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Ask HN: Those making $500+/month on side projects in 2017 – Show and tell
292 points by folli on Sept 1, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 239 comments
It seems this question hasn't been asked for some time, so I'd be interested hear what new (and old) ideas have come up.

https://hostedapachesolr.com - since 2013, started with intention of just hosting my own search indexes (since cheap shared hosting didn't allow java apps to be installed), then ballooned from there. Minimal maintenance, almost every process is automated with Ansible + Jenkins + tiny bits of PHP glue code.

https://servercheck.in - since 2012, same as Solr, I started it to do SMS messages for my own site outages... then realized I could scale it easily using cheap ~$10/year VPSes and Node.js, currently have a few hundred clients monitoring ~1000 servers and websites.

https://www.ansiblefordevops.com - book I started writing during the process of automating both of the above SaaS products—and now the book generates more monthly revenue than both of the above :)

I've written extensively about all three projects, but continue to devote more time to the Ansible for DevOps book / project. Here are some posts with history/reflection on self-publishing: https://www.jeffgeerling.com/search/self-publishing

Very inspiring. Coming across a "geerlingguy" ansible repo in my searches for pre-existing ansible roles is always a treat as I know it will be solid quality.

Very nice! I was just reading your blog post on lessons learned from self-publishing. Your first point is spot on and actually applicable to all side projects, and probably your main job too - be passionate about what you do. There's nothing worse than having to grind something out when you really don't give a hoot about it (I've done it a few times - never again!). Well done on seeing the process through to publishing!

I believe anyone use ansible is probably came across your name once :). Thanks for sharing.

Your book is great!

I launched an app for Shopify about a year ago called Custom Fields: https://customfields.bonify.io

Currently it's making about $5,000 / month.

It's been a very interesting process dealing with building the app, marketing it, and dealing with support. The app is $19/mo for regular Shopify stores, and we have about 700+ total customers (only some are paying). We get A LOT of support requests for misc things and have been trying to build up a knowledge base of articles and help guides in our ZenDesk.

We have recently been running into an issue with file hosting storage fees (we allow people to upload files, no additional charge). We have a couple of Shopify stores that are costing us about $70/mo each in file hosting fees (we don't charge them extra).

I absolutely LOVE building apps for 3rd party providers. We don't really market the app, it's found organically in Shopify's app store. The first 8 months were filled with lots of little bugs needing fixing, but that has since slowed down as I've fixed things. At this point, it's a pretty stable application that doesn't require much maintenance, mostly just user support.

I really like what you've done.

> We don't really market the app

Well, what you did _is_ marketing (via integration), it's a great strategy when done well and looks like you did an awesome job.

I've heard it said that marketing is basically doing anything that exposes your product to more people.

Yea, that's why I love 3rd party integrations.. Just need 10 more of them and be raking in $50k/month would be nice :)

Well done! A few years ago I assumed it was way too late to get into selling Shopify apps. I am glad to have been proved wrong, and you have me re-evaluating some newer marketplaces I presume to be mature.

Shopify seems to be booming.. I hope they do, I have some stock in them, and of course, the app. I may end up doing more apps in the future, but their app store is just going to get more flooded, more competition, etc. Sooner the better, gotta get your foot in the door.

BTW That's also a great investment strategy to invest in something you know and understand like that. You're on fire! :)

Very nice! Spread out over many customers that sounds like a pretty stable revenue stream.

Curious though how much support do you provide for $19/mo? Do you get a lot of support requests / emails?

At that price point one customer interaction is more than most tech workers rate for the time spent interacting with it.

We probably get like 20-30 support tickets per month now (we used to get about 50 per month). It can be a drain as neither I, nor my business partner really want to deal with it. We haven't hired anyone to deal with it yet... The issues we get requests on now are more like really technical issues that take a while to debug and write up the solution.

I think 3rd party providers are underrated when it comes to building side income streams.

I think it's the easiest way. Creating your own app or service from scratch, marketing it, and retaining users long-term is nearly impossible (seems like). All of those problems are solved by integrating with a 3rd party.. Granted, that has it's own risks and limitations, but seems worth it for small side projects.

Exactly. Just wondering are there any other third party platforms you are excited about? Recently I was checking - https://www.cloudflare.com/apps/

but can't find how revenue works on there.

Not sure they have launched that yet, but you can charge separately outside of Cloudflare

Congrats. What is the tech stack for developing Shopify apps?

Shopify Apps can be largely just API calls using any language/framework you'd like, or you can use their Embedded App SDK which is more JS-heavy. I built the Custom Fields app with Drupal 8 and PHP 7. I chose that stack because that's what we work with on a daily basis as a web-dev agency.

Thanks, useful info.

Wow good work! How much time do you spend on this a week?

Aside from building out new features, which I'm not in the middle of, I don't spend time on the app. My business partner handles support which is currently around 20-30 tickets per month. This is a side thing for us, we try to just let the app run without playing around with it too much.

Awesome! Could you charge more?

https://wanqu.co - A San Francisco engineer (me) curates 5 English articles on tech & startup for Chinese makers everyday.

Started on August 6, 2014. It's a side project of mine. I built a website (Django), a native iOS app (Swift), a native Android app (React Native), and some automation tools. It brings around $1200/month via iOS in-app-purchase, sponsorship, affiliate links etc. I keep a full time job while doing this content curation thing at night (2~3 hours per day). So far, I've curated 5000+ articles and I've written over 1 million Chinese characters for comments -- The Chinese translation of all Harry Potter books consist of 2 million Chinese characters :)

Over 3 years, it accumulates over 140,000 followers across 10 content distribution channels as of today (Sep 1, 2017), including iOS push notifications, android push notifications, Weibo, Twitter, chrome push notifications ...

It's in Chinese, so it's pretty much unknown to the English-speaking world. Hacker News and Product Hunt are English only. Non-English projects are not allowed :( I hope my side project can fill the gap between Chinese-speaking makers and the English-dominant tech world. I believe doing good is the best business model.

Checkout my Indie Hackers interview (in English, of course): https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/wanqu

Good and useful idea! Sounds useful!

I feel there's a huge pattern of "proficient in X and Y" opportunities that people underappreciate.

