I wonder if conversion rate from free to paid accounts is similar in other industries.
If so, the numbers are quite sobering.
If even a successful, highly targeted and well marketed SaaS product with 100K users and millions of pageviews makes as much profit as someone working for minimum wage flipping burgers, it seems that most startups don't stand a chance of ever getting ramen profitable.
I'm not deliberately trying to be negative, but I'm wondering why your revenues are so low even with such a massive amount of traffic.
Is your free offering so good that most people don't feel the need to upgrade?
There are a lot more parents in the world than teachers, by necessity. Parents typically don't need 16+ cards. The free trial lets you print 15, which means it is essentially free for parents.
My mental frame of comparison is usually "young Japanese salaryman" rather than "guy flipping burgers."
(I can think of a few good reasons, but I'd like to hear what your reasons are.)
Money is also not a huge motivator for me. I like it, don't get me wrong, but after I've got the rent and necessities covered (oh look, bingo) money generally has to be the icing on the cake to motivate me to do something. (Shh, no telling the consulting clients.)
(Not being snarky).
(I would have listed my reasons when I asked the question, but wanted to avoid biasing patio11's response.)
(I think this is only fair: for I feel the transaction between you, and HN (or at least me, personally), is in massive inequality, and if there's a scalable way of repayment, now's your chance to figure it out ;) )
What holds you back from selling your knowledge via a webinars or eBook?
How do you track/manage life outside AR,BCC,Consulting? (e.g. do you A/B test life or do you just go with your instincts?)
Congratulations and thank you for inspiring!
Time with family and friends. Trashy urban fantasy and science fiction novels (approximately fifty in 2010 -- they will take my Kindle from my cold, dead hands). Hacker News. Video games, though I find myself enjoying them less these days. Gym (for health, rather than enjoyment). Dates. Church.
I don't have any intention of dating a simple random sample of women, so A/B testing life would be kind of difficult. "Organized and methodical" is something that I have never been described as outside of work or school.
I'm eagerly awaiting this:
I also think, no offense, that HN is a terrible, terrible market to sell to. Among many other signs: if the price point a hypothetical customer goes to for "Actionable advice which stands to make my business a lot of money" is "thirty bucks", I have negative a billion desire to be in a business relationship with them. No offense intended to anybody here. Instead of spending six weeks writing and then a year wheedling people to part with their $50 as if that were a meaningful amount of money, I could pick up a phone tomorrow morning, call one of a couple CEOs, and say "So, still want my help?", and then do six weeks of consulting. There would be very little wheedling over $50 involved.
You make the initial investment in your pajamas at home, and then apply your own advice to promote it. I'm certain that it'd make far more money than BCC.
Perhaps the value of my suggestion was lost in its specificity. It doesn't even have to be an e-book priced at $50. Do webinars/courses a la Frank Kern. Charge $1000-2000, and accept only up to 100 people. Record the all thing, and then sell it on DVD at a cheaper price, when the live course is over.
My suggestion was to capitalize your "fame" to make some serious money and in the process help a great number of companies. Consulting is one way to do it, but there are less stressful, and more scalable ways in my opinion.
PS: I only replied to clarify the scope of my suggestion. I don't want to convince you or interfere with your plans.
Please write an ebook for $49. I will buy two of them.
Your consulting client who now feels like he overpaid.
If it's the latter, is 4k karma enough to join? ;)
I like Colin and all, but have never met him. We tend to talk to each other a lot because we have very similar interests. You're as likely to see us bickering with each other as not.
I don't really know Jacques at all.
Any time you're in Chicago, look me up; I'm happy to buy coffee (we're on top of an excellent coffee shop downtown). I met a different HN person every other month or so just doing that.
I prefer to call it debating. :-)
Also, to your parent, pretty much everyone I've ever emailed from HN has been friendly, and the ones I've met in real life have been great, too. Familiarity is the way that community is built. I've emailed all of those HNers except Colin before, when appropriate, and I still randomly know cpercival's name.
But as other people have said, it all comes out of seeing each other's comments here. There is no secret cabal, unless you count the YC founders mailing list (which I'm not part of).
I know I'm connected with tptacek by one degree and linkedin tells me I'm connected to patrick within two degrees through two different people.
