To build and perfectly position your project, you need to ensure the project finds the right audience instead of just waiting and hoping for someone to use it. One way to attract users to your project is to know and understand the users’ needs and problems and provide a solution. Here, you’ll discover ways of finding users for your project.
Spreading awareness of the project.
When launching an open source project, it’s not mandatory to promote it. It is completely fine to work on open source projects that aren’t as popular. However, spreading the word about your project is useful if you want other people to find and use it.
Find out how to phrase your message.
Before you start spreading awareness or promoting the project, you need to be in a position to explain to others how the project works and what they can gain from it. Ensure you can explain what distinguishes your project from other projects and what inspired you to create it. Being able to explain this will assist you in effectively and easily communicating the importance of your project.
If you solve a problem for your users, they’ll eventually become contributors to your project. So, as you figure out your message, try your best to have the user’s point of view. There are various materials online that can assist you in figuring out how to communicate your project.
Make your project discoverable to people.
Directing people to your project is a crucial step and you can do this by pointing them to a single namespace. This will make people easily discover the project and remember it. Ensure you have a clear handle to promote your work on platforms like Twitter, GitHub or IRC channel as this is a simple way to direct potential users to your project. Having handles in the mentioned platforms will provide a place for your project’s users to convene.
However, if it’s not your priority to set up outlets for the project, you can also promote your Twitter or GitHub handles so that people will know how to contact you and follow the project. Also, if for instance, you speak at meetups or events, be sure to always include all your contact information in your bio and the presentation slides.
Another important thing to consider is creating a website for the project you wish to find users for. Having a website for your project will make the project appear friendlier and also, it’ll be easier for potential users to navigate. Pairing the website with say, clear documentation and tutorials will help even further. To a user, a website indicates that the project is active thus making them feel comfortable using it. Websites like Yeoman, Middleman and Vagrant are great websites as they are comprehensive.
Last but not least, it helps to provide examples so that people know how your project is used. After figuring out a message for your project and setting up ways for people to easily find you, the next step is to talk to your audience.
Find your project’s audience online.
Online platforms provide channels that will assist you in sharing and spreading the word quickly, reaching a wider audience. It is smart to take advantage of online communities and platforms that are already in existence, to get to your audience. For instance, if you have a software project, your audience is most likely on platforms like Stack Overflow, Quora, Reddit or Hacker News. Always find platforms where you think people will be the most excited about your project and benefit from it.
Other relevant ways to share your project include;
Firstly, find people who have a problem that your project can solve. Dig through relevant forums to find people who are your potential target audience, answer the questions they have and tactfully, when appropriate, suggest your project as a solution.
Secondly, it helps to know communities that are relevant to your project. You don’t always have to be promoting your project. Sometimes, take time to know your communities and this may naturally give rise to opportunities for you to talk about your project.
Lastly, always ask for feedback when you introduce your work to an audience with potential users. Instead of being fixated on promoting your work, try to listen and respond to the feedback of others and also ask for their opinions. This way, you may discover ways of improving your project.
Bottom line is, to be more intentional about helping others instead of focusing on what you can gain. Since very many people are promoting their projects online, be unique and give people context of who you are and always be patient as not all projects take off when they launch. If one way doesn’t work, look for other ways and always give your users’ needs priority and remember project launching and promoting takes time and dedication.
Find your project’s audience offline.
Offline, you can find your project’s audience in meetups, events or conferences. When feeling overly nervous, remember that the audience is present because they actually value and want to know more about your project. When preparing for the talk, prioritize what your audience will find helpful and interesting. During the presentation use friendly and kind language and remember to breathe, smile and have fun.
Conferences are particularly a great way of helping you reach a wider audience, sometimes even from across the world however, they need a lot of preparation and great presentation. So, you’ll have to practice a lot. Always research the conference to tailor your presentation to fit the attendees and before the conference, look at the other speakers to predict what kind of audience to expect.
Build a good name for yourself and your project.
Building a good reputation for your project and more importantly for yourself will go a long way to attracting users to your project. Acts like assisting newcomers, making meaningful contributions to the projects of others and sharing resources, help build a positive reputation. Also, being an active or contributing member of the open source community will enable others to be aware of you and your project.
In addition to that, developing good relationships with other projects may even lead to official partnerships. Remember that it is never too late or too early to start building a good and positive reputation for yourself and your project. The great and easiest way to build a good and positive reputation is to always look for ways to help others and give your users’ needs priority. Building a good reputation among your audience is a never-ending process, since gaining the respect and trust of other people takes time and effort.
Maintain the effort you’re putting in and be patient
It’ll most probably take some time before users start to notice and use your project and that is completely fine. Some of the most famous projects known today took years to get to the high activity levels they have. The best way to maintain a successful project and have loyal users is to build genuine relationships instead of focusing on the popularity of your project.