There may be a million people better than you at X, another million better at you than Y, but only 10 better than you at X and Y.

So if an idea requires expertise in both, the chances of success increase substantially. Or at best, there's simply no one who's ever done it!


This reminds me of an article that I'm going to curate today: "Being Different Beats Being Better" http://dariusforoux.com/being-different-beats-being-better/

I spent years in China and lamented that I couldn't keep up with my Chinese and tech at the same time, so this is awesome to see.

I've been working on my app Leap Second, it generates somewhere around 1-3k per month. https://www.leapsecond.co

I created the app after using 1 Second Everyday crashed on me and deleted a few years videos. The app stores everything in the Photos app which made it very fast and easy to develop (a weekend). Now I spend a few hours a month mostly improving the UI and doing bug fixes as I find them. Initial traction was very slow as I didn't do any marketing. I started using App Store ads and it gave me a good help of getting small user base that could grow on it's own.

Have you considered making -- or outsourcing :) -- an Android version?

Very nice app, awesome concept UI/UX. Very well done, congratz on your current success.

Thanks for the kind words!

Pretty sweet. How do you generate income? Ads?

Haven't added any ads. Just In App Purchases to unlock some more advance features.

I've cut my expenses and invested the extra in index funds. Currently at a nest egg of around $300k which spews off dividends of around $500/month and is currently appreciating a bit faster than that.

Are you reinvesting the dividends? If not, why?

Yes I am, just used those as the metric for meeting the $500/month landmark from the title.

Curious~ age income occupation? I'm seeking to do this as well.

30, ~125k household income for two adults no kids, IT and teacher. Our income made it a little easier to get here but the $200k hole of combined student loans we started with (now fully paid off) probably counters that pretty evenly.

Interesting off-topic: considering your current income (salary), do you think $200K college was worth it? I believe you could command same amount with a degree from free/state/cheap university, no?

Is there more to the story? Started with -200k and now sit on +300k with a 125k salary? House? Came into a windfall of cash in addition to salary?

I'll be honest I'm glossing over some details about house refinancing and sales etc. About 40k of it was gains from a house. I'll give you that. About 75k of the 300k is investment gains. Income has remained pretty stable over that time (when I got a raise, my wife worked less or went back to school etc) and we started at that income level right out of college at 22 years old. So of the 500k, 115k is gains, so $375k is contributions/debt payment. In the 8 years since graduating that would be ~$45k/year. $125k-45k= $80k in taxes and spending per year for two people which isn't hard at all. Lived in DC for a year then moved to Denver.

In a LCOL area and putting out 50% of income over 8 years would do it. FIRE people are a lot more aggressive than that.

Think he meant 125k combined between him and his partner.

Nice to hear, I guess I'm on track. Thanks for the open answer!

Did you get to that size of nest egg through investing?

At this point, of the 300k, about 225k is from contributions (savings) and 75k is from gains. The bigger the account gets though, the bigger a percentage the gains will be as the account grows faster than my annual income does.

Nice, that's awesome you were able to save so much. What expenses did you cut to be able to save like that? What are your non-negotiable expenses?

Which index funds, if you don't mind me asking?

Vanguard mutual funds. About an 80/20 split between VTSAX (Stocks) and VBTLX (Bonds). Nice and simple. I re-balance with monthly contributions.

I'm not the OP but I have some investments in high-yield ETFs. These are worth a look: REM, YYY, LVL, ROOF

You aren't investing it well then. This year S&P has gone up something like 20% (thank you, Donald). From 300k that would net you 60k which is 5K/mo. All you'd need to do is rebalance into VOO.

it's not possible to decide if something was a good decision or not by looking at realised performance over a short time scale.

having a portfolio that is entirely concentrated in the S&P will have less risk adjusted expected reward than one that allocates a bit in some other buckets as well (e.g. international shares). c.f. the book "random walk down wall street".

It's very hard to outdo index funds. Even Warren Buffet said as much. My personal observation over the last decade confirms it. I also trade individual stocks in industries where I understand the underlying trends, and those do outperform s&p, but I'm very much aware that betting the wrong way could instantly undo those gains. Index funds are much safer.

I screen scrape camping reservations and send out notifications when a campsite becomes available.


Currently working on integrating the new CA reserve website. It is a shit show.

I can see this being a nice little side project. I work with a bunch of people that camp and in my province (Alberta) we have a rolling reserve window. People will book a campsite for a week prior to their intended trip just so they can get a spot. Provincial parks have since put an end to it by forcing someone to occupy the site within the first 24hrs or they cancel your entire reservation. It's cut throat here.

I'm really surprised how popular it has become. Reserving 11 months in advance leads to a lot of plans being canceled and sites popping up at random times.

True. In AB it's a 3 month rolling window I believe. People will sell their reservation online if they can't make it rather than outright cancel it. Perhaps a new feature for your site? Rental sales (?)...or sub-rentals? Not sure what you would call that :)

Interesting—we’re doing something similar with https://www.campnab.com

Currently available in B.C., Ontario, and Washington State. Now adding national parks in Canada.

Excellent user experience. Thanks for including Washington State. I'm already sharing this with friends.

Looking good. Nice to see there is a small little market for this type of thing.

Awesome tool. But I wish your site monitored Zion NP. One of the busiest parks in the US. I can never score a campsite, and the first-come ones fill up by 7am.

It does. You will want to search for "Watchman Campground"

Just throwing this out that you should definitely include the park name in the search. I would have never thought of that. I just checked recreation.gov API and it has all that info there. Moreover, if a park has multiple campsites you could include all monitoring in that search.

Well done. I was talking to a colleague earlier this week about creating something similar for WA. We have the exact same problem with reservation windows being several months in advance and cancellations popping up.

I wasn't aware of ReserveAmerica. I always go straight to state or national parks sites to reserve.

What's the differentiator between what wanderinglabs offers vs. reserve america - pull checks & notifications?

Interesting premium payment options. Can you share a rough breakdown of what people have paid? Do you think if you made the low end $5/$15 it would change revenue much?

