The internet changed everything.
Ideas are now everywhere, and businesses too; you can literally create a website in one day and start selling something.
True; competition has never been so intense, making it much harder to differentiate your product based on ideas. But the advantage is that now, small brands and founders have the ability to act as their own media channel if they want to, instead of having to wait on media companies to shape them. And so, the focus has shifted to those things you cannot copy such as culture, brand and community.
What's in here?
Everything you need to know about starting your build in public journey; from ‘why’ to ‘where’ (BIP forums and plan-in-public roadmaps) and ‘how’; it’s all in here!
What creators really need today is a way to share who they are and what they’re up to, with a community that will stick around. They need to offer insights, struggles and stories that can build trust in an audience fundamentally divided into two categories: on one side are the friends and peers, on the other, customers and product users.
Welcome to building in public, where you’ll be able to own your own marketing!
What is build-in-public?
An early trend at the moment, build-in-public (BIP) is a courageous way to share one’s journey while building a product. It goes hand-in-hand with transparency and vulnerability, as you open the doors to every possible form of praise and criticism.
Why should I build in public?
Building in public helps your audience understand the ‘why’, not just the ‘what’ behind your products; this kind of transparency can turn views into customers, and ultimately, into fans!
These are 8 reasons why you should build in public:
Building in public attracts people, which means growth in your audience and valuable feedback for future releases.
Your reputation is on the line when you build in public; staying accountable and delivering on time may be hard at first, but it’s a work ethic you’ll benefit from immensely as you track your own progress.
Accountability will make others trust you, but not just that; people tend to connect much more with people than they do with products or faceless brands.
Building in public offers access to countless connections with experts, mentors and great talent to work with.
5. Build the brand
When you include customers in your brand’s journey and emotionally connect to them, you build a bond that is about much more than marketing. Also, BIP is not only great for building your company’s brand; it’s even better for building a personal brand you can then pass onto the business.
Being open to the world means opening the door to resources you wouldn’t normally come across like unexpected partnerships with other founders or brands for example, feedback from potential customers, or an audience to support your other projects.
64% of marketers agree that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing, so why not let others do the marketing for you?
Building in public is a fantastic way to raise VC money, private equity or micro-funding; your pitch is already out in the open!
5 things to remember when building in public
As with everything in life, there are rules.
1. Be all-in
Rule number one: you’re either all-in or nothing at all. If you do it half way, you’ll probably fail at drawing the benefits you’re looking for. How do you turn this effort into positive ROI? With consistency and a sense of “I’m in it to win it”. 😂
2. Don't overanalyze
Don’t overthink things; a healthy dose of introspection never hurt anyone but be careful of analysis paralysis; too much thinking or research may slow down either building or publishing, while giving you a fake sense of movement.
3. Avoid the so-called BIP
Don’t be stingy if you’re serious about building in public. Share insights, as well as your ups AND downs; people trust what is real, they’re not exactly here for the marketing.
4. Differentiate from the competition
Building in public will probably attract competition (copy cats), and your brand may not be good enough to save you; but no worries. Try differentiating your product from the start, and remember to prioritize strategies for developing this newly acquired network of yours.
5. Know your type
If you deal with proprietary research, or if you’re a company that is technically unable to divulge information (in healthcare for example), then forget about building in public. ☺️
How to build in front of an audience?
The idea behind building in public is to build in front of an audience; if they’re on a forum somewhere, then that’s your public.
These forums allow you to post regular updates of what you're up to, but some may see it as self-promoting. What you could start with in that case is a newsletter where you’d post updates, then spend time helping people in forums and offering value, and create content on a blog that would help drive traffic to your newsletter.
The rookie mistake
Found a reddit post where you can promote yourself? Don’t.
Avoid jumping straight into posting and leading discussions. Chill; remember that you need to become a familiar face, and the best way to do that is by posting helpful answers to build authority and expertise before jumping in with your own solution. And if you must, then at least, offer alternative solutions before showcasing your own. Basically, you need to offer value first.
What content to share when building in public?
BIP is a step towards a more open relationship with people; and what people want is to access content that is insightful and at the same time, genuine.
