With a big excited grin on my face while writing this post, I'm happy to share with you that HelpKit just crossed its 10th subscriber. In this post I want to share with you how I got this far, my five lessons learned and the next steps for HelpKit.
HelpKit currently sits at $241 MRR. Actually two customers signed up at almost the same time so technically there are already eleven but the title wouldn't read that well. Please excuse me. Most of the users are on the Premium plan priced at $29/m. The latest subscriber signed up for the yearly Premium plan which was especially exciting as it shows me that there is a lot of trust in the product.
How did I get here?
As of now building in public on Twitter has helped me the most. Additionally, I also tried two growth hacks that have seemed to have helped. You can read about them here in this post.
I can not stress enough how valuable it turns out to be to build up an audience. Before HelpKit I would secretly build a product for three months and then be disappointment when there's no engagement on launch day. Sharing my story on Twitter, Indiehackers and Reddit right from the get-go helped me build up social credibility and empathy. As you can see in the image below, most of my traffic comes from Twitter right now. I am currently counting almost 800 followers on Twitter which by no means is a lot. However, it goes to show that even a smaller sized audience can already help tremendously.
HelpKit seems to be really liked by the Notion community. I'm starting to see more and more people suggesting it in different Twitter threads where people seek for no-code tools advice. This feels great as I strongly believe in the power of word of mouth.
The 5 lessons learned so far
Here are the top five lessons I have learned in the past two months working on HelpKit.
🤝 Get to know your customers
Try to personally get to know your first few customers and make them love your product. Ask for a short 10 min introduction call on Zoom. It will tremendously help getting better and more honest feedback. At the same time it will also make your customers more forgiving should you happen to make some error in the beginning.
🐢 It's ok to grow slowly
I must admit that HelpKit's growth feels a bit slow. I am slowly getting warm with the marketing side but there is still a lot of work to do. However, that said, as the days are passing, I am learning that this way allows me to polish the product, fill in the missing bits or fix minor issues from early customers, that I very much prefer to have fixed early with few users rather than later with more. After all, that's the big benefit we bootstrapped Indiehackers have over VC backed startups, isn't it? We can allow our products to grow slower, improve it along the way and learn from the steadily growing customer base one step at a time.
🙇🏽♂️ Be honest and fully transparent
I have had multiple larger companies reaching out and asking for features that were neither currently available nor planned on the roadmap. Whenever requests like that come in, I try to ask for a short call and talk about their pain points. While you would initially think that these requested features would be a showstopper for them, most of the time they are not. They will happily sign up after getting to know you and your future plans. In the words of Michael Seibel, director at Y Combinator:
There is no benefit to you to make those first customers hard-to-get customers. You should be looking for customers who intensely have the problem that you're looking to solve. Don't target early customers who are too hard, who don't want to pay, who aren't interested in working with early stage companies, who don't actually have the problem and just kind of think that they might have the problem in the future.
💵 Your pricing does (not) matter
Another point is pricing. In the beginning I had absolutely no idea on how to price HelpKit. I had a rough idea based on a thorough competitive analysis and guesstimates but it was still hard to come up with a proper value metric. After talking to a lot of customers/potential customers I have a much better understanding now on what is really valued and what not. There is no way I could have known that in the beginning. So, I would suggest you to just go with your gut feeling and a decent estimate. Don't worry about it too much in the beginning. Over time you will get a much better sense of what works and what doesn't. Focus on getting customers that pay but put your pricing theory aside.
📧 Having an onboarding email sequence seems really helpful
HelpKit offers a 7 day free trial for anyone to try out. In the first few weeks after launching I worked super hard to manually reach out to every single person that signed up and ask for feedback. However, that turned out to be a very tedious job given the few responses I have received. After that I sat down for a day to design and build a email drip campaign for the trial period consisting out of five emails nudging the user to reach out if they need help. I'm using Sendgrid Marketing for that which isn't great but it works. You can see the first email of the drip campaign in the image below. This approach seems to capture much more customers and make them reply.
What am I planning to do next?
My next steps are to grow HelpKit to 20 customers and work on a new improved pricing. I want to do this by:
- Building two features that were highly demanded by potential customers
- Rethink HelpKit's value metrics and restructure the pricing accordingly
- Start publishing blog articles for better SEO exposure
That's it for now. I hope my experience can help your journey as well.
Do you have any questions about this article, HelpKit or building in public? Let me know in the comments. Happy to answer them! :)