What makes a maker: ship fast, work in public, support your tribe
Three big trends have recently emerged in the makers community.
First, increasingly short timeframes from idea to launch. Makers are building and shipping products fast to figure out as quickly as possible what works and what doesn’t. Pieter Levels and his 12 Startups in 12 Months challenge was an undeniable catalyst, followed by the even more ambitious 24 Startups in 12 Months three other makers are currently working on.
Recently, Pat Walls took those two first concepts to a whole new level by building and launching a startup in 24 hours, all live streamed on Twitch for everyone to follow along. More than 5000 people tuned in on Twitch to watch him and support him.
Which brings me to the third trend: the rise of makers online communities. While there are bigger platforms such as Indie Hackers, which was acquired by Stripe last year, I’ve noticed lots of smaller, more specialised, fragmented, and targeted groups, often hosted on Slack, Discord or Telegram. Some of them, such as Women Make, are free to join, while others, such as Mindful Makers, require a paid subscription.
A challenge made for makers: build and launch something in 30-days
The reason why I’m mentioning these three trends is because today, Women Make is launching an initiative that encapsulates these three pillars connecting makers around the world: ship fast, work in public, support your tribe.
This initiative is the Just F*cking Ship It in 30 Days Challenge, a programme that encourages people to build and launch something in 30 days.
The projects go from complex tech-enabled ideas, such as a self-hosted membership website or a marketplace to find your next pet, to low-tech ones, such as podcasts and ebooks.
The latter is what I will be working on. My challenge is to write the manuscript of an ebook in 30 days and launch the pre-order website by the end of the month. The topic is going to be personal branding for indie makers.
I picked this project because:
- It’s a real challenge: I used to write a lot of fiction, but I’ve never written or published a self-help ebook before;
- It’s going to be helpful to people: coming from a marketing background, I have a lot to share with indie makers and I hope to have a positive impact;
- It’s practical: I will be travelling half of the month across Algeria taking a road trip with my parents, and may not have the Internet — while I can’t code for the life of me without StackOverflow, I will still be able to write my thoughts when offline in the desert.
Why personal branding for indie makers?
I’m part of several indie makers communities, and it comes back in the conversations time and time again: people spend weeks, sometimes months, building their product, and then rely mostly on Product Hunt for user acquisition. As you know, I’m a huge fan of Product Hunt, but it is what it says on the tin: a launch platform. After a few days, the traffic it sends to your landing page dwindles pretty quickly.
In order to get sustained traffic to your products, you need to build your own audience. You need to find your tribe. You need to be front of mind.
And because you are an indie maker, you can’t hide behind a brand. You are the brand.
Lots of makers are too shy or self-conscious to put themselves out there. They rely on a “build it and they will come” mantra.
I want to help indie makers build the right audience, and put themselves in a position where they don’t have to rely on a specific platform to acquire users.
As I said, this is going to be my first time attempting to write and publish an ebook. As a maker myself, I’ll try to write it fast, I’ll definitely write it in public (when I have the Internet), and I hope I can rely on your feedback and support!
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Good luck to everyone attempting the challenge this month, and if you haven’t joined yet, it’s not too late! Join the Just F*cking Ship It in 30 Days Challenge and let’s do this together. It’s open to everyone, and 100% free and online.