Down Payment Project is a blog, vlog, podcast, journal, content archive… what ever you want to call it… It’s the real-time story of our journey at building downpayment.gift, a new crowdfunding and gift registry for first-time home buyers and wedding couples to raise money for the down payment on a house.
We are putting out this content for prospective partners, mortgage lenders, brokers, other entrepreneurs, software developers, fintech and real estate startups, investors, and even home buyers–our end users. Ultimately the content will skew torwards mortgage partners and prospective investors. Bootrapped software founders will recognize a familiar pattern. downpayment.gift is a work-in-progress, and DownPaymentProject aims to capture the day to day as we launch and grow this SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). Join us as we embark to work in public!!
Why did you launch this blog, DownPaymentProject?
Okay, so the DownPaymentProject (DPP for short) name was originally choosen as place to put partner oriented marketing on a different social media name and different website domain from the main website. The theory was that it would be confusing to write content focused on mortgage lenders and put that on downpayment.gift site itself. downpayment.gift, the actual user focused app and domain, is focused on home-buyers and wedding couples looking to raise money for the down payment on a house. The service is completely free to the home buyers and we monetize via Partners. Basically the mortgage partners (our customers) pay to sponsor the crowdfunding campaigns with the end goal of originating the mortgage for the home purchase. Simple, right? …put to avoid the confusion, or potential confusion, we wanted to have a different destination for that content.
The other idea was that on social media, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, etc.. we did not want confusion of a prospective home buyer landing on a page aimed at mortgage lenders or a video aimed at mortgage brokers. It would be easy to get confused. We wanted that to be clearly divided in our content focus. If we run ads on Facebook towards end users, we did not want them to click over to the Facebook Page and find messaging that was not focused on them. So instead of calling it “downpayment.gift Partners” or “Partners of downpayment.gift” we thought it would be clever to call it the DownPaymentProject or ProjectDownPayment.
As the development continued, it became clear that we needed a simpler structure for our content marketing. Maybe it was not a great idea, SEO-wise, to have a separate domain that we are sending people to. The first version of both the main website and the DPP website looked completely different. The brand appeared severely disorganized. So… we revisited this. The Partner focused content will still be under the DownPaymentProject name on Facebook, Youtube and this website… (again this is for search name confusion)… the more general content is going to stay on blog on downpayment.gift on posted in the Community forum at community.downpayment.gift. DownPaymentProject changed from a kind of “agency looking” website with all sorts of overhead to maintain as far as page content and menus to a simple, serialized blog. We are excited about this new clarify and direction.
Trust through Transparency
We also wanted to establish trust with our Partners and end users. After going back and forth on how to do that effectively and on a budget, we settled on just telling our complete story. The complete story is the journey of building and launching downpayment.gift as a service online, as a SaaS to mortgage lenders. This runs contrary to convention wisdom of “Act Big” and “Fake it till you make it.”
We are small at this time. 1 1/2 people, perhaps less. We were inspired by several that have down this before in the bootstrapped SaaS community. The indie hacker and Microconf community has used this playbook to good success. Basically… work in public. Tell the Internet what you are doing and how it is going. Product updates. Feedback. Talk strategies, tactics and numbers. Talk code. Talk marketing. This ‘work in public’ trend exists in blogs, podcasts, and Youtube channels. People in that IndieHacker and Microconf world will recognize podcast names like “Startup for the Rest of Us” Rob Walling & Mike Taber, “Build You Saas” with Justin Jackson and his partner John, Rogue Startups, Bootstrapped Web and more.
The mortgage origination world has plenty of interview podcasts and coaching centric podcasts or social media blogs. Maybe this will not translate to the wortgage world. I think it will. Our aim is not to build an audience in the bootstrapped SaaS world. We might pick up some readers and listeners there. (Side note: this is why I originally dismissed this marketing strategy of just telling the story of building, launching and growing downpayment.gift. I felt we might end up growing an audience that is not helpful.) We hope our listeners and readers will be members of the mortgage community… Loan Officers, Branch Managers, Brokers and Mortgage Ops and Executives.
Project does not imply a charity org
The website we launched in 2020 for DownPaymentProject.com, at first glance, felt like we were launching a non-profit organization, a down payment assistance organization or similar. It had a huge hero banner up top with a crafted mission statement that read, “Our Mission, By 2030, To Help 500,000 Home Buyers each year raise funds for Down Payment” and was next to a cute image of a couple in front of a house. The home page was a landing page with blog link at the bottom. The blog was not cohesive. It was a random collection of Resources with no relationship between one post and another. The new DPP is a story from beginning to end. We are not pitching our software. We are explaining the software, the why and how. Explaining the company. Sharing our playbooks. What is working and what is not. Instead of direct calls to action to mortgage lenders… it’s a bit softer. The CTA’s are more of a sponsored by approach. *
Risk of Copycats
Copying is flattery, right? We know one of the problems with blogging about the specifics of our business and working in public is the fact that someone will probably copy exactly what we are going. Recreate the website, application and copy our marketing. This is a well documented downside of working in public. Fortunately, promoting down payment registries and crowdfunding mortgage down payment is not a winner take all market. There is room for more players and more platforms pushing on the same goal. …so we accept this possible outcome and welcome this challenge. In a way, getting home buyers to adopt a crowdfunding model to start their home buying process needs more evangelists to push the idea forward.
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Signup as a Partner: https://registry.downpayment.gift/registrations/newpartner/