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Ask HN: Those making $500/month on side projects in 2022 – Show and tell
540 points by deadcoder0904 on Jan 19, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 613 comments
Previously asked on 2020 → https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24947167

Correction, previously asked 26 days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29667095

Obviously still nice to see what people have built who missed the last post!

I make this e-paper calendar: https://shop.invisible-computers.com/products/invisible-cale...

It syncs with Google Calendar.

To be fair, I currently does > 500$/month in revenue not earnings.

If it doesn't count let me know and I will delete my comment.

EDIT: I am currently out of stock sadly. If you want to be notified when I am back in stock, you can leave your email here: https://forms.gle/tNcCcYrNBu5nWKgJ9

Oh my gosh, I love this. I even love the name. My fiancé and I were even talking about how we wanted to move the house towards more "invisible technology" (magic mirrors, things like this, maybe the Frame TV if we get a good deal and figure out a good spot for it, etc)

Recheck the frame tv. I wanted one until I realized it's just a thin tv thats motion activated to stay on/turn on and show a static image.

How does that differ from what it is advertised as, or from what you expected?

I assumed it used some technology that made it look less like a digital display and more like a analog object. Also, I (stupidly) assumed that it was similar to an e-ink display I that it could display images when it was powered off.

It does more than just static images, it can play videos/gifs as well. I just bought one for our living room a month ago and love it. Its a good QLed TV, not as great as an OLED but that’s not why I bought it. It’s great for it is and you can buy custom made frames too. We have the 65” definitely recommend

How is it different from a regular tv?

I am curious: as a HW project how did you go through the CE / FCC certification process and production 0-series batch? Did you have some investor or paid from your own pocket?

Asking as somebody who thought making some embedded / HW projects, but the initial cost seems to much to be paid by myself.

The answer is a big "it depends", but there are ways to get basic FCC certification done for as little as $1K-$2K if you contact enough labs and your engineers are reasonably good at adhering to proper design practices (minimize respins and testing repeats).

CE mark isn't actually required in the US, but you'd need it for Europe and other locations. It's more involved, but all-in testing can be done for <$5K for EU if you're careful.

> Did you have some investor or paid from your own pocket?

> Asking as somebody who thought making some embedded / HW projects, but the initial cost seems to much to be paid by myself.

Crowdfunding is how it's done for HW products. Investors aren't going to be interested in anything small time (less than $10-100mm potential revenue + recurring subscriptions) unless they're friends and family or something like that.

It's a lot of money, but it's not out of reach for someone with a tech job who uses crowdfunding for the major production push.

My understanding as someone who works with embedded RF, is that if you use a SoC that is already FCC certified you don’t need additional certification, as long as you don’t do anything stupid like modifying chip registers that effect signal strength. This is a reason espressif chipsets are very popular in consumer electronics that require RF.

At least for CE it is not so easy, the "whole product" has to meet the requirements. Using an certified chip / module lowers the risk of failing, but you have to pay for the measurements and certification anyway. (Which here, as I heard, can be about 6 months engineering salary.)

(For crowdfunding you need a good campaign and probably some ads / self-promoting which also could be expensive.)

Also curious about this.

I’ve done a lot of research on CE/FCC and while it seems possible to do CE yourself (since you can self-certify) you are on the hook if you miss something, like certain required tests (and doing some tests can be very expensive).

I think if you self-certify you have all the responsibility. (I do not know you as person or you as an organization.)

But if this thing just emit in a wrong RF band, it could mean insane fine fine from the local-frequency-band-office. And this is a very likely scenario (not like what happens if it catches fire and kill somebody...).

Anyway, I heard you should aim (at least) to the US market, which needs FCC. (eg. 300+ million people with one language vs. 30+ language in Europe.)

Yours is a product and mine was just made for fun but I really like your project and had a similar journey last year.

E-paper is a perfect use case for a dynamic shelf calendar


This is pretty cool, though it would be nice if it worked with caldav instead of just google calendar :)

I think so too :D

It's definitely something I am having in the backlog, but I cannot promise if and when it will be implemented.

I wanted to let you know that I find your approach to future features refreshing, in contrast to the typical over-promising you typically see.

Yes, and also honest.

If you are okay with gpl software/backend, you could reuse some code of one of my side project: https://apps.kde.org/kalendar/ (support google api, caldav, etesync and Outlook calendars)

That's pretty cool. Love to see a hardware project.

What's the profit margin like?

E-ink displays are expensive. That price point seems not enough to generate decent income.

> E-ink displays are expensive.

I was curious... from what I can find online the wholesale price of an e-ink display is not that much cheaper (if any) than buying an equivalently sized Kindle. What is the viability of a business model that involves rooting a Kindle, loading whatever calendar display software you need, and shipping it inside a pretty wooden frame?

That's what I thought this was on first look. That's a Kindle in a frame!

I read somewhere that the e-ink expense is because the company which controls the intellectual property chooses to make it a low volume, high cost product. Not that it is inherently expensive, and I am surprised they don't try the opposite strategy, make it cheap and everywhere.

