Snippet Repo: How I went from 0 to 1,000 users in 48 hours

Jonathan Bird
Jan 21, 2014 · 4 min read

Snippet Repo is a space for web developers to find, share, store and vote on quality solutions to code problems. I built this app for myself because I felt that the current solutions weren’t good enough for me to use.

I decided on this idea about two years ago and I didn’t really know how to start so I saved up some cash and hired someone off Elance to build the backend based on my design and feature list. I launched on Reddit shortly after and there was some good traction and mix of good and bad feedback. I learnt a lot from that launch and 6 months ago, I decided to use this feedback to redevelop it.

I relaunched again 3 months ago and within 48 hours, I had 1,000 targeted users on my email list. What I didn’t mention is that I had barely started developing it when I relaunched. All I had was a landing page with a one-paragraph benefit statement of how my app will help them, an email signup form, and a fancy teaser screenshot.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve jotted down some tips based on experience and advice on how to create a successful startup and how to get 1,000 users in less than 48 hours:

1. Build something you’d use daily

I’ve heard this a million times and it is still one of the most commonly overlooked pieces of advice. I unknowingly used this advice when I started but became aware of how it important it is after hearing it from multiple startup founders at conferences, you will hear founders say this is the one thing that kept them alive and booming.

If you like your product, it is likely that someone else does too.

2. Focus on your core product

This is where most startups go wrong. They get carried away with their feedback and lose sight of what really matters. If you have your benefit statement, then it’s much easier to refocus on creating features based on your core product and user feedback.

The first iteration has the minimal viable product to focus on core elements. Next is gain feedback from users, and then build on that core product as I don’t want to build features that don’t build upon the core concept.

3. Email is king

Put it this way — without email, I wouldn’t have had 1,000 users before I launched, nor would I have been able to engage with them easily. We all use email, it works on many levels, it allows direct contact with your customers, it engages readers, it can be easily targeted and personalised, it’s a low-cost solution and it can be measured.

If you don’t optimize email and let it languish in favor of those cool new tools out there, your business will suffer. Email is still king.

4. Care about content quality

This is one major issue in my startup field especially. The reason I started Snippet Repo is primarily because the lack of quality control of code in the communities around. This is a fairly good reason and is also why Behance and Dribbble started their communities.

There are a few different ways of moderating content to ensure high quality but the way I decided to combat the issue is by having an invitation-only community. A potential user must show me that your code is good before being allowed to participate in the community. A person may use the site as they wish but to post code and interact with other users, they must apply.

If I wasn’t clear in my point — your startup will fail if you have low quality content.

5. Market it before you launch

If you followed the above 4 tips, you should have a high quality product that people want to use. Unfortunately, this is the point where most people get stuck but where I went from 0 to 1,000 users in 48 hours.

The first thing I did was found some web development communities. I chose Forrst and Reddit. I decided to do Forrst first so I posted a screenshot, a link, and a short benefit statement. I got some great signups and passionate repeat users from this. Reddit was a bit more successful but slightly harder to get viral. After doing some research and experimenting, I found that I must get the perfect title and post at the right time of the day. For the subreddit I was posting in, this is the title that worked:

Tired of re-writing code over and over again at your web design job? So am I, so I’m launching this next month (custom useful code only)

With that title in the web_design subreddit, I received over 185 upvotes with more than 800 signups in the first 24 hours and almost 1000 in the first 48 hours.

These communities make it much easier to market to your target audience without ever having to spend anything more than your time — but only if you have a good product.

    Jonathan Bird

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