How well do you think your robot offering is positioned versus fast and free virtual automated testing within an Android/iOS simulator? I assume there must be some material advantage to testing on a real device, but I don't know a lot about the domain. What happens if the layout of the app changes slightly- are your testing programs purely based on physical coordinates?
Every company that makes a device (phone, car, wearable, anything with a touch screen, etc) has a secret robot testing lab.
I didn't know all of these examples were real business problems (with the associated big enterprise budgets) when I started the project. But after enough of these conversations, I realized there's something there.
I'd be curious to know how big a business it is for you now that it's 5 years past. Sounds like a very interesting case-study.
I can build you a website.
Email in profile.
Costs are incredibly low, as I have ~15 low end box-type servers running as check servers interacting with Drupal via a private API, and one DigitalOcean droplet running prod, with a hot backup droplet. Everything was automated via Ansible early on, and I don't have to touch anything except for patching/updating from time to time.
I also have run Hosted Apache Solr for almost double the time, and it actually earns a decent secondary income. Up to about 25 DigitalOcean droplets now, also all managed via Ansible/Jenkins, and it has a few hundred clients (a couple who have been stable clients for over 5 years, and a few very large names that made me realize even a side project can be stable/good enough for 'big companies' to trust them).
I haven't advertised either except for mentions here and there and having them in some of my social media profiles, but I've learned so much from running both—and even turned some of that knowledge into a book that gives decent passive income on top!
I've been running between 300-500 Apache Solr search cores continuously for almost 5 years, starting with 1.4, migrating up to now 4.10.4 (5 and 6 are in the works), all with around 99.98% uptime (averaged on all the servers over time).
I have detailed logs and per-search-core stat tracking (queries, index size, query time) for the past 3 months and archives back further, and I have only had to remove noisy neighbors a few times (and did so quickly, by first isolating them on their own VM, then helping them move off to dedicated resources if needed).
Also, I explicitly state I offer no SLA in the support docs—some people are okay with that.
But yes, I'm always on call, technically. I've only had to fix 'emergency' scenarios about 3 times in the past 5 years though. Even security updates are automated via Ansible/Jenkins. I just need to log in and click a button and things are updated, or a new server is built.
I highly recommend Google's new book on SREs; whether a one man shop or a multi billion corp, the learnings are exactly the same!
Do you have a partner who can do support when you need time away?
I run a small game website. A couple of years ago it experienced an outage while I was away from home on a 2-day climbing trip. I didn't learn about it until I checked email the first evening. It was a terrible feeling to realize I'd been out having fun, and the site had been down for most of the day. I had to drive home to get the site up again. It was miserable.
That goes along with the 'keep it simple' philosophy; since the service has a very small public API and surface area, it's easy enough to diagnose issues quickly with limited analysis of log data and simple monitoring.
But no, I don't have any partner actively, but I do have a contingency/succession plan in case anything would happen to me (for the sake of my customers).
I quit my job 3 years ago to do it, so I guess it isn't really a side project any more. That said, it is a lonely way to make money and I am over it. My career was computers, and I'm pleased I've done the apps, I can achieve anything technical so it isn't a challenge any more and am looking at something more physical, hands on.
When I quit my job I was making approx $3 a day from apps, I learned a lot.
The great thing is that I can quit and the apps keep making money. It is trivial to keep them updated to the latest iOS version, design standard, or advertising API - I've just put Firebase Analytics and the latest Admob API in them all. Pleased with the iOS10 announcement today, it will not add burden to my apps, nor are they sherlocked like my first app was. My most recent app took me 10 days to make, it is fairly professional, I have one more I want to make it will take a similar amount of time. Every time I get asked a support question I answer it and also post the answer on a support website, this has cut down support enquiries to one every week or two.
On to the next thing!
I built a Slack bot called Standup Jack (https://standupjack.com). It's a ton of work upfront but if you launch early, keep an open dialog with your users, iterate on their feedback and keep your costs low, it's a nice way to earn some side income each month.