> I read somewhere that the e-ink expense is because the company which controls the intellectual property chooses to make it a low volume, high cost product.

I've only read that here (repeatedly!) on HN and blogs that then cited throwaway HN posts which never respond to my requests for at least some verifiable evidence. Have a look through my comment history.

I was under the impression that standard black/white e-ink is no longer patent encumbered, could totally be wrong tho

Would love a link/source for this if you have one.

I was curious about this too. From the dimensions listed on the website, it looks like the screen is about 6.3×3.7 inches, or about 7.3 inches diagonal.

There seem to be 8-inch e-ink displays for sale on AliExpress for $20-$40, actually much cheaper than I expected. No idea about the quality though.

Wow, this is great! I was actually just thinking about hacking something like this together on my own, but $200 seems really reasonable for a pre-built product, and it looks much nicer than it would if I built it! :) Any plans to support non-Google calendar accounts?

I would like to support other formats, caldev, outlook etc. I am limited by time and money, not imagination :D

Just a heads up: my company blocks this site as malware

I wonder if there is a service that (somehow) detects your site has been flagged in various categories by big company firewalls, and alerts you. Wild guess: whatever system feeds into the lists that get blocked in this way probably has a lot of false positives.

It is blocked on OpenDNS as well.


Any idea what could be causing this? I am at a loss.

I have an extension called FakeSpot that I use to detect fake Amazon reviews. To my surprise, it flagged your site as well with the following note: "Please research the seller because: * Limited Internet presence * Website is missing common professional website attributes * Limited Internet presence and history"

It doesn't expand on any of those points, that's all it says.

Your site comes up clean on VirusTotal [0] and URLscan [1]. You should be able to request a recategorization from OpenDNS.

[0] https://www.virustotal.com/gui/url/c20f7917192a4f9ea1e1c74f4...

[1] https://urlscan.io/result/231cca00-86ee-4c57-b99e-0a76a4b269...

Wild guess, but perhaps it's the - (dash)?

I agree, very cool. Here what I do not like so much:

a) the wood frame seems to be too large (probably there is a technical reason for this), but still. Not much too large though, just maybe 25%?

b) the wood (at least from the pictures) looks cheap (plywood?)

It's multiplex. The device in the last picture has plywood but it's an older version.

Multiplex is actually nice since it's cross laminated and thus retains its shape. I experimented with solid wood and it started arching after a few weeks.

Great job. These look absolutely fantastic and I love the idea. It seems like the perfect use case for e-paper.

I made one too with inkplate. The software is open sourced. More details here: https://link.medium.com/DeyY5FlcXmb

Really awesome. I’m working on a hardware project myself, nice to see a success story.

I’m curious about the enclosure, do you cut it out of wood yourself or are you using a supplier for it that cuts it/glues it for you?

Nice!! How big are those displays, and if you don't mind sharing, how much do those displays cost from your supplier? Last time I checked, e-paper displays were pretty pricey on their own.

The display is 7.5 inches, from Waveshare. I pay retail.

Looks like your form is restricted to org members only

Whoops, is it fixed now?


Hi man, beautiful product, if this were an external monitor, or at least a website kiosk, I would buy it in a heartbeat. :D

I like how minimalistic it looks. Families might want a larger sized one to hang somewhere prominent in their home hah.

Yea, I keep eying bigger displays but they are $$$$$

have you thoughts about offering this as software service for something like the Remarkable?

I haven't thought about it, no. Not sure if that would be a good spot to be in, as a business.

Oh man I love this! Definitely keeping my eye on it. Any chance at Outlook integration?

I can say it's in the backlog, but I can't say if and when.

This is awesome. I would 100% buy a battery operated version

100% I agree. Makes non-sense the eInk (low consumption) but power cord.

In defense of cord, I find battery powered (and wireless) things a a lot less "magical" than their alternatives for long lived devices.

"Oh, that's not working today. I guess I need to charge it."

Corded seems a good fit for a static location device.

does this connect directly to google or is there a proxy?

It goes through a proxy that handles the authentication towards Google.

If it was available, I'd buy it right now! :)

If you sign up here I will let you know :)


Very cool and love the design of the display


Very cool product!

very cool! I absolutely want one.

I'm not quite there yet, but I'm up to $300/mo iteratively building an uptime checker: https://onlineornot.com/

I started with literally just a Lambda function that checks if static websites were still online, added an email alert if it's offline, wrapped authentication around it, integrated Stripe, and shipped it.

Eventually, I added Slack/Discord/SMS alerts, team invites, support for checking APIs for both uptime and correctness, support for checking JavaScript apps, and more.

My trick for launching into 200 competitors providing the "same" service and still getting customers?

- I work two hours a day, every weekday on OnlineOrNot, and no other side projects. I've had this streak going for about nine months now.

- I focus particularly on features that solve my customer's pain (and I ask my customers what that pain is)

- I'm ruthlessly iterative. If I can't get a feature done in two hours, I figure out how to cut scope down to a two hour block, and ship that. Then iterate on it.