I'd say 90+% of the people pay the lowest option of $10. I doubt lower would bring in many more people. I have a rewrite about ready with the amounts being radio button with the non lowest amount selected. I be this brings in a little more per person without a big drop of in count.

DonaldTrumpDogPoopBags.com pulls in about $500 in revenue per day after some FB ad tuning. I acquired the site from a client when he decided to shut it down. It's moreorless break even until his earn-out is complete after a few hundred more orders.

Fortunately running the site break-even supports main business, and e-commerce fulfillment company (MonthlyBoxer.com)

You should branch out into other personalities. I imagine getting the artwork done is quick and can be swapped easily. That way you can attach yourself to the next fad and roll with relevant FB ads.

Yessir! We're planning to launch quite a few of these mini-sites, and will be exploring things like "Vladmir Poo-tin" and such once the Trump fountain runs dry...

Can you talk a bit more about the fulfillment company. How exactly does it work with your setup, and pros/cons you've noticed?

Often the pros and cons are two sides of the same coin.

For example - we have a 10k sqft warehouse - which is fairly expensive, and required a 5-year lease commitment. On the other hand, it's awesome to have so much customizable space completely to ourselves. The lease commitment also helps me keep focused on long-term success - which is especially nice during a rough month.

Our focus now is on growing our Shopify e-commerce businesses. Subscription boxes are great, but in order to support a high-quality staff, we need daily volume. Supporting WooCommerce and the myriad other platforms was too much to handle well. Shopify has a huge footprint, so we've just decided to say no to anyone who doesn't use it.

Our goal is to make our clients never have to worry about their physical items after they are purchased/manufactured. We tie into the Shopify API, download and ship orders automatically, push tracking numbers back to Shopify, and keep their inventory updated. We try to act as much like their internal logistics lead as possible. Too many fulfillment centers have adversarial, garage-mechanic-esque relationships with their clients. I like every business owner we work with, which is a huge benefit for me.

This (MonthlyBoxer.com) is awesome! You've solved a "pain-point" on a large ecommerce service. I suggest just focussing on this one instead of the poop bags, because, solving "pain points" to real world problems trumps hate-products, plus the latter could expose you to lawsuits that will distract you from your main venture.... wishing you the best to grow and succeed!

I'm actually finding a TON of synergies in running a micro-site internally. I control the volume of sales through my own Facebook ads. If, for example, I were to land a large client, I can dial down my internal sites' traffic to free up my team to absorb that new business while we hire and train more staff. If we lose a client I can also up my spend to keep my staff busy. Essentially it works as a labor-demand-smoother.

We're also using our small sites as training grounds for our warehouse team. Few of our best people are content packing boxes forever, so giving them things to grow into (managing a site, marketing, sales, customer support, etc) helps us retain good people longer.

Also "get sued by the president" is on my bucket list.

My domain name and social media handle search tool has been humming along nicely for 5+ years now and produces a modest amount of profit each month.


It makes money from domain name registrations it refers via affiliate links.

I've been playing with the idea of adding "pro" features for a couple of years now but I worry anything that detracts from its simplicity may hurt sales.

I'm a fan of namevine. I use it when I'm brainstorming projects or figuring out names.

As for a pro feature - I think that notification when something becomes available or a domain/account marketplace might be useful.

Thanks, I'm glad you like it and use it. If you've got a moment, I have a few Qs that would help me understand what you're describing here.

What would be an example of the notification you're thinking of here? Like domains matching a keyword? Or a specific one?

The idea of a marketplace definitely does make sense. Were you thinking as a buyer or seller?

This site is very helpful -- can't believe I didn't hear about it before!

Question: Have you thought about on-boarding LinkedIn vanities? Ex. linkedin.com/in/[vanity_name]?

No I hadn't thought about LinkedIn, I honestly have no idea why I hadn't, though it strikes me that it'd be a great addition to the site.

I'll take a stab at in when I've got some spare cycles, thanks.

Just a note on twitter - it looks like there is a false positive for the availability of 'wood'

There isn't an (obvious) account with that name, but twitter doesn't let me register it. I don't know if it is a blocked keyword or private or what.

Yeah the false positives are such a pain.

I've been maintaining a manual list (thanks for the @wood addition) but otherwise haven't really figured out a way to definitively sort through these.

I think that's because it's too short

I didn't know of your site. Very cool and useful idea. I just tried it for 'boxing' and your suggestion engine came up with quite a few .com name that are still available!


The domain suggestion engine was a fun component. It's not all that complicated... it really just tries a bunch of prefixes and suffixes on your keyword (plus some geo suggestions, if it can "find" you) and shows you what is (probably) available.

I've also found some gems using it as well.

https://workroll.com - started in June, turns over $2k a month. Built whilst automating my own freelance sales work flow and figured others could make use of it too. It saves me about a week a month from doing my own lead generation. Been trying to get funding but had no luck. Too early.

Also started a blog to help freelancers grow: https://medium.com/workroll

How did you find people who were looking to hire? I want to create something similar for a niche industry.

I monitor hundreds of job boards, social searches e.t.c.

More info here: https://medium.com/workroll/find-5-freelance-design-developm...

I make over 700$ per month through patreon for my open source work, primarily https://github.com/ory/hydra . Hydra started as a side project for a work-for-hire project. After getting bashed by people for it being trash (it was, mostly due to bad dependencies but also due to bad architecture), I rewrote it (and the libraries enabling it) and now it's one of the go-to services for getting an OAuth2 server up and running. I am very stubborn and spent a ton of time on auth* questions while building other projects, and it seems like people like my approaches to it! :)

It's come so far now that I'm starting to consider this my full-time thing (I'm in the final stages of completing my MSc computer science) and I'm currently running evaluation on an API security platform based on that technology. Basically, I spend most of my time on it and I even got a small team helping me - but it's not what earns my living at the moment.

Before that I gathered a lot of experience from running and building https://en.serlo.org/ which is basically a Wikipedia for learning (I built the whole CMS from scratch) that serves over 1m MAUs in Germany (the english page is very sparse, most of it is on https://de.serlo.org ) and is thus on the most popular learning platforms in Germany. The company behind it is an NGO (= no profits) I cofounded and the platform is ad-free and doesn't cost anything. We get money through donations and other funds.

