Learn a skill not many devs have

Happy July!

If you’ve been thinking about getting Marketing for Developers, today’s a great day to do it.

Right now, with this coupon link, you can save $50 off the regular price. (coupon expires 07/31)

Dana White recently commented about it on Indie Hackers:

Dana White on Indie Hackers“For anyone that feels marketing is not something they understand, I highly recommend that you get @mijustin ‘Marketing for Developers’. Don’t just buy the book, get the online course and watch the videos. It’s a great investment in how to take your product to market as a developer.”

What you’ll get:

I created M4Devs to help programmers combine their technical know-how with marketing knowledge. When you combine them, you become unstoppable; you have everything you need to be an effective product person.

Yes – if you buy now, you’ll get future updates for free!

Justin Jackson

Landing page cheat sheet (for software developers)

I get hundreds of emails like this:

“I’m a full-time backend developer and I struggle with design and copywriting. Could you give me feedback on my website?”

I decided to compile my answer into this landing page cheat sheet (specifically written for programmers).

Download the landing page cheat sheet PDF here:

Looks like you're already subscribed to the list!

Access more free downloads here.

What’s included?

You’ll get a 7 page PDF download, plus a sample landing page. The PDF includes:

  • A checklist of all the elements you’ll need on your site
  • Example content from a proven high-converting web page
  • Headline writing tips
  • Tips for increasing conversion (how to use images, how to describe features, etc…)

For your landing page to succeed, it needs to answer these questions:

  1. Who is this for?
  2. What is their struggle?
  3. What solution are you offering them? How will you make their life better?
  4. Why should they trust you?
  5. What action do you want them to take? (CTA)

The PDF describes each of these sections in detail, with sample copywriting.

What do you know about landing pages?

I’ve been doing product marketing for SaaS companies since 2008. I also run Landing Page Teardowns:

Here’s my complete bio:

Hi! I’m Justin Jackson, @mijustin on Twitter.

I’m the former Product Manager at Sprintly and I’ve also consulted on marketing & growth for startups in London, San Francisco, Boulder, and Portland.

I wrote the Marketing for Developers book, which has sold more than 5,000 copies.

I host two podcasts: MegaMaker, and Product People. I’ve also been featured in:

Justin Jackson featured in: Fast Company, Entrepreneur, CBC, Lifehacker

Looking for more? Get the Marketing for Developers book!

One of the biggest mistakes developers make is they think they know what people need. But building something that meets a need isn’t enough. You have to create something people want.

Hey Justin,

I loved the book! The content is concise and damn actionable. I am a developer and a product designer. I’m pretty confident in how to build a product. However, when it comes to marketing and launching I had no clue where to even begin or what steps to follow. Marketing for Developers is my guiding light – with it I am not just a confident developer, but a confident founder!

Pranav, Cadet

Get the book (PDF, ePub, Mobi)

Who is the book for?

Marketing for Developers is for programmers who want to earn an income from the products they create. I made it specifically for these three stages:

  1. “I want to build a product, but haven’t found an idea.”
  2. “I’m building a product, but haven’t yet launched.”
  3. “I’ve launched, and I’m  looking for my first 100 customers.”

These tactics will also be useful for startups and teams to review together.

My friend Patrick Mckenzie has this great quote:

“As developers, you can create things, which is magical.”

You can build the application; this Marketing for Developers will help you to launch it to paying customers.

Remember to grab the landing page cheat sheet before you leave!

Looks like you're already subscribed to the list!

Access more free downloads here.

2017 is almost done. Learn how to make something people want for 2018.

Can you believe 2017 is 86% complete? Where did the time go!?!

Right now, I’m running an early Black Friday special on Marketing for Developers, a course that teaches programmers how to launch successfully. You can get it now: $299 $149

I asked Nick why he upgraded to the course from the book. He said:

“In 2018 I want to finally launch a successful product. I have spent waaaay too long procrastinating. It is time for action!​”

Learn how to build something people want and get your first 100 customers.

Karl rated it 👍, saying:

“It helped me realize that I was spending way too much time building and not enough time marketing. This is a must-get if you want to start earning income from your side projects.​”

Get it now for $149 ➡️

What’s included:

  • 22 27 video lessons on everything from building an audience to running Facebook ads
  • A copy of the 5-star rated Marketing for Developers book
  • 13 interview videos with experienced founders like Des Traynor, Josh Pigford, Tracy Osborn, Nathan Barry, Ryan Hoover, and Brennan Dunn
  • Interactive workbooks: write down your notes, save them, export them as PDF
  • 18 downloads and bonuses: the Product Hunt Handbook, competitor survey questions (PDF), launch checklist, and more!

