The Testimonial Blog

From $0 to $5k after a year Indie Hacking. Three things I've learned

May 3, 2023

After over a year of Indie hacking, we've finally hit my first Indie Hacking goal for senja.io... $5K MRR 🥳

Here are the three biggest things I've learned

1. Ship fast, fail fast

Since we released Senja, I've updated the app over 2,000 times.

We're working in a very competitive market with a very low moat, so instead of building just another product, we decided to create the best product in our space.

That meant:

  1. listening and building customer requests

  2. trying things nobody else was doing

  3. shipping fast and failing even faster

Now we have a product that is one of the best tools in the market, and because our users love the product so much, word of mouth has started to take off.

Focusing on product primarily instead of marketing meant that it would take much longer for growth to kick in.

But because we have 100s of happy customers and they keep on recommending us, growth is starting to ramp up.

We're also constantly experimenting with our marketing.

We've tried dozens of things, from shitposting on Twitter to partnering with website builders.

A lot of the things we've tried have failed horribly, but the few that worked have worked really well.

2. Separate Engineering and Marketing

The biggest mistake we've made marketing wise is probably building our marketing site from scratch with code.

That meant every change to our marketing site would lead to a back and forth between me and my cofounder.

He'd need to change something but couldn't till I was free.

Because of this, we couldn't add marketing pages and other resources as quickly as we needed to. Our SEO and content marketing have suffered.

Adding a headless CMS didn't help either. Whenever we wanted to try something new, we'd have to build it twice. Once in code, then in our cms.

Now we're rebuilding our entire marketing site with (releasing this week!) so that all marketing can be done independently from dev work.

3. Start Reporting

Up until two months ago, I didn't understand just how powerful reporting is.

For most of Senja's life, we tracked signups + customers per day and also asked people where they came from (search, social, ads etc).

But we never had concrete reporting in place.

To prepare for the road ahead, last week my cofounder and I sat down and spent a day creating reports and my mind has already been blown.

Now we know:

  1. which marketing channels are working best for us.

  2. how long it takes the average user to go from signup → upgrade.

  3. how many users go from paywall to upgrade

  4. how many users we can upsell

  5. who our top personas are

And much more.

If I could go back and do one thing differently, it would be have concrete reporting in from day 1.

Next steps

I'm feeling extremely optimistic about the future.

SEO is still one of our best performing channels, so we're going to be shipping a lot more help guides, resources and blog posts in the upcoming weeks.

We now get over 500 signups per month but less than 10% of them upgrade. So we'll be focusing more on customer success too.

We're going to get much more aggressive with our marketing. We'll be:

  1. going toe to toe with our competitors

  2. reaching out to twice as many people through social media, cold outreach et cetera

  3. launching new things every month

  4. running many more experiments

  5. collaborating with many more awesome creators.

As always, we'll be sharing every interesting thing we learn and try in public 🔥

The support from the build in public community so far has been overwhelming. We'd never have gotten started without Twitter and Indie Hackers.

The inspiration, motivation and critique from the community is what's kept us going for a year.

Now I'm feeling better than ever, and I'm ready to take our little business to the next level.

Thank you for everything 💜

After over a year of Indie hacking, we've finally hit my first Indie Hacking goal for senja.io... $5K MRR 🥳

Here are the three biggest things I've learned

1. Ship fast, fail fast

Since we released Senja, I've updated the app over 2,000 times.

We're working in a very competitive market with a very low moat, so instead of building just another product, we decided to create the best product in our space.

That meant:

  1. listening and building customer requests

  2. trying things nobody else was doing

  3. shipping fast and failing even faster

Now we have a product that is one of the best tools in the market, and because our users love the product so much, word of mouth has started to take off.

Focusing on product primarily instead of marketing meant that it would take much longer for growth to kick in.

But because we have 100s of happy customers and they keep on recommending us, growth is starting to ramp up.

We're also constantly experimenting with our marketing.

We've tried dozens of things, from shitposting on Twitter to partnering with website builders.

A lot of the things we've tried have failed horribly, but the few that worked have worked really well.

2. Separate Engineering and Marketing

The biggest mistake we've made marketing wise is probably building our marketing site from scratch with code.

That meant every change to our marketing site would lead to a back and forth between me and my cofounder.

He'd need to change something but couldn't till I was free.

Because of this, we couldn't add marketing pages and other resources as quickly as we needed to. Our SEO and content marketing have suffered.

Adding a headless CMS didn't help either. Whenever we wanted to try something new, we'd have to build it twice. Once in code, then in our cms.

Now we're rebuilding our entire marketing site with (releasing this week!) so that all marketing can be done independently from dev work.

