One principle behind developing web apps is that you should aim to fail fast, meaning that if your idea isn’t working out, it’s better that you find out it’s not viable before you invest a lot of time and effort in it. The problem is: it’s not always easy to give up on your dreams.
This is what is currently happening with CampaignBar, a tool that I very much believe in, but that has not brought in a single paltry cent.
I started developing CampaignBar after getting thoroughly bored of maintaining an Excel spreadsheet listing all the details of websites I was marketing to. You look at a couple of hundred websites, and before long you can’t remember which ones you were interested in, which ones you weren’t, and which ones you’ve taken care of. Copy and Paste becomes a tiresome enemy.
CampaignBar solves these problems. I refuse to believe that I’m the only person out there having this problem, but the long and short of it is that no-one seems interested in the end result.
I originally offered three plans, from $19.99/month up to $49.99/month, depending on the number of users you wanted to be able to use the system at the same time. Last week, I let some beta testers have access to the system, who all absolutely loved it. I removed the separate plans, offered it at a flat rate of $29.99/month… and not even a single complaint of “I’d buy it at $1/month, but not a penny more!” Which, honestly, is unusual – especially from techies.
More tellingly, there have been very few trial account account sign-ups. Of the people that have reached the site randomly, a grand total of four have registered for the free trial.
Thankfully, I haven’t lost much money on this: a few weeks of development, a few tens of dollars at ThemeForest and on the domain… and the missed opportunities from losing my time on its development.
So, what lessons can I offer you from this?
First and foremost: don’t take a lack of success personally. I’ve spent the last few days feeling a bit down, and this achieves nothing. You can’t be a winner every time. Move on and make better use of your time.
Second, if you’re going to write a browser extension or toolbar, do not start with Firefox. I made this mistake, and it took far too long to develop the toolbar in its most basic form. I rewrote the toolbar for Chrome in a matter of hours. Admittedly, I had the API in place, but honestly – start with Chrome, it’s fanastically quick to develop for.
Third, start with finding your market, and only develop your tool once you have proof that it will make money. I started doing this with EasyEmailProtection, and given the extremely negative response to paying for the idea, I now know better (although I’m still thinking of spending an hour or two attempting to market it to divorce lawyers…).
Fourth, and finally, if you notice that things aren’t working, and you’ve given it a good shot, there’s nothing wrong in doing the same as me right now and giving up. The domain’s valid for a good few months, the hosting comes under my other web tools, so I’ll keep it live for a while… but this is the end of the road for me spending any more time on CampaignBar.
With all that said, I think if you do things properly, failing fast needn’t be annoying. Just don’t make the same mistakes I have