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Ask HN: How do you make money from your side projects?
149 points by _6cj7 on Mar 28, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 106 comments
Sure enough, not all side projects are meant to make money. But among those that do, what is your business model?

Google Adsense + organic (non-paid) traffic == "passive" money.

Not an insane amount of money, of course, but enough that you can consider the project successful if you're getting a solid amount of views.

My largest project, http://sleepyti.me, gets about 1.5 million unique views per month. The revenue Google Adsense brings in is not nearly enough support myself, but it's enough to make the effort feel solidly "worth it" in terms of development time and hosting costs (which are very low at this point).

How (or if) you should be monetizing depends on the nature of your side project. If your "side project" is a business -- say, designing WordPress themes -- then you should sell your product! If it's something that gets 50 views per month, maybe it's not the best candidate for monetization (and is instead a portfolio/resume builder). Either way, gaining experience building things is almost always a good thing.

Sorry, but I don't see any ads displayed. Am I missing something?

Was going to ask the same thing...until I remembered I had ad-blocker enabled.

Ad is throwing an error in console. OP should check it out

The ad is displayed on the results page when you click 'calculate', not the main page.

Although I think he may increase ad earnings if they were on both pages.

Check the console. The Google script throws an error related to availableWidth=0.

Wow, weird -- the ads display on my end. Thanks for the heads up, I'll check it out!

Wow, that is so cool! I remember using sleepyti.me in university to get decent sleep and found it pretty helpful.

That's great to hear :)

This is a great example of a webpage that does one thing really well. The problem of "when should I go to bed?" seems simple. But just doing the subtraction of REM cycles is to much friction for me to have ever done it.

What made you think of making that a site?

Can i assume it's a html site, with the calculator running your own code?

1.5 million visitors seems like a lot. Shouldn't that be able to provide a living?

Just want to swing by and say thanks you! I use your site every day!

How did you get traffic?

Originally, Facebook likes/shares (that displayed on news feeds), and -- believe it or not -- StumbleUpon. I put the Facebook button on the page, but the StumbleUpon wildfire was done by a user.

From there, growth was organic/"viral," in that people shared it amongst themselves. I've also had some traditional media (NYTimes, Toronto Star, etc.) cover the site, but that was after traffic was already pretty high.

Would you mind commenting on my site?


I tried social shares but they resulted in virtually nil traffic. There is the top right Like and Tweet buttons, and an option to share after you complete a puzzle.

After 4 years I get <10k views per month, and only rank high for "sudoku with pencil marks" searches.

I think it's clear that my site isn't viral material, but honestly I'm not too sure how yours works in that regard either!

Why did you end up removing the social share buttons?


I can't tell you about getting views, but I can name a few things about your site that turned me off. These are intended as constructive criticism, so sorry if they come off as harsh.

1. The background looked kind of cheesy. It's not a huge deal, but a solid color would look nicer.

2. There's a timer the second I load the page. If I'm trying to relax with Sudoku, this site is not for me. It looks like you can turn it off, but I know people who will just leave once they see the timer. Timed games are pressure-inducing and not fun for them.

3. I don't know what the various tools shown do. Why would I need a pencil tool for sudoku on the computer? Can't I just type the number I want? What's the one that looks like a checkbox? Why is there an error check? Other sudoku apps just mark it in red if it's wrong. (These are things I would think as a normal user. Obviously I read the tooltips, but most users will not.)

Overall impression - hard to use, not fun. Plus, a little late to the Sudoku trend. There are thousands of Sudoku sites and mobile apps. What would be my incentive to use yours? If I already have one I like, why would I switch? Also, I have ad blocking turned on, but if there were ads and I saw them I would never come back to your site. (Obviously different people have different feelings about that.) I can pay 99 cents for a great Sudoku app on my phone with no ads.

Thanks for your feedback. For the most part I agree with your statements - I never was satisfied with the UI, but this was my first site so I built with the tools I knew (in fact I personally hate icons for controls). Eventually I had to call it a day, since it wasn't growing.

The thing is that I'm not sure quality is the problem - it's already a vast improvement over most high ranking sites (but not apps). My challenge is getting people to the site in the first place. As you said it was already a crowded niche.

I'm not really banking on this site taking off anymore, but I worry my next one will have the same "non-sharing" issues. I thought with social sharing you might have a shot at getting noticed in a crowded niche.

I'll give some advice too as a casual sudoku player.

I personally think the background was completely fine for it being made 4 years ago. If you were to remake it then possibly a solid color would be a better choice now.