Udemy is a pretty easy way to start since they do the marketing for you (for a pretty big cut).
Would love to hear!
1) Direct marketing - Udemy drives a ton of traffic to their website, so people just naturally see your course(s) and buy it.
2) Affiliate marketing - Udemy advertises your course(s) via things like Google Adwords. You make a very measly cut on these sales.
3) Personal marketing - You can promote your course through your own channels / reputation. You make like 98% of the sale when people purchase it this way.
Without doing your own marketing, you can easily earn decent side income though.
Link and free coupons:
$100 for a nice microphone (not necessary) but didn't want to record a bunch and have it be garbage
$100 for Screenflow (to do video editing).
20 hours time (split across a couple of weekends
I've made $1405 on it so far. It is almost completely passive income.
If you know any of the topics in the Hot Topics list and can do desktop recording, maybe you should think about teaching others and making some side money while doing it. Best of all, the Udemy community is awesome. They are very supportive of each other.
I made https://www.myothernumber.com (online temporary sms/mms/voice numbers) about a 1.5 years ago, was making ramen money within 3 months.
Now tracking in the 5-figure/year range.
It's a very, very crowded market so primary cost is user acquisition, but then again that's exactly why I built it, to better learn (consumer facing UA) and have a platform to experiment with.
About to officially launch http://artistic.af (neural artistic transfer meets instagram + canvas printing). I expect this one to take a bit longer to scale, but it was just an excuse to learn DNNs.
Site looks great!
I continued to work on the game on the side over the years, and I released the game on Steam in July 2015: http://store.steampowered.com/app/354200/.
It does not make near as much a normal software engineer's full time salary, but it is profitable.
I'm still in pre-release but early-access has been available for mailing list subscribers since January. Release should happen "soon".
Profit-wise: ~$500 a month (apart from the first month which was ~$5000). If I include my own time, I've roughly covered my costs.
It's taken about 3 years (!) to write the book in my spare time, usually an hour each morning. In a lot of ways it wasn't a great side project:
- Hard to make
- Small market
(Previously I've written a programming book published via a traditional publisher and my day job is as a game developer.)
* Wakeup.io - Simple Phone Wake-up Calls @ https://wakeup.io and it is fully automated and runs itself with actually really good profits. It was built in 2-3 days.
* GetProve, Simple Phone Verification @ https://getprove.com and it is fully automated and runs itself with again, really good profits. It was built in a week or so.
* Teelaunch, Kickstarter/Indiegogo Fulfillment Service (exited/sold) http://teelaunch.com (the site is different now than it used to be here https://web.archive.org/web/20140110204830/https://teelaunch...). As you can see from Wayback Machine, the site was just a landing page when I had it... took me day to put it up!
* Standard Signature, Email Signature Automation for Gmail Business @ https://standardsignature.com/ (built in 48 hours)
* Glazed, a Rapid MVP boilerplate for NodeJS @ http://glazed.io (built in a week or so, but this was work/thoughts accumulated over like 5+ years of hacking - this landed me paying clients, so I still consider it a side project)
* Asynchrosend, a MailChimp competitor (site is down now, but I did have paying clients and successful startups like Notehall.com had used it), built in a week in college!
* I have a bunch, at least 20 more on my list TODO still, if you want to build one with me let me know! I really would love to find super talented people, or people that are motivated. It's really hard to find good people if you know what I mean. I am not working on these right now though as I'm solely focused on one big project.
I have a bunch more projects I've built, that are also profitable that I can share. Email me and I can share more!
Update #1 - I really wanted to mention the most important thing about this. I read a Max Klein blog post that flipped the switch on me before to get into this hack and ship fast mode; it was something like build small little projects, but build a dozen of them. Once you build and release one quickly, it's addictive. You soon start to release more and more, and you get so creative and confident. You can literally build ANYTHING you want in a matter of days if you truly focus and WANT to.
