12 Products in 12 Months

Following in the footsteps of Pieter Levels, Jon Yongfook, Hossein Shams, Sean Walker and a few others, I'm building and shipping one product a month for twelve months straight.

Stop overthinking, start launching

I really enjoy making stuff. Especially tools that make my own life and work easier.

However, I tend to overthink every major product idea I come up with, turning it into an impossibly large endeavor. This means that I never actually get started (analysis paralysis and all that). Or even worse, I hack on an idea for a week and then abandon it when I realize how far ahead the competition is.

The beauty of a challenge like "12 Products in 12 Months" is that I won't be able to take any one idea too seriously. I'll have to limit the scope of each project so that I can launch it within 30 days. It'll also be nice to play with a few fun and creative ideas that might not have any long-term financial potential.

The goal is simply to publicly launch a product every month. I can only imagine how much I'll learn and grow by forcing myself to ship this much.

Shipped is better than perfect

I have a tendency to delay shipping something because I'm hyper-focused on the smallest of details. I'll create a landing page in an hour, then spend 2 1/2 hours tweaking the page's thumbnail image for Twitter so it's just right (okay, slight exaggeration, but you get my point).

In order to launch a product every month I'm going to have to let go of some of that obsessive attention to detail. If a product begins to gain traction post-launch I can always jump back in and refine it.

That's kind of the beauty of the web - you can iterate endlessly once your website is live.

My experience with SaaS

I've only ever launched one SaaS product of my own: SnipSave. It's an online code snippet manager for developers. It has several thousand free users but only 5-6 paid users (~$30/month in revenue). I've lost interest in the project, but it was extremely rewarding to get my first couple of paying customers.

I've been freelancing for the past year (as of today, actually), which has been a massive breath of fresh air. I plan to continue with my client work, but I'm going to set aside a certain amount of time every week for product ideation/development (2 days? 3 days? nights and weekends? tbd).

Getting started

I've been jotting down ideas for the past couple of months, so I have my first two products more or less chosen, but there's still a lot of brainstorming and research to be done to solidify them and to start nailing down some contenders for the following products.

I'm using a spreadsheet shared by Jon Yongfook to help me list and evaluate product ideas. It's pretty simple and you can adjust it to your liking, but I thought it was a nice starting point. His whole blog post on the subject is great and definitely worth a read.

My progress report

I'll be updating this blog post at the end of each month to share the product I launched!

Product 1 (Feb 28, 2019)

Screenlapse - A service that helps you take website screenshots automatically every hour, day, week, or month. It's designed to reduce repetitive administrative tasks as well as create an archive of a company's digital and brand history.

Product 2 (Mar 31, 2019)

Element Blocker - A Firefox add-on that lets you block popups, banners, notification bars, and more from appearing on any website.

In preparation for this project I built another simple Firefox add-on to get familiar with the process: Viewport Dimensions shows you the browser width/height in pixels as you resize the window.

Product 3 (April 2019)

I committed to a large client project this month, so I decided to put my personal projects on hold.

My goal for May is to revisit my Screenlapse app to begin marketing it, adding/improving features, etc. As much fun as it's been to jump around on different projects, I've felt a strong pull to continue investing in this first one.

This isn't to say I won't release other products in the coming months, but the whole purpose of this experiment was to find something I really enjoy working on that has the potential to be successful in the long run, and that's how I currently feel about Screenlapse.

Product 4 (November 2019)

After quite a long break for client projects and redesigning my portfolio website, I'm back at it. Well, I'm not back to making one product per month, but I'm making and launching stuff again, which feels great.

I spent the last few months rebuilding SnipSave - my web-based code snippet manager for developers. This is the 4th version of the app since I originally launched it in 2012. I added a few new features, entirely rebuilt the front-end in React, and migrated the back-end from Python 2 to Python 3.

SnipSave has a few paying users every month (and several thousand people using it for free), but I'm hoping this rebuild will increase that number. And now that it's on a more modern tech stack it'll be easier to add new features and functionality to keep making the app better and more valuable to users.

I have a few other projects in the works, but I'll announce those later this month :)

Update - September 2021

Wow, I can't believe it's been almost two years since I last wrote about this. So much has happened since then.

We experienced a global pandemic, I started a YouTube channel teaching web development, my fiancée and I bought a house, and I've taken up a bunch of new hobbies to distract myself from building a successful SaaS business 😄

But I'm getting excited to work on Screenlapse again. I need to really focus on marketing it and getting my first customers. It'll never turn into a business if I don't get out there and sell it.

Check Twitter (@MoonlightLuke) for more regular updates on this!

Ready to discuss your project?

Send me a message and I'll get back to you within one business day.

Let's Talk