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Show HN: After 2.5 years on my side project, it has hit £500/month revenue
647 points by gigamick on Dec 10, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 313 comments
It's been a long slow hog and I almost gave up a few times (more than a few) but when covid hit this year it gave me some time to really focus on my product. There were stupid user journey things that I knew needed fixed. There were some features I knew needed added. And I knew the pricing was wrong.

I spent some hardcore time working on these things back in March / April and since then my MRR has continued to grow.

My product is SongBox (https://songbox.rocks) - it's an alternative to things like bandcamp and soundcloud for creators who need to share audio files privately.

I'm at a stage now where I've bottomed out all the work I've wanted to do and I'm looking for a fresh round of feedback. Would love you guys to check it out and see what you can think of.


Very nice. Congrats. Keep on going. I remember that I started with my side project back in 2011. A small app. It made like 1 dollar a month. I spend like 8 hours on it every day and night next to my normal day job. People were thinking I was insane. After 1 year, it made like 1 dollar per day. Then few months later I got 20 dollars in one single day. Another few months later it made for the first time 100 dollars a day. Still worked on it for many many hours. App is still running today and generating 2k per day. It gave me freedom to quit my day job and the opportunity to start a business as around it a few years ago. And just recently I started an entire new (more serious) fintech business. Although I know it's not easy to start something like I did. But on the other hand. Most people are not even trying it. I always tell people to really start making something you feel passionate about. (I am talking from a developers perspective) Don't look at others and don't do something other want you to do. If money is the motive, then you will fail for sure.

I love these stories also but I am genuinely curious how you were able to work 8 hours a day on it and also work your regular job. I assume you don't work a full time job, otherwise it seems unhealthy.

I put a lot of time into my side projects but that is mostly the whole saturday and sunday, but even then I obviously don't feel so well rested on monday.

The reality is that some people can just do more per day than others. It's very common in academia that many professors spend their entire lifetime in 60-80hr work weeks their entire life.

I remember going to conferences,especially the really small ones, the professors and students would spend all day listening to extremely draining lectures; this one particular conference started at 8.30 am, went till 1 pm, you get a few hours break, and then it goes till 9 pm.

I'd go back to my room in the noon time to take a nap, and in the evening maybe go to the bar for a small bit to get a drink and go back to the room to get ready for the next day, but the majority of professors would spend most of the midday break meeting each other, and also continue socializing in the bar fairly late into night, and they'll still come back the next day as if this is a regular day.

I had a talk with my professor on how they're doing it and his response was just "you just have to train yourself to do it and get used to it." Probably one of the main reasons why I chose not to continue down that path!

> It's very common in academia that many professors spend their entire lifetime in 60-80hr work weeks their entire life.

I would take this with a pinch of salt. Socializing by the pool after the talks isn't hard work. Also, most people only listen to some of the talks. It's not uncommon to see the room half empty the last days of the conference. There are also various social events and so on...

While it's true that some professors/researchers are hard-working and driven, it's not the case for all of them, and it varies throughout their career. Their job is also typically not very stressful.

Same thing for software engineers. Some people do meaningful work for a few hours a day, and slack the rest of the time and still have good performance reviews.

Among the professionals who work a lot, I can think of doctors. My family doctor works very long hours, and he's certainly not slacking.

> Also, most people only listen to some of the talks

Which is why I explicitly mentioned small conferences. The one I was talking about has 90 attendees total, only one session at a time in the same room, and in snowmass Colorado so if you're outside the conference hotel we can literally see you from up to half a mile away. Almost no one skips a single session in these conferences, especially the professors. For the most part they're paying attention as well, no one's on their laptops or dozing off.

Again, I spent a decade in academia, and if you're in fields such as biology and in some top institution, it's very rare that professors up to doing something meaningful have anything less than 60 hour weeks at any point in their career. This is more or less what me and my roommates actively discussed most of the time all through a decade, so I'm not just talking about anecdotal evidence. From what I understand, academia in other fields especially tech related can be less stressful than this. Being a oroefssor in a competitive field is really back breaking - You have to juggle a large number of roles and are constantly responsible for the lives of numerous people and lack many of the protections one would normally expect from any regular job in some ways.

Yeah it very much depends on the faculty member.

Keep in mind that some academics truly love this stuff too. They’re enjoying socializing and keeping up on the field and it quickly changes the “work” dynamic when you’re not writing as much code anymore. I think you’re both correct though.

I would agree that doctors and lawyers have the most hard working hours. No room for error as the doctor, and just mounds of tedious paperwork as a lawyer.

> The reality is that some people can just do more per day than others.

Is that really the reality? As far as I can tell, the reality is quite the opposite -- that sustainable levels of work across all knowledge work industries drop off a cliff past 8 hours a day, and for deep work 4 hours a day. Working on a side project after work possible for short sprints at a time, but somewhat impossible if you have an engaging day job where you are making good forward progress on your career.

On the other hand, if your day job is well paid but rather dull (quite common in tech), working on a side project is a nice way to retain creative and intellectual fulfillment, agency, and ownership in some capacity in one's life -- it can be an artistic outlet and worthwhile in itself. Beyond that, it can be nice transition to a startup. But I think this idea that some people "can just do more per day" makes the fallacy of thinking progress happens a day at a time. When it comes to side projects or new companies in incubation, that's not always the case. Explaining it away with an argument that is biologically untenable seems questionable to me.

It's the reality, I witnessed it and experienced it when coding my own business.

Sure, you may not do your finest work, but you can get a lot done. If you're happy trading off your health for a shot at success, it's something that's on the table.

It gets harder when you start having a family or if you have other obligations.

You make a great point that just doing tasks is not necessarily going to make or break a company, there are tons of other factors.

> You make a great point that just doing tasks is not necessarily going to make or break a company, there are tons of other factors.

Exactly. Doing tasks is literally table stakes -- it's the equivalent of showing up. For any company that banks on its differentiation, making big moves that cement the company require more thought, more depth, more risk. These kinds of simplistic platitudes amount to hierarchical animisms; they have little to do with the very specific things that make up a real high performance organizational culture.

I've personally seen it again and again with numerous people that they really can keep up a level of productivity most people only dream of for more than just 8 hours a day, consistently for most of their lives. As much as you want to believe that all humans are equal, we really are not. Either you don't want to see that reality, or you've deliberately or accidentally never ventured out enough to encounter them.

In general in software Engineering (I can say with some confidence since I made the transition between) people get the idea that they're actually very smart when they are just _okay_. The easy six figure salaries which IMO are often the most undeserved (compared to other careers except entertainment) is probably to blame.

> consistently for most of their lives

This sounds like the kind of overly simplified individualistic narrative I used to believe when I was 14. My heroes to me then looked so indestructible. I wanted more than anything to be like them -- a captain of the industry, prolific and indestructible. The problem with this narrative is that it didn't hold up to real world scrutiny as I entered the workforce and interacted with high-performers and became one of them.

> people get the idea that they're actually very smart when they are just _okay_

I think that this is a very intellectually lazy idea. I've found that the people who most believe this idea are those who are objectively "just _okay_" themselves because they don't understand/have ever experienced how effective organizations and people deploy and harness role evolution. You remember that old chestnut about how some people with 10 years of experience just have "1 year of experience, 10 times?" The two often go hand in hand in my experience.

After all, the most effective way to be lazy about your own professional growth is to believe that it's impossible to improve. And for that to be believable for yourself...you have to make sure other people believe it's the case for them, too. The problem with this kind of fiction is that eventually the fourth wall cracks as people see parts of their network leave for greener pastures where this growth is promised and then actually followed through on. I know because I've sold candidates on this exact thing during interviews.

All I'll say is that it's not a particularly hard sell to say "people that think of the world in such individualistic terms are condemning themselves to mediocrity -- we're building something way better than that, come join us." Think about why that is. Our ability to execute talent arbitrage was based on our competitors having the same mental model as yours. It was an arbitrage that worked very well.

Pretty easy to talk down at "entertainment" if you've never actually been an artist or tried to make money at it.

For sure, many or most entertainment people work hard, but I just preempted retorts pointing out youtube millionaires or influencers.

Once you figure out the correct meth dose almost anything is possible I guess


isn't pkd inherited?

