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64 Comments

I made a mistake.

Yep, I f****d up.

I've never been quite into forums and online discussions, but now that I'm building a product I started getting more into it, in an attempt to promote what I'm doing, to attract visitors and get some traction.

A couple of weeks ago I posted about my project on /r/learnprogramming, and it went well, 1.6k upvotes and almost 7k visitors in a single day.

I thought to myself: "cool, I found a place to share it and I'll double down on it".

I let the dust settle.

And the time for the second post came. Yesterday.

What I didn't know though, is that I was spamming.

Even though I had all the best intentions, and I simply included a link to my project in the middle of a post about "think less, ship more", I was again promoting my project.

I got banned from that subrredit and now I lost my best distribution channel, so far.

The problem? I haven't been participating in other discussions. I haven't been answering people on other threads. I'm so deep into building my thing that I barely allow myself to take the time to get into other people's discussion.

And that's wrong.

I shouldn't be building for myself. I should build for everyone. And for that to work, I need to listen. And I need to help.

So today I got up at 6am. It's 10:29am now. I haven't touched the code. Instead, I polished my lists on Twitter, answered a few folks, read about engaging on the internet and am now making this confession.

What yesterday felt bad, today feels good.

I'm onto fixing that problem. And I'm onto becoming a better indie hacker.

  1. 7

    Don't be too hard on yourself :) The web is a big place. You'll find other places. The same has happened to many. Self-promotion is getting (ridiculously) hard in some places, even if the intentions are good.

    I just wrote about niche online communities, might be of help for you to find other places to engage in: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/signals-10-niche-communities-6aa657a639

    1. 0

      Thanks for the calming words, Timo.
      I agree that there's plenty of other places to put the word out, but it was a good signal of how I should approach doing it from now on.
      Learn by doing, right?
      Cool, I'll check out your post now, thanks for sending it! :)

      1. 2

        I agree with Timo, go easy on yourself - you've learnt a valuable lesson, and it's something you can recover from.

        On the other hand I've posted ads on Reddit that got absolutely roasted in the process - not really fun at all.

        Since you're here, how about a link to what you're working on :)

        1. 1

          Thank you, Alan, really.

          I agree, there's always a lesson to be learnt.

          Sure, here it is, https://devresourc.es.
          Feel free to suggest your favourites or creations.

  2. 5

    It's all part of the game. Mistakes are ok, you didn’t know it was wrong. Reddit is a tough place and everybody freaks out to be too pushy. As a marketer I also find it hard to make the most out of this platform. There is a rule saying that 80% of your content should be entertaining and sharing, only 20% should be about you.
    My team and I set a challenge: we have to comment daily on communities. We did it because before the people like what you make, they first should like you.

    1. 3

      Exactly, I learnt about this ratio only yesterday.
      It's fine, really. In fact, I'm happy this happened because it made me stop and think about my approach.
      As we say in Portuguese, "there are evils that come for good".
      Your approach is right, you're building a reputation, so you can take the most out of it.

    2. 2

      before the people like what you make, they first should like you.

      @Calista110 point

  3. 3

    All good mate but solid step to take a moment to reflect on this and take away what you can 🤙

    1. 1

      Thanks, Stefan. The important thing is to learn, with successes and failures.

  4. 3

    Can relate to that 100%! I had the same issue with Bigger Pockets when I just replied to a thread asking to recommend syndication software with a link to a site that I’m promoting. Before that post I never replied to any other posts or posted anything valuable. I agree that we first need to add value before reaping the benefits of any platform.

    1. 1

      Exactly, this is a game that takes time and effort.

      It's not only about coming and dropping what we want, there's a lot of collaboration that should be done before.

  5. 3

    Dude. You know how to get people's attention. I read your post. I basically never do that. I'm impressed.

    1. 1

      😂
      That's a very nice compliment, thanks!

  6. 2

    Takes courage for you to own up to your mistake. I think we're always learning, so I'd treat this as a learning experience and come out better on the other side of it. Way to go!

    1. 1

      Most definitely. I'm a believer in learning by trial and error. Life has already shown me that it's equally important to know what's wrong or what one doesn't like as it is the opposite.

  7. 2

    I wouldn't stress... some of these mods are just dying to ban people.

