20+ build in public post ideas (with examples)
You can use them as a source of inspiration, as a checklist or simply as a way to further explore the space of creating content for the narrative around your startup or idea.
Building in public is quickly gaining huge popularity among indie makers, entrepreneurs and creators, but not until recently.
The general approach to creating something useful, be it a software product or a book, used to be one of building in complete isolation for long periods of time.
Having some obvious drawbacks, such as lack of quick feedback loops and lots of guesswork, building in isolation leads to products detached from real people's needs.
On the other hand, the benefits of being open and transparent made this the preferred approach among solo-makers and small teams, allowing them to stay motivated and connected with their audience throughout the entire journey.
We can say that building in the open boils down to sharing your process with the crowd. Regardless of the stage your idea is at, it can be exposed to the real world right now.
In the following article we're going to outline 25 ideas for your next build in public post.
You can use them as a source of inspiration, as a checklist or simply as a way to further explore the space of creating content for the narrative around your startup or idea.
Need a framework for building in public? Look no futher.
Let's start with the simplest of all - micro updates.
Every plan can be broken down to a set of small, granular tasks, which executed consequently lead to the desired result.
These small, micro tasks are perfect for your first build in public piece of content, as it requires zero preparation, zero creativity and still provide lots of benefits.
You might ask: "Why should I share my daily tasks, nobody cares about that?".
Most people that love seeing these kind of posts are other fellow makers. People who also have to break their big tasks into smaller ones. Such posts often serve as a source of inspiration for them.
There are two approaches here. Share what you're going to do or share what you've done.
- Added support for Twitter login.
- Made all the borders rounded by 5px.
- Wrote a paragraph about X for my new article about Y.
- I'm going to switch the primary color to pink. Will show you how it looks later today.
One logical continuation to the micro updates is the daily reflection.
This is where you could wrap up what you've done that day and share some thoughts about it. Are you happy with what you did today? What went great and what not? Why? How could you make tomorrow better?
These are all questions you should be asking yourself once in a while. Much like journalling, it helps you stay on track and not forget why you're doing what you're doing.
The reason you might want to share this kind of writings publicly is to
- first, keep yourself accountable
- and second, bond with your audience
Even though the first point is important, the second one is crucial.
Sharing your thoughts with the people who care about what you're building makes you and your product more "down to earth", more approachable.
This is not only good for your mental clarity, but it can easily turn into your most powerful marketing strategy - being you.
People buy stories, not products.
- Spent a lot of time building the authentication system just to realize that somebody already solved this problem for me. After 5 hours of figuring things out, I decided to go with Passport.js and did the entire authentication in less then an hour. Lesson learned - always do your research before jumping into your code editor.
A single day is just a small fraction of your entire story.
Another great way to add substance to your build in public content is to reflect on larger periods of time - say weekly, or monthly.
Do this for the same reason you'd do your daily reflections.
One way to make things more engaging is to focus on a single hardship and a single win you had during this period. Be brief. Share your next steps for the upcoming period.
Last month I spent massive amounts of time on marketing…with no results. I guess I need to work more on the SEO, since I've written only 2 new articles and focused mostly on building my twitter audience.
On the flip side, I managed to ship a new feature. Now users get transactional emails on new comments under their posts. Huge win, as I had to research how job queues work and to find a good library that handles this for me.
Goal for the next month: focus on generating SEO content, polish the landing page.
Why are you doing this if you don't celebrate your milestones?
This is one of the most liked content types in the build in public community. People love seeing fellow makers succeed.
It doesn't matter if you celebrate your first online dollar or the \$1M exit deal you've just closed - it all counts. First customer, first publication, first 1K MRR, etc. You can even pop a bottle of champagne for your first google impression, if that's what excites you.
A positive side effect out of these kind of posts is that they serve as an inspiration. Not only to others, but to your future self.
Imagine yourself 10 years from now, scrolling through your early days posts. It's a marvelous feeling to have these memories reborn.
No examples are needed here. Just be yourself and share your excitement with the world.
We all know it's not all rainbows and unicorns. In fact, it's rarely the case. But you should take advantage of this. At the end of the day, our imperfections is what makes us humans and not robots.
So share those moments with your audience. It's part of being genuine.
But don't make it if it's painful. Keep yourself in your comfort zone here. This is an advice I would generally not give for other contexts of life, but in this case you must be comfortable sharing moments of dispair with the whole world.
You don't have to do it, unless you see the value in doing it for yourself.