I suspect this is works for them because they’re steeped in the field already. So the number of new ideas per hour is way lower for the professors than it’d be for newcomers. And the professors can probably comfortably tune out when they want without getting lost because they have enough background.

Learning new things requires physical changes in your brain. Fewer new ideas = less cognitive effort = more energy remaining at the end of the day.

The trick is that if coding is your passion it doesn't feel like work, more like oxygen...

Unfortunately for some of us, passions fade. I still love coding, but it's not the kind of thing I'm likely to enjoy spending 16 hours a day doing anymore.

I've been there, done that, seen it all (server, web, mobile, firmware, games). It's routine now, but not something I can lose myself into like I used to be able to. I get bored far faster.

I've been writing code for 15 years and I definitely experienced what you mention - but changing the topic made me find my passion back. Sure, sometimes I was depressed, sometimes I had enough and wanted to follow some other passion outside of coding, sometimes my eyes wanted to give up - but if I'm healthy and the problem is interesting, I can still get stuck to the creative process.

My dad has been a developer for 40+ years and he stills get excited about random, incredibly complicated projects (that don't even pay that well) or new technologies.

Maybe you just need to find something else you enjoy coding.

It's interesting. I'm still in a state where I enjoy it most of the time and I could certainly spend an entire day coding... But I'm running super low on good ideas. Ideas used to pop into mind all the time, now it's like once a year and I quickly abandon it.

That's how it started, for me at least.

When I first began programming it was like my mind was a nuclear reactor. I LOVED it. New ideas were popping into my head all the time, and solutions to problems were quick.

I'll never forget when I was in the first few months, and learned about POLYMORPHISM. At the time, it utterly blew my mind, and I found so many sweet use cases for it and felt like a GOD of programming.

Fast forward 10 years and yea, it gives me a chuckle to remember those days. I miss how excited my mind was, and how eager to code I was. Now, I'm critical of code, less open to learning new things, and new ideas are few and far between.

It sucks but as far as I can tell, that's just life. We aren't programmed to constantly lose ourselves in any one thing. If we did, our ancestors may not have survived. Our primitive brain found great utility in "moving on" to the next thing, the next opportunity, etc.

Maintain an open source project, it'll help that passion fade somewhat quickly.

(I kid, but more seriously, it did indeed help dampen some of my own passion for quite awhile. And then a bit of resurgence...)

This is what real experience sounds like.

I have 20 years+ experience. It doesn't have to be like this.

I know exactly what happened. Changing languages and domains every few years can wear you out. If you were lucky enough to pick one language that madw it 20 years you can spend your time deep diving different domains. Bonus if the language becomes unpopular with developers but still need with business. Bonus points for picking a fun language you like.

A real pain is leetcode.

You do have a point.

I would certainly agree that your best shot at maintaining your passion would be to stick with 1 or 2 languages and get really good at them. Constantly context switching does wear on a person.

With that said, there are some caveats...

1) Businesses need to find that language useful and important. In other words, there must be opportunities to make money using that language.

2) The language must support great depth of work. For instance, learning Objective-C or Swift could become dry over the years as you master the iOS SDK. There's a lot there to cover, for sure, but I imagine after 10 years you might arrive at the same endpoint: Somewhat deflated, certainly less passionate.

3) The language must resonate with you. Everybody has a language or a programming style they enjoy. Personally, I love classic, imperative, low level stuff. C, C++, even Java. Not really a big fan - despite years of professional work - of declarative UI, or functional programming.

I'm curious since you have 20 years - what language / domain have you been focussed on? How did it work for you?

I got into php in the very beginning. Kept learning everything else but found the limitations a fun challenge and being able to rapidly produce something kind of works with my matra of wanting to do a bit of everything.

I started with C/C++ so php was natural fit.

A good question would be if starting out today what language would I pick?

I'm tempted to pick php but I would probably go for react. The market is huge career-wise, the language is fun to develop in and the community is strong.

What is this magical language of which you speak of? Sounds a lot like battle tested Java!

Probably PHP :) at least for me.

Some solutions in PHP are quite elegant that are quite not in virtually any other language. Like WordPress’s priority queue (aka, hooks).

It was php and it keeps getting better.

This is burnout. :-)

I could but I need to move

> The reality is that some people can just do more per day than others. It's very common in academia that many professors spend their entire lifetime in 60-80hr work weeks their entire life.

> but the majority of professors would spend most of the midday break meeting each other

Spending 60-80 hours in meetings is not "work". Attending lectures is not "work". Work requires either mental or physical effort to which all humans have limits. People in academia like to think they work hard by quoting useless hours like this. But that's like people billing their bosses for the 2 hours they spend in traffic. From my time in academia, my impression is that most grad students have 1 to 2 hours of productive work per day. They will tell you that they spend 10 hours at the office however.

This is such an ignorant comment. 1) actually paying attention to an advanced academic lecture requires serious mental effort, so by your definition it is work. It is also not useless, unless purely academic work is useless to you 2) I don’t know what kind of experience in academia you have (my guess is not much) but grad school can be very intense in terms of work. Sure you can slack off, but if you want to do well you’ll likely work very hard.

No it is not an ignorant comment.

1) If you missed my quotes around "work" it is because some people describe certain tasks as work equivalent to other tasks. The effort of digesting vs. producing material is about 2 orders of magnitudes for me. I took 60 hours of lectures (time spent in class) during one of my semesters of undergrad. 12 hours of lecture everyday. That is completely sustainable because all you have to do is listen. Reading papers is the same, it's a low effort activity. Something you can do for 12 hours a day. Yes, "advanced academic lecture" is more draining than Harry Potter but less draining than driving a vehicle.

2) Working hard (or long hours in the case of academia) vs. working intelligently are orthogonal. I can't really address the entirety of graduate school because history is going to be much different than engineering. Applied much different than theory. I'll repeat my claim, if you actually take the useful bits of a grad student's day, it often compresses to 1-2 hours. Yes, reading is important. Yes, there are often other teaching commitments that are usually treated like second class citizens. I'm not debating the time spent in an office. Merely, that the "60-80" hour myth really needs to stop.

You seem to confuse the life of a grad student and the life of a tenure track professor trying to keep their lab running. They're not the same, not even close. Unless you are/were one, or were married to one, or have actual data proving that academic professors spend the majority of their times in useless meetings, your argument holds no water. Comparing reading papers for undergrad courses or some masters experience in some compsci lab is just naive at the level where you are not even aware of a different plane of existence.

The biggest proponent of "you only need to work 9-5 and can still be a successful professor", Cal Newport, himself walked back those statements somewhat after he started going tenure track.

I'll give one corollary though, which is that there are some very successful professors who actually don't work that hard. I am friends with one; they're just simply not human. I remember reading from the same textbook with him and he finished the pages 3x faster than me. So the only way you get away with regular life in academia is to have a super human brain. The rest of us have to compensate by putting in the extra hours. It's not healthy, at least not for me, which is why I chose to leave. But many do it. And continue to do so. It's arguable if their lives are worse or they don't mind it, but it's not arguable that they are just morons who don't understand time management.

I disagree with your idea that, because something can be done for 12 hours, it should not count as “work”. You also say reading is important, and yet seem to omit it when asserting that a grad student’s day of work can be compressed into 1-2 hours of useful work. I think the problem with what you’re saying is that it relies on a very abstract notion of “useful work”. I certainly can bust my ass for 12 hours at a problem and not accomplish anything, thus having done no “useful work” that day. If you ask me, I still sure as hell worked 12 hours that day, not 0. So the 60-80 hours workweek is a thing no matter how much “useful bits” there was in my week, and I believe it is still very accurate to call it so and to say that grad students are working hard. The 60-80 hours workweek is not a myth, unless we use your own weird definition of what counts as a work hour. No one means that when they're talking about how many hours they work.

I also don’t believe for a second that a mere mortal can pay attention to lectures or read papers for 12 hours. Personally after 5 hours of lectures I can’t pay attention anymore, and it’s a similar for paper reading. Most people I know are like that, and frankly I don’t believe you can actually attend 60 hours of lectures a week in university given the scheduling constraints.

Here is my transcript: http://www.hervature.com/Zachary%20Hervieux-Moore%20Transcri...

