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Ask HN: Side projects that are making money, but you'd not talk about them?
442 points by whoisret 38 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 462 comments
One night in 2013 I had this stupid idea that people would start searching google for "who is retargeting me" just like they do with "what's my ip" — I've created in 30 minutes, bought the domain whoisretargeting.me and put Google Ads. It's made €7000 in 7 years. (1) Do you have projects like this?

(1) https://pasteboard.co/JbPKJRs.png




I really don't like talking about my side projects, so I guess they all qualify, but I'm particularly excited about one at the moment.

Right now I'm working on a dog treat business - I make a treat mix that you add water to and freeze for a meat-based frozen treat. I feel really good about the product and the packaging design (and this is the first time I've ever worked on any kind of a physical product, so it's really cool to see the boxes), and I've sold a few boxes so far. Trying out some advertising now and working on building a presence on Instagram, since that seems like a great place to reach dog people, and the product is pretty photogenic.

https://coopersdogtreats.com/


Thanks so much to the folks making purchases! Each time I get the email saying an order has come in, it reinforces for me that this is actually a product people want, which is just so ridiculously cool at this early stage. Thank you!!


> Right now I'm working on a dog treat business

Interesting, I'm a chef (ex?) and a friend of mine wanted to start a dog food company in 2016-17 but never got around to it. Your approach looks pretty straight forward, for some reason I thought you'd have to be at a commissary kitchen and have food handlers paperwork on top off all the stuff you mentioned.

I'll share your link with them and maybe they get re-interested, do you have any interest in a collaboration for dog food in the future? Provided it met your standards etc...

I actually wanted to see if we could do it entirely upcycling the loss in food waste in the supply chain and restaurants as I know that Industry well and have made efforts to try and reduce as much as possible. I honestly would take home multiple 3 pans full of high grade sashimi grade salmon from saute's prep, and at least 5 lbs of blood lined yellow fin tuna from my station every week.

I still have a bunch of it sitting in my freezer and I know tons of restaurants and farms are sitting on the same or more.


Yeah, I also thought there would be a whole lot more red tape to get through before I started looking into it. I can't imagine starting a human food company with everything that's required for that.

I'm happy to chat with anybody in the space - I'm very early on, so it may be too early for any kind of collaboration, but definitely never hurts to talk to other folks who are interested in this kind of thing.


Awesome!

I'll see what they say and reach out if they still have the motivation.

I'll refer to this post and drop you a line to your gmail account listed on your site of this materializes an take it from there.


Sounds great, thanks!


Sincere question—how do you handle legal, especially with consumables?


On the safety side, I've had crude analysis done (which is the standard nutritional testing for pet food in the US and was $250 per flavor), and I've consulted with a couple of vets to make sure the product is safe.

On the legal side, I've got business insurance, which thankfully isn't that expensive. I've been holding off on forming an LLC since that's gonna run me about a grand here in CA including the cost of setting it up and LLC tax, but if there's continued interest in the product, I'll do that soon.

Edit: Also AAFCO is a group that has standards for this sort of thing that are pretty straightforward: https://petfood.aafco.org/Portals/1/pdf/eight_required_labei...


Why not incorporate somewhere that's not CA?


If you do that then you have two problems: the same amount in fees from CA for being a foreign entity operating in that state + the fees of whatever state you formed your LLC/C-Corp/S-Corp/whatever.


That's a good question... the last couple of LLCs that I've formed have been for businesses that are clearly operating in CA (one was for real estate here and the other for a local service company) and thus require the LLC there. Since I'm selling to the whole US here, maybe it is a better option... I will look into it.


Lawyer here. Not yours. But consider Delaware or really any state. You do not need to form it in CA just because that’s where you are. Just get a registered agent and pick a state that doesn’t have oppressive LLC fees...


We've gone over this with our lawyers many times, but if you do the majority of your business operations in CA and have an LLC in any state you'll be subject to $800/year minimum franchise tax in CA still.

https://www.lobbplewe.com/blog/2019/09/rules-for-out-of-stat...


CA levies a (not insignificant) fee even for Delaware LLCs that operate in California.


Yes, $800. Same cost as forming the LLC.


Damn, that's what I was hoping to avoid :/


Weather tax.


What should we check to see which state is the best to form an LLC in? I want to double-check whether it’s viable to form one in my state before considering Delaware.

Why an LLC instead of an S-corp?


Because then you end up paying there _and_ in CA. Any state you do business in demands a cut. Even so, if you ever intend to sell your company or do business outside your state, it makes sense to be a Delaware company - lots of lawyers know Delaware business law.


why not an S-corp over an LLC?


I'm not an expert and will need to double check, but I believe an S-corp is more complex, and since it's just me it's not really any better. And from the tax side as an LLC you can elect to be taxed as an S-corp so no benefit there.


Phantom income from my s-corp excluded my family and I from healthcare subsidies when I really couldn't afford to pay full price for healthcare.


I wonder if the FDA (or equivalent in awillen's jurisdiction) would care about non-human consumables.


The FDA does regulate, but much more lightly - from their site:

"The FDA’s regulation of pet food is similar to that for other animal food. There is no requirement that pet food products have premarket approval by the FDA. However, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) requires that pet foods, like human foods, be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled."


I'd hope they care at least some. Little kids love to eat dog/cat food and treats, and it's hard to keep them out of it. At least enough to make sure it's not, like, full of lead or something.


They can't even keep baby powder from being cancer causing - you're fooling yourself if you're solely relying on them for your safety.


Very cool idea! I went ahead and bought a starter kit. I think you're on to something here.


Thanks so much!


I agree with cableshaft, it seems like a good idea. ~24 treats from the $9.99 mix container is also quite reasonable. The site is solid, loads fast. I like your box packaging, it's well done. Good luck with this venture.


Thanks!


I had a look and this might be a completely ignorant suggestion (I don’t have a dog) but to me it was very surprising that dogs would like frozen food, so maybe you should explain that/why they do. Just seemed counterintuitive, I’ve never seen anybody give anything frozen to their dog.


Anecdata: many dogs I know of really enjoy ice cubes. A meat flavored ice cube would probably make them quite excited.


Anecdata: my cat loves ice cubes too. You can roll them all over the floor, lick them, carry them around - super fun.


Ice cream style treats (made for dogs, so not real ice cream) have become very popular with dog owners. You'll see them carried in all major grocery stores in the US now.

For example:

https://www.purina.com/frosty-paws

And:

http://dogstersicecream.com


Dogs can't sweat, which makes it hard for them to cool down. They cool off by panting.

In hot weather, I imagine a lot of dogs would go for something cold to consume if it was made available.


Hey, it's a bit of a head-scratcher why I made a note (well, username tag) of this, but according to it, it's your birthday today or tomorrow.

Might as well put the info to good use, so if correct: happy birthday!

(I suspect this was around the time a year or two ago that I was testing out my HN tagger extension/server)


Yes, yesterday was my birthday. I mostly laid low and did design work and the like on several reddits that I run.


