My side project is: "How to Make an RPG" (http://howtomakeanrpg.com/) which I released in June.
It's a collection of code samples, art and digital book that shows the reader how to make an old-school, Japanese-style RPG. So, it's super niche! I wrote a little about my process here:
There was supposed to be a second part to this article but I haven't written it yet.
It's been over $1000/month very comfortably so far but it is trending down. This isn't uncommon for this type of project - there's often a spike followed by a slow decline.
Still, for the last three months I haven't actively worked on it and it's still sold well. I've moved country and been finding a job (all sorted now), so I haven't had much free time.
I'm not really sure where is good to go after this project. For now I'm building on the base the book introduces, just for fun.
I wrote it before starting the book (to test the waters) and had a link to sign-up to the mailing list. I used mailchimp for email collection.
I have ~50 articles related to gamedev on the same domain, so these get organic SEO and backlinks:
I quite enjoy writing them. The ones with a more technical bent get a lot more traffic than the others. 50% of my traffic is organic SEO. I haven't tried ads yet, but it's on my list.
More recently I commissioned some new art that I give away as a mailing list sign-up incentive. This hasn't worked very well so far :) I have to work on the messaging.
Tracking time spent is something I want to do but don't - each article at the very least takes a couple of hours. So there's 100+ hours, done in a very incremental way.
How did you market your site
I have also gaming how to site that I plan to monotize but not sure how
Any tips ?
As for marketing, I've just replied earlier in the thread with a little more detail.
For a site with tutorials on game development, most of your readers will be using adblocking software. Therefore most popular monetization methods are: selling a book, a course or locking off content behind a paywall.
Here's an example of premium content:
Here's an example where the author sells the source code for his articles
This blog is about all sorts of tech stuff but he sells his book "Game Programming Patterns" (which is very good!) in the side bar.
Congrats on your work.
Why you didn't go with eBooks publishers ?
Also how long it take you to write the book ?
In the payments can you tell how much percentage are using payapl ?
* You do have time. I work a time consuming job, have a wife and kids, and still found 1 hour per day to work on it, and that was enough.
* Automate everything that you can. Early on I automated the deployment, the creation of new accounts, the management of the sales, and soon the marketing.
* Have a plan and stick to it. I planned to use 1 hour per day and I did. I have a backlog and I work against that always.
* Pick a market you understand. I help a lot with my kids schools and this is software to help with that.
* Drop bad ideas when needed. I have started more side projects than I can think of. Sometimes in the past I have felt bad because I didn't want to give up on an idea. So I worked on a bad idea for way too long. Don't do that.
Picking a good market might be the biggest thing. If you pick a market you don't understand, it's way harder to build a good product that solves an important problem well. You end up guessing a lot. It's also way harder to get the word out, because you don't know your customers well enough to know where they hang out. If you go to https://IndieHackers.com, sort by revenue, and pick the companies making the least, the most common phrase is some variation of, "I haven't really done much marketing yet," and it's often because they're in a market they don't understand well.
I'm also a big believer in automation. I haven't done nearly enough of it, but I just got into using Buffer for Twitter, and it's a tremendous time saver (I can do all my tweeting for a week in a single 2 hour block of time). I have a ton of other marketing tasks that I could automate as well. Also, Mike Carson of park.io is making like $1.5M/yr as a solo founder/employee, and he claims it's mostly due to automation, so that's kind of hard to ignore :)
First off, if no one wants to talk to you about your idea at all, then it's probably a bad idea. I know this one is fairly obvious but I missed it a number of times. It's important to make sure you always are trying to get customers or users. If you can't get anyone at all then you're basically not making something anyone cares about. Psychologically you may say to yourself "if I only add another feature people will listen". Life is short. They probably won't. Try another idea.
Second, if people will talk to you but won't buy your product until you add a new feature, and everyone has a different new feature, you have a product no one wants. I have tried so many times to just add the next feature that will make everything sell. It has never worked for me. I should have just stopped and found a new idea.
Third, you have a product that you don't want to sell. I know, this one sounds silly but I have had amazing product ideas but I couldn't drive myself to want to talk about it with anyone. Maybe I made myself feel better by making a landing page and crying about no one buying it every though "I was doing everything I could". But, it wasn't everything I could do. This one is a funny one because I might have been able to sell the product, I just couldn't bring myself to get up and do it. If that's the case, you have the wrong product idea FOR YOU. Stop, think of another idea, and move on.
