719 words long | 4 minute read
I am currently building a new SaaS project called Izlo. Unlike projects before this I wanted to be a bit more organized and intentional about building, marketing, and researching. In projects past I wasn't particularly methodical and I wanted to take the learnings I had from previous companies and implement them this time. To do this I am using Notion.
The problem with any tracking system is that you have to make it easy enough that you actually use it while it not being overly simplistic to where it doesn't actually do much. I tried to strike a balance in a way where I could quickly jot down ideas, insights, etc. and be able to reference them later. Likewise, I could focus on one single thing at a time, like keyword research, and come back to any work I was doing.
I tried to break up items into a general structure of things I thought were important to track with a new project. I wanted one singular spot to have everything I could want to give me direction and keep momentum moving. Here is the structure I went with:
Each tab is unique and typically has a kanban board or spreadsheet in it to be able to track things. Some are just documents in general like notes where I can have a space to just quickly jot down ideas or insights. I took inspiration and sometimes used the Notion example templates, particularly around user research. I won't lie I'm pretty proud of some of the spreadsheets that auto prioritize items for me, like marketing channels for example.
This particular concept is taken from the Traction book where it helps you work through which potential marketing channels might work best for your startup. I used this concept of prioritization concept and applied it to things like keyword research, cold outreach, and more. That way when I click on a tab in Notion I can quickly see what my next task should be based on what I'm focusing on that day. It helps with keeping forward momentum that is hopefully directionally accurate for making the products marketing, features, etc. better.
I want to call out the purposeful focus on marketing. If you notice marketing and user discover makes up over 50% of the items in my setup. Part of this is because marketing is probably the thing I am weakest at (versus development) and by proxy the thing I neglect most. I wanted my document to be a constant reminder that marketing is important and to continue to explore the avenues I had identified.
It's kind of a meme that that devs who build side projects just focus on new features and never actually market their product. I personally fall prey to saying "engineering is marketing" when building a new feature or something else that is tangentially related to my project. While this can sometimes be considered marketing, I wanted to focus on higher touch marketing at the beginning (aka cold outreach or direct marketing) so I can talk to my potential customers more. This isn't to say I won't neglect longer term things like engineering as marketing or SEO, it just has less priority at the moment. This means my cold outreach and user research tabs are getting more of a workout right now than say, PPC. I'm hoping my Notion setup can scale in tandem with my company, but may need some adjustments in the future.
Without the users (or better yet customers) your project won't become sustainable, or better yet profitable. My goal right now is to get from $0 MRR to $100 MRR and having happy customers before going for the higher scale marketing channels.
This setup is definitely not perfect, but it provides enough structure for me at the moment. As I continue to leverage it I may tweak some things, but for now it seems to be doing the trick. If you think it doesn't make sense, I am curious to learn more about how you would improve or how you keep track of things for your new projects.