June 18, 2020
Lessons learned from the first few days of launch.
It’s been a hectic week since I launched my side project, Cadence Prints. $800+ in sales and 2.6k uniques later, here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Go to your audience
This one really is key. As a developer who likes to hang out at places like HN and producthunt it was only natural for me to try to launch there. However, my audience (people who are active and use Strava to track their fitness) is fairly niche and the overlap with the developer & startup world ended up being limited.
In my case the best source of traffic ended up being Reddit, specifically the biking related subreddits of /r/cycling and /r/bicycling. These subreddits have about 800,000 subscribers combined but they’re still slow enough such that frontpaged posts end up lingering for a few days. Reddit actually accounted for about 80% of my unique visitors from launch day, and the comments there were quite a good source of feedback and sales as well.
The importance of understanding your audience really can not be overstated - If your product isn’t aimed at the startup/tech crowd, it probably doesn’t even matter that much whether you launch on HN or ProductHunt at all.
Be transparent with your users
Things will go wrong on launch day. When they do, make sure you’re communicating in a timely and transparent manner with your users. Most people are going to be understanding of a few hiccups when they know that you’ve just launched.
Setting up a chat widget so you can interact with your users in real-time is invaluable in making sure that you can fix issues as they come up and still retaining users. I definitely closed more than a few sales because I was able to respond to users’ issues in real-time, roll out the fix within minutes, and then relay the news back to them.
Build in the open
This is a common mistake developers make - they work on some cool library or project but don’t do enough to market it.
Have you really built anything of value if nobody else knows about it?
Building and launching something awesome will open doors and new opportunities for you in ways you’ve never thought possible. You never know who will stumble on your tweet or Reddit post, and reach out with something exciting for you.
Now that I’ve launched Cadence, the easy part is over. As a developer by trade I have just about zero experience with marketing and growing a product. This will be an entirely new challenge acquiring customers and growing revenue.