Growth strategy session!

Hey guys, I’m currently struggling to get a customer for https://storycreatorapp.com I don’t think it’s due to the product. I believe it’s a good product. I get obsessed with making it the best and sometimes that can hinder me.

It’s free right now so I’m curious if you guys think it’s in a place where I can start charging. This would be helpful because I keep spending my time engineering and get into this loop. Like today I built a gradient color picker feature. Totally not needed, I just love coding these cool features and want to have the best product.

The problem is my competition is making thousands of dollars a month and I’m almost broke. So I need to switch it up and start selling. I hold myself back because I feel like it’s not ready.

After taking a look at the product in its current form what main channels would you focus on for gaining traction? It would be amazing if some folks who have had successful ventures come across this post. I need some guidance.

Currently I’m reading a book called Traction, written by the founder of duck duck go. He talks about the 19 channels of growth and has a bullseye method for finding the right channel. So I’m going through that to figure it out.

My main goal for this post is to get some ideas going around that. Given the context. How do you feel about the product. What are some holes in my bucket that I should be aware of? If it were you running this product what channels would you focus on and why?

I’ve been thinking about partnerships I have some companies that want to partner. I have been thinking about releasing free video based tools for engineering as marketing. I plan to test out Instagram posting and networking. I plan to test paid ads. Will test a little reddit and blog partnerships.

I’d just live some insight on where I should be steering the ship and from what you can observe in the product where do you feel I’m at. Any key things I should focus on?

You guys rock 👊

  1. 3

    Hi Michael, bit late to this thread but your product really interests me as I have had similar idea to this for a while now (but in a different niche). Unfortunately due to building another business I haven't had the chance to get it off the ground - however, I did spend some time brainstorming the business model.

    You should take a look at Canva's business model. Over there you can pay for a pro account and get access to lots of extra assets and premium features, or you can have a freemium account with the option to use pro assets and pay during export.

    My example would be something like this:
    –Free account:
    –max vid length 15secs
    –strictly limit storage capacity of previous/draft projects
    –limited number of templates (perhaps 5 standard ones)
    –no stock assets (audio, image or video)
    –Storycreator watermark on all exports
    –ability to pay $1 when exporting to remove Storycreator watermark

    – Pro account:
    –vids up to 5 mins in length
    – increased storage capacity
    – unlimited use of templates library
    – extra premium features (e.g. auto subtitle generation etc)
    – included stock assets (audio, image and video)
    – no storycreator watermark on exports

    This is just off the top of my head.

    I can see that you've built a solid product, that looks really great! I think you just need to simplify the business model and not overthink it too much. Having lots of different membership levels will increase the friction to getting someone to sign up (while increasing your work). You also need to get a pricing page up, so people understand the difference in features between the paid and free versions. Then chuck in a Stripe integration and start off by charging $15/month for the paid version. My initial thought is that people will convert from the free version to the paid version since the value offering is much higher but at a frictionless/affordable price.

    The next thing to do is start some marketing activities. I'd expect by now to see your Instagram feed filled with examples of your videos (at least 50-100) - perhaps take a look at the World Economic Forum's Facebook videos, and model yours on those. They are quick to produce (even quicker with your app) and have a big impact, not to mention that they would showcase how great your product is (they can live on IG and FB). Then make a 'how-to' style video, showing the process of how you created each of these videos in less than 5 minutes. Then make more specific 'how-to' videos breaking down each feature of your product and why it is so good/valuable.

    You could also have a blog resource with articles that directly relate to video creation and would provide value to video creators. Here are a few ideas:
    – Social media adverts: formats and sizes - everything you need to know
    – How to turn your podcast into a video
    – How to create a killer meme video
    – How to make engaging videos that convert

    Run some paid campaigns on Facebook and Instagram.
    – Create 4 to 5 different creatives showcasing different features or usp's of you product.
    – Tailor each piece of creative to a specific platform, e.g. video highlighting feature 1 made for IG Stories, video highlighting feature 2 made for FB feed, etc, etc.
    – Create your target audience.
    – Run multiple campaigns using the same target audience for each, but each campaign uses the different creatives.
    – You are now targeting the same audience across the FB/IG networks but in each location they see a different creative telling them about a different feature or usp of your product. This is a great way to raise awareness and make sure that your target audience is being exposed to your product and the value it can bring them.

    I know you've received a lot of great advice on this topic now, and there is a lot to process. I think the main thing is to start trying things, you'll quickly learn what works for you and what doesn't. The worst thing to do now is to over analyse everything and then not do anything at all. You may also consider partnering up, let someone else take care of the marketing and communications and you can focus on the product. This may seem crazy since you've put in all the work to get everything up and running, but without the marketing and sales you just have a project and not a business. So someone that can bring that to the table is definitely worth splitting the company with. You can always minimise risk by having a three month trial before releasing any equity to them - someone that believes in the product and is hungry to make it a success will definitely accept those terms.

    Keep moving forward, I love your product and may well be a user in the future. Best of luck to you.

    1. 2

      Thank you for the detailed response. Anyone putting this type of energy towards something I have worked so hard for is a friend in my book.

