Building a Micro-SaaS: Best Tools and Platforms In 2022
In this beginner’s edition to Micro-SaaS, let's delve into the what, why, and how of a Micro-SaaS business! Explore all the tools and platforms you'll need to start building your micro-SaaS today.
As a hobbyist baker who’s typically too broke to restock her high-end ingredients, I bake in smaller batches to satisfy my inner Dexter. Cupcakes, mug cakes, box cakes—you name it, I’ve tried it.
The advantage of baking smaller? I can test out multiple recipes, tweak them without additional investment, and gather feedback from loved ones before scaling the final recipe.
And that’s exactly what a micro-SaaS is: an entrepreneurship model built along similar lines for us cash-strapped, passionate folk.
What is a Micro-SaaS?
Tyler Tringas, of Storemapper fame, describes micro-SaaS as
A SaaS business targeting a niche market, run by one person or a very small team, with small costs, a narrow focus, a small but dedicated user base and no outside funding. Hence, micro-SaaS.
The micro-nature of the business model means that a lot of them start as side projects; a case in point—is Storemapper. Storemapper, a store locator widget that can be embedded into a business’s website, was built and launched within 36 hours on a flight from San Francisco to Buenos Aires.
While not all micro-SaaS products are built during the course of a weekend, many founders make a strong case for deploying the smallest, simplest usable version of a product first. This is what’s popularly called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Subsequently, they suggest using feedback loops to further improve the product in an iterative process.
The reasons for this take us back to our cake analogy. Baking a wedding cake from the get-go would be costly, time-consuming, and risky. Similarly, ramping up additional features and functionalities of a micro-SaaS product before market validation of the core solution is counterintuitive and costly—both in terms of effort and money.
Benefits of a Building a Micro-SaaS Product
Micro-SaaS businesses are essentially small businesses serving small pockets of customers spread across the globe. Preetam Nath, co-founder of Whatsapp App by Super Lemon, likens Micro-SaaS businesses to digital mom-and-pop stores. They aim to solve small and specific problems better than their enterprise counterparts because of their micro-focus.
Some of the benefits of starting such a business are:
1. Anyone can build a micro-SaaS product. In fact, it’s a great opportunity for non-technical professionals who can leverage their industry experience and build products around niche pain points.
2. Micro-SaaS businesses are usually location-independent. Requiring only a laptop and an internet connection to serve customers, it’s a great way to realize your globe-trotting dreams.
3. It’s a source of stable recurring income once the product has achieved a loyal user base. Enough said.
4. Because of the micro-nature of the product, it requires less time and effort to build an MVP. This fast-tracks the feedback stages involved in product development and shortens the window to your first paying customer.
Types of Micro-SaaS Businesses
Now that you know why you should start working on that micro-SaaS idea brewing in your mind, let’s discuss the types of micro-SaaS products you can build. They are primarily classified based on whether they are
1. Platform-dependent: products like Whatsapp App by Super Lemon on Shopify
2. Platform-independent: products like Carrd and Storemapper
3. Platform-integrated: products like Mailbrew which works across Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Product Hunt, and Hacker News
Much of your product’s relationship with a platform, or lack thereof, depends on the problem you’re trying to solve. However, it’s useful to remember that when building a micro-SaaS product that solves a platform-related issue, going the platform-integrated route lowers your platform risk.
Building a Micro-SaaS *Superfast*: Tools and Platforms to Help You on Your Journey
The journey begins, as all journeys do, with a problem that enough people want to be solved. Many micro-SaaS founders freelance in an industry they’re working in or are familiar with to understand the pain points of their clients. They then build a micro-SaaS solution for a readily-available client base.
However, this isn’t always ideal or, in fact, necessary. For instance, the founders of Memberspace built their product after noticing repeated requests on Squarespace. Memberspace is a micro-SaaS solution that converts any part of your website into a members-only space.
We’ve compiled a list of resources and platforms to discover profitable ideas and get you started on your micro-SaaS journey.
Platforms to Discover Micro-SaaS Ideas
Most of the platforms mentioned below double up as idea validation, customer acquisition, and marketing channels for your product. By joining these communities and building in public, you can leverage timely feedback and knowledge exchange to accelerate your product development.
- #RequestForProduct: #RequestforProduct is a crowd-sourced directory of product ideas pulled from tweets by people who wish such products existed. It’s a great platform to discover a diverse range of problems and micro-SaaS ideas.
- Product Ideas On-Demand: Product Ideas On-Demand leverages AI modeling to generate product ideas based on your previous projects or interests and skills. They offer a free bi-weekly email with 10 product ideas to users who subscribe to their newsletter. Alternatively, you can pay $5 to receive 5-personalized product ideas.
Forums and Communities
- Indie Hackers: Indie Hackers is a popular online community where the founders of profitable micro-SaaS businesses and side projects share their stories. The platform also hosts a product directory where you can list your products and discussion groups to give and receive feedback on everything related to starting your own micro-SaaS business.
2. ProductHunt: Primarily, a website to launch products, ProductHunt also features active discussion threads where you can trade product ideas, receive feedback, and connect with other solo micro-SaaS founders and entrepreneurs.
Follow popular hashtags like #micro-saas, #buildinpublic, #startup, #nocode, and so on to build connections with entrepreneurs in a similar industry and find product ideas. Twitter threads can also be used to promote your product and acquire clients.
Popular subreddits like r/startups, r/saas, and r/micro-saas are a treasure trove for startup founders. You can validate product ideas, ask technical questions about building MVPs, brainstorm with other community members, and much more on these threads.