3. Start Reporting

Up until two months ago, I didn't understand just how powerful reporting is.

For most of Senja's life, we tracked signups + customers per day and also asked people where they came from (search, social, ads etc).

But we never had concrete reporting in place.

To prepare for the road ahead, last week my cofounder and I sat down and spent a day creating reports and my mind has already been blown.

Now we know:

  1. which marketing channels are working best for us.

  2. how long it takes the average user to go from signup → upgrade.

  3. how many users go from paywall to upgrade

  4. how many users we can upsell

  5. who our top personas are

And much more.

If I could go back and do one thing differently, it would be have concrete reporting in from day 1.

Next steps

I'm feeling extremely optimistic about the future.

SEO is still one of our best performing channels, so we're going to be shipping a lot more help guides, resources and blog posts in the upcoming weeks.

We now get over 500 signups per month but less than 10% of them upgrade. So we'll be focusing more on customer success too.

We're going to get much more aggressive with our marketing. We'll be:

  1. going toe to toe with our competitors

  2. reaching out to twice as many people through social media, cold outreach et cetera

  3. launching new things every month

  4. running many more experiments

  5. collaborating with many more awesome creators.

As always, we'll be sharing every interesting thing we learn and try in public 🔥

The support from the build in public community so far has been overwhelming. We'd never have gotten started without Twitter and Indie Hackers.

The inspiration, motivation and critique from the community is what's kept us going for a year.

Now I'm feeling better than ever, and I'm ready to take our little business to the next level.

Thank you for everything 💜

After over a year of Indie hacking, we've finally hit my first Indie Hacking goal for senja.io... $5K MRR 🥳

Here are the three biggest things I've learned

1. Ship fast, fail fast

Since we released Senja, I've updated the app over 2,000 times.

We're working in a very competitive market with a very low moat, so instead of building just another product, we decided to create the best product in our space.

That meant:

  1. listening and building customer requests

  2. trying things nobody else was doing

  3. shipping fast and failing even faster

Now we have a product that is one of the best tools in the market, and because our users love the product so much, word of mouth has started to take off.

Focusing on product primarily instead of marketing meant that it would take much longer for growth to kick in.

But because we have 100s of happy customers and they keep on recommending us, growth is starting to ramp up.

We're also constantly experimenting with our marketing.

We've tried dozens of things, from shitposting on Twitter to partnering with website builders.

A lot of the things we've tried have failed horribly, but the few that worked have worked really well.

2. Separate Engineering and Marketing

The biggest mistake we've made marketing wise is probably building our marketing site from scratch with code.

That meant every change to our marketing site would lead to a back and forth between me and my cofounder.

He'd need to change something but couldn't till I was free.

Because of this, we couldn't add marketing pages and other resources as quickly as we needed to. Our SEO and content marketing have suffered.

Adding a headless CMS didn't help either. Whenever we wanted to try something new, we'd have to build it twice. Once in code, then in our cms.

Now we're rebuilding our entire marketing site with (releasing this week!) so that all marketing can be done independently from dev work.

3. Start Reporting

Up until two months ago, I didn't understand just how powerful reporting is.

For most of Senja's life, we tracked signups + customers per day and also asked people where they came from (search, social, ads etc).

But we never had concrete reporting in place.

To prepare for the road ahead, last week my cofounder and I sat down and spent a day creating reports and my mind has already been blown.

Now we know:

  1. which marketing channels are working best for us.

  2. how long it takes the average user to go from signup → upgrade.

  3. how many users go from paywall to upgrade

  4. how many users we can upsell

  5. who our top personas are

And much more.

If I could go back and do one thing differently, it would be have concrete reporting in from day 1.

Next steps

I'm feeling extremely optimistic about the future.

SEO is still one of our best performing channels, so we're going to be shipping a lot more help guides, resources and blog posts in the upcoming weeks.

We now get over 500 signups per month but less than 10% of them upgrade. So we'll be focusing more on customer success too.

We're going to get much more aggressive with our marketing. We'll be:

  1. going toe to toe with our competitors

  2. reaching out to twice as many people through social media, cold outreach et cetera

  3. launching new things every month

  4. running many more experiments

  5. collaborating with many more awesome creators.

As always, we'll be sharing every interesting thing we learn and try in public 🔥

The support from the build in public community so far has been overwhelming. We'd never have gotten started without Twitter and Indie Hackers.

The inspiration, motivation and critique from the community is what's kept us going for a year.

Now I'm feeling better than ever, and I'm ready to take our little business to the next level.

Thank you for everything 💜

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