Look at Fall 2015 where I had 10 courses worth 32 units not counting the project course where the credits are awarded the following semester. call it 35 units. Roughly, a 3 credit course consists of 3 hours of lecture and a 1.5 hour tutorial. The courses I took that have more than 3 credits typically have a lab component that adds an extra hour.

You are correct that I didn't "attend" every single hour of those. But it just further proves my point that just because you're sitting in a room designated in your time table, it doesn't mean that you are inherently working. Instead of going to those classes, I used my time effectively and studied (not necessarily in the classroom) for a normal 8 hour day. When I say useful work, I don't necessarily mean that something is produced. Like you say, sometimes you need to find dead ends before finding the correct path. That's useful. Yes, you can work for 12 hours in one day. It's just not sustainable. A 80 hour work week implies one of two things:

1) You aren't working as much as you think. Go to the gym. Hang out with friends. Enjoy life.

2) You are about to burnout. Stop. Go to the gym. Hang out with friends. Enjoy life.

If you want to keep perpetuating that you need to be in your building for 60-80 hours to be a good grad student, you are directly contributing to the mental health issues seen among grad students.

Well you read me wrong! I absolutely agree with you that working insane hours is, well, insane. It only personally happens to me in short bursts. I’m only stating that many grad students work crazy hours. You’re right in questioning the productivity of those hours, and also questioning how healthy this culture is and it’s certainly not my goal to spread the idea that, to be a good grad student, you must drive yourself insane. Just because it’s not the right approach doesn’t mean that those students do not work those crazy hours. It is a myth that it’s necessary/a good idea to work this much to succeed, it is not a myth that a lot of grad student do 60 hours of work a week.

> but I am genuinely curious how you were able to work 8 hours a day on it and also work your regular job

Hacker News repeatedly rediscovers that there is no point in putting in more than the bare minimum at typical jobs over and over again. Some people pour the gained time into leetcode and succeed. Some pour it into stuff they're excited about. Some into their families. Some pour it into being at the right place at the right time. Hardly anyone has ever succeeded by pouring it into their jobs.

> Hardly anyone has ever succeeded by pouring it into their jobs

This might be the most relevant part of the discussion

It certainly is a conundrum for startups, where after the founders, you're asking someone to commit career suicide by working hard for you.

I think if you’ve decided that there is something wrong with the employer/employee relationship where hundreds spend their professional life working at someone else’s company, pushing ahead that person’s vision, and fulfilling that person’s goals, then you shouldn’t turn around and play an integral role in the same game you once despised, all because it’s much easier to succeed in business if you have a bunch of people devoting their working lives to your vision.

I don’t know how to escape that model at a wider scale, exactly, but if I were worth millions of dollars, I think I’d have the economic luxury to invest some time to figure out how.

Well, I guess then they have the luxury to do that. I work in a critical position at a major bank and I already have to give 100% at my job. I have side projects as well though which is how my whole weekend gets used up. I guess that is not the norm...

> I work in a critical position at a major bank

You're Jerome Powell?

I'm just kidding, but surely you see how from another perspective, that sounds farcical. Like I get it, you care about the work that you do. I'm not saying you won't be rich. I'm not saying people don't think you're doing a good job. I'm saying, in a positivist measure, like, "If you vanished tomorrow, would anything happen to a major bank?" The answer is, unless you're Jerome Powell or the guy who hires the clients' kids and covers it up (1) (2), no.

(1) https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2015-08-18/bny-me...

(2) https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2016-11-18/jpmorg...

What type of success do you get buy pouring time into leetcode? Interview prep?

> I am genuinely curious how you were able to work 8 hours a day on it and also work your regular job.

Fulltime jobs usually aren't fulltime in that they take all of your available thinking capacity, nor do they quench a person's curiosity or interest. More often, fulltime jobs (especially in tech) are ~40% work, 60% absolute garbage timewasting. Sitting through meetings that don't need to happen, to satisfy an insecurity or requirement that someone above has, without actually solving any real problems or creating any change.

Some people do exactly as much is required at their actual job (so a generous 40% of their available capacity) and then spend their nights, weekends and freetime pouring themselves into other things. Startups, personal projects, hobbies, families, etc.

Fulltime jobs are almost never rewarding or exciting. A startup may start exciting/fulfilling, but eventually corporate garbage sets in and you're on the same treadmill of meetings to talk about prospective work/how much work there is, fitting actual fulfillment of tasks in between.

A friend of mine (who's nearly 50) put in over 2000 hours into playing Destiny one year. That's about the same as a full time job. He has a wife and two kids, and a very full time job.

Doing that much work on a side gig is totally possible if you want to do it and have the right disposition.

That’s over 5 hours a day. If you have wife and kids and a job then either you, your job or your family is missing out.

Okay, but how healthy is it really? Maybe I am projecting my issues onto other people but I often get less sleep when I invest a lot of time into my side projects as well as my job.

Granted, 2000 hours is a lot, but most humans need at least some time to unwind and relax in order to maintain high levels of productivity.

I think it sounds like he spent 2000 hours unwinding and relaxing?

I hate to say this, but I spend several hours daily on my side project too. My wife hated me for a while, now she seems to accept it. I can best describe it as an obsession. You have something u need to do, u cant rest or enjoy something else until it is done. When I shower I think of my project and when I take a walk, I think of my project too. Complete obsession to solve the problems; one problem after another problem.

Be young, be single, live with your parents or have a high-enough paying job that you don't have to cook every meal.


All of that applies to me... Again, that definitely gives me the time to do so on weekends but during a work week it would just be unhealthy. I can't even fathom staring at a screen even longer and I already get teary eyed every day. But I am provably projecting my issues onto other people. Maybe they have less stress/pressure at their jobs.

I am getting out of it though, I am starting to study CS at university next year. So hopefully that will be a bit less stressful because I am well prepared.

I could do it if I didn’t have a family, I used to commute 2 hours each way so considering getting a part time job for the commute time I am now at home for - if it wouldn’t cause a divorce I’d get two jobs or work on a side project for that time.

You need to take time off though at weekends etc if you are doing it longer term.

(Note this isn’t a recommendation)

Also note that I don’t care for tv or gaming so don’t have those time black holes.

So I'm not wanting to get into what appears to be a growing argument. But I have a young family and an intense day job. I still managed to build SongBox.

I just love building things. I don't do social media, don't watch shitty tv. I just like to build.

I think the key is:

If you are working 60 hours a week for a job paying 40 hours then it is horrible.

If you work 40 hours and spend 20 hours a week doing your own thing, it is hard work but doable.

Long term no one should work 60 hours a week.

It really depends on the age as well, at least for me. I also always had side projects, and I could totally pull 2 full shifts per day (job and side gigs) in my 20s, be healthy, well rested and functional... something that is completely unconceivable now in my late 30s :)

There's 24 hours in a day. Read Bezos or Musk's or anybody stories and they'll tell you they worked 20-23 hours a day.

It's fucking crazy with some people, but that's what it takes to get ahead of the competition.

Edit: Please note that I'm not advocating that anybody should do this, but just be aware that a lot of people are setting that level for themselves and in some cases for their subordinates.

Pulling an all nighter every once in a while, or even a couple consecutive days during crunch time is not the same as working 20 hours per day. So unless you've got a specific quote from either of them I call bullshit.

That said, Bill Gates definitely said he and some of his crew were working 16 hour days delivering their first DOS release.

Point is, you might work some intense stretches, and doing that shows your passion and might land give you an edge when you need it. But you don't need to go insane. If you work 8 hours day job, don't spend hours in commute, you can be perfectly healthy spending 2 hours of your night time each day working a side gig.

“There were times when, some weeks ... I haven’t counted exactly, but I would just sort of sleep for a few hours, work, sleep for a few hours, work, seven days a week. Some of those days must have been 120 hours or something nutty.”

Now, Musk said he is “down to 80 or 90” hours of work per week and “it’s pretty manageable.”


That's the quickest I could find. But yeah, I suppose 20-23h constantly long-term would not be doable. Point is though that many people can and do work even long-term the equavalent of 2 "full-time jobs".

Quite naive of you to believe Musk or Bezos worked 23 hour workdays. Even if that was remotely true, everything bears consequence. It might have "worked", but the downsides of this toxic work ethic are bound to present themselves, in the present or future.

