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Ask HN: Those making $500/month on side projects in 2019 – Show and tell
114 points by folli on Sept 6, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 61 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.

I’m almost there. Hopefully that will be the case by 2020. But mine is not a Saas or app. I actually make things as a hobby and sell them in low volume.

A few years ago, I started making word clocks as presents for people. After a while I started teaching a workshop on how to make a simple clock at a local maker space. Now I have a refined design that my wife and I are producing in our basement and starting to sell at low volume: www.finewordclocks.com Making clocks is also a great excuse to buy cool tools. We have a probotix asteroid cnc in the basement. I have a 3yo and 6yo. It’s been fun getting them involved in making things. Most of the presents for their friends’ birthday parties are home made (mostly by me but with the kids’ participation) and are REALLY well received.

Your clocks are beautiful, and a very clever idea.

Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to look.

Running https://diskprices.com and https://battprices.com, I've been consistently making >$500 in Amazon affiliate fees each month for the last couple of years. It's still growing, slowly. I'm working on some improvements to the software to add more metadata about the drives like warranty and advertised performance numbers.

Very impressive. Simple yet functional. Proof that a site does not have to have all kinds of bells to be useful. Nice...

Have you considered using Backblaze drive reliability reports at all for reliability metadata?


Yeah, I've got all of the Backblaze data in BigQuery and can JOIN it with the diskprices data... It's only marginally useful as Backblaze only uses a small number of drive models and Amazon's pricing for them isn't great.

What do you use on the back end to sort the items?

A Python script with a whole lot of regexes.

Has Amazon made it more difficult to make money with affiliate fees in the time you've been running the site?

They added new "efficiency guidelines" that require you to make at least one sale a month or the account gets dropped. This hasn't been a problem for me, but definitely adds a barrier to entry that wasn't there when I started.

Cool! Have you thought about doing RAM prices too?

Yeah, I've looked into it a bit, but there are relatively few RAM variants for any given size and speed that your motherboard might support, and there are plenty of other sites that do that well already.

Do you know how to jump-start a partner account? I want to play with the product data but have to sell 3 referrals before they let me in...

Nope. They didn't have that rule when I started.

How did you market your websites?

Word of mouth, mostly. Sometimes I comment on threads like this and people tell their friends. I see Slack and Facebook Messenger in my referer logs pretty frequently.

Your faq on battprices is linked to diskprices

There is no separate FAQ... They're both doing essentially the same thing. See also: the giant red BETA in the top right corner.

https://amazingmarvin.com/ has been my side project since 2016 (wow!). I will finally quit my job at the end of the year to go full-time on it (co-founder is already full-time). I worried a lot about doing something that had already been done 1000 times (a productivity tool), but now that it's working out I realized there's always room for a better mousetrap! Another surprising learning: it's still possible to have a product that people will pay for in 2019 with a mediocre phone app.

Dang, this looks so close to being what I’ve been looking for (and failing) in terms of an “organizational” manager. I find that not a lot of tools let you go from macro to micro planning and back very easily and efficiently and are either long term focused or daily/weekly focused.

If I purchase lifetime access will that include future updates? Will I be able to retrieve all my data if you stop offering the product?

I'll start: I'm still actively working on my Android app, Sun Locator, that helps photographers and outdoorsy people to predict the position of the sun and the shadows caused by mountains and hills. It helped me to learn quite a lot about Android programming, the app ecosphere and costumer support, and it makes a bit of spending money on the side. More info: http://www.sunlocator.com

Great job! I'd love to hear more about the calculations involved for the sun and moon paths and the implementation of the shadow maps. If you have the time and haven't already perhaps it would be worthy of a blog?

I'm sure OP knows how to google. Nothing against IH, but HN is a medium that allows you to talk to authors directly, which is an invaluable experience.

Download Amazon product categories as a CSV file - https://www.browsenodes.com . Interestingly, I bought this domain with all the backlinks for $500 and made more than $500 in the first month itself.

Man. This is a wonderful little niche product. How did you stumble upon the website to buy?

Thanks! Actually, I was a user of that website. The previous owner put a notice on the landing page that he is selling it. I saw it and bought it immediately because, I didn't want it to go away. But I didn't expect to recover the money in the first month itself!

