3 Reasons Why I Think 50% Coding 50% Marketing is the Best Framework for Solo Tech Founders
I'm a solo tech founder and almost from the beginning I have employed a 50:50 split between coding and marketing for my SaaS product Bannerbear.
I've mentioned this working style in a few places. The first was in my $10K MRR post, if you scroll down to the section Getting into a Rhythm.
During that 6 month period Bannerbear grew from around $800 MRR to over $6K MRR, and I think a large part of that is down to how strictly consistent I was in terms of my working schedule; 50% coding and 50% marketing. I have mostly kept up this ratio, and now a couple of years later we have reached $48K MRR.
How it works
It's really very simple.
You're a tech founder with a product. You've got features to build. You do all of that in Week 1, then spend Week 2 on promotion / sharing insights / anything that can be construed as marketing (more on that later), then you go back to the start.
Personally I also try to cap my 2 weeks off with a newsletter, but that part is optional.
Here's why I think this framework is something all solo tech founders should follow.
The most common counter-argument I hear from founders is things like well I'm in a pre-launch phase so really I should spend more time building than marketing.
The problem with this mentality is that it's difficult to put into practice. You might think that you need to do 80% coding and 20% marketing at the phase that you're in, but how are you going to execute that? 8 days coding and 2 days marketing? 16 days coding and 4 days marketing?
To me it's too much mental overhead and the more complicated you make it the less likely you will be to stick to it. Just keep things simple.
One week of this, one week of that. Done.
I would argue that at almost all times, you should be spending just as much time on product / coding as you are on marketing. Even when you are still pre-launch. Even when the product is mature.
Usually when a solo founder thinks they need to do more coding than marketing, it's because they don't want to do marketing, not because they genuinely think they need to spend more time on product.
Going 50:50 forces you to address this common bias head on.
I also think that trying to context switch too often is not a good idea. I've heard some people try to do a day of code followed by a day of marketing, and then repeat.
That doesn't sound realistic to me, you need to allow yourself more time.
One week of code is enough time to deploy a medium size feature, and one week of marketing is enough time to publish a couple of blog posts.
The order is actually quite significant. Coding comes first, not just because solo tech founders love to code more than anything else, but because it feeds into the next stage.
If you have no idea what to do in your marketing week, a great place to start is to simply talk about what you did in your coding week. What features you built, what challenges you faced, what libraries or packages you used (@mention the authors), what new insights you have.
I'd wager that out of any given coding week, you've got the potential for a blog post, and a series of good tweets - at a minimum!
And sure, writing about your technical challenges isn't exactly going to connect you directly to your target market (in most cases) but that's not the point. One of the principles of this framework is to simply stop overthinking and start doing.
Trying to laser focus your marketing as a solo founder is super hard. Instead, in the beginning I suggest just trying to rally supporters around you. Share your challenges, tips, and good things will happen.
The Free Tool
I believe in this framework so much that I actually built an exclusive free tool which you can find here: codingweekmarketingweek.com
Yes, it is literally just a website that says either Coding Week or Marketing Week, depending on the week. No monthly fees.
Want to know something super meta? This week is marketing week, and this post is one of my marketing week tasks 🤯
What Counts as Marketing?
This is what many tech founders struggle with.
If you're a tech founder wondering what to do during marketing week for your startup. This is an article I wrote which details some of the marketing stuff I did over a year.
Other than that, here are some other ideas for you:
- Tweet something of interest to your target market
- Participate in forums where your customers are
- Improve your marketing site / docs
- Create a free tool that complements your app
- Write a blog post aimed at your target market
- Write a weekly / monthly newsletter with tips / advice
- Join or start a podcast related to your industry