Anyone here that just builds what you personally love to use?

Joey Taleño
47 replies
I had this thought that if I only build what I love to use (and hopefully other people will use it too), perhaps I can finish more projects. This is opposite of having the idea being validated by other people first before working on the project. However, in this approach, I may be the only one to use my own product. :) I'm curious if anyone here had the same thought or is it just me?

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Creator of https://iorecipes.com.
If there is one thing that I've learned from being a product manager at a website that received millions of hits every day is that we really don't know what our audience wants. Small tweaks to our UI could affect pages/session over night. So we built a comprehensive A-B testing platform and tested everything before publishing it to 100% of the audience. On the other hand, if we rely just on our customers (or future customers) to choose what to build, we would not have innovative products. "If I built what my customers wanted, I would have built a faster horse," Mr. Ford is credited for saying. I think it's okay to build what you love and assume there are others like you, but then you need to tweak and improve things based on feedback and some sort product model that's sustainable.
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Making stuff and writing about it
@dardawk I agree 100%. There are many quotes from both sides of the debate. I read some quotes from the iPod/iPhone teams in the early days about how they didn't do any user research and didn't take feedback. There's a fine balance to strike between being bold with your ideas and taking feedback to improve it. I think A-B testing is powerful when you have a lot of traffic and a small percentage change makes a big difference. It can be misleading on a new project with a small amount of traffic.
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Creator of https://iorecipes.com.
@ryan_wilson6 Well said!
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@dardawk thank you! follow up question, what if the customer wants something that is not in your original vision?
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Creator of https://iorecipes.com.
@joey_taleno Hey Joey. For me, I always try to adjust my long-term vision to the needs and wants of my customers as long as it abides by my values. The values are gates that hold my vision within some bounds; however, sometimes we just have to go where the market points to. I imagine this grand product landscape where most products can come into existence because of market forces, some products because of institutions (NGOs, Gov't, Charity...), and others just cannot exist. Sometimes I try to think of cool products that aren't sustainable in this landscape because it tells me what might or might not be possible.
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@dardawk @ryan_wilson6 Yeah, A/B testing can be really powerful, but I've definitely work within companies where the A/B was followed blindly.... leading to very strange choices - e..g. 3 buy buttons on a page because it performed the best. 😂I think it's important to inject a healthy dose of logic into everything.
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Head of Product at Pinata | Tinkerer
I did exactly this with Graphite (https://graphitedocs.com). The thing you need to be ready for is that you, as you mentioned, might be the only person to use the software. If you're OK with that, this is a great approach. Scratching your own itch because you want something that doesn't exist is a great idea. Scratching your own itch because you want to make millions on it may not be as strong an idea because you just don't know yet if people will want the same things as you.
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@jehunter5811 thank you! awesome product! question, are you a writer and you want a secure platform for collaboration with your fellow authors?
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Head of Product at Pinata | Tinkerer
@joey_taleno Thanks! I am a writer, but my desire at the time wasn't even collaboration. I just wanted a document editor and storage app that was secure and private. I eventually added collaboration when I released Graphite to a wider audience because the rest of the world wanted collaboration :)
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@jehunter5811 wow! great example of doing what you love and then being loved by others too! are you earning now from your platform?
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Head of Product at Pinata | Tinkerer
@joey_taleno I was for a number of months, but it wasn't direct revenue from customers. I had gotten lucky and the dev tools infrastructure I was using at the time had a grant program that rewarded the best apps using the infra with cash payments. I was able to sustain the project for quite some time with that. However, Graphite is in the process of a full rebuild with a true revenue model and paid features just about ready to go.
