Build Notes #2


Welcome to my twice-monthly newsletter on the highs and lows of building indie software products.

1. Acquisition strategy as a filter

I didn't think about customer acquisition when we started Boords, mostly because I didn't know any better. Now, finding customers through SEO-driven content marketing is our bread and butter. Not all industries lend themselves to a search-driven acquisition strategy. Storyboarding is a well established process with many applications, so it's ripe with opportunity.

I've started using this as a filter for new product ideas. If / when I build a new product, I'd like to use my hard-won SEO knowledge to grow it. I've nixed a couple of product ideas recently for exactly this reason. They weren't bad ideas per-se - they're in established markets with funded companies - but if I have to build in a whole new acquisition process, I'm out.

2. Boring Bits™ Templates

There's a lot of boilerplate which needs to happen in a SaaS app - login, signup, forgot password etc. This was surprisingly difficult to get going with my stack du jour, namely NextJS and a Rails API. So, I pulled the generic stuff out into some template repos. I'm calling them Boring Bits™.

The Rails template is a legit Application Template. You can run it with rails new. It's basically a templated version of the Rails API I wrote about previously. Check out the repo here.

The NextJS template is less sophisticated, in that it's a 'clone and you're on your own' git repo. It aims to be a whitelabel starting point for auth-driven frontend. Headline features are Storybook, Tailwind, token auth & error messaging / alerts. Basically everything you need to get going with component-driven app development which can be a bit time consuming to set up. It's designed to work with my Rails API template, but it's easily adapted. Repo here.

3. Office rejig

My office is a low-ceilinged attic space over our garage / my workshop. It has slanted walls, so desk position is a challenge. I used to face a window, but even though the view is generally pretty peaceful (it's trees and part of a gravel driveway), I find myself staring into the distance more than I'd like. So, I've moved my desk to face one of the slanted walls, and so far, so good. Fewer distractions, and I feel like I've been able to focus for longer stretches. On a side note, I recently purchased a Realforce mechanical keyboard, and oh my goodness do I love typing on this thing. It wasn't cheap, but for the amount of time I spend typing it felt justifiable.

I also bought a record player, and disconnected the bluetooth from my speakers. I'm still in the honeymoon phase, so we'll see how I feel about it in a few months, but here are my initial impressions.

I own six records. To my eternal shame I gave most of my teenage record collection away, and the rest was stolen at a house party in 2004. While I regret not being able to take an auditory trip down memory lane, the lack of choice is refreshing. I always feel a bit overwhelmed when I open Spotify. Should I 'Discover Weekly'? While the physical effort of putting a record on is greater than opening Spotify, there's much less cognitive friction.

James Chambers
Good morning. I'm James.

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