What I learn about making your product 'paid' and building an audience...

Hi friends, I've been in Indie Hacker community for around 2 months (nice community), and after some time I realize we are facing the same issue, either building an audience, solving our own problems, pricing our product, and so on.

I have released some products to either ProductHunt, Twitter, Indie Hacker, Hacker News, (not reddit, though, it's blocked in my country). You can view them here https://www.producthunt.com/@ricardosawir/made and https://ricardosawir.medium.com

I've tried both charging upfront my product (Unstock, isolated stock site) and have also gone the free route.

Unstock is quite amazing, speaking from Product Hunt's upvotes. It garnered around 140+ votes.

Hold that thought.

Votes != $$$

Big upvotes are not the same as income. I have not yet made any money from Unstockt.

It proves to me that people don't really want to get their wallet to but stock photos.

why did you choose to charge?

I was inspired to charge this because I was learning from some notable makers who have suggested that we should do "real validation" by asking the user to pay.

  1. https://levels.io/idea-validation/
  2. https://medium.com/@kitze/github-stars-wont-pay-your-rent-8b348e12baed

They're right.

But, I may be biased here, but you need to know that they can say that because...

they have followers (or audience).

As of this writing, I have 44 followers in Twitter. 0 in mailing lists. Not much in other.

If you're struggling to acquire users/starting out/0subscribers/0followers, I humbly tell you...

Build your audience first.

It's supported by a notable maker, too.

And you know, I also disagreed at first with that.

I thought I can sell my product even without audience before. Well, sort of. I sold 1 copy of this https://gumroad.com/l/50phpcode

But, I now am facing with the reality that my bank account is depleting faster than I thought, I don't think I want to "experiment risky" way just to prove I can sell my product without audience.

You may also have objection that there are makers who are able to sell without meaningful audience. But, please don't tell me that they are freelancing. I am also a freelancer and have clients.

The audience in 'freelancers' world and 'bootstrapper' world are different in my opinion.

My TLDR; freelancer is about selling your time and bootstrapping is about selling your value.

Back to the topic, my argument is that makers who are able sell without audience may either have hit a 0,1% posting at hacker news and somehow they upvote and it gets to front-page. Or either they get to be upvoted in reddit or product hunt or whatever.

Or may be they were at the best time hitting a journalist friend and he/she covers their product on LIfeHacker/The Next Web/ etc.

I don't think I want to go that route again. (Yes, I've tried them, too). It really does not worth much.

I want to share this because I don't want you who read this experience this same route.

Trying to sell into the void. It's uncomfortable. I mean, literally nobody give their attention to your product.

Don't repeat my mistakes. I've taken that path. and I assure you, you don't want to go that route.

Instead, invest your time to build your audience.

Connect with other fellow indie hackers. Internet is already full of cold strangers. No one will take you if you don't provide them values.

Try to grow to your first 1000 followers/subscribers/whatever.

Don't count for those you cold outreach.

Try to earn organic followers. They will hold with you.

You want to target those who will follow you. Not only the values you bring to them. This will make you "the only one" who can provide value with them.

No one will be able to compete with you.

And at that state, we will be able to say "the real validation of my product is by people paying it."

how to build an audience?

I spent time searching this online how we can build audience, but most of the answers are about "giving values" which are not certainly helping at all.

But, it contains the truth. Most people follow/subscribe because they experience the values.

So here I collect some steps you can directly use.

I hate to say this, but if you want to be successful, you need to be able to sell.

You need to be able to build your audience.

Product doesn't sell.

At least, not until you can get the word of mouth. If no one talk about your product, you're finished.

I can pay ads, does that solve?

Maybe, but ads are more like a booster rather than giving you true audience. It doesn't really solve the root problem.

What's next?

I'm also learning to build my audience. If you're interested to follow my journey, you're welcome to follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/RicardoSawir

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