Never mind working such hours does not guarantee success. Hell, it only about guarantees poor relations and health with any chance of success a very distant second.

So at best you're successful with shit relationships or fail with the same prospects? Dunno 'bout you, but I don't play no game I can't win!

Well it's presented them with billionaire fortunes. That's a fact.

I think it's fine for entrepreneurs like them to work however much they want, but it's not cool to put that on employees, especially if they don't have any ownership in the company.

I don't buy the theory about poor relationships and long hours. I could see it going either way, especially if one was single and would otherwise spend their time at home watching tv or whatever.

How do you keep non poor relationships if you are just transitioning between work/sleep states?

You can't keep relationships if the time spent on a relationship tends to 0.

Why do people evangelize every little comment of a billionaire? He's also human, he can tell me what he wants, I'll believe it when I see it.

Maybe it’s time that society reduces full time work hours from 40 hours per week, to 24 hours per week.

6 hours per day, 4 days per week. 24 hours per week total.

Or 8 hours per day, and 3 days per week. Then you have a 4 day weekend.

Anything more, is regarded as overtime.

Then those that do want to get ahead, can work the remaining 16 hours on a separate job.

Software automation, mechanization, and robotics, have reduced the need for manual drudgery. And farms are highly mechanized to mass produce raw foodstuffs.

The corporations should be competing against themselves, to work for us, the citizens, that makes their profits possible. Instead of just competing to take a bigger piece of the pie, and to hoard it all for themselves.

It’s time that we as a society, begin to think differently.

I created yet another part-time jobs website to support that idealism. https://parttime.careers

I think that the part-time jobs culture today is like the remote jobs culture 15 years ago.

Very nice!

I think what we need is another free day, preferrably on wednesday. I think that might improve everyones performance. Too bad that that can never happen on a large scale due to historical/religious reasons.

Friday is better. So you can get a 3 day weekend.

This would also help boost local or nearby tourism. It’ll give people an extra day to travel.

1 dollar a month is the dream for me. I could finally pay for several of those domain names I keep holding on to!

You're not alone !

Would you mind sharing what your app is? I'm curious what level of technical sophistication is needed for an app that makes $2k/day. Was it more engineering or marketing or equally both that helped you gain users and traction?

Guessing by his profile: a Football Live Scores app that has 100k+ reviews in the play store - a very conservative estimate would put it at 3-5m users. It seems to have been plastered with ads which, safe to assume, are the source of that revenue.

Yeah it’s a really nice niche. Other niche ideas like this:

- Music Tuners

- Rulers/ measurement tools

- Tools using gyroscope (record speed indicator)

Take a simple idea and continue developing it until the user experience is really enjoyable. Not guaranteed to succeed, but a compelling way to spend your time.

I don't think that a football score app is niche at all - it's quite a saturated market with lots of competition. Fotmob seems to be the most popular one at least with the users of /r/soccer.

Tech sophistication can be as little as a single PHP webpage or maybe less (There is a blogpost somewhere, from the creator Levelsio) There was a "million dolar page". Marketing is hard, except if you get lucky.

I'd generally still argue that marketing is the hardest part of any side-hustle / startup in general. What is lost on many here is that $100/mo. spend on solid marketing could speed up the growth curve (without that much more engineering effort) so that it would take maybe a year instead of three to reach the point you could quit your day job.

I released my own app a month ago after working on it on the side for a year... and I am finding that marketing is important indeed. Just having something in the app store doesn't guarantee eyeballs.

You have to find ways of getting your message out. No matter how good your product is, if your users can't find it, you won't sell anything.

This is probably why it's important to make sure you're not doing it for the "easy money" and also why it can take months or years to make a nice little passive income; the word takes a while to get out.

Totally agree, I have a number of non-tech related side hustles and quite frankly I prefer these to tech ones because they took maybe 50hrs each to setup and 2 hours max per week to operate. I know for a fact it'd take much more time tech wise to get something of equivalent revenue up and running.

I have to question these "I spent years making $40 a month working 8 hours after hours to built <project> but now <project> makes $60k a month" stories, since at some point you really have to ask yourself how much your time is worth. Thousands of hours for $1M pre-tax, not to mention how much life you gave up for that is kind of idiotic IMO.

My metric generally is, "if someone on etsy selling magic rocks is making more than my tech project after three months, time to move on". I'm not being shitty, this is just a standard I hold myself to when it comes to valuing my personal time. Also, don't worry, I'm not one of these people who thinks my time isn't worth cooking or cleaning (like many YT gurus and even Financial Samurai now claim).

Slightly off topic... But can you share your nontech side gigs? Totally curious...

Secret is in the sauce my friend ;)

Check their username

Maybe you should use a Twitter Account. Get a following. And keep promoting it on Twitter.

Some people have said that this was far more effective than advertising. And it’s free.

But most importantly, you need a following, an audience to sell your product to.

One other suggestion - it needs to be something you want yourself. It's hard to be passionate about something you personally don't want.

This so much. I bounced around project after project for trying to get something going and just never had a passion for it. Once I started a project I have a passion for it's soooo much better.

Congrats! Posts like this give me massive inspiration. Like many here, I have tons of side project/toy apps stored in private repo's; that will probably never see use by anyone other than myself. However, some of this code _does_ make me profit (trading bots). Been contemplating taking portions of my trading app and generalizing into a product, but always seem to lose motivation.

Glad I saw this post + thread today, y'all just gave me another boost of energy.

What kind of algorithm do you use for your trading bot?


Strategy 1: If the market is trending higher. Then, buy on the dips. Hold. Sell for 20% gains. Then rinse and repeat.

Strategy 2: Or, if the market ($SPY) has risen for x percent for the day, say 3%, then you short the stock. Wait for it to correct, and sell for 20% gains. But if it continues rising higher than 10%, then buy back the stock to close out your position.

Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad I inspired you a little :-)

> It made like 1 dollar a month.

Linus of Linus Tech Tips talks about this. His old employer wasn't interested in his YouTube channel because it was raking in somewhere in the neighborhood of $1, but it was 1000% growth over the previous year or something like that.

Growth is growth.

And congrats, your success story is awesome to read. I've got a similar long road ahead of me.

I love these stories a lot more than that I love the venture capitalist backed start-up that makes 3x for their investors.

100% ditto

That new fintech venture is most definitely backed by VC.

Wow! nice story man! Can you please tell us how did you get the product idea, and what you did to promote your product (content marketing, paid marketing...)? Thank you so much for sharing this <3

One word: Persistence!

I have realised that too many people quit early and yet it is clear that their ideas are good. I hope many are inspired by this story, I know I was... inspired to keep on fighting.

As I said here > https://twitter.com/getflookup/status/1332767868002455554 "If you quit, you did it early"

BTW, what app is this, if you don't mind sharing?

Are you asking me? (the OP)?

It's https://songbox.rocks.

Sorry, my question was to @holoduke ... he hadn't told us the app name by the time I asked that question.

Otherwise, I have been causally following yours ever since you announced it on Indie Hackers ... it looks like it is going places but I'm sure COVID hasn't helped things one bit.

Let's keep pushing into the new year and hope for better times!

Thanks for sharing this. There are echoes of my own journey here.

I truly believe that "slow and steady wins the race".

This is a nice success story. A few questions - 1. What your side project is about? (if you are comfortable disclosing or domain) 2. How did you learn sales and how to you continue to scale sales process?

I absolutely love these stories.

Sticking with something when you're bored of it, and it's not providing much return, aint easy.

What's the project? or what problem does it solve? So curious

Does this "small app" have a name?


I cannot believe how much traction this thread has got today, I am blown away.


It's going to take me days to process all of this.

Thanks so much. I am blown away.

If anyone want to follow the process you can subscribe to my blog at https://division77.com


Love your enthusiasm

What a nice, positive note to start the day off. Congratulations on your success.


- Could you remove the email requirement for getting started? Maybe figure out a way for people to associate an email account after they do the "Getting Started"?

- Could you put a back button on the tutorial?

- In addition to the poll at the end of the tutorial, I hope you are capturing implicit feedback data to determine how effective it is. Things like average time between clicks and whether users click the buttons you suggest immediately after are indicators of effectiveness.

