Marketing is more important than building a product. Go where the demand is - Nikita Kazhin

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Recently I caught up with Nikita Kazhin one of the original members of Hacker Cabin to learn how he got his first sales and why he thinks the best thing a solo founder can do is focus on marketing.

What is the name of your project?

Promptnik. Custom prompts for AI apps & services.

How did you come up with the idea for this project?

I’d helped friends write prompts for their products, business ideation and personal productivity but it hadn’t occurred to me that this could be a business.

Up until a point in October 2023 a dev agency reached out and offered me money to write a prompt for an app they were struggling to get to work well.

I fixed their prompt quickly, and in the next couple of days wrapped the service into a landing page.

What have you learned since starting the project that you didn’t know beforehand?

1. Most businesses think prompting is an IT job but devs aren’t better equipped to write prompts than anyone else.

2. You can be a freelancer and avoid selling your time by the hour. Working on a project basis can be an easier alternative with no traditional price “ceiling”.

3. A well-written profile has an outsized role as a conversation starter with clients.

What did you do to get your first sale?

Almost nothing, totally accidental. I simply had an app with a good prompt + occasionally helped friends with prompting. A friend recommended me as a prompt engineer, and my first client found me, not vice versa.

What have been your most successful advertising channels?

Freelance marketplaces. I think the best advertising channels for the more niche products & services are where prospects have shown clear intent of getting what you sell. So, in this case, freelance marketplaces work great because they are places where prospects know exactly what they want AND have set aside money to get it. They now simply need the final push from your profile.

What things did you try that didn’t really work out?

Relying on socials for clients.

As opposed to freelance marketplaces, the probability of anyone needing a niche service like mine at this exact moment in time is negligible.

Even a great lead magnet won’t change that because most people simply don’t need custom prompts for AI apps & services.

What resources/tools/websites have been most helpful to you?

Framer to set up a landing page in 2-3 days.

If you want to get what AI is all about without getting too technical, I can recommend a book: Co-Intelligence by Ethan Mollick. I wish I had it a year ago.

Advice for other solo founders who want to get started or are just starting out?

Marketing > Building.

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