Life of Discipline

A habit tracking tool, GitHub-calendar style.

No Employees
Founders Code
Solo Founder
Calendar
Productivity

It exists to help people build better habits using a Github-style calendar heat map. I made it because habit tracking works best if its visually appealing and no other apps were good in that department.

October 22, 2021 1st week marketing update (233 new users)
  • Sign ups: 233 new users
  • Unique landing page views: ~750 (a mix of Google Analytics and Plausible. Changed half way because GA kinda sucks big time)
  • Landing page conversion rate: 31%
  • SEO impressions: 18
  • SEO clicks: 7
  • SEO click-through-rate: 39%

This is the first time I started marketing 1 week after coding, and it's been CRAZY! Never had I ever had so many users flock to something I've made.

So let's break it down. (Warning! large body of text to follow)

First, the strategy. I started the week hoping to get 100 sign ups by focusing on 2 key marketing channels:

(1) Reddit (RESULTS: High engagement, 4 minutes spent on site on average).

I've been an active contributor to r/getdisciplined. I spent every day reading through what posts became popular and what didn't. The channel was definitely right (I mean, my site has the word "discipline" in it!), so the goal of lurking and contributing is to figure out what works. Every subreddit is different, so make sure you spend time figuring it out. Reddit marketing works, it's just hard.

r/getdisciplined is also perfect because they allow self promotion as long as the product is given free to the community. This is crucial for reddit marketing, you've got to make sure to respect their rules! For me, the goal was to get as many users as I possibly can as I am trying to build an audience base that I can impress with further iterations of my product (I also want to help as many people as possible, a key criteria for me to start on any product).

The free tier was generous enough that the opportunity cost of giving it out for free is low. What do I mean by that? Let's look at 750words.com, a B2C product that has 550k+ registered users with only 5.5k+ paid users. That's a 1% paid conversion rate. This is true for many successful B2C products. For my product, most users won't convert to premium, so giving out a limited set of premium allows me to delight my customers early on in hopes that they would spread the word for me. This system is attractive to me because of the incentive alignment – the better the product improvement, the greater the word of mouth marketing. Value for value!

I launched twice on Reddit. The first was on Tuesday night and it failed. Here it is for you guys to decipher it on your own first before I give out my take on it: https://www.reddit.com/r/getdisciplined/comments/qbcavi/method_start_tracking_habits_visually_to_build/

The problem was the headline, not the length of text. Historically, the subreddit is pretty open to reading large bodies of text. However, the headline wasn't appealing enough.

For the second launch, I tweaked the content and the headline to be more direct. It worked! Here it is: https://www.reddit.com/r/getdisciplined/comments/qc0p70/method_i_made_a_habit_tracker_and_its_free_for/

(2) Hacker News (RESULTS: High traffic but lower engagement. Average time spent of 1 minute per visitor)

Here is the submission: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28926112

This brought in the bulk of the traffic, about 20% higher than Reddit, but the engagement was lower. That's expected because this is a secondary distribution channel and users coming from this channel aren't focused on habit building. They probably checked it out because they were curious.

Notice the title of the submission. Since this was GitHub inspired and HackerNews is well, full of hackers, I decided to add GitHub into to the title. No point doing this in reddit since it is unlikely that the they would know what GitHub is. I did the same thing with Indie Hackers for the same reason.

(3) SEO

For this, I did not intend it to be something to focus on during the week. However, I did try to optimise the headers to rank appropriately on Google. SEO is a long game, and people do search for habit tracking so this is important.

What is interesting, though, is that people actually search for it on Google so early on. I suppose the term they used was "lifeofdiscpline" on Google. Now this isn't a purely organic search. Since the search data tells me that the majority of SEO came from mobile, it probably happened when they typed it into their URL bar on their mobile browser. This is exciting because it can mean 2 very important things: (1) the user heard about it from their friend and searched for it or (2) is a returning user.

Anyhow, Google's Search Console isn't showing up the proper search terms. We'll see in the weeks to come if this is true.

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That's all the updates for now. Next week will be a 50-50 split between development and marketing. I'll be focusing on engaging the existing users by creating a feedback system while building on an email service for the 233 emails I've gotten. The T&C states that by signing up they agree to a MAXIMUM of 1 email per month, but there is currently no way to unsubscribe. I'll be building that too.

October 17, 2021 Unintended validation?!

Okay, so I intend on launching my product gradually over the coming week starting from 19th of October. But yesterday, I chanced upon a post on reddit in r/Productivity asking for app suggestions and I thought it was a good idea to plug my website in. It was probably 95% ready, but who cares.

This morning when I woke up, 6 users signed on! Holy shit that felt great. The reddit posts didn't even have much views and had no upvotes (I commented on the post pretty late, so my comment was pushed way to the bottom). If 10 people visited my landing page and 6 converted, that's a 60% conversion rate! The landing page works!

Here's the post... Pretty basic: https://www.reddit.com/r/productivity/comments/q955zy/best_productivity_books_and_apps_hit_me_with_your/hgusu2y/?context=3

Can't wait to properly launch it next week.

October 16, 2021 Validation, check. MVP, check.

Done! The fastest project I ever did. Coded in 1 week and ready to launch next week. Will be spending the entire of next week on marketing efforts; 50-50 split in time for code & marketing, the first time I'm doing this.

This project is the 3rd completed project I did since learning how to code 1+ years ago. The first 2 were textbook failures – didn't spend any time on validation, jumped right in to 2+ months of coding to solve a problem I thought existed, and did little to no marketing. My time split between code and marketing was probably 99-to-1. Dumb me, I was living in denial.

So this time I'm doing it differently. I'm solving a problem me and millions face (habit trackers are everywhere, goodbye novel ideas!), and will be spending a bulk of my time on distribution and marketing.

The upcoming posts will be about my marketing efforts and their results. Let's go!

October 15, 2021 The idea

I started tracking my habits after reading Atomic Habits but found existing apps to be very visually demotivating. Also, they are apps that have to be downloaded which was a big barrier to me (how 2015!, at least for productivity apps...) I know, UI/UX is NOT a product. But in the case of building a habit which is likened to a psychological war, visual cues are extremely important.

So I hacked together an excel habit tracker that uses data validation to colour code it for visual motivation and it kinda worked! Over time though, as I was tracking more and more habits, keying in multiple habits that I was tracking was getting really tedious. And the more entries I made, the uglier they looked. The uglier they looked and the more tedious they became, the worst my motivation got.

Back when I was learning code, I've always been motivated by Github's contribution calendar. I always wanted to do something similar on my excel tracker but it super tedious! I could do it with VBA, but I didn't know the language. Since I now knew how to code websites, I decided to create a web app. 1 week later, lifeofdiscipline.com was born!

About

It exists to help people build better habits using a Github-style calendar heat map. I made it because habit tracking works best if its visually appealing and no other apps were good in that department.