September 16, 2020

I finally launched DynaBlogger. I'm excited... and scared

Vito Botta @SkyLinx

Hi all!

I was reading a lot of pages on this website so I decided to sign up only to find... that I already signed up a whopping 3 years ago and had forgotten about it :p I'm enjoying reading your experiences, they teach me a lot and motivate me but also contribute to my worries at times :D

Two weeks ago I finally launched my app and like the title says I am both excited and scared. I have been a web developer for many years, and have worked in various industries like travel, advertising, and a cloud management platform at my last job. But this is the very first time that I try and launch something entirely on my own. It's been just two weeks but it's already been a learning experience for several reasons - it turns out they are right when they say that building is the easy part. I am not familiar yet with marketing, accounting and other things that are required to run a SaaS.

A little while ago I had to leave my job due to personal reasons and I was forced to take a break from everything for a while. After that I decided that I wouldn't look for a new job yet, but I'd try to build something of my own instead. So I started to look for ideas/projects I could work on as a team of one. I did start working on something similar to Heroku that would work with any cloud provider, but at the time I felt it was quite ambitious as a project for a single person so I decided to postpone it to later and try something more approachable for now.

I have been a blogger for many years and have used several blogging platforms, from powerful content management systems like Wordpress to static site generators. Sites published with a static site generator are super fast and inherently secure, but somehow I always preferred using a proper app designed for the purpose of publishing content.

Wordpress is very powerful, and it has grown into a beast that can do a lot of things. From my experience of more than 10 years I have never used several of its features; I just needed the most important features for publishing content, rather than for building any kind of website. I only used a very few plugins; the plugin system makes Wordpress very flexible, but unfortunately too many plugins are poorly coded and introduce either vulnerabilities or performance issues; I read complaints all the time from people whose sites get hacked or become too slow. Plus you need to keep both plugins and Wordpress itself up to date etc. I also tried Ghost, and I liked it, but that also now does more than I really need like memberships etc. Plus it's expensive.

My needs as a blogger are really simple, so I started to build an app with the features I needed to publish content and nothing more. I did see other options in the market but they exaggerate in the opposite direction by being too bare bones and offering too little customisation and features in general.

The app I am building is something between Wordpress and these minimalist apps. I am pretty sure Wordpress is overkill for many people who at the same time want something more than what is offered by those alternatives.

The app I am building is DynaBlogger (https://www.dynablogger.com) and is an entirely hosted/managed service, so you don't need to worry about servers/hosting, backups, updates and anything like that. In that sense you may compare it to the better managed Wordpress hosting services and managed Ghost. But it's simpler, to the point and affordable. No bloat, but it has a powerful and easy to use text editor and supports fully customisable themes, custom domains and collaboration (you can set various permissions for your collaborators). I only have a few themes for now, but I will be adding more over time. Soon users will also be able to share themes on a marketplace and perhaps even sell them later. Themes are super customisable with a full in-app code editor, so you can make changes and see them become effective immediately instead of having to upload a new version each time like with Ghost for example (at least last time I checked).

To make migrations easier, you can also import content from Wordpress and Ghost.

For the curious about the tech, DynaBlogger is a Ruby on Rails app with Postgres as the database, Redis for background jobs and memcached for caching. Everything is hosted in a Kubernetes cluster that I manage myself. If the app becomes popular, this setup will make it easier for me to scale as usage grows.

I am working on this full time now, and I believe it can be a great option for blogs and simple sites. It's easy to try it with the 14 days free trial (no credit card required when you pick a plan after signing up). I would appreciate a lot if you could sign up and give me as much feedback as possible. I am at a very early stage so any feedback would be extremely useful for me, especially around usability and how to better spread the message :) Thanks in advance!

ps: Both https://www.dynablogger.com and my personal blog at https://vitobotta.com are also hosted on DynaBlogger.

pps: Not sure if I am allowed to post discount codes but I can share one for who is interested in using the platform after the trial. 2 months are also free with a yearly plan.

  1. 2

    Hey Vito,

    Keep up the good work, some audience discovery could help you direct your energy in the right direction with marketing.

    I think pin-pointing WordPress/Ghost users and convincing them to switch may not be the best outcome. You just need to be in front of people who want to blog, who want to get it setup easy and get to writing/creating content/etc. DynaBlogger, "the get to blogging, blogging plaform." These could be developers, business people, professionals from all different segments and on and on.

    The core product looks really well done!

    1. 1

      Hi and many thanks for the awesome feedback! I have also realised that convincing Wordpress and Ghost users isn't as easy I hoped. Are you suggesting that I don't focus on proposing DynaBlogger as an alternative to Wordpress/Ghost? Marketing is a whole new thing for me, and I am finding myself very little prepared for this. I thought that spreading the message would be easier!

      1. 2

        Yeah, I think if you found a much smaller niche to target. Makers for instance, heck even a smaller slice of the maker community, no-code makers who want to post updates on their journey. They want fast, simple, straight to the point content creation.

        I always suggest dev's turned entrepreneurs dabble with a bit of research in copywriting. Helps you develop your messaging, can also help you think about who your market is.

        1. 1

          How would you reach to that audience specifically? Any other resources similar to indieHackers?

  2. 2

    Hey Vito, I loved your post. It reminded me back when I got started with my first product. Went through pretty much similar thoughts/feelings/fears.

    With that being said, I think you need to do some market validation for your product. You've mentioned:

    I am pretty sure Wordpress is overkill for many people who at the same time want something more than what is offered by those alternatives.

    That's an assumption that you need to test. And in your case, it looks like what you need to do is get in touch with people who use Wordpress and see if they'd be open to using something more simple. There are pros and cons in everything, and sometimes the pros outweigh the cons (no matter how big they are).

    I wish you the best of luck!

    1. 1

      Hi, and thanks a lot for your comment! I know now that I should have done some market validation and gotten in touch with the target audience in advance. I would have been more prepared to what comes after the building. But I was too focus on building that it didn't occur to me unfortunately. I will try to get in touch with some Wordpress users as you suggest. It's a bit difficult because they don't allow any kind of promotion in some communities about blogging etc that would be perfect for me...