Making decisions while bootstrapping - Issue #2

Making decisions while bootstrapping - Issue #2

A dive into picking problems, making technical decisions, and figuring out pricing.


What should you build?

This question is the most important question you can ask yourself. Get it right and soar to the moon. Get it wrong and crash like halted $GME.

I've tried to launch tons of products in the past and have made the mistake of picking the wrong thing several times.


  • Quicker Questions, remote all-hands software
  • Podcasted.io, podcasting SaaS for sharing links with your listeners
  • QuarantineCup.live, a remote COVID-friendly drinking game

What do all of these things have in common? I was not extremely interested in them. I built them simply because I thought they were good ideas.

Good ideas will carry you a long way, but only if you have the persistence to follow through on them.

Work on things where you care way more than is considered reasonable. It's your competitive advantage.

So how did I pick plzdm.me?


  • I spend an unreasonable amount of time on Twitter
  • If I fail, I still learned a bunch about Twitter's API & auth
  • I'll get to do all my marketing by browsing Twitter

If this product doesn't work chances are high that I can salvage the code and learnings and building something on top of Twitter.

I have a limited downside here and potentially infinite upside.

What is plzdm.me?

p.s. — shout out to Christian from makers.dev for access to this cool "floating head" app.

How should you build it?

Build with tools you already know. If you're building a business (where the aim is to produce income), you need to use every advantage you have.

At most, adopt one new piece of technology. Do not choose a whole new stack.

On plzdm.me, I'm using Next.js. I've used Next for over three years professionally now and can stand up a new app quickly.

I'm leveraging an open-source starter from Vercel to reduce the amount of code I need to write.

GitHub - vercel/nextjs-subscription-payments: Clone, deploy, and fully customize a SaaS subscription application with Next.js. GitHub - vercel/nextjs-subscription-payments: Clone, deploy, and fully customize a SaaS subscription application with Next.js.github.com Clone, deploy, and fully customize a SaaS subscription application with Next.js. - vercel/nextjs-subscription-payments

View each line of code you write as debt. If you're shipping products as a solo-founder, keeping a product as simple as possible is vital.

Tech debt, rotting code, and complicated bugs will sneak in causing delays and headaches down the line.

For this reason, I'm using carrd.co for my landing page.

A great landing page can help sell a product, but what we're focusing on here is "good enough".

Perfection is not an option for solo-makers and is often a form of procrastination.

You can be "perfect" at your day job. Those same rules don't apply here, at least not until you've hit a meaningful revenue number.

How should you price it?

[caption align="alignnone" width="980"]"Raise your prices" — patio11[/caption]

Pricing is really, really hard. It's premature for me to dig too much into pricing, but here are a few things I know:


  1. My marginal cost per user is very low
  2. My customers are in the prosumer group
  3. plzdm.me can help save busy people time
  4. It can help generate additional sales/leads

Because my marginal cost per user is low, I'm thinking of opening with a one-time purchase.

Because my customers are prosumers, I'm keeping my price under $49. Fifty dollars is discretionary spending for a lot of people, but any more would tip us into "think twice about it before purchasing" territory.

I will likely include some sort of free tier with a "powered by plzdm.me" link (check out my default welcome message right now on Twitter). Viral loops for the win.

I’m thinking $35 to start.

Notable links

Each issue of this newsletter will have a list of cool things I find throughout the week. If this is cool enough I’d text it to one of my friends, it might end up here.

Build a business, not an audience – Jakob Greenfeld – Experiments in Entrepreneurship and Learning Build a business, not an audience – Jakob Greenfeld – Experiments in Entrepreneurship and Learningjakobgreenfeld.com If you’re reading this, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the following pattern over and over again:

So many people fall into this trap (myself included). The best way to gain an audience is by doing interesting work, not commenting on the interesting work of others.

While this post has nothing to do with building your own business, I think it serves as an important reminder. Taste lots of things, see what you enjoy, and then go to Popeyes over and over.

SaaS is very hard. That's why Rob Walling recommends the Stair Step approach.

[caption align="alignnone" width="980"][/caption]

Ebooks fall into "Step 1" and can be your first step to recurring revenue. Just be sure to avoid the Creative World's Bullshit Industrial Complex that Jakob Greenfeld talks about in the first link.

Thanks for reading

I’m finishing up the MVP for plzdm.me this week. Respond to this email or DM me if you’re interested in being a guinea pig.


See you on the other side,

Drew



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