Those are my biggest three categories right now. It all comes down to selling the product. If you can't sell it, then it's not something to work on. With my current product I love talking to customers and potential customers. I am excited and the sales line up with that excitement. They are excited to use the product. They enjoy the product and while there have been feature requests they are either a) after the sale is complete and I have money in my pocket or b) the same requests from every customer so I can tell it's a market need and not just a customer want.
It made a few thousand in Amazon referral fees after being at the top of HN, Product Hunt, and Designer News for 4 days. As these traffic spikes wear off, I expect it to continue at at least $1k/mo.
To maximize referral fees, I use this clever service called A-fwd, which geo-redirects visitors to their appropriate Amazon.tld so that they can make a seamless purchase without switching regions. This also allows for my affiliate codes to stay intact, and for me to collect worldwide Amazon affiliate revenue.
I also had to learn the ins and outs of Amazon Associates policies, which are incredibly finicky (no Amazon links in emails, no showing product pricing on your homepage, etc.) and frequently results in unannounced account closure that requires you to pester their support team to get things back online.
It also seems like a good fit for the HN / entrepreneur space. Was this intentional? IE did you plan it this way before starting the guide, or was it a marketing plan you figured out after it was already done?
I chose the subject independent of the audience — despite knowing how to distribute to the tech audience.
I can't write something I'm not passionate about or don't want to learn myself.
But I was fortunate that this topic appeals to many in the tech space — or at least a scientific approach to this topic does. I am an engineer myself, so I'm naturally writing for a likeminded audience.
Ultimately, almost anything can hit the front page of HN. This is a smart, considerate, and curious crowd. Good content tends to make its way to the top regardless of the niche/market.
FYI, you have a typo in the FAQ: "Can I change the time I get asked for an update?". I think "change my time" should be "change my settings".
How did you promote your bot? Just through the Slack store?
How does it make money?
Curious if they've tried other pricing models. Beyond, say, 10 or 20 users the value proposition shifts against that pricing model IMO.
It's pretty meta to be posting this here, because Indie Hackers is basically a huge collection of interviews with developers who are making money from their apps and side projects. I only include interviews with people who are willing to share revenue numbers, employee count, etc. There's also a forum/comments section where you can ask your own questions to the interviewees if you find my questions lacking :)
I've also dabbled in Amazon affiliate links, but those don't seem to be quite worth it yet.
But I am realizing that my scalability is limited because I can have only so many sponsors on the site. If there are too many sponsors at the same time, they start to lose value.
I think it might be worthwhile to diversify the revenue source from sponsorships in my case, and perhaps yours too.
I'm going to be writing about all my decision-making in a lot more detail on the blog pretty soon (https://IndieHackers.com/blog). Indie Hackers is all about transparency, after all.
RemoteBase is cool, btw! I'd love to feature you on Indie Hackers this week if you're interested.
...Assuming that I ever finish a side project.
...And that I ever come up with a side project somebody would pay for.
Neither is very likely.
Very late response here just to second what Patrick said, but...
My latest anecdote to reinforce this is the person who wanted to pay me for the Arduino software I wrote for him in about 5 minutes, but I declined (that's on the order of the amount of help I give out on the internets for free). Not kidding: being generous, it took a grand total of 5 minutes including firing up the editor, while grumbling about how much overkill an Arduino was for the task...
It really is about providing value. He has a $250,000 machine sitting idle a lot of the time and that 10 minutes of code reduced the idle time so he could get more utilization out of it.
Phase 2 is figuring out how many other people have a similar problem and finding them...
I might get sued for selling one, and nobody would pay for either, especially given how many implementations of both are free.
But yes, I should work on shipping code.
Now, after two failed startups I scaled back my ambitions/expectations. Best way to happiness :)
We organize trips around the world for developers, designers, and entrepreneurs who want to work remotely while traveling. People pay us to organize housing, accommodations, and community events wherever we go (past speakers have been CIO of Estonia in Tallin, Matz in Tokyo, etc.).
Happy; to answer questions about running more of an ops business that still is related to tech.