A lot of dogs (mine included) love to crunch on ice cubes. You can also find a lot of recipes for frozen treats online - I started by looking there first, but they were all heavy on ingredients my dog isn't fond of (he really just likes meat).

Might be a geographical/climate thing. I'm in San Diego, so frozen treats are good year round here.


how did you find expiration dates for your consumables?


My feedback, product looks great, packaging looks great. I would not want to buy the Beef & Cheddar. Compare the label of Beef & Cheddar to Turkey & Cinnamon. Turkey & Cinnamon have four simple ingredients, Turkey, Yogurt Powder, Whole Wheat Flour, Cinnamon. Compare that to Beef & Cheddar, there are so many things in that ingredient list by comparison. When I think of food that is 'good for you' I want to see simple ingredients that I can pronounce, no food dyes or additives.


Thanks for the feedback! All the extra stuff on the B&C comes from the cheddar cheese powder - for the most part they're natural ingredients (excluding things like the yellow color, etc.), but you're right, it doesn't look great.

Once we get low on my current supply of cheese powder, I'm going to look into getting a food dehydrator to make my own cheese powder.


Food dehydrators are a fun rabbit hole. Florists use them for wedding bouquets. You will also find a TON of info about scrappily acquiring them on prepper websites. I've seen several posts by Mormon families (food preservation and supply is encouraged by the religion), and a lot of the good ones get into taste, methods for preparing food, and doing it in bulk (which you'd care about). But the se sites will have a large cross with militia and shtf type folks. So conversations will go not where you think sometimes.

I think the most informative one I read was on something like shtf fourms. It stayed tame, other than everyone wanting to buy the dehydrator after the author was done.


They're fun, but high-fat foods like dairy are mostly unsuitable for at home dehydration. Especially at a bulk level. I'm not an expert on nutrition labeling law but OP might have more luck listing "dehydrated cheddar cheese (ingredients, here)" with the ingredients in parenthesis. That signals to the consumer that even though there are a lot of big ingredients they are really just one thing.


What are "se sites"?


Misspelled. Shtf. Shit hits the fan. Type of prepper who is worried about full failure of society and all services. Stockpiling ammo, guns, plate armor, etc.

As opposed to say someone who keeps a month of food, water, fuel, meds, entertainment on hand, which looks pretty normal now.


Got it, thanks.


Yeah, one of the suppliers I've identified for freeze dried foods is one of those survivalist prepper type stores. I'm sure my use case is not what they're thinking about :)


What size are you looking at?


At the moment I'm buying #10 cans (which are like 3 quarts I believe), though obviously I'll try to scale that up if sales merit it.


That'd be a pretty big dehydrator / freeze dryer to use. I'm I'm guessing at least a 3-1 if not 5-1 ratio on cheese.


Hmm, yeah, that makes sense - I'd still be interested to try it just to understand the process and see how it turns out. Ultimately if this gets big enough I'd want to find a co-packer for production, so it would be good to understand the whole process at a small scale before going that route anyway.


I don't have a dog, so this is just a random question I'd be asking before buying if I did.. what's the smell like when making these? You say it's fun for the family but I would immediately be worried about it stinking like dog food and making my kids reek all day :-D Other than that, looks like a great idea and is the sort of thing I'd consider if I did have a dog!


Honestly, the Beef and Cheddar smells a little funky but not too bad (especially for people who are used to having dogs around), and the Turkey and Cinnamon smells pretty good because the turkey isn't that pungent, so the cinnamon masks it.

That said, when you're taking freeze dried meats and putting them in a food processor to turn them into powder, it stinks to high heaven and you end up with a light dusting of meat powder all over your kitchen. I don't recommend trying it :P


Haha, rather you than me :-) This might be partly why I don't have a dog though! Good luck with this, seems a nice business!


Thank you!


I love the idea, and will see if I'm able to buy some later. But trans-atlantic shipment and tariffs adds up, unfortunately. And I'm unsure if customs would let animalia get into the EU without special license.

Edit: I see now that your comments indicate that you're US only. Just to make sure you're aware, your site calculates and suggests shipping to Europe.


Ah, thanks - I'll have to look into that. I'm not opposed to selling internationally, but to your point I probably need to do a whole lot more research before I do.


This is great! We have a chihuahua though and I don't think he could eat these. Looks like all you would need to do to support smaller dog breeds is include a smaller silicone tray. If you end up exploring that, hit me up at my e-mail in my profile and I may order a set!


Thanks and will do! At the moment I'm just buying the ice cube molds, and I haven't seen any that are smaller, but I'll keep an eye out.

In the mean time you can always just skip the Starter Kit and buy the mix directly (https://coopersdogtreats.com/collections/frontpage/products/... and https://coopersdogtreats.com/collections/frontpage/products/...), then use any ice cube mold/tray you happen to have around.


There are all kinds of molds for making formed chocolates that come in small sizes


Totally sold — my Akita loves ice cubes so he’s bound go wild for these especially in the summer.


Glad to hear it!


Would love to buy one of these if there was a meat free variant, my dog is alergic to meat and does not take it well - would love to see a vegetarian option!


Do you have any experience with the marketing part? I am kinda in the same situation but have no clue how marketing works and was wondering if you could share any insights.


I started my career doing some marketing and then moved to product management, all in tech at small startups. Even as a PM, because I joined companies of <50 people, I ended up helping out with marketing too.

Google Ads are pretty straightforward, so at this point I'm just running a couple and watching conversion rates - you basically just need to look at how much you're spending vs. how much revenue they're bringing in to figure out if they're worth it.

IG advertising is new to me - I'm planning to reach out to some dog accounts to see if I can offer free samples and possibly money for them to promote. No idea about what the going rate for that sort of thing is or how effective it'll be, but I'll find out soon :)


If you need any help in terms of seo / ppc / social ads you can ping anytime, if you are intersted in some kind of joint-venture or something.


If you could share your product/url, you might get some marketing ideas from HN community.


What service are you using for shipping? If you don't mind answering what are the costs of offering free shipping?


It's a Shopify site, so I'm just using their integration to print labels from whoever's cheapest - so far it's always been USPS. Honestly the shipping is something I need to figure out... I'm charging flat shipping per product right now until $50 because I don't want shipping costs to be too discouraging, but I am losing money shipping to the East Coast.

For the most part my margins are pretty decent and at this point I'm more interested in proving that there's product-market fit than optimizing for profit, so I don't mind losing some money when my shipping charges don't cover it or people hit the free shipping threshold. Definitely something I'm going to need to get a better handle on long term, though.


Let me know if you're interested in having an East Coast facility!


I appreciate the offer, but I think I am quite a ways away from that at this point :)


how do people generally get in contact with manufacturers?


I’m fascinated by people who can turn an idea into a product. Do you mind sharing your process?


