Published 24th January 2014
Recently a fellow Devtrepreneur contacted me to ask a few questions about my path to becoming a Devtrepreneur. So I decided that I would make my answers public in the form of this blog post so that others might gain a bit of insight into what has worked for me.
To be honest this question probably has a slightly dissapointing answer. I simply built products that I needed for myself. Almost everything I have ever built was to scratch my own itch. This works well for two reasons.
1. You are your target audience, so you know exactly what you do and what you don’t need. 2. Eating your own dog food (so to speak) means that you actively use your product. So you will probably find and fix bugs and deploy updates much quicker.
Finding other people to use my products is something I’ve never really been very good at. Thankfully other people find the things I build useful for them too, so they end up using it as well.
Outside of this the normal marketing stuff works as well: blogging, social media, email newsletters, advertising etc.
I didn’t do much external validaiton no. Most of the time I just wanted a product that either didn’t exist or it didn’t do what it was meant to do very well. So I built it myself.
As time goes on you get better at spotting what kind of things are popular and what kind of things aren’t. But most of the time I would just build something, release it and see what happened. If there was a decent uptake I would keep developing it. If not I would just stop developing it and move on.
At first I purely built products that solved my own problems. Later I started to diversify and look for problems that other people have. But the issue with this is that you probably don’t understand the issue as well as the other person because you don’t directly see the problem/need.
Learning exactly what the problem is that your customers have is crucial if your product is going to be successful. So if you are going to look to solve problems that you don’t have personally, make sure you at least know the market/context very well.
Building a name for myself is something I have never actively tried to accomplish. I think I have become “known” by building useful products, of a high standard, and releasing them for free, or at least at an affordable price.
Things like blogging and being active on Twitter help spread the word about what you are up to, but you need to create genuine value for other people if you want to become truly respected in your area of expertise.