I admire you diligence with cutting down features to hit the self imposed deadline.

I've been ferociously learning game dev and have allowed myself unlimited time to jump down rabbit holes. Now that I'm actually building a game I need to remind myself to just build it with what I know.

It's an interesting switch in mind set. Still learning obviously, only now I'm pulling together knowledge buried deep within rather than from tutorials.

I'll keep in mind scope and remember your inspiring diligence next time I'm tempted to peek in a rabbit hole.

What was your motivation for building it? As you said, there's a lot of competition, did you anticipate that it would be difficult to differentiate?

I didn't see any competitors in the space solving the problem the way I would solve it (good UX + a focus on developer-experience), I wanted an uptime monitor that didn't piss me off with my own freelance clients, and I figured if there was room for a 200th competitor, chances are there would be room for a 201st.

Nice. I am also interested in the consulting -> discover problem -> saas route. I reckon your customers really are buying for their existing trust in you.

Highly likely.

I've also spent a year or two consistently writing about React and building an audience, and the service can monitor React apps too.

That's great, thanks!

Love your focus and commitment, especially the 2 hours a day every weekday for nine months streak.

I'm going to try building a similar discipline with my side projects. Not much would get done in 1 day obviously, but the amount of things that can get done over a longer timeframe like 6-12 months is huge!

Thank you and wish you the best!


Especially worth noting how things can snowball after several months of consistent shipping.

You're not just starting from scratch every two hours, you've already got work to build on top of, to keep you growing.

Do you use any tools like Linear, Notion, and/or Github Projects to keep track and organize new features?

I've tried a few tools, the only one I kept using habitually was Trello.

> My trick for launching into 200 competitors providing the "same" service and still getting customers

I feel like this wasn't really answered. I think its just a big space and you market well and have a solid landing page.

I look at it from the perspective of having a successful React blog, having started writing consistently in 2020.

I have different experiences to others on the market, thus I resonate with some more than others.

Very cool. Looks very professional like there is a large team behind it.

How do you market it?

Mainly content marketing.

The website is beautiful. What is your tech stack ?

Going to sign up now.


It's Next.js, so React + Node.js, written in TypeScript.

How did you acquire your customers?

Scrappily - any way I can, whether that's content marketing (my preferred means), commenting on forums, twitter, facebook, broadcasting my domain URL via my phone's hotspot, merch/stickers, etc.

I'd recommend the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg for ideas.

Is that Gabriel Weinberg that founded DDG?!


Ok, this is really cool! (I also love the ruthlessly iterative mindset)

So you ship every weekday? Nice.

My side project currently grosses close to $1,400 per month through Patreon.

I run a modded Grand Theft Auto: V roleplaying server with around 1,500 members (around 300 really dedicated MAU.) If you're not familiar with GTA RP, it tries to emulate real life as closely as possible while still recognizing that GTA is an arcade game. Players live lives as if they were real people, buying cars and houses, holding jobs, opening businesses, receiving medical treatment, being arrested, etc.

I've spent around three years working on the gamemode and spend, on average, 30-60 hours per week on it. It's really a pure passion project. Players support the project through Patreon in exchange for priority queue access (when the server is full, players are held in a queue until a slot opens up for them), custom license plates on their vehicles, custom phone numbers, and other cosmetic perks.

My son plays FiveM almost exclusively when he is on the computer gaming. He has been enamored with it for years now. As a parent who is also a gamer, I can't help but chuckle when I hear the conversations going on between everyone. Although it is not my cup of tea now, when I was that age, I would have killed to have such a world available for me to engage with.

Thank you for such a killer "side" project!

The conversations can be interesting to put it mildly. When I get the chance to play, I mainly play a police officer and it has caused more than one moment of confusion when I didn't realize my partner had taken a work call and their co-workers could hear me barking out "lawful orders" from the other room.

Roleplaying games are really great for exercising your social skills and creative expression though, that's for sure.

you should rebrand your server as a Metaverse and sell it to Microsoft for 1.4 million

I mean, yes, you're being flippant, but this is _not a bad idea_

I had a look at the servers for rent through your affiliate, and I did not like that they have 'drip'pricing - starts out at 7.40AUD or so, then the add ons come, like server location or decent RAM. Then on logout they offer e 50% off coupon, so I go back, choose a server and nowhere to put the discount code! SO awesome service, Ilove it I'm going to set up a a server, but maybe look for a better server provider with clear pricing. Also their servers in Sydney were down, so thats a flag also.

Wow, this sounds really interesting. As someone who used to be an avid GTA V player, I can imagine how much fun this can be. Do you have any videos on the mod and/or on the playing experience?

FiveM is the most popular platform for this type of modding, and is the one I use. nopixel is the most popular server on the platform and usually a good place to start getting a feel for what's possible on a modded GTA server.

If you check out https://nopixel.hasroot.com/, they maintain a list of all Twitch streamers currently streaming nopixel.

nb: I have no affiliation with nopixel.

This is so cool! In my free time I love watching GTA RP, especially NoPixel.

