I'm building a feature.

I'm building a feature.
Photo by Glen Carrie / Unsplash

A couple months ago, I started getting into the habit of writing regularly. I've always desired to be more regular with my blog, share my thoughts with the world, and put myself out there, but to go from idea to a finished piece of writing presents a lot of friction.

I've taken notes on my phone for blog post ideas for a long time now, opening up a quick note when inspiration strikes and writing a few disjointed ideas on a topic, then closing the note with the intention to come back to it and convert it into a full blown article, but that rarely happened, if ever.

Then while browsing Indie Hackers, I discovered Audio Pen. It's a wonderful little tool that lets you make voice notes by rambling on a topic for several minutes, and then it cleans those up with AI to make them polished notes that can be referenced or shared with the world. I used Audio Pen to write quite a few posts, and I loved the idea, it finally made me more regular, but I felt like if I copy pasted the notes generated by Audio Pen, it would appear "AI generated" to the trained eye, for sure, and sound robotic to the rest. And even if those issues were ironed out, it still felt like it was written by "someone else", not me.

I have believed for some time now, that writing is thinking, it forces connections to form in your head between previously disjointed ideas, it clarifies concepts, it brings out new insights, and if you feel like it, you can add these to the collective of human knowledge, to outlast you and maybe be of use to someone even a couple generations from now. Writing is creating.

So anyway, I thought, how about a tool that can create articles from your rough notes, but those articles match your own writing style? And I quickly came up with a landing page, a name, PenPersona (which I love), and got building on the app, picking a stack that I could build quickly with (I chose Rails). And within a month, I had a solid working prototype. But I added more requirements instead of trimming the scope. And while I kept working on this, which to be fair is only 2 months at this stage, I started noticing that other AI copywriting tools are offering a "brand voice" feature. I got an email from Audio Pen a couple days ago saying they've released something similar too.

So my entire idea is a feature for these tools. And since its AI based, for people with existing distribution, is it that hard to replicate, really? Its a lot harder for me to build out all the other features the competing apps offer, and even if I do that and prove demand (which I am sure exists anyway, because there's articles about how to get ChatGPT to match your writing style), they can then decide to offer this, and it'll be hard for me to compete with that.

I don't believe this is a zero sum game. There's space for many players, but now I need to tell potential users why I'm better than the alternatives.

This is one of those classical bits of startup advice, build a product, not a feature. But I think I've made this mistake now, but I have realised it, and can use it to guide future ideas.

Btw you can try out PenPersona here:


And here's my (WIP) landing page:

Discover PenPersona – the tool that transforms your unstructured notes into engaging posts that sound just like you, all in a snap!