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Show HN: SideProjects.com - 37 Bootstrapped Profitable Projects (sideprojects.com)
236 points by sideprojectbook on Aug 22, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments

Hi Guys,

I'm Laksman (@Laksman on twitter), author of SideProject book. I put together this project over many months with the help of the 37 participants. Launch has been pretty hectic but is going well, so far the feedback has been positive and I'm implemented a lot of changes suggested here. Also, feel free to shoot me an email personally if you have any questions, firstname at gmail.com. Hope you guys enjoy the book.


Thanks for including some personal info. It's always nice to know who is behind a project. Congrats on the launch!

Expecting a blog post with metrics and details once this surge in sales settles down :-)

Great work, Laksman — congrats on shipping this!

(this is Eric from Domainr, p18 in the book)


I don't want to be negative, but $34 for a 124 page book seems a bit steep. What's more, the fact it's 37 interviews over 124 pages means that on average it's only 3.3 pages (including pictures) per 'interview' / example.

If we expect a standard introduction / conclusion to the book, then I expect the average number of pages per example would be even less.

Looking at the sample on his site, it doesn't exactly go that in depth with the questioning.

I think the key attraction to this book and many other 'self help / get rich / be successful' style books, is that people get drawn in by the 'examples' and hope that somewhere in the pages there is the answer that they've been looking for, the golden piece of information that's going to guarantee them success. However, their time may have been better used trying to execute their idea, rather than just trying to read things which reiterate the success of others.

- If this was $12 I would have not been so negative, but for $34 it just seems steep considering the potential lack of real value it will give.

Yes, but if it was $12 they'd have to sell almost 3 times as much to make the same money. If less than 66% of the customer base would not care if it's 12 or 34, then they get more money! e.g. if only 20% of people are like you and say "erk $34 no thanks, $12 is ok", then they'd make oodles more money.

Sometimes you don't make it up on volume, but on profit.

I should write an eBook called "How to get rich by selling ebooks on how to get rich for $34"


I'm launching my first book next month (http://doubleyourfreelancingrate.com), which, like SideProjects, is based on many, many lot of conversations I've had with the freelancers/consultants who use my SaaS product.

The idea that developers don't pay for things - including infoproducts - is bunk. My book has netted just over $2,000 in prepurchase sales in the last week.

Kudos to the author for putting this together (the list of people you've interviewed is OUTSTANDING)

Likewise, there's a lot I learned from conversations I've had with YC founders and other startups in the accelerator space. I just launched the book yesterday: http://sellfy.com/p/9j2z Here's some background on myself and the book: http://startupframework.tumblr.com/post/29634915106/what-i-l... Loving what I'm reading so far. Very inspirational. +1.

To channel patio11, you should probably raise your prices.

If your book does what it says, it's going to mitigate some of the risk of deciding what path to go down when starting a startup. That's potentially weeks/months/years that you might be saving me from chasing after an idea.

That's worth a lot more than $15 (and especially $3.75)

I'm selling my new book for $39 - and that's a discounted, prepurchase rate! But the value proposition is "if you read this book, and do what it says, and happen to raise your rates by even a $1 - that's another $2k in your pocket this year." Emphasize that your book will help people not waste time chasing the white rabbit, and you can charge a premium.

Anecdotally, I'll pay up to $5 for a book on a whim if I think I might be interested. If it's more than $5, I download a sample and might by the book, if and when I even get around to reading the sample, and if I like the sample.

It doesn't matter if you have a great value proposition, without a solid sample I place it in the same bucket as unsolicited phone calls to lower my phone bill.

Update: I've added a full length pdf sample to provide an idea of the questions asked in each interviews.

If I hadn't purchased it already, this would have helped me make up my mind sooner!

If you want to sell on Amazon's KDP, you probably want to sell at a price point between $3 and $10, because that's the "70% zone". More, or less, and you only get to keep 35%.

Of course, if you sell on your own site, you get everything. But Amazon has a lot of customers.

