This week I’m grateful and energized. The main reason is because I launched the Building in Public guide I’ve been working on in the last 2 months. And the responses have been awesome: website getting read views, Twitter getting more followers, and also doubled my subscriber number.
The numbers are great to look at, but more importantly, I feel a sense of value to myself - that I’m able to create something that helps people. This feeling beats any other metrics.
If you have been reading my writing for a while, you know that I was working intensely on a startup called Toasty in 2019-2020. It was backed by angel investors and I had a team of 6-8 (depending on when), so I was under a lot of pressure. At some point I was lost and discouraged, and I decided to stop working on it in Oct. The sense of defeat was real - I felt that I wasn’t able to create value.
“You have a bunch of funding and people working for you, and you cannot make it work?” An inner voice like this would be challenging myself often.
So this time around, I created something small and had good feedback, it made me feel better about myself. I want to tell you more about it.
So this week is going to be quite word-packed, buckle up:
- My thoughts around launching the guide and my learnings
- I made some suggestions on the landing page of Contra.com
- What to do with Avery's money
Launching Building in Public guide
As a person who is writing a guide about transparency, I would also love to share the behind-the-scene of this mini project. After all, it is as much a learning opportunity for someone as it is for me.
Why did I decide to create it?
One word: awareness. Let me explain.
When I stopped working on Toasty, other than feeling defeated, I also realized I was a nobody. All my effort was put into a company, and when it didn’t work, there was nothing for me to carry forward.
Then I discovered writing and how a lot of people were helping others with their own names (instead of as a company), I loved the idea. The concept felt solid, and I could see myself working on it for the next 50 years.
I wanted to write more and curate an audience of my own. I’ve started startups, so I knew the beginning would be super duper difficult. I was thinking: how can I kick this new initiative off?
I made a mistake at Toasty to put up a pricing plan since day 1, because I believed in a theory about how you can only validate your idea when people pay. And I'm telling you that it is not true. When you start off doing free things, you’re opening up doors and getting more feedback, in which it helps you figure out how to provide value and charge for it later on.
I knew I would be focused on giving (not taking), but what should I write?
How did I approach it?
I had no idea what to write, so I started putting together a table of ideas and did some simple research on search volume (Google).
Let's take a look at my table.
Looking at the search volume, I wasn’t going to write about Building in Public because no one is searching.
The one that made a lot of sense was Personal Brand with 10k-100k search volume per month!
But I also asked myself “Kevon, which topic do you really enjoy learning and sharing?”
You guessed it. I really love the topic of being transparent. I can talk about it all day all night.
Of course, I also did a quick search on Twitter and saw that a small group of people were keen on this topic.
So other than a gut feeling telling me that this is a small emerging trend, it was also about staying true to myself.
So I chose Building in Public.
How did the first launch go?
I then put in a lot of hours researching and writing part 1 of the guide. I launched it 2 days ago on Jan 18.
Below you can see the analytics from the free ShareThis platform. Honestly, I don’t really know how they measure Shares and Referrals. I didn't look into it.
On Twitter, 32 retweets were very solid in my view.
I got about 240 users visiting my website per day for the last 2 days.
Overall, I am quite happy about the results, especially a number of people reached out and said the guide was helpful. That’s all it matters to me.
- Even though these “launches” are exciting (I kept looking at Google Analytics), I don’t pay too much attention to them. Why? Every project takes time to shape up. The more important part is whether this guide can be still be useful 5 years down the road, the sustainable traffic is what I’m looking for.
- At first, it bothered me a lot that my guide was only half done. What if people read the guide and are unsatisfied because it is not complete? But I kept telling myself “If people care enough, they’d come back for part 2.” Publishing it in 2 parts was a good decision. After all, 2 small launches yield more eyeballs than one big launch.
- Making friends with people who care about this topic was an important step. Since I’ve been active on Twitter since Nov 2020, I’ve been engaging with a great number of people every week. We support each other, we joke, and we cheer. Without them, the numbers wouldn’t be the same.
- What’s next then? As mentioned, spike-traffic is not my focus. I want sustainability. So my next step is finish part 2 (duh .. of course) and reach out to websites and blogs that I think would like to talk about Building in Public and feature my guide. On one hand, this would be ongoing referral traffic. On the other hand, getting backlinks can help me increase my domain rating (which is a sad 2.2 now) so it can help with SEO down the road. These are what I refer to as sustainable traffic, much more important than social traffic.
- If you're here after reading the guide, I truly want to say thank you!
Improving a landing page - Contra.com
I recently stumbled upon a super cool platform called Contra.
They’re building something important that matches my vision of future of work. And I saw they have a vibrant community and an ambassador role, so I applied. If anything, I’d love to meet the team behind it and just offer help in any way.
Then on the application form, they have this question “How would you change / improve our current landing pages?”
I then documented my whole experience as a first-time visitor to the site and sent them my suggestions. I thought it’d be a good case study for anyone who is keen on improving their landing page design and copywriting.
What to do with Avery's money?
I’m putting this part at the end because I know this week I have quite some new subscribers, and I don’t want most of them to freak out: “OMG! I thought I subscribed to Kevon’s newsletter about building, why is he talking so much about family and his daughter?”
Oops! If you’re new here, let me tell you the structure of my newsletter, I talk about: 1) my life (which is mostly my family, or you can also follow my IG), 2) anything related to building/product/SEO, 3) articles I write about growth/marketing/personal development/life, and 4) some highly selective inspirations.
Okay, back to my life and my family.
Avery is now 18 days old, and she is getting rich! Yeah!
As a Chinese family, giving red envelopes (let’s call RE) is our big culture. Chinese New Year, RE! Birthday, RE! Getting married, RE! Don’t know what to gift, RE! Birth, definitely RE!
So Avery is already getting some money before she can even properly open her eyes…
As a responsible dad, I know I need to plan ahead for her life. And the biggest expense will be schools for sure! To support her tuition, my plan is to put every single dollar Avery receives into long-term, growth stocks, especially in companies working on climate change. I see investing (not speculating) as an important strategy to build wealth.
This guy is retiring at 39 years old after putting all his money in Tesla, maybe Avery can retire at 20? I’m kidding, in every perspective!
Five Trends for the 2020s: I hate reading those articles about new year trends "AI" "VR" "SmartCity". But this one is different,it is about behaviors.
Cowspiracy: A documentary I watched last week on Netflix about the impact of animal agriculture on the environment (climate change). It was released in 2014 and it reminded me why plant-based food and indoor farming have been such hot topics in recent years. I am late to the awareness but I'm glad I'm here.
We Are What We Remember: An article about memories. Something in us but we never think about them. I learned something new here and I think you'll like it too.