In Sep 2019, I launched Zlides. Presentation templates for busy designers and startups. (Gosh, com’on, not creative at all...)
During the first 6 months of running the project, I was in stealth mode and did not even tell my friends and family. I want to challenge myself to see if I can gain traction without my first-degree connection and social audience.
This project did not solve a big problem nor I earn a lot. But it's a common practice for many individuals. I have a weird habit of helping people to make great presentation slides.
Therefore, I decided to monetize my habit. This is how I grow Zlides.
I started my first startup 5 years ago. The founding team is responsible for everything from business to design to product to technology.
Presentation is always one thing we have to do. In front of customers, talents, investors, partners, etc., we are always pitching our mission, performance, and goal. Presentation slides have become good friends.
Sometimes, we noticed that people still put up presentation slides like as they did 20 years ago. Why? We are not born to be a designer. You can learn, it takes a lot of time to realize the beauty of visualizing your ideas. But it's extremely hard!
Fast forward, I now working on the investment side. I read and review presentations almost every day. I still receive designs created using the oldest PowerPoint.
I want to help. I want to help people easily combine content, design, and storytelling. And eventually provide a wonderful presentation in no time!
When I first started Zlides. I collected a list of nearly 100 marketplaces, service providers, and professional designers that have entered the field.
I spent some time researching their products, design styles, prices, customer profiles, etc. This is my view of the market: high quality, low profit, unlimited choices, and many free resources.
Big red ocean! Should I give up? Almost. I am full of confidence with my designs, but I need to find a market niche to capture a small market share.
I have always had a passion project mentality, every step is an experience, and revenue is a bonus. I did not put much pressure but gave myself the motivation to do what I was good at.
Like many makers. I built a website, created a brand, and prepared some marketing materials to get started.
Who will use my product? Who needs a presentation template? TEDx and the hackathon came to my mind immediately. I first identified 40 TEDx events and 20 Hackathons. I drafted a personalized email to the organizing team. It turned out that 10 TEDx and 15 Hackathon organizers downloaded my template. The sample size is not very large, but it makes me more aware of how to define marketing strategies.
People usually sell templates in the marketplace. I decided not to burn myself in the deep red ocean. So I went to Quora to see what people wanted for presentation design. Then, I realized that I had room to provide insights. I spent 3 months focusing on Pitch Decks and Venture Investment & Pitch. In the end, I became the top 10 writers by providing answers every day. I have roughly 5% of downloads from Quora. I actually posted an article about my Quora growth journey and why I stopped.
Since I started Zlides. I have been challenging myself to create a new pitch deck every week, fresh design, random company. I keep posting publicly on Instagram every week. This routine allowed me to practice, market my brand, and showcase my design style. I try not to sell things on Instagram because that is not my goal. Instead, I focus on building relationships with other designers. Now, roughly 10% of downloads from Instagram according to my LinkTree link.
It was not about my presentation slide design. I created a post because I gave the website a new look. Many of my friends don’t even know that I have a side project selling templates. But I think this is the beauty of building in public, you don’t have to disclose the nitty gritty of the project every time. Any updates that keep people motivated will help. This post I generated about $40.
In the process of building my Instagram presence, I started to receive invitations to collaborate, such as sales commission, guest posts, listicles. I say yes to almost everyone, because why not. This is how I build relationships with other designers. These sources have brought me stable traffic. Sometimes I will reach out to exchange content, or just start a conversation, and see how we can maximize our efforts.
Public design contest. You can choose a contest brief from the entire design community. Designers submit their ideas, and then the contest owner chooses their favorite design. Some people against this because they fear that the contest owner will steal an idea. I don't actually care, ideas are cheap, my goal is to build my presence and accumulate experience in working with enterprise-level customers. If I win, it is a bonus, otherwise, I will enjoy every small step.
For me, the real growth is helping people succeed. If you really believe in your knowledge, go teach somebody. You will discover new ways to improve your skills. I have been actively running workshops with startup accelerators, tech bootcamps, and universities. In the beginning, I did it for free. The more I did it, the more I realized how to standardize my courses. Now, it has become an on-demand service of Zlides.
Whenever I notice a gap, where I can talk about pitch deck design. I will make sure to provide my insights. Social media and communities have helped me a lot to get sustainable traffic. I also use these channels to collect feedback for my website, and identify opportunities for collaboration.
So, here's the nutshell. 8 ways I keep my little project running. I also created a series of regular routines and it takes about 2 hours every week.
I might be able to write a longer article to delve into the nitty gritty of my journey. Will explain in detail later!
If you like Zlides and need to create a presentation. Go get a presentation kit now!