Many Swift developers dream of building a business developing their own products. I found a realistic method of building a product business, the 30×500 method, which was developed by Alex Hillman and Amy Hoy at Stacking the Bricks. The method is geared towards people with full-time jobs who want to start a product business on the side and build a full-time business from there. This article provides an introduction to the 30×500 method.
Choose an Audience to Serve
Instead of choosing a product idea and hoping that people will buy it, start with an audience to serve. Research the audience, find what they need, and come up with a product that serves one of their needs.
A good audience has the following characteristics:
- They hang out online.
- They buy things.
- They share information.
If you’re not sure of what audience to serve, start with an audience that you already are in. Most of the people reading this article are Swift developers making apps for Apple platforms so I will use Swift developers as the example audience for the rest of this article.
Find Your Audience’s Watering Holes
After choosing an audience, the next step is to find their watering holes, where they hang out online. Some examples of places where Swift developers hang out online include the following:
- Slack chat rooms
- Stack Overflow
- Apple’s developer forums
- Mailing lists
The best watering holes are places where people have discussions. That makes Reddit a better watering hole than Stack Overflow.
Finding Swift developers on Twitter is going to require some searching and use of hashtags. The following are some search terms that will help you find Swift developers:
- The names of Apple frameworks, such as UIKit and Core Data
- The names of classes in Apple’s frameworks
- Apple developer conferences, such as WWDC and AltConf
Either follow the Swift developers you find through your searches or build a list so you can see what they’re talking about on Twitter.
The following Reddit groups are where Swift developers congregate:
The following Slack chat rooms are where Swift developers congregate:
- iOS Developers (Invite Link)
- Hacking with Swift (Invite Link)
- AppKit Abusers (Invite Link)
Slack chat rooms require an invite to join.
Visit the watering holes and research what people are talking about. When you find an interesting discussion, create a new text document with the URL of the discussion so you can go back to it in the future. Add sections named Pain, Jargon, and Recommendations in the text document.
Write down any phrases that express pain and frustration in the Pain section. The original question will be the major source of pain.
Write down any jargon in the Jargon section. Examples of jargon for Swift developers are the names of Apple’s classes and frameworks. The term massive view controller is another example. You can use the list of jargon to search the watering holes and the Internet for more discussions and data.
Write down any recommendations in the Recommendations section. Many of the answers to the original question are going to be recommendations. If someone suggests doing something or avoiding something, write it down.
Sales safari takes a long time to generate data, 30 hours or more. But when you gather the data you will have a better understanding of your audience and its needs. Patterns will emerge.
Participate in the Community
While you do the sales safari, participate in the community to build trust. If someone asks a question that you can answer, answer the question. When people see you helping other people, they are more likely to trust you.
E-bombs are educational blog posts or videos. If you find multiple people asking the same question during your sales safari, answering that question is a good topic for an e-bomb.
When someone asks that question in the future, you can answer the question and link to your e-bomb for more detailed information. Doing this lets you get the word out about your e-bombs without being seen as self-promoting. Answering a question with a link to your e-bomb is going to be more effective than posting links to the e-bombs on Reddit or Twitter.
Develop a Small Product
Once you gather data on your audience, know what they need, and build a following with e-bombs, you can start building the product. Start with a small product that you can finish in 2–3 months. If you pick something too big, you may never complete and ship the product. You’re more likely to ship a smaller product.
The Stacking the Bricks website has numerous articles and podcasts on the 30×500 method. They also have a free email course.
If you have two thousand dollars, you can enroll in the 30×500 class that walks you step by step through the 30×500 method. They have signups every 3–4 months.