Computers are starting to become as distracting as phones. Between Slack, averaging 30 open Chrome tabs and increasing push notifications on Macs, it’s harder to focus.
I am a heavy user of Alfred, the Mac hotkey tool that helps with shortcuts and searching for files. When they released Alfred 3, with the ability to build custom workflows, I got the idea to start building productivity workflows to solve the distractions I was having. After 8 months of solving my productivity problem with a bunch of custom scripts, like one that closed all open applications and only opened my to-do app when I typed “start work” into Alfred, I had a great workflow going. It was after sharing my experience with some friends that asked for the workflows when I decided to turn it into a product.
Because I already built out the Alfred workflows to solve my own problem, the real work was packaging them up in a way that would make it easy for others to adopt them. Inside of Alfred, I polished the workflows up and added notes where users could add custom workflow options, and then recorded a quick series of videos explaining what each one did. For the product itself, I put the videos and a ZIP file of the workflows behind a paywall using Podia as the host and was ready to launch.
I launched on Product Hunt, Designer News and a few other places where Alfred users hung out, and did about $1000 in sales in the first week. It was relatively little effort spent on the launch, and word of mouth on social media did most of the heavy lifting for me.
Why it succeeded:
I think some of the best businesses start with someone just trying to solve their own problem, and this is the case here. I didn’t even think I was building a product at first, just a way to streamline my workflow. However, a great piece of advice I got from Derek Sivers rings true here: “if your friends are asking you for it, and it’s helping them, then it’s a business.”
Because this was a combination of an information product and series of workflows I custom built with Alfred’s script editor, it’s a relatively easy business to replicate as well. The best thing you can do for your entrepreneurial mind is talking about what you’re working on, how you’re working on it, and always ask for feedback. There’s gotta be something you’re doing differently that could help others. Like all information products, there’s a business there.