- For the registration form, maybe get rid of either the label "Display Name" or the placeholder text "Your Artist Name..."? It was confusing having them be different.

As for actual content, unfortunately I can't help you. I don't have any personal music to upload so someone else will have to give you feedback. I hope my suggestions on registration were helpful. Congratulations again on your early success and good luck expanding in 2021.

These points are helpful. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

- Yeah I don't actually use the email address for anything other than sending updates about the product and standard marketing stuff. So I'm open experimenting with this to see how it affects conversion.

- Yeah... this is a good idea. Consider it done.

- Yeah I use a service to make the tutorials and they have a great dashboard.

- Hundred percent... I didn't realise I had named them differently.

Thanks so much.

I don’t know why, but I expected a much less professional site. That is a compelling site. I only figured out what it is you do when I got to the pricing, but I am not your target audience. Musicians might be able to see the value prop more quickly.

Regardless, as one who has never even had the courage to hang his own shingle, I am impressed.

Thank you very much. I have put a lot of effort into the homepage. Like... a lot.

Months and months of A/B testing copy, images, price points.

I'm happy with it and I appreciate your words.

Thank you.

I would be careful A/B testing at such a small scale. You are going to hit so much noise, it's not usually a great use of time. Just make it feel good and go from there.

A/B testing works great at google scale.

I hear you and sometimes the results weren't conclusive but I did uncover a few gems. particularly around pricing and the hero statement.

I would rather do it than not.

You did the right thing. You need Google-scale traffic to tease out subtleties, fractional gains. But at your stage you were looking for big signals. And clearly you found them. Congrats!

This totally depends on the sample size and the impact that you'd like to measure. You can get very actionable results with a 95% confidence and 80% power at a few thousand sessions.

That site is brilliant. I don't know if this information is useful but when i read it i was conscious of a few things:

    1. I could read it really comfortably, i liked the large view on my screen
    2. The "And we don't compress your music" really jumped out to me - you've nailed exactly the right amount of text and that twist in the explaination that tells me one of your USPs worked on me, like i'm going to remember that for a while for some reason
Maybe not useful to see inside the head of an internet random person but just in case...

All useful!! thank you so much for taking the time to reply!

>I don’t know why, but I expected a much less professional site.

I had the same initial reaction and I believe it's because we, or at least I, have become accustomed to lower quality / unfinished / very MVP type applications on the newer TLDs.

Congratulations on your growth and success gigamick!

Thanks very much. I really appreciate that.

This is very compelling. I humbly recommend that you spend 80% of your efforts in finding ways to market this. What's nice is, it is "viral" in that as people start sharing their music in this way, probably with others in the music scene, they will also get exposed to the product.\

Your tiers could use some work. Your basic aim is to discriminate between dirt poor student musician, professional or hobbyist individual freelancer, small businesses, and enterprise:

- The first free tier is good, but for the second one, I wouldn't give unlimited songboxes (I understand you're limiting by track de facto); as that feature should be saved for enterprise.

- You can charge a lot more as you go up, as you increase number of songbox, and bands supported (i.e. a set of songboxes).

- I wouldn't limit the # tracks much after the first paid tier, because it helps drive engagement and exposes your product further.

Also as a growth aim buy more domain names with an ultimate aim of songbox.com :)

Amazing feedback. Thank you.

As I'm saying now to most of the commenters, it is going to take me days to process all of this. I cannot believe the traction this thread has had. I'm overwhelmed lol.

Congratulations! It's honestly very encouraging to read about it taking so long. Usually you hear about these 3-month projects that hit 1k MRR like it's the most normal thing in the world.

It might be a bit egoistical, but this makes me feel better about my project going at a snail's pace (after 6 months I have something barely resembling an MVP).

No, I see those stories in the same way that I see stories about people winning the lottery; it can happen, but it probably won't.

Growing slowly has aided me hugely in being able to refine and optimise as I went. If I had the money to throw at marketing 2 years ago, to get loads of eyeballs on the site, it would have failed. Because the product wasn't ready then. It's been 2 years of listening to feedback and making incremental changes that has allowed me to really start growing revenue this year.

Thanks for replying. If you don't mind me asking, how did you get your first users and when did you decide it was worth asking money for?

I decided it was worth asking money for before I laid a finger to the keyboard.

Getting first users was really tough. I "launched" on product hunt and that was a bomb. I posted around some forums and that got some attention, but it was a post on reddit that was seen by the owner of a niche forum for audio engineers that helped.

He allowed to me to post in their commercial thread and that got me going with a bunch of audio engineers who saw real value in the product.

That burst of interest and Q&A gave me a TON of feedback to improve things and add features.

Then things just VERY slowly started to snowball. and I do mean VERY SLOWLY.

I also get a lot of traffic from organic google searches as I rank number 1 in google for some very relevant search terms. Even outranking soundcloud. Have no idea how that happened.

As far as I'm concerned it was 2 years of refining the product. Only in the past 6 months have I seen consistent month on month growth, and it's still very early days.

Did you have difficulties finding places to self-promote? I'm finding that that is a tricky thing to do. I don't want to jump into a community and start selling my product since a lot of places don't like it and it is tacky as hell, so I have to find ways to engage actively and when the the appropriate time comes (i.e. the conversation would naturally allow it), bring up what I've made.

This is a brilliant perspective. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

This is a really great idea, kudos!

You might want to look at Docsend for feature and marketing inspiration - they started by allowing mainly startup pitch/sales decks to be tracked in much the same way your audio clips are, but have since expanded to a wide variety of enterprise use cases. I can only imagine that the music industry has many such use cases, including enterprise-style auditing/reporting needs and the ability to limit an audio file's distribution to within an organization. Not for the faint of heart to approach that, but there could be real opportunities there.

Some other random thoughts: This would be a perfect UI to standardize the pattern a lot of YouTube ads do: a ~5 second teaser clip that pre-plays the full material. With this and other network features as you grow (say, "submit demos to my SongBox drop box, and then I can quick-review my inbound SongBox feed"), you could gain the reputation of - "if I receive a demo on SongBox, it means that the sender is being highly respectful of my time." You might not want to build all that social-network functionality, of course, but it's a possible direction to go!

Also, custom subdomains (and beyond just removing branding, letting people add branding) could be a high-ROI way to add another pricing tier!

There's a lot on this comment and I appreciate it all.

One thing I'll pick up on now before looping back later is the ability to RECEIVE tracks via songbox. This is actually a feature I only rolled out last week. EG I could give you a link to my portal and you upload tracks to it, and they all fall into my feed for review.

This literally is live in the app just now, I just haven't shouted about it yet as it is brand new.

This is the way to actually win. This is what makes it B2B, where the actual money in music lives.

After clicking around your site a bit, I am left with a somewhat "cold" feeling of an anonymous service.

As a potential customer and business partner, I would leave the site for good if I had not seen your post here on HN.

For me to engage with a service, I need to know who is behind it. See their face. Their Twitter account, their Github.

I would not put my data into an anonymous machine.

I appreciate that feedback however I would say 'each to their own'. I'm pretty sure the majority of businesses don't have people's faces on display and info about their personal life.

HOWEVER... I take it onboard.

Would it help if I made more a big deal about the "why I built it" article?

I think you’re just missing an about or company page that tells the user about Songbox and Division77. No need for faces and personal Twitter accounts unless you individually are the “brand” driving the revenue.

    the majority of businesses don't have
    people's faces on display
Not on display. But most successfull startups I remember started with the founder in the open. You could find them on Twitter etc. Creating a startup as an anonymous page for some reason seems to be an indicator of failure.

Or about page would be fine. As a client I would like to know the person behind the company.

I'm going to work on an about page. This is great feedback. Thanks.

Can I ask... does the "why I built SongBox" page not serve this purpose?

For me, yes and no. It does serve its purpose to an extent, but knowing a bit about the founder (nothing too personal, maybe your name, a small paragraph and your twitter handle) gives me confidence there is a real human behind, I feel safer knowing there are people not afraid to hide and potentially available to solve any problems I have.

Great story and really inspirational btw. Keep it up! Love the product.

When you're working part-time at another company (hence "side" project), isn't it fair to not expose your identity? I'm genuinely curious. Because I heard companies can fire you or worse even snatch your "side" project from you if it's making money for you.

Do all founders leave their companies before doing side project startups?