I, for example, love sharing my own hardships with Haptic, because I have an intrinsic need to share these with somebody in my field. Also, it's part of my strategy to make Haptic an authentic platform, one where people are encouraged to be themselves, to expose the person behind the product.
Roadmaps, next steps and conquering the world
Imagine the employees at Apple having no idea what they're going to do today and just doing what feels right at the moment.
- Hey, Tim, what are your plans for today?
- You know, I'll be hanging around, attending a meeting or two, drawing something on my iPad, chatting with the C-level guys about stuff…we'll see how it unfolds.
It's bizarre. You cannot run a business like this.
That's why the most productive companies devise mid/long-term plans of how they are going to achieve their grand vision.
In the spirit of building your startup in public, you might want to consider sharing some of your plans with your audience, so they feel more comfortable and confident investing their time in your product, knowing that you work on the bigger picture.
You don't have to be super accurate. But at least providing some information for your short-term/mid-term next steps would be awesome.
Here's an Example:
In Q1 my goal will be to rework the onboarding flow, providing more detailed information for the new users. For Q2/Q3 I'll be focusing on developing new tools for managing invoices in the app. Q4 - TBD.
Ask and get feedback - polls and surveys
You know what makes the human kind the most advanced on planet Earth? First, that's the ability to reason and second - being able to ask for other's people reasoning.
Building in public unlocks the second. By being in the open you can easily ask for people's opinions, knowledge or even help.
Isn't that great?
Leverage that ability to its fullest potential. Whenever you have doubts about something, just create a poll, or a survey and send it to your audience. Don't do guesswork.
Guesswork is the biggest enemy of startups. It might work, but it might not. If you validate your hypothesis by simply asking, you could adjust your expectations and save yourself lots of time or even money.
Whatever it is that you're wandering, pick the brain of your audience and make decisions driven by data, not by whims.
Polls are first-class citizens on Haptic. Go and create your own product page, hit the "Poll" button and get yourself some data from actual people on Haptic.
Shoutouts - mention people and groups that helped you
Building in public is a community thing. Part of the experience is interacting with your audience and with other fellow makers.
Say your friend Joe made an app. It costs you zero effort to share a link in a post about this new cool app that your friend made. Of course, you don't have to. Do this only if you really enjoy it.
Or here's another scenario.
A user of your app gave you a really valuable feedback on how to improve certain aspects of your software. That's a perfect candidate for a shoutout. Thank this person publicly. Expressing your appreciation of these small acts of people generating value for you is so rewarding. It shows that you care and at the same time motivates other people to generate more value for you, as they see your appreciation for it.
Bob has given me an awesome idea yesterday - to introduce labels/tags to my todo app, as this will make linking tasks in different categories a breeze. I gave him 2 months on me for the PRO plan. You're awesome, Bob.
Entire industries are based on finding creative ways to push an idea to people that might be interested in it.
Being transparent with your audience, consider sharing your approach to the marketing problems you're facing now.
This will be super useful to your fellow makers. And who knows, maybe you'll get valuable feedback from them on what could be improved or tweaked for maximum efficiency.
One such example is SEO.
If you want your business to be reachable in an organic way through internet searches, you need to pay close attention to your SEO strategy and execution.
Share how do you plan to approach your keyword research. Or your backlinks strategy. Describe your process, your worries or hopes.
I did some keywords research and decided to double down on the following ones: "todo list", "productivity", "habits tracker". It's a bit crowded there, but I believe I'll manage to provide some high quality content in this field. I'm starting to write articles today, wish me luck.
This idea is concretization of the "Marketing endeavors" idea.
Share your plan and strategy of acquiring new users to your product.
What is your primary acquisition channel? What's the funnel/journey the new users go through? How do you onboard them?
I've been thinking a lot about customer acquisition lately, and I decided to put the focus on organic search. Up until now I've been heavily investing in building a community on Twitter, but it eats a lot of my time and requires presence. SEO is more of a long-term channel, which has long-lasting effects. There are downsides, but I believe the benefits of SEO outweigh those of any social media strategy.
Another marketing sub-idea is to talk about the tactics you use to reduce churn rates. The other end of the funnel.
From email marketing to gamification, the possibilities are endless. You can approach this build in public idea from many angles, depending on your context.
What makes your users come back and use your product repeatedly? What is a friction that stops them from doing it? Is your answer data-driven, or you're just guessing?