Update #2 - I added a few more side projects since this topic is fun!
If you get a sec - which blog post?
I found it on the Wayback Machine, here's the blog post in particular:
However I have a HUGE absolutely STELLAR update coming probably in the next week for Glazed. I basically dog fed this on my own startup/project and have a ton of little but important updates to the project.
I also thought that since this more expensive service exists, perhaps it's worth building my own wrapper around twilio and provide a single service that does 1 thing and does it simply just like you do.
Which service are you wrapping for getprove?
Edit: Just saw at the bottom of the page that you're using twilio :)
I'm currently working on 3 projects in all different areas. Looking for a partner for 4 which is a Saas for life automation.
Also drewwilson.com has a cool timeline for his projects check it out
I appreciate your sharing the story.
Did you do any customer interviews or did you just build these projects out of love and just released them?
It has been profitable since January after quite some legwork, on the technical side as well as the sales and persuation side.
Sure, I'll send you an email, however, I'd like to keep the answer to your question on the public side, if you don't mind.
It has been quite a ride to get traction, mostly the first clients signed up after talking to them about their issues with their invoices and expenses--once they're interested, we begin the education process.
The other sources are a mix of everything. One of our services is a platform in which our client's vendors can upload invoices so they can manage them. We get some information on several businesses, both small and big so we can begin to offer our solution. This particular product might be the best source for viral growth, as one client can introduce 10 or 20 new users on our platform.
We also have a relatively successful side project on a related field , which has several hundred hits daily. There's an ad there, there might be some optimization on both the ad and the landing, but we're still trying to figure that out.
Finally, our focus has been towards explaining the product, as there's nothing like it on the market (actually there are, but they're small and having the same difficulties we have). Once they sign up, our onboarding process is focused on one point: send your first invoice. As we saw many of the new signups not completing this step (or the previous 2), we set up an email communication strategy for each one of the steps, with our contact information in each email. I've blogged a bit  about it.
Now that we're sure our product is helpful for the businesses, we just started promoting heavily with a sales force.
I hope that answered your question!
I'd recommend an English version of your website. There are companies in the US which have to issue Factura's and I have found it hard to find websites discussing Factura's and offering Factura solutions in English.
We have not considered it, since our main market is Mexico, because of how taxes and invoices work here. Also, we don't issue invoices—we just receive them. But sure, we'll look into your suggestion!
I was spending way too much time on eBay, so I wrote something for myself that would scrape the web pages and use a kill list to filter out the junk. I wanted a better UI to add words to the kill list and realised I could make money via the eBay affiliate program.
So I took two months off between contracts and wrote the first version of AuctionSieve - http://auctionsieve.com
There was a D&D forum, the Acaeum where a bunch of people started using it and giving feedback.
It was making me money from day 1 but it probably took about a year to repay that 2 months of time investment.
It's now been 13 years(!) and it still makes me money - not enough to live off (the payout calculations from eBay have changed several times) but a nice chunk of change. And I only have to occasionally prod it. And add the occasional new feature.
With regards to the anti-bot problem, this isn't running on any server, it's running on the user's computer. The number of requests they make per second doesn't seem to trigger any anti-bot measures. I'm just using plain Java URLConnections.
So far the site can barely cover my vserver cost but that's ok since I can use the server for more than just namesmith. Most of the time some few dollar amounts tickle in but I had some sales of premium domains which gave > 50$ each.
I still plan to add some more features, such as URL shortening, but at the time it is not worth it.
Is this common or did I do something wrong?
Also the favorites should persist via cookies at least for some time.
I launched on HN and sold out (75 seats or so, $1500 each IIRC) that same day. I had designed the syllabus over the previous couple days, but there was no product -- because I honestly thought that only a few people would buy it, and I'd just have to refund them.
I built the class over the next few months and that went really well (not perfectly, but definitely well), but subsequent runs never got anywhere near the same success in terms of sales -- just couldn't get it in front of enough people.