I am also turned off by the timer. I'm not sure how many players prefer timers, but maybe putting it hidden away on the top right or somewhere that isn't blinking at you every second would help users like me.

Everything else seemed good to me. If there were ads I probably wouldn't play personally (sorry adblock is on) because as the last person commented I already have a paid sudoku app on the phone that is ad-free.

I think it's hard to get users to go from their phone to browsers for sudoku (if you were only targetting web-only users then it's okay) because of how good the interface is on touch panels. If you were trying to get users to move from the phone I think you need some gimmick that utilizes more of the screen space or something that the web provides that mobile can't.


A question, if you don't mind: does the "embed" thing works? I mean, do you see people embedding your game on their websites?

I'm curious because I have a similar website and I'm considering doing the same. Thanks!

It was implemented a handful of times, but only one of any significance. It was a small town newspaper, but it was taken down within a year.

Of course the value was not for visitors but for links to your site. One quality link might do a lot for you, so it's hard to say whether it'll be worthwhile.

I think my problem is that sudoku is simply saturated. But not many sites have pencil marking ability, and my site ranks high on Google for that.

> I think my problem is that sudoku is simply saturated. But not many sites have pencil marking ability, and my site ranks high on Google for that.

I believe that as well. Anyone that is big on sudoku today started in 2005.

I always find the virality aspects of software/website very interesting.

Looking at your website, there's nothing that suggest anything out of he ordinary.

Yet, you've reached a lot of audience through sheer luck.

What year did the share happen and how long did it take?

There's a great book called Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup by Rob Walling [1]. It's by far my favorite book I've read on this subject and made me reconsider my approach of trying to monetize a side project. It was written in 2010 but is still highly relevant and recommended here from time to time. (There's similar free content on his blog as well.)

One important idea from the book is the distinction of side project/product confusion:

> A project is a software application that you build as a fun side project. The code is fun to write because you’re not concerned about quality and performance, and the end result is a neat little application that likely isn’t of use to many people.

> A product is a project that people will pay money for. In other words, it’s a project that has a market (a group of people who want to buy it). Without a market, a software application is just a project.

I think it's important to start in the right place here. Both approaches are fun but they have opposing goals. If you want to build a product that makes money, start with the market. If you want to build a side project... that's great, just keep in mind that when a side project tries to tack on "and make money" later, it mostly doesn't work.

[1]: http://www.startupbook.net/

Hmm, sounds just like that silly college hobby project Facemash ;)

And that started with the market of students at Harvard. Even if they weren't the ones to ultimately "buy" it in dollars, they did buy with their time and attention. That said, most of the book's advice is geared toward SaaS products.

1) I write side project.

2) I put side project technologies on my resume.

3) I put side project link on my resume.

4) I put my resume on LinkedIn.

5) I get a raise during my next performance review (or next job)

I write side projects when I want to try a new technology in order to integrate it into my flow. I don't make money from putting a couple of JS libraries and generating an automatic ping pong game from Bitcoin transactions (https://writecodeeveryday.github.io/projects/bitpong/) but I do get the experience on Websockets for clients.

Nothing beats a little LinkedIn profile polishing when it comes to passive salary renegotiation.

> passive salary renegotiation

Is that what we call it now? I always called it "emoragequitting". Basically when stress + work > current_paycheck and you decide to shop around.

so, like, you let the "notify your contacts of your profile change" on? that makes sense, even if it's pretty brazen

Doesn't matter either way, the skills that I gained are mine and anyone needing those skills will be paying for them.

Currently a student in college and I'm working on https://www.60secondseveryday.com, the fastest way of daily journaling.

I charge a subscription fee - either $5.99 or $9.99 a month. One of the hardest things for me to learn is that as developers, we tend to price things too low and don't really value our work enough.

60 Seconds Everyday is currently trending on Product Hunt too!

cool idea. how has the response been? i've had ideas for similar micro projects for personal workflow and task management but haven't pulled the trigger.

People really love it! I think slowly forgetting our memories over time is a problem everyone can relate to, which is why most people immediately "get it" when they see it.

The challenge is reducing churn because it's trying to change habits (which is very, very difficult). I'm still working on implementing things to make the product more sticky like Flashback emails (ex. "Here's what you were doing on this day last week/month/year") and integrating your journal entries with your photos.

What sorts of ideas are you thinking about? And what's stopping you?

I was writing about solving the problem of forgetting memories over time (or trying to memorize them and clunky own brain with unnecessary noise): http://lukaszkups.net/2017/01/29/In-search-of-the-Golden-Gra...