I'm afraid it's not really very interesting - I moved to SD, it was very hot, and I wanted to make frozen treats for my dog (the Cooper of Cooper's treats). I looked up recipes, but they all had ingredients he's not a fan of, so I figured I'd make my own. Had some freeze dried meats, put those in a food processor, mixed with water and froze them. He loved them, but it was kind of a disgusting slop of a liquid at first. I played around with other ingredients to make it look/smell better, and we ended up with the flavors I have.

After that, I thought folks might want to buy these, so I had packaging and logo designs done on 99designs, set up a Shopify site, and here we are.


so it’s homemade, not done at a facility?


Very cool.

My dog loves the frozen bones with marrow, which I dub frobos.

I’m sure he would love these!


Thank you! I haven't tried frozen marrow bones, but I will definitely give them a whirl - I'm sure my dog would like them.


Oh wow this is looking great!

I'd certainly be a customer if I lived in the US.


Thanks so much! Hopefully one day we'll go international :)


The idea is pretty solid. I’d totally buy if it were grain free.


Thanks! I've been thinking about how to do it grain free, but it's really tough to get to that point and still keep it at a reasonable price.


I thought grain free wasn’t so cool anymore since that stuff came out about canine heart disease? Maybe I’m misremembering


obligatory question: did you eat your own dogfood?


I have sprinkled some of the cheese powder I use in my mac and cheese, but that's about the closest I get :P. Luckily my dogs are happy to help out.


I commented elsewhere about an East Coast presence... your comment above has me thinking about CBD infusion options, too.

Something I'm very familiar with for treating older woofs in pain, and spazzy "I hate the vet" woofs, haha! Hope to hear from you.


I just don't feel like I'm nearly educated enough on CBD in dogs to start using that as an ingredient. I know it's become very common very quickly, but I'd have to read all the research before I could consider it.


> I just don't feel like I'm nearly educated enough on CBD in dogs to start using that as an ingredient. I know it's become very common very quickly, but I'd have to read all the research before I could consider it.

It's been done:

https://www.carolinahempcompany.com/products/lalas-cbd-dog-t...

When hemp was still in the grey area they got hit with shut down by CDPHE at the behest of an undisclosed pharma giant. The creator of those treats was a friend of my co-founder and a regular at our parent company's events in CO where she sold her products. She might have gotten an award at the hemp awards, I'm not sure.

The efficacy of CBD is well understood, what isn't is the standardization and practices for effective administration be it in Humans or animals. My guess is you'd get into issues with freezing the hemp oil/extract infused cbd effectively. I mean you could use shatter, if you were really motivated.

Also, this could subject you to bank account shutdowns and business license delays if your bank(s) find out.

Source: Ex fintech founder with hemp farmers, and ex biodynamic farmer that studied hemp and its various properties during apprenticeship and biologist.


The FDA would probably have something to say about it. They don’t want CBD in human foods either and I believe they have sent warning letters for pet foods as well. (They call it “mislabeled” because it’s not a “food” but a drug since CBD is now used medically by Epidolex, or something like that)


Well, drop me an address if you want to exchange info for the future.

I use burners on social media, so, no info in my bio.


Who did you use for your packaging? What made you choose them?


I ran a 99Designs contest for a logo, and the winner of that also had some experience doing packaging design, so I used her: https://99designs.com/profiles/bettymar.

I just thought she really captured the feel I was looking for - it's an upscale product, but it's for dogs so I still wanted it to feel fun.


Very cool! I really like seeing you respond to all the questions in the thread. It's giving me a really eye-opening view into the nuts and bolts of bootstrapping a physical product company. Thank you so much for going into detail!


Thanks! I spent 10 years as a PM in enterprise SaaS, and my favorite part was always talking to our brick and mortar small business customers. Maybe it's just a grass is greener thing, but doing something with a tangible product has always just seemed so cool to me.


How about for a printer? Packaging manufacturing is complex


Maybe I just got lucky then... I just Googled "mailer box printing" or something like that, found a few sites and picked this one based on price: https://www.uprinting.com/.

The designer gave me image files that were formatted correctly, so I just sent them in and had boxes at my door a few days later. They look great: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-srBIsJgND/


thanks mate, my two dogs will love this. my dog just got spayed, and isn't taking to her treats. i think this would really make her happy.


I really hope it does!


That's unexpected but cool!


Thank you!


This is great and it's something I'd definitely buy for my dog.


Thank you, glad to hear it!


My app Twitter Archive Eraser (https://martani.github.io/Twitter-Archive-Eraser) used to be free, then I added a donation button and people, while barely donated, used to say that this is something they would have paid for!

I worked on a paid tier (learnt a tremendous amount about actually selling an app, integration with payment processors, licensing, more legal stuff than I wanted to etc.)

Almost from the get go, it started making +$3k/mo. With more changes and offering a Mac version along a Windows version, it averages around +$7k/mo of revenue consistently. I'm the only person on it and have a full time job. Barely need to make code changes and it requires minimal effort for customer support.


I've setup a few applications to which people say "I'd pay for this", but when I've added all the payment integration(s) those users disappear.

So congratulations for finding a niche which did actually result in paying users.


Hi I am currently working on releasing the paid version of my app (online voice memo).

I was wondering about any resources you have to learn about licensing and legal stuff, or any common caveats that you ran into.


It depends on your situation but if you are in the US I'd create an LLC and do business with that. It takes a few minutes if you use services that file for you.

Second will be dealing with sales tax and it's a nightmare. If you sell to customers in Europe you need to pay VAT to different countries at different rates. Same goes for US states that tax very differently. We moved recently to paddle.com which acts as a reseller and so they take care of all sales tax collection and remittance (they are the one selling the app after all). We moved away from PayPal and so far it's been very smooth.


You can also do what I do and just ignore those foreign taxes, on both practical and philosophical grounds.

On a practical level, no foreign government is going to bother you until your sales are in the millions, at least. They don’t have the ability to know your sales in the first place, and you’re way too small to bother trying to go after. Especially since there’s no real enforcement mechanism for, say, France to try and collect $200 from some random American online software business.

Philosophically, I vehemently disagree with the premise that a foreign jurisdiction can tax my business because their citizens choose to visit my website and buy things. Should German websites pay a 200% tax if citizens of Eritrea buy things from their website, just because Eritrea passes a law that says that? I have zero representation or connection to these jurisdictions, and if they want tax money or to stop their citizens from using my website, that’s between the citizens and their government. Until there’s some enforcement mechanism, I’ll just keep ignoring them like I always have.


How about sales taxes in the US. Do you keep records to when you hit tax nexus and start collecting it then? Manually or using some service? I'd be interested in learning how you approached this problem.


I second this. If you sell worldwide, there isn't any reason for you to handle the taxes and payment methods on your own. Actually, there's a whole bunch of companies that would do that for a relatively small cut (about 5% give or take). From the top of my head: 2Checkout, Bluesnap, DigitalRiver, FastSpring. I don't know much about Paddle, but they spammed me quite aggressively using the email from a leaked LinkedIn dump, so I'm not sure how much I would trust them.


Not that it matters, given the clear demand for the product, but there's a typo in the "Performance" section of the link. The body copy "performance" is "performace"

Congrats on a product successful from the beginning!


