What Are The Benefits of Building in Public?

CHAPTER 3

Before you adopt a new mindset, surely you want to know the reasoning behind it.

There are so many benefits from being transparent. Let me cover the most important ones.

1. Create a brand with a trustworthy voice

If you look around your entrepreneurial friends, how many of them love sharing their journey including the struggles and failures? The answer is usually not many.

Traditionally, there isn't a culture to be so transparent about everything. Business marketing has taught us to emphasize the amazing things you're doing and minimize anything that can destroy that perfect image.

It used to work. But as the world gets more competitive and everyone is just focusing on marketing and branding the positives, we start to lose touch on authenticity. We're unsure what's real and what is advertising.

If you are Building in Public, then you're differentiating yourself as a unique brand that highly values trust, honesty, transparency. Because you're not afraid to share the challenges, the hardships, and the embarrassing mistakes, you stand out from everyone else.

I came across Nat Eliason and I was hooked to his brand, his life, his mind, and of course, the writing and videos that he creates. What's so special about this person that makes me perceive him as a role model?

Nat Eliason has a differentiated personal brand that highly values trust, honesty, and transparency.
Writing to share deep thinking has been Nat's style for years.

The answer is openness. He publicly shared stories like how he was let go at Sumo, how he built his company Growth Machine and left his CEO role, and why he didn't want to become a full-time creator. All these deep stories define his brand and convince readers that he is a guy who places honesty at the forefront. He recommends things honestly, he runs his company honestly, and he teaches through his content honestly.

2. Enjoy creator's serendipity

In the old days, when you did something good, a few people physically around you would know. Hence the return on sharing was very low.

These days with the Internet, when you do something good, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people hear about it. And they could hear it within minutes or hours.

The Internet has changed the whole playing field. As a creator, when you're Building in Public, you're sharing your stories online, increasing your footprint on the web, and creating even more ideas and business opportunities for yourself.

Let's take Ali Abdaal as an example. He is a great example who creates a ton of transparent content. On top of sharing on Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram, he writes on his website, hosts a podcast, and sends out a newsletter. All are content, casual or serious, that lives on the Internet forever.

Ali Abdaal openly talks about how much money he made in 2020.
Ali broke down his impressive earnings in 2020 and emphasized it is never an "overnight success".

And just like what Ali said in his video, How Much I Earned in 2020 - My Best Year Ever (I'll send you directly to 18:25-20:01), "there is a sort of luck you get when you put a lot of work into something". With a growing audience, when you consistently put out quality work out there, you're increasing your chance for something to happen.

This is what serendipity is.

[On a side note, Ali also mentioned honestly why he creates this sort of videos - not to make others feel bad, but because people want this type of content so they can replicate success! How can you handpick small impressive learnings in your own journey for a few others to learn?]

3. Get validation early and increase your chance of success

In the old days, we create a product, and then we market it and see if anyone would buy it. If people do, you're in business. If people don't, you're in trouble. This is a highly risky and costly way to test an idea. You can trust me on this because I made this mistake.

The good news is we no longer have to do it this way.

When you're Building in Public, you're sharing early in the process, hopefully in the ideation phase. This way you can get a lot of initial feedback even before you spend a ton of time and money to build a product. The feedback can enhance your understanding of your audience, validate whether your problem hypothesis is true, or even land you your first few users.

Zoe Chew is a great example of this. She is the creator of Notion TrackerSuite, which consists of 12 Notion templates and 10 Notion training videos, for professionals who want to get things done by establishing a workflow using Notion.

Zoe Chew has a fascinating product creation product that ensures her products will be successful.
One step leading to another, that's Zoe's strategy in building products people want.

Did she just think of the idea of making Notion templates and go on to build it? What was her product creation process?

  1. She loves using Notion to track her life: finance, investment, habit, book, and project.
  2. She wrote blog posts about these trackers and some went viral. People started reaching out to her.
  3. With people showing interest, she turned the insights on the blog post into paid templates. People started buying them!
  4. With people buying the templates, she decided to create the Notion TrackerSuite and had US4,700 sales in the first 23 days.

Zoe is always sharing her journey's ups, downs, and most importantly, how she did it with everyone. That's how I got to know about her amazing approach to building this product. Through Building in Public, she was able to pick up solid data points about what people wanted and increased her chance of success.

4. Establish strong moats

A moat is something that can protect what you've built. In the past, trade secrets like Coca Cola's recipe would be a strong moat.

These days, with technology being more advanced, you'll often hear people saying that ideas are worthless. It is true because any product ideas can be copied quickly when someone else has the money, time, and talents.

You need better competitive advantages.

And that's why it is more important to focus on moats that are impossible for someone else to copy, such as culture, brand, personality, and community. The best thing about Building in Public is that it leads you to build all these moats at once.

When you're sharing openly, you're establishing a culture for the people who work around you. You're crafting a brand and a personality either for yourself or for your company. And you're building relationships with people that become your community and audience.

These things are unique, so your moats are strengthened.

5. Have accountability for your best work

We talk a lot about the external benefits of Building in Public, branding, moat, reaching success, etc. You might wonder - "What about me? How can this help me as a creator?"

Building in Public holds you accountable and helps you put out your best work.

As you're sharing your journey with many eyes on it, it is more likely for you to put more thoughts into your work because you're putting your own name on the line. Remember the childhood story, "The Boy Who Cried Wolf?" No one believed him after he pranked the villagers twice shouting "Wolf!" His reputation was destroyed by his own actions. Similarly, when you're Building in Public, your work and sharing reflects your reputation and you only have one reputation.

The biggest challenge to adopt this mindset is to show vulnerability, manage other people's judgment, and reveal uncomfortable information. As you put out invalidated ideas and personal opinions, you're prone to receiving comments from others that might be discouraging. This pressure forces you to continuously improve yourself so that your sharing is of the highest quality.

Of course, this doesn't mean that Building in Public can make you more accountable and make your work automatically top-quality. These are benefits you can enjoy when you're doing it right.

Next Chapter

↳ How Do You Build in Public?