What you shouldn't do when building a SaaS app

UnMarkDocs wasn't my first app. I had built a lot of things before. But it was the first app I wanted to earn money with. And while I thought I knew how to code pretty well, I later realized that, when money came into play, things changed completely.

When building apps people pay for, you have to completely change your mindset.

Start with a note

The first thing you need to do, even before you type laravel new idea in your terminal, is to open a new text file and type the minimum number of features that would make someone pay for it. This is called MVP or Minimum Viable Product.

The idea behind this is to avoid overcomplicating your app from the start. If you want to succeed, you need to start simple.

Don't jump to code

Finished the note? Great, but you can't start coding yet. You might think coding is the most important part of your project, but if you plan on having people use it, they are the important part. Focus on the people.

What I did wrong

- The idea from this product came from playing around and trying to build an UI kit. That means no product validation, market fit or research. I started to code without thinking about who would use my product. (No one truly needed the product).

As I was building UnMarkDocs, I didn't spend time producing content to build an audience. Even when I got around 200 people signed up for my email list, I didn’t send anything to it. (No one knew about the product)

Once I got it working, I spent too much time tweaking instead of shipping. While I could have realised all the above before, I didn’t until 6 months after.

What I learned

Focus on the people. Wanna build something to try that cool shiny tool that came out? Great for a hackathon, but don’t build a business around it. The thing that makes a product success is people, not the framework you use.

Don’t be afraid to price. While I was building UnMarkDocs, I gave free access to everyone that asked for it. When I released it, I was afraid to charge more than $5, and I even included a coupon to get it down to $2.5 on ProductHunt.

Conclusion

While I didn’t earn a lot of money, I feel like the learning experience was incredible. It’s always better to realise all this when you’re 16 than on the book launch you want to to quit your job with. Although the project was a financial failure, I still think it was worth it.