Really great idea! Just a small note though your pricing page doesn’t work on a mobile device. It just renders a bunch of checkmarks without context


I really like the UI - is this an Electron app, or what is the stack you use?


Indeed. The original version was C#/WPF and worked on windows only. I got so many requests for a Mac version and knew it was decent demand. So I switched to electron: 1 code base works for Mac and windows plus has automatic updates for when bug fixes are released etc.

And sure enough Mac users account for 30% for the revenue today.

Another advantage is that it runs completely on the user's computer. So I have no database or back-end to maintain. There is only a small server to generate licenses + handle some analytics the app emits both built on ASP.NET. The only data I store is in a Microsoft Azure table. I pay around $2 a month for all azure costs.


how does a license server work? did you build it yourself?


It's in-house. A license has some info tied to the user (which ultimately has to be the Twitter user connected via Twitter). Then all that is signed with a private key ECDSA. The app has the public key and can verify the signature. Many libraries are available for handling cryptographic signatures.

So basically a license is public info, the app enforces that the logged in user must match the user in the license.


Forgot to mention that it's an Angular app running on electron.


Sorry about the late comment (hackernewsletter) but I found the pricing page a bit confusing, since you mention both "one-time payment" and license valid for one year".

Do I have to pay every year to keep using the app?


Now a twitter user, and hence a basic question - 1. This app lets user select a bunch of their tweets and delete them?

Question - Does something like this exist for Facebook?


good for you but its sad this is a viable business. Imagine being a working adult and getting in trouble for something you thought was funny as a high school freshman.


You still can, this app just helps you with batch-deletion of content you've created. Single posts can just be deleted ;-)


Dang congrats that is a solid monthly income and solo wow.


How did you find your early users?


The app was developed for use for myself. Then I put it online for other to use for free. The advantage (and probably missing part in the original description) is that the app was free for +5 years before I added a paid tier. So we already had a decent user base.


It's probably not what you meant, but I recently created a weekend project bot that scans facebook for apartments rental ads. Thanks to this bot, I landed an opportunity I wouldn't have catch otherwise, saving me 6,000$ a year. Assuming I will hold my new apartment for 3 years, this is a net savings of 18,000$. I haven't sold anything, but yet I created something that "generated money" for me.

My code is open source by the way, and I wrote about it here: https://snir.dev/blog/apartments-bot/


Interesting. I've never heard of apartment posts in facebook groups but I'm in the bay area.

Do other people here in the US have this experience as well? I was thinking it'd be Facebook marketplace, craigslist, and apartment sites (like apartments.com)


I can say that people in Israel prefer facebook groups for many reasons:

1. It allows for "team search". My friends knew I'm looking, so they tagged me in relevant posts they saw. Can't do it anywhere else (including marketplace by facebook themselves)

2. It allows for group communication with the publisher of the post. One asks - everybody sees.

3. It gives a sense of power to those who seek to rent. Many posts with high prices have comments like "You are crazy", "You are a pig", "whoever pays this much is as sucker". It almost warms the heart, we fight the greedy landlords. It almost make it fun, like a witch hunt.


As a landlord though, what’s the reason to use Facebook then? Is there no alternative like craigslist in Israel?

I’ve only seen posts of apartments for rent in Facebook groups that are aimed at college students. (In the US)

Otherwise, Craigslist is basically king.


Young people use facebook to find apartments.

So if your apartments target young couples or room mates, facebook is your place. For families we have craiglist-like solutions.


A Facebook group is the primary source for advertising rental properties in Juneau, AK. Just a normal group, not the marketplace.


Ditto Helsinki, Finland:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/235368102105

I listed my rental flat a bunch of places before using the group, since I started using it I'd not look elsewhere.


FB buying/selling groups (particularly for housing) are quite common I'd say. In my experience, you will generally find them categorized as part of a college or university (e.g. "San Jose State University (SJSU) Housing"), but a quick search for "Bay Area housing" also results in numerous such groups.


typical at college campuses in the us


Thanks for sharing this, I tried to write a bot to crawl a few music related Facebook groups a while ago and it was really difficult. I'm going to give it another shot following a similar method to this. Cheers!


This is great, congrats on the savings. Do you have any opinions on the ethics of web scraping? I have some projects I want to pursue that involve web scraping but I'm worried about

1) any illegal technicalities 2) is it a dick move to the website owner


I was a CTO of a company that did scraping to gather data and sell the analysis. We did this for sellers on Amazon.

In short about legality - it depends on the country. But most will define user content as owned by the user, not the platform, therefore legal to scrape and use, as the user intents for the data to be public.

But sites will fight you on this. Amazon specifically give up a really good fight.

Ofcourse, this talks about user content in an "open" platform. If the content is owned by a business that has no intentions for it to be open for everyone in every medium, its probably illegal.

In regard to being a dick move, it depends. If someone posted an ad in facebook, he intended for it to be seen. He doesn't care how. I just tunnel it to myself in easier way for me to consume.


I think there was also case law about this recently[1] regarding LinkedIn, where if the content isn't behind a login wall, it can't legally be considered anything but public. The UGC aspect is an interesting angle I haven't thought of, but that's a fantastic point too. Would I be correct in saying that the same mechanism companies set up to evade responsibility for illegal UGC also sets it up to be legal to scrape? And if the user owns the material, what happens if you've already made money selling that data and they ask for their cut of the proceeds?


Not OP, but I find that the ethical questions tend to not be about web scraping itself and more what you are using it to accomplish. If you want to scrape and rehost some data then your ethical violation is in the copying and rehosting, not that you automated the downloading of data. It would be the same if you copied all the data by hand and then rehosted it.

Then, of course, the way you go about it is important, too. Sapping the resources and bandwidth of a small site by sending it thousands of requests a minute is very different from automatically checking a public index once an hour.


1) No idea... probably location-specific too.

2) I ask the owner first (perhaps they even want to send me the data directly). If they don't respond, I go ahead and scrape, spreading the requests over a long time so as not hit their website too hard.


> is it a dick move to the website owner

FB gets more user engagement out of this, which is their goal. No harm, no foul.


In this virus season alone I've made $8000 in sales.

You'll find various subreddits where people are buying around 5-10spools a month. Imagine how much virgin plastic is being added like that to the environment.

I've been creating filament and selling it:

https://medium.com/endless-filament/make-your-filament-at-ho...

This activity also help recycle waste plastic.

Production cost of filament is $7.5 per 5kg and filament roll has 850 gram filament and can be sold for $20-30 per spool

It's trivial to get the quality right.

You can sell rolls on Amazon, eBay and Etsy or your own Shopify store and use Facebook ads/Google Ads to advertise your website.

That said I didn't use any ads to sell filament! Only few days ago I started Shopify store and paid $5-10 in Facebook ads. Since we accept credit card, it's not too much of a risk for buyer to buy it from us (even when are new)

I work from home so I take 5 minute break and walk to my garage and check if the filament machine successfully is running on auto pilot

Thing is filament doesn't have huge demand, neither it has very less demand. So you can dominate local demand by creating quality filament.

