If you guys have any questions, feel free to ask.
Anyone running a Web business would benefit from consuming this interview. It's probably one of the best ROIs for an hour of time.
And I'd love to do more like it. So if anyone has any good interviewee suggestions (for the subject of getting traction), please introduce me!
I find that even ideas that I believe strongly in, I eventually get distracted and wind up doing other ideas... until distracted again. Rinse, repeat.
The business put more money in my pocket than it took out since, hmm, about 30 days after I threw the doors open. (I think I know how you came to this misconception, so sorry for the unclear phrasing in the interview: I had a few hundred a month in sales from SEO/etc when I was burning $1 a day trying to figure out how AdWords worked.)
Did you sometimes take a break from the Bingo Card Creator to try other things?
I put it on the backburner to focus on either the day job or on living rather frequently.
As to the frame of mind, I always say that business is a lot like WoW. People express huge skepticism that you could play WoW for 30 solid days of your life and not feel bored out of your mind... but you don't get 30 days of /played all at once. You smash a goblin here and complete a quest there and organize a raid for your next weekend and maybe think about offing that dragon eventually and then collect some mushrooms and kill the dragon and then... whoa, 30 days.
I passed the last four years on a thousand and one intellectually engrossing mini-projects. They never got to the point where they'd lose my interest -- after all, if I just hold out until Saturday, I'll have A/B test results to look at. If I just put in another hour, I'll have a new feature. If I just write this email, I'll have a happy customer and maybe get another postcard for my fridge. etc, etc.
The loot is a bit better than WoW's, too.
Pretty interesting for those of us that don't follow you that closely :) - I liked the practical advice and examples.
So, yeah, thanks for the transcript.
My next job was the job I recently quit. I got that by overdelivering on a project for a client of the incubator. When my contract was up I called him and essentially called in the favor. He arranged for my recently ex-bosses to hire me (they were clients of his), and came with me for the job interview, which at that point was a formality.
It works, costs $5 a month, is reliable like you wouldn't believe, and their lead developer literally sends me Christmas cards. Why would I ever change?
It is likely that my next product will not use e-junkie, though -- subscriptions, blech.
By the by-- good post on subscription commerce options here: http://www.untitledstartup.com/2010/02/accepting-payments-on...
Quicky: From reading your blog, I see you had a desktop programme in java at the start. Do you still have a desktop programme now, or is it all web based?
If you have a desktop programme, do you have any advice on choice of language so that non-techies can download and run with as little fuss?
As of April 6th I have a desktop program. If that phrasing suggests to you that I have a very consequential A/B test planned for this month, you're very perceptive. :)
choice of language
Forget language, focus on the packager/installer. Java, .NET, and that RIA/Flex stuff all work fine if you file off all the edges in your installer. For Java, I strongly recommend you take a look at Launch4j (OSS for Windows) and possibly Excelsior JET ($$$ for Windows). The Mac side is easier since Macs are a very predictable environment for Java these days -- use the mac jarbundler task and you're pretty much home free.
Do you use any plugins/gems to integrate the payment?
I don't use any plugins/gems to handle this. e-junkie's documentation is good and it is mostly a matter of copying parameters they pass into the right models for my home-grown sales tracking, then calling sale.save. This takes all of 77 lines, counting whitespace, and about 60 of them are assignment statements.
And a Big Thanks for the transcript! I wish every video interview had transcripts like these.
Right now I have tarsnap.(com|net|org), and I'm wondering if I should consider buying tarsnap<foo>.*, for appropriate values of <foo>, and just making them redirect to tarsnap.com.
You can create content-light pages like the ones Patrick does, for, e.g., encryptedbackupsonline.com--each page on the site would have another title from the same keyword cluster, and each one would end with a call-to-action like "Tarsnap offers [encrypted backups online] for security-conscious power users." (Where the brackets indicate a hyperlink.
Bonus points for having a landing page on your own site that targets those keywords.
(As is probably clear from the above, I do SEO. Patrick's advice is extremely good, so if you have the time, you'll probably do best by just doing what he says. However, if you'd like to know what you might pay to outsource that process to a third party, well, my email address is in the profile.)
(Unless you're talking about doing a reverse proxy to the content of the tarsnap site, but I believe there is also not much advantage to that since the search engines pick up on duplicate content)
[EDIT: this is coming from things I've read not controlled experimentation. I don't think you can be an 'expert' without the latter so maybe I should not have responded]
Links are the primary determinant of rankings in competitive searches. (Competitive searches are high value ones with lots of savvy folks angling to win, or ones where there are other players for the search term with built in advantages: for example, [credit cards], [buy viagra online], or [facebook] are competitive searches, [patio11], [elementary reading bingo cards] or [how do i sort an array in ruby] are not.) Thus, you want links.
Most methods of actively acquiring links are extraordinarily labor intensive: they boil down to sending emails to folks asking for them to link to you, possibly with a sweetener to the deal (such as money, content, a reciprocal link, etc etc). Google likes this state of affairs, because as long as links are hard to get, then the number of links you have is a good proxy for either quality or prodigious effort expended in ranking. Either works for Google -- it makes spam less cost-effective than buying AdWords ads, and there might be gains to the user experience, too. (A less jaded individual might flip that sentence.)
If you're on a campaign to get links, ideally you'd want that to scale out of proportion to the time invested, for the same reason you want users, sales, etc etc to scale out of proportion to the time invested. Google wants exactly the opposite, for the above reason. Accordingly, virtually any tactic which repeatedly results in scalable link generation will eventually be discounted, regardless of whether it improves the user experience or conforms with Google's guidelines, which they enforce in an arbitrary and capricious fashion.
One example of this is widgets, which do result in scalable link acquisition. See the video for what I think of them.
3) Flash or something like that.
<iframe ... > <a href = http://www.example.com >Anchor Text Here</a>
Empirically, most people do not strip the link.
(Posted as I can't see it linked anywhere)
Short version: web kicks desktop's booty from perspective of developer in conversion rates, support burden, maintainability, and ability to extract data. My next app will be a web app, no question. (If it were a do-over, would I be knocked back to my programming competences as of mid-2006? Because that was Java desktop apps, only -- I couldn't write Ruby and couldn't even spell SQL at that point.)
For example, tracking the conversion from landing page to registered user is easy. But what about the conversion from registered user to paying user. That conversion might occur a week later. Do you know if that is tracked, or does google only count a conversion within the same session.
With both people on the screen, you can change focus between each person, as they speak.
My first crappy product made $8K a year in profit 0 advertisement. My second made $72K a year no advertisement no SEO. My third product is making over $500k a year (not projected) no advertisement no SEO.
Sure certain products can pull in stupidly large revenues, but this is an example of a person with limited time applying a small amount of time to a niche and being nicely profitable.
Adwords and SEO are extremely valuable and profitable when done well. Bear in mind that Bingo Card Creation is a relatively small niche. There are people doing finance related things with adwords who make millions.
I was suggesting that if the OP applied his own logic...
Personally I think making any amount of money is cool and something to build on.