(IMHO it is somehow related about general productivity, to that's why I've named it as it is).


I try to write short notes every day that sums whole day in 1-2 simple sentences. Everything is stored in my small notebook (moleskine-like, which You can take everywhere with You in the pocket).

In the same place, I also moderate two lists: TODOs and TODON'Ts - one gather things that helps me to be productive and the other that doesn't work for me and should be avoided in the future.

Thanks kbyatnal. I'm always looking for ways to help me maintain engagement with old friends in other parts of the world. It's amazing when a few months go by and you realize you haven't heard from one, even though you're just a quick chat message away.

About 18 months ago, I launched https://techeventsnetwork.com/cities

It aggregates tech events (mostly meetups, conferences, workshops, etc) across ~50 US cities and tweets them out and broadcasts a weekly mailing list. Hashtags, time of day of messages, including/filtering submissions, etc are driven by some simple machine learning. It's grown from basically nothing to ~13M+ impressions last year and is on track to generate ~30M this year.

The business model is affiliate links to the conferences and workshops. It turns out when you find 5-10k tech people in a given geography who are trying to improve their skills and network, event organizers come to you.

I do not include jobs, job fairs, etc though I know that would make more.

Also, I don't clear things with Meetup organizers before including their events. The system finds, classifies, and includes them itself anyway.

But I have gotten exactly one complaint from an organizer who ended up with 2x the expected attendees. Many other organizers have written thank you notes and spread the word.

Awesome project.

How does the system find and classifies the event?

Interesting that you steer clear of the Bay Area, NYC, and Boston. Do you think being more aggressive would substantially grow the business? (At a potential cost of taking more time than you have available.)

I have pages and accounts for all of them and they've been running for a year+. I just haven't launched them all yet.

$dayjob tends to keep me busy. :)

make one for montreal :O

If I gave you my English message templates could you translate?

Drop me an email if you're willing.

I have been reading this site for a bit; there's a lot of good info here: https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses

Indeed, IndieHackers is a great place for this kind of information. I just did an interview there[1] for the desktop app I'm working on called Insomnia.

Insomnia[2] started as a small side-project to help software developers communicate with REST APIs. It gradually got more and more popular – to the point where I left my job to pursue it full-time. The business model is fairly simple, with an add-on subscription model to access cloud sync and team features, but it's worked well so far! I've been full-time for 8 months and made $800 last month.

I'd be happy to answer any questions if you have any.

[1]: https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/insomnia

[2]: https://insomnia.rest

Nice one. Out of coincidence I had your Indie Hackers interview open in another tab. This blog is really high quality with a lot of attention to design detail. Courtland does really good podcasts too. I was reluctant to sign up for yet another email list, but it's one of the few emails I really look forward to receiving every week. A really good resource. My only complaint is that the podcasts won't play on my Nexus. Need to download them, but that's no big deal. Would be really great if that was fixed though.

I play them on my Nexus using Pocket Casts, but it does require download. You can also open the link from feedburner and stream the mp3 directly in a browser

An industrial design friend of mine and I started https://enstaved.com after I had a really positive reaction to the Pythonic Staff of Enlightenment (https://jimter.net/pythonic-staff/) at PyCon AU 2016 (more than one person asked me "where can I buy one?").

We've just started selling customised modular staves to people who use them as props, novelties or promo items. We've become good at 3D printing via much learning at our makerspace (http://sparkcc.org) and so with a couple of printers we can basically run our own small-scale manufacturing business.

Currently we just take orders via email and word of mouth but we're building a website that allows people to customise their own staff (like in a video game).

Oh I love this ;)

Will there be a Django one? http://avalonstar.com/journal/2008/the-web-framework-for-pon...

Wow, the pony might be tricky but we have a great designer. Send us an email via the address on the website and we'll see what we can do!

Should've mentioned that for the Rubyists we've created the Ruby Staff of Development (https://gallery.enstaved.com/#14902801969539). Happy to create staves for other languages/technologies if there's demand!

Not much. I use side projects to try out ideas and learn new skills - and if they cover their costs or make a bit of money, then great.

Of course I'd love to hit on something that meant I could quit the day job, but I think that unlikely.

In 2011 I built www.illustrators.co, a multi-vendor marketplace for artists to sell their work. I met some cool people and learned web development and UX in the process, completely changing my career trajectory. It just about covers costs, despite languishing for the last few years. I'd love to work on it full time.

