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S3stat (http://www.s3stat.com) brings in enough to live on, and funded me while I was traveling last year and bootstrapping the next thing. It also has the advantage of pretty much running itself on autopilot, so I can sometimes go entire months without opening the IDE or doing anything beyond responding to the odd customer email.

I'd highly recommend building something like that (a low-maintenance income generating business) as opposed to the sort of zero income "shorten urls then tweet them from your location on your camera phone" thing that requires 14 billion users and a Google buyout before you see your first dime.

Could you talk about how you go about finding customers for the site?

Mostly it's word of mouth, SEO and the occasional writeup on Amazon's Web Services blog. And this:


It's a strange niche to be in because it's something people are looking for but there was basically nobody doing it when I started out. It goes squarely against the two most fundamental pieces of business advice you can get: "Never build a business based on a missing feature of a popular software product", and "If there's no competition in the space, be warned: there's probably no market there".

Evidently, there are actually a few good left ideas out there that nobody ever thought of doing before.

"Never build a business based on a missing feature of a popular software product"

First time I see this, is it really a fundamental piece of business advice?

It's something I've heard many times, and something that I agree with.

You want to build a business, not a feature. Unless you can come up with more features, it's difficult to grow the business.

Then of course there is the risk that your feature will come standard in the next version of "popular software product." If your audience is niche, then you are likely safe, but if your feature appeals to all users of the product, it's inevitable that it will eventually be included in a future version of the product. You end up doing the R&D for free.

I love how clean and concise this is. Also the great use of humor in the right places. The "Cheap Bastard Plan" idea is awesome.

I so very much agree with you. And once you make a small self sustaining site, you can then think of stuff that need not necessarily bring in money instantly but can be exciting to work on.

How well is the "Cheap Bastard Plan" working for you? ;)

"Copyright 2011"? Are you a time-traveler?

Maybe he is smart! He may be travelling for whole of 2011 after all :)

i dont get why people don't use copyright <?=date('Y')?> assuming they have access to a server side language

It's legally inaccurate?

what technology you are using for it - Ruby , Python etc,

As somebody else deduced, the public site is ASP.NET.

The heavy lifting is done in C# as well, on a pile of EC2 machines that gets spun up each night. Back before EC2 Windows instances came out, it was running under Mono, with the help of a bunch of Ruby scripts to handle everything that Mono let me down on (such as ALL the downloading, uploading, talking to webservices, etc. that require pieces of .NET that is hard to implement and non-sexy and thus didn't get implemented by the Mono team).

Now it's all C#, leveraging a half dozen Amazon Web Services and running on EC2 Windows instances.

It is clearly written in asp.net.

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