Category: Insights

Written by toomaime

Last Updated 🗓 3 years ago

Building a privacy-focused service

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Interview with the founder of Leave Me Alone

Hey Danielle, first of all, can you tell us a little bit about you and what you are working on? 

I’m a digital nomad and indie maker, with a background in web development. In 2016 I decided to change my lifestyle and co-founded remote web development agency Squarecat with my partner James.

We travel the world together writing software that helps people because it's rewarding and we love doing it, which we think is a good reason to do just about anything!

I’m currently working on Leave Me Alone - a privacy-focused service to easily unsubscribe from spam emails. Previously, I have written software for the UK government, worked at startups revolutionising advertising, and helped to build people’s dreams into great products.

One of your projects is - how did your get your first users for it?

Being part of the indie developer community really helped with getting our first users. Before we had written a single line of code we put together a landing page and shared it on Twitter. The response was overwhelmingly positive! Leave Me Alone was to become an ethical and privacy first email unsubscription service. Within a few hours we had 50 potential beta users, and a load of ideas and feature requests. All this before we’d written a single line of code.

We built the first prototype within 7 days and spend the next few weeks sharing all of our progress, decisions, and failures. Our early users helped to shape the first version of the service. When we launched on Product Hunt we had hundreds of users who had followed our journey from the beginning - which really helped towards our successful launch. Leave Me Alone ended up being #1 of the day and week with +1,000 votes!

How do you share the work with your partner James? Give us a look behind the curtain.  

We both work on all aspects of Leave Me Alone both front-end and back-end.

James comes up with most of the ideas and is incredibly good at prototyping. He has more skills when it comes to the architecture, back-end code, and DevOps side of things, and he is responsible for the core functionality of Leave Me Alone - our unsubscriber bot. 

I turn those ideas into features and am incredibly good at building a prototype into a fully polished product. I have more skills providing great UX, front-end code, and the payment processor side of things. Plus I write almost all of our blogs and manage our social media accounts.

What tools/services are you using and would you recommend to other indie makers? 

Airtable. This tool has changed my life! We have several bases for a variety of things at Leave Me Alone; we fetch our open page expenses and our press coverage, we have forms for reporting bugs, providing feedback, and gathering our Wall of Love testimonials.


I don’t want everything to become automated, we are real people behind Leave Me Alone and our customers appreciate seeing that!


What “social media strategies” are you doing for your projects?

I use our social media accounts to share our journey, ask for feedback on decisions, and interact with customers. We reward our customers with credits if they tweet about us and I always reply manually thanking them for using our service. I don’t want everything to become automated, we are real people behind Leave Me Alone and our customers appreciate seeing that!

What SEO strategies have worked for you and what strategies are a “must do” for any successful project? 

One of our main strategies right now is to take advantage of long tail keyword searches for how to unsubscribe from popular mailing lists such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We have built landing pages most of the big ones with information about the quality of that mailing list and how many of our Leave Me Alone users have chosen to unsubscribe.

I don’t have any “must-do” tips yet as we are still learning how best to optimise ourselves!

What content marketing are you doing for your projects? 

We have our Leave Me Alone blog where we write about a variety of topics which include our product and decisions, privacy and security and coding. I share these posts on my social media accounts manually and then use Buffer to schedule posting to our Leave Me Alone Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

We have recently started collaborating with other blogs that we share interests with by writing and publishing guest posts. I just wrote this piece about third-party tools and scripts for the Metomic Privacy Bible, and we published this article by them about the value of being open and transparent while building a company. We have had great engagement on social media for these posts so we are looking to do more of this in the future!

What advice would you give someone to get his first 100 customers?

Build your product in the open and get people to use it as soon as possible. Early idea validation is vital and there is little point spending time on a fancy landing page and perfecting features if you haven’t determined that there is a need for what you are building.

Show us some ❤️ and spread the word!

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