Such kind of questions can unlock overwhelming amounts of ideas for your build in public posts. Even the act of thinking for those ideas will bring clarity, will help you realize your strengths and weaknesses better.
One of the key problems of my app is that it doesn't guide the user through how to build the perfect day schedule. It's just a list of tasks and that's it. One way to tackle this is to start sending emails to the users in the morning to prioritize their tasks and put them where they belong (labels, categories). To make these emails useful, I'm gonna attach some links to articles about productivity at the end of the email itself. Helping them level-up is a great way to create stronger connection with my users. What do you think?
The best way to learn something is to teach it. By trying to distill the essence from a piece of data, you get better understanding of the data itself.
A great way to engage with your audience is to share that knowledge.
Create a tutorial, record a short video or simply link to an article that has helped you resolve an issue or implement a new feature.
You're not only helping others, but yourself as well. Spending the additional 5-10 minutes to wrap it up in the form of a public post helps you retain it better in your memory.
What keeps you motivated to build?
Be open about your motivation to do what you're doing.
Why did you build that app? Why did you write that book? How do you imagine the success of your idea would change your life?
When I started learning how to code, I wanted to create products and have the freedom to build what I want for people that I care about.
This is my main motivation in life - to be free. To have to possibility to choose my own workplace, to have my Sunday on Tuesday if I wanted to. And last, but not least, to be able to sustain myself and be responsible for my own future.
Your motivation might be something completely different. But don't just keep it in secret. Share it with the world. People love engaging with other people that have clear purpose in their life. And as a bonus, you get accountability.
So don't be afraid to share what keeps you awake at nights.
The ways you manage to stay productive
The creative process is full of ups and downs, of moments of inspiration and ones of complete stagnation.
In the era of hyper-connectivity and constant distraction it's super hard to stay productive.
How do you do that? How do you manage to ship consistently? Do you have a routine?
Share your tips, but be careful - you don't want to come out as a productivity guru. At the end of the day you're the person building product X and you'd like to kepp the focus on your product, not your mantras.
Here's an example:
What I do to ensure that the code of my project stays neatly organized and always up to day is to spend 30 minutes in the morning and go through it to refactor at least one thing. It might be super tiny or something a bit bigger, but I do it every morning.
Share your resources
A really nice way to provide value with your build in public posts is to mention resources that you've found to be useful.
The internet is a wild place and true gems are always hiding in the corners of it.
Tell the people about the library you're using for authentication or the open-source UI kit that you've used to make your app beautiful. Inspirational sources also count as a resource. I always go to dribbble to get some design inspiration. Or to BetaList for landing page ideas.
I found a really nice icons set that's entirely open-source and completely free to use. The icons are super crisp with some retro vibe. They perfectly fit the retro games emultator I'm building.
At some point in your journey, you're gonna need help with routine tasks or, at later stages, outsource entire domains.
This involves people.
Don't miss the chance to document the way you approach hiring these people. How do you plan to interact with them? What tasks have to be outsourced and how do you decide on what stays on you and what's going to be handled by the new hires? Talk about the way you plan to organize the communication, the project and the people around your new members.
Revealing the details about your hiring activities is immensly interesting topic, as it clearly shows your intention to grow. And growing is healthy. Growing means that you care about what you're building and want it to become better with time.
And here's the biggest benefit of this idea. By sharing your hiring intentions with your audience, the chances to find (or get recommended) quality talents that really do care about the domain that you're operating at, increase dramatically.
As my app grows, it gets really hard to manage complexity. That's why I decided to hire a part-time freelance marketer, who's gonna help me with my growth endevours. I'll provide the guidelines, he'll devise the action plan and manage the execution. Do you have any recommendations? Or maybe you're the perfect fit…
When building in public, talk about your approach towards the design problems you're facing growing your startup.
But don't just think in terms of visuals. A design is much more than making things look pretty.
Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose. - Charles Eames
In that sense your kitchen table has a design, but the language you speak also has a design. Your app has a design, but the way your users go through the different stages of your app (the "user journey") also has a design.
For every purpose you want to accomplish, be it to make a user buy your product or create a furniture, there's a plan, a best way to do it.
So, speaking of solving problems, as you're building your product from idea to tengable construct you make certain design decisions.
A way to reflect on these is to share them publicly and get feedback on how close to the "right" solution your design is.
Here's an example:
Today I decided to remove the guided user onboarding, as it introduced friction to the experience of newly registered users. There's still a way to go through the guided onboarding flow, but the user has to manually opt-in. He can do that from the first screen after registration. There's a tiny prompt that pops in the bottom right corner asking the user if he wants to go through it now or do that later. The gives the user the freedom to explore the UI without distractions.