I've launched a couple months ago https://linkz.ai

Linkz.ai is hyperlink auto-previews that keep visitors on your website. It's heavily inspired by Wikipedia & Google Docs link preview popups with special extras. For example, when you click on a YouTube hyperlink, it does not take you to Youtube website, instead it opens lightbox with Youtube video on your website. All with just one line of code.

$500+/m in a first month

Demo page: https://linkz-ai.webflow.io

Super interesting, I added this (albeit way less pretty) to my personal site and generally got poor reviews. That being said, I'm really enthusiastic about the idea.

Example here: https://blog-545pd1vjp-sambroner.vercel.app/

Try adding Linkz.ai previews on your blog posts, and get another round of feedback :)

This has some neat use cases but I dearly hope it doesn't become the norm...

Can you elaborate a bit?

Technically rich link previews save visitors from the tab-overload.

I have nothing against the previews. However when a website hijacks the link to serve a stripped down version of the content locally, it goes against the expectations of the user, and it can really f*k up accessibility tools. This is a bad use of javascript imo. A really bad use. And unfortunately it is being pushed as a way to retain users, meaning that it prioritises profits over everything else.

I don't want to be served a fullscreen auto playing video in a pop-up window when I click on a YouTube link. I want to go to YouTube and view it there, where I can like, subscribe, comment, and so on. It breaks my expectations in a bad way, and I can see why people are growing increasingly frustrated with javascript on websites due to this.

Sorry for being so negative about this. It's a cool concept, but I also really hope that this never becomes the norm. And that's coming from a web developer, someone that's usually cheering on all advancements in the web.

I do sometimes get similar first impressions, though when you look closer at the implementation - the very opposite of your comments is true.

Accessibility of the previews has been thought through & tested. The previews are clearly marked when they open in a lightbox. When you are using a screen reader, the experience improves(!) significantly; on click you get the content right away, not a website in a tab where you need to find the content, and remember that some websites were not tested for accessibility by their devs.

Separately, you can always do, CMD+Click and get the same auto-playing video on Youtube.com in a new tab to like, subscribe & comment. Or click a direct link within a preview to go to YouTube website when you feel that you need to like, subscribe & comment.

And for what it worth, Linkz.ai makes a planet a bit greener with less traffic going back & forth and less CPU & energy used to render a preview vs. a full-featured website :)

> The previews are clearly marked when they open in a lightbox.

Oh, I didn't realize that because I was on mobile.

> on click you get the content right away, not a website in a tab where you need to find the content

This is quite nifty for sites like Soundcloud and YouTube that offer an embeddable version of their content

> Separately, you can always do, CMD+Click

This isn't working for me (Firefox, MacOS)

The rich previews on hover are great. I was referring to the "Immersive Previews", and for the things demoed on your landing page like short forms and Youtube videos, they're a nice experience. I worry about a world where every "sticky" web platform gets caught in an iterated prisoner's dilemma and all decide it's in their best interest to do this. In this world, whenever I want to click a link off of Instagram or Twitter or NYT I end up in an "Immersive Preview" iframe of the site I expected to navigate to. Google AMP everywhere.

I would _love_ a world where this kind of thing is closer to a first-class feature of the web -- thinking of Xanadu-style transclusions or even Google's abandoned(?) <portal> element. I would love deep-linking from Github->Jira->Github in the same tab, and this points the way towards that. But if there are a dozen implementations of it floating around, and users have no control or warning over when a link behaves this way, it's just another way to wrest control of the browsing experience away from them.

Please be mindful about how you advertise this, is what I'm saying.

this is really good idea, how comes not many sites/companies/people use it?

I've just started this product late last year; the response has exceeded my expectations.. give it a few more months for sites/companies/people to adopt :)

how do you get your users?

A few channels right now:

- Participating in the web dev communities

- "Powered by Linkz.ai" footer in the Link preview popups

- Campaigns on Product Hunt, Reddit & similar

- Soon: Affiliate, LTD, targeted ads for Webflow/Squarespace ecosystems

I really like the logo and web design.

What a great idea ! Why .ai though ?

Hyperlinks with artificial intelligence ;)

I make about $50k/mo on https://www.closingcredits.com

I found that most teaching platforms for voice actors out there are run by a bunch of celebrities who are pushing edutainment, not education.

So I wanted to make something specific for voice actors. I will try to branch it out to other creators later.

Dug a little into your background, read some of your posts. Appreciate the different perspective with "Choose Money First." I think a piece of that will stick with me forever now, just because it hit a little different. So I guess just.. thanks for the thoughts.

Thank you! In person I'm a bag of laughs, but on text I really come off as aloof, so it feels good to read that someone was impacted by something I wrote.

I've got so much more that I'm afraid to publish. Might have to reconsider.

Your writing style is entertaining and inspiring.

i'd love to read more of your work so i say do it! if not, rhoades.lorenzo@gmail.com and i promise not to share them ;)

Write more. It's great. Have you seen Sam Simmons tv series Problems? You might like it. Its not related, just you might like it.