I recently relaunched it at $150 in more of a self-driven form. It's profitable by all means, but it needs marketing behind it. I've been thinking a lot about selling it to someone that can give it the love it needs, but I'm still on the fence there.
If you want the full income report, here is May's: http://mattsencenbaugh.com/postcard-panda-may-2016-income-re...
I am now working on big, highly functional, fully working on launch utilities for DevOps people. Hopefully this will result in building something people want.
It seems the startup world is made up primarily of people pumping out easy to build shit.
I honestly built the wake-up call service for MYSELF and nobody else. I couldn't wake up for classes in college even with an alarm clock (didn't sleep much since I was hacking all the time). I thought having someone call me made the world of difference in signaling my brain to move. So I built the wakeup thing for myself, then maybe a year or two later I added international support after I realized people were paying like $2 a week with it. People actually paid for it? That blew my mind.
The other services and things I built were again just because I wanted them for myself. Just have fun with it. True, these are easy to build projects, but the real skill comes in when you can pump one out in a day!
* I mean pump one out in the sense that you build it, both front-end and back-end, and then release it on the internet. A lot of these projects I didn't do any fancy deployment stuff with, I popped open `screen -DR`, did a GitHub deploy key to the server, cloned repo, installed deps, and ran `node app`.
The app is called Dabble Me (https://dabble.me) and you can read about the inspiration and costs to run here: https://medium.com/startup-lesson-learned/increase-your-happ...
Today (18mos since launch) it's generating around $500/mo in passive income. I played around with a few different pricing models. The first was a "donate whatever you can" for a few pro options (did not generate what I expected), the next was a pretty lenient freemium model (lacked the upgrades), and what seems to be working best is a very stringent freemium model.
A big part of Dabble Me and my passion for the project arises from this being a "scratch your own itch" build. I want this service to exist more than anyone else...so I built it and charged others to use it. That seems to be a theme that has a higher success rate than others.
Two and a half years ago I started working on the idea. It took me about a year to get the initial offering done and launched. The first calendar year in business was technically profitable. We ended up reinvesting the profits into new computers as well as paying all of the operational expenses upfront for the following year.
This year, it's tracking at roughly 5x of last year's revenue and we've also improved our margins by about 2x.
All said and done, we both put about an hour a day into it, five days a week, and one full weekend day a month.
It was profitable from sponsorships about 6 months after launch (slightly over $1,000 a month in revenue, costs $300ish a month). I spend about 10 minutes a day on it. I need to spend more time marketing it and updating some of the tech - but I'm too lazy.
Also, I'm not sure the 6 months to profit counts, because I worked on 3-4 similar side-projects before launching it for about a year before.
Spent about 40 hours creating and editing the videos. They have been online now for nearly 11 months and i have a total of ~300k views. That made me nearly $400 from video ads.
(Not trying to be insulting, so I hope I don't come off that way.)
I think certain demographics will influence it (depending upon how much they click links and I'd imagine tech people are less inclined to click on links and more likely to adblock)
Built up a hobby site slowly over the past two years, at the end of the first year it was making £7,700 a month..
It is still active and earning around £2-3k per month with only about 1 hours work a week.
Currently looking to sell it on as I have just started on a new project.
The revenue it makes now is through memberships and affiliate revenue.
The project's operation depended on accessing factual information published on the F100's web site (things like event times, maintenance status, etc). Since this is data that originates with the F100, there is no reasonable alternative source. Someone else in the community started abusing this data in a way that led to bad press and the F100 unleashed their $1k/hr law firm on everyone they could find that was reading data off their site.
Barring the materialization of $1 mil+ that I can send to my lawyer, this is where the matter lies.
To be frankly honest, I can understand how, from the perspective of the F100, it's easier if my side project simply doesn't exist. The problem is that their company shouldn't have the right to decide that. We aren't supposed to allow companies to decide who gets to exist.