See this page from a Heli ski operator which specifically markets trips to doctors: http://www.canadianmountainholidays.com/heli-skiing/special-...
Basically throw in some education or networking and your trip is all the sudden 50% off!
In my experience local (Here in Peru) shops are very interested on learning from foreign developers.
Here's our main site:
Here's a blog post with some of our marketing experiments:
What would you like to know more about?
At $500-600 per week, one could put their stuff in storage, skip their lease renewal, and put a couple grand a month of rental expense towards this to reduce the overall cost.
My concern with that approach is that I would need to manage any intermediary periods where there was no trip. Shopping for short term housing is kind of annoying, and can be expensive without proper planning. eg, I wouldn't want to go live in a hotel from December 18th to January 7th, the time between the Bali and Argentina trips. I mean, I guess I could arrange to stay with family elsewhere, or grab an airbnb somewhere, but it'd be cool if that was handled too.
I also wouldn't mind seeing a program that stays within the continental US, with easy access to airports. I'm considering a couple of positions, and the more attractive one will require some occasional travel, which is easier to manage if it's not international.
Me and my twin brother have had it as a passive income thingie for years. After a failed attempt at selling it (SaaS metrics are NOT easy) we met a guy who saw some potential and we're finalizing paperwork with our lawyer to create a Swedish limited company right now with him as co-founder. We will try to take the plunge and get it running as a full time company within a couple of years!
Achieving a lifestyle passive income project is surprisingly hard...
Thanks for giving me a simple place to go after Google Reader shutdown!
We're focusing on building a great product and a scalable business. Making money from our users should be off something that benefits them as well, like a pro service with more features.
Then, the user, in fact, pays only for using the back-end API. The front-end, of course, is like a website, """open-source""".
Then we have additional costs of http://chartmogul.com (love. required to know your SaaS metrics) http://intercom.io/ (love love love, awesome product).
Edit: Oh, and after a really bad downtime we're paying for pingdom and statuspage.io. So our total expenses are now probably around 1000 USD per month. Braintree and PayPal also take around 5%-19% of each payment.
It was just an Android soundboard app for a very popular TV show in Spain. You could tap a button and it'd play some funny sentence from a character from this show. Long press, you could share that sound.
Revenue model: a little ad bar on the bottom of the screen.
It grew from 60$/month to > 1000$ in around 6 months, only through word of mouth. That lasted another 6 months or so until the show became less trendy.
Probably not very sustainable as I was piggybacking on the popularity of the show, but it taught me that making money was 100% not about writing 'the bestest codes'.
There's a "fair use" defense to that (where I'd say that the clips didn't impact the market for buying the original work) and they might not go after me anyway, since it would presumably reinforce the popularity of the show.
Was any of that stuff you ran into? Or is there no similar copyright concern in Spain?
They only went after the app a few years after the show was in its prime (it was making ~40$ a month more or less) so I just removed the application from the Android Play Store as that was all they were asking for.
Feem is a great cross-platform way to share files within your LAN.
Nice finding another west african on this site. I wanted to send you an email but you do not have an address listed in your profile.
> How is Feem different from other similar apps.
> 3. Business Model. Our business model is simple: If you like the app, you'll pay for it. Similar apps focus on growth only, then later switch to serving you adware and malware.
The pricing is "revealed" when you use the app.
Is it cheaper to run because of Rust? Why is it so? Could you please explain, don't know anything about Rust though.
I had originally started the re-write in Google Go, but I experimented with Rust and had a much better performance profile for the more CPU intensive stuff like using the more modern Delta E methods (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_difference).
I had to use the more primitive colour distance calculation methods for the node.js/JS implementation (CIE76). Not only that, I also had to cache the output after the first run. Using Rust I can use better colour difference methods, do it in real time AND get more requests/sec.
I should add I still use Go on the API side of things.
I wouldn’t expect this site to have particularly high requirements, but hey ho.
(Example: NewsBlur was at a certain point using about 50 servers, for a specified load that by careful calculation I am confident would fit on one server (though not with much headroom) if it were written sensibly in Rust, rather than however it is in Python/Django.)
I run http://www.boxfactura.com, an email service for your digital invoices. It has been quite a journey because everyone I speak to has some kind of trouble with their invoices, but they don't know there's a product for that, so first you have to market the idea of it, and then the product.