      Today I am shifting gears into marketing mode and will only be coding if absolutely needed. My approach will be aligned with a lot of the great advice you mentioned. Like using the tool to pump out content on IG. I'll be reaching out to 50 users per day.

      Yes, a lot of amazing feedback I am digesting it and creating a game plan. The first thing to do is engage with folks, setup some user interviews, learn, and make some sales.

      Spent the last 24 hours integrating Stripe and coding the pricing page/user flow for payment. Still need to track some usage and plan information in my DB but here it is https://storycreatorapp.com/pricing

      1. 2

        That's awesome, let me know how the marketing goes and if you ever want to discuss something, feel free to hit me up.

        If you need some content for the blog, I would be happy to write a guest blog post for you (I can offer you the same on my site - blog.vreel.co) this way we both get content and backlinks.

        Pricing page looks great, I think that the value proposition of each tier is clear and well presented. I hope that you start getting signups now and generate some revenues.

        Keep me posted on how it goes 🤟

  2. 3

    if you're broke and seriously struggling, it's time to change how you operate, ASAP. here are a few mistakes I have made which I can see you doing as well..

    mistake 1: building a product without pre-sale. always always always sell first, build later.

    99% of products do NOT sell themselves. stop building / optimizing / tweaking the product and start selling.

    from sales conversations you will get invaluable market research and some objections which will inform what about your messaging and product need to change.

    stop doing this immediately and forever until you have 6-12 months of cash in the bank:

    "Like today I built a gradient color picker feature. Totally not needed, I just love coding these cool features and want to have the best product."

    mistake 2: not solving a specific problem for a specific customer

    This is incredible generic: Join other social media professionals who have grown their business 200% in Less than 60 Days using video content.

    While the value prop sounds amazing, and very worthy of paying customers, nowhere on the website do you educate visitors about HOW you can help them grow their business 200% in < 60 days.

    so what is the problem you are solving? it's not clear.

    i hope this helps, stay strong <3

    1. 1

      I love this feedback. I believe in pre-selling as well. It's an issue for me though. I always feel like I have to have the pudding before I can give the proof. You're absolutely right.

      I am not sure if there is enough material around pre-selling, or perhaps I haven't sought out for the information as much as I should be.

      What are your 2 cents around doing pre-sales? Specifically, I am curious about the payment portion. Should I set up a pricing page and integrate with Stripe and message customers directly saying that these features you paid for are coming soon etc?

      What I am trying to do is offer the product for free. Consistently solve people's problems, find leaks in the bucket and iterate.

      I am thinking about doing a giveaway where for 10 businesses I will manually make their videos using my software. Record the process and turn the results into templates. From there I can share that with them in hopes to convert them into a paying customer.

      I agree with the messaging. It can be improved, I have heard this from numerous sources. Would you be interested in hopping on a 5 min call? Let me know we can knock that out in a few mins. It could really offer me value. I would be happy to reciprocate in any way I can.

      1. 2

        i had a decent pre-sale launch a few years ago and thinkific interviewed me for a case study on it. here's the video interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L-AfNtwxSo
        and the step by step breakdown blog post: https://www.thinkific.com/blog/presell-productize-and-scale-coaching-business/

        re: payment etc. don't worry about how, focus on what, sounds like you're overthinking a bit ? :) you can always collect $ via paypal or check... but of course, worry about this once you have a customer ready to pay you... until then this is a distraction.

        have a look through those resources and let me know what Q's you have after that and we can see if a chat makes sense . talk soon !

        1. 1

          Hey just saw this. I truly appreciate your feedback. Checking out the video now :)

  3. 2

    Hey Michael,

    It looks like a really promising product with lots of potential. Congratulations on the great progress you already made. There is one question I have for you:

    What problem are you trying to solve for whom?

    Channels follow customers. What I mean by that is that you first have to figure out who exactly you are trying to reach and then map your channels accordingly, not the other way round.

    My impression from your website is that you want to help the social media managers of small to medium-sized brands, probably mostly eCommerce businesses, create engaging videos more efficiently. If this is the case, they would not be paying for the service themselves but it would rather be a business expense. This means you have to sell the social media manager on the tool and the decision-maker on the pricing. One experiment you could run is actually charging a monthly fee from the beginning, reach out to smaller brands on Instagram and offer them a 1-2 month free trial in return for feedback - make them a beta tester. This would also help you refine your product, help you prioritize, and introduce your revenue model.

    "Like today I built a gradient color picker feature. Totally not needed, I just love coding these cool features and want to have the best product."

    If your target audience is influencers rather than businesses, I believe @shiva_prabhakaran 's suggestion is great.

    Let me know what you think.


    1. 1

      There is also an IH episode on the founder of a social media planning tool:


      She shares some of her strategies that might be helpful to you - maybe even a collaboration opportunity here between two indie hackers.

      1. 1

        I've actually talked to her on Zoom recently haha. We have been talking about doing a partnership. That is so funny you said that.

        I need to follow up with her and get that ball rolling. Again I just get obsessed with the product and get tunnel vision. Thanks for the feedback.

