Lessons learnt from my 'failed' product launch

Nearly two years ago now with the help off many ☕️ coffees, I published 💰Millennial Money Management - the first ever side project that I built. Even though it has done a grand total of $0 in direct revenue, the whole experience gave me so many benefits that were not tied to money.

But first - a little bit of background.

The idea

The idea for 💰 Millennial Money Management came when I was checking out some fintech projects on Product Hunt.

I’ve also always had an interest in 📈investment and 💰finance, so I was amazed by how many awesome new apps there were and it got me thinking about alternatives to traditional 🏦banks.

I wanted to find out more about all these new alternatives; how much they costed, what countries they supported etc. And I couldn’t find a concise list that contained this info (except the odd blog post).

Bingo! This was the product I wanted to create. So out of a simple day-to-day ‘problem’ I stumbled on an idea and wrote it down.

These were then written down in my public WorkFlowy that you can still check out today and contribute to if you want 😊

Validating the idea

To me, this word validating is a bit over-complicated in the startup / maker scene 🤷‍ And this little section could be a whole post in itself, but here's a quick summary.

To me, validating is simply just 🚢shipping your idea quickly to see what people think. Even if no one uses it, you can use it and be proud of just getting something out there — this is more than most people and it ultimately lead me to getting my current job.

Building and some hurdles to launch

As I was making 💰 Millennial Money Management I feel into the 🛠‘tooling-trap’.

This is a struggle I have and I faced it in this project. On the one hand, I love to try out new ways to build, try new frameworks, new tools etc. But my ultimate goal is to actually launch stuff and see what happens. So, in this case, tools just become a barrier to launch as the learning curve can be steep.

I am no expert coder, but I have learnt enough HTML, CSS and JS to launch a pretty decent website — anything you don’t know can be Googled.

I like the way digital nomad and indie maker Andrey Azimov put in an older article:

“I don’t want to learn tons of programming theory from courses and books that I will never use. I tried to complete 10 courses but I never finished any of them. I’m using programing as a tool to implement my ideas in life.”

Put in my own words,

“If you want to make an espresso for a customer, yeh it’s cool to use an Aeropress or whatever, but ultimately the goal is to just make an espresso”.

Monetization approach

Among the problem solving aspects of making side projects, another commendable objective is to make money from stuff we build to:

  1. Cover the costs of our time and maintenance (hosting etc.) that we need to keep the site alive.
  2. "Buy" the freedom to continue working and improving the products for our users.

So, for this project, I had many ideas of how to make the site self-sufficient, but the one that seemed the most obvious from the beginning was to have native-ads.

Gone are the days that we can just stick a bunch of GoogleAds on the website and are often blocked by most AdBlockers anyway. So with the native ads, we can seamlessly blend them with the website. create more content for our users, help companies engage with their target audience and allow for more time dedicated to building new features etc. — so it’s a win all round!

As of yet, there still have been no paid ads on the site — despite reaching out and giving away a couple of sponsored cards for the three companies who submitted on the first day.

But, I am still confident that native ads are a great revenue model for sites like this.

Last words and lessons learned

This brings me to the main and final point of this article.

Despite the $0 revenue figures and the relatively few monthly visitor count (largely due now to lack of active growth, maintenance, marketing etc.), I do not see this as a failure - hence why I'm not a fan of measuring validation solely on revenue stats - but hey, that's for another article.

But it's really important to remember, that ultimately, even if no one uses your website or app, you haven't lost anything as you will always have one user and that's you!

Also, sticking your website or app on github or personal portfolio can

  1. Show potential employers or clients your abilities, knowledge and passion for what you do.
  2. Similarly, if you're just starting out as a designer, developer or whatever, having some 'real-world' experience can really set you apart from other candidates who may only be showcasing their student projects.

Rather than just writing these two key lessons, I am living proof that side-projects have the potential to provide so much more than just the obvious monthly or yearly revenue figures. As mentioned in my opening paragraph, 💰Millennial Money Management ultimately was a big factor in the hiring process for my current job and I have been told this first hand by the founder.

Support me

If you guys are feeling really generous, you can support my blog here. Or, got a fintech product or start up? Consider promoting it on 💰 Millennial Money Management and supporting more projects like this 🙏

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