I started building the app 4 years ago. I put it on Hacker News and it blew up a tiny bit. That was enough to keep it going until now.
There is still a lot of work I can put into it marketing or coding wise. So far, it's been going well ($800ish). I recently rolled out a UI/UX improvement.
Its 4 year anniversary is in 2 days. :)
I feel like Linux users are tech savvy enough to use open source scripts like Gmvault etc.
I must think about Windows however.
I created this project for learning purposes and because it was a lot of fun. I open sourced the actual gantt component: https://www.angular-gantt.com
The trick is that after a few times around, the courses require a bit less preparation.
Adjuncting is an absolute nightmare if you are trying to do it as a full-time job. But as a side thing for beer money when there is a staffing need? It's pretty light on stress. Since I am not gunning for tenure track (or even a full time position), there are little to no stakes involved.
Weirdly, I think the folks in my position (teaching as an adjunct as a side gig) along with the tenured full-professors on the opposite end of the academic spectrum are actually very similar in that regard.
But I taught a course as an adjunct and the preparation time totally killed me. I wound up re-working the entire course from scratch. Worse, the course started almost as soon as I was asked to teach. By the end of the course, I was often prepping for the class the night before lectures.
Despite promising myself to not repeat the experience, I have just accepted another adjunct lecturer side-gig for the spring. The main difference is that excellent and up-to-date materials already exist. I'm hopeful these materials make the course prep less intense.
I guess it's partly because we are used to these pain points for a long period of time we don't feel it as a pain point anymore or even though we have a good idea it's not easy to build it as we need lot of capital to do so.
Also even if we have a good idea monetizing is a whole new ball game altogether. Like the chrome extension I'm hacking together on weekends which allows people to search for restaurants around them. I have no idea how I can monetize it and just build it for the challenge of making it.
I think one option is to keep on making cool things. Do something challenging and keep pushing out new things whenever you can. And finally one will stick. I don't think it's easy but if one keep persistent in shipping new things definitely one will become a success.
Like in a similar post I have made like this in the past I remember one commenting, we as HN users believe that everything that we make should be like Airbnb or Uber due to the illusion of success in many startups. But that is not the case and it all comes down to being persistent and enjoying the journey along the way.
Have you considered paid promotion by restaurants to be at the top of the list?
I would look into something like the OpenTable affiliate program.
Loads of fun while it lasted! Gave me a nice income bump for 3 holiday seasons.
I'm wondering how you can find good content cheap enough to be profitable at $2/month.
edited for clarity
It was a lot of work, but it's a great passive income now that they're done, and I'm quite proud of how they turned out. The Pluralsight authors are a great professional network to be plugged-in with, and being an author is a pretty unique differentiator on your resume.
I'm going to put together a third course soon.
They're always looking for new authors. https://www.pluralsight.com/teach
A lot of similar games simply ignore the law and pray they don't get sued (or that the publicity from a lawsuit would actually be good).
But I do have support for uploading custom leagues, and people have made them with various real leagues like the NBA https://github.com/alexnoob/BasketBall-GM-Rosters/releases/t... and the Philippine Basketball Association http://www.mediafire.com/file/1e8cq2l3rrndln5/PBA-GM-2016.tx...
I had previously mulled over trying to make a fantasy sports site using bitcoin, but since I am based in the US, the gambling laws are too prohibitive, even just using bitcoin.
Probably not but I think they might be able to send a DMCA notice.
It's been very good to me, but also trending down as people seem to be diversifying from Meteor. Certainly not what I expected when I got into it.
The story for it is a simple one: I solved some of the annoyances during development for myself with by making a devtool, and then open sourced it.
The reaction was very positive and encouraging. Between the opportunity to make more tools, and the downside of having to maintain them, I decided to create paid tier for the tools.
Made a quick screencast showing the problem:
(and yeah, I haven't bothered to set up https on that box ;>)
Update - Same problem happens with all 3 browser extensions disabled. (https everywhere, ublock origin, privacy badger)
I migrated my side project away from Meteor and write about why and how: http://stories.remotebase.io/post/rewriting-without-meteor/
Seriously, I started learning Blender so I could make assets for my own games and even though I have some training in art it is one hell of a learning curve. Not Blender itself, no. The first three weeks were a bit slow but then I started to get a workflow going and now I'm confident I can make decent-looking characters.
