Val Sopi (indie/bootstrapper)

Chief Product Artisan at Handmade Spaceships, Inc.

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What it's like to make and launch a product, for me.

A few details about what I go through when making something for others to use.

I've been making Saas products since 2013. My very first product was a project management tool that included invoicing, time-tracking, and a plethora of other functions.

The idea was to be better than others at cheaper prices. Whatever "better" and "cheaper" meant.

Since then, I've made a few more products that generated revenue. These are some of the lessons I've picked up along the way.

  1. Focus on 1 functionality
  2. Write maintainable code
  3. Talk to people

3 easy steps, right?

Let me dive in.

1. Focus on 1 functionality

I've worked (and still somewhat do) for clients. Building internal tools for them. The more ideas I had, to solve their issues, the better the outcome.

Tools I was building were meant to be used by no more than 2 people tops at my client's company. It was easy to please them.

Making products for a market is a different beast.

You're dealing with a whole bigger set of needs and requests. The more you try to please everyone, the flatter/horizontal your product becomes.

Now, I'm trying to focus more on the vertical.

Be 1 thing to many, instead of many things to many.

This is important and hard to pull off, especially when working solo like I do.

Stoically standing and fighting off distraction can come off as arrogant, but it's important to realize that your users need one thing to work well.

Knowing who your user is, helps a ton in this matter. And having margin, as in: not needing to make a sale right away, will help in deciding who you want to serve.

2. Write maintainable code

We all know that making products is not only about coding. In a way our code is what's making the sale, though you want to have less overhead when it comes to fixing things down the line.

In the past I used to keep adding features upon features. Which takes me back to point 1 of this article. Trying to please everyone gets you nowhere and makes it even harder to write maintainable code.

3. Talk to people

The best thing you can do is talk to people who are currently (today) looking for a product like yours.

They're the only ones who know what they need right now. Everyone else, will give you opinions about what they think the product needs. Avoid them like the plague. Talk to the actual buyer. Take everyone else with a pinch of salt.

Note: If the article above offers any advice, even remotely, please take it with a pinch of salt (as with any advice on the internet) and always evaluate your context first. See what best fits you and use my lessons as something you can bounce off of with a better approach for your situation. The same goes about this sub-advice : )