Building a Saas Template is Hard

February 2019 Retrospective

I blinked and February was over.

What went well?

  • Development continues to progress well on the demo of my Django SaaS Starter Kit.
  • My first round of potential customer interviews / onboardings on the project was incredibly insightful, and everyone I talked to was super nice and supportive of the project.
  • For the first time since having a child in October it felt like I achieved a steady, predictable work-life rhythm, and it feels good.

What went poorly?

  • Every single customer onboarding I did for the Django project ended with a very confused person not understanding what I had built. This was true even after I fixed issues from prior onboardings.
  • I’ve gotten hit with a fairly sizable case of imposter syndrome that is trickling into my Dimagi work and my personal projects.
  • I did poorly against my goals (see below).

Time

Feb 2019 Time

Time breakdown for February 2019

In February I worked 125 hours over four weeks which works out to 31.25 hours / week—just shy of my goal of 32.

Forty-eight of those hours—about 39%—were spent on personal projects—again, just below my goal of 40%.

Overall, I’m quite pleased how accurately I was able to predict / adhere to this breakdown!

I’d love to be getting more than 32 productive hours in a week—and I think I’ll slowly be able to increase that number over time—but for now this is where I’ll try to stay.

Revenue

Project Revenue Monthly Change
Place Card Me $1015 +5%
Chat Stats $180 +6%
Build With Django $0 -
Amazon Affiliates $25 +38%
Total $1220 +6%

Look at that green!

Of course January was a very low month so this is still well off my peak from last year, but it looks nice when you zoom way in.

Given that I am currently doing very little to proactively move these numbers I won’t say much about them. Place Card Me is just doing it’s normal seasonal thing and Chat Stats continues to do a bit better than past months for no apparent reason (but if this keeps up I’ll call it a trend / new normal).

February Goals

# Goal Grade
1 Average at least 32-hour weeks for the month A-
2 Spend 40% of time on personal projects A-
3 Add support for double-sided cards to Place Card Me F
4 Launch an initial public demo of of the Django SaaS Template C
  1. 31.25. So close!
  2. 39%. So close!
  3. I got really absorbed by the Django project and didn’t even attempt this.
  4. See below.

Launching a demo of a SaaS template

So I have a live demo of the SaaS template up and running. In fact there’s just a magic link that lets you in right here.

SaaS Demo

This thing is already online, if you know where to find it.

So why haven’t I made it public yet?

The short answer is because it is really damn confusing.

See, here’s my grand vision. The idea I had with this project was that the project itself would be the template.

Like, the landing page that comes with the template—that’s the landing page that tries to sell the template. Same with the pricing page. And then when you login to the demo you are experiencing what you get when your future customers login to the template. The whole thing is trying to sell you itself. And when you buy the template you get to look behind the hood of everything that is in the template, and then customize it to meet your needs. Does that make any sense?

Well I’ve done four onboardings so far (one with my wife and three with people who signed up my list), and every single one of them has been utterly and completely confused by it. Once I explain it to them it seems to make perfect sense, but until that it is just completely mystifying.

So I haven’t launched yet. Because I really want to do at least one onboarding where the person on the other end says “oh yeah this makes sense”. Or, failing that I at least want to setup some instrumentation so I can see how terribly people do navigating the demo.

Also, if you are reading this and try the demo and have any advice please let me know! I have not figured out how to crack this usability nut yet.

March Goals

  1. Average at least 32-hour weeks for the month (continued).
  2. Spend 40% of time on personal projects (continued).
  3. Release the demo of of the Django SaaS Template to everyone.
  4. Write a blog post somehow related to the Django project

Goals 1, 2, and 3 have carried over. Four is new—and if I’m being honest, a bit aspirational. I’ve dropped all Place Card Me goals for the month because I want to get this Django beast over some kind of hump, and think it’s best to focus my energy there.

Life

Life is good! Baby is good! No complaints.

—Cory

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