Great episode from Product Hunt Radio with Josh Howarth who founded Exploding Topics, an app that lets you find trending topics to build products or content around.
This story has a familiar structure... builds product just to make money, forgets to think about marketing, gets some customers but hits a wall and loses interest, builds something new to solve own problem, other people like it and want it too, grows, gets acquired.
- Josh spent 2 months building a product that he saw other people having success with. But didn't plan how he was going to distribute when launched. So no initial traction. You gotta have a marketing plan 🤦
- Hustled to get some customers but after 6 months ran out of steam. Didn't know where to get more leads from. And had lost interest in the product (never really had interest) so felt like an uphill slog. You need some passion to keep at it so go for a space you're interested in.
- Josh also noticed that other makers who were having success were tapping into growing trends eg Justin Jackson's Transistor (podcast hosting) and Pieter Levels with Nomad List.
- So... he started looking for trends. And built some scripts to automate his research.
- Thought that others might be interested so cleaned it up and turned into a simple app. Posted to Reddit to get feedback. Got traction. Reddit tip - don't market, value first and ask for feedback.
- Next best thing to getting money for validating a project is getting emails. The Reddit post got subscribers.
- Use iterative launches on platforms before going for the big ones. Get feedback, make changes and do the next launch.
- It's easier when you are your own audience. Easier to market and sell to when you really know the problem first hand.
- When an idea is working, you'll know - it will start to snowball by itself.
- Writing updates publicly as a solo founder helps keep you accountable to what you're doing. It also attracts others to you (and sometimes support). And it can solidify your ideas instead of leaving them bouncing round your head.