LeverageYour Existing Audience To Have a Successful Launch

Alex Ponomarev
Dec 4, 2019 · 4 min read
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Have you heard of software engineer and writer Joel Spolsky? He’s one of the people who inspired me back in the day to get into software development. Recently, he’s inspired me to get into writing. Joel’s known for co-founding Stack Exchange, a network of Q&A websites, and for founding Trello, a universal Kanban-style board that allows you to organize any workflow, which was recently bought by Atlassian for $425 million. The point is, Joel is a great. He knows what he’s doing. Be more like Joel.

In 2007 Jessica Livingston, a founding partner at Y Combinator, interviewed Joel for her book Founders at Work. In the interview, Joel talks about how his blog Joel on Software was the primary way he got users for FogzBugz, a bug tracking software. (FogzBugz was one of the first products that Joel’s software development company FogCreek Software created.)

Though over time, word spread about Fogzbugz, in the early days of the product, all the product’s users came from Joel’s blog. Other founders have also used an existing audience to launch a product. Basecamp, for example (founded by David Heinemeier Hansson, who Jessica also interviewed for Founders at Work) was launched to the audience of a blog called Signal vs Noise, which was also created by a web design firm.

Unfortunately, just having a blog doesn’t work anymore — since 2003, the total number of websites has grown from 40 billion to more than a trillion. Back in the day, someone could easily find your website using a search engine. Now, you have to rely on marketing strategies like paid ads just to get your website noticed. The good news? The general strategy still works, and you don’t need an audience of millions to launch — even a hundred interested people is enough.

If you’re thinking about following in the footsteps of Joel and David, the process of launching a product to an audience that already knows you and trusts you is pretty straightforward. Here are the steps you need to follow:

Announce your launch

Remind about upcoming launch

Send a pre-order link

Create a landing page for launch

Set constraints

Offer an upsell

Launching is scary. And if you’re doing it for the first time, it’ll probably be a failure. I got zero sales on my first launch and exactly the same amount on the next few. But when you accept that this is a learning process, failure doesn’t feel like a negative — it’s just a part of your preparation for success. The only way to learn is by doing.

Rocket Startup

Advice & case studies for startup founders

Alex Ponomarev

Written by

Developer, growth hacker, founder, remote work advocate. Passionate about early-stage startups — ideas, validation, building products, launching and growth.

Rocket Startup

Advice & case studies for startup founders

Alex Ponomarev

Written by

Developer, growth hacker, founder, remote work advocate. Passionate about early-stage startups — ideas, validation, building products, launching and growth.

Rocket Startup

Advice & case studies for startup founders

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