Someone should write a six degrees of HN app :-)
tptacek and patio11 probably met here, both have Chicago connections, met in person and now have done business together.
tptacek and cperciva are both in the security/crypto world. Don't know where they met but get the impression that they would have some connections regardless of HN.
Not sure about any connections outside of HN with jacquesm.
The way I see it, the HN "elite" spend a fair amount of time here, build relationships based on similar interests here on HN (maybe eventually in real life) and then appear to everyone else as if they've always know each other.
I have the karma of a simple country boy. As a HN reader, I read many of tptacek's comments, and in particular his invitation in his profile to "Don't apologize for contacting me! I'm happy to meet you." So I ran into him at HN Chicago, we talked, one thing led to another, and now I work at Matasano.
So you know about the club by reaching out to anyone you find interesting.
I am not a member of any other group that is as friendly and accessible as this one here.
A book can contain actionable advice, but it's still somewhat limited and generic. The value of a consultant lies in his ability to apply his knowledge to your specific requirements. It's a personalized service that no book can replace.
In fact, writing a book usually leads to more consultancy gigs and higher rates.
I've been spending a lot of time optimizing Facebook ads for my own startup over the last month or so, and I've been shocked at how poor the information out there is regarding it.
In a month of doing my own tests I've probably got more info on how to optimize Facebook Ads than is on any blog / website out there.
Given your love for A/B testing it be great to hear if you've any experiences with Facebook ads that you'd like to share ?
The biggest difference I am seeing in performance between adwords and FB ads is that adwords works well for exploratory searches (obviously), whereas the only FB ads that are performing worth a damn are the ones calling out our competitors. My slew of ads have crap performance except the two titled "Tired of Map My Ride?" and "Tired of Garmin Connect?", with map my ride and garmin connect being our two big competitors.
So, to wrap up a long winded reply, I agree with Patrick. For most, it's probably equivalent to lighting money on fire.
I generally don't work on weekends, with the exception of customer support emails and an evening or two prior to the AR launch. I mean, crikey, until the very end they even gave me weekends off when I was a salaryman: working weekends would be moving in the wrong direction.
I guess most people on HN could elaborate a lot on why working for a salary is not among their first options, but now I'm particularly interested in your story, if you don't mind :)
(For reference, here are some quotes from your blog:)
My name is Patrick McKenzie. I’m an ex-Japanese salaryman
reacclimating myself to a human existence after years of salarymanhood
After several years working as a Japanese salaryman, I quit my day job and went full time on my business as of April 1st of this year. This was the best decision I have ever made.
Personally, at my combination of developer and sysadmin ability, I find using VPSes is a better use of my time. For client work where I want to hand over a product which doesn't require my ongoing involvement? Heroku all the way.
You'll eventually reach a point where it is not worthwhile for someone to tell you for the 47th time "You need a scalable method of attracting links to your website." and instead need to actually be able to plan and execute one.
* army bingo cards
* pizza bingo cards
* harry potter bingo cards
Generating such bingo cards and thus relevant pages is easy so even if no body ever searches for 'angry birds bingo cards' it hardly costs him anything to generate and host. But if someone does such a search, Patrick gets a free visit (which normally costs $1 or so in AdWords). Don't forget that a majority of search queries are unique and have never been done before so generating content automagically is a great way to do SEO.
I have a client project which blends linkable content and consumable content in an interesting fashion. I'll show you after it launches.
I would be very interested to learn once your client project launches. Good luck with that.
I don't have a question, but I just want to say that you're a huge inspiration... and I'm so close to getting ready to take the plunge, get off my ass, and start working on my own projects.
Thanks for being so open with your experiences.
How close is that again? :p
Patrick already seems to have met these goals, so why would he start a startup just to start a startup?
In my case, I'm currently doing almost exactly what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. The problem is my bank-account is not trending in a sustainable way. So, for my part my efforts are directed towards being able to do what I'm doing now, indefinitely.
I'm curious why you worked as a salary man for the time that you did. You enjoy spending time with family/friends and money isn't a huge motivator, so why submit your self to the 70 hour work weeks and 3 hour commute?
And as other have said, thanks for the inspiration and information.
the unofficial "below this line you are
stealing are jobs" mark is three million
yen a year.
Kind of annoying when you have enough money to not need a job but not enough to not lose your work/residency permit.
That is a classic, congrats Patrick!