2.) Build your business (a few months...)
That's the winning formula. I wrote about this at length regarding Ryan Hoover & Product Hunt:
The title was "Product Hunt's Rise: An overnight success 1,834 days in the making"... Same exact story here except growing Indie shuffle took closer to 2,190 days!
Once big difference I think is that csallen is focused on writing specifically for the Hacker News audience as a way to bootstrap traffic from an existing large audience. Product Hunt didn't really use that strategy from what I can tell.
Similarly to Indie Hackers, I wrote my Product Hunt article with the aim to bootstrap off of Ryan Hoover's large existing audience (40K twitter followers at the time, compared to my paltry 100). He was the first to tweet about it after I brought it to his attention and it spread organically from there (26K views currently).
My next Internet Archaeology article is already in the works and I plan to use the exact same strategy as before (bootstrap off of my subject's existing audience).
Edit: in case you're curious, here's what the dashboard looks like for bloggers - http://i.imgur.com/mJG1LP5.png
While I have no need for SubmitHub's main purpose, the Popular tab looks like it can serve as another source of fresh stuff.
All in all, massive respect for your work promoting new music. As a sidenote, I'd happily donate some money through Patreon/whatever to support an ad-free version of the site (I know, I know, one in a million :).
To me it seems like expanding on the playable features could make SubmitHub itself a very meta/cool place to submit through. A place to engage other artists. It's like HackerNews for music.
If you visit the "directory of blogs" page, you'll see a full selection of the filters: http://www.submithub.com/blogs
Here's what I like about the very small flat fee:
1. It is small enough for even modestly successful musicians to cover it. It isn't a monetary barrier to entry.
2. It is likely large enough to prevent the shotgun approach. This is one of the bigger problems of finding new talent for record labels and music writers, especially in the digital age when emailing or messaging someone a link to your song approaches zero cost...you can't realistically listen to every unsolicited track, so you have to filter somehow. This, at least, insures you don't get a bunch of stuff in genres you don't care about or know anything about. People have to choose a little more carefully.
3. It provides an incentive for writers and musicians to form a relationship so they'll work together again (with the blogger getting tipped again and the artist getting more coverage or useful feedback); it starts out as a monetary transaction, but once they've connected up and like each other, they could work toward building a scene (and the network that comes with that). In music, a scene is a force multiplier for everyone involved (e.g., Seattle grunge, Madchester, Atlanta dirty south).
Increasing the fee for big sites looks more like payola than merely a filtering tool to determine who has gone to the trouble to figure out the best handful of writers or labels to reach out to. If the profit of the site begins to come from the musicians they're reviewing, their incentives start to get lopsided in the wrong direction. I'm not saying all bloggers would do it, but there would be incentive to boost stats (with clickbaity stuff), and to get as many submissions as possible. Incentives should, IMHO, be directed toward increasing quality, maximizing the time a writer can spend on the artists they choose to cover, and providing the best feedback for the artists.
Anything that gives incentive to cheat the system will break it and reduce the quality of the network...likely even killing it. If there's even a slight notion that people are scamming musicians with this, it will (maybe deservedly) die.
To build on that, for most of these blogs this is the first time they're earning any mentionable revenue from running their websites. Not only is it making their lives easier -- it's actually rewarding them for their passion yada yada.
So, you monetized websites that previously weren't with product their users will enjoy. Sounds like a nice design pattern for bootstrapping businesses on non-profit organizations or sites. One to remembet. I especially like you keep it win/win.
Ahhh, thanks. I was wondering how you were doing a service with a $1 charge (I didn't see the $5 minimum mentioned in the portion of the article I read).
I wish the Chrome app was better, or if it had a standalone client wrapped in Electron or something.
The stack is something along the lines of: nginx + docker + Meteor (node/mongodb) + React.
I'm pretty sure Jason uses Mupx for deployment to DigitalOcean (https://github.com/arunoda/meteor-up/tree/mupx).
For anyone interested, this package makes it super easy to setup all the tools and deploy to the servers (almost as easy as pushing to Heroku!).