I really loved this article. Why I have choosen CS? when people ask I give same answer as written in this.

"Make decisions that will give you more choices, not fewer."


Here's the specific article: https://siliconvict.com/choose-money-first

The discussion around this thread got my attention, and you've gotten a fan. Looking forward to reading through your blog posts.

Thank you. :)

You make $600k a year from a side project?

Technically I don't work currently, so I'm not sure if this is a side project.

I was the founding engineer and Head of Eng at Reforge the past 4+ years while I was building Closing Credits. I left in August 2021. So, it was a side project for nearly 5 years.

If I have 3 side projects and no full time job at this exact moment, where do I stand? I'll delete my post if I'm violating the side project rule.

Did you not sign away the IP while you were there? If so by this comment you implicate yourself.

+1 That's a great point to make for people who are building side projects. Make sure you list your side projects in an exception in the IP clauses of your employment contract, like I did.

Out of curiousity, what does that typically look like? Named project + brief description + market it's in?

Have you ever had any pushback from legal? Presumably to the effect of "What if you take our IP and put it into that project?"

I think you're being accurate but maybe also quote the numbers from August when you still had a full-time gig.

Very cool, how long did it take from idea to working v1? Anything you'd do differently in terms of getting it to PMF faster, tech choices, or lessons learned?

I already had a different side project with 300k users so it was incredibly easy to find PMF fast because I just emailed them.

Tech choices: I never reinvent the wheel. I just take working pieces from other work that I've done and glue it together. Anything custom, I'll read how others do it.

Lessons: I probably should've chosen a different market. If I had targeted companies and taught their employees professional education rather than poor amateur voice acting hobbyist, I'd probably be making $20M ARR. But I don't mind, this is still fun.

> But I don't mind, this is still fun.

Read your blog, hopefully you aren't telling yourself that right before you fire yourself! In seriousness thanks for the insightful reply. I agree w/tech choices, I'm always thinking about reusability as I piece together my own projects.

What was the original side project that had 300k users?

Wow, congrats on the success! Is this a solo project for you, or are you working with a team?

Just me, but I do revshare with the instructors and I have a support staff on contract to handle tickets.

On your website you say you were pardoned out of a felony conviction. What was it for?

Assault w/Deadly Weapon - took 15 years to get it pardoned and expunged. The hardest battle I've fought in my life. It makes startups look easy. I'll write more about it one day, but I don't want to screw it up.

Cool to see another jailbird here turning things around. I just did 8 inside. How long were you locked up for?

p.s. I would love to fix the audio on your intro video - the hum and echo is killing me. I used to be married to a voice actor and I set up her studio and recording pipeline. [Audacity and Audition both have a quick filter to remove background noise]

Looking forward to it. Subscribed to your newsletter because I thought your essay about money being the most important thing in life was right.

It really can solve or at least, begin to solve, every problem in an individual's life.

As an ESL person I wanted to sign up for this to improve enunciation but price was bit too much

How did you land your first 5 customers and validate your idea?

Twitter Archive Eraser https://delete.tweets.app/, allows users to reliably delete old tweets.

Makes around $5k/month now (down from $7k/mo previously), fully passive income as I haven't worked on any new features in the app for the past 1.5 years or so.

Wow, this is kind of the ultimate side project for passive income.

It does one thing, that people need, and does it well, for a fair price. I assume it requires minimal maintenance, except to keep up with Twitter's API (honestly I don't know if this requires much work, I guess it depends on how much the API fluctuates).

Where does your traffic come from? Is it SEO from domain match of “delete tweets app”?

Nice work, this looks like something I need.

In the EU don't they have an obligation to let you remove all posts due to GDPR?

No, you are entitled to request to "have your data deleted" but the interpretation is basically left to the data controller. In practice this means that the controller as many options to make your life as miserable as it can/wants when you try removing your data from its systems, and more particularly when you want to remove specific portions of your data.

Twitter is a perfect example: removing "some" of your tweets is purposefully made cumbersome for users so that they get discouraged to manage their tweets. Searching through your tweets by date range or by keyword, and a button to delete all results? "Nah, too complicated for us silicon valleyers" :)

One thing to remember with GDPR is that it is not a law that protects customers. It is a legal framework that specifies a set of requirements, which companies must abide to in order to do whatever they need/want with your data. Once you understand this, GDPR becomes much clearer :)

I start tons of projects, and it's always a bother naming them. I didn't find existing domain generators at all useful, and since my background is in AI, I made my own.


It currently has a modest but pretty consistent 200-300 users daily, almost all of it direct traffic (my SEO skills are very lacking). I'm assuming people recommend it to their friends, and that's where the traffic is coming from.

It's not yet at $500/mo, but it's getting close. Server costs are significant though, since running an AI model is a bit expensive.

Ideas and feedback are welcome.

"Only show available" doesn't seem to work except on the homepage... but I think it's because the homepage is the only place where any domains are actually marked as already being registered. (when most of the suggested domains on search results seem to be registered already, based on a quick sampling.)

