I made a big mistake.
It was at the end of December of 2019, and I started working right away on my idea. Nomadmail. A platform to send newsletters.
I spent six months working on it, every day, from Monday to Sunday, until I had an MVP. I was very proud of what I created, and I wanted to share it with the world.
The results, you all know by now. Zero clients.
I was expecting people to try it, at least out of curiosity or to think about using it. But no one did.
Is the project a failure because I have zero clients?
1 - The site only had around 4K visits so far. That's not enough.
2 - From those people, 99% were visits from places like Indie Hackers, Product Hunt, BetaList, etc. Are they my clients?
I have two big reasons to consider this a failure:
I still need to put six or twelve more months.
My two biggest competitors are ConvertKit and Substack.
When I look at these two solutions, I prefer nomadmail. It's easier and simpler to use. And I like that.
ConvertKit is adding more and more features, so that's beyond want I wanted to create. And for many people, those features are not needed. ConvertKit is going away from being a newsletter platform to become a hub for content creators.
Substack is simpler, but I found it a bit confusing. And they take around 12% of what you make.
The problem is...
Substack has more features. Paid newsletters, static pages, a better writing editor, and other things. If I want to create those, I need to spend at least another 6 months. Or more!
And for what? Adding more features is not going to help with finding clients because they won't see them.
I am sure that you can make a lot of money from a service like nomadmail. TinyLetter is going to disappear someday, and Substack charges a lot to have paid subscribers.
I see nomadmail as a mix of both. If I add paid newsletters and keep it simple like Tinyletter, I may have an interesting product.
The problem is, if I code, I can't do sales or marketing. It seems to me that there are at least 3 full-time jobs to do simultaneously, and that's too big for me.
I was naive when I started.
What was my big mistake?
I wanted to create a Micro-Saas. I wasn't looking to be a big company. I thought to have 500-1000 clients and make 10/20K per month.
I wanted to create a family business. Pay salaries for a couple of people and flying low. I wasn't looking for attention. I didn't want to be the greatest entrepreneur.
My big mistake was to think that creating a SaaS business was easy. At least easier. I was expecting to have 50/100 clients in the first couple of months. I thought: "Internet is big, they will come."
And there is some truth to that, but I learned after that you need and find them. Or spend money on ads. Or both.
And I don't know how to do it, and I don't have a budget for that or the experience.
What do I mean by "I quit"?
When I said that I quit, I meant: big projects that keep me attached to my desk for years and infinity hours. Projects that you can never say: done. A SaaS is never done.
If you are starting today, you should start small. You need to learn first. Starting by creating a SaaS is too big and risky in time, money, and effort.
Last week I created and launched slideslist.com. It took me a week to create it. It had some visits and no sales, but it doesn't matter. No risks were taken and minimal effort (compared with nomadmail).
And that's why you should think about quitting too. You should quit trying to create a big project or even Micro-SaaS. The "micro" doesn't reflect the effort you need to put in anyway.
So, I quit creating big projects, and everyone who starts should do the same.
Create something small in less than a month and try to sell it. You will see how hard it is and how many people tell you: "nice! I will take a look later" And they will never do. So then you learn, and you keep trying small things until you have enough experience.
Even enough experience to realize that creating a SaaS is NOT for you. Like I learned.
Know yourself and your goals
I started this to be free. And being free involves, of course, having more money.
But how much?
There are two things that we should acknowledge: the ideal and the good enough.
If I dream big, the ideal would be around 10K per month. That's a good amount of money but nothing too crazy. But I did the maths, I don't need more. Plane tickets, hotels, travels, mental peace, rent in a nice place, beautiful food and restaurants, and saving some money, of course.
I don't want to buy a fancy car or a big house. With that amount of money, I will be rich for my lifestyle.
But, there is also the good enough. And it is around 5K per month. With that, I can do pretty much the same things but less often. Like if I travel to New York and want to stay there for a month, I can't, but I could do it for a week. Things like that.
Do I need to create a SaaS for that?
Probably not. The problem with a SaaS is that I gave my freedom away by doing things that I wasn't enjoying. I like to create. But I didn't like spending every single hour of the day adding more features and at the same time trying to find clients.
If that's what you want, that's fantastic, go ahead and start a SaaS. But that's not what I wanted.
I romanticized the idea of travel and writing. And that's what I want. I wanted to make money to write, to share lessons on the things that I think are valuable for people to have a better and more balanced life.
If I wanted to write. Why was I spending my time creating a SaaS?
What's next for me
I realized thanks to the article I published, I may not have to create a SaaS to start living the life I want.
People paid me for it, and I made a good amount of money. It paid my rent for the month, and that blew my mind.
So I decided:
The newsletter is called Balance. The first one is about the effects of writing a viral article, and I will send it next Sunday.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it!