incredible! Random question, but what does "Psych level" mean?

    1. 1

      Hey! Great question.

      It's a way to map the emotional state of a user and how that affects his decisions (#affect-heuristics).

      We originally thought we were innovative when we started GD and used that point concept. Then we discovered that Darius Contractor (former Head of Growth at Facebook) had a very similar mental modal for that called Psych Framework.

      It was a nice surprise.
      He became a subscriber in the mean time.
      We'll try to release a deep-dive piece of content on the topic this year, probably invite him to co-author the thing.

      Hope that answers your question. 🙂

      1. 2

        Yes!!! Thanks for answering!

  31. 1

    Website is awesome, idea is awesome 👏

    1. 2

      👆 You're awesome.
      No but seriously, thanks Hide.

  32. 1

    Wow this is really great stuff, i mean yes content marketing is a hard nut but this might be THE secret sauce to get content marketing and specially writing stuff easily ! will surely use this strategy in my product

    1. 1

      Glad to hear you liked it Abhit. Yes give it a try. It's a big time investment so the user research to get the right topic is by far the most important step, but it's worth it. Cheers

  33. 1

    This was a fantastic post and brilliant case study. And hey, as you’re offering help getting started (v generous btw!) I’d love your ideas on replicating this approach for doopoll. We’re a real time survey tool that helps people build email lists (43% of survey respondents leave an email).

    1. 1

      Hey Marc, great question.

      📝 RE: RLL for Doopoll
      It really depends on your niche persona's deepest pain points. Assuming your optimal target audience is really "people who need help to build an email list", I'd imagine a indiehacker looking for ways to grow an email list and doesn't know where to start (vs for example a marketer in a growing team).

      So the person seeing your title should clearly feel it's for them.

      Your answer will be in the user research you'll do when you ask your users:

      "PS: what's you biggest challenge these days when you try to grow your list"

      I'd imagine things like

      • "Oh man, I don't even know where to start."
      • "I feel stuck, I've been publishing on Twitter, but it feels like I'm talking to a wall."
      • "I'm alone, just getting started and just the idea of building my email list is intimidating" etc

      I'm freestyling a bit here and haven't done the SEO research, but something like:

      113 Ideas To Build You Email List Fast As A Solopreneur

      …would be a refreshing take on alternatives like https://sumo.com/stories/grow-email-list

      The key for your list would be the categorization and the reduction of cognitive load to make it easier to start.

      That could become a "go to place" for many indie hackers who are trying to get started and need a kind of roadmap of things to test to grow faster.

      There are a few other very valuable tips in Brian's course to ease that process and make sure you're picking the right topic. (WARNING: it's not cheap, but in hindsight, that course paid itself numerous times over for us already. And no: I'm not an affiliate or whatever. I just like valuable online course that are well-structured. Quite rare these days.)

      PS: Love the survey niche. Recently exited a 8-fig ARR business that focused mainly on pulse surveys (for employee engagement). Slightly different, but I've always been fascinated by the user research / customer experience side of surveys! Best of luck!

      1. 1

        Dan! That was also great. Thanks!

        I think I'd definitely look to do something like that. Also, that Sumo article is great - so thanks for that too.

        Would love to talk about your experiences of growing that company! Sounds fantastic. Would you be open to a call sometime?

        1. 1

          Hey Marc, unfortunately Louis and I are laser focused on launching a premium product and we decline 99% of partnerships and calls (we even hid our paid consultation services page on our website to stay focused).

          But our case studies should be a helpful start.
          I'll also try to keep sharing more on IH!

          1. 1

            Dan,

            Totally get it. Thanks for sharing useful stuff, in any case.

            ✌️🍵

  34. 1

    I like the "coming soon" aspect as well. You don't necessarily have to finish the article to get it out there. Also encourages visitors to subscribe so they come back later.

    1. 2

      Yes! Kudos for noticing that Daniel (nice name btw).
      Very few people did.
      (@harrydry was the first I believe since he saw the beta version)

      Three benefits indeed:

      • Allows us to release earlier
      • The layout blends them in smoothly.
      • Curiosity gap for the folks who want the updates = more signups.
  35. 1

    Amazing work both with this website post and this indie hacker post. Bookmarked and shared ❤️

    1. 1

      Very appreciated Filipp, thanks. Yeah we thought it'd be cool to show a bit of behind the scenes. What's the fun of building something if we never share the learnings along the way 🙂.

      1. 1

        It worked. Made me subscribe. Search through the website and now I am reading different case studies 😅.

        I remember checking it long time ago, but I left after 1 or 2 case studies.

        1. 1

          That's awesome. 🙌 Filipp!

  36. 1

    nice, its quite refreshing to see real practical tactics and examples. Hats off to you

    1. 1

      Thanks @partEngineer !

      I've seen many posts focusing on Twitter growth tips on IH.
      Not enough on subscriber list growth through pure content.
      Especially since SEO will kick in in the next months as well.
      Hopefully a gold mine of community growth.

      We were originally intimidated by the RLL challenge to be honest.
      But we're very happy that we didn't give up.
      Hope many more will try it as well in IH.

  37. 1

    @danbe Congratulations! I even shared the page with UX colleagues at Oracle ;)

    1. 1

      Thank you Samuel! That's very appreciated! 🙌

  38. 1

    Nice one! I came across this on Hackernews and thought it was well structured and a lot of work was put into it. Looks like it paid off!

    How long roughly did it take you from start to finish?

    1. 1

      Ohhh man. Great question.

      • @louisxavierl and I discussed the initial concept back in Jan 2020.
      • We already had the list of concepts in our private cheatsheet.
      • But we still have to rephrase each line to have them fit in a one-liner format, find the examples in our case studies + the coding.

      Overall I'd say it took us about:

      • 📝 Content: 80 hours
      • 💻 Coding: 100+ hours
        (mind you, I'm not a dev I had to learn some JS stuff along the way)
  39. 1

    Come on giving away all the secrets :)

    We did the same for https://saaspages.xyz/ and worked amazing.

    Got a bunch more ideas that follow similar tactics.

    1. 1

      Nice Volkan, glad to hear it worked well!
      What do you have in mind next?

      1. 1

        Some stuff around copywriting as I see that as a growing field.

        People are realising that the site can look pretty but without good copy it won't convert.

        1. 1

          100% true.

          We used the post-it method from the book "3-min rule" to outline our latest sales page. Never tried that before. It made the process much easier.

          But yeah—it all starts with good copy.

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