On the same line of thought, it would be awesome (but probably difficult/expensive) if you could show the price of each domain directly in the results.

Otherwise, it seems like a neat tool!

You guys are overloading the domain checking API :(

Good problem to have I suppose ^^

That is fantastic, I wish I knew about it earlier. I used another popular name-finding site (can't remember what it was) but it wasn't nearly as intelligent and the results were not that good. It also would be great to check for the availability of the name in Twitter/YouTube/etc.

Looks really cool. The first two results I clicked on where registered a long time ago, though.



Thanks! Yeah, I did NOT expect HN's traffic. It's overloading the domain checking API and making it fail

which is the domain checking API you use? looking for a cheap but reliable domain checking api :)

I think GoDaddy's one is used by a lot of sites?

This is fantastic! If I may be crass, how does this make money? Just through referral links?

Not crass, I like sharing! We're all here to learn from each other.

The monetization model is just referral links to Namecheap, where I get a 10% commission. I want to make that a bit more elegant (especially for people with uBlock Origin, which it doesn't track), and also add a few other referrals (logo makers and maybe hosting).

Couldn't think of other ways to monetize this without making it obnoxious (I hate ads, and making it pay-to-use also seems restrictive to me). If you have any ideas, I'd be open to hear them!

Thanks! I was impressed to see the revenue figures without any ads on the site (I have similar feelings to you regarding ads and monetisation).

you could try being your own nameserver...through namesilo or something...it's like pretty cheap there already per domain, I think if you used their api as a reseller, and upcharged like 15% on each domain's price you could make more than the namecheap commission...

Buy a server with a good graphics card, your server costs will equal out in 3-6 months and then you will actually have revenue.

Cool, I made one called https://mixmatchdomains.com but it never really got much traffic (single digits per day). Maybe the AI thing makes it more marketable, or just being able to type in an open textbox for pure simplicity.

Works surprisingly well.

Thanks! Was a fun project to do. I have a bunch of ideas to make it better, but I decided to let it rest for a bit and focus on other stuff. Might put in a bit more effort if it keeps getting the interest it's getting now!

This is great! I tried "chicken burgers for aliens"* and it came up with some fantastic options.

* not currently a real business plan

Wait until we make first contact (I'm sure this is scheduled later in 2022)

Why are the server cost high ? Can you not run inference on CPU ? Perhaps on an hertzner auctioned machine ?

I’m getting a lot of false positives but this has already generated some great ideas!

I'm sorry! I didn't expect the HN hug of death. About 200 concurrent people right now, so the domain check API is failing :(

Love it. Explainability would be a nice feature. I.e word definitions, origins, etc.

great site, well made. congrats

Have you thought about deploying the ML model on the edge, using something like TensorflowJS or ONNX-runtime?

Haven't done it myself (looking into it right now!), but my impression is that model quantization (and possibly prunning) can give you a palatable model size that doesn't affect performance too much.

I made a background noise website and app


There are a lot of improvements I want to make, but due to life commitments it has been stuck in maintenance mode for far longer than I'm comfortable with

This is a pleasant surprise. I remember using your app ages ago. I want to say at least 7 years ago when I believe you launched your website first on reddit. My memory is a bit hazy.

I really liked your app. We had a construction project going on for the longest time and I would mix up your rain, storm, sea and the singing bowl sound everything together and blast it on my soundbox!!

Thank you.

Haha thank you for the nice memory! I've been running the site for 8 years, it's crazy that it's been that long

I use this constantly, oh my gods. Thank you so much for making it!! <3

Do you mind going into where your main revenue stream comes from and how it breaks down? Is it mostly apple users? Google play? Do you get any revenue from the website itself?

The basic model is people pay for access to more sounds. For the last few years this bas been separate transactions on the ios app, android app and for the web version. Ideally I'd move to a single subscription-based account that worked across all devices for extra sounds.

Revenue breakdown is roughly equal between android, ios and web, somewhat surprisingly. Android converts worse but has higher user numbers. Web converts much worse, but converts at a higher price (justified by the fact that hosting/maintaining the web stuff take a lot more time and money)

Thanks, that's pretty interesting to hear!

Can you talk about how you advertise and got traction enough to get to $500/month?

> Can you talk about how you advertise and got traction enough to get to $500/month?

Pure dumb luck. I made the site to scratch my own itch many years ago, and then it took off because there were few similar sites at the time (that let you mix together different sounds). Only promotion I did was mention the site on reddit a few times. Users were prepared to tolerate a lot of rough edges at first.

There has been zero advertising. The site gets a regular influx of new users because it's been featured on a number of discover-interesting-website portals (the modern versions of StumbleUpon). This happened with no input from me. I assume it's a good match for these kinds of portals because it's immediately usable without any kind of instruction, signup etc.

I only made the decision to monetize after a long period of the site getting lots and lots of organic traffic with no input from me.

> discover-interesting-website portals (the modern versions of StumbleUpon)

Such as? Besides HN, of course.

https://www.boredbutton.com/ is one pretty high-traffic example

boredhoard.com is a good option

That's awesome! I've had that part of my favourites for years now. Every clean browser install I put your site in my fav bar.