I focus on fulfilling local demand, I've gained customers who need large supply of filament of ABS, TPU and Nylon12.

If people do actually come to compete with me, it's a win win. More plastic recycled = less plastic entering landfill.


Wow, great initiative. I think this is a perfect example of the market solving the problem fast. My main question is, how are you thinking about emissions and waste? Presumably, you've got to melt and extrude these things somewhere, and heating the plastic to its melting point to create decent sized quantities of this will result in harmful emissions of some kind. Do you have some sort of a scrubbing system? If so, how did you figure out what kind of system to set up and right size it for your production capacity?


>Presumably, you've got to melt and extrude these things somewhere, and heating the plastic to its melting point

Right now I do nothing for emissions.

It happens inside a barrel that reduces a lot of emissions.

The emission will appear near the nozzle and the hopper. As those are the only opening in the barrel.

Once filament exists the nozzle, after 10inches, it goes into a water bath.

In future tho, I'll add HEPA+Activated charcoal filter lid on the hopper and use same for nozzle but with an extraction fan.


>It's trivial to get the quality right.

as someone who has 3d printed nearly 100kg with FDM machines in the past year, I can't disagree more.

Filament extrusion foaming coefficients are all over the place, even only looking at 'cheap' PLA, let alone PETG. This leads to excess oozing and inconsistent extrusion widths, leading to failed or out-of-tolerance parts.

Color is all over the place for anything but the darkest or lightest colors for the cheap stuff.

Filament widths are wildly inconsistent even within the same companies products -- this leads to extruder jams on the cold side.

Cheap filament spools are commonly fused or spliced together mid-roll, leading to a bump at the splice that has to be shaved -- often it isn't, again leading to extruder jams.

Spools that are spliced together often have poor circularity near the splice -- another chance for a jam.

I've received dusty spools that were vacuum packed, and spools that were vacuum packed with condensation visible on the inside of the packaging (humidity and moisture can damage many filaments, leading to lengthy rebake procedures if the filament survives at all.).

I appreciate your effort, and i'm glad you're doing well in business -- but the quality of your product must come from efforts you don't realize, because the quality on the market for cheap filament is , in HN parlance, a dumpster fire.


>as someone who has 3d printed nearly 100kg with FDM machines in the past year, I can't disagree more

If you run into problems, feel free to reach out to me. My telegram is in the medium article - I'll help you solve all your problem while extruding filament.

>even only looking at 'cheap' PLA, let alone PETG.

I don't extrude PLA or PETG at all, buying these special resins is difficult and costs 3x or 5x the ABS. I ask for the lowest wrappage and viscosity blend specially made for extrusion.

I buy general purpose polymers like extrusion grade granules of TPU, Nylon12 (it absorbs the least moisture in all nylons) and ABS - buy them from reputable companies they come in membrane sealed bags of 25kg. These polymers are mass produced and finding them for cheap around $1.4-$3 is easy.

>Filament widths are wildly inconsistent even within the same companies products -- this leads to extruder jams on the cold side.

Before jumping into making filament I researched on Amazon and found most filament being sold is within plus minus 0.05 to 0.02mm tolerance. Upon further research I found that these tolerances are trivial to achieve with sufficiently powered extruder and the industrial machines used for making medical grade silicone tubes can achieve plus minus 0.001mm tolerance using dual axis laser and feedback loop controlling pulling speed at high frequency.

You extrude fast, you lose tolerance. Companies might want more througput if their customers don't care about the dimensions and only want ultra cheap stuff.

I don't splice, all my filament is continuous length.

>I've received dusty spools that were vacuum packed, and spools that were vacuum packed with condensation visible on the inside of the packaging (humidity and moisture can damage many filaments, leading to lengthy rebake procedures if the filament survives at all.).

You need to seal the filament spool right after it's ready with a 10-20grams of dessicant. There are special vaccume seal bags and handheld vaccum sealer for low volumes like I am doing it's good enough.

>but the quality of your product must come from efforts you don't realize, because the quality on the market for cheap filament is

You'll have to troubleshoot the issues with your filament yes but once you've figured it out - it becomes easy.

I've written several part articles on my medium blog with many more to come where I'll write about common issues and their solutions.

I have had more difficulty in shooting down bugs in production code than building extruder. Just saying that skill level of a programmer and some random guy off the street might have difference. With some guidance anyone can do it.

My wife is now tuning extruder, filling the hopper and extruding filament as good as me. She doesn't have technical education background. Arguably, I find baking to more difficult than extruding filament, but it could be just that baking doesn't exite me.

I appreciate you concerns but quality of filament has lots of parameters but most common problems appear when:

1. Seller has bought the filament like PLA in bulk from china for $3-4 a spool. They buy a full container load at once to make it as cheap as possible. After a year on shelf even when placed in vaccum sealed bags, PLA becomes brittle. And you'll have very hard time printing with it - it will snap at different places randomly and your prints will fail.

2. Inconsistent diameter - these are extruding too fast or using low quality resin with no good operator on machine available for tuning. For example if I want to extrude 1kg filament and I add 200gram resin of A company, I ran out then I add 200gram resin or B company, you'll have to tune extruder again. Better create filament in large batches from the resin from same batch.


Wow awesome idea. How many rolls do you produce a day?

How about recycling plastic waste ground on the beach?


I make 15-20 rolls a day. I'll be adding few more extruders soon - waiting for shipping of additional parts to start building new machines on weekend.

Well, picking up beach plastic is too much work - I am not that involved, I need easy automated work haha.

There are already companies who pick and sort, shred and wash plastic for you and even convert it into granules - so it's much better to give them more business so the are able to pick more of the waste.


Recycling plastic is hard because it will be degraded to various levels, will be of different plastic types, will be dirty, will have custom additives, etc.

If you are interested in plastic recycling: https://preciousplastic.com/


We need more research into it I guess also see: https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/greek-researchers-determ...

Here they report improved ABS properties on recycling


This test does not simulate actual product recycling where the plastic is exposed to sunlight and liquids. Its environmental iterations that cause the degradation.

Interesting findings though.


There was a company doing just this on a recent episode of Dragon's Den (Canadian equivalent of Shark Tank). I even think it was a bunch of high school kids.


I've no doubt anyone can do this within a few weeks (if they work on weekends only)

People can start with extruding clay or Noddles to start


I wanted to learn iOS dev, so made the simplest game I could think of: a card game where you just draw a random card and win if it's between two values. Then I made another app that just transliterates your name into Japanese characters and displays that. That one made $33 / year.

Together they almost covered the Apple Developer fee :-)

Things continued like this for years, until one day Apple started getting harsher on gambling. While my game has no other players, and the "money" you win doesn't save anywhere or get you anything, it was still gambly enough that I could no longer have it in the store as an individual developer. Then the Japanese name app was also removed because it wasn't substantive enough (I don't disagree).

