Penflip - Product Stars
Best products of September 2018


A social writing platform

Upvotes 81 PH Page >
Loren Burton
Hey Product Hunters! Just wanted to share Penflip, a project I've been working on for the past few months. Penflip is like GitHub for writing - you get version control, collaboration, and social features, but instead of for code, it's optimized for prose. On top of that, there's a distraction-free editor (woohoo markdown!) and one-click publishing. Happy to answer any questions. AMA!
Leo Giovanetti
@madebyloren that's awesome! Thanks a lot for making it happen... I've been fantasizing for a while about having Github power over writing. A couple of question... do you support Spanish? Can I create an Organization to have a team collaborating in documents? Can I use my own Github Organization to store my stuff? Hopefully you are going to spend some time soon reading emails, and not fixing bugs or promoting in Reddit, so you can read mine about the use I would give to such a helpful tool you made :)
Ryan Hoover
Welcome, @madebyloren! I've enjoyed following Penflip since it was shared earlier this year ( I enjoy reading these stories and hearing the thought process behind the creators (that's why I encourage these AMA's). What has been your biggest challenge building Penflip?
Loren Burton
@rrhoover - absolutely positively being my "own boss". Everyone fantasizes about not having a boss, but let me tell you - having a boss is so much easier. I've been working on Penflip full time since I quit my job. I have a background in both software engineering and design, so building it isn't a huge hurdle. But then there's everything else - marketing and user acquisition, customer support, responding to emails and staying active on social networks - that's a lot to juggle. I love all of that stuff, I really do, but it's tough to decide what to work on at any given moment. I wish I could spend all of my time on EACH one of those things, but I'm only one person, not five. So I'm often second guessing myself - "am I spending too much time answering emails today? Should I spend more time promoting this thing on reddit? What about all those bugs?" I'm thinking about making a schedule for myself in order to better divide my time. More structure might help.
Ryan Hoover
@madebyloren - I love that. Many perceive entrepreneurship as a career for those seeking to get rich, and for some that's true, but in reality most true entrepreneurs just want freedom. Freedom to do what they love, work autonomously, and have financial freedom. Being that you're a one man startup, how do you prioritize? Have you tried outsourcing some of the tasks or created processes to streamline your workflow? P.S. I forgot to mention how much I LOVED your post about quitting (I can relate!).
Walter Chen
Hey @madebyloren, I've seen a good number of great writing tools as of late. Two that I use often are Draft and Hackpad, and I see how they're targeted for specific use cases but the line between those use cases seem to be getting thinner. Who do you think your user is and what is he/she using Penflip for?
Derek Shanahan
This is awesome! Pumped to try it out.
Loren Burton
@rrhoover - at the moment, I only prioritize code-related things, so bug fixes, updates, and features-to-add. My system is embarrassingly low tech: a bunch of text file todo lists with headings of "DO RIGHT NOW", "do soon", and "later". Then I have a separate list for user feedback. I get feedback via twitter, email, and Penflip discussion threads, so I consolidate all of it into a single text file. Every time I receive similar feedback, I increment instead of adding to the list again, kind of like upvotes. See screenshot: With that, I always know the most requested features, and I have a pretty solid grasp of what the users want, so I know what to focus on.
Loren Burton
@smalter - yep, the line is certainly thinning as different services with varied starting points seem to be slowly converging (penflip included). > Who do you think your user is and what is he/she using Penflip for? There are many use cases, but I'm really shooting to fill the long-format void. Draft and Hackpad are great tools, but both heavily optimized for short form writing - things like single documents, blog posts, etc. I want a writer to be able to write a book, solicit feedback (via the Penflip community or externally), incorporate that feedback, and then ultimately publish and distribute their work - all through through Penflip. A unified platform for everything.
Loren Burton
thanks @dshan! Try it out and let me know what you think!
Ryan Hoover
@madebyloren - how are you acquiring users today? What's the most effective channel?
Loren Burton
@rrhoover to be honest I almost feel like I'm cheating at this point. I have a long list of marketing (or growth hacking :) ideas, but I haven't even touched it. People just keep signing up. No hockey sticks, but steady growth. I can't complain. I've been somewhat vocal and transparent throughout the process, especially early on, and I think it's paid back in spades. A blog post I wrote, GitHub for Writers, received quite a bit of attention, so that drives traffic consistently, as well as some coverage by a few tech blogs (all unsolicited), and a couple posts to Hacker News. Additionally, I mention Penflip in relevant discussions whenever I can. All of that compounds. The other big driver is word of mouth. I encourage users to share whenever I can, and they do. The great thing about Penflip is that it gets better when your friends join - you want them to check out your work and give feedback, so you pimp out your stuff.
Stowe Boyd
Looks like Penflip is not being actively maintained, many users complaining and dropping subscriptions.

Write in your browser:

  • Chapter management

    Easily create new chapters for books, then drag & drop to reorder.

  • MathJax integration

  • Markdown formatting

    A simple way to add formatting, so you focus on what you’re writing instead of how it looks.

  • Command-line friendly

    Prefer to use your own text editor? You can. Each writing project has a git repository with full access.

  • Footnotes, images & more

    A full suite of tools and features to bring your idea to life.

Collaborators make changes. You accept or reject them:

  • Share with anyone

    No files to upload - just send a link and keep writing. Each collaborator works on their own version.

  • Accept or reject changes

    Like MS Word 'Track Changes', you control what makes it into your project and what doesn't.

  • Inline comments

    Your collaborators can comment on specific pieces of text when reviewing your writing.

  • Discussion tools

    Share ideas, review changes, and gather feedback all in one place. Emoji included!

  • Full revision history

    Every change is recorded automatically. Never worry about losing work again!

  • Public projects

    Get feedback from other Penflip writers, and discover projects from the thriving community.

People love Penflip