If you build it, they won't come

Do you have an idea for a new website, app, game, etc.? There are a few things you should consider before dedicating the next few years of your life to it.

If you spend a significant amount of time on anything, you may start to feel like it has some inherent value because of that time. Well, it doesn’t. This is known as the sunk cost fallacy. You can’t get your time back, so you feel the need to justify its value. Whether you spent one year or one day on it, the end result is all that matters.

Nobody owes you anything for your hard work. In fact, nobody cares about your effort in the slightest. All they care about is the end product. Do they want it, or not. It’s your responsibility to make a product that people want to buy. If it sells poorly, the only person you can blame is yourself.

In general, there are 3 reasons your product didn’t sell.

There isn’t a market for what you’re trying to sell.

You need to do some market research. Find the answer to these questions:

  • Are there similar products to what you’re making?
  • Is there room for you in the market?
  • How well do similar products typically sell?
  • How much money and/or time do you need to spend to make your product?
  • Will you be able to make that money back?
The people who would want your product were not aware of it.

You know there’s a market, but how do you reach that market? You need a marketing campaign. Get a demo you can show as soon as possible, and try to build a following. You need to keep promoting your product to get attention. You also need to keep in mind that, only a small percentage of interested people will actually buy it. A like or retweet is not the same as a sale.

How many people will convert to buyers? If you don’t think it will be enough, it may be time to move on to your next idea. Why invest more money and time into something you know will not be successful? You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

There is a market, and they were aware of your product, but it wasn’t very good.

While marketing is important, it’s not everything. You still need to actually make something great. If you trick people into buying garbage, they won’t be happy. Especially on the internet, where many communities tend to have a witch hunt mob mentality. To prevent such issues, you can do beta tests with focus groups. Find out what the issues are and fix them.

You need to make sure you solve these issues before you take your product to market. If you don’t, you’re gambling with your success. And the odds are overwhelmingly against you.

In the end, you can do whatever you want with your time. But, if you expect to earn money, hoping for the best isn't good enough.

Pierce Zaifman

Android app developer. Hates wasting time and takes satisfaction in improving efficiency in all aspects of life. Also enjoys helping people solve their problems.

London, Ontario, Canada

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