I've had good experience in scaling using Mupx and Cluster (another package from the same team - https://github.com/meteorhacks/cluster)
1) It took him 6 years to build an audience before turning it into a business. The title makes it sound like the entire process only took 10 months.
2) $46k/mo of what? Revenue or profit? If the latter, at least half immediately goes to the music blogs.
3) Where exactly does the $46k/mo number come from? It's only mentioned in the title and explained nowhere. Is it a projection, an average, the best month, ...?
Courtland, you have a great site and I really enjoy your articles. Please don't spoil your awesome content with vagueness and clickbait.
This comment is not to downplay the author's accomplishments--I think keeping to something for even 5 years is ridiculously hard, and that should be commended, especially if it resulted in something that people find valuable. Rather, I hope that people reading this won't lose hope when, 10 months into their own businesses, they don't see the same levels of popularity or financial success. This project seems to be the tip of an iceberg. I think luck is also a strong component, but it definitely favors the prepared.
True for most success stories. Overnight success is so rare (and often fleeting - all of the rapid online successes I can think of are underwater now - all the best things were slow burns, including this very site). It's about accumulating bricks here and there and building the wall over years. People who never lose hope and who keep building those bricks will reap the rewards in the end.
The issue was that I built it on someone else's platform. Something I've known to be a cardinal sin and a disaster waiting to happen.
Alas, I built /r/lifeprotips and it quickly became a default on reddit. I started building the site (lifeprotips.com which is no longer up) around the same time.
Some moronic moderator named reddit.com/user/krispykrackers banned me because I was promoting the site on the subreddit. They still use artwork I paid an illustrator to design for my site that I re-used there.
tl;dr: don't build a following on someone else's platform. You will be penalized because in 2016 there is no loyalty to the game anymore (I've been building sites since the late 90s so I know how corporate this environment has gotten).
Also, big middle finger to reddit for trying to be a big boy corporation but failing to address issues like mine -- I spent so much time and energy getting that subreddit to where it is today and I get rewarded with a punch in the face.
Also - great work, congrats on the success!
> Some moronic moderator named reddit.com/user/krispykracker
Do you think you would be as successful in developing an audience outside Reddit as you were inside it? Where? In a blog?
Honestly, probably not. Reddit was the perfect audience for that particular type of content, so it made perfect sense. There's only one other player in that space that I know who is really killing it and it's lifehack.org.
Life Pro Tips focused on digestible pieces of content, but in order to monetize, it seems like you need more long-form types of content (that of which lifehack.org provides).
I've moved on to other areas (like I've always done). I've had wins and I've had losses. The losses are necessary in order to keep the wins going.
Having the blog provided both a vehicle to get the target market aware, and the credibility that the product is worth trying. It's really smart to be an active member of a community, and then provide services to the community. It's also very difficult, and takes a lot of effort. I think the post you responded to is someone who understands the amount of work you had to put into your blog to make it successful.
I don't think this is a negative, but a really good take away for new entrepreneurs.
- How will you market and sell your product?
The "If you build it, they will come" tactic doesn't work.
- How do you know it's a problem people want solved?
- How do you know your solution adequately solves the problem ?
Your approach answered all these questions and you got to work on something you're passionate about.
Congrats on the success!
For example: on the app store you can launch your app/game in countries other than the US (australia, canada). Iterate, and once you're satisfied, than launch in the US.
Launching and iterate in the fully public eye of your customer base is a risky thing to do for your general brand value.
> Jason Grishkoff built a $46,000/mo SaaS business helping musicians promote their music, and he did it in under a year.
When do you start the clock? If the business success is based on the blog's success, then arguably the clock starts when he first made the blog.
What I take away as important is that I was part of the problem I was solving, rather than an outsider observing. A blog with 5,000 followers is just as likely to understand that problem as a blog with 100,000 followers.
Because I was part of the problem, I was able to build a system that effectively solved it. Today, there are more than 200 blogs/channels using SubmitHub to receive their submissions -- and that happened in less than 10 months. The vast majority of them aren't there because Indie Shuffle did well; they're there because SubmitHub makes their lives better.
