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How I went from "Lurker" to winning the first $5k Product Hunt Maker Grant in 5 steps

Step 1 - Created time + space

In my case, a global pandemic sort of created it for me. I suddenly had way more free time where I wasn't distracted, tired, or hungover. And as a result, I reconnected to my dreams and my bigger goals for myself.

Step 2 - Decided on an idea

My dream, of course, was to be an Indie Maker. And I decided my first tangible step towards that dream would be launching a product on Product Hunt.

I had tons of ideas of what I wanted to make, but I was stuck in decision paralysis and I wasn't making progress on any of them.

Luckily, at the time, I was working with a career coach who helped me finally decide on one idea to work on. She gave me the following prompts to help guide me to a decision:

  • Imagine your future self. What is she doing? Where is she? What city, what setting? At home, in the office? What is she wearing? How does she feel? Who is she with?
  • Now, which of these ideas gets you closer to that person and that reality?

In the end, she was really guiding me to trust my intuition.* And with this guidance, I finally picked an idea and went with it.

*(Btw, she has an audio course on how to use your intuition, use my discount BAGELS25 if you're interested!)

Step 3 - 30 minutes a day

At the time, I was still working a full-time job, so I wasn't going to make much progress on my project without some serious intention and effort.

So, I set an intention of working on my project for just 30 minutes everyday and I tracked it using the prototype I was working on (I know...very meta) which was an SMS bot that helped you track your habits.

I had tried tracking habits before but was never able to stick with it. But the text message format really worked for me and I tracked for 4 months! Looking at my data, I did this habit 42 times over that time period (about a 53.8% success rate) which comes out to about 21 hours of work!

Step 4 - Built in public on Twitter

For a while, I knew I should be "building in public" but I wasn't exactly sure what that meant or how to do it. I was talking with Steph Smith and she gave me some great advice: Don't overthink it. Just tweet, "hey I'm building this thing in public from now on, here is what it is and why I'm building it". So I did:

I'm still figuring it out, and I never know if I'm posting the right kind of stuff, but I try to get over my ego and just post whenever something comes to mind that I think is interesting or helpful.

Step 5 - Launched on Product Hunt

It was so scary and I did not feel ready, but January was approaching and I knew people were starting to think about New Years resolutions. This was a great time to launch a habit tracking product and I didn't want to miss out.

I knew there was never going to be a "right time" so I just went for it, and it was a huge success (in my book!). I made it on the homepage, in 8th position, with 232 upvotes!

Here's the link to the launch: https://www.producthunt.com/posts/hey-it-s-harold

It wasn't until a month later that I got an email from Product Hunt saying they were awarding me with $5k for the inaugural Product Hunt Maker Grant! I was so caught off guard that I thought it was a scam!

If you want to learn more about how I built Harold, here's the Maker Grant Announcement Post.

Question for you

Are you getting suck on any of these steps? Comment below and I'll try to help where if I can!

  1. 2

    Congratulations ang great work! This might be me overthinking stuff but when you build in public on Twitter. Are you doing that in One thread? So you keep posting you updates under this thread?

    Did you see people organically find your content and started to follow you or did you use hashtags, mentions or other things to gain some visibility?

    1. 1

      Thanks Marcus!

      ## For first question:
      I had the same questions about one thread vs different tweets and still do to some extent. I started with doing it all in one thread, but then that thread got really long so I started a new one. And then when that one got long, started a new one again. Sometimes I would tweet separately, and then just add the link to that tweet in the threat. Now I feel like I'm just free-tweeting and not worrying about threads so much.

      I have no idea how the algorithm treats these ongoing threads vs new tweets (does anyone on here know?) But from just a usability perspective:

      Pros of threads:

      • Your tweets are more organized if you want to go back and re-use them in some way (blog post, ebook, etc)
      • If someone is really interested in your story from start to finish it makes it easier for them to follow

      Cons:

      • Takes a little extra effort to organize them this way
      • Can get really really long which can be hard to manage

      Thinking out loud: Maybe one thread is good for specific periods of building in public like one thread for building the prototype, another for launching on Product Hunt, another for building a feature, and another on testing different acquisition channels.

      ## For second question:

      • Yes I found people organically found me just via tweeting about building in public. Once they found me, some saw the link to the Harold website in my profile and would sign up for waitlist that way. It wasn't a lot, maybe 1 a week at first, but even getting 1 this way was really exciting! I didn't use hashtags although maybe should have. I did try to mention other relevant people in my posts so they would see it and maybe like or retweet.
      1. 1

        Thanks a lot for your in depth response. I have really wanted to start tweeting about building in public but just haven’t gotten around to it.

        Thanks again 😊

        1. 1

          Of course! And you got this! The biggest thing is not to overthink it and get started. You'll learn as you go!

  2. 1

    Congrats. I know about hey it's Harold because of your tweets a few months ago.

    I like your idea. But It is not available in my country so feel sad about it.

    anyways maybe one day you launch a global version of it.

    1. 1

      Hi, thanks! Darn, what country are you in? I've been getting a lot of comments about this as of lately, may need to prioritize solving this!

  3. 1

    Thank you so much for contributing to the scholarship! 💙

  4. 1

    That's a really great work! Well done!
    Was the grant helpful for growing your product?
    Also, what strategy did you use to get 6 users during the first 4 months?

    1. 2

      Thank you!

      The grant was super helpful-- both for boosting my confidence in my skills/product and monetarily. I donated $500 of it to a No-Code Scholarship Fund I created with @stephsmith as part of her Amplify Series because I wanted to continue the spirit of giving and empowering makers! And the rest of it has just gone towards my runway. The startup I was working for shut down in March so this was a nice extra cushion to land on that gave me more confidence that I could put off getting a job for a little longer.

  5. 1

    Very Nice & Detailed Post, suggest some tips on public building on twitter. From building process to growing product

    1. 1

      Thanks Muhammad!

      Building in public was definitely easier during the "building" process-- I would just share whenever I made an update or added a new feature or made some sort of product decision.

      Now I'm at the stage where I'm trying to grow it and I'm trying to figure out what sorts of things I should post. Is it "marketing in public" now? I'm not sure haha.

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