    Just say 3 hail marys and you'll be good.

  8. 2

    Reddit is garbage. It is not a distribution channel. It is a negativity contest. It is like you throw a beautiful plate in front of them and they start shooting at it. Don't spare a thought. Shared there and got banned too. Try Facebook Groups that may be related to you and check if they have the terrible no-ads policy.

    1. 1

      Yeah, it seems a bit hard to share stuff there. But still, it was a lesson learnt. Even here, or Facebook, or anywhere else, it's better to create a connection with people before asking for anything.

      I'll check Facebook groups, haven't thought of that. Thanks!

      1. 2

        You're right about the connection part. :)
        Cheers. Hope it works.

  9. 2

    Oh well, I realize maybe I'll do the same thing later. Thank you for reminding me 😊

  10. 2

    Reddit is tricky sometimes. I've tried promoting articles and resources in the past, without realizing each subreddit has their own strict rules. While some allow "self promotion", it's always best to only post in a community that you're regularly active in. Not only will your engagement strengthen your understanding of the community, but you'll be a more trusted and familiar member once you do post.

    1. 1

      Exactly! Sharing anything will resonate way better after people know who you are and the value you can provide. That's the power of creating an audience, right?

      I'm onto fixing the sharing/consuming ratio.

  11. 2

    Hey @marcelcruz.

    Ouch, that probably didn't feel too good getting banned from that subreddit. Reddit is brutal when it comes to their rules. I'm building a personal finance app and got banned from the /personalfinance subreddit so I know how you must feel. Good job putting in the time away from your product to focus on building engadgement though! That's really important.

    Once you build up a community, your loyal early adopters can post on those subreddits and facebook pages for you- as long as they like your product!

    1. 2

      Hi Tony!

      Yeah, so you know how it feels, right? I don't know about you, but I didn't see that coming, it was a noobie move, I'm not even used to Reddit, but the best way to learn is by experience, so all good!

      Best of luck with your app!

      1. 2

        Yep— Made soooo many mistakes and I’m sure I’ll keep making more but that’s also the fun aspect of building! You learn as you go. Protip — when it comes time to open a bank for your company use Mercury instead of SVB. I made the mistake of going with SVB. Their platform / UI is so outdated 🥲

        1. 2

          Thank you for letting me know, that's something I didn't make any research about yet, so it's good to have some recommendations.

          1. 2

            Np, feel free to reach out if you need any help.

  12. 2

    Building hype off the 3rd party forums is hard. It's a blessing the IH community is more welcoming for your spam and repeat posts. Enjoy!

    1. 1

      Indeed, folks around here are very welcoming, and it feels good to share with you all.

  13. 2

    Thanks for posting this. I'm in the very early stages of promoting my product after a lot of hard work, and I realized a little while ago that I'm doing the same thing and not giving back. It was important for me to realize that this is a community: listening, teaching, and supporting others are crucial to its survival!

    1. 1

      Yes, it is so important to contribute, not only consume or want something.
      I'm happy you're also aware of that. :)
      Best of luck!

  14. 2

    Hey Marcel!

    You maybe made a mistake, but your post made me realize I was doing the same thing, always reading on IH and never interacting - and here I'm :)

    Happy hacking

    1. 1

      I'm happy that this brought you some value.
      I need to admit that I also use to only consume, never contribute to conversations, but since last year I started becoming active, mostly on Twitter, and now I feel a bit more comfortable in saying what I know and what I experience.

      Best of luck with your journey!

  15. 2

    Reach out to the mods and explain the situation. At the end of the day they are also humans and they might be understanding about the situation.

    1. 1

      Did it, and they keep their decision. 🤷‍♂️

  16. 2

    This exact thing happened to me back in 2017. To be honest with you, some communities are more forgiving than others, and Reddit isn't one of them. I personally use Reddit to just help people when they post about questions I can answer.

    One lesson I've learned recently about distribution is to collaborate with someone who can benefit from the piece of content or work I'm doing by reaching out before write the content. It helps when someone other than yourself is also distributing the work.

    Good luck and def don't be discouraged. There are million ways to put your yourself out there :)

    1. 2

      Indeed, Reddit is a bit strict, I can see, even with my little experience there.

