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Release early and often: Don’t spend 3 years to make $143

Chris Hufnagel Avatar

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Release early and keep the feedback loop

Starting small is the fastest way to finding the right solution at the right time.

Going big often means big returns. Building a large SaaS platform, creating a membership, building an epic RPG adventure game for iOS, or launching a new productized service; can result in large returns but the amount of resources needed to get there can be massive.

What get’s often overlooked in the story of the big win is the countless small wins that lead to it.

By starting with the simplest and smallest solution we can avoid going monk mode for 2 years only to emerge with a product that no one wants.

Note: this concept can be applied at scale as well. This approach works for creating a SaaS all the way down to debugging that latest console error. Starting simple and small leads to the big wins.

When you go big and don’t release early and often you can end up like this Reddit user.

Let’s avoid this. Keep those feedback loops.

Start small and simple. Release often. Momentum turns into the big wins you are looking for.

As a freelance developer the benefit of keeping it simple and releasing early and often will set you apart. By following this mindset you:

Starting big breaks the feedback loop

The main reason that starting too big is that it breaks the feedback loop.

Every time you ship, every time you hit save and run your code, you get feedback.

Even something as simple as a CSS fix. Hitting save on your stylesheet and refreshing the webpage to view the change is a feedback loop. You shipped. You tested. You iterated.

If you were to instead spend an entire day in your stylesheet writing all of the CSS for your site finally hitting save at 5:00. You switch over to your browser and nothing looks right. UGh. You do not even know where to start for the troubleshooting.

Release/ship/create in small manageable parts and keep the feedback loop going.

Some examples of how to use this strategy as a freelance developer

Using a “keep it smaller and simple” mindset can be used for more than just debugging code. Here are some other ways to use this to your advantage:

  1. Micro SaaS: Create a super small tool that solves a small but frustrating problem. Make it super cheap (less than $20/year). This should be quick to build and will validate the idea. If you get traction, go in further and add features and increase cost.
  2. Message testing: Your messaging and how you share it is an important part of your personal brand. But finding that message can be a challenge. So start small. Share some tweets to test it out, what is resonating with your audience?
  3. Mini service: A strategy I have used to identify how large a problem is for my target audience is to release a mini service. This service should be easily repeatable and be 1:1. For example, I recently released a service for freelance developers that are currently stuck. If it works I am going to turn this into a larger product. The landing page took me around 2 hours to build vs the hundreds of hours it would take to create a course.
  4. Lead generation: Finding new clients takes creativity. There are many different strategies out there that work for different people. Finding what works for you can take time. My suggestion is to pick a strategy and try it for a day or two. See if it gains traction before going all in.

Use the power of small to go big

One final note around this strategy. A huge part of implementing this is knowing when to go all in and make something bigger. This can take time and you might sometimes get it wrong. But, if you keep releasing consistently and leave the feedback loop open you wont waste too much time and you can quickly course correct.

Heres to creating small blocks that build big things.

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