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Do this with Your Product Waitlist: A Guide for Indiehackers and Startup Founders

You've got a waitlist for your product. Now what?

So you've got a waitlist for your idea. Now what?

You've done itβ€”you've drummed up interest in your product and now have a waitlist. But what's next? How do you translate this initial momentum into sustainable growth? If you're an indiehacker, startup founder, or aspiring product builder, this guide is for you. We'll explore two strategies, tailored to whether you've started building your product, or are still in the ideation phase.

If you Haven't Built the Thing Yet

Put Up a Landing Page

If you haven't yet started building your product, start by putting up a landing page. Here, share every feature idea openly to gauge interest and collect feedback. The goal here is to socialize your idea, and validate it with a real audience before you start building.

Determine Your Commitment Threshold

Decide on a financial commitment threshold that would validate the product idea for you. This is the amount of money you'd need to see pledged before you're convinced it's worth building. This probably shouldn't be enough to pay all your bills, but it should be enough to show you (and others) that this is a valuable product, and that you're not wasting your time by building it.

Set a High Price Point

Don't be shyβ€”set a high price point for your product. Bear in mind, this may be the maximum you'll ever charge for this product. It should seem outlandishly high - most first-time founders under-price their offerings dramatically. Don't kneecap your business' potential by setting a low price and hoping you'll get a high volume of signups. Unless you've got a huge audience, you probably won't.

In your early days, you'll use the psychology of behavioral economics to drive sales by offering steep discounts for short periods of time. Start with a high price point, and then offer discounts to early adopters.

Offer Discounts for Early Adopters

To incentivize sign-ups, offer a significant discount to the first batch of customers. For example, if you're planning to launch a video course, you might set the price at $499. A discounted price of $99 for learners who sign up before the course is ready will create a sense of urgency and encourage people to commit, and will also put money in your pocket to help you build the course.

If you're building a SaaS, you might offer a lifetime discount to early adopters. For example, if you're planning to charge $99/month for your product, you might offer a lifetime discount of 50% to the first 100 customers. This will help you build a base of early adopters who will be invested in your product and will help you spread the word.

Create a Sense of Urgency

Set a deadline for the discount and stick to it. This will create a sense of urgency and encourage people to sign up. You can also offer a limited number of discounted spots to create a sense of scarcity. This will also effectively time-box your waitlist, so you can move on to the next phase of your product.

Be Transparent About Sign-ups

Openly share how many people have signed up and adjust the discount as you get more sign-ups. This creates a sense of urgency and shows that people are committing. It also helps you gauge interest and decide whether to continue building your product. If you don't get enough sign-ups, congrats! You've just saved yourself hundreds of hours of potentially-wasted time. At this point you can either pivot your idea based on feedback you've received so far, or refund any money you've collected and move on to the next idea.


  • Open Sharing: You'll have to be comfortable sharing your ideas openly. I've written about this before - keeping your-thing secret until launch is almost always a death sentence. You'll get better feedback, and you'll build a better product if you share your ideas early and often.

Benefits of this approach

  • No Initial Build Required: Gauge interest before committing resources.
  • A/B Testing: You can put up several landing pages for different ideas.
  • Feedback Loop: Collect invaluable feedback before investing time and effort.
  • Sales Skill: Sharpen your skills in selling an idea.
  • Networking: Expand your professional network.

Risks with this approach

  • Refunds: It's possible that this strategy may not result in enough signups to continue building your product at this point. You may choose to pivot, and change the idea You'll need to refund money for ideas you decide not to pursue.
  • Pricing Strategy: Setting the correct commitment threshold can be tricky. Too low, and you may not get enough signups. Too high, and you may not get any signups at all. For my friends building SaaS products, tools like Stigg are invaluable for helping you experiment with pricing strategies.

If You've Already Started Building the Thing

Embrace your Early Adopters

Do you already have a working prototype? Amazing! Put it in people's hands. Seriously - get real people using your product ASAP. This can be a scary hurdle to get over, but if you're open to it, you will get tremendous feedback from your earliest users.

Your primary aim should be to create early adopters who not only love your product but also how you're building it. The story of your product can be just as important as the product itself for these early adopters. They'll be your biggest advocates, and will help you spread the word.

With this approach, you're setting the expectation that your product is actively being built (you are building it, right?). This means that you'll need to be responsive to feedback, and you'll need to be transparent about your roadmap. You'll also need to be comfortable with the fact that your product will be changing rapidly, and that you'll be making mistakes along the way. This is a good thing! You'll be able to iterate quickly, and you'll be able to build a product that your customers love.