I don't mention them usually, because the loss didn't mean much to me and I'm still fine with developing for iOS in the future. But here you asked especially for projects that made money but that we wouldn't usually talk about.


Stories like this have me convinced that choosing to do serious business with a company like Apple or Google, has a strong chance of ending up in losing time and money. Maybe you'll get a few users, maybe not. Maybe they'll remove your entire catalog of apps, maybe not.

At least my domain registrar and hosting provider probably won't remove my website.


Just a suggestion... try Flutter. This way you at least get a cross platform app with (arguably) less work. Doubles your marketplace and reduces your risk on a single store blocking you. Also consider that what sells on iOS may sell even better on Android.


> While my game has no other players, and the "money" you win doesn't save anywhere or get you anything, it was still gambly enough that I could no longer have it in the store as an individual developer.

Uh oh. I am developing a single player game that's somewhat similar to yours and was planning to release it on iOS. It doesn't involve money, just points, but it is push your luck. Do you know what I should be looking for to see Apple's new guidelines for this?


I'm not sure, the message I got didn't refer to any particular definition of gambling.

"In order to reduce fraudulent activity on the App Store and comply with government requests to address illegal online gambling activity, we are no longer allowing gambling apps submitted by individual developers. This includes both real money gambling apps as well as apps that simulate a gambling experience."


Thanks. I think I'm okay. I'm not having players bet anything, or doing loot boxes or anything like that, so I think I'll be okay.

That being said, I do have a board game design where you do bet chips that I would have liked to make a software version of. Guess I'm not releasing that one on iOS.


Out of curiosity, did you make those apps paid or chose to show ads within app UI?


Both were paid. Also forgot to mention (implied though), but the card game one made $60/year.


Props to you. Recently I was looking for something to measure my cruise speed on a bicycle, and a single developer appears to dominate App Store search results with a dozen or more nearly identical speedometer apps—all free and packed with ads.

When I think that Apple would allow that, but not an honest paid app that transliterates a name into another language, I start questioning whether I should get into that ecosystem, or rather focus on Mac apps only and distribute them outside of the store.


It's been a long time, so seems I got the reason a bit wrong when I looked into it properly now. It seems I could have avoided it by improving any small bit:

"We noticed that your app has not been updated in a significant amount of time... To keep your app on the App Store, submit an updated version for review and make sure it follows the latest App Review Guidelines. If you are unable to submit an update within 30 days, your app will be removed from the App Store until you submit an update and it is approved."


I made a grainy and poor-quality but useful video on how to fix a specific issue for Macs which didn’t have a video anywhere else.

Spent 5 minutes to make the video and upload it.

Was making $2-3/month, which is a great ROI for 5 minutes of work.

All positive comments and upvotes because the video is useful.

Then YouTube demonetized all small publishers because they can somehow block spam, but not identify “offensive” content.

Fuck you Youtube.


If you just want to share, posting to p2p network like peertube/zeronet/ipfs and blog help you stay away from censorship. You can still accept donation. If you want to sell it, it's less smooth though


I'll bite - can you post a link?


I sell prints of public domain artwork on Etsy [0]. I’ve automated the print production and fulfillment, so all I need to do is set up the artwork and maintain the product listings.

It consistently brings in around £100-300 per month and if I put any time at all into marketing it could probably do a lot better.

I also maintain a directory of UX tools, resources and information [1]. It currently doesn’t bring in anything but it’s more of a repository for stuff I find interesting than a commercial venture.

[0] https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/TheDoveAndTheSeagull

[1] https://www.uxlift.org/


The uxlift directory is pretty cool. Any way to submit more tools/articles to it? I am working on a side-project that's like a self-hosted hotjar ( https://www.usertrack.net ), which might be helpful for the readers.


Oh that’s cool, thanks for sharing. I’ll post it when I’ve got a moment.

There’s a form on the site, but if you’ve got anything else you want to share just send it to uxlift@kevan.tv.

I’m really interested in self-hosted, privacy-respecting alternatives to the big tracking platforms so this is right up my street. (Having said that, I do use GA, but I’m not happy about it.)


I've often thought about doing this or something similar. Can I ask, how long have you been at it? How did you pick your initial round of public domain pictures? What was your growth curve like?

And did you automate the print/production initially or do it only after you'd been around for a while? If you don't mind me asking, what print/production company are you using, how did you find them and why did you settle on them (vs. someone else, say)?

Any more information would be welcome.


I’ve been doing it for around 4 years now. Growth has been slow initially because you need a lot of listings to be noticed - the bigger sellers all have over 1000.

I knew I wanted to do something with public domain art prints, so I researched other sellers to find the types of things that were popular. Lots of places like the Library of Congress, NYPL and the Rijksmuseum have open access policies, so I regularly hunt through their collections to find interesting stuff. The problem is always finding something in the public domain that’s also very high resolution.

For a long time I produced the pieces myself as buying top quality paper and a decent printer worked out cheaper than using a print company - and I quite enjoyed it. However I’ve decided now that the convenience is worth the extra cost.

I’ve also automated creating listing images by using Cloudinary and a few shell scripts. This has been a massive time-saver.

As for print companies, it’s a balance between cost, quality and price. The big ones like Printful or Gooten are cheaper and do everything from t-shirts to phone cases, but have a limited range of paper and sizes. Specialist fine art places have a huge range of paper and produce better prints but are much more expensive.


Does etsy have add-ons/integrations like Shopify does? For example on Shopify you can integration with printful and the orders automatically get set to printful for fulfillment.

Edit Never mind, I see your response to another question.


Growth has been slow initially because you need a lot of listings to be noticed - the bigger sellers all have over 1000.

Have you thought about padding your collection for the sake of exposure?


Could you elaborate on your automation toolset?


There are a number of print-on-demand companies, like Printful and Pwinty that integrate with Etsy and can print and fulfil orders. Annoyingly there’s no single one that does everything I need, so I use a few, depending on the customer’s location and the type of print they’ve selected.

I’m also working on a Jekyll-based site that uses the Etsy API to build a stand-alone e-commerce site from all my Etsy store listings.


I used to sell extra naughty bikinis online, in addition to being a consultant for distributed real-time machine learning.

People had a hard time combining the image of a nerd in the basement with that of a flashy sales guy surrounded by models. So I usually didn't mention the bikinis to allow me to charge full nerd pricing for my coding.

This site project brought in roughly €500 monthly with almost no work, because I was renting space in a fulfillment center combined with shopify and a marketing contractor.


That’s quite interesting combination.

How did you charge the marketing contractor?

I wanted to reached out to marketing contractor but haven’t had much information

Thank you!


The marketing contractor charged me. The way it worked was that if a new email or WhatsApp message or Instagram PM came in, he would get notified and work on it. And he measured the time for each task and then billed me for his time. Since it was usually only a few minutes for each work task, that only summed up to a few hundred $ per month.

As one example of the kind of tasks he handled:

Prospective customers could send in their measurements via WhatsApp and he would then look up into our internal measurement tables to determine which bikini size to order.

