July 1, 2022 Β· 9 min read

Lessons Learned from the First Marketing Month

It won’t be an overnight success. Now I know it for sure.

At the end of May, I launched my screenshot API, the second project in my 1001 project journey. And right away, I defined the next simple goal to attract the first paying customers by the end of July.

I love the project and will continue to grow it anyway, but if I can’t find paying customers by the end of July. I will decrease the amount of time I invest in it, and will try a lot of new ideas. Some of the ideas might use the project.

I have not reached my goals, but I have one more month. In this note, I want to reflect on what went well and what went wrong, and my plans.

What have I tried?

  1. Paid Google Ads.
  2. Reddit.
  3. SEO.
  4. BetaList and other directories.
  5. Direct outreach on Twitter.
  6. Indirect marketing on Twitter.

Before I share in detail my lessons and my plans, these are key metrics:

June 2022 metrics for ScreenshotOne.com

I don’t automate it now. Entering the data manually helps me reflect on it (the author of idea β€” Fed (GummySearch)).

By the way, my analytics is open. Feel free to play with it.

Experiments I tried

I started with paid ads to get at least some traffic and see how users will use my product if they sign up or not.

And it helped. I fixed a ton of bugs, improved performance, added new features, and added the “Sign In with Google” feature:

And I made a lot of mistakes. I paid $515 for 2144 clicks, so the cost-per-click is $0.25. 0 paying customers.

Lessons learned:

  1. It is better to have a polished (tested) product with good positioning if you are low on budget. Your goal is to maximize the conversion rate (sign-ups/visits).
  2. Use negative keywords. If I sell screenshot API, I don’t want to get visitors that search for screenshots on desktop. If you don’t do it, you can burn your budget quickly.
  3. Use exact match for the keywords. If you don’t match keywords exactly, you might be surprised how fast and for what keywords you can burn your budget.
  4. Specify the exact countries for which you want to promote. Start from a small set.
  5. You can also specify hours when the ad is running. I set my working hours in case something happens, or a potential customer asks questions.
  6. I should experiment more with ad text and landing pages for different use cases. For example, I can add a landing page for the “take screenshots in JavaScript” search query and promote related keywords in the ad.


I was afraid to post on Reddit because it has this aura of community that bans mercilessly anyone who tries to promote anything, even by helping others. So, I decided to start from the most promotion-friendly subreddit β€” r/SideProject.

I looked at the posts, what people share, and how they introduce themselves. I quickly wrote a post about my screenshot API. The results beat my expectations:

A lot of positive feedback, upvotes, and comments. I will continue trying with other communities that folks mentioned under the tweet. I feel that Reddit has good potential.

I also set up f5bot.com to monitor keywords related to my project on Reddit and other forums. In case I can jump into the conversion and help.

I already had an example when a related keyword matched β€” a question was asked. I jumped and tried to help, but unfortunately, I did not receive any response.

Lessons learned:

  1. I introduced the project and did not just drop a link.
  2. I replied with every response.
  3. I could promote a Reddit post on Twitter among my friends.
  4. I could emphasize my journey rather than the project itself.
  5. I should try to help as much as possible, even without a link. I can say that I have a product.


I started to write content long before I launched the project.

I wrote a long post on how to take screenshots with Puppeteer. And started gathering traffic. Once I saw the keywords for which the project ranked, I improved the original post and added more posts. I help people by trying to satisfy their search requests.

Search Traffic for ScreenshotOne.com

As you see, the visits are growing. And for some of the keywords, I reached the first page:

Lessons Learned:

  1. Start as early as possible from SEO.
  2. Write one large post related to your niche or your product. Start observing traffic and keywords and then optimize.
  3. Once SEO kicks off, it is impossible to stop. In the past week, I did not have a day without organic visits from Google.
  4. I should have worked on the backlinks on day one.
  5. I should have started to optimize for critical keywords by day one.

BetaList and other directories

I was afraid to launch because they had rigorous requirements for the landing and the product idea. But then I thought, why not? It can be a kind of validation.

When I launched, the results were promising for me:

I also gradually added the project to other directories, like alternativeto.net and sideprojectors.com. The results are not that good, but I am happy even for 2 or 3 unique visits per day.

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t underestimate the power of launching on different directories. People can still find you through them. They do bring traffic.
  2. I need to perfect my landing page and launch on ProductHunt. Awareness also helps.

Direct outreach on Twitter

I reached out to 4 people who I knew could benefit from my project. The owners of screenshot image editors. Instead of copying a screenshot of the site, I proposed to allow to enter the URL.

They answered, yes, it is an excellent idea to integrate, but nothing then happened. I’m not upset. It is fine. The earlier I know there is no value, the fast I can move further and iterate.

One person said that this feature is on their roadmap. If they decide to integrate, I will be happy. If not, it is OK.

Lessons learned:

  1. I should talk to more people, and it is not enough.
  2. People are nice but still might reject you β€” nothing wrong with it. Don’t take it personally.

Indirect marketing on Twitter

On Twitter, I #BuildInPublic and tell everything that happens in my journey.

I did not expect to find any users for my current project there, which is too dull and too niche. But there were visitors from Twitter:

Visits from Twitter on June for ScreenshotOne.com

And boom! I was super surprised that it might work:

Lessons Learned:

  1. #BuildInPublic still might work as a marketing strategy.
  2. Don’t sell to people, but share the lessons learned.
  3. People might choose your product instead of competitors because of you.
  4. I read @MeetKevon book “Find Joy in Chaos”, which has a lot of good advice on how to connect with people on Twitter.

Lessons Learned

These are the most important lessons I learned:

  1. The energy to build and promote a small, simple project like my API might be equal to doing the same job but for a more ambitious project. So, choose the market and the niche wisely.
  2. Talking to customers is inevitable, and the earlier I can do it, the faster I can build something that satisfies the actual need, not the one I imagine.
  3. Paid ads are suitable if the budget is small. It is better to run when the product has developed positioning and has a landing page with a reasonable conversion rate.
  4. SEO is a long-term game. I should work on it from day one. But once it kicks off, it is a massive bonus for any project.
  5. I should try direct outreach on Twitter, Reddit, and emails.

Next Moves

It is not an exact plan, and it is more of a strategy or canvas:

  1. My landing page is terrible. I need to improve it dramatically. Thanks to the community, I gathered a lot of feedback. And will refactor it.
  2. I need to speak with current users and understand their needs better. Make sure they are satisfied.
  3. I need to get testimonials and show them on the landing page to gain credibility for potential customers.
  4. I want to run side projects to promote the main project. But side projects that really can help people to solve their problems.
  5. I will double down on SEO because I love the returns. I need to write more content and share it to get the backlinks.
  6. I will continue submitting the project to more directories.
  7. Try cold outreach. Gather a list of potential customers and start sending them direct messages and emails.


As an experienced software engineer (10+ years in back-end development), I picked up a random boring idea that I could build and promote with minimum learning. I did not want it to be fancy and likable, especially with complex UI. And I learned a lot. Now, I can advance and build more complex projects.

I must admit that after all this marketing experience from the first month, I see that promoting some projects might be much easier. But anyway, I can’t imagine what I can build and sell if I succeed with a monotonous screenshot API (for me, it is not boring).

I shared everything and opened all my analytics. I want to share my journey and show that it is not easy but possible. It won’t be an overnight success, but I will surely succeed one day.

And, of course, I share everything in exchange for feedback. If I am doing something wrong, please, tell me. I am super open to critics.

I am most active on Twitter. Feel free to follow me.