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How to launch earlier
The hidden truth about why you're delaying your product launch
Hey, Lior here! Every week I’m giving you an insider’s view into the world of indie hacking and building products used by millions, with actionable tips on productivity and entrepreneurship. Subscribe below and follow me on Twitter if you haven’t yet.
In today’s issue, I’m going to share:
Learnings and numbers from the Wisely launch
DreamGift surprise media coverage
How to launch earlier (and why we avoid launching)
Survey to help shape the future of this newsletter
As you may remember, last week, I publicly launched Wisely, an AI shopping assistant for Amazon.
The product got 160 upvotes on Product Hunt (#16 product of the day).
It also got featured in The Rundown AI (250K+ readers), Superpower Daily, Robot Pigeon, and ThePrompt - I didn’t do any bloggers outreach, so none of these were solicited.
766 people visited our Chrome Web Store page, and about 165 users installed it during the launch (240 active users as of today).
My plans for monetization are a freemium model (with the Pro version costing something like $2.99/mo). However, this would only make sense when we have thousands of active users, so further growing the number of users who install and use the extension is the next goal for Wisely.
I received quite a lot of feedback that the extension is really useful for Amazon shopping, which implies a basic problem-solution fit. Not enough for growth or WOM, but enough to make people happy and keep the extension active!
I also immediately received multiple user complaints about the extension only working on Amazon.com, and not working on other stores such as Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.es, and Amazon.in. This is by design, as I wanted to keep a narrow product scope for launch.
I actually saw this as an opportunity, because it means people care enough to complain, and they actually want to use the extension. Here’s what I did:
Replied to a couple of negative user reviews, explaining the situation, and asking them to reconsider their rating.
Gave international users a positive outlet for their frustration - a sign-up page for other Amazon regions via a Google Form. This has several benefits:
Bringing home the point of only Amazon.com being supported for now.
Showing these users that they might be able to use Wisely in the future and build a positive expectation.
Driving our expansion plans based on actual demand.
Building a waiting list and notifying these users when Wisely launches in their region. So far, 20 people have filled out that form:
DreamGift on The New York Times
Last week, I learned that DreamGift was featured in The New York Times:
I don’t do any PR currently, nor do I have any PR agency, so it’s great to see how small products from indie creators can get PR from major publications like the NYT.
It’s now time to include the mandatory “As seen on” on the homepage:
How to launch earlier
One thing I see a lot of entrepreneurs struggling with is launching, or rather, not launching. Let’s break that down.
Why do we delay launching our product?
While launching may sound like a fairly administrative task, there’s a huge psychological barrier behind launching a product to the market.
While a lot of product launches are being delayed due to practical reasons, such as development taking longer than expected, or a last-moment showstopper, I found that delaying launch often has to do with founder psychology.
Here are a few examples of why we might delay launching:
Fear of failure - what happens if the product launch fails and no one is interested in our product? We fear that outcome, so we try to delay it.
Perfectionism or pride - there’s this notion that there this one more bug that we need to fix, or one more feature that we need to develop, in order to make this launch (and product) successful. This leads to feature creep and weeks/months of additional work.
Lack of clarity - oftentimes, there isn’t a clear step-by-step plan in place for everything that needs to be done with clear goals and deadlines. This means new tasks keep piling up every week, with no end in sight. This is both overwhelming and impossible to prioritize and orchestrate.
No accountability - In the case of solopreneurs and indie creators, there’s often no accountability to employees, partners, and investors. You can take your time with the launch, and therefore you will.
Discomfort - for most technical founders, building is within their comfort zone, while launching or marketing is out of their comfort zones, and therefore they consciously or unconsciously try to stay in “build mode” and avoid marketing:
Launching ASAP is usually the right choice
When you’re dealing with people’s money, health, or safety, there’s merit in deferring launch until the product is complete, reliable, and well-tested. There’s very little room for failure.
However, with most B2C and B2B software, the cost of failure is significantly lower than the cost of not launching.
Launching is where the rubber hits the road. It’s when you finally start getting some real market traction for the product or service that you’ve built, and it has many benefits:
Getting feedback and usage insights from real users
Stress testing your product (functionality and usability), marketing (positioning, selling proposition), and business (bizmodel, pricing)
Getting your first real customers
Forcing function to accelerate your timelines and make sure you focus on what matters
What steps can you take to launch earlier?
Design your launch in 2 tranches: soft launch and hard launch. Start with a soft launch since it’s less intimidating to let a few friends and early customers in. It also allows you to flesh out significant bugs and usability issues. Soon thereafter, you can publicly launch it to the world (“hard launch”).
Define a finite scope: it’s critical to define a scope for the soft launch and hard launch ahead of time. If you don’t commit to any particular scope in advance, it’s likely that new features and requirements will start creeping in every week, delaying the launch.
Build a launch checklist: in order to assess the amount of work prior to launch and ensure you don’t miss any important tasks, write a detailed launch checklist. It may take a few hours to write one now, but it’ll save you from weeks of delays and blunders later.
Remove bottlenecks: there are often 1-2 things that need to be done well in advance and cannot wait until the last day. For example: submitting an app to the App Store, building a waitlist, setting up a new domain, or reaching out to bloggers. Make sure you identify these tasks and do them well ahead of the launch date.
Define deadlines: based on the launch checklist, define realistic deadlines for both the soft launch and hard launch. It’s okay to be aggressive with deadlines, but make sure they are actually feasible so you do not set yourself up for failure.
Build accountability: once the deadlines have been established, build accountability by communicating the deadlines to anyone who makes sense: your customers, team, partners, investors, friends and family, followers, etc. Be mindful that this will create a lot of pressure, but it’ll drive you to do whatever it takes to launch on the dates you committed to.
Launch: launch day, as well as the day before and after, tend to be packed and stressful. Make sure to clear your calendar of any meetings or obligations. Also, make sure to have the checklist in front of you, so you’re on top of everything that needs to be done.
Celebrate: few days after the launch, you usually start thinking about your next business goal. Take some time to celebrate the launch and give yourself a pat on the back 🎉
Did you find this guide useful? please reply and let me know your thoughts.
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