Get the whole bundle: 📗 + 📺 + 📑 + 📈

Who is this for?

I created M4Devs specifically for programmers in these three stages:

  1. “I want to build a product, but haven’t found an idea.”
  2. “I’m building a product, but haven’t yet launched.”
  3. “I’ve launched, and I’m looking for my first 100 customers.”

Get it now for $149 ⚡️

If you have questions, feel free to reply to this email. I just might not be able to reply for a little while. 😁

Justin Jackson

PS: looking for community of indie devs launching their own products? I’ve just opened registration for Product People Club. You can join here.

Podcast interview: “Justin Jackson on Marketing for Developers”

I was recently interviewed about marketing for programmers on the Everyone Hates Marketers podcast. You can get the MP3 here.

The host, Louis Grenier, asked me great questions. Here are some excerpts.

Why do you think it’s so difficult for programmers to get customers and revenue in the first place?

I think it’s hard for everybody. But developers like to make things just for the joy of making them. They get excited about a particular piece of technology, or get really excited about coding practices, or the technology stack, or trying out something new.

They may have also heard that you can make money or make a business out of building apps and things like that. I think sometimes they think, “I’m good at making things, if I just make it, it’ll sell itself.”

99% of marketing is just building a product that people want.

I started my book, Marketing for Developers, with a section on “Building Something People Want.” I got a little bit of flack about that. People said: “why does this book start talking about how to build a product?” Once you have something that people want, it’s a lot easier to market it.

Programmer reading Marketing for Developers book

Why does marketing have a bad reputation?

Well, first, there are a lot of bad marketers that are doing things that aren’t great.

Good marketers show people: “here’s where you are, here’s where you want to go, here’s the obstacle in your way, we help you overcome that obstacle.”

But, no matter what, marketing is just trying to get your message through the noise. By its very nature marketing creates more noise. Gary Vaynerchuk has this slogan: “Marketers ruin everything.” I think that’s true. Even good marketers eventually ruin everything; they ruin channels because that’s the way to get your message out.

There’s a part of society that will always hate marketers, because we’re always trying to be loud, we’re trying to breakthrough the noise, we’re trying to get seen. That’s part of it.

But in a normal supply and demand equilibrium, you need to promote what you’ve made, you can’t just let it sit. Most of the people who came to me were asking questions like: “I just finished my app, I’ve been working on it for three years. How do I get customers?” That’s why I wrote the book, Marketing for Developers. My response to those folks was: “You should’ve been marketing all along, you should’ve spent 50% of your time marketing and 50% of your time building your product.”

So, yes, there are bad marketers, there’s bad marketing and marketing by its very definition creates more noise. But if you are going to create something and you want people to use it, it’s the only way to get their attention, it’s the only tool you have so far for getting their attention. In that sense, I think it’s a good thing.

How do you think marketers can make the web a better place?

That’s a really great question. Again, marketing is just communicating. I think one way we can make the web better is through good writing. The web needs better writing. Be thoughtful and thorough!

Also, just because a technique is working, doesn’t necessarily mean we should use all those techniques. I wrestle with this all time. I’ll feel like: “this thing is really working but I just don’t feel right about it, it doesn’t feel good at the end of the day.”

Popups is a good example. On my personal site, I don’t use popups. On the Marketing for Developers site there’s an exit intent popup. I find those less insidious than a welcome mat because a welcome mat blocks you from seeing the content in the first place but an exit intent popup says, “Hey you’re leaving, why don’t you just subscribe and then you can hear from me again in the future.”

Regardless of your opinion about popups, it’s a good idea to constantly be evaluating the techniques we’re using and evaluating whether they’re worth it.

When I was doing client work, I used some techniques I just wasn’t proud of. Things like cold emailing people, cold emailing lists than haven’t opted in; I just hated that stuff. I think if we don’t like doing that stuff, we should just not do it. In my case, I said to the client, “I can’t keep doing this, I don’t feel good about it.”

Ultimately, we have to deliver on our promise. If we’re selling something, we have to have product-market fit. As marketers, we’re making a promise to the customer; that we’re going to make their life better. We have to deliver a product that delivers on that promise.

A lot of marketers, once they get the lead, that’s it, they’re done. They never get to see whether the product delivered on its promise.

If we want to build trust, we actually have to be working on the product too.

Listen to the whole interview with Justin Jackson

Further reading:

Update: Marketing for Developers book re-release

I’m updating and re-launching the Marketing for Developers book.