Or we would get collaboration invites from Instagram Influencers via PM or E-Mail. He would check their follower counts, bot ratio, etc. and then use an (internal secret) Google Docs to calculate the estimated value for us. He'd then use that to either decline or determine how generous our promotional gift would be.

Nowadays, the concept is called VA = Virtual Assistant, for example like what https://timesvr.com/ offers.


Thanks for your detailed answer! That really helped me learn about it.

All the best with your side business (and all)!


Glad to help :)

I got started with my endeavors from people explaining things to me on programming IRC channels, so despite its bad reputation, advice from random strangers on the internet can be good advice.

As for this particular project, I stopped it when I ran out of bikinis and couldn't buy more at the same conditions anymore. At the same time, competition from China was also arriving in the form of dropshipping. I could have switched suppliers to reduce my purchase costs and remain competitive, but selling a high volume of cheap products is a lot more work than selling a low volume of high priced items.


Oh well, since it was your side-project so I guess letting it go wasn't hard. But you got the core idea of selling online :)


How did you find your marketing contractor? What were they doing?


I met the marketing guy through a business brunch that the DC (a club for online marketers) was organizing every 2 weeks in Saigon back in 2015.

What he did was mostly to reply to whatsapp messages and to grant free bikinis to Instagram influencers.

One particularly good angle was yoga teachers. They'd usually be doing retreats at exotic locations and posting inspirational photos multiple times per day. Plus the yoga teachers that are popular on Instagram tend to be extremely attractive girls doing slightly suggestive poses. So that was a great fit for my bikinis.

And you'd be surprised how cheap Instagram influencers are. There's so many people who want to be famous that it's 100% a buyer's market.


I guess it all makes sense once you spell it out like this, but I suppose that for the long tail after the really popular influencers, it really is a buyers market. Did you use any influencer marketing platforms to manage your influencer representatives, or did you do it pretty manually?


I believe we didn't use any platform, but I'm not entirely sure.

The marketing contractor organized a list of Instagram handles, follower counts, and email addresses. I don't really know from where, but my guess would be that it was from his marketing buddies. I mean it wouldn't make sense for an agency to just grant us direct access to all of their members.

He then initially emailed some of them manually. After our brand became more popular, we sometimes received offers via email or pm. He would then determine the value for us and reply accordingly.


how did you find a manufacturer and the right number of SKUs?


I paid an Italian guy experienced in the fashion industry. He organized all of the bikinis for one upfront purchase price, which also included service fees for him.

But that was a pity later on when I ran out of bikinis and didn't manage to hire him again.


This guy sounds like the key angle on your business. How did you find him in the first place?


Really interested in this question - am looking at a particular clothing niche and wondering whether to just get a run of cheapy print-on-demand clothing, or look for a batch of better quality custom produced stuff.


It's like $12 per print on demand versus $2 per screenprinted ahead of time.

Plus screen printing tends to have much stronger colors and feel more valuable than the offset printing used in on-demand production.

I'd suggest a Kickstarter to finance a 100+ shirt bulk order at $15 per shirt. That way, you have good profit margins and good quality.


Yes, when he couldn't broker another delivery, I stopped selling. He was crucial to the business.

I knew him through a shared friend. I lived in Asia for some years, and that's where most westerners go if they want to create a manufacturing business.


I have a creative writing site that lets authors write branching fiction novels together. It's stupid fun, we have Discord/Zoom writing events Sunday nights where we try to write chapters together (usually around 500 words) and read them to each other. It existed years ago and made some advertising money, and then I shut it down because of spam problems (since solved). I brought it back to live because of COVID. I'm petrified to launch the site live because it's on a 10-year-old php stack, the website design looks like it's from the late 90's, and my IP policy sucks (on submit, I own all copyrights, my current authors don't mind but it's always bugged me) and I have no other compliance things going on like coppa or privacy policies because I don't know how to do that and do I really want to hire a lawyer if I have no ambitious revenue plans? If I keep advertising turned off (my preference), my only other current revenue path is publishing books when all threads get concluded, and the writing quality, while better than most similar sites, is not really publication quality. So for now it just sits behind an apache password prompt and gets very little traffic, and that's ok for now. Although if anyone here likes the idea of writing silly creative writing stories on a private website, feel free to message me. Main story right now is a girl who is invited to mage school except she accidentally kills her boyfriend. Well, that's just one thread. In another thread he's a firemoose.


Is it a branching tree or a dag? I was just thinking it might be a fun challenge to combine branches occasionally.

As in: now he's a dead firemoose.


Absolutely. I discourage cyclic, but dag is ok. It can be hard to write a downstream chapter (and keep the plot consistent) when there are two upstream paths, so we don't do it a lot, but we have a few examples. I think in our current story of about 110 chapters, we have three crosslinks, and two of them have a major impact on the story. I wrote a pretty snazzy react/cytoscape thing to visualize and explore the maps.


I really love this idea, and would love to try it out.


I dropped you a note.


I made almost 6 figures a year on an affiliate website promoting natural health products, when they were extremely popular back in 2006.

I would stay awake some nights and jot down every product mentioned in overnight infomercials (before I knew what TiVo was). then write a review on them the next day.

Thousands of people would search for “X review” in the days after watching those infomercials and I would rank #1 because some of them were brand new products.


Sounds unethical


Isn't this what this post is all about?


How did you reach this conclusion? OP never asked for unethical ideas. I interpreted "but you'd not talk about them" as "not to attract competition", not "unethical or illegal"

BTW, writing fictional reviews for money is not only unethical, it can be illegal too


I decided to put it out there because it was exactly what the OP asked. It’s something I would rather not talk about. Whether you think it’s unethical/illegal is up to you of course.

For what it’s worth, i am no longer involved with this today.


how/why illegal?


Google Search should be smarter about these kinds of practices.


Unfortunately, this is a very hard problem to solve. Google would have to be aware of GP in advance, would have to know their nature, and would have to know that they weren't someone who was given access to the new products early to review. If anything, it would have to be up to those companies selling the product to look for early reviews but even then, they'd have to make sure that GP wasn't a legitimate reviewer


Why?


A product review for something they only heard about? They didn't actually buy the product, try it out. Its lying and misleading visitors.


Where the reviews entirely fiction?


Naturally. You don't think they actually got hold of (and tried) the products in between seeing the infomercial on TV and posting the "review"?


what’s TiVo and how do you find products to review now? do you just look up the most recent trends on the news?


TiVo = First major DVR Product. Still quite an excellent platform today.


This was more of a one-time launch, but I made around 25k off it. Half of that went to affiliates.

Bit of background - lots of Amazon sellers use a software called tactical arbitrage that scrapes retailers to get prices and compares prices to Amazon. It comes with a couple hundred sites built in, and the ability to add new sites using custom xpaths. I made a chrome extension that lets you point and click on arbitrary sites to automatically create an xpath file that would be compatible with this software. Charged $199 for it, although I had some launch specials at $149 and above.

