I think this is key and great documentation is one of the most underrated parts of business. Stripe nailed this. Digital Ocean nailed this. Most places don't or can't.
[note - personal bias as I have a startup in this space, but it seems very clear to me and I think there's a win-win in businesses focusing more on their docs in terms of improving global efficiency and improving sales and trust in that business - it's just really low hanging fruit in a majority of cases I've seen]
Good docs will be coming soon...
Just from reading the example code, I see a potential performance optimization.
A site could make pages with FastComments load and render a bit faster by loading your script using <script async>, <script defer> or both together, so the page load time doesn't depend on a round trip to your CDN.
The inline script would have to be slightly different for this to work, but not much different.
Well done to whatever tasteful individuals designed and executed/approved those decisions.
jQuery had lots of docs with examples, and I never was able to wrap my head around Mootools.
Being able to try and customize jQuery UI components was also what sold me back then. I think simple web-based demos in your docs go a long way in explaining what your product actually feels like to use. Even a demo that's a bit contrived is useful. People will even just mindlessly play with demos. They are very worth doing in my opinion.
Digital Ocean was great at this in the early days. I don't know if they haven't put as much effort into as of late or changes in SEO, but I don't seem to get funneled there by search engines as frequently.
This is a fantastic way to get your marketing into stratosphere. I'm seeing more and more companies doing it.
Recently, I started evaluating Microsoft Azure AD B2C for this purpose and it's just such a nightmare! Their only configuration options are email/sms for 2FA despite the fact they use their own auth app for their own products (such as logging into Azure Portal!). I had evaluated Azure AD 5 years ago and it's still a nightmare from documentation standpoint. You have to hunt down code examples on stack overflow or some github samples that their developers have provided.
For any startups out there, this should be at the top of your list for marketing. It will take time to get out of the Google sandbox but once you are out you are likely to get rewarded for the effort.
I would like to add Unity 3D engine to that list.
But that sounds great - I love writing documentation and tutorials (how many bugs and holes I am finding during that process!), so I have another justification for working on more articles for my product. I usually underestimate that 70% of traffic comes from Google looking for stuff like "measuring temperature in python".
fyi: I am building "Arduino for Biosignals" (aidlab.com/developer)
This right here is a very important organizing principle for indie devs. It's more effective than say doing both coding and promotion in parallel by dividing the the day into two.
Is this a thing now showing the numbers for the world to see? I like it - but just have no prior experience.
I was personally inspired by Buffer:
And also Pieter Levels:
Folks like these showed that it is possible to grow a business solo or with a small team, which was and still is hugely inspiring to me.
I'm just doing my part to continue the practice, to hopefully positively influence the next generation!
I think buffer also made their various iterations of salary formulas public.
Congratz on your journey, you're in a market that has been barely explored, so much potential.
The example I have in mind is the Unity game engine, where free users have a splash screen in their exported games. Since most users who aren't paying are also not making great games, Unity's name and reputation is now attached to solely those bad games.
Similarly with the generated images, adding a watermark to (some of the) free ones will mean that the images you have your name on are the ones that are being generated by users who aren't paying; either because they're not making enough to justify it, or they're making bad content that you don't really want to be the main thing with your name on it out there.
For people who are on the trial and need more quota, I simply tell them they are welcome to create 2nd, 3rd etc accounts. I have no issue with that.
"How much free quota" to give is a question with no right answer. So instead of forever trying to tweak that number, I have left it at an amount that seems to be working and I don't increase it for anyone (I have not even built in the ability to extend a free trial).
On the other hand, people creating multiple accounts to test things out is a very nice indicator of interest.
The kicker is I built this for label printing. So the output can be full color or dithered black and white, and my app talks to a few dozen supported USB thermal label printers.
Like the author described.. I niched down. Check out my app at https://label.live
BannerBear is cool and the marketing is truly inspiring. Keep up the good work!