      You're right, I'm sure that partnering up with someone would help me distribute the product. But here lays another concern of mine: having to take the time, which is very constrained now, to onboard and play along with someone else.

      This indie hacking thing has so many moving pieces, and it feels there's never enough time for everything. Still, I love it!

      Thanks for the words, Shar!

  17. 2

    I always get anxiety when posting to Reddit about any webdev stuff. The reactions could go in any direction.

    I wanted to post my newly-launched app on /r/webdev for SaturdayShowoff but I couldn't with my new account. So I'm engaging in discussions and trying to build a rapport first.

    Promotion takes a lot of time and it's time away from actually building stuff ☹️

    1. 1

      To be honest, I also get a bit anxious, we never know what the response is gonna be like.
      I found out about this Saturday Showoff thing yesterday, so I guess I'll prepare for next weekend. What does it take to participate? Karma?

      1. 2

        A combination of factors. Account age, participation, karma. It's not very clear how much karma you should have, so I just started to monitor the subreddit and try to help whenever I can.
        I'll try posting again next Saturday but it's a pretty slow forum, so it may take a while to form a relationship.

        1. 1

          I'll try to understand this system a bit better and be more active there.
          Thanks for clarifying!

  18. 2

    All in the game. If you're not getting banned from time to time, you're probably not trying hard enough 🙂 (specifically reddit, which is very sensitive)

    1. 1

      That made me laugh out loud.
      Yeah, we need to keep on trying, but I'll just try to play by the rules from now on.
      Thanks for the words, Chris!

  19. 2

    Don't be that hard on yourself. I have a love-hate relationship with reddit, a lot of times it's a toxic place.
    If you truly care about reddit, there's a REALLY SIMPLE solution: do exactly what you did, but do it as advertising, and target that specific niche (you can target subreddits).
    It's quite simple. And depending on what you want, it might be quite cheap as well.

    1. 1

      Indeed, I was considering putting some ads there, as I noticed my product resonates well with beginners, and they hang out quite a lot there.

      Thanks for the words!

      1. 2

        Good thinking! Good luck!

  20. 2

    The hardest thing is to recognize when you made a mistake; you took a huge step here, and what you learned will help you in the future. Good luck with your project!

    1. 1

      Indeed. I spent hours yesterday going over that, just thinking of how my approach has been, and that's why I'm happy this happened, because I found a mistake on my approach.

  21. 2

    Thanks for sharing Marcel. Reddit moderators stick to their rules - which is good. I messed up a few times with this as well. I learned to read and understand guidelines pretty quick.

    1. 1

      Yes, they seem to be strict indeed. And I agree this is good.
      From now on I'll make sure to know which grounds I'm stepping into.

  22. 2

    Awesome job Marcel. Best of wishes!

    1. 1

      Thank you Brayden, we also learn from our mistakes.

  23. 2

    Reddit can be an iffy place. If you drop a link, they come back with pitchforks.

    1. 1

      Yeah, they have strict rules, but I believe is for the best. The mistake was mine, but no problem, it's an opportunity for growth.

  24. 2

    @marcelcruz So glad to see that you spoke about this openly. Most people fail to even recognize that they have issue within themselves! Kudos to your spirit and I hope you keep getting better and better!

    1. 1

      Thank you for saying it. I do try and be open about all things that happen in my life, and this has only brought me into good relationships and conversations.

      1. 2

        Keep it up! Wish you the best success haha!

  25. 1

    Would you update the title to reflect the content of this post? It's clickbaity.

    1. 1

      To be honest, the title describes exactly how I felt on Sunday.

  26. 1

    @marcelcruz Give yourself a pat on the back! It's hard to admit when we go wrong, leave alone talking about it in a community! Reddit is really strict about these promotions which actually makes it very difficult to use as a effective channel.

    Just keep working on your idea and I'm sure it will get recognized by people very soon! Wish you all the best!

    1. 1

      Thank you for the kind words, Harsh. It does feel good sharing what happened, and the support I'm receiving here is amazing. 🙏

  27. 1

    Well said. It's a tough balance, participating and promoting. If I may ask, what sub?

    1. 2

      It is indeed! Especially when you're burning through your savings trying to ship and get traction as much as you can. There has to be a balance.
      It was on /r/learnprogramming.

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