You wrote on your site about why you developed SongBox, saying:

We received dozens of demos in the post every day. This was well into the streaming era, but we still received box loads of CDs every day, from all over the world.

Some of these packages were exquisite. Some were terrible. Some came with elaborate gifts. What they all had in common was that none of them got heard. They piled up in the corner of the office and every week the area would get cleared out.

Myself and some of the other developers called it "the corner where dreams went to die".

To me, that is really emotive. If your dialogue with HN users in any way helps you to address that sad problem (by way of optimisation of pricing/functionality/whatever) on behalf of those with whom you seem to empathise/resonate then that will be a happy outcome.

Good luck and best wishes.

Thanks for this. I hadn't read that since the time I wrote it.

you're right, it is pretty sad.


From the Why I Built page:

> Years later, and I've taken a job in software at a large media company. I'll name no names but this company had music brands that were (and are) known globally.

How have you navigated intellectual property to SongBox with your current employer, who it sounds like works in the same industry and who might have claim on some part of what you've created?

I no longer work for that company, however the IP really doesn't have any crossover. They were a media company; magazines and radio.

If you worked on this while employed without getting a waiver their lawyers might beg to differ in the UK pretty much every contract I’ve seen has “we own all your discoveries unless stated otherwise” clause in it.

I understand what you're saying but it's not a thing in this case. And with my current employer I had my contract amended before I started (as a condition of joining, I recommend everyone does the same). The change implemented allows me to work on anything I want so long as it's not a competing product.

That's a great idea!

That clause is pretty much universal. Defending / enforcing it is whole different story.

That sort of clause is pretty much universally challenged by anyone with a bit of experience and credibility, too, at least here in the UK. And so it should be. That goes whether we're talking about inventions (which normally means patents) or other intellectual property such as copyright (which appears to be what we're talking about in OP's situation).

"In the course of your employment" or similar words used to be a more reasonable standard that was widely considered fair to both sides for salaried employees. In other words, things you do on company time, using company resources and/or in the company's line of business go to the company, but they have no claim beyond that. I haven't spoken to a lawyer about this recently, so if the issue might affect you, please check whether this is still correct and don't just rely on my comment here.

What happens if you worked at a project before you joined a company (e.g. a website or an app) which also contributes to your income?

And what if you actually hire people to work on it for the time after you join the other company?

Sorry I'm not entirely clear what you mean. However I try not to weigh myself down with "What ifs" as a general life rule.

Where does it end?

What if your parents never met?

Please don't read this as facetious, I'm not meaning to be.

Maybe what I am asking is ambiguous. However, @dogma said that anything you work on during the time you are employed might be regarded as company IP.

What I am asking is what happens with work/projects/apps that someone has done on the side before joining a company, and especially in the case that this creates a revenue stream.

Oh in that case I'm not sure, but I would always be clear with the employer at the interview stage.

In my current role I mentioned that I work on things on the side and they were like... oh that's not allowed, and I said... oh well I can't work here then.

They changed the rule lol

In my current role I mentioned that I work on things on the side and they were like... oh that's not allowed, and I said... oh well I can't work here then.

Good for you! There seems to be a certain mindset in some company bosses, and it's usually middle management types who have made it to a moderately senior level and never not been "company men" (or women etc. obviously) in my experience. It's like they think becoming an employee at their firm means giving over your life to them, and that by graciously allowing you to work for them they're doing you some big favour that justifies that stance. This is supported by the corporate lawyers routinely trying to insert heavily one-sided terms into employment contracts. But that simply isn't what an employment relationship is, certainly not in the West in 2020, and enough good people saying "no" and being willing to walk away is the only way the "we own you" people will learn.

Thanks for this. Yeah I agree.

When I interview for a position I am interviewing them as much as they are interviewing me. Everyone should think like this.

Most employment contracts have a section where you declare your existing intellectual property. You can also have this amended after you start working there.

So, in other words, it's an online demo tape? For creators to send around to (hopefully) interested parties, and with the added advantage that creators can find out who listened to which songs how many times? Sounds like a good idea - as long as the people listening to the songs are aware that they're being tracked this way...

all you need is a box to click "I agree"

Perhaps this is outside the scope of what you want the app to be, but...

I teach high school English. We will frequently create audio products like podcasts, speeches, Tedtalks, etc.

Traditionally, I would offer feedback in person while a student is drafting/editing their products - but with distance ed. that is somewhat more challenging.

The feature I would like is the ability to add an annotation to the audio track (either written or verbally) that is tagged to a specific moment/stretch of audio.

The ability to have creators add submissions to a shared folder would also help (such that I can rapidly click through and provide feedback on a large set of submissions).

Just spitballing, but maybe like genius.com but for private feedback on audio.

Soundcloud actually has a feature where users can comment on specific points in a recording

This is a great idea and I already have schools as paying customers. Right now their use cases involve sending audio recordings (eg from music class) to parents, privately.

Will look into this for sure. Thanks so much.

If you have schools (e.g. institutions, not individuals) already paying, maybe experiment if you can make a pricing tier for institutions. E.g. Special School package 3k/yr includes unlimited tracks, group by classroom, some other school specific feature ...

Fantastic logo! I first thought it was a stylized treble clef but I think it's more a stylized sixteenth note. Not sure if this was your intention but still great. You might even consider to add the five lines used in sheet music to make the music-part more clear.

Speaking of logos, I disliked that you use songbox there, but call your service SongBox. I would change it and maybe even fix it in the user stories.

Small suggestion for the image that shows the dashboard: To quote Matthew McC: "You gotta pump those numbers up!" It's apparent that they are from a demo account you use, but perhaps you could make the numbers more appealing (don't oversell it, though). If I would use your service, I would hope to have a better avg listening time for example.

Kudos for that Doctor Who easter egg, btw!

haha you're the first person to notice the Dr Who thing.

Good advice, thank you!

I love seeing tenacity start to pay off. The way I view things like this is if you like doing it, keep at it. The slow growth over time models is one that gets buried in the flashy SV-style startup stories, but they are equally (if not more) important.

I love the site and I only have two points of feedback:

1. I’d move the example player up higher. I suspect many artist will want to know what their link or embeded track will look like. Having to scroll past pricing for the example might lose people. 2. Pricing plan naming can be tough. In this case you may want to look at renaming the plans simply because artists who should be on the semi-pro plan may not pull the trigger because they think they are pros. That’s a small thing though.

Great feedback

1. Yeah I'm gonna re-think the whole sample player thing. That's not a representation of what the pages look like, that's an embed. And I think I'm gonna kill embeds

2. 100%!! I toiled for days over "semi pro" VS "amateur"

Up and coming :D


Good website with a clear pitch.

Some suggestions:

- maybe factor number of listens into your pricing rather than tracks to nudge people into higher pricing around the time they are broadening their outreach.

- think about automating distribution to soundcloud, youtube, spotify, etc. as a next step. Could be interesting for e.g. podcast creators to not have to micromanage each of those. Probably some or all of those have APIs for this.

These are good shouts, thanks. I had already put in the roadmap digital distribution a la iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal etc... however didn't think of the Soundcloud / Youtube angle.


I would like to add Mixcloud to your list, if it is not already on your radar.

Cool project, I like that you've clearly stated on the front page exactly what it's for.

Just FYI the bottom of your Blog pages contains a button with a strange label CANVAS::BLOG.BUTTON.NEXT

Also the link to your Privacy Policy has (almost) the same foreground and background color.


Ooops... thanks so much I will address these issues tonight.

No problem!

PS I think your Pro tier is too cheap ;) anyone that wants to remove your branding (and perhaps whitelabel the product as their own?) is a big enough outfit to pay more than what you're asking.

You're not the first person to say that. It used to be $50 a month and no-one took me up on that, however the product has evolved quite a bit since then.

Will re-look at pricing in the new year.

Thanks a lot for your input, it is appreciated!

Sometimes people respect things when they cost more.

Corporates and other businesses won't blink at paying bigger amounts than this, if you can tell them how much support they are going to get for their money.

Congrats! I went full time on my own projects back in early 2018, and I only recently started making significant money from it.

I like following along with indie developers. Do you blog anywhere or post about your progress?

