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Hackernoon logo3 Lessons That I Learned From my Failed Indie Hackers Project by@shooting-unicorns

3 Lessons That I Learned From my Failed Indie Hackers Project

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Derp Software Engineer 🛠🔥🙈

Earlier this year, I shamelessly ripped off an idea and built an app for making printable place cards thinking I too could generate some passive income.

"It's so simple! Look how much MRR this guy is making!" I told a friend from work. We were both amazed at how much money a simple service could generate and became determined to achieve the same results.

For our initial MVP, we set up a Trello board and aimed to build 3 things:

  1. Design a range of place card templates (👈 check them out!).
  2. Allow users to upload guests using a CSV file.
  3. Generate printable place cards as a PDF file ready for printing.

Even though the final app was far from just the 3 things we originally listed, we nonetheless ended up having a lot of fun duck taping everything together.

We were ready to show the world our place card generator built using:

  • 🔥 Firebase for storing our templates
  • ☁️Netlify for hosting our app
  • 🕵🏻‍♀️Google Analytics for stalking our users
  • 💌 SendGrid for sending emails
  • 💰Stripe for bringing home the bacon .

Lesson #1: work on something that interests you.

Every wantrepreneur and entrepreneur will eventually find themselves in the trough of sorrow sooner or later. This is the part where the initial excitement and novelty wears off, which makes it extremely important to work on something that interests you so you don't give up or worse die of boredom.

For us, this happened when we had to start marketing and we literally found it as a chore. Let's be honest, we both knew nothing about weddings and now we had to research and write blogs pretending like we did.

We both learned that we had to be genuinely interested in the idea because creating content to promote it was going to be inevitable. Arguably, business is 20% product and 80% marketing so quit gold plating your apps!

"One more wedding photo and I'm going to puke" - Claudia.

Lesson #2: backlinks, backlinks, backlinks!

The essence of digital marketing is link building and as our niche was weddings, I began promoting on wedding subreddits and directories. Turns out, mods are quick to ban and it's pretty hard to subtly promote anything.

What's worse is, a lot of sites have no NoFollow tags which literally tells search engines to not count our links to other pages😔. This meant, we were restricted to blogging in hopes to organically grow our traffic.

Remember lesson 1? After we published 3 blogs about weddings, the project wasn't getting anywhere enough traffic and we kinda just gave up. As a result, our keyword printable place card templates ground to a halt on page 3.

Below are the results from Google Search Console (we gained 72 links) whilst our main competitor built hundreds…🤬

Lesson #3: Focus on integrations.

People have been pumping out “startups” like factories and there’s now a huge opportunity to focus on integrations. I’m serious… we are now starting to think about things like “what if blah and bleh had a baby”.

We could have reached more potential users if we integrated with popular products like Google Sheets, Airtable, Notion, Facebook… but we didn’t. Instead we focused on things that made ourselves feel productive, but in the end didn’t make a difference to the business.

What's next?

There is so much room to grow and we haven’t even explored different templates for things like name tags, invitations etc. However, our passion just isn’t in this product and it’s honestly time to pull the plug and work on something we do👻.

For 2020, we’ll be reviving Porysaysa no-code algorithmic trading platform for creating, backtesting and automating trading strategies. We parked this idea because generating printable place cards seemed a lot easier, but in reality there’s no such thing as an overnight success.

If this was a game, I think it just restarted and we're back at the start again going up the ramp of "initial excitement". 2020 is going to be another crazy year and if you want to find out if we make it pass the "trough of sorrow" in the game of hustle life? Good news you can subscribe here! ️️❤️❤️️🖤


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