Is there a best practice roadmap based on proof of concepts methods when you release a webapplication / startup as a 1-man "company" ?
There are several options I have been looking at for getting out a beta:
Im coding and developing this project on my own in my spare time, so there is no real investments but lots and lots of free time, I started coding last year and now heading to a first minimal version as beta with minimal featureset implemented.
What would be good practice in terms of marketing / releasing my startup without lots of money investments? Any general ideas suggestions are welcome.
Sometimes its hard to still believe in it, to see it finally in the wild since you spend so many hours looking at the design the code, etc.
private betas are always helpful but I would suggest to go public ASAP it will test not only your product but also your user experience expectations and assumptions.
my experience with private beta is that friends and fellow coders are not so much helpful because they are generally not your target user profile. So you will not get your necessary feedback at all. Only after you reach your real user, you will see real usage and feedback.
So spare some time and promote it as much as you can, with your own budget and time. Only after that you will see some real user behavior
Here are a few actions that can help answer this:
Releasing I think a closed Beta is fine for now, but I do agree with altuure in that you should go public as soon as possible. Nothing is better than seeing how your users actually use the service and what they want. Friends can be jaded, which makes you feel good, but service can end up sucking.
Marketing Put yourself in the shoes of the type of users that will be using your site (even if you are one) and find out what types of sites those people are living on? Are there any naturally related networking sites used? Find some people that you don't know that well that would be the public using your site and find out where a lot of their time is being spent.
You will then want to get active on those sites. Start being helpful in the conversation and where appropriate, you can share what you do. I would do it more from a passion and interest level than a hard core sales approach.
Through this you can start developing some users. If social sharing can be incorporated you can help grow your user base pretty simply there as well.
One other thought is you can submit your site (if relevant) to http://www.go2web20.net/ and any other similar directories that you can find. They are a great site to help get you your first bunch of users.
Hope that helps.