Programmer reading "Marketing for Developers" book

Here’s what I’ve finished so far:

  • A new chapter on “Choosing the right market” for your product – download this chapter free here ⚡️
  • A new chapter on “Why customers buy products”
  • A new case study on Adam Wathan’s $100k launch

Currently, I’m working on:

  • A new section on SEO for SaaS and software products. (One of the most important marketing channels)
  • Updating all the existing chapters with new screenshots, removing old material, etc…

Initially, I’d hoped to have all of this done by the end of July 2017, but now we’re looking at August release for sure.

I’ve just hired a contractor, named Tim, who’s going to be helping with the book. This should help things move a lot faster (especially the parts that have been slowing me down: research, formatting, etc…)

Thanks so much for your interest in the book update! Can’t wait to share it with you. (If you’re already a Marketing for Devs customer, you’ll get the update for free!)

To tide you over, I’m releasing this chapter for free today (still draft, might have a few formatting mistakes). 👍

Justin Jackson

PS: I had an awesome time speaking to Laravel developers at Laracon in NYC. Here’s a quick clip:

If you’re a fan of Elon Musk, I think you’ll like it. (There’s a few swear words)

How to choose a target market for your SaaS

Some SaaS (Software as a Service) customer groups are bigger, easier to reach, and more profitable than others. How do you find a profitable target market?

How can a SaaS increase MRR from $5k to $700k?

A good example of this is Nathan Barry and his SaaS, ConvertKit. ConvertKit started back in 2013 and initially positioned themselves as “email marketing for digital product businesses.”

“We were just doing email marketing for whoever happened to be frustrated with MailChimp. That wasn’t an effective marketing strategy.”

It wasn’t until around 2015 that Nathan decided to go full time on ConvertKit. During that year he discovered the positioning that would save his business:

Initially I asked: ‘who are people like me that I know are making a good living online?’ I wanted folks who had an audience, were selling products and were likely to have the same problems as me. Initially chose ‘authors’ because I described myself as a writer. The problem is most people who describe themselves as authors are selling their Kindle novels for $0.99. They’re not a profitable customer to have. So then we tried like email marketing for course creators and eventually narrowed it down to professional bloggers.

Changing their positioning to “email marketing for professional bloggers” was a turning point for ConvertKit. But initially, other people in the software business made fun of them.

“People were like: ‘Seriously? When are you going start selling to real companies?”

Luckily, Nathan stayed the course. Since ConvertKit started targeting professional bloggers, monthly recurring revenue went from $5,000 in 2015 to over $700,000 in 2017!

ConvertKit's saas MRR revenue

Customer positioning was key to Nathan’s success. Are you building a SaaS? Choosing the right market is crucial. Here is what I recommend in my book: look for a target market that has:

  1. Purchasing power
  2. Purchasing desire
  3. Market mass

Let me explain these three points.

What is your target market’s purchasing power?

First, purchasing power. What you’re looking for is somebody who can pay for whatever you’re producing. In Nathan’s case, a professional blogger is the only person he needs to convince to buy his product. There’s only one decision-maker; they don’t need to run their expenses by anyone else.

Many software products, like project management software, have to convince a whole team of people to make a sale. You need to talk to the CTO, the COO, the Product Manager, and the development team. Purchasing decisions made by committee increase the cost of every sale.

Purchasing power also refers to how much money people can spend to solve their problems.

A college student might have the autonomy to spend their money as they please, but they’re generally cash poor. A business owner, on the other hand, has both spending authority and the budget.

A customer’s desire for software

Next, you should look at purchasing desire. You are looking for a group of people that is highly motivated to solve their problems. They’re willing to spend money to overcome obstacles and make progress in their lives or their business.

Professional bloggers make most of their money by building an email list. They are a great market for ConvertKit to target because email is the core of their business. Furthermore, if they’re having problems with their existing service (like MailChimp), they’ll be highly motivated to switch.

Desire is important. Certain types of business owners have the ability to spend money as they please, but they’re cheap. They’re not willing to pay to overcome certain types of problems. If you’ve ever been a part of a business’ budget discussions, you’ll notice that every business has certain non-negotiables. Phone service, website hosting, and email service are necessary for most businesses. But other applications are just “nice to have.”

The final ingredient is “market mass.” To have a sustainable business, you need enough people in your target market with the ability and desire to pay you. If your market is too niche, it’s going to be difficult to make a profit. However, if there are thousands (or millions) of people in that market, your opportunity to attract leads is greater. Choosing a niche is still important, but it has to be sizeable enough to support your business.

Selecting a target market for your software product is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Evaluate each potential market on its ability to pay, its desire to pay, and its size.

Get more SaaS marketing advice

Looking for more? You might like the startup marketing checklist and essentials for SaaS marketing (with PDF download).

