These days BCC is in maintenance mode (i.e. I respond to emails, cut checks, and put out fires, but I don't do active development or marketing). It works out to a bit more than my old salary for roughly 69.5 less hours of weekly work.
I have two other businesses: I do consulting and I have Appointment Reminder. Appointment Reminder pays its own way now, but doesn't put a meaningful amount of money in my pocket. Consulting does (egads), but distracts quite a bit from working on AR.
It seems like that would accelerate growth of your startup - while BCC revenues ensure that you have enough runway to grow the business.
Of course, it is possible that consulting adds in more value to the business (e.g. new domain knowledge, useful contacts ) besides pulling in revenue.
Do you think that, given enough time spent developing/marketing it, AR will provide as much recurring income as BCC?
Aside from being owned by me, though, those two businesses are as alike as a kitten and a kumquat. (e.g. AR could take external investment, something which I am kicking around doing later. BCC would be an extraordinarily poor candidate for it.)
Hey Patrick, any chance for an affiliate account with your service (as opposed to your white label)? I'd gladly refer my barber, dentist, plumber, etc. As a stats junkie, Id like to see how many of my referrals actually sign up. Getting a reward for it would also be pretty sweet.
With regards to marketing, see my blog (www.kalzumeus.com), but the short answer is I use organic SEO and AdWords. My one trick pony for organic SEO is scalable content generation, and what a beautiful, loyal pony it is.
We completed the game from idea to app store in 3.5 weeks and it is now, by far, our most popular game. * face palm *
EDIT: We split the revenue 50/50, so the revenue (after apple's cut) on this game is around $4k/mo.
If so, I salute you.
But the fine print on http://www.ipadgameforcats.com/ says that one level/theme is free and another is $1.99 as an in-app purchase.
Our other puppy prefers a sound board: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshu/5702009514
Edit: Is this something for the untapped Crazy Cat Lady market?
This app makes money because anyone that owns a cat and an iPad looks for apps that their cat(s) can play with.
The same is true for baby apps. There are some super simple apps that babies enjoy, and those apps make very good money considering the development effort.
That being said, not everyone can pull it off. This particular cat app is fairly well done in my opinion. One must also keep in mind that just cause it makes $4k/month right now, it doesn't mean it'll continue to make that much 6 months from now.
My sister ended meeting someone at starbucks who's daughter worked for a shelter and the rest is history: http://conservatorscenter.org
They love us because it brought a good amount of exposure to their center. They've already asked us to make more apps specifically for them. They use it as a way for kids to interact with the animals.
I've now put that center on the list of places I need to visit.
Now just this week they release this game, same idea, almost same domain. (I would guess the reason they didn't use the domain gameforcats.com is because I also own that domain.)
Folks say I should contact an IP lawyer, but I'm not sure I a) want to go up against big-corp (who will just claim they came up with it independently) or b) believe in that sort of thing.
I am currently operating TikiToki as a side project from my main business as a freelance web developer. Aim to go full time with TikiToki at start of July.
This will be a bit of a gamble, given that what I earn from subscribers via TikiToki for a full month is less than what I would earn in half a day as a freelance developer!
We do it for love as much as the money!
If we want to go into detail, I should also add that I also earn about $80 a month from Adsense for a blog my wife and I run (http://www.casualgirlgamer.com) and about $25 a month via Big Fish's affiliates scheme. Peanuts really but it all adds up...
I'm currently making between 90k and 110K a month in revenue as a sole employee running a fairly large active Web community (< 2500 Quantcast). The focus of the community is a niche market with very little competition but we fare well by providing good value to our community.
Our revenue sources breaks down as follows:
* 40/50K/month in subscription revenue
* 25K/month in adsense revenue
* 4k/month in other ad revenue (Ebay, Amazon, Viglink etc)
* 30K/month in license and royalty revenue
As the sole employee, my primary responsibilities are all of the development of the platform, all system administration, all marketing and business activities, financials, and I also provide all the primary user support for the site. We have approximately 120 administrators and moderators who are volunteers, and we also have 4 individuals who are independent contractors who receive a set amount every month to lead different parts of our site and lead those volunteers.
