This post is mirrored on my Medium Account.
This "Products of 2021" series will be a total of six posts. The first is the introduction to the series itself. The five product links will be updated throughout 2021 as I release the products to the world. These links will be pinned to the top of each post in the series.
- Introduction and Overview Post (This Post!)
- Product 1: The Wheel Screener
- Product 2: ReduxPlate (Details Coming Soon!)
- Product 3: Mail Your Rep (Details Coming Soon!)
- Product 4: ??? (Undetermined)
- Product 5: Five Grand Challenges for the Next Five Decades: A Novel (Stretch goal to try and reach by the end of 2021)
Right Into It: Overview of the Challenge
For each product I release in 2021, I will release a large blog post that reflects on what I learned before, during, and after launch, and what I could have done better or other things I have discovered.
These long-format blog posts are intended for a wide audience, not just developers, and include detailed information on the product itself, customer feedback, and more!
My hope is that these long-format posts can illustrate some of my real-world experience that I know from experience can be enormously helpful for future and current founders. Actionable wisdom and insights from a product's post-release are rare to begin with: typically a given product or company owner gets busy with their business and never has time to blog about it ever again. If you're lucky, you maybe hear from them again in the occasional podcast or YouTube interview, but that's about it.
I want to avoid this pattern, and instead, stay true to my educational and building-in-public mindset, and provide near-immediate feedback after each initial release of the products I make in 2021.
Motivation Behind The Challenge
For a variety of reasons, I've made it my new year's resolution to create more products and courses this year.
This post was originally going to be titled "I'm Launching Five SaaS Products in 2021", but I do want to break into the physical product world, (definitely with a physical book, but perhaps something more complex like embedded microdevices), later in the year. We'll see.
Progress So Far
Alongside this post, I've released the post on my first product for this year - The Wheel Screener for this challenge.
Don't Think I Can Handle It?
Maybe you're right; maybe I'll only get to 2 or 3 products this year, and get swamped by bugs, maintenance, and other as-of-yet unforeseen roadblocks down the road. It's the nature of software development and product development. But I'm as ready for this challenge as I'll ever be and am already well along my way. I'll estimate that I have about 1.75 products completed: I've got one (The Wheel Screener) which is fully productive and profitable (1), a second product (ReduxPlate) which is fairly well-baked its ideation and is initially scaffolded (.5), and the third (Mail Your Rep) in its early ideation phase (.25). All in all, this equates in my mind as 1 + .5 + .25, or 1.75 profitable products! 😂
Why a Focus On Profitability?
While during the learning phase of being a software developer, it's very important to have fun side projects, I think you eventually have to have a sales or subscription model to carry the responsibility of a fully production level product. Not doing so, I believe, is one of the leading causes of the eternal 'never-ending' side project or the 'infinite loop and iteration of half-finished side projects'. When you take on the responsibility of subscribing and paying customers, it forces your hand to fix bugs, add features, and continue to build the service that is worth paying for. This leads to a better product - and at the very least, a product that is no longer a side-hack - but actually revenue-generating.
Not Products for Products' Sake
I'm not building five products just to try and reach the number five itself - in fact, the final number of products I release this year may be less, or it may be more. Five is just a solid stretch-sounding number I can try to acheive. The point is I want to build multiple products which: 1. Solve a difficult problem, and 2. Provide value to people. If you focus on just those two things, you will find customers, I can promise you that.
If you ever had an idea and thought yourself:
"ah, this would make a great product"
but then you immediately second doubt yourself with "what ifs" or anything else that could go wrong - my challenge to you is this: throw away all that noise and go build it! When I started The Wheel Screener as a great product (at least in my opinion) that I use myself, I assumed at most I would get 5 - 10 subscribers, and that would be it. Just three weeks later, I've hit $100 MRR and over 20 premium subscribers - and that number continues to climb daily. I even had a someone find and subscribe to the product's premium tier even before published or promoted it anywhere! That's product validation for you.
My spidey-SaaS-product-sense tells me that if I felt so strongly about the need to build The Wheel Screener, other product ideas I've felt just as strongly about will find their respective customers too. Paraphrasing Alan Watts:
Everybody is interested in something, and anything you can be interested in, you'll find others are as well.
So just take that deep dive and GO DO IT!
Follow Along on My Journey
I'll be posting my progress of this challenge, along with whatever else it is I rant about on my Twitter, Indie Hackers, and Medium accounts:
You can also follow The Wheel Screener as a product individually on Indie Hackers!
If you subscribe or follow, I offer you my sincere thanks and I hope the content you find in my posts is useful to you!