Choose an Early Cohort

From your waitlist, select an early cohort of users who you think will be most beneficial for your product. This could be based on their background, their willingness to provide feedback, or their ability to spread the word. You can also use this opportunity to test your pricing strategy. For example, you might offer a lifetime discount to the first 100 users who sign up.

If your waitlist is small, you may choose to let everyone in at once. If you have a large waitlist, you may choose to let people in gradually. This will help you manage the feedback loop from onboarding, and to create a sense of excitement for people who are still waiting to get in.

As you rapidly update your product and release new features, give access to more people from your waitlist. This will help you manage the feedback loop from onboarding, and to create a sense of excitement for people who are still waiting to get in. Open up registrations completely once people are able to onboard without any intervention from you or your team.

Share What You're Building

Share your progress early and often, through whatever public channels make the most sense for you. This could be a YouTube video, a blog post, or a social media thread.

Use product updates as a way to show your current users that you're listening to their feedback, and that you're actively working to improve the product. This will help you build a community of early adopters who are invested in your success. This will also serve as product marketing for people who haven't yet signed up. Be loud and proud about what you're building, and share updates wherever your voice will be heard.

The Ultimate Goal: Gain Traction

  1. Stoke the Fire. In the early days, losing momentum is your biggest enemy. Gaining traction should inspire you to build more and at a faster pace.

  2. Create Inertia. An engaged audience should feel they have access to something special. Encourage them to talk about your product and be responsive to their feedback. The buzz around your product will help you gain traction.

  3. Get Paid Don't wait too long to monetize. Even asking for a nominal one-time fee from early adopters can validate your business model and make it easier to scale. Every person using your product knows that you need to make money to keep building it. Every single one of them. Don't be afraid to ask for financial commitments.

Benefits with this approach

  • Feedback Loop: Get invaluable feedback from real users, which will force you to keep building
  • Sales Skill: Sharpen your skills in selling a product by building a muscle for marketing and developer relations. If you can't convince early adopters to use product, you won't be able to sell it to anyone else.
  • Networking: Even if your product doesn't take off, you'll have grown the network of people who are invested in your success. This can be invaluable for your next project.

Risks with this approach

  • Time Commitment: Building software takes time. You'll need to be comfortable with the fact that your product will be changing rapidly, and that you'll be making mistakes along the way.
  • Building too slowly: If you're not releasing updates, you'll lose momentum with your audience. Even if your product has known bugs, it's better to release early and often than to wait until it's perfect. Your early adopters will be forgiving, and will be excited to see your product improve over time.

Your waitlist is just the beginning

Having a waitlist is a promising start, but it's what you do next that counts. Whether you're still ideating or have a ready product, these strategies can help you capitalize on your early traction and build a sustainable business. Remember, the ultimate goal is to gain traction, so keep building, engaging with your audience, and don't shy away from asking for financial commitments.

Your waitlist could be the first step in a long and successful journey.

Tools for Building a product with Your Waitlist

  • Ghost - A fully open source, adaptable platform for building and running a modern online publication. Ghost gives you a blog and a newsletter all at once, and offers a great integration with Stripe for collecting subscription payments.
  • Stigg - A tool for experimenting with pricing strategies. Stigg helps you find the right price for your product by decoupling pricing logic from your product code. This allows you to experiment with different pricing strategies without having to redeploy your product.
  • Reddit is truly handy for doing research on niche communities, embedding yourself with your target market, and asking for feedback. Many product builders use it to find their first customers - there's more than just an infinite stream of memes for you on Reddit.

Resources and reading for this stage

  • 30x500 Academy is a cohort-based class from Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman for building products using an approach similar to what I outlined above. Many of their students have gone on to build successful product businesses, and they have a wealth of resources for indiehackers and startup founders.
  • πŸ“– I've recommended The Embedded Entrepreneur before - it's a fantastic book from Arvid Kahl about building a business around specific and deep interests. I can't recommend it enough.

From me this week

  • πŸŽ™οΈ My interview for Software Engineering Daily with Charlie Gerard went live this morning! Charlie and I worked together at Stripe. She's an incredible creative technologist, and I had a blast talking to her about her latest projects. If you're in the midst of a career pivot, and looking for inspiration, this one is for you!
  • πŸ“° The Bun is out of the Oven is our latest newsletter at APIs You Won't Hate. It's all about the new JavaScript runtime that's been all over tech news recently.

Note: Cover image photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash


Thanks for reading Tiny Improvements. If you found this helpful, I'd love it if you shared this with a friend. It helps me out a great deal.

Until next time - be excellent to each other!

Do this with Your Product Waitlist: A Guide for Indiehackers and Startup Founders

Learn strategies to leverage your product waitlist for sustainable growth. Ideal for indiehackers and startup founders, this guide offers actionable tips to convert initial interest into paying customers.



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