It's an exciting journey, I'm now at a point where I need to figure out how to actually make money on the web that doesn't come through donations and goodwill, but I think I can do it - why not, right?

By the way, you may also like the WYSIWYG editor I wrote - I also plan a static site generator based on it with a themeforest-y market place. Feel free to check those out:

* https://www.ory.am/sites/ * https://github.com/ory/editor

ps: It took me almost 2 years to get to 700$ at patreon and most of it comes from one sponsorship I'm very glad of. Their CTO texted me one day because he saw hydra on HN frontpage and he works in the identity space.

So why don't you have a public profile on Patreon? I mean I can't see how much you make on your Patreon page.

Planning a 'Show HN' on this as we get closer to the season, but I built a model for Fantasy Football that works pretty well and has done over $500 this month. Takes into account correlations across same-opposing team players to give a slight edge.


Modeler by trade, had to learn all the back and frontend stuff myself, been really fun so far.

Might want to remove the Edelman example given his recent injury... no one is going to be starting him ;)

Ha, yes that's on my to do list!

First thought that I had also when pulling up the website.

Selling pickaxes. Nice.

Ha, I think it's a really good pick axe though. That is a good analogy for Daily Fantasy Sports though, where you do weekly games and tournaments ect to win real money. My model has some very useful features that might make it valuable there, but the sites take anywhere from 6-8% off the top, so yeah, on average when it comes to Daily Fantasy, selling pick axes certainly has a higher EV than actually playing yourself.

Went full time on our side project, https://emailoctopus.com, last year when we hit the $5k a month mark. We'd been working on it for 3 years and had some steady growth - contracted a few days a week alongside until I could afford to go full time.

In hindsight should have done it sooner, a year on we've grown so much more by taking it seriously as a business. We value our time more and as such charge more, yet growth has only accelerated.

Looking for a voice actor, look no further than https://www.castingcall.club

Strong network effect so far, about 65k users

This is pretty interesting! Why/how did you get it started?

I'm an amateur voice actor and felt like I knew my audience pretty well.

And how did you market it initially? Did you market it to voice artists or clients? How?

I had about 10 years worth of voice acting contacts that I reached out to.

https://www.backtestmarket.com/ - since 2015, we started a service collecting historical financial data to help retail traders getting high quality information.

In 2016 we started offering Expert Advisors we started for personal necessity, and now we are earning around 1.5k per month.

BacktestMarket will come out with a new version of the website on October 2017 with new products and new services

http://www.visaok.in/ - Since late 2016. Soft-launched in April 2017.

Made 700$ in June, been fluctuating since then, but I'm not doing it for the money though.

When I first came to America on a H1-B visa, I remember job searches were super-annoying because I'd find a position that I was a good fit for, only to find "Sorry we can't sponsor your Work Visa" in Bold H2 font. I am now an American Citizen, but even now, I find these exclusions on several popular websites like dice.com, indeed.com and even here on @whoishiring

So I decided to create this curated job board listing jobs with employers who are willing to sponsor or transfer your work visa in over 30 countries around the world. Lot of countries in Europe (ex: Germany, UK, Netherlands etc) have recently launched "Startup Visa" programs that lets entrepreneurs come to their country and live and work on exciting new technologies and eventually get permanent residency.

A new modern UI, email alerts for jobs matching your search, and a Visa application / help community site is in the works.

Meanwhile if you have feedback please shoot me an email. theblogdoctor [@] gmail

I have an accounting tutoring website for students at specific colleges. You can see one of them here: https://acct229.com. It makes > 500 a month, but the bulk of it (obviously) comes in two waves: middle of fall semesters and middle of spring semesters. There is no activity at all during summers and christmas breaks, which really is quite nice.

So your tutoring is all done through your videos, or separate online individualised instruction (1-to-1, or 1-to-many?), or through visits to your tutees for in-person sessions, or tutees come to you, ...?

I am a tutor here in Australia. I visit people's homes, or they come to me. I am interested in online tutoring, but I am unsure what exactly to try; or even what software and hardware to use to create the videos. I market myself through Gumtree (not sure if you have that in the US). Any advice more than welcome.

Hey good questions. All the tutoring I do is in the form of recorded video. I don't do any live tutoring except for very rarely when someone needs extra help. Because the content never changes, I recorded the videos a couple years ago and haven't had to record any more since. I still do a lot of work in terms of marketing it, but the hard work was definitely recording the material.

Happy to help in any way I can

I offer web publishers a stack that enables client-side removal of programmatic ads when users pay a small subscription fee. Lots of law blogs, economics blogs, etc., are using this now. [1]

[1] https://subscriptions.publir.com/

This is an awesome project, nice job! If you don't mind sharing, how did you land your first few law/economics blog customers? Seems like they might be a tough market to get into. Do you run into onboarding issues with them around the script setup?

One small nitpick - your three section links in the header ("How it Works", "Analytics", "Why Publir") need a "cursor: pointer;" rule on them.

To be honest, my partner and I just made a Sheets doc of all the blogs we read, and emailed the writers (usually professors) letting them know that they can give their readers a fair way "out" of the ad ecosystem. They loved it.

Figuring out how to remove ads client-side while not getting the site "charged" for policy violations by the ad networks was tough, though.

So how did you do the last exactly? Very interesting.

I made ~$4000 last month by arbitraging crypto currencies on 3 markets.

I use a bot to do the work for me, but I monitor it very closely and I spend a lot of optimizing the old code. I don't have much money on the exchanges because I don't trust them but I could make much more if I wanted to risk more.

You could make much more now, since it's a bull market. Careful for the downswing. Also it seems unlikely that the same algorithms would work at larger scales.

How much did you need to get started? I assume you have to risk much more than $4k to make $4k.

When you say 3 markets, do you mean between 3 currencies, or actual exchanges?

Which exchanges are you using if you don't mind my asking? I have some btc that I mined ages ago and want to do something interesting with it..

How are you dealing with the liquidity problem though? Are you just leaving the coins in your wallet(s) or are you actually cashing out regularly (i.e. selling the coins for $)?

How much capital did you need to put in to generate that 4K?