        I really just need to be more diligent on following up! I have a potential agency that wants to pay, but I am not following up as I should. So here's to following up and being hyper-specific to which customer I am serving.

        1. 2

          Hahah - that is great. Happy to see that the IH community is strong.

          Glad to hear you already found some traction with agencies. Try to understand their use case and see if this is replicable as a potential customer segment.

  4. 2

    What's in the free plan currently? Do they get access to all features for an unlimited amount of time?

    1. 2

      Right now everything is free. You can create unlimited videos up to one minute long. I need to start buckling down on this.

      I am going to spend an hour today or tomorrow writing out the plan details.
      I am thinking about a free plan that offers 1-5 videos per month with a watermark up to 15 sec - 1 min. I still need to work the specifics out. Might take some tweaking.

      I am thinking of a soloprenuer plan that is 5-20 videos 1-5 min, without a watermark. This plan will start at $24.99.

      Then there is a start-up plan for more than one person that will be 10-50 videos, without a watermark. This plan will start at $59.99.

      Then finally an agency plan that is for agencies that work with multiple clients that will need 10-30 videos per customer, that may have 5-10 customers. They will most likely need 100+ videos. This plan will start at $150-$200.

      Then I am thinking about also sprinkling in more advanced useful features throughout. The free plan will lack certain features.

      Would love some thoughts.

      1. 2

        I'm not an expert on pricing, but you should raise your price gradually. You don't want to raise the price too much and then find out later that it's too expensive for what your target audience want to pay.

        Because if you decrease your price after finding out it's too expensive, it's not good on the public-facing side. People will think you're desperate and there are few to no customers using the product.

        Not saying that the pricing tiers you mentioned is too expensive. I'm not in the video market. Do your homework comparing your competitors' prices. And then make your pricing lower than that of your established competitors (at least for now in the beginning).

        Once you've gained enough traction you can always increase your price later.

  5. 2

    Hey Michael, I think your product has so much potential. As a content creator, I always struggle creating "moving" content for my social media and feel like this would help tremendously. I can definitely help you define your content and social media strategy as I can see that your site lacks all of that. Let me know and I'll be happy to lend a hand 😊

    1. 1

      That's awesome. Let's talk! I've recently booted up the IG page here https://www.instagram.com/p/B9yeTn0H9j_/ my plan is to create content consistently. Going to do more youtube tutorials https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCkDlCPfuBTHUt0YjgIq9xw.

      Next is how to add loading bars with gradients to your videos. The idea is to take a specific feature and make a 1-3 min youtube tut. Then turn that into IG content.

      After that, I will be doing a series of recreating popular videos.

      Lets definitely connect. Id love to chat more!

  6. 2

    You could try news jacking, create little videos based on the latest news trends.

    1. 1

      Interesting. It would be worth experimenting with for sure. Do you have experience with that strategy?

      1. 2

        Not specifically with news, but with community building I'm often in tune with what people are talking about and adjust accordingly.

        1. 1

          What niche are you focused on? On my personal IG I've been sharing what I've been working on in RAW form https://www.instagram.com/michaelaubry/.

          I'm getting https://www.instagram.com/storycreatorapp/ account set up to pump out massive value. Have one post on a 3 step tutorial. Going to try and post every other day on tips.

          One series I am planning to make is taking popular ADS and videos from guys like GaryVee and doing a recreation guide.

          Feel free to follow. I'd love to connect and share ideas about building communities.

  7. 2

    Templates don't show up on the template page for me.

    When I want to sign up for something like this, I'd want to see an example video, or a few. And for those videos to be something relevant to me.

    So maybe, if you decide on a target market, you could create videos that they would find attractive/engaging. Post on instagram or something like that, using hashtags that they would use.

    1. 1

      Yeah, I've deleted the older templates on accident by wiping my S3 bucket. I plan on making them again. Now that I have more elements involved I can create a variety of templates. Any particular style video you're looking for? Id love to know and recreate.

    1. 1

      Just coded the whole pricing system over the last 24 hours. Exhausted lol but it's here :) https://storycreatorapp.com/pricing

      1. 2

        Great design!

        I like to see an FAQ below.

        I also recommend having a list of features as well. https://baremetrics.com/pricing good example.

        1. 1

          Thanks. I thought about the FAQ's and agree. I have a list of a bunch of things and thought it would be nice to have. Not an essential driver. I think as my rankings in SEO improve and I do less outreach and selling the FAQ's will be useful. They essentially can handle the objections for me. In the meantime, I think my focus should be on outreach and monitoring users' usage before requiring payment.

          Awesome feedback.

    2. 1

      Haven't integrated Stripe yet. I'm thinking about doing that this week. When I have it integrated Ill make a pricing page as well.

      I am thinking $29 for a basic plan, $59 for mid plan, $150 for premium.

  8. 7

    This comment was deleted a year ago.

    1. 2

      I love this. Been working on DMing some influencers with a video message and quick demo. I love this idea and will be ramping it up. I love the little extra details you shared. Very helpful.

      1. 2

        This comment was deleted a year ago.

        1. 2

          Going to follow back upon this advice. My weakness is I always gravitate towards coding.

          I am going to challenge myself to message 50 folks a day :)

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