What I learnt in 2017 while running Feature Upvote

Patrick McKenzie recently tweeted:

If you’ve got two hours to kill the next few days write up “What I learned in 2017 doing X” and put it somewhere where people can read it.

In response, I wrote up my lessons learnt in 2017 while running Feature Upvote.


Thanks for sharing, Steve. After full year, how much are you involved in hands-on (not automated) marketing? For example, you mentioned answering questions on Quora.

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I dedicate one workday per week for marketing. It is all hands-on.

I call it “Marketing Monday”. I try not to do anything code-related on that day. I have a checklist I work through each Monday:

  1. Site/blog content: Update or write one piece of content
  2. Google Search Console: Check for any problems and insights
  3. Google Analytics: Check if there are any surprising new traffic sources. Investigate.
  4. Quora: See if there is a Quora question I can answer. Consider improving an existing answer that is doing well.
  5. Read a SaaS-oriented marketing article

I should add, this is in theory what I do. The reality is different. When my schedule is interrupted (for a conference, for travel, for some unexpected problem) I find that Marketing Monday is the first thing I “postpone” (read, abandon for the week). That’s because I don’t enjoy marketing very much…


Wow, I also have “Marketing Monday” on my calendar, with a remainder and everything. Guess we are reading the same blogs.

Now, I almost never do a marketing on Mondays, unless someone is dying. My latest and greatest scheduled activity is " at least one video/podcast a week". It doesn’t have a specific day of the week yet so, technically, no commitment. Like it more this way.

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Marketing is like losing weight. Everyone knows what you have to do to be successful, but no one wants to do it. Case in point, this thread!


This is great, Steve - thanks for sharing. I have advertised on Quora, but haven’t bothered to answer questions as I figured it would come across as self promotional. Can you share a couple of the Quora articles that have been successful for you?

Also, where did you find your sysadmin?

UserTesting.com for usability testing?

You can’t avoid looking self-promotional though. Unless your product is a massive hit, you will need to write hundreds of “here is my thing, it may solve your problem” answers on different sites because it does not have enough customers to get recommended organically.

Great post, thanks for sharing.

Where did you get your Sys Admin? I am interested in employing someone on a similar basis. If you can recommend someone I would be interested.


yes I agree. I must admit I often found Quora answers kind of propaganda at some point where you have like 6-7 in a row answers in the “here at X we do Y and Z”.

I think the goal is to stay helpful without necessarily pushing your product into people’s throat.

Can you share a couple of the Quora articles that have been successful for you?

I hear you about the self-promotional aspect. Self-promotion is one of the icky bits of marketing that is hard to avoid. I mostly answer variations on “what’s an affordable alternative to UserVoice?” For these questions, Feature Upvote is a non-controversial answer.

where did you find your sysadmin?

Upwork. I’ve been using him for various sysadmin tasks since 2014, so we had developed a high level of mutual trust by the time I started Feature Upvote.

UserTesting.com for usability testing?

I found real people in my city and conducted in-person usability testing in my office. A good starting point for learning more about DIY usability testing is this video of Steve Krug from “Business of Software” 2008.

I believe very strongly in performing usability testing.


haha, I could not resist but to post an answer on some of those.

Geez, reading this made me realized that the competition is crazy in the user feedback space. Since you’ve started Feature Upvote I was not really seeing it as a competitor of Roadmap. Looking at those question and seeing answers from product similar to mine… Wow interesting :slight_smile:

The way UserVoice position themselves at this moment like a product management software is directly what Roadmap is doing.

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This would be an interesting topic for a blog post (or an attendee talk at MC next year if you are planning to go?). I think a lot of bootstrappers (me included) probably refrain from usability testing as they think it is going to be too much effort to do. But no doubt the benefits are large in terms of improved activation and conversion rates.


Just curious Steve why you have not implemented social sign on in your app? Eg signing in with Facebook or Google.

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Three reasons:

  1. My customers are businesses, and therefore not so likely to want to sign in with social.
  2. No one has asked for this yet.
  3. Offering multiple ways to sign on leads to confusion for people who can’t remember if they are customers. (This is something that creates frequent tickets for my desktop product’s support team.)

I was going to argue with you about that, but upon some thinking about it I realized the lack of social login could be a marker for a B2B application. I.e. it could sub-consciously prime the visitor to a higher pricing. :slight_smile:

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