No, the real hard part. The serious drain on time is the art part. If you haven't had years of experience making art on a very regular basis you're going to have a slow go of it. Not only that but experienced artists will look at your work and give you a handful of tips that will make you feel both stupid and inadequate.
Art is a skill that can be learned... Just like programming. However, just like programming you're going to spend the first few years making absolute garbage. It takes time to be a decent artist.
You can learn to make one kind of art pretty quickly. For example, I successfully mastered the art of creating 3D anime girls (which are for the game idea) in about a month. Can I animate them with any semblance of, "that looks kinda natural"? No. I'm still working on getting the hair right. I've yet to even begin animating walks or arm movements!
...and for those who've done this: Yes, I'm using Rigify to save time. I'm in the process of writing a Python script that works like the Ragdoll script for hair or rope-like structures (because I'll be damned if I have to spend any more hours positioning a pony tail by hand @60 FPS!).
Edit: I had to take a break for a while to work on non-art stuff but here's where I stood three weeks ago:
Note that she has eyes but they weren't showing up in the Cycles render output for a reason I haven't figured out yet :)
The entire head was made from scratch by me. The hair was my focus when I was last working on it (the animation thereof).
This year we're launching new features and a simple API: (https://sentopia.net/apidoc/)
The majority of that is from sponsorships for the weekly newsletter, which has almost 13,000 subscribers now. Currently doing cust dev and what not to see if there are income opportunities that don't involve ads.
How did you determine the pricing for sponsorships? Is there a good guide out there?
We're looking at possibly adding sponsorships to the https://rubythursday.com/ newsletter next year.
The project started because there is always need for documentation for software projects (in my career), and a lot companies are not used to have one. At the same time, I want to learn Scala so I pick up Play! framework to play and build real world app.
Happy to answer any questions!
Another one is DocsApp is using markdown editor instead of pulling docs from SCM (git). Which good for users that do not know to use git.
DocsApp also support generate Github release page (https://demo.docsapp.io/docs/github-release) so users able to download artifacts without leaving DocsApp.
PS: I never use RTD so I might wrong.
They don't want to change the world, just make it a tiny bit better.
> Can it be done in a way that makes it less like your day job, so to speak?
Of course, just do things when you feel like it to do, no stress, no pressure.
Initial customers base grew from the free ebook I wrote and various blog posts available on the website. Lots of success are due to email newsletter, which I'm trying to keep useful and rarely send any ads there.
I'm taking 20% from each payment and that's be growing quiet well so far, especially after entering english-language market. Website is https://mkdev.me/en
It's simply much more convenient to mentor through mkdev.me than to do it on ones own.
149 for what time period? Hard to sign up like that.
For most people, that is way too much for a tool that only does one niche thing. The thing is, everyone could use that one niche thing every once in a while. You should have a casuals tier with limited use/time for people who have some stuff to sell because they are moving or whatever. Bigger clients could give it a test run and upgrade if they want.
We started to service attorneys only, but as a clearing house of sorts. Attorney signs up, registers practices and regions, and when a user sends a message in that region/practice, all subscribed attorneys are notified and chat begins. That is challenging from a marketing perspective. So we pivoted to a more simple embeddable chat box, with the core still being web to SMS.
We then tried to expand to include the casual user, hence texttheweb.com and getlivead.com. At the same time, the prices dropped to $5/week or $10/month - thinking craigslist seller.
Fast forward to now and we have resellers - some targeting attorneys, others targeting local professionals (plumbers, electricians, etc). They get funny about pricing and undercutting, so we've basically jacked up the 'published' pricing so the resellers can make some money. It has effectively ended passive web sales, with all sales coming through resellers.
Probably more than you asked for, but figured I'd offer some insight.
It's an apparel company for women who like to: hunt, fish, and be outdoors.
VERY random for a vegetarian software develop, from Portland.
I only ask because I was considering using printful for our online shirt sales so that I wouldn't have to do much but they ate up all the profits. If you have the cash to pay upfront, screenprinting is the way to go.
A friend of mine started this label therhinestonecompany.bigcartel.com as a side project and I joined a year ago. We had (and still do) a lot of interest but we both became busy. But I'm tempted to pick it up again only because I feel it would do well with proper execution. I've been a silent Hacker News reader the past year or so (I'm a journalist turned coder) but your post grabbed my attention!