For reference, here are some indie developers whose regular progress updates I enjoy:

* Cory Zue, creator of SaaS Pegasus and PlaceCardMe: https://www.coryzue.com/writing/

* Jen, creator of Lunch Money: https://lunchbag.ca/

* Allison Seboldt, creator of Fantasy Congress: https://allisonseboldt.com/

I actually don't... I mean I have a blog where I post the odd article at my other site, https://division77.com but I didn't think anyone would be interested in my ramblings.

Maybe this thread has changed my mind on that.

Congratulations is due! The journey sounds very similar to what I'm going through, though in my case acquisition was the end result, couldn't see it through to the 3 digit $$.

Built an app 3 years ago, just kept at it and it was on a constant cycle of losing interest and suddenly bursting out features then losing interest again over and over.

Nevertheless, I get the grind and I respect it. It isn't easy keeping at something for these many years on the side especially without any rewards. There will be this inevitable impulse to just kill it and move on to the new one when after the excitement wanes off (it definitely makes sense for certain projects). Kudos for keeping it up!

Keep on going.

Thanks, how did your acquisition end up happening? what MRR did you sell it at?

It was via microacquire.com, the MRR was mostly around ~$90 for a year or so and was on the same when sold. Expenses were around ~$5/mo. so just kept it on maintenance mode.

I decided to sell primarily because there were lots of enterprise companies' interests with people reaching out for bulk pricing and stuff, but I've really lost motivation on this project at that point so put it up for sale if anyone's interested to take it in that direction.

Out of curiosity, how much did you sell it for? And can you share some details how your side project had been valued to derive the final sale price?

Congrats! After two decades as a salaried engineer, my brain was convinced that customers would give me money just for being a superior human being. People who were brought up right might not have this problem when they start a new thing, but I think that all too often this thinking creeps in with success. In my case, the world beat it out of me as I tried to make and sell things for profit, because I started rotten and had to get better, but as a decent human being, you should stay exposed to the rigors of serving your customers.

Thank you! How are you getting on with your own projects now?

We are in the black, and I'm investing time in people to help carry weight. It's at least as hard as the core business. Offering a slice of potential big profits to intelligent people who can't get their shit together does nothing to help them get their shit together. It does the opposite; they fall apart and descend into playing mind games with me. Paying them a reasonable amount the instant they finish an assignment actually works.

Really great example of how to build indie projects. You built a solution to a problem you've personally experienced, and you solve it for others who may face the problem. Congratulations, good work! Also, site is very clean. I would give a try if I were making music.

You maybe able to target a wider audience given your product is now mature. If you are willing and able to scale, maybe a SEO / Marketing specialist will be helpful in taking it to the next level.

Great to see a product find and fill a gap. I'm not in that target group but the product seems good and the landing page is so clean and clear. One note on the Pricing page, the [Show yearly plans] button wasn't obviously a toggle to me so was hesitant to click it for another page load. Turned out to be a toggle switch for current view. Maybe consider showing it as a 'slider' toggle?

Great feedback, thanks. I will add that to the list...

I cannot believe how much amazing feedback I'm getting from you guys today. Blown away.

I was able to generate this error :

Stripe\Exception\InvalidRequestException Invalid email address: asfd@fsdf vendor/stripe/stripe-php/lib/Exception/ApiErrorException.php:38

by omiting the tld in the email field at https://songbox.rocks/join/free

yikes... on it!

Thank you!

That looks really polished. Well done. It wouldn't be HN if I didn't give some feedback!

One thing that I think is confusing is "Advanced security" and "Any file type" in the price comparison. I think it is better to list the specifics e.g.

"Password Protect Your Profile Page"

"Only .mp3 and .wav supported" "All music files supported"


Yeah, that bothered me too. I mean, even in a free plan I expect the same level of security as the paid plan.

This is great feedback and I will implement.

Thank you.

Minor nitpick, but what's up with the artifacting on your large images?

See the text in your image "the button at the bottom of the page."

See also the gradient in your second image: "Create a Private Playlist"

There are noticeable artifacts, whether from compression or something else.

It just takes away from that polished feel for me.

Sorry I don't have actual functionality feedback!

No this is cool feedback. All good. I don't know why you're seeing that. I'll investigate.

It looks like the images were somewhat aggressively compressed, and it's starting to become visible

Congratulations on the achievement!

The site looks very good, and the idea is very appealing (though I am not a target customer). Will point Songbox out to my audio producing friends.

One question in regards to where the audio is being served; would it be possible to proxy it through Songbox from another origin point?

Just so you're not recommending a competitor, it's songbox :-) not soundbox.

Hmmm... I'm unsure of wether you could host the audio somewhere else and serve it through songbox. It's an interesting proposition though and one I will look into.

Ah ops, fixed that for the history. Songbox it is ;)

haha thanks.

Congrats! I've never been great in the business & marketing side on my case for my side-project, are you coming from a developer background?

It's not been completely a waste of time on my case at least though, I learned new tech stuff and it's a great addition on my CV.

My career is actually in Product Management, but yes I am a developer... not the best developer but I can make anything I choose to.

I think the product management background is what has helped me as I focus on the user and the product... focus on value.

Rightly or wrongly I don't get hung up on code, infrastructure etc. The only thing matters (in my opinion) is that if a user sits down to use it, does it provide them a benefit.

That is what I have been (and am) laser focussed on.

Hi, Congrats on hitting that milestone . As others have said, the site looks great and it's clear you've put a lot of time into it. I can offer a few feedback points:

The pricing tiers could have better names, from a quick glance I wasn't sure which plan fits me. Maybe take a look at what are common traits for customers in each plan and see if you can come up with a one word persona for each plan that way.

The product tours after signup are really clear and crisp well done. I've found that getting users to Wow fast is key to drive conversions, and that tours aren't enough. They show me how to get to wow but don't bring me there.

A common pattern is to prepopulate the app with some data and lead the user to a likely wow event quickly. That's super hard, because you need to know what wow is, but it's gold when you crack it.

I've asked customers "What made you decide to give us money" and that can get some good insights towards what wow is.

I just visited the site for the second time, and my dashboard is empty because I haven't done anything. A real user will likely churn, because they don't know what to do. Nudge them hard towards the action that will bring them to wow.

I'm parroting patio11, but your pro plan is priced to low. Try raising prices on it (a lot) and see if anyone goes for it. Anecdote: I set a pricing page to have $50, $180 and $1200. $50 sold the most, but one day someone self served themselves an annual $1200/month plan, which is 24 $50 customers. Point being, if someone wants to give you a lot of money, give them the chance to do so.

Last point, I just noticed the video under the the pricing section. My personal opinion is that it's weak for marketing purposes, it tells me how to use the app, but doesn't immediately show me what the app can do for me. The point of a video on a marketing page is to get me excited to try and then convert. Make me feel excited ... On the other hand, it is a very good tutorial video, maybe put it on the dashboard of the app if the user hasn't uploaded any tracks yet.

Good luck!

This is all excellent feedback.

I actually cannot believe how much interest this thread has gotten today. It's going to take me a while to categorise and document all the feedback and ideas... but I will!

Congrats! I have some side projects, and these stories are always very inspirational. Thank you for sharing :)

I'm not a music creator. I use SoundCloud (sometimes) to listen to stuff friends of mine make, or musicians I've heard here or there.

It's not clear to me if there's a way that you want someone like me to use your site; which is fine, there might not be. If there is tho, I'm not seeing it yet.

Design-wise, I think you could do with more whitespace, mostly around things. (Ex: Keep the div the same size, shrink the font size a bit).

Thanks for the feedback!

You're right in that this isn't meant to be used in the same way as soundcloud.

Soubdcloud is about discovery whereas my app songbox is about sharing privately. Most of the music shared in SongBox is pre-release and not for public consumption.

Congratulations! Great idea and the app looks very polished. I'm really excited for you as I've got a similar story: working on a project on and off for 10 years, first as a hobby offering it for free but last 3 years thought what if I could make it worth my time. I started charging this year and now at a similar MRR. Oh and judging by the currency, also living in the UK. A story like yours really gives me hope and inspires me to keep going so thank you for sharing.

I have zero understanding of your domain, but from quickly scanning your landing page i immediatetly understand what its about. Great idea and really nice implementation!

