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James Stanley
James Stanley

It’s the end of Week 4 and I wanted to start documenting progress.

I started the week by writing a list of 11 tasks to be done. I currently work a full time job so only have time evenings and weekends like a lot of bootstrapped founders. This turned out to be too many. One of them was to write a blog post so I guess I can tick that off.

These tasks were split across various projects and even some life admin. Going into week 5 I’m going to prioritise execution and going to target just 5 key things for the week. I’m hoping by being more focussed on the top priorities I will some good progress on MailBuzz.

Vision for MailBuzz

The vision remains to be around content remixing and content recycling. I love the term and it sounds so much sexier than RSS to Newsletter. In truth I also want to move away from that language because it implies that there is no sugar and it’s a straight content dump. With MailBuzz I want to take content from websites and existing sources and redistribute them to the audience and not necessarily the latest posts. There will potentially be some issues around getting data for trending articles but I’m hoping paid users will connect to Google Analytics.

Technical Challenges

I really wanted to create some sort of WOW moment on the homepage, so when I start posting links everywhere, people can get a sense of how valuable this will be. The demo needs to be really easy to use so I knew I just wanted to capture email address and website or domain.

This has created some challenges including, how do you find all the socials just from a link to their homepage. I’ve played around using some AI solutions here and will continue to look into this for the product.

The second major hurdle has been how to find if a website has an RSS feed. Luckily a lot of websites are built on WordPress and these come with feeds built in so I need to really ensure I’m targeting this style of company for the initial customers. I’ve not fully overcome this yet and would like to even have ways of scraping article data without the use of an RSS feed.

Lastly, a lot of the work I’ve done this week has been in generating the image for the demo. This goes from the site to an endpoint that creates the markup, puts it into chromium to take screenshot. That then gets uploaded to S3 with the domain and the date, so we don’t end up doing multiple generations on the same day that will ultimately get very similar responses.

Final thoughts

I’m still trying to decide if being open with financials is helpful or not. I love the story of bannerbear and feel like I resonate with it much more because they have been ‘open’. I want to do a deep dive into the tech stack because I’ve thought about it a lot! I have a solid PHP background and am running another startup built on Laravel but in recent years have enjoyed Typescript & Node.js so this project is being mostly build on Next.js. I also see the landscape for serverless evolving faster in JS land than PHP. Let me know on Twitter if this is something I should dive into deeper or you want to hear my thoughts on stacks and architecture.