This. Arbitrage is something which has real potential in cryptocurrency markets but the problem remains on the capital front.

Cool. What's the bot written in, just out of curiosity?

Impressive, how did you get started doing this?

I wrote a science fiction novel, The Final Six Days. I had been kicking around the idea for 5 years, working on technical side projects until I decided to shift course toward writing. I'm in the process of writing out the rest of the series (books 2-4).

As far as money, I've made close to a thousand on months that I am promoting it heavily. Right now I have pulled all advertising and promotion until book 2 is in pre-order.


How do you go about promoting it? I've been kicking the idea of writing fiction on the side too for quite some time.

I bought Mark Dawson's SPF course, which focuses on running targeted Facebook and Amazon ads. I also ran ads on Goodreads that were mildly effective. The most effective approach though for me so far is Freebooksy/Bargain Booksy. Give away your book for a few days, then for a month or so after your sales and KDP page reads will skyrocket (you should invest in a really good cover).

Email me if you have any further questions.

I've been working on https://kernl.us for a little over 2 years now.

It's currently making $650 / month and growing.

Something I "knew" but never really understood about growing a business is how long it can take. Granted this is completely on the side, but it still takes a long time to find your market, grow, get customers, etc. Learning that this is actually a marathon was valuable.

The other thing I have to actively manage is building things that are valuable -vs- things that I find interesting. As a developer I LOVE tinkering with new technology, but when I'm wearing my business hat upgrading to the new hot frontend framework doesn't make that much sense.

http://www.craigcherlet.com - started writing how to articles and promoting SaaS applications as an affiliate on my blog. Already doing over $1,000 a month in recurring revenue and growing. Focusing on value and it seems to be working.

Fall event directory and costume store launched in 2012: https://www.funtober.com

Basically a one-stop shop for fall festivals, Oktoberfest, haunted houses, pumpkin patches, etc. Still have a long way to go to make it what I would like but traffic last year was roughly 1 million in the month of October. Anticipate it will double to 2 million/October this year. Still working on the right revenue model.

There's something to be said for seasonal niches. It seems to me there's a bit of a reset in terms of search rankings that can mitigate the authority bigger players may have. Do you find that be true?

I could talk about the SEO behind it for days but:

We did use the reset to our advantage to pick up rankings, but I don't think it mitigates the authority of bigger players much. The reset tends to wash out small-time players in the space and bigger players who can't niche effectively more so than it does committed players. Now that I have traffic, I don't worry too much that we are going to get bounced in the reset. I am much more worried that someone will beat us with better content for the next year. Everfest is another startup that I have seen that appears to have pretty much conquered the reset at this point.

Funtober had a very hard time displacing a couple mid-sized players in some of our seasonal niches that were established. Even with the reset, it can take years for their information to become truly out of date and people to look for alternatives. There are also a few things that they can do to keep their information current with little effort. We're just about even now with two in particular that I have in mind, but it took 5 years to get there.

Black Friday would be an obvious example of an area where the reset should be biggest if your theory is true. I think the players there have been pretty consistent and my internal estimate is that even with the reset it will take 5+ years to crack it.

Making ~$500/month from a combination of things:

https://blog.matthewrathbone.com - Articles about Hadoop, Hive, and Spark with Amazon book and Coursera course affiliate links

https://www.99inbound.com - Forms and form-endpoints for close.io, add a form to your website and have entries sync to Close.io as new leads. Made this as a side-project when I needed this functionality and didn't want to pay out the nose for Zapier.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.matthewrat... - Android app to check-in to foursquare/swarm in one click. Used to be more popular when checking in was more of a thing. Revenue comes from an in-app upgrade that adds minimal features, so is more of a 'thank you' upgrade. Built in a weekend.

And of course, investments in index funds like VTI and BND.

When I launched Simple Check-in upgrade payments it did about $400/day for a week which was very exciting.

We've developed an internal tool to remotely access iOS and Android log files (NSLog and logcat). We work remotely, so we always had issues debugging problems that we couldn't reproduce.

Initially it was just an internal experiment at Mobile Jazz and at some point we even thought killing it, but now after 3 years we're at €7300 MRR (~$8600/month) and growing consistently.

That said, we still haven't reached our break even point (also because we decided to invest more in marketing and supporting additional platforms) and it'll take us some more years to recuperate the time (=money) invested.

We've written about our story here: https://bugfender.com/blog/three-years-bugfender-9-5m-users/ and have provided an updated to revenue numbers and other statistics here: https://bugfender.com/blog/updates-from-bugfender-q2-2017/

https://www.recapped.io is what I actually launched 2 months ago since I was frustrated by the lack of existing solutions for my sales team.

Around $600/mo now, but believe I should hit $2,000+ MRR by next month.

TL;DR: Sales-enablement that helps sales reps communicate, collaborate, and engage with potential customers.

Looks cool, one suggestion, in your homepage, change the screenshots to have actual text in them, it provides a lot more context to understand the app.

http://datastarta.com — launched 3 months ago. The last month was $1350. I spent a month and $29 (domain + bubble) to build an MVP.

Just curious: Did you scrape the initial dataset or did it come from personal research when looking for an investment?

For 5 years i worked as an investment analyst for a global accelerator. A few months ago i left the job to ship my own products. Datastarta is the first one.

During the accelerator journey, I met thousands of startups and hundreds of investors from many countries. Some of them were looking to work with accelerators. From my experience, 50% of startups who apply to an accelerator actually need a program. Another part is strong enough, has a great team and just want to setup meetings with seed investors on a demo day. Why spend 3-6 months to do that?

I set down for a month and made a solid research on markets I know. I collect a lot of data, structured it, analyzed and decided to launch the first product as a database of angel investors from around the world.

I built https://localname.io as an excuse to learn some Swift and node.js.

It helps server side development by giving a publicly accessible URL to your computer.

I needed it for development and testing of mobile applications together with the backend. Also works well for webhooks.

Didn't reach the $500 yet, but it's getting there!

You probably get asked this a lot, but why would anyone use this when ngrok is available for free? Cool homepage btw...

Yes, that's a common question. Our offering is a nice, easy to use user interface. Ngrok is a strong competitor though.

