3 lessons learned from my failed Indie Hackers project 👩🏻‍🎓

hustle life
how I spend most nights...

Earlier this year, I shamelessly ripped off an idea and built an app for making printable place cards thinking I too could generate some passive income.

"It's so simple! Look how much MRR this guy is making!" I told a friend from work. We were both amazed at how much money a simple service could generate and became determined to achieve the same results.

For our initial MVP, we set up a Trello board and aimed to build 3 things:

1. Design a range of place card templates (👈 check them out!).
2. Allow users to upload guests using a CSV file.
3. Generate printable place cards as a PDF file ready for printing.

pory.io trello board

Even though the final app was far from just the 3 things we originally listed, we nonetheless ended up having a lot of fun duck taping everything together.

We were ready to show the world our place card generator built using:

🔥 Firebase for storing our templates
☁️Netlify for hosting our app
🕵🏻‍♀️Google Analytics for stalking our users
💌 SendGrid for sending emails
💰Stripe for bringing home the bacon .

weddingbird landing page
Pory.io was originally called Weddingbird (because weddings).

Lesson #1: work on something that interests you.

Every wantrepreneur and entrepreneur will eventually find themselves in the trough of sorrow sooner or later. This is the part where the initial excitement and novelty wears off, which makes it extremely important to work on something that interests you so you don't give up or worse die of boredom.

trough of sorrow

For us, this happened when we had to start marketing pory.io and we literally found it as a chore. Let's be honest, we both knew nothing about weddings and now we had to research and write blogs pretending like we did.

We both learned that we had to be genuinely interested in the idea because creating content to promote it was going to be inevitable. Arguably, business is 20% product and 80% marketing so quit gold plating your apps!

"One more wedding photo and I'm going to puke" - Claudia.

Lesson #2: backlinks, backlinks, backlinks!

The essence of digital marketing is link building and as our niche was weddings, I began promoting on wedding subreddits and directories. Turns out, mods are quick to ban and it's pretty hard to subtly promote anything.

What's worse is, a lot of sites have no NoFollow tags which literally tells search engines to not count our links to other pages😔. This meant, we were restricted to blogging in hopes to organically grow our traffic.

Remember lesson 1? After we published 3 blogs about weddings, the project wasn't getting anywhere enough traffic and we kinda just gave up. As a result, our keyword printable place card templates ground to a halt on page 3.

Below are the results from Google Search Console (we gained 72 links) whilst our main competitor built 4.3k…🤬

hustle life

Lesson #3: focus on your idea, focus on integrations.

People have been pumping out "startups" like factories and there's now a huge opportunity to focus on integrations. I'm serious… we are now starting to think about things like "what if blah and bleh had a baby".

Instead of looking for a new project to work on, I decided to reboot pory.io away from weddings and into something more generic. The goal now is to integrate with as many services as possible i.e. Canva, Airtable, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and heck even LinkedIn if I needed to.

One of the biggest reasons why we failed was because we lacked focus. There is no such thing as an overnight success and we probably could have made some revenue if only we persevered.

What's next?

There is so much room to grow pory.io and we haven't even explored different templates for things like name tags, invitations etc.

If this was a game, I think it just restarted and we're back at the start again going up the ramp of "initial excitement". 2020 is going to be another crazy year and if you want to find out if we make it pass the "trough of sorrow" in the game of hustle life?

Good news you can subscribe here! ️️❤️❤️️🖤

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