25on25 - Automated newsletter: 25 new monthly song recommendations

25on25

Portrait of the maker

Andrew Tsao

Maker

Maker
Mid level
9
hours to build

Lessons on building an audience and capturing enough value in your product before you burn out and quit

What is it:

25on25 - Automated newsletter: 25 new monthly song recommendations

What did I learn:

1. Product Strategy: Using email as the main value prop of your product:

Andrew was able to automate his newsletter and use the same process as no-code Maker Michael Gill popularized the stack used in nocode.coffee. The benefit of this stack is that you can automate the mundane routine part of putting together the email. This allows you to focus more on the content and produce a better quality output while not pulling your hair out in the process. This type of stack is an unfair advantage for those Makers looking to deliver outsized value for working solo.

Michael provided a youtube how to video for this stack and can be found here: sideprojectstack.com/airtable-review

Normally I am not a fan of automating anything at the beginning when you are first figuring out your value creation of the thing you want to do. But if you can do it quickly as in less than a week or two why wouldn't you? If you can build quick you have a massive advantage. Leverage it. I thought it was a savvy move by Andrew to take a concept of doing something and apply it in a new way to quickly test an idea.

2. Product strategy: Newsletters are hard. Don't let anyone tell you any differently. Email is gold because you can always reach people without having to go through social media. It is a way to reduce your risk as a Maker if you have a way to directly connect to your users. However, it takes a long time to build an audience. And it takes a lot of effort to give a lot of value in a newsletter. And even when you do deliver it, it can be a very deflating feeling compared to the dopamine rush of a great tweet or social post. Because the feedback mechanisms built into email is, generally no one responds to your email.

(this is a great hack by the way to get the attention of someone influential is to respond to their email, because not many people to it - its a much less noisy channel).

But my recommendation is that you do provide a way for people to subscribe to what you are building. Because it will allow people to follow your journey and you'll get chance after chance to launch products so that hopefully one hits and you're able to have it really take off.

In this product example of email as a product, it can be difficult to measure the feedback loop.

3. Product Strategy: Building your audience - I loved the execution of this product in how he quickly built it but I do not recommend the execution in building an audience. My biggest critique in no-code builders is making random products and shipping them to random audiences.

The unfortunate but fortunate thing about making things is that it takes time to build an audience. And that takes time. However, once you do build the audience you can leverage that and launch product after product until one really takes off. My recommendation and one that I write about in the book, is you need to pick one problem, one itch that you want to scratch that you personally find very interesting and build your audience around that. Because especially being a Maker, you're going to have to use your free time to create something. There are a lot of things that you could be spending your free time on. What is going to keep you motivated. What is your why to creating things that may fail again and again or they may be great products, but you don't have the distribution pathways large enough to quit your day job yet. It takes time to build that.

And the biggest critique I see is makers building random no-code products that don't match their audience. Each time you launch a new product that is unrelated to your last, its like starting over again building your audience.

This is exhausting. The reason why I have found success with Side Project Stack is I kept hitting the central problem and central value that I wanted to provide. And over time like compounding interest it grows and grows and multiples.

Pieter Levels the infamous digital nomad Maker who has created from scratch products that run 1 million dollars in ARR stated in his book MAKE that iterative launching may take 10-30 products before you hit your goal.

IMO, many Makers interpret this wrong and launch random products that don't build off of each other. The key lesson that I have learned is starting small launching small products that continue to add value to one type of niche market or persona. The Lean Side Project is built on this principle so that you don't have to launch 10-30 products, but 5-10 instead. So that you can achieve breakout success faster.

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