In addition make and sell prints of public domain images. A chance to experiment further with online marketing and selling and building sites with static generators. I also make and sell cyanotype prints of my photographs. Mostly to experiment with photography processes.

I'm currently building a compendium of UX concepts, methods, tools, books and events. Mostly to help me better understand the subject, but it may also be useful to others.

I am partial to the business model of asking people to pay me for my services or for things that I've made.

My latest side project is https://www.smsinbox.net, which provides a drop-in chat interface for Twilio apps. It's targeted at developers who use Twilio in their apps, and want to easily expose a two-way messaging interface to their users. It doesn't make a ton of money right now, but definitely covers costs.

thanks for sharing -- i have a perfect use case for this.

built a twilio app, sorta like "mailchimp for texting," and was dreading building a back/forth reply system.

trying this out in the next few days, you'll see my signup come through with a domain that starts with 'G' if you want to chat.

Fantastic! I'll send you an email shortly.

For me, side projects are about cash, not fun. I try to find contract jobs that look easy, bid really high knowing I won't get the vast majority of them, and do a good job for the people who actually hire me.

Any suggestions on how you find contract jobs?

[I write C, C++, do algorithm development, and also automation -- anything from embedded firmware to large optimized math for HPC, to even the (non-UI side of) mobile apps. I've done some amount of contract work in the past but am in the middle of a long (and annoying) dry spell and looking for new sources.]

It's pretty popular problem. I recently got this book "The Positioning Manual for Technical Firm" by Philip Morgan from my friend and it's basically about how to move from generalist to in-demand specialist. The book has exercises how to determine for who and what service you could provide to position yourself as specialist. Maybe you will find this useful.

Wish I could help, that's out of my expertise. I do full-stack in Clojure(Script) when I can help it, otherwise Rails + Ember/React/etc.

Have you looked beyond the bay area? I was considering moving there to find different work. I am thinking it may have been fortunate I did not. Right now I am drowning in work (in the Tucson area).

I tried an Amazon affiliate link (similar to https://kenrockwell.com) on my blog (https://frdmtoplay.com). 6000 views over 4 months has lead to 2 conversions for $12. For my level of traffic that's better than ads, but still not covering hosting costs.

I feel like Amazon affiliate money is "swingy" I have affiliate links when I review or recommend books on my blog (arthur-johnston.com) I won't make any money for a few months and then I'll make $50 in a month.

The only consistent earnings I get is every summer my article "3 books developers should read when they graduate"(1) makes me some money. My assumption is there are a lot of CS grads who need the advice :)

1. https://medium.com/@the_ajohnston/three-books-developers-sho...

Might want to include an affiliate disclaimer in your post. Amazon is quite picky about disclosures.

I sell a Unity plugin for live inspecting and update of game objects and properties on a build deployed to a device: http://u3d.as/sHr. Ordinarily you can't do this; once your game is on your device you can debug it with VS or MonoDevelop but you can't inspect any of the game objects on there and tweak settings. I think it's a really useful tool and something that should be built into Unity.

It's averaged US$340 gross per month since last May but it's been hard to grow it. I think in some ways it's quite a technical tool and you need to be interested in actually debugging issues on device, but there are a lot of people using Unity who aren't super technical. Also it doesn't lend itself to sexy screenshots. I've noticed some of the successful plugins are those which are about creating things, and they get a lot of people sharing screenshots of things they've created on the forums.

Pretty cool, I'm in the same boat as you (see my other reply VR-step Unity plugin). Decent revenue but can't really grow it much more....

Thanks! Yeah I'm struggling to think of ways to market Unity plugins. It seems like the main thing most people do is post on the Unity forums, and tweet about the product. There aren't many other places to advertise since the products are so tied to Unity.

Some plugins solve major pain points for Unity users who are not super technical, like the Prime31 mobile plugins, so they are very popular. I think if you can build something like that then you have a good shot at success.

Not a novel idea, or necessarily easy, but solve a problem for a business. A niche calculator, a pdf template, a better way to view publicly available date, a site widget, etc.

If you gain some traction, there is ad revenue to be gained. I have found even 100 to 300 page views a day is enough to start seeing a few dollars each day. B2B ads pay out more. I've seen single clicks bring in $5+. Once built, not usually much you have to do after that, and they will typically grow slowly over time. And I feel good about them, because I know businesses are getting actual value out of them.

I have not struck the right chord with affiliate revenue yet. But I know there is money to be made with the right niche. I think you need to be a little more invested in affiliate sites, and have a real interest. These sites seem to require a steady flow of new content, though you may be able to automate some of it.

