Basic Problem

A free newsletter, listing problems waiting to be solved.

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I myself stumbled too often into the build trap, making stuff nobody besides me needed. So I decided to offer a source of problems and ideas for others to build a solid foundation for their next side project or startup.

October 10, 2021 Paused the newsletter after exactly one year

After one year, come hell or high water, of consistently writing an issue every week, there won't be any more weekly mails anytime soon. Instead, I'll focus on releasing and marketing another project.

So, why am I stopping writing this weekly newsletter? The funny thing about my newsletter is that it was not planned as a newsletter. Basic Problem started as an MVP. My hypothesis to test: entrepreneurs are more interested in problems to solve instead of spontaneous or ready-made ideas. Problem first, solution second. And the quickest way to test seemed to be a landing page with a signup form.

My hypothesis did not hold. Well, truth be told, I never followed through. Over time, I found more and more other (dead) projects trying to tackle the "problem space." Furthermore, there are a gazillion products covering trends, research, analyses, and ideas of all shapes and sizes. Therefore Basic Problem evolved into a newsletter where I shared what I found interesting as an indie hacker and what I learned along the way while building more products.

But with a full-time day job and limited time at hand, I had to make a decision where to put my energy. And I decided against the newsletter as it started to become a drag and I don't see a way to deliver you the value you deserve.

Then again, the final issue was called the "season finale." I'll keep the mailing list open and when I have something great and interesting to share, I'll write about it.

January 4, 2021 Got my first coffee with issue #12

Long time no update, as Basic Problem, well, just runs. Yesterday, I sent out issue #12 to 169 subscribers. Good to see that the subscriber count rises slowly but steadily.

And tonight, through Buy Me a Coffee, I got the first donation which is directly attributable to my newsletter 🎉

October 25, 2020 Issue #2 released

Second issue of Basic Problem just went out to 62 subscribers. Last week's edition had not a single bounce, no churn yet, and an open rate of 30%.

Amazing to see that the subscription count almost doubled from last week, taking into account that my main referral source is still just a low-cost Google Ads campaign. Frustrating thing is that I could have hundreds of contacts in the Mailchimp Audience. But only a fraction of sign-ups finish the GDPR-imposed double-opt-in step. Some sign-ups might be bots, some misspelled email addresses, rest probably got eaten by a spam filter.

I also added my newsletter to most directories from https://www.indiehackers.com/post/list-of-newsletter-directories-dfb6499dfb, but visitors from those sites are rare yet.

October 18, 2020 First issue is out :D

Issue one of Basic Problem just went out to 35 subscribers. I'm so excited taking the next step.

Basically, this first issue is a Wizard of Oz test. Content is curated manually from selected sources.

Now I'm curious about feedback from the recipients. How many bounces, opens, clicks? Any churn? Any written feedback? Looking forward to this.

October 5, 2020 First subscriptions!

The Google Ads campaign is running for almost two weeks now. I have an average CTR of about 2.4% . Still working on the quality score though.

Aaaaand I have my first subscribers :D Real ones I guess, after double opt-in and all. Sounds great, but that's only a conversion rate of about 1.2%.

Next question: when do I consider my idea validated?

September 23, 2020 Started Google Ads campaign

What good is a landing page when no one knows about it? So, next learning step: get to know Google Ads. Finding ad groups was quite easy. Finding good keywords proved to be more challenging. As for the ad assets: good thing there are responsive ads ;)

August 27, 2020 Finished landing page

Good thing I still have that Carrd account. Building a simple landing page was easy as I already had experience using Carrd, including creating awfully long privacy pages needed in Europe.

Mailchimp turned out to have a steeper learning curve. The UI is kind of confusing in addition to all the new nomenclature. Nevertheless, by end of August I had a decent landing page including sign-up forms.

August 5, 2020 Problem first, solution second

Everyone tells you that. Find a problem first before you start building. Didn't stop me from stumbling into the build trap with earlier projects. So why not use that personal fail in combination with my love for research to provide a product for problem solvers?

About

I myself stumbled too often into the build trap, making stuff nobody besides me needed. So I decided to offer a source of problems and ideas for others to build a solid foundation for their next side project or startup.