As a developer, what do you do with faltering projects?

Paul Woodthorpe
12 replies
You are a developer and you have put a few weeks/months into developing a project with big hopes for it. You launch it on PH and get a few hundred signups or views, etc. Then it is 4 weeks later and you are seeing nothing. People are barely visiting let alone signing up or buying your product. You try marketing but it has limited effect and as you end up running out of money to keep advertising it, you start to realise maybe this is not going to work out. What do you do with it? Do you keep going, and keep pushing it? Do you mothball it and take it offline? Do you try and sell the project to someone else to recoup some money? Do you look for partners to work with who can hopefully make it a success alongside you? Do you look for more feedback or ideas on where it can be altered or changed to become a better project? Or do you weep heavily for 3 weeks and turn to Netflix and chocolate to get you out of the depression? One of the reasons I ask is that there are some brilliant ideas on PH but when you click through they are dead or dying and it makes you think "If they just tweaked this" or "If they just added that?" or "If they used it for this purpose that has a huge demand, rather than for their audience that nobody is really that interested in?".


Minimalist Engineer
4 weeks is probably a too short of a period. Of course it depends on the product. I had a product that got some traction only after 2 years. In this time I wasn't actively working on it, but when there was an opportunity to recommend/promote/improve it - I did. I can say the time was worth waiting.
Still trying to patch that Y2K bug
@zsergo I faced the same thing where we got a few thousand downloads about a year after launching. My mistake? I wasn't keeping my eye on the numbers and totally missed it. Moral of the story, if you think you've built a great product, keep chipping away at it, you never know when you might strike gold.
Making things. Creator of
Just getting some experience now with my successful launch, but i think the key is to build an audience which motivates you to go on, launch new thing, fix things and make the product a fit for you audience. It's really depressing if your product look 'abandoned', so if you make it look active, for example Twitter posts, really small improvements, over time users find and stay at your product.
Startup employee, SaaS advisor, hiker
Shut it down and move on to the next thing on your ideas list.
founder at Respond60
Thats actually a classic catch-22. You have a few users who put their trust in you and signed up. It's also a question of abandoning those early adopters. I'd say give any project at least a solid 12 weeks. Set aside some cash for marketing. Believe me, you'll need it more often than not. And if you do decide to shut down, send across a detailed note to your early adopters explaining everything so they stick with you on the next one.
simple man
Any successfully always cost very much include the perseverance, I am not sure that try and catch with new ideas can make your find out the gold mine in the short term as same as win the lottery. I sure that I see more peoples are successful and become millionaire have the past very hard work and perseverance. In the past 5 years none know about their, but I read their blog I see they learn, try, do, fail, learn, improve, growth, optimize and now they become famous people base on what they build. Early stage clients are just testers who can throw a lots of negative reviews and I never hope to hold them back and make any penny out of their profits. But they urge me to fix and adapt my products to the actual market situation. Profits will come as an undeniable inevitability of a useful product. As the owner and developer, I just do what I can take the initiative. Example: - I get emails from clients and they tell: "Wow, that is sucks", I will fix it, it make my product better for sure. - I learn from competitors and see that their method is good, I will try to do it, it make my product better for sure. - I build other products when current products not have any feedback or new idea, it make my assets and experiences growth for sure. - I saw a drop in user retention, but I'm not sure what could be done to improve it, I just ignore it.
busy making things weird
I love listening to the How I Built This podcast because there are so many stories of people who had to pivot their product and they really get into the details of what went wrong and how they shifted. My fave episode that touches on this issue is the Classpass one. The Airbnb one is also great, as is the Instagram episode. And there's a whole series of special episodes called "How I Built Resilience" that might be a good listen too.
Software Batman
@missjenny That is one of my favorite podcasts. Really inspiring to hear their journeys :)
Indie hacking for a free life
Weep heavily first, then try to direct your attention to something else. After some time you'll know what to do; be it a pivot, a renewed focus on the long term or a complete shutdown. One of the difficulties is communicating your decision to friends, followers and users. Being honest while giving your users a way to export their data might make this less painful
Platform / software engineer.
It depends on why you got into the project in the first place. Are you still passionate about the problem that it's trying to solve? Every project you undertake gives you more experience of building and launching something so it's always valuable but it can be a very draining experience. Step #1: go easy on yourself!
county guide
You have some users who put their trust in you and signed up. It's also a query of abandoning the ones early adopters. I'd say deliver any task at least a solid 12 weeks. Set apart some cash for advertising. Believe me, you will need it more frequently than now not. See the demo here
Digital Marketer
Believe me, you'll need it more often than not. then try to direct your attention to something else. After some time you'll know what to do; be it a pivot, a renewed focus on the long term or a complete shutdown.