Since then, I have expanded it to Amazon product data as well - https://www.commercedna.com . But, haven't started charging for it yet.

Interesting. Any reason why you don't have amazon.com.au?

I need Amazon Australia API key or someone with that API key to use my shared cache. Only then, will I be able to collect that data. As of now, no one from au has used it. So I don't have any data on that.

Ah. Sounds like the cache wouldn't be much use for .au since nothing is in it currently. Gotcha.

Brilliant. Kudos.

This is brilliant! How are you gathering the data?

Thanks! Amazon provides an API to get this data. But, it is available only for Amazon affiliates and is throttled to 1 request per second. So, I built a shared cache for these affiliates to overcome their throttling problem. When they use my cache, I accumulate this data and generate the CSV file.

You can read more about it in "How it works?" section here - https://www.commercedna.com

I opened an Etsy store selling laser-cut crafts. http://ligninandlight.com

Neat stuff, I've also made a few things (nursery wall decoration for my son) using my job's Trotec cutter. The machine was bought for around 30k USD I believe, so buying one for a small etsy operation sounds like a long ROI! Do you own your own laser machine?

I'm using a Glowforge Pro which was only $5500. It paid for itself in about two months.

Love your store. contact me at matthebs [at] gmail dot com

Why do you want me to email you?

SmartEdit — https://www.smart-edit.com/ — A Microsoft Word Add-In for creative writers. It’s been around for a few years now, brings in a good bit more than $500 a month, but nowhere near enough to quit the day job. Doesn’t require much upkeep either. It just keeps rolling on...

Checkbot for Chrome: https://www.checkbot.io :)

It checks 100s of pages on your website at a time for SEO, speed and security problems like broken links, duplicate content, invalid HTML/CSS/JavaScript, insecure pages, redirect chains and 50+ other issues.

Playing in a band! It's a side project, earns me between $4K and $6K per year, depending how many gigs of course. Last year was huge for me, around $8K, and this year is slow, probably will be about $4K.

I'm just about to upgrade my sound equipment to probably the Electro-Voice Evolve system, which has bluetooth, can be operated by a phone app, sets up easily, and sounds incredible. This is an investment which will make my band more marketable but also set me up to do more paid sound gigs. The day job will always be my main gig but this is a great side project.

i run https://zeromac.com , a hosting service for Mac VMs. i charge by the hour. the margins aren't as lucrative as a traditional software startup.

i'm considering two new offerings:

1. lower-priced option where the servers would be overcommitted.

2. bringing up a SAN (VMs currently run on local storage) and charging for storage and compute time separately. this would also enable things like spinning up VM based on a custom disk images.

Very cool, but Apple seems to come after these types of services, no?

there are quite a few similar services so i don't think they're very strict about it

What about os licensing?

is it possible to install software on a VM like this? what would the latency be like ? for example how fast is mouse movement. Are these dedicated machines?

Also, does anyone want to sell their side project?

https://www.apilope.com/ - 0 revenue, 0 users, 0 traffic

> 0 revenue, 0 users, 0 traffic

Not as bad as it seems. You can ignore the first two for now and fix the "0 traffic". How are you marketing it? Maybe try some SEO, paid ads, speak at a conference. Maybe convince some friends to get their companies to buy a license. $49/m is reasonable.

If I get it correctly this is a more sophisticated pingdom? Definitely a need for that I'm sure?

Make it open source and sell consulting / customizations around it :)

Do you have a price in mind?

Ping me on my email (see profile).

Checkout orderflow, its inventory management and order management for small businesses. Let me know what you think

A link would be appreciated.

Adpexity.com - $200,000 a month , AMA

Managing the tech/business side of wanderandponder.com, making about 30/mo between Brave tips and nanoinfluencer gigs. Looking to increase traffic and find more influencer opportunities right now.

https://reqloot.com - an online cryptocurrency game that is close to generating that per month. ~100-150 daily active players.

useCastup.com — Professional Podcast Editing services, starting at 40¢ per published minute.

I have been running this for a while, along with my full-time job.


Husband doesn’t talk about it a lot.

Were making about that - but as we have recently quit our jobs, it’s no longer a side project :P

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