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Software Developer
Same as Justin, I did this with a meal planning app that I made (https://nyom.app). It started off as a tiny MVP to solve a simple problem, which was planning meals for the week for my partner and I. We got enough value out of it that I fleshed it out and added auth so that others could use it as well. Personally, I find huge value in products like Netlify and Firebase that let me provide the service for free. I'm happy to provide the service for free if I don't have to work and pay to keep it up, and if lots of people start using it I think that's a nice problem to have. It's been a big shift compared to other apps I've done where I was relying on them for revenue, and that pressure actually hurt my motivation to work on them. With this app I'm excited to add new features, even if I'm the only one who'll use them, because I know that I'll get value out of them, at least. Note that I would only recommend taking this approach on a side project, not as your main revenue stream. While it's a good approach, I feel like you're playing the long game a bit more, since you're only iterating on what you want, essentially for free, you're not iterating on what others are willing to pay for.
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@cleverkiwigames thank you! how is it going now in your meal planning app?
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Software Developer
@joey_taleno It's going fine! It works exactly how I want for now and sometimes I get a big urge to add a new feature to it - it's really nice to be able to take a break from it and come back with renewed enthusiasm. On the marketing front I haven't made much progress. I've paid for help with it and tried it out on FB and IG, but didn't get much of a reaction. I also posted it on Reddit recently and got some nice comments; not much in the way of new users, but at least some validation of the idea. I don't mind though, because it's not a matter of having to "abandon" the idea because it's not taking off, because I'll still be using it. It's actually interesting to me, because I'm getting a better idea of what works and what doesn't work. I think that the next thing I'm going to try is improving my SEO!
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Making stuff and writing about it
I'm currently doing this with my current project. The best part is that all the time spent using it acts as testing for the product. Using your own product is so important for understanding the flow and overall feel. I think this is termed "dogfooding" your own product because there was once an owner of a dog food company who would taste test all of the dog food. On the other hand, it's completely possible to build a great product or business even if you aren't the main user. This has other benefits and tradeoffs. In the end, you just have to be honest with yourself what your goals are. If you are trying to build something that generates an income, you need to talk to people and figure out what the product needs to get paying customers. Find the set of features that align between what you love and what people want.
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@ryan_wilson6 thank you! nice story about "dogfooding" :) I need to find that balance between doing what I love and earning from it at the same time.
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Making stuff and writing about it
@joey_taleno Same here. It's definitely hard to balance. There are always going to be things that we have to do that aren't the most enjoyable but just have to get done. I think there's also something to be said for being able to learn to love all of the things that need to be done. It's all part of the process and in service to some larger goal. Finding the silver lining in things is a much better strategy than motivating yourself to grudge through the unenjoyable.
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Designer & developer in Brooklyn
Ive been doing this for a while with my passion project https://subdex.co :) still very little users but I only feel like I've just wrapped up all the features for it - it took about 3 years. To your point, there's no way I could have worked on something for this long that didn't genuinely interest me. Some would say I've probably worked on it for too long without putting it in front of some people, but the features that I've built out for it is what I envisioned and I had a great time working on it and learning from it
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@oznekenzo thank you! I'm really encouraged by your story. 3 years?! wow! did you have the initial plan to monetize from your passion product?
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Designer & developer in Brooklyn
@joey_taleno No, I haven't thought much about how I would monetize :P yes, three years! I rebuilt it three times and now it has a much better stack & implementation than I had the first time around. I used the project to learn a lot and to make something I was passionate about. Some people would (probably rightly) have the approach to fail early and often, but I wanted to create a product that had polish
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Designer & developer in Brooklyn
@joey_taleno By the way, I should clarify that this was a side project, I was working full time at the same time!
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Eric Miller
Hi! This is pretty much the basis of our entire product line. Our original downloads were kits we created ourselves for client work. Our physical decks of cards were something we also wanted internally. And our Focus Book (launched here today: https://www.producthunt.com/post...) was even more just something I needed to help focus on work and home tasks right now.
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@uxkits thank you! i've upvoted Focus Book. I'm surprised that it's on paper! Wow! did you build this because you want something that can help you focus?
