A year of building digital products

3 min read

Building the Vitaely.me web app

My goal for a long while now has been to build a digital product business myself. A Product Designer by trade, I began learning how to code so that I could bring my ideas to life. Through a combination of Youtube (props to The Net Ninja and Fireship), StackOverflow and documentation; I have managed to get to a level where I can build a web app that people might find useful.

Goals at the start of the 2021

In 2021, inspired by Jon Yongfook of Bannerbear, and by extension Pieter Levels of Levels.io fame, I endeavoured to build 12 products in 12 months. I felt this was a great opportunity to give myself plenty of reps at building, marketing and selling products online, and maybe even generate a bit of revenue along the way.

How did it go?

Despite falling well short of the 12 products in 12 months, I managed to build 4 paid products and one more free product. There were either UI kits (Galaxy Design System and CryptoHunt Crypto Design System) or web apps (Vitaely.me, Smart Chain Tracker).

I also failed to generate any revenue through my web apps, however I did manage to generate £556.71 in revenue through selling design systems. This revenue came predominantly though UI8, a digital asset marketplace. This represents the first revenue I have generated online since making and selling Youtube backgrounds back in my teens.

Galaxy Design System for Sketch | Component examples

Components from Galaxy Design System for Sketch

What I learned

What I did achieve was learning a ton of things around digital products that will help in both my professional and side project lives. Just some of those things include atomic design, design systems, react, next.js, firebase, and stripe.

Goals for 2022

With 2022 just around the corner, it's fitting that I should set up some product-related goals:

  1. Get £1 MRR

  2. Launch 6 products this year

  3. Get better at marketing

If I make it to £1 MRR, then I can start to focus on hitting £1,000 MRR in total across all projects.

Fear of marketing

One area I fell drastically short was marketing, the extent of which was limited to Google Ads and Product Hunt launches. The products which generated the most revenue didn't even make use of these, and instead relied solely on the UI8 marketplace.

As the proverb goes; in the cave you fear to enter, lies the treasure you seek, and marketing is certainly my cave. In 2022 I aim to improve in marketing in a couple of main ways:

  1. SEO marketing (content creation, blogging, knowledge base, Ahrefs)

  2. Talking to customers (Live chat, go to where customers are on subreddits, forums, twitter, meet-ups, etc.)

#BuildSell30

Earlier this month I became aware of #BuildSell30. If you are not aware, the challenge is to build and sell a project on MicroAcquire in 30 days.

This challenge represents a fantastic opportunity at a bit of free motivation at building a product and a community to keep me accountable. It is also a pretty good extension of what I have already been attempting in building 12 products in 12 months. The challenge kicks off in January, tomorrow at the time of writing, so I’d better thinking about what project I want to work on.

If you're interested in finding out more about the challenge, check out buildsell30.com.

Questions? Reach out!

I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can

Email me

Aaron Butler

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