Just because you build something that you need does not mean that you will be successful. People do that all the time, and then wonder why they don't make it. In reality, it's incredibly difficult to get your product in front of people who need it, even if it solves their problems perfectly.
Not saying you don't deserve credit for the hard work you put into this - you absolutely do. Just keep in mind that having a great product that solves a real problem for people is not enough. You either need luck or a network effect (and then you still need a little luck).
One of those, despite being nice, will require overcoming a monstrous network effect to succeed (for example, a new Ebay or something like that).
The other is a much smaller and modest app that will not get as large as $46k/mo, but will not face any network effects.
What do you say to that person? Do you tell him to work hard on the second app, or to start a blog and work hard on that blog for 7 years, then take the first idea and build it?
I watch a bit of twitch and the famous streamers in there literally could be considered millionaires already.
You make it sound like the efforts to start a business and do well, be profitable, were not impressive.
The author is being very disingenuous with his headline.
Yes, having a successful blog helped Jason identify and understand the problem, and it saved him from having to partner with someone else's blog. But learning to code was probably pivotal, too. Where do we draw the line?
Still impressive, but not the same thing
Edit: just to be extra clear, the reason why this is true is because, the customer base he generated was not in the 10 months he used to build his app, that was done over the years of blogging
EDIT: To respond to your edit, I agree he was able to leverage his blog's popularity. But his blog is only one out of 231 listed on SubmitHub. Thus, his blog's readers account for what's likely a negligible fraction of SubmitHub's users. That's not to say his blog wasn't helpful. It's just a totally separate business. The reason SubmitHub is doing so well is because he added to his blog AND to those 230 other blogs, and he did that in 10 months.
Analogy: Let's say you invent a new and superior way to cook french fries. Is it crucial for you to own your own restaurant chain so you can demonstrate the fry machine in action before selling it to other chains? I would say it's not.
1) how lucky I was to work with him for those 2 years.
2) how small our industry is.
Congrats Jason on the well deserved success.
Why did you pick Digital Ocean over Meteor Galaxy hosting ?
Would you point me to some resources that you looked into while setting up Digital Ocean for Meteor hosting ?
The truth is that the classic three-tiered SaaS business model is just one of many possible business models, yet many developers-turned-entrepreneur adopt it without stopping to think whether it's a good fit or not for their product.
Obviously, established music sites are a distribution channel that works right now. But it seems apparent to me the natural extension right now is direct to music lovers?
Where are you based?
A great story and excellent business sense, to be sure. The "10 months" part is typical headline speak.
Perhaps if he'd worked on Google Music (or other music related area of the business) or the referenced exposure to "top brass" opened some doors... but it seems unlikely this is the case.
There's certainly correlation between Google employees and successful initiatives... but not much beyond that.
It's not like this founder started with $100 and made an ongoing business employing a few others.
Started on second, scored on as RBI and media talks about your Grand Slam.
So, it's worth learning things like that in these stories in tracing the bigger picture of how the success story played out with what ingredients that might work next time.
I think building a business is always going to take a lot of focused effort. That said, I also think that getting an early start -- doing it on the side -- is a much smarter idea than quitting everything you have and launching into it head on.
Few years ago I've found a motivational article that everyone can make a successful business out of their garage even in the field of high end technology. I googled RED camera's founders name - multi-billionaire founder of Oakley. Probably his garage looked like a high tech version of Jay Leno's car garage and not like the Jobs' and Wozniak's garage.
Dude have been building his blog business/image/trademark for many years and successfully capitalised on that. Kudos to him.
We do not say that Apple successfully reached 1 million dollars in phone sales in 10 minutes. No - it took them 30 years to reach that point.
Continuing to post TLDR summaries will likely see you end up with ban.
It makes sense that the HN community would want to push for reading the full article and against tldr culture. This was just a fun little side project I built yesterday, and I’ll be thinking about that and any other feedback I receive before making improvements. Thanks for your comments!
How does it summarise? Some kinda AI?