Platforms to Build Your Micro-SaaS
Choosing a development platform for micro-SaaS largely boils down to personal preferences based on the founder’s skill set, experience, and the product’s use case. However, there are great no-code tools that even founders with developer backgrounds use to build their micro-SaaS products.
A website created to help guide new founders and developers, Sideprojectstack uses tech stack data from successful projects to give you recommendations on the best no-code tools for your micro-SaaS product based on your answers to a questionnaire.
Building a Micro-SaaS With No-Code Platforms
1. Glide: Glide lets you build micro-SaaS websites and apps based on your data from Google Sheets, Excel, Airtable, and other data sources. Their pre-built templates and easy drag-and-drop builder make it easy for beginners to build apps for diverse use-cases.
Pricing: Glide offers a free plan for founders to build up to 3 apps. Their paid plans start from $25/ month and their pro plan retails for $99/month.
2. Softr: Softr offers a wide range of app-building functionalities. Creators can use the platform to build micro-SaaS websites, web apps, marketplaces, communities, resource directories, and more using Airtable data.
Pricing: Softr offers a free plan with access to create unlimited applications, build membership sites with up to 5 members, and install paywalls. Their paid plans start from $24/month, and their professional plan retails for $65/month with a membership of up to 10,000 members.
Building a Micro-SaaS with Low-Code Platform
Bubble: One of the best platforms for building everything from micro-SaaS app prototypes to functioning web apps, Bubble also offers developers the opportunity to combine no-code and low-code by supporting custom code for additional functionality.
Pricing: Bubble offers a free plan to get started on the platform with access to all the core features of the platform and community support. Their paid plans start from $25/month with email support, custom domain, and API integrations.
Building a Micro-SaaS with Web Development Platforms
1. Render: Render is a Platform-as-a-service solution that has gained popularity among founders and developers for micro-SaaS and early-stage projects where scale isn’t a priority. To illustrate, Render boasts instant deploys for apps and zero-downtime with automated builds and deploys for supported languages.
Pricing: Render offers free plans for static sites and services with access to custom dock containers and domains. Their Starter and Starter Plus plans start from $7/month and $15/month, respectively.
2. DigitalOcean: DigitalOcean is a cloud infrastructure-as-a-service provider that helps developers build, test, and scale micro-SaaS apps and websites. Notably, DigitalOcean offers a cost-effective solution for managing app server infrastructure needs whereby you pay only when your resources are active.
Pricing: DigitalOcean offers a free starter plan to build static sites and apps with access to unlimited team members. While their Basic plan is $5/month, their Professional plan is $12/month with additional charges based on shared CPUs and dedicated CPUs.
Platforms to Launch Your Micro-SaaS
One of the more exciting stages of building a micro-SaaS, there are two paths a founder can take to launch a Micro-SaaS. One path involves building a landing page (with CTAs to sign up like early-bird access, discounts, etc.), gauging product demand, and subsequently building an MVP and shipping it. Conversely, you can simply build the micro-SaaS and market it post-launch.
Platform to Build Landing Pages
Carrd: Carrd is a popular low-code tool to build responsive one-page sites. Chiefly, it is used to build landing pages with email capture forms; however, it can also be used to build personal profiles, craft website launches, and more.
Pricing: With Carrd’s free plan, you can build up to three sites per account. However, if you need more functionality, you can upgrade to their pro plan at $19/year. With their pro plan, you can embed your custom code and widgets from third-party services, add Google Analytics tracking IDs, etc.
Platforms to List Your Micro-SaaS
1. ProductHunt: ProductHunt is one of the best platforms to list your micro-SaaS product. With higher rates of visitor traffic and early adopters, ProductHunt offers the best conversion/adoption rates for micro-SaaS products.
2. BetaList: BetaList is a platform where product creators and user communities showcase their products and exchange feedback. However, while ProductHunt offers free launches for products without any wait time, BetaList states that it can take up to two months to get listed. There is, however, a paid option to skip the waiting queue.
3. Gumroad: Gumroad is an e-commerce platform where creators can sell everything from products to emoji packs. Further, it offers flexibility to creators whereby they can embed Gumroad in their existing site. You can set up simple memberships or subscription plans that let subscribers pay over customizable periods.
Platforms to Gather Feedback
Gathering feedback from early adopters and beta users is the cornerstone of building a profitable Micro-SaaS product. This is because early adopters—through their requests for features and bug fixes—help you unlock the potential in your micro-SaaS product. Hence, engaging with your community of early supporters can not only boost morale but also enable you to create a beloved product.
Upvoty: Upvoty is a SaaS-optimized feedback platform that gives users a voice by letting them submit and vote for new features. Further, you can share a product roadmap with your users so they can check out newly-launched features or track their progress.
Pricing: Upvoty offers a 14-day free trial post which you can choose from their Power, Super Power, and Unlimited Power plans. Their plans start from $15/month supporting up to 150 tracked users.
Typeform: Typeform is a powerful feedback platform for creating surveys, forms, and quizzes that get answered. Extremely popular among micro-SaaS and startup founders as a lead generation tool, it can be embedded onto product launch pages to perform market-fit research surveys, collect user information, build email lists, and more.
Pricing: Typeform offers three plans–Basic, Plus, and Business. Their basic plan is $25/month and offers access to unlimited Typeforms, question branching/logic jumps, and form personalization features.
Explore the resources we’ve mentioned in this guide, connect with the amazing community of co-creators and developers on forums for support, and build your first micro-SaaS product. It might not be an overnight success; but once you get the hang of it, you’ll realize that it’s not impossible to build a profitable micro-SaaS product either.