Just wanted to say how much I enjoy the site.

Amazing, didn't know this existed. This plus my NC headphones, bliss. Enjoying it while I type this. Thank you!!

I used your app constantly before I picked up Sonos speakers and had to restort to Spotify playlists!

I'm curious about how much work goes into recording high-quality, looping sounds like this?

> I'm curious about how much work goes into recording high-quality, looping sounds like this?

When I started the site, I mainly used CC0 licensed sounds others had recorded.

Then I started recording my own sounds. How much work it is is very situational - if you regularly find yourself in an environment which has the sound you want to record, and not many other sounds around, then it's pretty trivial. For example, you want to record rain in the forest, and you regularly walk in a forest where it rains and there aren't many other noise sources (e.g. other people, planes overhead, singing birds, etc). The actual recording itself doesn't take much work, because I shoot for a level of sound quality that will satisfy 80%-90% of people, rather than a real "audiophile" quality level.

On the other hand, if you want to record something that only happens occasionally and with lots of other noise sources nearby, it can be a ton of work. For example, you want to record the sound of thunder, but you only get occasional storms, you live in a city with lots of other background noise, and it usually rains when it storms and you want rain on the recording. In that scenario, you might have to travel far and burn a ton of time trying to get the right conditions for recording.

I've been using it for hours and hours for the past few years. Thank you!

I use this all the time, and I tell everyone else to as well.

I started making Power-Ups (add-ons/plugins) for Trello in July last year: https://www.tinypowerups.com

It just hit $500/month on Monday and it seems to be increasing by $100 in MRR per week.

I'm only charging $1 per user per month for unlimited access to all of my Power-Ups. I'm thinking about increasing this price to $2 or $3 next month (existing customers get to keep the $1 price tag).

Some of the Power-Ups I offer:

- File Manager: lets you search through and bulk download files on a board.

- Board Chat: adds a simple chatroom to your Trello board

- External Share: creates a link and snapshot of a Trello board that you can send to clients so they don't need to sign up for Trello to see the board.

- Office File Viewer: lets you preview .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx files directly in Trello

- Card Approvals: adds a "approve" and "decline" section to a Trello card

Nice! :D

I launched www.rtljobs.com in October and had my first month of $500 in revenue in December.

It's a job board that caters to a very specific subset of electrical engineers - specifically, ones that work with FPGAs and logic design for chips.

Need help hiring FPGA or RTL engineers? Let's talk. fpga.rtl.jobs@gmail.com

Cool. I predict (hope) specialized jobs boards will become more the norm.

This is an interesting thesis. How would HR/People/Recruitment teams work effectively in a world where there are many specialized and actively used job boards?

Today, HR teams usually post jobs on LinkedIn and perhaps one or two more platforms. A world of fragmented job boards would be difficult to navigate for non-specialists.

How would HR/People/Recruitment teams work effectively in a world where there are many specialized and actively used job boards?

I don't care about People and Recruitment teams. I care about People and Recruitment teams for a very, very specific subset of electrical engineers.

My thesis is that HR and Recruiting for the sorts of roles I care about isn't very effective to begin with. The lack of specificity in existing platforms is a contributing factor to the problem I'm trying to solve. Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and whatever other generic job boards are just that - generic job boards. They have no reason to care about this niche any more than the other thousands of job categories out there. LinkedIn is becoming Facebook for wackjobs in work influencer clothing. Even StackOverflow Jobs tends to equate this type of work to general software engineering, when it requires very specific, critical knowledge you typically don't get until you're pretty deep into an EE curriculum.

Add value to the Users - the job seekers - and you start to build trust and aggregate supply. The savvy recruiters follow that. Our clickthru metrics already reflect this.

A world of fragmented job boards would be difficult to navigate for non-specialists.

That the crux of my point. I don't care about non-specialists. I care about recruiters who need to find people to write Verilog or VHDL. If I can become one of their "one or two more platforms" besides LinkedIn, I've made it.

Next up, Leetcode for VHDL/Verilog. Heck what's stopping LeetCode for LtSpice/Altium/Solidworks. Create artificial Supply crunch and You have the exact same scenario playing out in Software engineering field where candidates jostle for "highly competitive jobs" where they are put through a hazing routine called "white board interview". I visited the SAC Goldrush museum recently and came away from this fact embedded deep in my brain" When there is a goldrush, always sell Shovels". You seem to have trailblazed that path for me. So Thank You!

Create artificial Supply crunch

I don't need to do anything to create artificial supply crunch. The talent market has taken care of that for me.

What I'm doing is providing a cost effective means for specialist recruiters to directly speak to a highly relevant subset of engineers.

No idea what LeetCode has to do with that lol.

There used to be a similar site for compiler jobs. I think the niche exists. If you can prove you can attract that audience with high-quality postings, I think it can work.

Cross posting software for HR people to push jobs to multiple job boards is a whole product area in its own right.

It's a thesis I'm banking on myself.

