When I finally published SVG Flipbook last year I thought this was going to be the one, the indie hack that actually works.
However, soon after I launched the Stripe integration with trial signups in December, this happened:
People are signing up plenty, but then they never open the app. I just figured people were allergic to the idea of paying for the product, lol.
Fast forward to today. A trial user sent me an email: "why doesn't the app work after I sign up?" I try to log in, and it doesn't work. Wat.
There's a bug in the trial expiry check code. Nobody has been able to log in for months. People have been signing up and then silently bouncing. This explains perfectly why there are constant signups, without anybody using the app. Epic facepalm.
Today I fixed it. Trial signups are open again. Fingers crossed!
It was a clear night over the Indian Ocean. Distant burning nuclear cores reduced to harmless twinkles in the sky by the epic distance. We four friends gathered on the beach for the first time in 15 years, casting our rods into the black ocean, laughing and drinking. I walked up the beach to get some distance so my line would not get entangled with anybody else, and cast out.
As I stood there listening to the ancient rhythmic wash of the sea, the cool wind whipping about my head, I suddenly had a realization: indie hacking is fishing.
For one thing, you know that others have caught fish before. Many come home empty handed, but for sure some people do indeed catch fish. We know because we've heard the stories and seen the videos. There are those who have caught true whoppers, and those who have caught mere minnows. Some even educate, writing blogs, running TV shows, and sharing techniques so that others might fish successfully too. You can pay attention to these successful fishers, listen to their advice and up your game.
You don't know where the fish are. The wavy black sea is opaque. You know there are fish in the ocean for sure, but are they in this particular part of the ocean? Are they looking for the type of bait you're offering? Have you used the right rod, hook, line, sinker, floats? Should you cast out and wait, or play the line to actively lure your fish? At first you think you're looking for salmon, but is it actually perch who seek your bait?
At the end of the day you must take a leap of faith. You've read some blogs, got some tips from friends, watched the pros, and assembled some gear. You must stack all the probabilities in your favor as best you can. You must pick a spot on the shore and thread the bait on the hook.
And when you've done all that, tried your best, then you must cast your line out into the water. It comes back empty again and again, and you must cast again.
As I was standing there thinking this, moonlit puffs of glowing cloud had closed over, as I gazed upward at the sky. What was that? I felt a tug. A strange rippling on the line. Something was out there on the end of the hook. Yes, I had caught a fish.
I reeled in the line to see.
It's now possible to sign up, subscribe, and actually pay for SVG Flipbook. \o/
Feels like it took forever to get to this point but it's finally done.
Very grateful to this community for all of the great feedback you have on the landing page and screencast. Thank you!
Now it's time to double down on the marketing efforts.
Have a great Xmas!
I checked the analytics page of SVG Flipbook today and realized that people have exported just over 150 animated SVGs from the tool. 🎉
Very gratifying. People are getting value from my creation, even in beta. I'm currently working on the signup & payments. Once that's done I'll be doing some launches on PH etc.
I've found the advice from this community super useful. I've used that advice to reach out to users for feedback, to build a content marketing plan, and to up my Twitter user-engagement game (more on that later - it's working well).
Any feedback from SVG enthusiasts here who try out the tool is super welcome! 🙏
I finally got some analytics working in SVG Flipbook (privacy friendly and anonymous) and I'm opening them up for all to see. I've had some good numbers this month with 15k user-minutes spent in the app during the past month. \o/
I only just added the "svg loaded" metric so you can ignore that one for now!
Next thing on my list is bug fixes, and then figure out how to price this thing. Do I keep it free and charge for premium features? Ask the user to subscribe after a certain amount of use? Make it completely paid? I also have no idea how much to charge. Any advice is super welcome!
I don't have Adobe Illustrator myself but a designer friend of mine helped me out by supplying some test SVGs created in Illustrator, and now SVG Flipbook supports Illustrator, yay!
I'm seeing some good growth in use of the app in the last few days but it's a bit early to tell whether its just a blip or actually exponential. Will post graphs when I know.
After struggling with desktop builds and binary signing and platform issues for months I found that I was not working on the app despite a strong signal from the market that people are willing to pay for the functionality in the form of 8 sales.
Finally I figured out this was due to the frustration of dealing with desktop platforms. I decided to re-launch this as SVG Flipbook, a web app which runs next to your SVG editor and lets you animate your creations.
I raised the price of SVG Animation Assistant for Windows to $9 and then crossed my fingers. People were willing to buy it at $2.25 but were they willing to pay more?
Imagine my delight when somebody not only paid $9 but elected to pay an extra five buck donation for a total of $14!
Another strong signal that this software is useful enough to people that they will throw down extra cash without even being asked.
I made three more sales at this price over the following months.
After releasing SVG Animation Assistant as a Windows and uploading it to itch.io I posted about it on some forums related to Inkscape. I put the app on "MVP sale" at $2.25 and then waited.
Nothing happened for about a month, then suddenly one day the first purchase came through!
After this I made 8 sales over the subsequent months. Not ramen profitability but certainly a positive signal from the market. People are willing to pay for this thing!
After thinking about this idea for a decade I actually sat down and started coding an implementation. I built it using web tech with the view to publishing a desktop application using Electron or Node Webkit.
I finished coding the MVP after a few days work and published the Windows binary on itch.io:
Searched for "Inkscape Animation" for 10 years and finally decided to scratch my own itch with this SVG flipbook animation app.