Breaking Every Rule in the Book

Last week in my Bugrocket retrospective I talked about how in hindsight one of the things I should have done was to start promotion way earlier. Start marketing as soon as you start coding, they say. I didn’t do that at the time because I didn’t know any better… or maybe the real reason was that I am terrible at, and strongly dislike, marketing?

I did it again

I’ve been working on something new on and off for a while. In complete secrecy contrary to all advice.

It started innocently as a quick little weekend project (I like those) to play with integrating React, Webpack, etc into a Rails app. I just wanted to have some kind of real project to fiddle with while I figured that stuff out. Really, my typical weekend project.

Eventually it started to become something I thought might be actually useful. But, that’s not really the point of this article (maybe I’ll blast my list with a bribe about it later…).

I’m not into marketing ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The further into development I got, I started to feel more and more ‘guilty’ about how if this was a real thing, I need to be marketingggggg! Y-U-NO build email list!?

At several points the mental weight of the fact that I was ‘totally screwing this up’ felt crushing. I left it to sit for a long time – months sometimes (I started this project in mid-2015). What was I doing? Surely making this thing was utterly pointless if I wasn’t promoting it and finding product/market fit. Why was I spending whole evenings or weekends working on this thing?

Because I enjoyed it, that’s why.

The rhetoric you often see out there about how you must find a niche market and infiltrate their forums and slowly formulate a plan as to how you will get them on your mailing list and ultimately have them pay you for stuff… It’s usually not how I want to spend my time.

Making stuff for fun and… fun

Don’t get me wrong, I have financial goals too. I have a mortgage and a 6 month old. I need to generate income somehow. But when I’ve got the itch to make something, I just want to get down to making it.

I’m reminded of a Steve Jobs quote that fits well. He’s talking about decisions like removing the floppy drive from Macs, and not supporting Flash on the iPhone:

If we succeed, they’ll buy them, and if we don’t, they won’t, and it’ll all work itself out.

Steve Jobs

I feel like I can apply this to product development. You want something to exist? You have the ability to make it happen? You don’t need to go yak shaving around the internet to find out if it’s got product/market fit or a ‘killer app’ or any other buzzwords.

It’s ok to just make it and find out if other people agree.

You might be right, or you might be wrong – but I guarantee you’ll learn a lot in the process, and who knows what you might stumble upon.