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Sean Walker
2020-10-13

Foreword

I wrote this in like 10 minutes and it’s a very rough outline of how I think about new side projects after years of failure. Oh I’m also still failing so don’t take this as a good way to think about your side projects.

Anyway I thought this might be useful to look back on if I ever thought, “how come I never made a profitable web app?".

The main takeaway from this is how I outline the different phases:

  1. First version is a static website
  2. It’s got three different “launches” (although I know nothing about the market so still kind of sucks because I don’t know where a high impact launch would come from)
  3. It also has a concrete goal: 1k page views a month with a 10% growth rate
  4. Phase two, if phase one is successful, is where I actually put effort and write code
  5. Phase two doesn’t have a goal since it’s 3-6 months out so no point in worrying about that, since it might not ever happen.

Writing out a side project plan is really helpful for me, and it’s kind of like writing code:

It really helps me to define the output since that’s something I’ve never done before, so it’s hard to see what success looks like. I usually either keep something going for years or shut it down in months like some kind of basecamp/google evil hybrid.

Anyway, rough waters ahead, read at your own peril:

Turning “bullseye” into a SaaS app

Bullseye is a growth technique for SaaS apps/websites where you group things into 19 different growth channels and keep track of which ones are working via analytics. It’s outlined in the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg of duckduckgo fame.

In the book it’s shown as a spreadsheet, but I think it could be possible to bring it to market as a SaaS. This is the strategy I would take:

First step

First version:

A list of growth marketing SaaS apps:

And this would be a list of logo, name, pricing tiers, features, pros/cons for each

Maybe a calculator that sums up how much you’d be spending if you went with a given set of these apps?

This first version would be a static website, with 3 distinct launch phases

Launch phases

First launch (day 1-30):

Keep going with the content marketing/SEO

Week 1: Just tweet it out with my personal account, not going to get a ton here

Week 2: Indie hackers account/project, answer/ask questions on forum?

Week 3: Quora questions/answers?

Week 4: more building/keep prices up to date?

Second launch (day 30-60):

Keep going with the content marketing/SEO

Week 1: DM growth marketers on twitter asking what they think? If it helps them? Or maybe just general advice about growth marketing? Could also try to launch a podcast where I interview growth marketers about their lives/work. Just to grow the bullseye brand?

Week 2: Join open growth marketer communities (slack groups, gitter/discord?) and try to learn/ask questions?

Week 3: ???

Week 4: check prices/features of each SaaS, keep them up to date

Third launch (day 60):

Keep going with the content marketing/SEO

Week 1: Product hunt

Week 2: ???

Week 3: ???

Week 4: ???

launched on product hunt, possibly reddit, twitter, the goal is to get some interest, not to sell anything. Just kind of to get established in the growth marketing space.

Another tactic for growth at this stage is to DM big growth marketers on twitter and ask them to either RT something or just ask them what they think about this list, is it complete? Any favorite tools I’m missing that they’d like to see? Anything I can do for them? Possible 15 minute chat for their hourly rate?

If there’s any traction, defined by ~1k page views/mo for 3 months, maybe some kind of growth trajectory there too?

Sustained growth rate of 10% ? Could be too aggressive?

Affiliate links where I can get them?

This might be the end of it. If I can’t grow it further. Might give it 6 months instead of 3.

Second step

This one is a smooth transition up the value chain hopefully. From negative cashflow (assuming the chats for $$) to positive cashflow.

Add voting and social features, like:

Not sure how to do those last two, maybe webhooks/api integrations with SaaS apps or maybe a list of links with ?ref query strings to your product that you send out using these apps?

Changing from a static site to a dynamic site.

Start charging $$$ for this stuff, $49/mo for individuals, $99/mo for businesses, $499/mo for enterprises

Odds are this second step won’t happen haha