Your landing page looks great. Did you hire out the design work or do it yourself?

The implementation of the software I did myself, but the design and the coding of the landing page has been done by the amazing people at mobilejazz.com (disclaimer, I'm a co-founder)

Two side projects: Tomotcha and Requires.io. Tomotcha (https://tomotcha.com) is a Japanese green tea subscription service (inspired by Bemmu's Candy Japan). Requires.io (https://requires.io) is a spin-off from a now defunct Continuous Integration service to track python dependencies.

As a software engineer Tomotcha is more challenging to work on, as it doesn't involve much tech at all: it's all about logistic, customer service and marketing. I will admit that I'm not very good at it yet, but improving slowly. I think a side project is the perfect opportunity get outside of one's comfort zone. For instance we are currently completely reviewing the packaging of our tea shipments... It should be ready for either November or December.

Are you on touteslesbox.fr yet ? If not, it's a great place to acquire qualified leads.

Thanks for the link! We are not yet registered on it...

I'm working on RESTfender: https://restfender.com to connect and secure IoT devices. Show HN link: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15106959

https://marketvulture.com - Monitors dramatic events around the world and spots the opportunities that lie beneath. Using machine learning, we track global happenings, business downturns, logistic delays, breaking news, disasters, market conditions, macroeconomics and more to find interesting and profitable ways to leverage current events.

We've been open to the public for about 5 months; php7/python/redis/mariadb/workers/queues, NLP, tons of machine learning, etc. Cleaning and normalizing hundreds of feeds from different sources and formats is definitely a pain for us, as well as all the machine learning fun (training, feature selection and normalization, etc.)

Reminds me of https://twitter.com/botus?lang=en hah, good idea. Wonder if anyone has tried this for cryptocurrency markets?

Well that's fucking unpleasant.


Built this as a home physical therapy coach after I busted my ankle running an ultra marathon. It's grown quite a bit in hte last few months.

This is great. Is there an android version on the radar?

http://reviewsignal.com - ~$3,000/month

I run the largest web hosting review site. It uses twitter comments as the data source. I wrote nearly the entire thing from scratch in PHP/MySql with a couple libraries for twitter streaming api, templating, WordPress blog.

I did a long interview at IndieHackers if people are really curious with full monthly revenue disclosed (https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/reviewsignal)

how does it make money?

affiliate links with companies that have programs. But that doesn't influence the rankings. You'll notice companies without programs like Amazon, Azure listed. Also companies like Digital Ocean who don't offer cash, but only credit rated quite well. I let the data sort it out, it's nice when they do have affiliates because it's a business after all, but the existing shitshows of affiliate garbage just pumping the highest paying companies has done tremendous harm to thousands if not millions of people over the last decade+.

Nearing $1500/mo on ads and affiliate links, been running since 2009, did not monetize until 2015: https://worldoftea.org/

Nice! I have a similar but much younger / smaller site for comic books. I would love to hear what you did to pay your early contributors, as right now it's just me, and I think that's the next step. I have no issue finding writers, but I'm not sure what I should pay them, how I should structure that relationship, or if there's any legal stuff I should look out for.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

https://onlyusedtesla.com/ $150/day around that! A used tesla marketplace.

Home page of your site appears to currently say it's free [1] - how're you making $150 a day?

[1] "FREE DURING BETA: Our site is always free for buyers, but right now it’s free for sellers too."

Yup. $150 sold vehicle. Its a hassle right now its all manual i run everything off FB messenger. I do plan to flip it soon. Trying to grab a slice from cars, auto trader for used tesla listings.

How are you convincing anyone to pay $150/car when your site says it's free for everyone?

I don't know. I just tell'em there a fee: $150 if we find you a lead / buyer from our site. They say stuff like, ok cars sucks and they get spammed to hell with craiglist and some say autotrader charges them a fee upfront. Then i gotta track them down, its not easy but i am making money. Next move is to figure out a upfront price. I just want to grab a slice from cars, auto trader, craiglist ONLY for used tesla cars.

I built Strum Machine (https://strummachine.com) which is a music practice tool aimed at players of bluegrass, old-time, folk, etc (the music sub-culture I grew up in). I started working on it only after having failed to find an existing product like it and wanting one to be available for my music students. Development began in Jan 2016, launch was May 2016. Built with the Meteor Javascript platform as a mobile-friendly website; native apps still in (very slow) development. About 300 paying users, mostly through word of mouth; it's been hard to figure out how to do marketing otherwise. Just cracked 1k MRR. Minimal ongoing costs and maintenance, although I still have a looong list of improvement-related TODOs. It's been an extremely rewarding project to be working on, and the extra income has been a very nice bonus as well. :-)

I've been working on a side project that sends startup ideas to developers and entrepreneur for the past year. Revenue high point has been $4k/month.


Within the next few months I'll be pivoting to The Nugget Startup Academy and will focus on training entrepreneurs instead of sending out ideas.

That sort of has a "those who can, do. Those who can't, teach" ring to it :)

I enjoy your podcast Justin. I'd keep swinging for the fences unless you just have a passion to teach.

Well it's because I've found it quite unfulfilling watching hundreds of entrepreneurs struggling to get to revenue.

Since I've done it three times I wanted to see if I could help switch up things for them.

Basically, I do have a passion to teach right now, because it's annoying the hell out of me! ;)

I made ~500 euro a month by running ads on my a visualization website[1] I made a few years back (in a weekend). I've earned that until a month ago, when I changed the Google AdSense ads to a static ad (which I don't get commission for).

[1] https://blocks.wizb.it/

The IP always or, looks like you may have a bug.

Ah darn, will have a look soon. I think an API I am consuming updated some stuff.

http://www.soulidstudio.com - since 2009, Mosaico started as a side project to help me handling dozens of windows on my desktop. Now it's a commercial product appreciated by thousands. It's C++ and Qt, I also wrote the licensing system in .NET and C++.


Classic content with attached sales funnel play. The aim is to help people become better engineers. Been hammering away at the React visualizations niche for a bit over two years now and it’s time to make something new.

Product sales make around $20k/year and are slowly trending up, and I’m experimenting with coaching which makes around $1k/month but is hard to scale due to time/focus.

