“All of the not-so-sexy tasks I was focusing on — actually engaging customers, implementing feedback and building a library of educational content — were building momentum.”
“However, our experience has shown these numbers take care of themselves when we consistently put the customer first. ”
Same as my company. Although they employ many tricks, the customers say the main thing that keeps them coming back is (a) having what they need and (b) great service. We have many competitors, including cheaper ones, that they ignore for our level of service.
One of my default ideas for bootstrapped offerings is to clone a product at a company with shit service and marketing, make some minor changes (esp fix complaints), and offer it as something new with great marketing and service. I don’t know what the success rate will be but I’m guessing higher than random ideas. Actually, there’s a product company that does this successfully on Amazon for all sorts of things just making minor variations based on customer suggestions or complaints in comment sections. I’ll try to dig it up if anyone is interested.
This is very specific to a (small) game studio, otherwise too generic to be of use.
Hello, this might be my first post here. I think this is a valuable, underserved and important subset of the startup ecosystem. The one thing I dont have is time to read long threads; often that’s were the value is hidden in forums. I think a rating algorithm should score up brevity. Please dont let this die!
What a good timing. I just refound Barnacl.es after months of guessing which community had this great collection of articles for bootstrapers and indiehackers. I think this community is valuable and needed and would like to volunteer as well. The idea of an committee (as proposed by @mindcrime) sounds good, I would even be willing to lead it.
I know it’s hard to trust someone who just signed up, but here are my ideas of an ideal community that I recently summarized on Indiehackers: https://www.indiehackers.com/forum/how-to-create-a-warm-and-friendly-community-like-ih-913dfdeffa?commentId=-LOnGbAcLnfrKTNqZzcr
I would try to shape this community in this spirit and think it has great potential. I would love to do a survey among all members about what they like about Barnacl.es and derive what the priorities will be for the next steps.
I have little experience in Ruby, but have worked in Python and PHP for many years and should be able to get Ruby pretty quickly.
I think I would like to do this, if only just to keep it running. I’ve been mostly (only) lurking, but this space is sorely needed. Can you give me an idea of the repeating tasks you do related to maintaining this, and how much the monthly cost is?
What’s the workload?
I wish I could do it, but I have too many commitments to commit to something like this full-time as well. That said, if a group of people wanted to do something “by committee” I’d be happy to volunteer to help to some extent.
If you want to see a “who’s online” list don’t use Slack. That feature has been broken for months. My community looks dead because of it. There isn’t a way to see the online status of people without looking them up individually.
Thanks very much for this article—I’m at the “making the jump” stage but I did build some products, my website, and a network before I cut the cord. You’re absolutely right, there’s loads you can do while you’re still working, and test the viability of your plan while you’re still earning.
Slack, Discord or Gitter for devs. I don’t know why Telegram is still around.
Great that you and the community got it this far. Good luck on finding a new maintainer. I was planning on trying at some point in far future to collect Best of Barnacles in each category wrapped up in a zip or something for bootstrappers. I bet you have better ideas than me on what would go into that. Please save the database of submitted articles and tags if you have to shut it down. Worst case, site could get frozen in time where nothing new is added but existing links work and/or folks can send messages. Might still generate leads for folks that contributed to it.
The approach I have come up with which I cannot believe should be unique or even my invention is to budget against my time. At the moment, my service has £0 revenue so I need to give 80% of my time to “the suits” in order to pay for everything. I need to get to £X revenue before I can get away with giving 0% of my time to “the suits”.
You may then think that this means I have 20% of my time to go toward increasing revenue, but that is just the most conservative option. I could find a way to loan myself 40% time (go down to a 40% contract, or take a 100% contract for W weeks in return for giving myself 1.5*W weeks of focus, or something else) on the understanding that I will “pay back” that loan by either increasing revenue, or by paying off the debt by doing more work for “the suits” later.
All that really means is that I’ve given myself a way to increase the number of steps between the two extremes of “work until I’m making enough revenue not to work” and “not work”.
Edited to add: yes, being able to go part-time is a privilege, I accept that, but it is more accessible than people realise. I went from 100% to 80% by asking my manager and being told “yes”, with no resistance from them and just a bit of negotiation over what would happen to 20% of my job and how holiday allowance would work. Many people who do not believe their managers would allow them to go part time, including myself up to that point, have not yet asked.
I don’t think it’s useful to guess at her reasons when you could just read her explanation of her reasons.
As an example of why it’s not useful, one of the reasons she mentions near the end is being able to pay artists.
I have a shorter explanation if it’s her we’re talking about: she likes to do drawings, lots of people like her posts with drawings, and why not make some money off it. She’s already most of the way to a product and audience. Others trying this might similarly want to test and iterate some free ones on their web site first like she did.
By doing the crawling locally, it means you can check as many sites as you want as often as you want including localhost sites. This is especially useful during active development as you can perform checks locally and on staging sites instead of only checking production sites when issues have went live. A cloud-based implementation would have to come with limitations on how often you can perform crawls and can be expensive to run.
I’ve mostly been reaching out to web developers on forums and online communities so far. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback about the interface and how Checkbot is finding issues missed by other tools.
Huh, interesting - why is it an extension, so the user is crawling themselves instead of you running a server? That seems like an odd technical decision.
But more to the topic of this as a product, how did you choose to do this? I’ve seen website checkers with similar featuresets for a long time, so it’s nice that there’s a market - how will you reach that market?
Great article, thank you. I come from the world of Mac/iOS software where Indie has been used for the last couple of decades to mean “micro-ISV”: a small, independent company that aims to sustainably deliver its software products. It’s the kind of business I want to create, and I think addresses the “king” side of the Rich vs. King distinction in leadership.
Totally agreed. I’ve had similar experiences.
I might be wrong, but this seems like you received bad advice in so many ways! I see problems at every step.
What a person claims they’re willing to pay and what they actually do when asked to enter their credit card info are not the same.
Let’s assume optimizing is about maximizing profit. Let’s simplify, as many startups do, by looking to maximize revenue and assuming that costs won’t dramatically change, though people point out that cheap customers have higher costs (support requests, complaints, etc).
Okay, so let’s maximize revenue. Revenue is price multiplied by number of customers.
Let’s replace the two survey questions with a more pointed question: “what is the maximum price you’d be willing to pay?”
Once you conduct your survey, the graph won’t have straight lines but a distribution that might look like one of these curves, where X is price and Y is number of answers. Given that at any price point all customers below that price will buy too, you’ll want to calculate the cumulative distribution curve, which looks like one of these S curves (but flipped around because it’s going to be a decreasing function). You’ll end up drawing rectangles similar to the way they are on this graph and picking the one with the maximum area (price times total customers).
Spot on! Your list at the bottom resonates fully with how I’m approaching building my company, HostedMetrics.com.