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49 Comments

How did you get your first 10 users?

I'm really interested in learning how people went about getting there first 10 users (I'm just about ready to launch Backtalk). This doesn't necessarily mean your first 10 customers, just how did you find 10 people to try your product?

  1. 29

    I'm doing research on this subject on Zero to Users. I've basically read all IndieHackers interviews & identified 34 places that were mentioned more than 10 times as "working" by founders. Here are the top 10:

    1. SEO (after getting results with another acquisition channel). Worked for 84 founders
    2. Marketplaces & Existing Platforms. Worked for 78 founders
    3. Product Hunt. Worked for 78 founders
    4. Reddit. Worked for 45 founders
      5.Cold email outreach. Worked for 42 founders
      6."Powered by" marketing. Worked for 42 founders
    5. Hacker News. Worked for 39 founders
    6. Having an existing media brand. Worked for 39 founders
    7. Using your own network. Worked for 37 founders
    8. Google Ads (AdWords). Worked for 31 founders

    One note for "Google Ads": Most of the mentions are founders who got started with Google Ads right away (finding a cheap & low-search but highly relevant keyword to bid on).

    1. 3

      Thats an awesome list!

    2. 2

      Incredible list @zerotousers! What we build majorly drives what channel to choose, your post literally covers most cases on earth.

      1. 1

        I actually have more channels that were not mentioned as much (like classified ads), plan to also add them in the future.

    3. 2

      Amazing list. I have a doubt, isn't SEO depends on high traffic. Like, how an India startup get benefitted from that? Is it possible to rank initially?

    4. 1

      This is incredibly helpful! Just signed up for the PDF.

  2. 5

    Honestly the most effective thing (and what worked to get my first 10 users) was to just find out where I thought my target audience hung out. Building Partizion I thought it was people just like me, who worked on a lot of things in the browser. So naturally I went to where I hung out on the web, and some other related places.

    Reddit was fantastic for early users — Reddit is very against self-promotion and tries to mitigate it as much as they can, but the actual reddit community and users are super supportive. If you have something interesting or of value to share, they'll love it.

    My suggestion would be to write about why you're building your product, what led you to working on it, thinking about the idea, updates on your progress and what you've done, things you've learned etc. not just "hey here's a link to a product I built go look at it".

    I'm actually writing a book on this, How to get your first SAAS Customer, where I interview successful founders and showcase their story/product.

    1. 2

      I always see people report mixed results from Reddit posts. Personally, I started on the weekly r/smallbusiness self promotion thread with a ~200 word introduction and link. Within two weeks I had a few users, who then started sharing with their colleagues.

    2. 1

      Such great advice. I'm going to do some write ups on why we built Backtalk, and some of the challenges we've had so far and how we've solved them.

      1. 1

        Awesome, be sure to share them here! I'd love to read about it :)

  3. 4

    Here's a simple two-step process I followed that will work for virtually anyone.

    1. Seek warm intros to your hypothesized ideal clients for customer interviews.

    2. Repeat until you have an MVP and you can get 10 of your interviewees to become users of it.

    1. 1

      Finding warm intros is great advice. How do you generally go about doing that?

      1. 1

        That's an interesting question. Without giving it too much thought, here's how I think it works for me.

        1. I know people (my network)
        2. I ask the people I know if they know someone like _____.
          (If the answer is no, I ask them if they know someone who might know someone like _____.)
          (If the answer is no to both, I ask them to let me know if they think of anyone in the future)
        3. If they know someone, I ask if they think that person might being willing to spend 10 to 15 minutes with me answering some questions to help me validate my idea. I explain it will be an interview and I promise I'm not trying to sell them anything. (If yes, I ask for an introduction.)
        4. Once I get introduced, I complete the interview and repeat #2 and #3 for that person. (I also thank the person who introduced us in a way they appreciate.)

        Note:

        1. This process naturally expands your network.
        2. If you don't currently know people, you need to start with step 0: start getting to know people.
  4. 3

    Posting on Reddit!

    However I was quickly banned from the relevant subreddits, as the mods retroactively changed the rules due to not liking my project.

  5. 3

    With One Word Domains, I started by posting product updates on Pioneer and also did a soft launch on Indiehackers. That gave me my first 15 users and around 5 newsletter subscribers.

    Then, when I launched One Word Domains on Product Hunt a week later, it took off and got to #2 Product of the Day, the front page of Hacker News, and I gained 25K visitors to the site and 500+ newsletter subscribers in 2 weeks.

    1. 2

      The soft launch idea is golden!

      1. 2

        Thanks a lot Chris! It was certainly a great way to validate product-market fit! :D

  6. 3

    Hanging out at the places/communities where our target audience hangout.

    We actually recently made a post about this here.

    1. 1

      Very true, but finding out where my target community hangout seems to be another problem :) A general search on google and such turns to be not so useful.

    2. 1

      Great advice. Just checked out the article. I appreciate the specific examples of communities that fit for your product.

      Also, edition looks pretty darn cool. How are things going?

  7. 3

    I got my first 10 users from a tweet. It sparked people's interest and led to a bunch of people asking for an invite to try the alpha version I was working on.

    1. 2

      That's awesome! So it was a reply on a relevant thread?

      Side note, I'll definitely have to look at Divjoy. My latest product, Backtalk is a react front end.

      1. 2

        Yup relevant thread w/ prominent people in the React community. Just takes one person to retweet. Backtalk looks cool! Reach out anytime if I can help or if you'd like to check out a Divjoy codebase before buying to make sure it integrates nicely with what you already have.

  8. 2

    This is a damn good post. Content like this is why I stay on indiehackers. Chris, thank you for the follow and I'd like to book a introductory video call with a fellow product professional if you're open to it. Maybe you'd like to hear about the product we're currently building as well

    1. 1

      Count me in. You can send me an email or DM through the links on my profile.