Also doing some influencer marketing type deal with https://school.shoutem.com makes about $1.5k/month and I build React Native apps for them and write about it.

All in all, going to come up to around $50k in sidehustle this year. Been 2x-ing YoY steadily for the past 3 years since I got serious about it.

I write posts about all this stuff on my blog if you’re interested —> swizec.com/blog

Very nice website and blog. You obviously love what you do. I enjoyed the piece on reverse engineering HN too!


Started it in 2014 or 2015 and just keep rebuilding it every 3-6 months. Its a curation of news and articles that I personally like. Its a mix of scraping, automated curation, rough sentiment analysis, randomness.

I built it for my commute, eventually giving it its own domain.

Its no longer hitting that per month since I intentionally scaled back the custom ads that earned referral fees. Its just Amazon now. Money is not a goal.

This side project is more focused on keeping my coding skills going and playing around with ideas in media/publishing and ads.

For example, I redid things so it would get a 99 or 100 PageSpeed score:


For me it's just a single photo. http://imgur.com/a/lHASw

Is there more to it?

Sorry, should have said; I only tested on mobile. Swipe/drag to go between stories.

The lack of a non-mobile UI aside, I love the idea of just stripping it down to one image / one headline at a time.

Me and my husband had been developing our own Android apps published to Google Play for a while and never made much money. But when Android Wear first came out, we started developing watch faces (mostly ones we wanted for ourselves) and persistence finally paid off. Income varies, but we've been steadily making between $500 and $1500/month. These are the top two: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sparkistic... and https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sparkistic...

I wrote an in-browser CAD tool for theater lighting and sound design: https://drafty-app.com/. I have a partner who does that for a living. We've just hired (part time, 5-10h/wk) a tester and a salesperson.

I will show my wife. She is a theatrical lighting designer. Seems like the go to for that is vector works, so an alternative would be welcome.

Anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 per month selling video courses for software developers.

Details are in this Indie Hacker interview: https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/nick-janetakis

I don't do side projects or open source any more and run some bots for cryptocurrency trading instead. The bots continue to grow their positions and has been several times more lucrative than anything else I've tried to monetize at a fraction of the effort

¯\_(シ)_/¯ I guess it still counts

where do you get started with trading algos?


Soaring (gliding) weather forecasts for EU/NA/SA/AU. My side project has now become my main gig. Took approximately 3 years to build, 2 before I started making any money from it.

What are potential benefits to power pilots? Have you considered approaching, say, ForeFlight about licensing and integration?

We launched AppToolkit.io earlier in the year and it's now breaking $500 monthly. Since we use it in-house, we don't judge it quite the same as if it needed to support itself. It isn't profitable yet, but as more app developers sign up for our Super User and Cloud Config service, we're seeing faster revenue growth.

Our original goal was to cover the AWS bill and pay for all the in-house dev work and I think we'll have that by the end of the year.

If you're interested in the background to AppToolkit and where it came from, we did an interview on Indie Hackers here - https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/apptoolkit

https://www.ganttplanner.com - April 2015. A tool to turn your Google Calendar into a Gantt chart.

Its currently running on autopilot and making ~$1200/month.

Its all running on Heroku and barely requires any maintainance.

Interesting. I'm curious, how did you market this? I might be the wrong audience but I don't see this gaining traction naturally through SEO.

Seems hugged to death?

I don't see any issues on the server side. What exactly isn't working for you?

http://livereacting.com/ - SaaS app launched about 8 months ago. Currently $3k/mo. I automated everything. Last 3-4 months it works almost on autopilot I just do customer support

This is quite cool. How do you get this to work with FB? Are these streams you run via their Live API?

I have a quite complicated tech for streaming under the hood. And yes, I use Live API to be able to stream it to Facebook.

~$500+ per month making custom-designed handbags; not just sewing bags, mind you, but one-offs for individuals : word-of-mouth, facebook, friends, etc. Can't afford to advertise, couldn't handle the demand without hiring, don't want it to get too big.

I'm curious what they look like. Is there a place online I could see your work?

I built https://www.parrotqa.com/ because overseeing non-deterministic selenium tests at my day job was such a hassle. It turned into a small (around $1k/mo) side project.

How did the rights for that work out? If I were an employee when I built a tool to solve a problem like that I would expect the employer to own it. Can you talk to how that conversation went?


I wrote a subscription service that notifies IT administrators when software they have purchased is coming up on End of Life. Helps plan and manage budget and for security reasons.

Cool idea.. name could use some work.. .I read it as PlaneOl not Plan-EOL.

I co-founded a childcare management software business here in Canada. We now have customers in both US and Canada. We were on IndieHackers a few months ago.[0]

Our main product is KidGenius[1] that helps childcare centres run their day to day operations as well as connect with parents. Becoming a bit of a crowded space but we are doing what we can to rise to the top.

0 - https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/kidgenius

1 - https://kidgenius.daycareiq.com/

My main startup [1] launched a side project called Read Across The Aisle [2] earlier this year. Even though the iOS app and Chrome extension app are free, we've actually seen several thousand come in through donations and whatnot.

Lots of traffic comes from Google, since we are apparently the first result for "read WSJ free" (we have a partnership with the WSJ that gives free access through our tools).

1: http://www.BeeLineReader.com

2: http://www.ReadAcrossTheAisle.com

This is a great Ask HN, and it would be even better to specify whether $500+/month is in revenue or profit. I can't imagine most of these things listed so far could actually make $500 in profit a month!

DocsApp https://www.docsapp.io/ - Started ~ 2 years ago but only profitable since few months ago.

I built DocsApp to provide platform to publish documentation easily. Instead of spending time to build your documentation site, DocsApp allow you to start publish documentation in minutes.

The challenges to build a profitable SaaS is marketing, especially for people with only technical background.

No extensive marketing done yet so users growth slowly. A lot improvement to be done especially on UX side.

UI design newsletter (https://uimovement.com/) - still making over $500 a month on average from sponsorships and Carbon ads on the site.

Going steady for a couple of years now - but requires very little time from me.

