So I thought I did it all right. After a few years and self financing, I finally had what I thought was the minimal viable product. I don't have partners and everything up to this point has been out of my own pocket, so I am feeling it in my wallet. Anyway, what I thought would be the easiest thing, turned out to be the hardest thing. I sent out professional looking correspondence asking my friends to help test the site. It has been like pulling teeth. I haven't received much feedback and it's getting hard to stay positive. I understand the whole "Alone" thing when you start a business, but now I need help and I'm stuck. Does anyone have any advice for me on how I can get my target audience to help test my site and/ or use the site?
How do you know they didn't test it? Do you have any metrics built into your site to see who has hit the site? Are these individuals who are outspoken and brave enough to tell you the truth about it? Have you tried social media? Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? I'm surprised you couldn't get anyone to test it. Why not mention the site here? I'm certain people will take a drive through it out of curiosity. Send me the link I'll take a look at it.
Have you tried Facebook or Instagram ads?
I am in the similar situation. No co-founder and 100% self-funded. I am software developer so I am able to do develop product myself and keep everything as lean as possible. I started testing user traction as soon as I built landing page and first feature using paid Google AdWords traffic and Hotjar analytics. Based on how people used my site I have made lots of changes and was able to improve user experience. My next step is to post my startup on ProductHunt.com. If user love your product it typically goes viral and gets lots of up-votes and comments. Next it should be SEO, email marketing, social media and blogging. If you want you can send me link to your website and I will give my honest feedback. Good luck!
Try paying beta testers on a site like erlibird.com.
In my opinion, there are two things that you need to do to get friends, family, etc to beta test your product.
For point #2, I want to also add this. When I was getting close to having an MVP, I started showing people. Some people got it, some people didn't, but most didn't really get engaged (even very close family). I decided to take a different approach moving forward. Instead of showing them the product, I invited (one at a time) a friend or family member over to "show them this cool thing I'm building". When we sat down (with no distractions...kids, other people, etc.), instead of showing them my product, I found ways to relate the problems my app solved, with their own potential use cases. I spoke to them for a few minutes about how it solves the problems it solves, and how cool and easy to use it was. Once I had them engaged, I gave them a one-on-one tour of the application. This is how I found the most success in gaining quality beta testers.
Hope that helps.
We use clevertap.com
Your MVP should be addressing your customers pain points. Do everything you can to get your potential customers to try it out, even better get them to pay for it so you will get the most honest and brutal feedback. If persuasion fails, you can try to resort to some highly targeted marketing like facebook adds. Keep up the spirits and I wish you best of luck in getting your MVP to product market fit :)
If your site is online and open to the public, buy a set amount of Google Ad words per day to drive traffic and use Google Analytics to monitor how folks use the site. That way you can monitor and keep the spend in a very manageable range. Include a "send a message" in the platform and users will tell you what is missing or what they need. While friends and family are helpful, they may not have the need to use what you provide and are busy. Folks Googling or looking for your type of service are typically more than willing to try and either use or jettison your solution.
Don't ask friends and family. They may do it for you but they are unlikely to be genuinely interested in your project. They are interested in you, not in your product.
One thing that worked out nicely in my own niche (classical music) was to grow a LikedIn network of people naturally interested in it (musicians) and invite them. Some of them did provide quite valuable feedback and their conversion rate has been nearly 10%.
Another point, that you have clearly identified already, "alone" is deadly. You have to find partners. At least one. A team of three is ideal.
have you considered publishing it on Betalist and Product hunt?
if i remember well, there are also some sites designed to get users to test your product before releasing it online.