For example, car companies can't say "Oh, you know, I really don't like 7-Eleven putting gas in our cars, I'm going to send them a C&D telling them to stop." If 7-Eleven is capable of providing a functional gas pump, it is the consumer's choice whether or not they wish to input gas there or at a competitor, and the big car companies have no say in the matter. The same should be true in the digital world, but it's not.
Excellent analogy. Totally agree. The reality is that big companies just bully whomever they don't like and simply win because all they need to do is threaten.
I just added ads and it's made 50-300 a month (had ~1000 unique visitors a day for the last 8 years).
Added https://www.nickkusters.com/en/Services/UPC last year for a different brand model
https://www.nickkusters.com/en/Services/DownloadFundaImages for the Dutch real-estate market
And a few years ago, I reverse enginered the encryption of the Wordz game and post the new game 20-30 seconds before the new roud starts, and more: https://www.nickkusters.com/nl/Diensten/WoordJacht/
This combined is my hobby/fun website. It used to cost €300 a month in server fees; it's now down to €80. Over the lifetime of the site, I probably broke even :) But it's still used daily, generating ad revenue, and if I had put in time to cut down cost, I could have made some money.
but it doesn't make any money though.
My main goal with the project right now isn't to generate profit though. If you were to account for the cost of my time I'm sure the project would be deeply in debt. I just enjoy working on it and it gives me a good excuse to travel to different Dota events throughout the world and meet awesome people.
I wonder if electronics would work the same way. I have a lot of random crap in my component bin, odd sensors and things that need projects. I guess a curated list of e.g. projects you can do with a BMP180 would be nice, rather than having to google. On the other hand a pressure sensor is a pressure sensor, so there wouldn't be much variety.
After the first few months it was only making enough income to cover basic hosting costs and not much else, so I ended up getting a job (well, co-founded a different startup with good funding). In the next two years, I was just doing the bare minimum to keep it running, and it grew 80% each year. Start of year 3, other startup failed and I had spare time to invest in the site and it was making maybe 8000/month in revenues, and the decent yearly growth has continued so that now in year 5 I can comfortably live on the business, and have a few employees / contractors to help with support and development.
Unfortunately about three years into it, it became a full sink (negative time + negative money). I was actually going to sell it off for a couple of grand about that point, at which my wife encouraged me to have a go at making something out of it.
It was profitable within a month, and has been ever since. Not enough to pay [my] bills, but it pays for itself and enough left over for some other hobbies.
I have a major update that I've been working on for the last 2 months, but other than that it seems to be running all by itself.
If the downloadable version takes off that would really help as well.
Since then, I've put on Google Analytics so I can see my traffic sources. The top referral sources are:
- Direct and Organic Search. I wish I could figure out how to understand those a bit more...
- A card on the official Trello Resources Board. I got up the nerve to "just ask" and they put me there.
- Some comments/articles on Lifehacker. I commented and link to the site, and they've referenced a few of my template boards (which link to the site).
- Reddit/HackerNews. I don't want to be spammy, but if it's relevant I will link to the site like what I did here.
- My own blog and trellodojo.info. I've had a longtime personal nerd-blog and am trying out trellodojo.info as a dedicated "niche site". I plan to do some other products out of there.
So, yes, their promotion does help, but I do see spikes when I actively market.
Started out with CFEngine, now offering Git training as well. Companies fly me in for 1-5 days to train their staff. I love getting to see different parts of the US.
I built DocsApp in 1 year and now is ramen profitable.
* Play Framework (Scala)
* PostgreSQL (RDS)
* Docker (cloud.docker.com)
Currently building AppsUlagam.com (apps world) as a mobile app discovery site for apps with Tamil language content.
I run GTheme.io for 2 years and now ramen profitable. Current site running with minimal management.
The site selling premium ghost.org theme.
It'd be nice to have a few on the side making enough to support hobbies though.