Something that your audience might be interested in is the way you approach technical challanges.
This is great idea if you're building tech-products/apps that are targeted towards developers or fellow makers.
Here are some build in public prompts for you on the topic:
- Why did you choose technology X?
- What is a non-trivial problem you've resolved recently?
- What are some technical trade-offs you've made in order to ship faster?
- What do you regret implementing the way you've implemented it?
- What is something that you're proud of in terms of technical implementation?
- What is something that needs to be refactored?
- What approach do you prefer when refactoring your app - the "boy scout rule" or the "summer cleaning"?
My app is built with boring technologies, because I wan't to focus on speed, efficiency and simplicity in terms of development experience. By boring, I mean technologies that are battle tested and far from cutting-edge. Think PHP with pure, vanilla CSS and JS. This helps me move fast and ship on short intervals by supporting only one codebase and having everything from the front to the back in a single project, reusable and straight-forward.
Idea validation, PMF, Customer development
This idea is straight from the startup textbooks.
Take your time to think and reflect publicly on PMF, idea validation and iteration loops. Share your journey of finding the right product-market fit, what iterations did you go through, how did you validate the utility of your product, and what customers feedback drove your decisions. These are all questions related to the idea of finding the right place of your product on the market it's operating in.
I just had a call with one of my users and the insights he gave me were immensly valuable. After this call I've decided to send a survey to all of my users and ask them if a tags functionality would be useful. This will unlock lots of interesting features for my app down the road.
The philosophy behind your product
Use this idea to explore the person behind the product. Yourself.
Ask yourself why you're doing it? What series of events led you to believe that building products is what you must do? Ask the why question until you find the fundamental principles that drive you to create.
It's an idea that will take some time to drill, but the end result would be not only something worth sharing, but something worth sticking on your wall and looking at it every day.
- I started building my side project two years ago. I remember vividly that moment. It was one Monday, when my boss decided that I should move to another team, part of our big company, and lead a project, completely new to me. I didn't want to, as it's in a field I have zero interest, but he didn't even ask. That was the moment when I took the decision not to have bosses anymore. I need my freedom back. After two years of hard work on the nights and weekends - I'm almost there.
"Roast my landing page and I'll roast yours" type of posts are quite common among indie makers. It's because there's a value in doing it for both parties.
I've improved the landing page of my app. What do you think of it? Tell me in the comments bellow and post a link to your app. I'll give you feedback in return :)
Personal challanges - gonna do x for y days
Here's an idea I'm particularly interested in.
Building in public is about improving yourself and your product or service in the open, one step at a time.
You can add some twist to this challenge yourself. People love seeing applied consistency. It's inspiring to say the least.
Here are some more ideas to ponder:
- 30 days of small improvements (think fixing UI inconsistencies, colors, typos, etc)
- Ship a feature in 1 hour
- Build a startup for 1 hour a day
- No days off challange - 365 days of building and sharing your progress
- 30 days of customer development - do one customer interview every single day for 30 days
Thought experiements - what if's?
What would happen if you get an investment offer right now? Or an acquisition offer? Would you still be building if you win the lottery?
Let your creativity flow and embark on a journey in the land of your imagination.
What's cool about this idea is the exploration element in playing a particular role in a possible scenario. Just like kids do.
If a potential buyer offers me 5K for my app, I might consider selling it. But if they offer me 500K, I'll definitely keep working on it. It means that it's got potential. What do you think, am I being too naive here?
A great way to keep your users updated is by sharing your changelog in public.
Think of a build in public changelog as a list of the most important improvements over the previous version.
For example, if you moved the logo in your app 10px to left, you can easily skip that. But if you have introduced a new authentication mechanism and fixed a few annoying bugs, that's worth sharing. People would love to see that the product they use is improving daily. That means that they're investing their time and potentially resources in an app that's being carefully nurtured by the maker. What a great way to build confidence in your users.
Keep in mind, though, that you should keep your changelog more relaxed and informal when sharing it for your users. Stay away from technical terms and keep it short and sweet.
It was a long day for me and my co-founder. We were both smashing our keyboards at a bug in one of our automated jobs that took care of sending emails, which is now resolved and already live. In addition to that, we have improved text readability and added more spacing around the elements in the dashboard to make it more pleasing to the eye. Hope you like the changes. :)