Content Marketing Manager @ Reply.io
Is there really any other way to build a great product that people would love to use? :) That is the reason we've built our products (Reply and ReplyNow) in the first place!
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@elen_u thank you! how is your passion project going?
Content Marketing Manager @ Reply.io
@joey_taleno We're doing pretty great, thanks! Although we've been trying to make it in an extremely saturated market (sales engagement) with some major players as Outreach or Prospect.io, we've found our niche and have thousands of happy customers :)
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FlipBooklets v2 is here!
You are certainly not the only one, I do this too! Not only does it have the possibility to help others as well as yourself, but I find you are always pushing yourself to learn new things from each creation. Trimmy! | Is This Big Enough? | What If Coin Market Cap?
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@beesum thank you! absolutely! I actually learned many things by building something that I love. :)
Founder, OpenProsper.com
I have done it, not as a full product/business but small tools. Here is an example - https://www.prospercircle.org/to... This is part of a larger project, but was using title capitalization multiple times and disliked available online options, so built it, and opened it up for everyone to use.
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@salil_sethi thank you! curious when you usually use title capitalization?
Head of Product at Pinata | Tinkerer
@salil_sethi I absolutely love this! I can never remember the different style guides and this makes it so easy to check. Nice work!
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Founder, OpenProsper.com
@joey_taleno Use it for blog posts, email newsletter, and article titles...
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Founder, OpenProsper.com
@jehunter5811 thank you for the kind words.
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I build SaaS products!
I have always done this, it has both pros and cons. You might hit the sweet spot at times. I built many products later abandoned them being unfit for market. Then built a small tool for my own convenience to simplify the Google Analytics screen, it was received very well. So it pays well if you are solving the problem for yourself, but to know if its a widespread problem worth solving, you need to get it out and learn from others.
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@steve15645462 thank you! real story of challenges and success are very encouraging!
You are not alone. I am building a server framework for my upcoming products. I started this for my own use case and if it goes well, I will open source it and release to the world.
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@kalesh13 thank you! God bless on your project! Keep us posted!
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Exploring Psychology @ Psych.email
You know what, This is the reason why I left building my agency and went all in, or as said, "Indie". I have a passion to building stuff and I thought that passion went missing when I was doing client projects or marketing or things for building my agency. It is not always that what you build might only be used by you. Try asking (the right) people if they would like to use what you are building, you will be surprised! I am currently building http://www.designtack.com because I love developing and also, it is around a problem I face a lot. I found that there are people who face the same problem as well!
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@realdesigntack thank you! not that I'm not being grateful with my job, but I'm just not happy everytime I wake up knowing that I'm going to work just for the sake of working because we need to eat. I want to build something that I want and passionate about but not knowing if its going to be revenue generating in the future holds me back. really appreciate your story!
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Exploring Psychology @ Psych.email
@joey_taleno Well, first of all, don't overthink about it. If you want to build something, just do it. Don't think about monetising it. First, think about what is the best version you can create of your idea. Later down the line, if your product becomes popular, you will have a lot of ways to generate revenue out of it. Still, I would suggest that you build it with creativity in your mind and not the money.
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@realdesigntack I really appreciate your advise. will do this!
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Yes it has happened many times, and some of my previous startups have failed because of that. That said, if you do fit in the target market, then why not. Sometimes you would be in the best position to know the pain points and nuances that others may face but not bothered to do something about it. Take messengers these days, everyone expects you to be "always on" the whole time, and its gotten to a point where work and personal contacts are using the same messenger apps out there. It has started to become a distraction to me and I wanted to build something that would help users take back control. Once I started to validate it many have had the same issues.... now the difficult part is having to use a new messenger because your contacts are not there, but finding the early adopters will help create that tribe. (https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ch...)
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Matthew 6:33 💛
@thelastsamara Thank you! Your app looks real nice!
@joey_taleno Thank you, appreciate if you can share my apps PH page...
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