On Developing A Feedback System For Newsletters
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, my name is Jens Boje. I am a software developer and mindfulness coach from Frankfurt, Germany.
I run multiple apps, sites, and newsletters but now focus my main attention on FeedLetter, a simple feedback system for newsletters. It’s still in the early stage though but already has 14 customers.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My dream is to have multiple small revenue channels that work independently, so if one dries up it does not affect my income much. Like the total opposite of the single income stream coming from a job.
the best thing you can do is to work on your mindset and decouple your self-esteem and confidence from the things you publish.
While publishing books, newsletters, apps, and websites I always faced the problem of getting feedback from my readers/users. So, I started to experiment in my newsletters on how to get more feedback ranging from the classic “reply to my email”, to open questions, or using surveys with various tools.
None of them really worked out. Especially in a reliable way.
Last summer, I joined a private community and one of the other members did have a simple self-coded rating system for his newsletter. I totally fell in love with it but realized something was missing too. Readers can’t write their thoughts back.
I combined the voting with a single follow-up question and build a version for my own newsletter. Suddenly my readers replied and I got to know what they like and don’t like, etc. 3 months later, I turned my own custom app into the first version of FeedLetter.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Once, I got results on my newsletters, I pushed forward and turned it into a Saas, so others could use it too. That took roughly a few more days but less than a week.
The only cost involved, besides my time, was the domain name. I think the hardest part of all, was coming up with a good domain name that wasn’t already taken on all TLDs.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Frankly, that was pretty boring. Once I finished the SaaS, I posted it in the private community and asking for feedback, and got great responses there. Some of them posted it on Twitter and the first users were coming in.
I posted it in another community on Discord, asking for feedback too and the next rush of users came in. The SaaS was free and still has a generous free plan, so people try it out,
The next rush of users and the first customers came in as the early users started tweeting about it and including it in resource lists.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The major acquisition channel is Twitter and word of mouth.
My power users naturally started to tweet about their results, the feedback they received from their newsletter readers, how the tool helped them, and more people find it.
I also tweet about it and comment on the “Market your thing” kind of threads or try to naturally fit in when people talk about newsletters.
Recently, I started with a case study series as a showcase and for SEO purposes. I am totally amazed at how helpful my users and customers were. Almost all I asked, were eager to help me with the case studies. Awesome.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The early push has slowed down a bit. It gets fewer new sign-ups per day but I am not worried about that.
I recently increased the prices as the tool expands and provides more value. And a new customer signs up for this. It shows me that it’s working.
Feature-wise, I am either going with the suggestions and wishes of my customers or scratching my own itch. It started with a focus on newsletters but as I run more, I naturally expand it into website and web app using too.
For example, I recently released a web rating widget with rich snippet support for Google search, aka these little star ratings on your search result, for a couple of my apps. And it brings me feedback on my apps and also pushes my SEO ranking for those apps. Google seems to love adding those stars.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I learned over time that it is better to publish some half-assed thing, get feedback and grow it than polishing your thing for a few months, launching it, and crickets
Taming your fears is also essential as it hinders you a lot and invites its buddy procrastination. Honestly, the best thing you can do is to work on your mindset and decouple your self-esteem and confidence from the things you publish.
If not, procrastination, fears like fear of rejection, imposter syndrome, and alike will be our best buddies and prevent you from doing.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
The original version was running completely on Netlify with Netlify functions as a backend. The admin front end is written in JS with Vue. Pretty common and nothing fancy.
A couple of months ago, I refactored the backend to Go and an SQL DB to enable new features.
Nothing fancy. Use the tech stack you know.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Probably The 4HWW by Tim Ferries. It showed me that there’s a way outside of typical employment and different from what I thought running a business is.
But it took me a couple of years to finally act upon it.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Start small and use the tools you know and not the latest shiny stuff. This is especially important for software developers. Most of us love the latest fancy tech stuff but it does not help when you want to ship something.
Shipping a product and coding apps to learn a new tech stack are 2 totally different things. And you should not mix them.
I love boring tech that has been around and tested in the real world for years or better decades.
Where can we go to learn more?
Of course, you should check out FeedLetter.co, your feedback would really help. If you want to learn more about your mind and tame your fears, go to MindfulDevMag.
And when you want to see more of the things I publish, I maintain a huge list here.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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