I agree. I started on an affiliate site and while i consider it passive income, there is some level of involvement on a regular basic. I realised that frequent updates keep Google's indexing bots happy. Stagnating content tends to drop in rank after a while.

I personally use niche websites and affiliate marketing for generating pretty passive income. If you can drive traffic using keyword research, it's becomes really passive after the articles go up.

Google Adsense + Amazon Associates can bring in quite a good bit if done correctly.

Sidenote: If you guys are interested in passive income discussions, you should probably join the live chat on IRC.


Amazon affiliate program - http://hackernewsbooks.com/. With enough visitors you can make some serious money with it.

I made https://comments.network/ to integrate HN comments into your static page. If it takes off I hope to get money either through subscriptions or from advertising (it is clearly explained there). So far a couple of sites used it that got into the front-page and it handles them a lot better than expected, so there's a really low cost associated to it.

Regarding paying for this service.

From HN users perspective: Can you really charge money for displaying my comment?

From a website perspective: Am I paying for the redirection? If HN goes down/closes shop - are the comments lost? I assume you cannot scrape HN and essentially "sell" the comments.

I haven't thought too much into this (nor did I read your kinda long website).

I created ruby gem knapsack to speed up testing and I built a Pro version which is SaaS https://knapsackpro.com

I definitely learned a lot during last year while emailing with people interested in the product. Thanks to that I improved my tool iteratively while the early adopters discovered new areas or edge cases about testing I didn't even think about.

This week I published success story about running tests across 100 parallel CI nodes with my tool: http://docs.knapsackpro.com/2017/auto-balancing-7-hours-test...

I sell productivity tools - Chrome Extensions and a SaaS - that solve my own problems in a niche. All of them run subscriptions with varying kinds of free/trial access, depending on the audience and the cost to me.

If you're curious on the details, I wrote a post recently about getting to $100/month with them: https://www.simonmweber.com/2017/01/09/side-project-income-2....

I have a lot of little side projects. My greatest monetary success helps solve a real problem so I'd suggest that. It's not about making a living — I love when people use my stuff. Here's my experience:

> I made a stamp calculator for any postage for my own use then shared it online. It's all organic traffic via google searches and lots of repeat users. One google ad that pays for my server and a few meals a month. A Pennsylvania post office uses it to help the Amish! I love that. http://fancyham.com/stamp_calculator

> Just released a music notation iMessage sticker set For a music teacher friend. My goal for this one: long tail. We'll see! https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/music-notation-sticker-pack/... http://fancyham.com/#notation

> Helvetica shirts for font nerds like myself: Lots of sales at first through Twitter, but nothing now that the fed has passed. Other folks copied the idea, too. http://fancyham.com/shirts

> Geiger counter app, secretly controlled by pressure on the screen, that always drops jaws but just a few sales a month. http://fancyham.com/#detecto

I do UX design for a living and while these are fun creative outlets and an opportunity to try some programming, I think of these as play, not work.

Though I'd like to say these projects bring in money via boosting my day job, I don't know if that's true. These are such quick and dirty projects that I haven't mentioned them on my resume.

Though, I have been inspired recently by Nadja Buttendorf's 'brutalist' HTML site: http://nadjabuttendorf.com/ I'm going to embrace the ugly.

I sell a Unity plugin that lets people navigate mobile VR using walking-in-place: https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/60450

Not a huge money maker (>300 copies sold) but I also filed a patent on it in 2015, so hopefully a larger VR company will see our locomotion technique as an essential step (no pun) to bring VR to the masses, since it reduces cybersickness.

I'd continue to innovate. A patent is super-resting-on-your-laurels in my opinion.

This may work for the next few months but you are going to face really tough competition when pucks come out, not to mention other VR components.

Amazon affiliate links. (Yeah, yeah, I need to diversify. Ain't easy making opportunities.) It works well if your site is designed to improve the shopping experience.

I recently started https://uncover.cc, an aggregator to help you stay on-top of new releases from your favourite authors.

To monetize it, I use Amazon affiliate links. When Uncover tells you about new books, it presents links to buy those books on Amazon, for which I earn a commission.

So far, it has not been a huge moneymaker; I have made exactly $2.10 USD.

Still, if it can make ~$10 a month, it covers its cost, which is good enough for me.

I don't really follow individual authors, but I'd be interested in being able to follow the market of "books like A Song of Fire and Ice/Fooled by Randomness". The market for related books might be much hotter for you and lead to more conversions, if you could figure out a way to figure out similar books.