Please add Huntsville, AL to your board. I'm an FPGA engineer currently working there, and there are a lot of us, at a lot of companies.

Rocket town, USA!

I see that name pop up on all sorts of queries and I'm shocked it's not in the db. Digging into that presently. Thanks for the suggestion.

Looks cool, I love this kind of niche projects. How do you / did you drive traffic and job postings to it?

Indexing hiring companies' job sites, and providing helpful comments to people who are seeking jobs in the sector (primarily on Reddit). More on that here:


We're seeing a steady and growing trickle of organic traffic, too.

Thanks for sharing this... How did your paying customers became aware of you?

Almost entirely thru word of mouth from an engineer at their company, or thru posting on Reddit.

How do you generate revenue if you only aggregate jobs or post them for free?

By selling Featured Posts, which get prime real estate on the site for 30 days, and a blast out to our mailing list.

Whats an RTL job?

RTL is shorthand for "register transfer logic". It's a term of art for "digital design at the gate level".

We're making about $600/mo right now working on Oku, which we're building as a social book tracker (and more) and hoping to replace Goodreads with.


Here's my profile for example: https://oku.club/user/joe

That is pretty landing page!

Just read that the meaning of oku [1] is 1) private, intimate, and deep; 2) exalted and sacred; and, 3) profound and recondite

anyway, your brazilian users will find this funny since oku has the same sound of "o cu" that literally means "the butt hole".

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oku_(theory)#:~:text=3%20Bound....

Not really, because the O is only open when alone, or a longer word. This reads Óku, not Uku. At least that's how I read it being Portuguese.

The defunct social network Orkut is a good example of this. It's Órkut, not Urkut.

Of course, none of this matters :)

I like the design, but what's would you like to improve over Goodreads?

Looks neat. Why do you think oku will replace goodreads?

What is the source for book data? I was recently looking for a TMDB equivalent for books but couldn't find a good one. There is OpenLibrary but they don't have covers and only do dumps once a month.

Do you provide a way to export data in case the site closes down? I don't use any app/site to track what books I read, but I see that it could be interesting.

We do but it's not fully automated just yet, it'd involve sending us an email.

Similar story with csv imports, it's half supported but not in the UI yet.

I believe there is a turkish speaker involved when you are naming the product :)

"Oku" means read (in imperative form)


API to generate images on the fly.

Sample https://img.bruzu.com/?a.text=HN3

> I am a developer, Do I need this API? No, if you can build your own rendering system with all these features and able to make it run this fast. You don't need this API.

Your FAQ is great hahaha!

Yes, every developer thinks the same about almost every API/service, that they could build it over weekend.

Building it is one thing. It's not even uncommon for people to be right about that part.

It's the maintenance, support, training, operations, and documentation that will kill you, if you think you can "just" write some service and then move on to other tasks.

I like how you addressed this in the FAQ, because this is such a classic take by some users of HN. It's fine if you don't want to use it, but a lot of people would love to. Nice product by the way.

And in some cases, they probably can. But reliability, scalability and most importantly quality is harder.

For the curious like me:

Q: I am a developer, Do I need this API?

A: No, if you can build your own rendering system with all these features and able to make it run this fast. You don't need this API.

I have done this before, a bare bones example can be done easily in Lambda with GraphicsMagick and ImageMagick for node https://www.npmjs.com/package/gm see "annotate an image" example.

I understand your service does more that this. I map the POST JSON to GM params to allow the caller to do nearly anything GM CLI can do.

Yes its very easy to build.

I wont use bruzu till you're one billion MRR. haha jus jokes. I've been following Bruzu since the start. Great product, great dev who is open minded for feedback, etc.

So small small world. Thanks

Can this be done in Pure JS solution within browser? Why need backend?

An API allows you to create images from things that are not browsers.

The product is an "API to generate images on the fly". How would you create an API with no backend?

Not the API, I meant this functionality of rendering text on image, can this be done in JS only?

One barrier is if you load an image from a source that doesn't allow CORS the canvas becomes "tainted" and exports are blocked (https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/CORS_enabl...)

Yes, HTML5 Canvas. ctx.drawImage() ctx.fillText()

Yes but then you can't post it to social media as easily. Unless you export it as an image from JavaScript.

This is good for social media managers that want to automate a lot of account posts.

Yes its way easier in browser on front-end.

But you need API for the things that happens off browser. Like if you want to create images inside your code.

Sure it can, and I'd say it's much cheaper to do it in JS than using API (with quite small quota, even for paid plans)

It can be done, but this is already done, so you can just pay with money instead of dev time.

I've been thinking of building something similar in the past. Did you use Imagemagick or similar for the backend or is it AI based?

Its server side HTML5 canvas.

Very nice. Noticed a small typo - the footer link to Pinterest is misspelled.

Thanks, Fixed.

did you built the editor, it must have taken 2 months at least

Yes, using fabricjs for that, we are improving it everyday but yes, it took few days to make the MVP of the editor.

thanks didn't know about fabricjs

What's your revenue like?

Its $185 MRR currently, Hit hard by churn this month.

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