Very cool! Some questions:

* Showing the UI that listeners will experience seems important. Can customers customize the listening pages their listeners will use?

* Have you considered offering to sell songs and albums? The listener is right there on your website, listening to a song they like, and now they want to buy it. Will they know how to do that? Will they have to navigate off to a different website?

* How long does a user have to listen to a song before SongBox counts it as a "play"?

This is amazing feedback. Thank you.

1. There are various images on the homepage that show the "listener" UI. Is that not coming across?

2. On the "pro" tier you can offer the tracks for download, but not for sale. This has crossed my mind as a future option but I'm not sure if this is the platform for that right now. Maybe when / if it scales and becomes more mainstream.

My no longer "side" project recently hit the milestone of $4k/month https://pawelurbanek.com/profitable-slack-bot-rails . Took me over 3 years to get to this point. It allowed me to quit my job and focus on growing it even further full-time.

Love it! Great looking site, very professional. I agree with another comment that your name/face on the 'why' page could be useful, but not a deal breaker.

Out of interest, do you have the rights to embed Wrecking Ball? If I was musician who saw you using another musicians music without permission that would turn me off.

(Also on android chrome the count up timer worked on the player, but the bit that would tell me how long the song was stuck at 0.0)

The wrecking ball thing is interesting. That is just a vocal stem that was available on the internet. All the music is recorded and performed by me.

Congrats! I had no idea what this product was or why it was useful until I read the Why I Built This page, but then again I'm not your target customer.

Having used Siundcloud a ton, i can definitely see the appeal here, especially the “we do not compress” thing! That’s really nice!

Awesome! thanks for the feedback. A lot of people who have come from Soundcloud said that was a thing, so I thought I should point it out on the homepage.

No that's totally cool. I appreciate the feedback.

Congratulations on the milestone! And for plugging away at the project, it's great. I noticed a small formatting issue, I think, on the privacy policy page there is a button which has the text "Canvas::Blog Buttons.Next", I assume you probably meant for the text to say something different. Did you build the webpage yourself or use an agency for any of it?

Thanks, someone else has pointed this out too.. ooops. Will fix tonight.

Yeah I built the site and the whole platform myself.

https://division77.com which is linked to in the footer is also me.

Great! I have an MVP project I'm working on and may reach out to you at division77 if I need to build it out a bit. All the best

That's awesome. I applaud anyone who sticks with a project for that long.

I've got a similar side project that makes some money, but isn't profitable yet. I'm in the "almost given up" point, considering shutting it down, but would be letting people down and frankly, letting myself down.

Props to you for sticking with it and it sounds like it's been worth it!

What's the project man? I've been there a few times. For me when I get a new idea for a feature or some feedback that I think is meaningful, it really re-ignites the fire.

Congratulations on your Milestone. Website looks very professional. Like the colors and theme. I also watched the youtube on getting started. Very nicely done overall.

I have an adblocker installed. I see that there is a grey area under "Share your tracks anywhere". It says the request had been blocked by ad-blocker. May be googletagmanager or new-relic

Good luck :-)

Thanks for this. I think that ad blocker thing is because I have the word "track" in the URL

Very cool! Congrats on the revenue milestone.

Is there a mobile app? Does it stream or download the songs for offline consumption?

There are a lot of authors looking for an alternative to audible. Bandcamp does not work great either due to pricing and their app UX. Songbox currently seems very focused on music but maybe future avenues to explore are podcasts and audio books.

This is amazing feedback. I love the Audible angle.

More food for thought.

With no experience in this business I wonder if some of your plans (especially "Pro") are priced to cheaply?!

Great story! Keep going.

I still have a side project that basically goes unmaintained for several years now but only returns about a hundred bucks a month. I think it still has potential but for several reasons I totally lost the passion for it.

Thanks a lot.

What's you side business? You should consider selling it.

It's namesmith.io. A tool for finding business names and their corresponding free domains. I had some offers but they basically all were just cheap and not worth any time.

There is money to be made in this market but generally my experience with domains is that it's a pain.

I'm always curious how do people come up with these ideas. I assume that to be in a position to make something like this you need to have a very good understanding of the problem space.

As tech people i often feel that while we may have an advantage in being able to execute, finding a problem can be quite tricky if all you know is IT!

thats a self limiting belief. it is not true that "all you know is IT". all of us have interests beyond tech. if that's not enough, all of us have close relatives or friends with problems we can solve. they are representative of people who are like them, all of whom have problems that need solving.

make sure you're not merely making excuses for not trying when you say "all you know is IT"

It's a fair point, though when reading many of these kinds of posts you see that usually the person has an "in" already in that particular niche.

Checked this out and looks cool. A bit confused how this competes with the likes of disco and songspace as it seems to be noticeably more expensive with fewer features at the moment. 50 tracks isn't enough for the semi pro tier IMO. Disco offers 500 in its basic $10 tier.

Looking forward to seeing where you take it.

FWIW, I personally found the gradients a bit too pronounced, and the "EPK*" thing stood out a bit because if you're going to put an asterisk wouldn't it be visually cleaner to just fully write it out?

Other than that it's a clean look. Congrats, your story is inspiring.

Similarly - it looks, nice - the shadow + soft effect could be a bit more subtle.

I'll experiment with this tonight. Thanks for the feedback.

Congrats! I ramped a little faster but followed the same path. The project started at my kitchen table now grosses $13M per year (10 years later). Keep going my friend; the road will be rocky but it's well worth the time and effort once you reach the top of the mountain!

wow - congratulations to you! that is awesome.

lol if I get to £1000 MRR I will be jumping for joy. Over £1m mrr is insane!

when I was at your stage I thought the idea of $1M/m was an impossible dream...it's not...just keep iterating, listening to your users, following your gut and make good decisions everyday

Thanks so much. I got goosebumps reading that comment lol.

Are you going to add more features to the audio player? The one that's featured on the home page doesn't let you skip to the middle of the the song etc. Thanks for sharing your experience, it's quite useful for all of us to learn.

Yeah that's the embed. The players on the actual songbox pages themselves are nicer. I may pull the embed functionality as I don't think it's used much.

Maybe when songbox scales it will be useful but right now the main use of my product is for tracks that are NOT YET public, so the embed thing was probably a waste of my time lol.

Looks very nice!

Do you have some sort of upload API, so music creation software could potentially upload directly, without going through a GUI? (I realize this may be an exotic request, so I understand if this is not of interest for you to implement).

I use filestack.com for uploading and handling assets.. so yes I do believe this could be a possibility.

Do you see a use case for this?

This may not be a particularly compelling use case for you, but one of my side projects is a music editor that can generate and upload sheet music and backing tracks for existing or new compositions: https://woodshed.in

While there are tons of image sharing sites with suitable APIs for this, it's surprisingly hard to find audio sharing sites (maybe due to piracy concerns?).

Congrats, these things are hard. Could you share some technical details? DB, infrastructure, frameworks, etc?

What's your main use case?

I can see some audio pros sharing files regularly with their clients (demos, WIP of mixing and mastering, etc).


Framework: laravel DB: MariaDB hosted with jawsDB.com Host: Heroku

Main use case is probably musicians sharing pre-release music with the press / agencies etc but I do have a pretty wide spread. I have schools, businesses, engineers, composers, producers etc. Basically anyone who uses audio files can find SongBox useful.

How much % of your revenue do you spend on hosting, roughly? And do you feel comfortable with it or is that something you have to manage?

Given all the IPOs in the last weeks, from Doordash to AirBnB, how does it feel to have lost out on massive opportunity cost? Same skill and effort as a Director, exponential payout vs. your grind for hand outs.

In other words “why do what you love when you can be a well paid company man?”

This is awesome! I dabble in music sometimes and I think this'd be a cool tool for sharing. Don't know if I have any super detailed feedback, but just wanted to say congrats and that's exciting!

Thanks so much!

Congratulations. Lovely project.

For electronic music creators, Formaviva.com is a great alternative to the mention platforms that besides free private sharing also enables downloads, play and heatmap tracking (for free).

In the pricing page, the "Starter" pack is vertically unaligned with the other 3. Using Chrome desktop. Is that on purpose? Coincidentally it has one line of text less than the other 3, hmmm..

Not intentional but not a dealbreaker to me. However... I will remedy :-)

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