That list of bar code types blows my mind - and shows me that clearly this is a niche I know nothing about :)
JQuery works perfectly here.
But there is something about the design, along with the main BannerBear website seems to be off scale. I had to Zoom Out twice to make things looks normal.
80% (two zooms out from default in FF) is my default, since I found that was by far my most common choice per-site, changing it more often than not.
I also have quite a few at 67%, and only the odd site (HN for example) at 100%. Just seems to be a trend for everything to be 'big' and (to me and you) 'zoomed-in'-looking.
This is consistent (as in I do the same thing, it doesn't sync unfortunately) across my Linux desktop & (retina) MacBook Pro, before someone says something like 'well Linux is janky like that, try a Mac, they just work' :).
(I use 'Zoom Page WE' in Firefox for persisting per-site zoom levels: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox/addon/zoom-page-we)
I guess large fonts is just my preferred aesthetic - may not be to everyone's taste.
I mean  Top is what I am referring to, where the Sign up button is above the fold. By Default it is shown like the bottom.
When I take my foot off the pedal and stop marketing, I feel it - I get less targeted signups and less conversions.
So this is a full time job right now, it's not a "set and forget" style business!
I just retweeted you btw. Very impressive, actually even a little intimidating. I don't know if you're looking to be bought, but if you haven't had offers already, I'm sure they're coming your way soon
Cooler still that the beginning of the journey was a 12 startups in 12 months project. I'm actually in the middle of doing that as we speak, and am about to finish month one. Definitely feeling that "final 10% of effort seems to take as long as the previous 90%" thing currently ... kind of wondering whether I'll have something shippable or usable in the next two days. But even if I don't, next month is another chance to get it right and to build off of the things I've learned in month 1.
Anyway, I'll be interested to see more from you. If you're curious to check out my work I'm putting up weekly blog summaries here: https://startupinamonth.net. Definitely gonna start keeping track of what I'm reading and thinking about so I can do a similar overview post in a year or two :)
Edit: thank you for sharing it!
This is what I've never totally understood about product hunt. Is the goal to get feedback from other creators, or launch to an audience that isn't necessarily your target market?
It's a good question.
There's still a lot to be optimized on the video side of things. But the reason it took 2 minutes is because of things like:
- Checking the video length before rendering
- Converting to a standardized format so that the renderer doesn't trip up
- Handing off to AWS Lambda, which involves some network I/O
- Handing back to my Rails app
So there's a lot of back-and-forth right now that could be optimized.
It will scale nicely under high workloads because my main Rails app isn't really doing much except handing off to AWS Lambda, but this means there is a speed hit both in terms of the I/O and also the Lambda being underpowered.
You can actually see the two main processes happening if you watch the progress bar on the video demo.
You'll notice that the first 50% is a bit slow - that's my Rails app doing some validations, conversions, and packaging things up nicely for the Lambda.
The last 50% seems to move faster - that's the Lambda rendering the final video and then passing it back to Rails.
There's definitely a lot of scope for speeding things up in the first 50%.
As for disrupting long-running processes, I can safely deploy my Rails app any time as it's not performing any of the rendering jobs (on images or video) it's just acting as the job expeditor and receiver of webhooks.
I think the product is great and the name bannerbear really is memorable. I think that is a major key along with a great product. You have to be able to remember the name easily without effort and the two word format works well for human memory. Being high up in the alphabet is smart as well in terms of lists, it may not help much later but early on naming like this is important.
> I would do one week of code, then spend the following week tweeting / blog posting about what I shipped — then repeat
That is gold for indie/small business value creation and extraction. Many times marketing is like audio/sound for games, an afterthought for the programmer/creator/product person. Here you have a system that locked it in but only after creating, how it is supposed to be. I think it is a great way to avoid burnout as well, you are refreshed on both creating and promoting on those weeks.
I believe that there is value creation (product/creative/engineering) and value extraction (marketing/business/finance) and it has to be in that order. There has to be enough value created to value extract and this system is quite nice.