Here are 7 ways to improve communication as you build in public:
- Announce your plan to build in public (without over-planning it) anywhere your audience is, but take into account the various platforms you’ll be creating content for.
- Showcase your company’s culture with random screenshots from Zoom meetings, Trello workshops, Slack discussions, and so on.
- Connect emotionally with the community by sharing stories about your journey, then talk about the hardships you’re facing and how to transcend them.
- Give people a sneak peek at new features and products, and propose ideas while asking for feedback.
- Create daily content that gets people to think and try to solve, as opposed to content that markets your products.
- Give insights; about your company, products, or generic info such as starting a company or doing marketing.
- Include case studies and real user feedback for valuable praise about your products.
Where to publish my build in public news?
It depends on the niche you’re aiming for but remember that growing an audience, community or customer base is always a challenge; it takes time.
Social media platforms
What’s nice about social media is that it helps get your products noticed quickly and more regularly. You can post whatever you want, which is why people use social media to build in public.
- LinkedIn is a great source for leads and engaging with an audience you know will be interested.
- Twitter is used by companies to enrich their media presence; it offers big impact with minimal effort if you manage to find and interact with influencers in your area. Also, Twitter will let you know when high impact people engage with your tweets.
- YouTube is great for sharing your brand and story through creative videos that can help connect your audience to you, emotionally.
As far as one forum vs. another, what you care about fundamentally is where your audience is; where do they spend their time online?
- Reddit is great for two reasons: keeping up with the latest trends and joining niche communities you’d have trouble finding elsewhere.
- Indie Hackers is a community geared towards helping entrepreneurs stay in the market; here you’ll find stories by startup founders and successful project owners.
- Hacker News is a news platform par excellence, focused on tech and entrepreneurship; it is run by Y Combinator.
- DEV community is a social media platform specific to software developers.
- Micro blog is a community of independent microblogs where you can build your own microblog quickly, as well as reply, converse and follow people. $5+ 💰
- Haptic is made for building products in public; you get a customizable product page (for more you have to pay), that you can boost, the ability to comment and join discussions, and so on. $10+ for unlimited product pages, otherwise free. 💰
- Product Hunt is the place for product-lovers to geek out on the latest in tech, apps, websites, hardware, and so on.
- Slack is a messaging app for businesses, but it features all kinds of groups where you can share your journey, product updates and whatnot! $8+ 💰
- Discord is a very easy way to communicate with friends and a community via voice, video and text.
Plan-in-public roadmap timelines
Public roadmaps are key to building in public. The benefits are many, such as having users voice their opinions (especially if they feel that their feedback is appreciated) which means you’ll know exactly what features to build while spending much less time reaching out.
- Makerlog is a community of tech makers and indie hackers who build products in public and share daily tasks; remember we mentioned staying accountable?
- WIP is similar to Makerlog; a community of makers who publish/share their to dos every week, while holding each other accountable.
- Goosly is a simple, free roadmap tool for build-in-public projects that allows you to copy, customize, embed and share as many project/product plans as you want with a community.
- ProdCamp is a paid user feedback management platform that helps companies build features that customers actually want. $10+ 💰
- LaunchNotes is a paid communication platform where you can launch new products, announce features, share product roadmaps and get feedback. $24+ 💰
- Trello is a web-based, Kanban-style, list-making app for teams to plan and manage collaborative work in a visual format. Not all features are free. 💰
- Listenepic is an app where you can share your story and insights in audio format.
Blog + emails
Write blog content that people want to read, and build your email list. Use whatever you can to get your audience’s attention, beyond SEO optimization; the latter is crucial, but it’s a bit more of a long-term growth strategy.
- Blog is a fantastic way to tell your story by bringing people to your website, which also helps increase its ranking.
- Medium is a great blogging space for communicating with a niche, and getting feedback for your articles. Make sure to tweet for increased visibility.
- Newsletter is a customizable, low-risk-high-reward method to connect to your audience.
This is a great e-book for tips on how to write the right content for your audience.
When you're building in public, what you’re doing is creating an inclusive space where friendships can form, where you can support others and get their support, and where you can build better products with the help of the people whose help you need the most!
It’s a fact that we’re much more powerful when we empower each other… ☺️