Simon Austerberry

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    • Duty Free eCommerce Design

      MAG Airport App

      MAG Transfers Booking Journey

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    • ShopNote

Build in Public

I'm building a SaaS in Public. Here's why you should too.

27/01/2022

6 min read

Before I write a post, I make a note of what I’d like the reader to get from it. In this post, I hope you’ll:

  • See the benefits of building in public
  • Learn how you can start building in public
  • Be intrigued to know more about my new SaaS and my startup journey

Let me set the scene

I can still remember building my first digital product. I was 13 years old, passionate about skateboarding and I loved nu-metal. And yes, I had the baggy jeans, flame shirt and pin badges to match.

I also loved to make websites. One of my first websites was a skateboarding site. It was one of many that taught skateboarding tricks – even though I couldn’t do most of them myself.

At the time, my site needed a latest news section. After all, how else could I keep people up to date with the new trick tutorials I added to the site? I took this as an opportunity to build my own blogging platform, Infinite News. It was simple. You could create a news feed and drop it into your site with an iframe.

It never became anything more than a latest news section on my website and a couple of other skateboarding sites.

Fast forward 19 years, and that itch to build digital products is still there. In fact, it drove my career choice to become a UX designer. And for the past 10 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to help other companies improve the user experience of their own digital products.

However, I now want to do the same for a product of my own. I’ve dabbled in the past with creating hobby projects. But this time, I’ve decided to build my own SaaS product, with the intent to turn this into a profitable startup. Coincidentally, this new product is a blogging platform.

This blog post is the first in a series to build this product in public. And it’s my attempt to share my journey with you.

Why did I decide build a SaaS?

There are three reason why I decided to build a SaaS startup. The first I’ve covered. I love building digital products and have experience working with tech companies and startups.

Second, building a SaaS, or any digital product, is a great way to learn new skills. You need to wear many hats, and creating a SaaS will mean I need to be more than a UX designer. I’ll need to take on the role of marketer, product owner and developer.

Finally, I want to grow my business and diversify its income stream. Two years ago, I started my first company. The plan from the start was always to build a SaaS startup.

Currently, the majority of my time is spent as a UX Consultant (I’m currently working on some exciting stuff for CarFinance247).

It’s great, and the money helps to not only keep the lights on, but will help to fund my SaaS.

However, my company cannot continue to grow by contracting alone.

Why I'm building in public, and why you should consider it too.

Building in public can offer many benefits. It’s something you should consider it if you’re planning on making your own digital product. Here’s why.

  1. It keeps you accountable
    When you’re working for yourself, it’s easy to loose motivation or get distracted by new ideas. Building in public keeps you accountable. If people are following your journey, you’ll feel more inclined to stick at it.

  2. It’s a chance to reflect, and assess your decisions
    It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of delivering quickly. Taking the time out to reflect on your recent progress is a great way to see if what you’re doing is the right thing. It can help you to stay focused – or refocus if needed. It can also help you to stay motivated by realising your achievements.

  3. It helps you to keep track of your learnings
    One of the best things about building your own digital product is how much you learn. You take on many roles, especially as a solo founder. And many of these roles may be completely new to you. As a result, there’s a lot of learning on the job.

    Building in public is a great way to document your learnings. And by sharing it with the community, you’re delivering extra value to your readers. As a result, they’ll be more inclined to share your post, read more and try out your product.

    Which nicely leads on to…

  4. It’s great exposure and marketing for your product
    Building in public helps to get your product in front of people. By sharing your journey and learnings, you’re providing value to your reader. As a result, they may be more inclined to try out your product, or recommend it to someone else.

  5. It’s a great way to get feedback
    Finally, by being open and honest about your process, you’re inviting feedback and conversation from others. This could be feedback on your product, your process, or your journey.

    Feedback is always a great thing. It helps you to improve your product and helps you to learn.

How to build in public

  1. Decide how often you want to post. And stick to it.
    Choosing a posting frequency keeps you consistent. You could choose monthly, weekly or even daily. Just try to pick something you can stick to!

    To document my SaaS journey, I’ll be aiming to do at least one update a month.

  2. Create a blog or website
    A blog is a great way to document your journey. You can create rich posts full of content, and it creates a central destination for your readers to find your posts.

    There are lots of ways you can start a blog. For example, my new SaaS ShopNote is perfect for this. It’s simple to use and the community feature helps to increase the exposure of your posts. In fact, this very website is powered by ShopNote.

    However, there are other great alternatives.

    If you fancy building something yourself, you could consider WordPress or Ghost. Both very popular blogging platforms, with lots of themes to customise your site to your liking.

    If you fancy something more ready-made, you could consider SquareSpace, Medium or even Carrd.

    You could also create something bespoke. I’ve had a lot of success building sites using NextJs and Tailwind. It’s quick to build, effortless to style, and easy to host using a platform like Netlify or Vercel.

    Here are a few of my favourite build in public sites if you’d like some inspiration:

  3. Get active on Social Media
    Social Media can be a great way to get people to follow your journey – and product. Now, I’ll admit, I’m not a social media person. And I’m not going to pretend to know what I’m on about with this.

    However, if you're looking for inspiration, or would like join a growing community of people building in public on Twitter, it's worth checking out #buildinpublic

  4. Post in relevant communities
    Similar to the above, communities are another useful way to share your journey. What’s great about communities is they encourage conversation. It’s a great way to learn and get feedback on your product.

    To get the best results, be an active member of the community and engage with other people’s posts. You don’t want to appear to be someone who just spams their product all of the time.

    For ShopNote, I’m planning to get involved with the following communities:

Summary

Building in public is a great way to keep yourself accountable, share your journey with others and invite conversation and feedback from your readers.

I’m excited to share my progress as I take my SaaS product ShopNote from idea through to reality.

I'll be documenting my journey and process regularly on this site, and I hope you’ll come along with me for the ride!

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