Marketing for Developers is a crash course on building a software business. From finding the right customer, to choosing the right marketing channels. You can get a free chapter below:

Essentials for SaaS marketing (with PDF download)

Before you start marketing your Software as a Service you need to have two things in place:

  1. Product / Market fit
  2. Analytics and tracking

We’ll talk about product / market fit in a different article. In this piece I want to focus on the the Lean Marketing Stack.

[logichop_condition id=”127″ condition=”lead-m4devs-course”]

Hey [logichop_data var=”ConvertKit.first_name”], welcome back!

You’re on the waiting list! Download your PDF here:

SaaS-Marketing-Essentials.pdf (107 KB)

[/logichop_condition][logichop_condition_not id=”127″ condition=”lead-m4devs-course”]

Download the PDF

Put your email in below, and I'll send you these SaaS marketing essentials.

You'll also be added to the waiting list for Marketing for Developers. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Looks like you're already subscribed to the waiting list!

Download the SaaS Marketing Essentials PDF


What is the Lean Marketing Stack?

The Lean Marketing Stack is the base infrastructure you’ll need to market your SaaS. It includes three fundamental tools:

  1. Your website
  2. Basic analytics
  3. Your email list

The sooner you start collecting data, the better decisions you’ll be able to make. How will you know if your campaign is a success if you don’t have any metrics?

Remember, there’s always a chance that your product will get traction before you expect it. I’ve spoken to hundreds of developers who had their product featured on Hacker News or Product Hunt before they were ready. They had no way to track conversions or have people sign-up for a waiting list. Don’t miss out on these opportunities!

Also, building a basic website now will force you to answer important questions. These include, “Who is my product for?” and “Why should they care about my product?” Writing a simple landing page helps focus your product development on what users want.

How much will this cost?

If you’re looking to save money, you can use these providers and pay nothing:

  • Website hosting: GitHub Pages
  • Analytics: Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, Segment, Mixpanel
  • Email list: MailChimp

In this post, we’ll cover the basics of setting up the Lean Marketing Stack. If you’d like to set up more detailed analytics, you should get the full version of Marketing for Developers.

Your website

If you don’t already have a website for your product now is the time to build one. It doesn’t need to be fancy, expensive or take a long time to create. A simple landing page will do to start.

Domain set up

My recommendation is to organize your domain structure like this:

  • – marketing site
  • – production server for your web application
  • – staging server for your web application

Keeping your marketing site separate from your app will help keep your visitor data clean: it clearly delineates between your app’s users and people visiting your marketing page.

If you haven’t found a good domain name yet, tools like Hover and Lean Domain Search offer great name recommendations.

Content Management System or plain HTML?

I’m a fan of both! If you think you’re going to start blogging right away, use a content management system (CMS). Otherwise, a static HTML site will work fine.

If you’re hosting a simple static site, I highly recommend GitHub Pages. You host your files directly from your GitHub repository; when you push your changes they go live on the web. GitHub also offers hosting on it’s global Content Delivery Network free on this platform.

Which content management system should I use?

I’ve worked for large consulting companies and small startups, and almost all of us end up using WordPress. It’s a great CMS for marketing sites. It’s flexible, has great integrations, and you can host it almost anywhere.

Do not manage the hosting yourself! A good hosting service like WPengine or Pagely might feel expensive, but will save you hours of administration time. Site Ground is another good option and is less expensive.

If you’d rather not use WordPress, consider trying Squarespace. It’s powerful, simple to use, and starts at $8 per month.


Thinking about hosting is one of the rabbit holes that developers fall into. Yes, you could probably do it yourself, cheaper and better. As a product creator, your most valuable asset is your time. If you can save time by hiring an existing tool, you should!

Site design

Marketing sites built by developers have a telltale design: they use the default Bootstrap theme. As a developer, fiddling around with a design isn’t the best use of your time. Here are some good resources for site templates:

The goal here is to communicate who your product is for and how it solves their pain. Once you’re making sales, you can invest more money into your marketing site. In the meantime: keep it simple!


Marketing is about testing, analyzing the data, and iterating. To do this well, you’re going to need metrics that tell you who is buying and why.

First step: set up Google Webmaster Tools

At one point, Google’s webmaster tools were only marginally helpful. Nowadays, it is the only place to see which search terms people are using to find your site. You should install this right away because the more data it collects, the sooner you’ll get valuable results.

Second step: install Segment

Every time I’m on a project and skip this step, I end up regretting it. Segment describes themselves as “a single hub to collect, translate and route your customer data.” It allows you to easily add new tracking snippets to your site without having to go in and change your code each time. It also stores your historical event data and automatically loads that data into the new tools you choose. Now, instead of interacting with multiple APIs, you only need to work with Segment’s.