Shameless plug: Currently working on a service (https://letterfuel.com/) that makes building daily/weekly newsletters like UI Movement super-easy.

https://backtrac.io, visual regression tool for websites. Started two years ago and it is doing 500$+ a month after all expenses. Has great potential for growth.

https://turbohiring.co, built a year ago. Database for recruiting IT specialists in Ukraine. After only one year it already generates $3k+ in revenue and growing. Finding a right sales person was a key.

Check out https://www.indiehackers.com. Lots of side projects (and bigger) there with full interviews.

Three years in, Cronitor.io is finally paying both of our (SFBA) mortgages. My co-founder August did a great write up for IndieHackers if you're interested in learning more.

Well done! Here's the IndieHackers link for those interested: https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/cronitor

We've started https://gdprapp.com - a piece of software for data protection officers / it auditors - to help with compliance and auditing process - it's focused at the moment on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) but we will be integrating it with other security standards.

It was an internal project in the beginning and after some time and reworks we've decided to open it up to public.

Working on https://apibot.co, a testing and monitoring tool for REST APIs.

Many of our customers come from word of mouth plus talking to people. Its been very interesting to see the kind of tests that people built with our tool.

We're still technically in BETA although sales are going slow but smoothly. Send me a message if you are interested (fernandohur at apibot.co).

FIY: I get an HTTPS certificate error on Chrome reply


   The certificate is only valid for the following names: 
      *.github.com, github.com, *.github.io, github.io


Good luck!

Thanks John, I'm a big fan of your work :)

Started https://dotlayer.com like 2 years ago, it was initially called wpzoan, I started it when my friends would message me about issues they were facing with WordPress, at that time I totally hated WordPress, I guess that was the developer in me. But I later saw all the issues people were facing and it's worked out well.

So how does this work. Do I give your anonymous "expert" access to my server for them to do the fix? Or do I provide database and codebase dumps? Where is the security in your service to not have my code stolen along the way?

Also, using Brave browser on Android, I get a stack of Zeroes on your landing page for "Tasks Completed"... Pretty sure that's a bug or a fail as a selling point. Glad you got a project going and generating revenue!

I wrote an eBook[1] on AWS Lambda when it first came out. Still brings in a decent monthly revenue. I'm working on an updated version as well, since a lot of new features have been added.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/AWS-Lambda-Guide-Serverless-Microserv...

Launched https://logmyhours.com 2 years ago. Hour tracking and invoicing. I actually log all my hours working on it :). Launched an iOS and Android app last year that syncs up with the website.

Currently making over $700/month and growing. Hoping to go full time on it early next year.

Meta Meme: https://itunes.apple.com/zw/app/meta-meme/id1173783944?mt=8

Doing around $500-700/month in revenue right now, all through in app purchases. Still growing and a lot of work to do.


StatusGator aggregates the public service status pages for all the cloud services you use. You can get automatic notifications when services go down and up, and you can query the service status from things like Slack.

It makes about $1,000 month right now.

Out of interest, what made you choose the fixed-price tiers? $80/mo is a big jump to go from 30 to 31 services. What made you rule out pricing per service?

This is pretty neat, and I'm surprised I haven't seen it on HN earlier.

https://www.amqphosting.com - started just over a year ago. It is a RabbitMQ as a service company. I started it because I wasn't satisfied with the few RabbitMQ SaaS companies that were already there.

Currently doing about $1k/month

I started charging for https://www.sanitycheck.io in July and am at $970 per month. $800 of this is from 2 customers going for the 'done for you' option though - which is kinda productised consulting.

I've been working on https://doorbell.io since 2013, and although it had a slow start in terms of revenue it is making just shy of $2,800/month at the moment, still as a side project.

Hi, cool site.

You might want to consider redirecting requests for your IP address to go to your domain name.

Something like:

server {

    listen 443 default_server ssl http2 reuseport;

    listen [::]:443 ssl http2 reuseport;                
    server_name doorbell.io;

    # redirect IP address requests to https domain                        
    if ($host = '') {                        
      return 301 https://doorbell.io$request_uri;                             
      # you might want to use code 307 in place of 301 if you care about POST requests etc                     
## more stuff here


Good point, thanks for letting me know! (and leaving a message on Doorbell itself) :)

Making ~$500+ per month designing handbags, word of mouth / text / facebook posts. Not just sewing bags mind you, unique bags designed to fit each person. Problem is throughput -- I'll have to hire soon or keep it smallish.

Or raise prices...

Getting close with Optimage for Mac [1], a visually lossless image optimization tool.

[1] http://getoptimage.com

Well I've made $480 since 25th august with www.techpresslist.com

Attention from top 10 on Product Hunt definitely helping.

ICO, we raised more than $15M in 9 minutes, we only built a website with homepage, lol

Really? Looking at your Twitter, you work at toptalkedbooks.com which according to your associate that posted in this exact thread a few posts below (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15149593) isn't even making any money. Hmmmm?

toptalkedbooks.com is a side project of my friend and me. I'm not talking about toptalkedbooks.com here. ICO is true and $15M (50,000.0 ETH) in 9 minutes is true.

what was the ICO?

I have been working on a side project to show all the most mentioned books from hacker news, stackoverflow, reddit. http://toptalkedbooks.com

we are still struggling on marketing, no revenue yet.

I don't intend to be mean or anything, but why did you post this here? The prompt was for $500+/mo income projects. "No revenue yet" is not $500+/mo.

I'd recommend you create a blog where you write interesting posts on different trends, analysis, etc. from all the data you're collecting. I'd be interested to know if current events drive the frequency of certain book recommendations in different forums. This will help bring people to the site, build links to improve SEO, etc. Also, make the email capture more prominent.

Thank you so much for your advise, this is a great idea! we are currently busy on cleaning up the data.(comics books) we want to keep our focus on tech related books. After that we will be creating more analysis to the community. stay tuned.


Can confirm, not sure if investing it specifies as a "side project". But I guess automated trading does (which can earn much much more).

Have you been worried about taxation? I've always been reluctant to purchase bitcoins, because exchanges don't send 1099s... so I'm wondering how everyone is doing this so frequently. Any advice?

Care you explain your strategy?

Trade, as in "buy"?

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