Hey y’all. I’m Martin Broder, cofounder of Relentless Apps and part-time developer at ShareSpring, and I’m going to build a web app with a goal of earning $5,000 a month by the end of six months. Nathan Barry tried to do this and it took him 2 years! He created ConvertKit which now competes with some of biggest apps around. Good job, Nathan! His was a pretty good app challenge, but it wasn’t Amazing.
2018 has been a great year for Relentless. I’ve learned a lot about markets and engaging customers and all that business stuff. We’re making about $3,000 a month (30% of which goes to Shopify) but we’re adding new customers every month.
The new app though… it’s going to be… amazing… because this is the Amazing Web App Challenge. So you can look forward to that. I’ll post once a month and be as transparent as possible. It’ll be a good experiment and a learning opportunity.
My Old Process
Typically, I’ll start making something strange that gets a little attention, but is mostly unsuccessful (like this). Or I’ll spend months making something, post it somewhere and get no response whatsoever.
The New Process
For this project, I want to do marketing right. Start early, and gauge interest, connect with people, build an audience. I’d like the future customers and competitors to push us in the right direction, and add some experimental features without precedent. We could even disrupt a market, which would be great for building buzz (positive feedback loop, link to a future article, me from the future).
To help spark some traffic flow, I created the Shopify App Map comparison tool (it’s a work in progress). I’m hoping it will draw Shopify app developers and store owners who are looking to improve their businesses. The Shopify App Map will:
- allow store owners to make queries like: Display apps that have unlimited options and support for Shopify Variants; sort them by descending subscription price.
- incentivize app devs to update their apps’ features to get exposure for their products. We could also sell promoted listings.
Marketing is a Series of Imbalances
I don’t know much about marketing, but from our work on our other apps, I’ve learned that to sell something or get a review, you’ve gotta create some kind of imbalance. Here are a few examples of what I’m yammering on about:
- Inspire someone – I think this is the main purpose of landing pages. They address a small section of your customers and try to convince them they can solve a problem.
- Create something – It’s impossible to make something perfect, so don’t worry about the problems. People install our apps and ask questions or ask us to fix things. At first, this was annoying, but when we realized they would give us reviews in exchange, we were much more willing to help. It’s a win-win situation!
- Give people something – People who don’t know much about you won’t pay for your products. But if you give them something for free, they’ll get an idea for who you are and then trust you enough buy something next time.
- Ask for something – Ever read that book How to Win Friends and Influence People? Dale Carnegie says one technique to make a connection is to ask someone for something, like asking a stranger for the time of day. It gives people purpose and creates imbalance.
It seems like this is just a list of any interaction you can have with someone. It’s interesting how opposites like giving someone something and asking for something both work. What about the opposite of inspiring someone? Discouraging them? Or the opposite of creating something? Destroying it? You could say disrupting an industry is destructive.
I’m starting completely from scratch. Our last two apps were Shopify apps, but I’d like to make the next one platform independent so we can serve a bigger, more diverse audience and have the flexibility to sell it in other places.
Jon and I started out talking about a sticky Add to Cart button, which would be really easy to make, but how much will it really help sales? I’ve never wanted to buy something and not followed through because I couldn’t find the Add to Cart button. Still, it would sell, but I’d really like to make something more creative and that inspires store owners with the results they’re getting.
Some Random Ideas
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the difference between what I’m doing and all the rich marketers I follow are doing. I think it has to do with framing, dogfooding and positive feedback loops. I’ll get more into this in another post, but the point is I need to make a marketing tool that can help anyone who’s selling something. Maybe even if they’re not selling online?
The world is changing so fast these days. I read somewhere that the business landscape has changed more in the past two years than it has in the 50 years before that! So maybe our tool can be lots of little tools based on up-to-date statistics.
Gamification could be fun to integrate. I’ve made a bunch of little games, and one of the coolest things is putting a few elements together and seeing some gameplay emerge that drives people to behave a certain way to progress. I’ve seen this concept executed well in a few apps.
For example: Today I signed up for an account on Quora, and there was a checklist of tasks I could do to get some rewards. I made sure to upvote a bunch of answers, upload a profile and asked my first question: “Can I ask anything?” It was fun and, in conclusion, really shows the power of gamification.
Use The Force, Picard, and Tell Spock to Do the Same
We all know there ain’t no love in the heart of the city… I’m relying on my trusty readership to get me through the next six months.
Please pre-order the app for a dollar, and when you’re done doing that, click sign up for the mailing list. It will be a vote for team Relentless and will encourage us on our journey AND will get you the first 6 months subscription free. Limited to the first 100,000 people who sign up. It will also force me to “ship” the first version of the app within 20 days. PayPal’s policy on pre-orders requires me to do so.
Here’s the next month’s post all about SEO…
In the comments, let me know if I’m making a huge mistake or if you’re making an app too, or if I should make a cat calculator instead.