How I Started a
Personal Journal App
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, this is O! I created Goodnight Journal, a personal journal app in 2013 in Southern California right after college and have been running it ever since then. After working as a product designer/Front-end developer for years, I decided to work on Goodnight Journal full time as of Nov 2019.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
My anxiety and stress
I’m the type of person who usually has too many thoughts all the time. I tend to overthink even for a small matter and put myself into situations that give me anxiety, depression, and insomnia. I’m also a bit adventurous and curious, which puts me in quite stressful situations.
Having too many thoughts and being stressed from work, finance, relationships, made me anxious. This bothered me the most when I tried to go to sleep at night. Some nights, I ended up staying up till 5 or 6 in the morning because of this. I sometimes felt that I was not even sure if I’m gonna be able to handle all of these any further. Luckily, I got this habit of writing journals and that has been helping me to live and stay strong.
Journaling helped me get through a day
The only way out for me to fully express and relieve things out of my mind was by writing. I simply write everything down on paper from my head without any filters. I noticed a bit of relief each time I wrote everything. It got better and better as I kept doing it. The things I wrote in my journals are not always pretty, nor appropriate to say in person but I can do that in my journal.
There were lots of anxieties, sad feelings, and frustrations. Letting them out of my mind and knowing what I was struggling with helped me get better at each thing I wrote. There’s no magic, simply writing them down all of them from my mind simply helped me feel much relieved and made me better able to move on with my life.
It also helped me stay strong being in an environment where I had no one to talk to. Humans can not live without human interactions and it took me a while to build a small network where I can really interact with others in a deeper manner. Writing about my day and thoughts on my journal helped me stay strong till I get some good friends who I can talk to. Even after, it helps me to fully express myself because I don’t need a filter on my journal.
It also helps me in many other ways
One of things I like to do in my journal is to write todos for a day. It really helps me keep things organized and make sure to complete all the things that I need to do for a day. I found this very helpful since I started working for myself at home.
It also allows me to look back and help me learn things from the past and plan things better for the future. I will stop here because there are a lot of studies out there that show the benefits of keeping a journal.
How I built Goodnight Journal
I have this goal for my life that I want to spend more time working on something that can help people live. This might not have a big direct impact compared to colonizing Mars but building an app where people can write journals and interact with other journal writers was something I can actually do and help some people live better lives.
After writing journals on the paper for over a decade, I decided to create an app where anyone can come and write a diary. It came naturally since I noticed myself spending a lot more time on my laptop and cell phone. I also added the community feature where journal writers can connect with each other and have been seeing heartwarming interactions amongst the users.
I understand writing is not for everyone but also believe that it never hurts to give it a try. You can simply move on to something else till you find the one that works for you.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
Creating the app from scratch without funding and marketing it on my own is the biggest challenge for me.
Who is your target market?
Majority of current active members at Goodnight Journal are female aged between 24 to 45. However, we have users from all genders and ages from all over the world. Our target audience is anyone who’s looking to write a personal journal and get to know others who do the same.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
Most of our users find Goodnight Journal via Google search or any search engines.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
Based on a survey we recently conducted with our current paid members, over 90% of members are happy with Goodnight Journal. We always actively communicate with current members and reflect their feedback to the app.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
Consistency is the lesson I have been learning. Don’t give up too fast. Be consistent if you truly believe in your product.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Being able to work on the product that you believe and are passionate about. Also love making my own schedule.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Financial uncertainty compared to a salary job. Something I can’t just ignore and worries me the most for me to keep going with what I’m doing now.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
No books, but inspired by entrepreneurs like Pieter Levels.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
I would love to see tens of thousands of people actively using the community on Goodnight Journal. We have a lovely community filled with amazing people. It’s heartwarming to see all the support they give to each other.