  9. 2

    A rather unlikely place for Zlappo:

    • Twitter DMs
    1. 1

      Ah, interesting! How did you go about deciding who you'd DM?

  10. 2

    first 3: friends
    next 3: referrals
    next 3: content
    next 3: outbound, which, as an outbound company (makesales.io) can be surprising, but I'll say one thing: outbound is still the LAST thing I want to do. I'll talk to ALL my network, ask for referrals all over my rolodex, produce (hopefully) quality content and share in select communities (got tons of <3 from IH & reddit), and THEN I'll do outbound.

    But soon your realize that you only have so many friends, and they can refer you to only so many people, and content is awesome but takes time to take off, so in the meantime, the most direct way is to reach out to folks, talk about their challenges, and see if there's a fit.

    1. 2

      This is such great advice to first own your network before going outbound.

      I know this is going to sound weird, but I have some weird imposter syndrome or something that makes it easier for me to talk about my products and the value they create to people I don't know in real life, than the people I know, have worked with, and respect dearly.

      1. 2

        I think it's a normal reflex, talking to friends is a double-edged sword. It's good sometimes cause you can really "pressure" them into using your stuff, but sometimes you'll feel like you're way off and the nature of the convo kinda sounds weird.

        "qualified" friends are great, the feedback you'll get can be biased though. so use them wisely at first, it'll build your confidence towards your product so you can tell a more compelling story to people you don't know

  11. 2

    Started building an audience using hashtags on Twitter and Linkedin back in July. Tweeted/posted everyday about my journey. Blam customers! lol

    1. 2

      Great advice. I love the idea of sharing the journey with folks through little bits of the story on social media.

  12. 2

    spammed twitter Lol..I wouldn't recommend it though..I got my account suspended...I launched here and on product hunt where it got some traction...I just reached 100+ users on my app wannahireme.com....

  13. 2

    This is a great question and it falls in line with customer discovery. Most people build in public, which (if you don't already know) is building increments of your MVP and fully fleshed out product infant of a community (can be slack, email, etc) that have expressed interest tin your product in one way or another. Once that number is at about 50+ you should have no problem getting your first 10 users

    1. 1

      That's a great idea. We've been streaming our build on Twitch, but haven't really been intentional about writing about the process anywhere.

  14. 2

    I’ve been trying to build Jamform in public by posting about it on Twitter and on here as I develop it. Only started it this week but it’s at 6 users already! So basically I just keep talking about it and it’ll hit 10 soon!

    1. 1

      Congrats! I don't know why, but I haven't been using Twitter for sourcing folks yet for Backtalk.

  15. 2

    I'm currently at this stage with one of my projects (kittelkarten.de).

    I'm just asking my friends to try it out and give me feedback. It's not the most unbiased feedback I'll receive but everything has a downside :D

    1. 1

      That's a really neat niche product idea! What lead you to build it?

      I also generally share products I'm working on with friends I trust first. They give me great, pointed feedback.

      1. 1

        I’m a radiologist myself. It scratches my own itch and it tries to solve a problem I see at my workplace everyday.

  16. 2

    ProductHunt and posting in community forums and Slack channels (where my target audience would hang out).

    1. 3

      +1 to product hunt!

      How do you go about finding Slack channels and forums for your targets? Are you usually already in them or do you seek them out?

      1. 2

        I wasn't in them already.

        If your product is an extension/plugin for a bigger platform like Shopify, just search for Shopify subreddits, public Slack groups, etc. and you'll be set.

        If your product isn't an extension, you should still have competitors right? Try google searches like "your_competitor reddit" and see if you can find subreddits where people talk about your competitor - you can dive in there with your product. Also check to see it your competitors have community forums or feature request forums. You can find users to talk to from those

        1. 2

          Very useful @alexfur, especially the "your_competitor_reddit" part, I used to search for my targetdomain_reddit and end up being disappointed as there were not many, let me try this strategy and see :)

  17. 1

    It's not that hard I got way more than that 49 just replying to posts on Indie Hackers.
    Have a list of short presentations and copy paste them in comments section each day.
    Maybe also provide some value :)
    The real problem is how to get someone to visit your website and give you a review

  18. 1

    I was an early adopter of ionic-vue (I believe the very first to use it in production in South Africa) when the first beta came out in 2019. I kept using it even when the Ionic team put it on pause pending the release of vue 3 I kept working with it. Fast forward to 2020, vue 3 reaches the release candidate (RC) stage, Ionic team announced they will continue working on ionic-vue. By this time I was tuned in more than ever, testing each update and RCs. I thought let me make templates. and put them out there for anyone to play with. By the time ionic-vue reached the last RCs, I had about 3 templates. I was not really active on Twitter but I figured why not tweet about them. Gradually the templates started getting traction. Then, things really started to pick up after Masahiko Sakakibara and Sarah Drasner tweeted about the templates...

    So first 10 users; Fast forward November 2020. I created an ionic-vue newsletter and I am now on 25 signups. I'd love to have a website dedicated to these templates, something similar to Made With Vue website. But in my short time on IH I've learned that it's important to build an audience first. So before I create a website for the templates I am starting with a newsletter, once that gets going (I don't have an actual goal to measure this "going" part) then I will create a Made With Vue version for my ionic-vue templates.

  19. 1

    My first 10 customers came from building in public on Twitter. I was pretty fast like in a day or two when I started to talk about VenturesList

    I usually mention how I build, how I grow and next steps.

    1. 1

      I've gotten this advice a couple times now on this thread. I definitely have to start doing this. Anything work particularly well for you when building in public? What do folks seem to resonate with most?

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