> Building a business from scratch in public - day 1Published on . 5 min read
New week, new me project! Last week I was context switching too much between projects, and while I did do a lot, I did not feel like I was making any progress.
So, while preparing the stream for this week, I came up with the following plan:
I will build a “business” from scratch (sort of, more on that later), and I am doing it entirely in public on Twitch. I will also write daily logs, like this one, for anyone who wants to follow along this way.
(I am also keeping an archive of the streams on YouTube if you want to get a taste!)
What am I building? Let’s take a time machine back to 2018.
Back in 2018, I already thought it was a good idea to create a database of affiliate programs to connect creators and businesses. However, that project was short-lived, since before I knew it, I was already working on something else and neglected the project even though it had decent traffic.
While thinking of content for the stream, I stumbled upon the old database of the project, and to my surprise, a lot of the data is still valid today. Sure, I need to clean and update it a bit, but it feels like the perfect project to build in public fully!
I deem this project a success if any small creator earns some money through finding an affiliate program via useaffiliates to kickstart their journey.
Now, as far as competition, I know of a couple of small competitors in the space, but while the first version might look similar (in theory, I was there first back in 2018 🥲), I am planning to add a lot more data and features in later versions.
I am using Notion to make my todo’s public.
To keep everyone in the loop about the project, I set up a public Notion page where you can find everything related. From todo’s to these daily logs. I will do my best also to include notes about my decision-making on features, pricing, and marketing.
Now let’s look at what progress we made today, shall we?
I wanted to start this project with monetization in mind. Too often, I build projects with monetization as an afterthought. Pricing always sorts of sucks; how do you value your website that isn’t even live yet?
useaffiliates.com resembles a job board in its functionality. The affiliate programs are the jobs, and the creators are the job seekers. I will monetize the project by allowing any business to post their affiliate program for a fixed fee and pin their program on the homepage or category page for an additional cost. Sounds familiar? I took this idea from remoteok.com.
I came up with some random prices, which you can find in this note, so it’s not set in stone just yet. I wonder if I shouldn’t make businesses pay every month, quarter, or year to have some sort of recurring revenue.
I know for sure that I will definitely create a fat discount for anyone in the indie hackers community. You’ve all provided me with enough value to get something in return. More on this later; let me think about it!
The database and categories.
I will use Notion for the database since this project is 95% read-only, and I will probably handle new affiliate program submissions via Typeform with the Stripe integration. This way, I can go live faster without needing to write the forms and logic for new submissions.
Another benefit of going the no-code way for submissions is that every submission goes directly through me, so I can monitor the process closely to see if I need to improve the form or improve the pricing options.
Once I have gathered all the data, and it starts becoming a redundant recurring task, I will switch to a fully autonomous submission process.
Besides the starting data and the submission, I also reworked the categories. In the old database, we already had categories, but those didn’t cover the programs too well. To develop the new categories, I looked at the categories list when you sign-up for the Amazon affiliate program and mixed and matched the list until I had a complete list of categories. This way, I am sure that when someone puts in a submission, they will be able to select a category they are happy with for their program (which saves me a back and forth email or maybe even from losing a potential submission).
Starting with the design.
Now that we have the data and know how we will allow submissions, it’s time to start working on the design of the site.
Design hasn’t been my strong suit, I have some professional experience, but that was always with some great designers by my side. For some reason, I can always imagine how a design must look, but once I create the first rectangle in Figma, I feel like an amateur. So that’s another benefit of dedicating my time to this project; I am going to learn more about design!
To get off to a good start, I decided to explore fonts and choose a nice font pairing. Since this website mostly consists of lists, I wanted something readable, but at the same time didn’t look downright boring (especially the headers). After an hour of combining fonts and ranking them against each other, I decided on the following:
Heading font: Poppins extra bold
Body font: Roboto regular
Towards the end of the day, I felt like I was making the design too complex. I will be fine with only having the categories as a filter for the first version. For now, all I need is a solid base on which I can add more features later.
If you know of any good YouTube channels about designing UI’s or courses, let me know! I really want to level up my design skills!
See you today, tomorrow, or next week!
I will continue working on the design for the next stream and probably will continue to do so for the remainder of this week (while also thinking of new features and content). My goal is to make a couple of more variations and improve my design skills in the process.
Based on the old database I already have, I will start preparing the Notion databases outside of the stream. I have decided to do this off stream, because I can imagine it is quite boring to watch me copy and paste data and check every link.
Stay tuned for a new build log tomorrow!