- 🛳 Increases the chances of release
- 🔨 Everything can be destroyed
- ✅ Define your priorities
- Don't miss any updates
Recognize it. How many side projects have you started in your life? I am guilty of starting dozens. These are super good to learn new languages, try new APIs or just have fun. If you are like me, all these side projects are in a folder, hoping to see daylight someday. After a while working on a project a new idea comes up, and is 100x more interesting than the current project.
It is ok, don’t feel bad about it. Sometimes is the best thing to do. You learned something and that’s it. But sometimes you see that this side project is more than that. For that kind of project, asking for feedback at an early stage will help you stay committed. Let me explain.
🛳 Increases the chances of release
Asking for feedback gives you two things. First, it brings the awareness of the project to more people. Even if it’s only to your friends or colleagues, you will not be the only one that knows about the project. And second, it will validate with a couple of people if it’s a good project idea.
Find people you rely on for the first feedback, as it is the one that will be more difficult to ask for. Once you do it once, next time will be much easier.
🔨 Everything can be destroyed
In this stage, you are still not attached to the code or the idea. Things can be changed completely with the given feedback. And you need to be prepared for the worst. But better to receive this feedback now, from your close people, than in Hacker News or Reddit when you launch it.
Have an open mindset and allow every feedback you get. If in the end you decide not to use it is because you have objective reasons for not doing it.
✅ Define your priorities
At this point, ask as many people as you can. When you see the same feedback twice, think that this topic may have more priority. In the case of my side project, Vera, more than 2 people told me that needed an icon. I didn’t think about it, as a CLI will not show an icon to the user. But what I did not think is that the icon is a visual cue to easily recognize your app/project.
Don't miss any updates
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After the first round of feedback, create a to-do list and prioritize it. Discard the things that you don’t consider important for the launch, and also bring your judgment. Not all the things that people tell you will be important.
Keep things simple and fun to work on. Otherwise, you will delay doing the tasks, as will it look like work. And for that, you already have your full-time job. This is the list that I got from the first feedback round:
📢 Building in Public
This for me is the most important point. Once you share it with somebody, it will be easier to keep sharing with other people. After I asked for the first round of feedback, I started sharing the progress of the project on Twitter. I was not anymore afraid of what people would think about it. If you want to know how to build in public, the book Show your work! by Austin Kleon is fantastic. You should re-read it from time to time. It’s quite short, but motivates you to share, even if you don’t want to be the center of the world.
I also heard in an interview with Steph Smith a great analogy to keep in mind while building in Public. Imagine that you work in your garage. The key is to open the garage door, to let people see what you are working on. If you get outside the garage and put balloons and a sign “Hey, look what I’m doing!” then that is when you start to do things for the sake of sharing. Whatever you do should be something you would do privately as well. People will notice when it is fake.
👨🏼💻You will commit
After people give you feedback, they will expect that you do something with it. Otherwise, you’ve wasted their time. This will make you work on it. They are now your accountability partners.
It is important to give as much or more than you receive. People will acknowledge your feedback as well.
Once you have done what they suggested come back to them. They will be happy to see the results.
👍 External validation
First of all, take into consideration that you are presenting this to a small group. Is not a valid representation of the market. People may not get why is useful, but not be your target audience either. What I think is really good is that people will also tell things you did well. And this is key. This will boost your confidence in the project. And, if you gain confidence, most likely you’ll continue working on it.
🏃🏻♂️Bring people inside
The people that you ask for feedback will remember this when you launch, when the project goes well. They will feel part of it. They knew about it before anybody. This will make them more likely to share to their friends as well: “I was there when this project had 1 Github star”. “I told him to create an icon!”
This will also help to ask for feedback again to the same people. As they saw their feedback took into consideration in this project, they will likely help you in the future again.
I wanted to share the motivation that feedback gave me, and suggest this so you can benefit as well. All this worked for me but may not fit with your personality. Be mindful about why you create your side project. And last but not least, have fun creating!