We use Shopify with a printing and fulfillment service: http://theprintful.com
It's been a decent amount of work, to be honest.
I'd share more, but the arbitrage only exists because of a market inefficiency and I'm sure that if anyone here started competing with me, the market would become too efficient to easily profit :-).
Why should I pay for your app if Android has a built-in backup/restore system for contacts? Or does this work by creating backups periodically in case you accidentally delete a contact you might not have wanted to?
We don't just copy-pasta public domain titles. We actually go through it, and create a really nice table of contents, include flourishing images to chapter headings, link any footnotes, and re-typeset so there's pleasant vertical rhythm to the paragraphs. We really pride ourselves on creating a great user experience rivaling titles from major book publishing companies that have delved into the foray of e-book publishing. CSS for e-books is a repeat of browser compatibility problems reminiscent of the 90s unfortunately.
Our average price is usually $0.99. Our genre is theology, so we publish books from Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and John Calvin to name a few.
We make over $1K/month, but sales are on a downward trend. The hype of e-readers has faded in the past 2 years. It's not that e-reading isn't cool. It totally is. Just like the mp3 player was a great successor to the Walkman. The problem is that there isn't One Great Device for e-reading (like the iPod was).
A review of e-reading devices:
iPad: No person with eyeballs can read on an LCD screen for more than 2hrs, but I can read a physical paper book as long as I want. Dead-on-arrival in my opinion. Sales from this market never overtook sales from the Kindle store for my company.
Kindle: Better than the iPad. That's not saying all that much because they're only better because they use e-ink. That's it. Navigating and whatnot is still really janky. The worst thing about the Kindle is that all text is justified. There aren't any settings to change it to left alignment. It's nuts. You have to see a screenshot of some text to see how absurd this design decision is.
Kobo: These guys make the best e-readers. They are e-ink like Kindle, but they have this revolutionary technology called "left alignment of text" instead of justified-only text on the Kindle. You don't have the sophisticated backend infrastructure like Apple/Amazon for synchronizing your books/bookmarks/highlights/blabla. But it's not that important really. Just sideload your e-books, and dupe your e-book library on your computer. That's an end-to-end backup plan. You may not have heard about Kobo because they don't have the marketing budget like their competitors.
My company is called Fig, because I started the company on Fig St in Escondido, CA while I was in seminary. Here's some of our titles on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dd...
Footnote: I probably went too far with this off-handed hardware review, but I'm drinking wine and felt loquacious.
So for us, we don't really have any kind of marketing plan other than trying just trying to make a great reading experience.
It is software, 3-4 small utilities of high quality in the niche platform it is. A launcher, a screenshot tool and such items.
By posting here you may increase your traffic/ad revenue, now and/or in the future (not everyone cares about or has the time to rip off every site they see), and you may get some constructive, helpful comments or advice.
Totally your choice, just giving possible benefits.
I do get your point of view though, and it's fair enough, I just think the risk of someone copying a site they see here (and hurting that site's bottom line) is minimal.
I doubt you're going to copy every site on this page and I know I'm not, and yet they collectively bring in several thousand dollars a month.
Anyway, good luck with your site, whatever it is. :) And to everyone else who posted.
I think these kind of threads are really interesting, mainly just to see the different kinds of sites or apps people are making, but I think they serve as an inspiration for people to create something themselves (not just copy), and I'm glad people are not shy about posting what they're doing.
If you have a stable passive income, whether you rely on or not. Why post about in an arena where people have the ability to copy and undercut you easily and threaten your income.
I sometimes find posts like these slightly disingenuous.
Me? I just wrap Amazon's route53 DNS with some git-magic, so you can host your DNS records in a git repository and make changes via `git push`. It's a simple idea, and yet it is surprisingly popular. https://dns-api.com/
> 1 domain | £1pm
> 2 domains | £2pm
> 3 domains | £3pm
> 4 domains | £4pm
> 5 domains | £5pm
But for people with many domains there are deals to be had so haggling is always an option ;)
That said, I'd love a high-level overview without knowing the niche GP is in. "It's a content site" or "It's a blog reviewing popular products in an Amazon niche" would be helpful without exposing them to undue risk.