Our platform is primarily based on Amazon Web services but includes physical servers from other hosting platforms. Platform as a service providers that we use include Cloudkick, Chartbeat, Geckoboard, Dynect, and SendGrid.
The reason why we have been so successful is we cater to a hobbyist market and operate on a very generous freemium model. Our subscription revenue is solid and predictable, and we experience very few chargebacks because we have consciously decided not to do automated renewals. Our license and royalty revenue is due to licensing agreements we have with third parties who utilize our content and services and APIs, as well as mobile device makers who serve our content (primarily to the Android and iOS market).
All of the above is a full time job and I rarely ever have a day off, although I have a tremendous amount of flexibility with my schedule.
Do you enjoy the community? Could you keep running it indefinitely?
I'm really not sure how to answer the question about running it indefinitely. I'm someone that doesn't like to sit still for long so I'd bet that I'll engineer a sale of this business someday in the next few years and move on to scratch another itch.
Do you have a Paypal donate button/email? :)
I love the internet :)
60% is from Adsense on a sports-related niche website. I make most of that during a couple bursts related to sports seasons - playoffs, spring training, opening day, March Madness, etc. I absolutely stumbled upon that niche from seeing traffic on a related blog post I made. If I really did the SEO and worked on the site I could probably make 5-10 times as much, but I couldn't really grow to other niches.
39% of that is from Amazon affiliate links on a niche gift shopping site. That occasionally lands a sale throughout the year, but it booms from October to early December. This is something I could easily grow to lots of other niches - if I built out the automation. It doesn't really excite me, but shoveling Amazon affiliate links onto dozens or hundreds of niche shopping blogs should be lucrative. I would only focus on the Christmas shopping season though, unless you targeted different holidays like Mother's Day.
1% of that is from a few photos on iStockPhoto. That's where I actually want to put more of my effort going forward. I like the challenge of taking good photos and I like the idea of making my photography hobby self-supporting. But I also think the stock photography (and video) I produce will have a longer sellable life than anything else.
Ditto on this. http://islostarepeat.com doesn't get much love these days...
I'm in a very close situation. What would you do, exactly? Pay for an Adwords campaign? Canonical URLs? Improve the load times of the web?
I had just started to seriously follow this path but I was earning between $100 and $375 per month in commissions from the test runs of my software that creates stores. I am in negotiations with them concerning turning my accounts back on.
I plan to expand this into a series of blog posts about lessons learned both business and technological. Upvote if that sounds like something you want to read.
My internal process is extremely automated, as in I wasn't involved directly unless something broke.
There is some politics involved also, including Osama Bin Laden stealing my retirement.
I'm working on a new site to sell my designs directly and these blog posts will mysteriously coincide with the launch of that site.
As to CafePress reinstating me: They were letting me use it at lower upload levels and when I got things really going I was a big piece of their API traffic (like half). I'm confident that they will see the value proposition to them, particularly after the projected numbers I worked out yesterday (which I will share in the posts).
To be honest, the blogs did have some crappy content. I would be happy to pull the ads off the bad blogs and put them back on dodgit, a service I have lovingly maintained for 7 yrs. Sadly there appears to be no way to appeal to Google once they drop the axe.
I'm pondering next steps. I know a few people who work at Google but haven't contacted any of them yet. I've played around with adbrite and some other ad networks, but none of them seem to generate money the way adsense can.
I've also created a number of websites that generate revenue over the years, that aren't dependent on adsense in any way. I'll definitely make more!
It took a while, but I've come to realize that affiliate/product marketing can make a lot more money. Think about your audience, can you sell them a book explaining how to do something, and what existing affiliate products like those on Clickbank could you sell them?
Using a throwaway account for this because I'd rather not share our numbers publicly yet, but in about 2.5 years since our hosted web app went live, we're generating just under $10,000 per month in revenue. That's working on it part-time for the first couple of years and, more recently, full-time.
It's targeted at developers/designers, and the growth has been very slow and steady. There's never been a break-through moment as revenue has grown at an average rate of about 3.5% per month since we launched.
I own about 70% of the company and have done the majority of the work by myself thus far. (That's beginning to change.) My investor/business partner put up a small amount of money to get us off the ground, and he helps handle more of the business side of things so that I can focus on design/development. However, I'm still pretty involved in every aspect of the business.
Of the 4 businesses I've founded or co-founded (BIG Folio, APF, NextProof, and 2 Tablespoons), the first two generate approximately half of their revenue from recurring fees (we also have setup fees). That adds up to high 5-figures per month for each (more in a good month). Of course, they both have the highest overhead in terms of labor and servers. For me personally, the recurring revenue results in a monthly draw/dividend that is now higher than my (good) salary. I spend most of my time (40 hours between the 2) on these two.
NextProof is a purely recurring/transactional revenue business. It currently makes in the low 5-figure range per month on subscription fees + about the same in transaction fees. User base is growing at about 3% per month. Overhead is fairly low (mainly hosting at EngineYard) and I work about 5-10 hours/week on it. I take a quarterly draw/dividen on this (not too big). As someone else said, if I really worked on some SEO and properly ran some campaigns/tests, it could probably grow at 10% or more.
2 Tablespoons is my newest venture and, so far, generates about $30 a month from one iPhone app (epic, I know). Launching a restaurant website service this month. Hoping to take everything I've learned from these other businesses–and from HN–and generate some solid recurring revenue without too much overhead. Haven't thought about goals, but getting to $2k/month by the end of the year sounds reasonable.
I blog infrequently but mostly about Rails or iOS stuff. I don't blog much about startups/business. Only a few people do it well IMO and I'd rather spend my free time with my family–not blogging.
If so, Cilantro sounds interesting. One of the things I keep reading is that the restaurant industry is super resistant to change and adopting new technology. Or it seems that way.
How are you going about circumventing that issue? Or minimizing it, at least?
So, I've decided to go after the website market and solve the Flash/PDF menu/no mobile/crappy website problem. Plus, I've succeeded in the niche website space already.
The cool thing is, I can still add coupons and daily deals into the website system–and with less friction.
To answer your question, I'm circumventing resistance to change by wrapping it into something every restaurant has to have (a website) and removing as much friction as possible (mainly time by making it so easy to create/update).
I'm somewhat skeptical of the idea that restaurant owners think that the website should not have flash/pdf menus/no mobile etc, why? Well, look at all the crappy websites that exist out there, right?
However, I completely support your endeavour because I hate all those restaurants.
Could I get your email? I'd love to discuss this further and see if my product can help out.
My thinking is that (a) there is a lot of restaurant turnover anyway, so new restaurants need sites and (b) every smartphone and Flash-free tablet sold increases people's awareness of their sucky site just a bit.
I will definitely be grabbing some of those tutorials this Summer :)
I'm curious, what do you do for traffic? Just SEO?
These days I'm just thankful for everything it taught me, I can safely say that my programming skill comes from this one website and the trial by fire that is to scale a website to such high traffic and bandwidth usage.
I hear from a friend still doing this that adsense is pretty bad these days. More graphic ads convert better and pay more. So ad agencies like Matomy(Xtend), CPX (basically any yieldmanager platform) performs a bit better. Of course, if you can get into platforms such as Tribal fusion then you'll make a killing as they have really high paying ads.
(EDIT: Was at $15k per month last October before the competition started getting crazy)
About $2.5K per month hosting websites.
Then consulting income - I keep consulting because I feel like at any moment, the Android Market ranking algorithm will change or competition will wipe me out, etc, it's just to day-to-day to walk away from good old consulting.
I work with another developer to do web development projects, and I always felt like hosting would be an easy way to get some additional income from our clients. He maintains that it's just too much of a systems administration headache to be worth it.
Hosting was hands down the dumbest move I ever made. I pay tons for servers, I'm fielding "I get too much spam" support requests several times weekly. Managing backups is a nightmare, then there's the endless responsibility of keeping the sites up and running. It's like jail I pay to live in.
That being said, I'm SLOWLY moving everyone to Rackspace Sites. Once everyone has moved, I think many of my headaches will be gone. Their email system is great and gets rid of 75% of my support requests.
I'm working on something and considering if hosting will be a bigger headache than it's worth and if I can get away without offering it. I'm thinking I can't and that it won't be bad anyway.
I expect to keep things limited in scope so don't anticipate the issues you're having but I'm concerned that I might be overly optimistic.
With Rackspace Cloud Sites, they say they backup regularly for me, yes. They recommend MySQL backups on our own etc, but it's got me covered for the catastrophic situations I believe.
We run our Web infrastructure off an NFS cluster which has all storage on an EBS volume. We take snapshots from that.
New content started to slowly trickle in. Eventually search engines found the existing content. That search traffic led to more submissions. Rinse, repeat.
Most of the traffic comes from search now. Apparently people search for "is it normal that I ____" or "is it normal to ____" a lot. I didn't really anticipate this when I started the site in late 2004, but I guess I got a bit lucky with the name in that regard. However, if I had to do it all over again I'd probably pick a subject matter that's easier to monetize. iPods and cars instead of fetishes and phobias.
I sell a combination of e-books and physical books, I have a few dozen titles.
Are you then saying that your sales channel is Amazon and selling PDF/kindle books. Any examples your willing to give of one of your titles?
Living in a relatively expensive place, I'm satisfied with that for now as it enables a modest yet comfortable standard of living. The usual benefits - flexible hours, can work in any location with internet access, complete choice of technologies, etc. go a long way.
We could do a lot better, though and I'm aiming to do that. The current business I have can't grow due to the unique situation (it's based on another company's API, and that company is atrocious in every way imaginable - including developer hostility). It's been a blessing, though and I'm looking to build some great new stuff this year.
It's based on the same muscle memory as two-hand typing, so any two-hand typist can learn to type with one hand in minutes. Good for a programmer with a broken arm, for example.
I also looked into hardware solutions, but those are expensive and more for a person who isn't going to recover (longer learning time, more $$). At the time I also considered seeing if I could write something for my cell phone that would make using the keyboard on it with one hand easier too.
At the time, I certainly would have purchased a software solution if it was reasonably priced (maybe 33-50% the cost of hardware solutions).
[I make about $800 - $1200 / month on my blog, hoping to increase it with Antonio's help :)]
When I tried to start over with a more general gift affiliate site in 2009, I found that the game had changed so much that it would likely take over a year to get back to the earlier level using organic SEO.
So I've put it on hold, hoping to relaunch using social discovery for customer acquisition.
The sites have similar revenue despite the freemium one having over 1000 times more total users.
If I put hours in I can do better - If I submit links to gaming sites it can earn a few dollars a day :)
I couldn't figure out how to scale the traffic, so I've left it on autopilot while I try building other sites. I have a blog that earns about the same and am working on a new idea now that I hope will be 'the one'
My overall goal is to build an autopilot site (or portfolio of sites) that earns ~$90/day. Then ... become a sci fi author.
(LOL ... damn you Tim Ferris! I wasn't miserable in my work-a-day life until I read your damned book - two years later I'm still trying to achieve those dreams of freedom!)
The site was collateral damage in Google's Panda update (which was hoped to reduce the prominence of content mills, etc. in search results) so that number has been greatly reduced the past 2 months.
Preceden's been in maintenance mode for about a year now, as most of my free time is spent working on a new web design tool called Lean Designs (formerly jMockups) . Lean Designs isn't profitable yet, but it's getting there. Preceden, meanwhile, continues to grow organically. Lean Designs is more of a swing-for-the-fence project, but I've got high hopes for it.
Plan is to transition to full time sometime in the fall of next year.
[Edit: I didn't actually say it, but these are iPhone apps]
On average, almost all of my income is from app sales, and not from ads or In-App Purchases.
I had a Lite version of the paid app, but that seemed to do more harm than good.
I have In-App purchases (both to unlock some extra content and remove ads in the ad-based app, and to unlock each feature of the paid app into the free app), but these have been rather slow to sell (maybe 1 or 2 a week?)
My best paid app sales month was about $900. (This was actually Christmas and a strong early January, which was all reported as January) No other months have come close (although I've only been up since December, really)
I DON'T advertise of any kind. Even my official website gets zero traffic, so I don't bother to keep it up to date.
P.S. I honestly expected my apps to spike in sales and then drop down to a couple a week. In fact, all of my apps continue to be very steady. Even my highs and lows tend to be distributed across all three apps, implying (but not proving) that it's the market itself moving up and down, rather than anything I'm doing.
[EDIT: Responding to replies:]
[EDIT: Responded to wallflower]
-I don't openly connect myself to my apps, mostly because they are a little embarrassing. Maybe I'll write a blog post tell-all.
-They started earning steadily from the beginning, almost entirely through searching for solutions in the app store. I should point out that the paid app is actuall $2.99 so $300/month is really only an average of 4 sales per day or so.
-As for getting started in the iPhone business, I came into it as a young but seasoned programmer who had an idea for a market that was somewhat established, but under-served. Since then, my opinion on that market and my initial idea have completely changed, but I don't have any better ideas for iPhone apps at the moment.
As for rules and regulations? I haven't registered a business yet, so Apple treats me as an individual developer. I tried to hide my real name when I set it up, which half-worked, but took like a week.
I've run into IP infringement cases for my apps, and have even had a DMCA take-down against it, which was resolved very quickly by both sides (at the expense of my app becoming hideous). Apple actually reviewed and approved my changed app within 2 hours of me submitting it, which was awesome. I actually only had a single day of zero sales through all that.
I had an app take about 2 and a half months to get through review. Apple is MUCH slower with free apps than paid apps.
The graphic design/presentation was absolutely awful for a long time. Now the app itself is decent enough looking (no where near "Apple" pretty, but the logo is still awful).
Completely unrelated to your responses, I'm planning on submitting my fourth app this weekend (which is an optimistic estimate, to say the least).
> -I don't openly connect myself to my apps, mostly because they are a little embarrassing. Maybe I'll write a blog post tell-all.
I know some prominent iOS developers who have a throwaway LLC where they test stuff. There is no shame in making what the market wants. Remember the ideal customer for most iOS apps are teenagers with their parent's credit card. Most of them are willing to drop $1 to look cool(er) to their friends. It's all about making someone look interesting or cool. Or momentary, interruptible entertainment. Not about business productivity.
Generates about $125/mo from 30-60k pageviews per day.
We're working to improve both products and fix bugs. It's not easy to stay on top of it as an indie shop, especially in between consulting gigs and new product development.
I also make another 300-500/month from ebooks and other digital products. Working on some software that I hope will make this number triple.
An online dating tips blog that I started over 3 years ago under a pseudonym very recently started bringing in a few thousand a month from affiliates as well. SEOFTW.
There's lots of potential to bump up the revenue on the online dating blog, but I'm finishing up my book on design, so that's more important.
It started off as a Digg-esque site for the vast quantity of dating-related articles on the net based on some custom Perl I hacked together, but I quickly realized that while that was getting me linked by 'dating experts', the traffic it was bringing in didn't convert, where traffic to very generic articles ("How to meet girls at the gym") converted much better.
I tried to make sure it was updated every day, and finding, sourcing, and writing the articles took an hour a day. I ended up selling the site for ~ $16k when I needed some money to pay a tax bill quickly.
There are now so so so many sites farming this kind of content, I think it'd be very hard to reproduce in this field. That said, the affiliate commissions are pretty good - one guy would pay you $40 for every $20 ebook of his that was sold as a result of you (because he figured you'd sent him a paying customer who'd end up spending a lot more with him).
Continuously expanding with some marketing, hoping to reach the $500/month mark someday.
Unfortunately I was selling this for about $200 and I wasn't getting any buyers at all, so I was forced to switch to a lower price.
What do you suggest to add as explanations? I figured the homepage is pretty exaustive in telling what the program does.
For those curious, the apps are "US Tax Receipt" (free) and "Candy Counter - The Candy Jar Estimator" ($0.99)
$100-$200 a month selling virtual weapons in SecondLife (Used to be around $800 a month a few years ago)
$200 a month with my two iOS apps developed using Unity3D. Each took around 1 week to make! Seriously was worth the $300 license, I doubt anybody could match the development speed natively.
I do freelance web development. Even though not consistent, it's my main revenue source.
I believe there are very good opportunities to make a good income from online businesses but in my case, my acute procrastination issue is preventing me from making anything considerable.
Sadly I am an American and that is no longer possible.
The main sales channel is SEO, but I have also had success by trying to integrate, both technically and marketing-wise, with other products and services. Referrals from blog reviews and forum posts also help a little. Adwords is very low, and is something I'm trying to improve all the time (thanks patio11 for the blog posts).
I would love to expand on it or market it more, but time does not permit right now. I've started playing with Google Adwords, so we will see how that goes. We are also working on getting the site redesigned.
Will people really give away the sources of their income? I'm guesses not, since it's possible they could end up with a ton of competitors from it. (Which is why I'm not mentioning what my friends do. It wouldn't be fair to them.)
It's too easy for someone of low skill to completely copy your operation. Hurting your own bottom line isn't good for business.
If you want it badly enough, you'll figure out a way to make $1/day online and then scale it to $100/day. If you don't want it badly enough, you'll get nothing and that's exactly what you deserve. It's a lot of work, but it's rewarding when you see the results.
1) 377 * $20/month subscriptions
2) ~$1000/month in AdSense
The site is built on wordpress so i've been thinking about some kind of amazon affiliate plugin but i haven't pulled the trigger yet, haven't read any outstanding reviews on amazon plugins either.
I think I need to get into mobile dev.
Yes and no. There are free (ad-supported) apps that do similar effects, but in my entirely objective opinion they aren't as polished, and I haven't seen any others that record video. And my free version (no ads) does everything the paid version does except save pictures and video.
this just seems like something that nobody would pay for
It surprised me too, especially with the constant claims that Android users don't spend money. But as the poster above said, it's fun to show to your friends, and then if somebody wants to take a picture, $2 is less than a drink...
Do you mind if I contact you off-site?
I'd like to set up some sort of group where we get ~10 people together and then each week set things we need to do, and then next week we make sure the other people completed their goals.
If you are in, post your email as a reply to this. I'm going to use a posterous group to accomplish this - though if there is something else that would work better let me know.
Also, I see there are a lot of app developers here. I mainly do logo design http://www.designsourced.com and have worked on a few apps. Any HN folks that want a custom app icon designed for a good price or % of future sales let me know
More would be nice, but I have done a terrible job at marketing it.
Nothing major, but certainly room to grow!
Also, how did you monetize, ads or affiliates?
If you're curious: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/nations/id386514813?mt=8
Although this requires a good amount of time, I'm still able to do some freelancing on the side which makes a pretty sweet addition to the above, works out just great.
Also just wanted to say that you should improve the link text color used on the about page of your website.
I see a lot of posters making over $1K/month. How long did it take to reach that level of income?
Bear in mind it's been flying solo since 2007 with only a single facelift about 6 months ago. No marketing or anything. Pays for the server, but that's it.
That is from rental properties I own.
You've got to consider the following things, which greatly reduce the actual "income" you're getting out of them. The obvious ones are mortgage payments, insurance payments, and tax payments. Then you've also got a vacancy allowance, because you assume that units will be vacant at least some of the time between leases. This can vary between 5-20% depending on where you are.
And lastly you need to set aside money for repairs and maintenance. Most people forget to factor this into their calculations when thinking about rental cost. It's common for people to say "Well I'll just pay for it when it happens, and take it out of that month's rent". But that doesn't really apply when you're talking about things like putting on a new roof, installing a new furnace system, or any large "maintenance" project that's going to likely need to be done over the ownership life of the property. My Dad just put replaced the roof on one of his rental properties for the 3rd time since he's owned it. (He bought it when he was 21, is now 67, and the roof needed to be replaced shortly after he bought it.)
So yeah, for a single unit (depending on the area, again), you're doing well if you're getting even $100/month out of it. And as mentioned above, you're constantly building equity.
I also only invest in a city with outstanding economic fundamentals. I could invest in more depressed areas and have higher cash flow but the risk is not worth it to me.
edit: on the "takes money to make money" front, i make several hundred bucks on dividend-returning stocks.