I initially charged 9$ for my desktop shareware product. This was 7 years back. I thought the app was worth only 9$ that time. But when I understood many people purchased it, I increased to 19$, then 40$ now, but with many more features over the time. I make an average of 800$/month. Stopped using Stripe because of their heavy chargeback fees and bad dispute mechanism. Uses only PayPal to accept payment.

I had a serious side hobby which was performance art related. I took gigs when and if they came. If that was my full-time job like most aspiring artists, I would have been a starving artist.

Also while being fully employed as an engineer, I would take side projects, contracts etc that I would work on during the evenings and weekends. Eventually that became my full time job. I now run a small consultancy.

I mine social media data and in turn, find over/under reactions in the stock market and employ an options based trading strategy on it.

Very curious to know, what kind of figures do you pull up?

My now full-time work https://officesnapshots.com started out as a side project while teaching history ~10 years ago and the main source of revenue was and continues to be advertising.

Neat site. When did you launch? I had a similar idea like this a few months ago. Glad to know someone actually did it!

I started the site in 2007 but it wasn't really what I would consider a "launch" in today's thinking. Just seemed like something fun to do and it's been growing ever since.

https://jsonip.com serves something north of 10 million requests a day last time I checked. It's a free service I've run for years. I'm open to suggestions.

Your "Pro" version http://getjsonip.com isn't working fyi. Just shows me a blank page.

Weird me too. Then reloaded and it appeared.

Seems to be the HTTPS Everywhere browser plugin that results in a blank page for me, debug console says:

  platform.launchrock.com/v1/getLaunchedSiteInfo:1 POST https://platform.launchrock.com/v1/getLaunchedSiteInfo net::ERR_INSECURE_RESPONSE
  platform.launchrock.com/v1/getClientIP:1 POST https://platform.launchrock.com/v1/getClientIP net::ERR_INSECURE_RESPONSE
Which makes sense, since the certificate for https://platform.launchrock.com has expired, if I disable HTTPS Everywhere, the site loads just fine.

Webshop with 1 product, just went into the newspaper today ( quite pleased about this)

Getting projects from personal connections is pretty easy ( eg websites, shops, ... ), got some money on a webapp ( not much though) and hosting off course.

I charge a one time fee. No recurring revenue here because people tend to shy away from it in my markets. Its ok because no overhead and I get a bigger lump sum.

Currently building something in the data science space myself. Mostly for the Enterprise though.

Sales through the macOS App Store.

I built a SaaS product that makes decent passive income ($3500~/month) and continues to grow.

I'm working on a second SaaS product at the moment.

Able to give any context of what the SaaS product is, industries it targets, average monthly user revenue or even how long you've been running it?

I'd rather leave the industry and product out, but I'll tell you it's an industry every one of you have been a apart of at one point or another, it's nothing special. I'd also like to say there were/are many competitors in the market.

The current pricing is about $10 per-seat/month. I experimented with a few pricing points, it's not optimal by any standards but it works so I left it alone. I wanted to make it as accessible as possible.

The product has been running since last November (2016). It was profitable within the first week and has been growing ever since.

I did no paid ads and no content marketing or anything like that. I basically cold emailed people I thought would be interested in it. It grew organically from there. Now there's a lot of blogs and people at conferences talking about it and I get traffic from all over.

As for how much maintenance/time I spend on it?

At this point I spend between 0-60 minutes a week on technical/code maintenance.

I spend 0-20 minutes a day (in the morning) on answering support/feedback questions and cold emailing potential customers.

It's not something I have to do every day, but it works well for me.

How many emails did you send to get your first paying customer? What was the respond rate of your emails?

I didn't keep track, but the response rate wasn't great.

How did you determine that there would be enough demand to justify spending time on it?

I looked at the competitors, the fact that there were many told me there's other people making money.

I tried their products out and decided I could do better myself.

I gave myself a fixed amount of time to get an MVP out in the wild.

In my opinion, you'll never "justify" the time. The only thing you can do is make your best guess, look at the evidence and just give it a shot.

If you're worried about time, sand box it. If you can't make it work, re-evaluate the project (move on or keep trying).

How much time do you spend on maintenance/customer support/upkeep for your first SaaS every week?

Where would I find someone with a good knowledge of Deep learning to do some coding?

Where would I find a coder with good knowledge of NN and reinforcement learning for a paid project?

contact me - you can check one of my submissions, it has my email.

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