Note: if you tried Segment in its early years and were disappointed I’d recommend trying them again. They’ve solved their data leakage and latency issues.

Their free tier for developers will give you up to 1000 MTU/month, perfect for a new project.

For a detailed explanation on how to set up tracking events in Segment, you should get the full version of Marketing for Developers.

Third step: install Google Analytics and Mixpanel

Once you have Segment installed and tracking data, you can set up other integrations. For analytics, Segment features over 38 tools. While you can definitely explore some of these in the future, I’m going to recommend that you start with Google Analytics and Mixpanel. Both of them are free (Mixpanel has a free tier for developers) and both cover the essentials you’ll need for tracking goals, funnels, and cohorts.

(Want step-by-step instructions on this? Get the full version of Marketing for Developers.)

Last step: mailing list

Nathan Barry once told me:

“My email list is my most important asset.”

Most people will visit your website and leave, but if you can get their email address, you’ll have additional opportunities to contact them.

We’ll talk about setting up email forms, squeeze pages, and drip sequences later on, but for now let’s talk about choosing an email provider.

In this book I’m recommending you use MailChimp. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers, has many built-in integrations, and features an easy-to-use automation tool. A strong runner-up is Gumroad’s free Audience feature.

Those are the basics

If you’re about to launch your SaaS, I highly recommend you read the entire Lean Marketing Stack section of Marketing for Developers.

In those chapters, I’ll explain how to set-up more detailed tracking events in Segment, Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics and Mixpanel.

Show your ConvertKit subscribers personalized content

[logichop_condition id=148 condition=”convertkit-tricks-lead”]Hey [logichop_data var=”ConvertKit.first_name”], welcome back! [/logichop_condition]My friend Brennan Dunn has been doing a lot of work on personalizing web content lately. He’s using Drip (his email software) as the central datastore for subscriber data. When these subscribers return to his website, he’s able to show them personalized content.

I wanted to try something similar. One problem: I’m using ConvertKit as my ESP instead of Drip. Here’s how I did it:

Want to try this for yourself?

  1. Sign up for ConvertKit
  2. Sign up for Logic Hop

Interested in more tutorials like this?

I’m thinking about creating more. To get notified when they’re released sign up here:

How do you get traffic for your site?

Generally, to get sales for a product or service online, you’re going to need traffic to you site.

Visitors to your site could turn into leads who then (hopefully) turn into customers.

Here are my top 10 sources of traffic for this site:

Top 10 sources of traffic for website

One note: I only recently installed an SSL certificate on this site, which means a lot of my referrer data was lost to the (direct) / (none) category.

We can see the website actually gets a fair amount of search traffic.

Most of the visitors are from my blog, newsletter and Twitter: writing and publishing regularly is a great marketing channel. It’s the best way to earn the trust of your audience.

I did a deal with AppSumo that drove a lot of traffic (they have a huge list).

Likewise, my audience hangs out on sites like Product Hunt and Medium, which also drove traffic.

And finally, some fairly big email newsletters (Hacker Newsletter and SaaS Weekly) picked up my story, and sent it to their subscribers.

Here’s another way of looking at traffic by channels:

Which channels give the most traffic?

A lot of the Direct, Referral, and Social visits are from an audience I’ve built up over time: through my podcast, blogging, being active on Twitter, speaking, etc…

All of the above takes time, but for me, it’s proven to be the best way to market the site.

Should I build a SaaS first?

On the Bootstrapped.FM forums, Khaja Naquiuddin asks:

I am full stack developer and getting started to launch a product. I don’t have any audience though. There is a famous advice on the internet by many entrepreneurs to start a small product first, before starting a big SaaS business. Do you think it is really true? Should I first learn the business by launching small products and then launch bigger SaaS products?

A mistake a lot of developers make is focusing too much on the form of the product, instead of who it’s for and what that customer wants to accomplish.

Here’s a helpful exercise: don’t start by thinking about what type of product you’d like to build, but rather ask yourself:

  1. What type of person would I like to serve?
  2. What are they struggling with currently?
  3. How can I help them right now?

This is the advice I got from Derek Sivers years ago.

He ended up making this video about it:

If you want to be useful, you can always start now with 1% of what’s in your grand vision.

For a customer, a product is just a means to an end.

It doesn’t need to be SaaS, an app, or hardware: it just needs to solve their problem.

I just shared one common mistake programmers make when building products. I have 3 more to teach you. You can get them by subscribing here: