It's a ton of work and is profitable in the sense that the hundreds of dollars a month in server costs are just a bit more than covered by the premium users. But otherwise, it did help land me a number of great connections, both in NYC and SF, where I just moved.
I code in the open. NewsBlur is entirely on GitHub: http://github.com/samuelclay. The iPhone app I'm working on is also there, so some folks use it as a way to send me issues, others go so far as to add their own pet features. It's kind of neat to see a community spring up around the code itself.
I recently came from NYC where I would use the same laptop on the A train. 15" is exactly the width of my legs and the seat, so I would comfortably take up my area, but no larger. I can't work on a dinky 13" screen, so 15" or bust for me.
I'm trying to get another idea I have into a startup, but I haven't been able to get that off the ground.
For a while I was doing cheaper time-limited licenses, like $1 for 6 months, $2 for 1 year, etc and $10 for lifetime.
Best source of customers is from free users. I started the app as free until version 3.0 when I switched to freemium. Sales have been fairly consistent each month for years, with spikes when a blog picks it up.
If a new website isn't possible or you want some other ideas here are a bunch:
1. Mess with your pricing a bit
I was comfortable paying $7 would i have preferred $5 and would not buy at $10 which is where it is now. I think with some A/B testing you could find a better price point.
2. Your checkout makes me want to cry
So as a potential customer i click upgrade to pro and get taken to this http://screensnapr.com/e/Rrn828.png .
Why has the price double?
Why are you trying to up sell me stuff?
Why am i on an external website that i have never heard of before?
Maybe spend some time/money setting up a more user friendly checkout system that wont cause potential customers to give up half way through the sale.
3. On your website sell benefits rather than features, to get you started
"It a bloody million times more accurate than the inbuilt one"
Marketing Ideas (preferable once you have fixed your website)
1. Make a battery app for the iphone (there are tons of free ones) and you would be a small fish in a big market but if people do get your app you can cross sell plus if you get mentioned on any blogs you can try and get them to link to BatteryBar as well.
2. Are you actively talking to blogs and app review sites or are you hoping they stumble across you?
Hopefully that helps, its a mess of ideas but and comments but hopefully that is useful. If you need some more input ill try, just send me a message on twitter @nico_kunz
Admittedly, I spent probably another day in random debugging for version 3-ish of it (just went walkabout in Chicago with a debug build, logging AP details when it had bad behavior). And then ungodly amounts of time answering e-mails and on the phone with the iOS app review team, but that was long after the "weekend project" phase.
I had to dig about on Installous to find one, what was yours called?
Recorded screen casts and mastered it in iDVD. Did a run of 1,000 at Discmakers for about $900. Sold out the initial run (@ $79 per disc) in under 2 years. Now we just one-off them or give them an option of viewing online.
Looking back (or if I do it again), I would probably do it as just an ebook or online videos to avoid shipping hassles.
Regardless, it's been a fairly easy ~$80k.
(BTW, if any HN folk want to see it for research purposes, let me know)
about -> above
I absolutely love the idea and would like to integrate something like it into a project I'm working on.
Though if I execute, I could see myself building a distribution platform into it.
Also, your site looks really cool. I'll give it a spin. :)
I completed the bulk of the work over three days. I spent about 40 hours on it total including the production roll out.
I most likely could not pull that off again because I had very specific domain knowledge. I knew the software I was modifying and I knew exactly what to do over all of the various systems.
He made $60k or so before ultimately selling it to WikiPedia and becoming their director of mobile development.
Not too shabby!
Iroically, the app isn't truly native, but was built in jQTouch. When I get around to it, I'm planning to finish a native version, which I think it desperately needs to be.
I think the reason it's doing better than anything else I've launched is because its my first one that isn't entirely ad supported. My advice to anyone looking to launch a side project is try to go for something people will pay a monthly fee for as opposed ad revenue.
As soon as I saw the G+ tool I knew it was something people would want on their website. I also knew I wouldn't be the only person doing this, which is why I went for a really lean approach, and managed to go from idea to first customers in 2 and half weeks.
I was still in college but me stopping in and telling the guy how much some of these customers having boxes of paper copied could benefit by having them scanned and organized led to me having my own company and employees as a sophomore in College which did just that.
I eventually built a host of sharepoint plugins which sold for a nice exit while I was still in school. I still havent finished school yet, but man did I have some fun with the money lol
Almost covered hosting costs!
what is that wordpress review plugin everyone uses?
The first iPhone app I ever made was a very simple Shopify app for seeing your orders and checking inventory. I dropped the ball on keeping it up to date because of client work and Shopify ended up buying a competitor to make into the official (free) app, but at its peak it made about $2000/month and up until I pulled it from the App Store a few weeks ago it was making around $300/month.
Developing for Shopify was great. Their API is good to work with, and they're very developer-friendly in general.
Now we have a great team, have raised a seed round and are killing it in general!
Am getting my first payout from Google Adsense this month, about 120 $. Which isn't much, but they're pure client side games, require no maintenance or anything so I'll just keep getting a small check every month :)
The biggest referer is Facebook, with Google coming in second. Ive also created all of them as Chrome Apps in the Chrome Web Store so people can "install" them there. (basically just a big bookmark on your New Tab page in Chrome)
Sold about $1000 worth of advertising so far and have had more than that in donations. Lots of ideas to do more.
It's a pretty seasonal site so I'm hoping to grow it more next spring with additional features and a better pricing model.
4,837 Unique Visitors
235 Trial Users
20 Paying Customers
$283 in Receipts
Over 4000 Designs Created
Over 7,000 PDFs Downloaded
Maybe the feature exists and I didn't spot it, but if you white labelled it so that web designers could send out branded messages to their clients as a value-add, I think you could see paid accounts pick up a bit.
Edit: OK, first email is in. Seems that I have to click a link or get an attachment - this is why I already avoid the Analytics mailed reports. Any chance you can just send the data in the email or does the API not permit it for some reason? I probably wouldn't use this going forward if I had to click through to something or open a PDF, I know that's sulky but just how it is.
We thought about putting the data directly into an email, but the crappy HTML/CSS support in the gazillion email clients, make this a pretty tough job.
Can appreciate the frustration with HTML/CSS support - maybe if you kept your layout really simple and/or called it an Old School theme. Mostly I'd be looking for anything that quickly showed me if there was something wrong with a site (or right, e.g., major incoming link).
Wonder if you can throw in some marketing factoids like "Fourth straight month with an increase in traffic" or "Traffic growth continues; fourth straight month" - the sorts of things a marketing guy can repeat to the boss without any more time or research.
The case here shows what happens when you offer too much features/resouces in the free plan.
The toughest part now is deciding if it makes sense to invest more time into it. But I guess that is a general problem for startups that haven't yet found product/market fit. You can't really know if you are miles or just an inch away from that fit.
As I said we currently have over 3000 users, so there seems to be some interest in such a solution :)
~80% of its revenue is registrar commissions from successful referrals (domain name purchases, hosting, ssl certs, etc.), and the other 20% is from ads (from adpacks.com).
We launched it in 2008, and both traffic and revenue have been growing slowly but steadily ever since. These days it's covering our respective apt rents (in the Bay Area) each month.
It's unique because there's some trickery involved getting around the strict iOS backgrounding requirements, and most of my competitors haven't done a great job with it.
I don't like publishing which games they are because there's already a lot of competition in their genres, no reason to extend it. However, for each, I was actually one of the first few of their kind when the market was just getting rolling with paid apps.
I'd say most of the income came in over a 6-7 month period of really amazing sales.
Pay someone to do some copy writing.
No revenue because my AdSense account was banned a few years back. :(
The other big thing is that most of the hardcore fans (those who would also like to read on their iOS devices) like to download & read scanlations (A $10 manga volume takes at most 90 minutes to read, so this is an expensive hobby for a hardcore fan, many of whom are children. Also, the hardcore fans prefer the scanlations because they allow them access to manga that hasn't been released in America or has been Americanized by the official English-language translator/publisher.), which are easily placed on an iPhone/iPad, whereas American comics would much more often require legal licensing.