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First 30 days of ishim

Hieu Nguyen — October 11, 2021

A journey of how I started ishim — a domain tool, got featured on Hacker News and how it got first sales


30 days ago, I launched ishim — a domain tool to find available one-word domain names. Started as a desktop app for macOS, now ishim is available on Linux, Windows, Web (beta) and has made $1145 in total sales.

In this post, I’ll share a bit about the journey, how I made the first and the following sales. Either you’re starting a product or working on a side project, these are things you can try to kick-start sales without a network (in terms of relationships).

How It Started

Finding good domain names is one of my hobbies. I use online tools (i.e namemesh, impossibly) for name suggestion and bulk check domain availability. Though, many of them have shut down without any notice for some time.

So I decided to write a small local command-line program for it, and explore some methods for name generating.

Then a month ago, I decided to make it to a proper desktop application, aims for others to use it as well.

ishim user interface

Reached the Front Page of Hacker News and Making First Sales

When the first version is ready, I set up a landing page using inverr.com (another project of mine) and added a Paypal button. Then posted it on Reddit and HackerNews (HN).

It got the attention and interesting feedbacks. Some people didn't like installing a desktop app because it required a bit of work, disk space, or the possibility of malware. Some others had experience with online tools being shut down, and prefer to have a desktop app for long-term usage. There was also some great suggestion on how to improve the app.

The post reached the front page of HN for half a day, stay 1st position in "Show HN" for 2 days. It brought +31k page requests over 5 days, and made some first sales.

ish.im traffic spike from Reddit and HN

Promote on Facebook Groups

I'm a member of a few Facebook groups about lifetime deals. There is this guy who kept showing up, promoting his product on these groups and has made over $250k. The majority of the profit came from somewhere else. Though it got me curious about promoting in these groups.

A few days after the HN launch, the traffic started to drop. I decided to promote ishim on some Facebook groups. After an hour, the first payment notification popped up on my phone. And then more around the US's morning time.

For products with a subscription model, lifetime deals might not benefit you in the long term. Though, it's a good way to kick-start sales for new products, and allow you to have conversations with users who actually benefit from it early on. It's a great way to understand users and your product.

Besides, ishim Desktop license is still a one-off purchase. Compare with monthly subscriptions, it's much easier to spend.

Listing on Appsumo

A few months ago, Appsumo reached out and asked if I'd like to list Inverr on their platform, I hesitated. But for ishim, I wanted to focus a little more on distribution and decided to give it a try.

The advantage of listing on Appsumo is their existing audience who are eager to get good deals. Though, the platform charge 30% on each sale from an existing user (which for new products, could be reasonable as the referral fee), or ~$1.50 from a new user.

Besides, you'll need to integrate a code redeem feature into the product. And by default, you can't reach out to the buyers.

So far, it's been a good experience. Appsumo accounted for 27% of sales for ishim (refunds excluded).

That was the first 30 days of ishim. I was lucky to get some attention, sales, great feedback and conversation with users early on.

For new products, you could try to promote them on HackerNews, Reddit, ProductHunt, etc. Luck is important to reached hot on some platforms. Having a fancy landing page and product photos would also help.

If you're offering non-subscription products (one-time purchase), want to validate, or finding early users, try to promote on deals-related Facebook groups. It worked quite well for ishim, especially if there are promotions.

Feel free to try different platforms since the above platform might not be where your ideal customers are

The above methods don't require you to have a network. If you have tried them all and still getting no sales, something might be wrong. It's either your pricing, the message or the product itself.

If you're into domain names, check out https://ish.im

Hope you find it useful and please let me know if you have any tips.

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Hieu Nguyen

I'm a developer, hobbyist photographer. Building Inverr — a NoCode Site Builder



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