Marketing Is Scary for a Solo Developer

Instead of publishing a blog post, I add another feature to my product. Instead of sending a tweet, I tweak CSS on my site.

I don't like to do marketing, "build my brand" or whatever. I like to write code instead. But the thing is: when I don't focus on marketing, I don't make money with my microstartup.

Like microfounder Raz I follow on Twitter. I can see how he enjoys spending time writing code. I see it from his tweets, Twitch streams, and also in the product itself – it's not a simple one, there's a lot of code and complexity in it.

But Raz's Chartbrew is making only $137 MRR after working on it for more than 3 years.

Or microfounder Uku who started Plausible. I believe he also likes to spend time writing code. We can see it from this graph I drew – it tells a story of how Uku worked on the code for more than a year, and revenue started coming in when a co-founder in marketing joined. Plausible is now doing $500K in annual recurring revenue (ARR).

Read the full story here: "Developer, You May Need a Co-Founder in Marketing."

And I know this from my personal experience too. I'm a developer and I love to write code. I enjoy watching my brain come up with creative solutions for complex problems.

So, I often find myself with a blog post that's ready to be submitted to Hacker News, or a tweet that's ready to be sent, but postponing it.

"Maybe this one gets attention, and a lot of people come to my site. Well, I have to fix this small CSS thing first. And I think I also need to finish this other feature."

When I wrote a blog post about how Plausible got started, I asked its co-founder Marko for tips about posting it to Hacker News. He gave me good advice. And what's my response? I will do it, but first I work on my site a bit more.

So, it sucks a little, yes. But what to do about it, then? This is what I'm trying to do more and more these days.

Getting over the fear of exposure

It depends on the type of person of course, but for me, it's rather hard when something I create gets a lot of attention in a short period, especially when it's something personal, and people can leave comments about it.

Like my post "My framework for building side projects as a solo developer" which was read by more than 10,000 people in a day. So, I sit in my bedroom and write something, and then an hour later thousands of people read and comment on it.

10,000 people, 52 comments on Hacker News for my post "My framework for building side projects as a solo developer."

Or when I tweeted about reaching $10K/month from my bedroom.

I have in no way a big Twitter following (currently 2,000+), but some tweets still reach tens of thousands of people in a day.

But how do I get over the fear of exposure? This helps me a lot: I submit my blog post to Hacker News or send a tweet, and then get a shower or do something else to get my mind off it. I don't want to sit and read the comments right away. I'll do it later.

Working on less scary things

Not everything has to be something that gets a lot of attention and comments. I can focus on long-term results over quick attention.

Writing a blog post that will drive traffic for years from search results. Improving my site's SEO.

Reminding myself that it's necessary

I try to remind myself that I need to do marketing to earn money with my solo startup. It's just the way it is. Otherwise, people don't know my product exists, and can't pay me money although maybe they would happily do so when they would know about my product.

You can join me in my home office on Twitter where I share my learnings about building profitable internet startups.