More excellent point:
> The best way to make money on the internet is to ignore everyone telling you how to make money on the internet, and just do some hard work. https://twitter.com/yongfook/status/1328865845527805952
> Knowing your target market is good, knowing your target's Job to Be Done is better
> Jobs to Be Done is only something you understand after talking to users
> Upgrade your user, not your product
This is how you make products people love. Even if it is only a few minutes a day, when people use a product if it is fun or refreshing and makes their lives easier, that is game mechanic that is replayed. Same goes for games, it is all in the basic game mechanic, it has to be fun. Focus on the lives of the user/player of your product. I like to parallel that to like a fun game or a comicstrip, bring joy to people even if it is only a very small slice of their day, it will be a good part of their day. Make your product a "friend" of the user/player.
You have all the little details that make your presentation fun like a good indie game with details and easily approachable. Even your subscribe form has a refreshing way to look at the captcha, rather than "confirm you aren't a robot" it is "confirm Humanity". Nice touch, but your presentation is a series of nice touches. Well played, these things are hard to instill in company cultures and usually only present in smaller more product people, or even gaming, focused projects.
I just love everything presented, it has that thing that makes it fun.
Congrats on your success Jon Yongfook I am sure you are headed to much higher ground with your North Star in focus all along.
What does this mean, exactly?
Imagine you have a product with 10 features. You want to generate growth. Your first instinct might be: time to add a new feature (upgrade the product). Another approach might be to investigate your users behaviour. You might find users are only using 5 of your features. You may then choose to educate your users on the other 5 features you already have (upgrade your user).
This is one of the purposes of marketing. You would be surprised how often a customer will say "I didn't even know I could do that".
She has some really great video talks out there:
Basically anyone who needs to do repetitive image generation.
The idea came from when I was working in Ecommerce. We would be uploading anywhere from 5 to 50 new products to our store every day. And those products would have multiple photos (different angle views). And from those different views, we would be manually creating all sorts of marketing assets e.g. ads, social media posts etc.
On top of the image, we would usually want to overlay things like our logo, or a coupon code, or the product name etc. All of this stuff was done manually and it was a PITA.
So my product is aimed at two types of customer,
1) the above type of user who needs some kind of highly-scalable and flexible banner generation API. Digital ad agencies, ecommerce stores.
2) a lower volume type of customer who wants to do the same but at a smaller scale, maybe for their own solo business. These customers use Zapier to integrate with Bannerbear, rather than using the API directly.
Hope that helps explain the use cases!
I bet this is a fun product to build. Best of luck with it!
But the pricing, for the above, seems insane: $99/mo for the standard plan
So I assume I'm missing something about what this service can do, and what value it provides. Can anyone fill me in?
If you were going to produce these images anyway, using some other means, it's probably costing you more than $99 a month.
I agree with you, automated open graph images are not a problem worth paying lots of money to solve. That's pretty much the exact realisation I had at the mid point in this timeline - see the "Rebrand" section for the details.
So at that point I pivoted Bannerbear to be able to generate any kind of image, for any purpose.
New use cases are things like, generating ad variations, generating instagram posts, generating dynamic in-app images (e.g. in the welcome email for Bannerbear you get a personalized image header which is generated on-the-fly by Bannerbear) and these use cases are a lot more valuable to the end users.
This service automates the image generation part so you don't have to. Basically it makes link previews for your site sexier / more engaging in a (semi) automated way.
Open Graph images is one use-case, but it's actually quite a small niche within my current customers.
The most common use case is people who have spreadsheets full of data that they want to turn into some sort of image, like a product catalog in an excel sheet that you want to turn into social media posts.
Another use case is any time in an app where you need to generate an image on-demand. For example if you're sending a weekly summary email to your SaaS users and you want to generate some sort of dynamic image to show their usage stats (with charts / metrics etc).
Although the underlying grid layout framework is bulma.io