Still have a handful of organic sales a year, although it's not really worth the time spent in support anymore. In retrospect I should have made it $99 upfront plus $10/month or something and provided ongoing support.


What's the name of the extension?

Thanks.


It's called "TA Xpath Builder" and easily found on Google. But I haven't updated it in years and it doesn't work on all sites, haven't actively promoted it since the initial launch. I do have a 30 day money back guarantee though.


It’s very small at the moment, but I built a simple way to stand up a landing page, collect payment, and send out a link.

Primarily have yoga instructors using this as a better way to collect payment for Zoom classes compared to collecting payment on Venmo or using another tool they’re not comfortable with such as Gumroad.

Only charging .6% on top of Stripe’s fees and no monthly. Only making a little money at the moment but it’s scaling and seeing interest from lots of random online instructors.

ClassUp - https://www.classup.io


This is really cool - how have your customers found you? I imagine a lot of people would do content through Instagram?


Thank you! All word of mouth so far. I’ve personally reached out to instructors I’ve found on Instagram but am considering doing more traditional marketing.


Why is it better than gumroad?


Yogis and fitness instructors I've spoken to see Gumroad as being too "techie" and the few that have tried it felt it was more geared towards selling online assets, rather than live classes.

For now it's very basic, but I'm working on a few features that are specifically geared to helping live class creators sell more easily, primarily calendar integration, support for multiple classes being sold, and support for monthly subscriptions to all classes from an instructor.


Wow, fascinating how important branding is with payment collection. I wonder if the same is true for other kinds of small businesses outside of the fitness vertical.


I didn't think you could use Gumroad for selling "services"?


this is a really inspiring little payment processor


I work ~4 hours a week making aircraft add-ons for X-Plane, releasing one product every 3 months, net profit ~$5k a month total.

It's fairly simple: 1) Commission Russian 3D artist to make model of aircraft -$1000 2) Commission Audio Engineer to do sound - $500 3) Tweak model to work well with simulator + animation - 12 hours 4) Paint model in Substance - 12 hours 5) Set up flight model in X-Plane's "Plane Maker" - 8 hours 6) Coding - 12 hours 7) Misc loose ends & testing - 12 hours

I don't talk about it because I don't want too much competition figuring out what an easy way this is to make money.


I don't suppose you worked at a large digital agency in the Northern Quarter in Manchester for a while before leaving for the BBC did you? I think I might have an inkling who you are if so, the hobbies and professions line up with what I assume is a manipulation of the name Steve as a username!


I LOVE little niches like this. Good job man.


Sorry, I don’t quite understand. XP is a flight simulator. You outsource a 3D model of a plane and the relevant audio. Then you code and paint the plane in the application, which is then sold?

How can you be reassured that the outsourcers won’t steal your idea?

This is interesting and sounds like it could be applied to game plugins in general.


It's not a zero-sum game, and it doesn't easy at all :)


*sound


So cool. How do you even think of an idea like this?


Before I started out I was already a pilot, X-Plane user, and software developer so the market was obvious; looking at other add-on planes I realized with a little learning I could make better products with less work by limiting scope to simple GA aircraft and working smart.


I got tired of reading bad READMEs and made https://www.makeareadme.com/ on a whim. Over the past few years, it has climbed up the Google search rankings. It's usually in the top three hits for "readme" now.

I serve developer-focused ads with CodeFund (and Carbon as a backup when CodeFund doesn't have an ad available). I get about $45 in revenue per month. Hosting costs are $0 because it's just a static site served from Netlify, so the only cost is the domain.

I never intended to make any money off of it, and I care much more that it's hopefully a helpful resource for some people. But it is nice to get a little bit of passive income.


Ah, my SEO nemesis!

Really, though, your site is awesome. I just emailed you about sponsoring it, if you're interested :)


Haha thanks! As soon as I read the first line of your comment, I knew you must be from ReadMe.


How many visitors do you have per month?


About 37,000 per month, according to Google Analytics. The actual number is probably quite a bit higher, since I assume programmers use ad blockers at a high rate.


Curious, never used Netlify but I'd assume they provide server based analytics?


They do[1], but it costs $9 per site per month.

[1]: https://www.netlify.com/products/analytics/


The closest thing I've had to that is my side project Taaalk (https://taaalk.co) - it's a platform for online interviews.

After the success of one of our interviews on HN [1], someone contacted me and suggest that I interview a highly successful value investor. We had a great 'Taaalk' [2] and he then put me in touch with an investing friend of his in London who runs a fund. We met for lunch and he taught me all about how he invests in shares, it was very straight forward, so I started following his guidance and made 50% on my money last year [nothing magical, just solid and practical value investing advice] - meaning I could take the year off and do a masters in Psychology of Mental Health - which is (slowly) helping change my career into a direction I love.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9300017)[the link to our site wont work, to see the interview go here: https://taaalk.co/t/how-to-think-about-chess]

[2] https://taaalk.co/t/value-investing

P.S. Anyone can make their own interview, so if you have a friend you think should be interviewed - please keep Taaalk in mind :)


Kind of curious if you had problems with the triple a's in the name?


Not really no. It's all goood :)


care to share those tips about investing?


I wouldn't listen to the advice of anyone that thought they could make 50% return in a year just based on "nothing magical, just solid and practical value investing advice".

They're either too naive to realise it was luck, or trying to scam you.


50% investment return in a year sounds like just running a business?


>about how he invests in shares


https://timeshift.xkozn.co/

This allows you change the start time of a Strava (Garmin, etc.) activity. Useful for WFH situations where you really just want a nice midday run or bike, but don't want to deal with the potential judgement from coworkers who follow you. Might be overthinking things, but oh well :)


I don't typically talk about my side projects, but I made a simple Montessori materials website for use while teachers/students have been stuck at home the past few months: https://montessori.tools

It has grown organically to 1,000 visits per day and ~$1,000/month. I have a couple of additional materials in the pipeline. Of course, I've already seen everything from the site shamelessly copied and posted elsewhere. That's fine; I never built it for the money (I built it for my wife, who is a teacher).


This is very cool. I have made also some material for teachers teaching from home https://www.freememorygame.com to build card matching game from your own photos and images. Teachers use it to create games for kids in class.


I guess I am dumb, but I can't understand how to use the tools :( Maybe an instructions page will help


Part of the point of the Montessori method is that there aren't instructions. If you played with these items for hours (like a child) you would start to understand the fundamentals of addition, multiplication and even calculus without deliberately trying.


funny how both responses are exact opposite


The point is that these tools are not standalone. They're meant as an instruction aid for teachers and learning tools for students in the Montessori environment. These people will know immediately how to use them.


funny how both responses are exact opposite


I own a swimming pool and do most of my own maintenance and water chemistry. I created https://poolforthought.com as a place to organize my knowledge. I later realized other people want the same info, and now 7 years later it's made about $20k USD. Ads and affiliate links drive site revenue. I have about 12k email signups of people who want a pool maintenance ebook I'm creating (for a price). I should finish that thing. It's money just sitting there waiting for me to capture.


I use your site!


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