Build It And They Won't Come, Don't Enjoy Yourself Too Much

Sunday Beam #


May 23, 2021

Good Sunday 🌞!

Weekend is great. I’m usually not doing deep work but spending time reflecting & planning 💭💭 for the coming week. As I’m sitting down at my desk to write this newsletter, I am feeling super happy and grateful. 😌

After 25 weeks, I can’t believe there are close to 300 of you who are reading my weekly sharing. My newsletter is about my journey and it is super personal, and usually this type of newsletters doesn’t get a lot of subscribers because the value I’m giving you is inconsistent without a niche topic. So ... super thankful 🙏

This week, let’s talk:

  1. Build it and they won’t come 😆
  2. Don’t enjoy yourself too much 🌨
  3. Small doses of inspirations 💡

😆 Build it and they won’t come

2 months ago, I started Public Lab. As a new website, obviously web traffic has been low because the only entry point is my Twitter bio. On the community’s page, only 2 people have applied in the last 30 days.

As the community’s foundation and culture start to take shape. Last week, I did a big push to welcome new people to apply.

34 Public Lab members helped to retweet and we got 24 applications in a day! 👏👏

What does this tell me? Build it and they won’t come. Because they don’t even know your project exists.

Many of you are building your products and side projects intensively, but you spend all of your time hiding behind your screen and building them. What you need is distribution - how do people get to know your project? 🔥

In the early days, I love meeting people from different tweets and just get to know them. That’s pretty much how I got to meet my first 24 community members + 20 cohort takers. You just need a very small group of people who enjoy what you have to offer.

When I feel ready for a push, I publish a tweet thread and personally message all 44 of them to help me out. ⭐ If you’re asking for a favor, get personal. Blasting an email is not going to help you!

But of course, a launch push like this is only one spike. It is a good campaign but it is not sustainable. I know I have to focus more on sustainable distribution if I want to get a steady flow of web visitors to check out the community and eventually apply.

What I’m thinking right now is to start becoming more active on Twitter again (Oops, def neglected lately) by sharing tips on #BuildingInPublic and developing an online voice. I’ll embed Public Lab community as much as possible, e.g. after a good valuable tweet, have a follow-up tweet saying this is what we talk about in the community. This approach is going to yield the best results for me at the moment given my audience is on Twitter.

😣 Many projects die not because the idea is bad. It get shut down because there isn’t enough initial traction. So if you’re focusing a lot of time on building, it is time to think about 1) how you can get an initial push by having a small group of friends around and 2) what is your strategy to make sure your product is “being out there” continuously??

Building is fun 🤪 because it is within your control. Marketing is hard because it is uncertain 😢. Always push on the hard side. It is how we all grow.

🌨 Don’t enjoy yourself too much

Despite being a young brand, Public Lab now offers 2 products: a private community and a #30DaysInPublic challenge.

I just talk about my plan above to bring in more traffic to the website, but deep down, I know I have to restructure the website in order to present the information better.

Every time I think of this, I want to jump into Webflow and start redesigning the website. I cannot tell you how much I love working on the front-end (HTML & CSS). It makes me feel good when my websites look good!

But then I take a pause and ask myself “Is spending time polishing up the website my top priority?”

The answer is always NO. 💢💢

A website is an iterative process. I’ll never stop updating it. If I spend a lot of time working on it now, I’m trading off other things I can work on: bring in more web visitors!

So what is the minimal changes I need to make to the website to help me get signups to the 2 products? 1) A new homepage introducing the 2 products clearly and 2) more content on the blog to give visitors a purpose to visit the site.

As an entrepreneur, I need to resist working on things that I enjoy 🤫 (website front-end). And this is an ongoing struggle that will pop up every now and then, it is a test to my mind and discipline.

Builders, how often do you have to battle the temptation to make your website prettier? We're talking about this in a tweet - join in!

💡 Inspirations

From David Perell's Monday Musings

In the #30DaysInPublic cohort, some builders are struggling to come up with ideas to write their threads. Most are stuck because they’re very focused on the “writing” stage. It helps me a lot to step back to the “thinking/reflecting” stage and start asking questions to yourself. The ideas (answers) often come out naturally. Then I go to writing.

🦁 Sam Tackeff sharing a video on Everyday Leadership

Sam (@alphaprep) is a fabulous builder in my current cohort. I am so grateful I get to meet her: full of personality, authentic, and genuinely helpful. She is a great role for building an authentic online voice!

Last week, when our group was talking about vulnerability, she shared this leadership video to me after I expressed my own anxiety. As the creator of #30DaysInPublic, I’m still paranoid every week questioning myself whether I’m bringing enough value to the builders.

The video reminds me that with the challenge, I’m not trying to hand-hold everyone to become Kevon, my role is to design an experience that sparks inspirations in everyone’s own journey!

In fact, a lot of people have been super supportive of my work at Public Lab. Maybe I should give myself a break! 😂

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