I actually just bought your book. Looks like a steal for $3.75. The reason I bought it is because in your blog post you seemed genuine and like you put a lot of effort into. $3.75 is definitely a no-brainer as well. Also, learning from someone who is smarter than me but not someone who runs a company like Zappos is probably a more realistic and practical way to learn and apply the knowledge I gain :)

Joseph, thank you for buying Ice Cream Startups. Ironically, it was partially inspired by Zappos: Delivering Happiness. Writing it was indeed a lot of late nights, which my significant other didn't take too kindly, and I hadn't meant to share the research originally (kinda selfish like that :p), so thank you for your kind words. The feeling of finally shipping and signing on early adopters is ecstatic! Will address the whole debate on pricing low in my blog once I catch up on some rest. If you have any questions, feel free to email me aaron [at] brownieinmotion [dot] ca. Thanks again!

Is there any way I can buy your book without being forced to register for a PayPal account?

tmoertel, this was meant to be a lil' secret, but I was hoping to send a revised edition of my book to the early adopters, therefore the PayPal account. I'm investigating if other distribution channels allow any kind of delivering happiness on a 1-to-1 basis with your users. If the publishers do, I will certainly take it up. I'm just signing off for the day, so feel free to email me any questions at aaron [at] brownieinmotion [dot] ca. Thanks for the feedback! Means a lot.

I've been really impressed following your book launch. Nicely done on the pre-sales.

For the side projects book it would be nice to know who is behind it. There is plenty of information about the content, but who wrote it? Otherwise looks like a solid book!

My own book on app design comes out next month (http://nathanbarry.com/app-design-handbook) so I am trying to learn everything I can about other people's experiences.

Yeah - it's odd from the personal branding perspective to NOT identify yourself as the author.

Thanks Nathan! Really excited about the book launch - it's coming together very nicely, and I've got some great case studies that I'm still working on adding.

Just a heads-up: when you buy the book, the PDF will be watermarked with your name, email address, and transaction ID in the footer of every page.

I am launching my own book in the next couple weeks and was planning to do the same. Is PDF watermarking something people find annoying? If so why?

I find it extremely annoying - if I'd known about it beforehand, I wouldn't have bought the book. It's intrusive, doesn't add anything to the reading experience, and communicates that you don't trust me enough to not watermark something I purchased from you legitimately.

Thanks for the feedback. I think people (myself included) can get so caught up trying to limit piracy that we don't think about how it makes the user feel.

I think that having it on every page is definitely over the top. Would you still be annoyed if it was just on a single page? Say with a thank you for purchasing message?

I agree, it's obnoxious on every page.

On one page at the beginning or end would be fine, or better yet, non-visible metadata/stenography, but stamping my name on every page is like putting the FBI warning on movies. The only people who see the FBI warning are the legitimate purchasers. Stripping my name off each page of the PDF is a trivial technical challenge, something a dozen lines of Python could probably fix, but it's highly annoying that it's even necessary if I legitimately bought it.

It's also about how you apply it. PragProg is pretty subtle, Packt Publishing is (or was, it's been a while) was in your face about it.

I've been on the fence about buying this book for the last hour, and this is a factor that has me leaning towards not purchasing (besides there being few unbiased comments on the contents).

If you have to do it, that's probably the least offensive option.

I'll turn off digital stamping when it's updated next week with the mobi/epub versions, or at least make sure its limited to one page unintrusively.

Cool - thanks!

That would be an ideal compromise in my opinion - for what it's worth the inclusion of the watermark on every page bothered me as well.

Seems like watermarking with something like a QR would be better, maybe less aesthetically weird as well. Although, no watermark I guess would be better, just an idea. :)

PragProg watermark their e-books too. I see nothing wrong with it.

Other publishers I buy from, such as Manning, also add watermarks. Personally, I couldn't care less.

Weird that the purchase link is not built with Gumroad, it's featured in the book and seems perfect for this kind of a sale.

I was just about to say the same.

I'm trying a few payment options, using paypal for now. I do plan to add gumroad, and try stripe in a while.

Looks interesting. I think the sample would work better as an image from the actual PDF. Currently, there's three snippets that don't make much sense out of context.

Also, Good Dog (the script font) is barely readable in Webkit Mac. -webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased; helps, but I think it's better if you change it for something more legible.

I agree with this first point -- the samples appear unimpressive as they are and actually hurt my chance of buying. A PDF or a complete sample of one of the interviews would be great. If I feel it provides me insight, I'll be excited to read the 36 other interviews.

On Firefox 14, roll over on the project list is very broken. If I hover over a project in the first column, it shows in the second column instead. Same for the second and third column. And third column shows off the project list all together.

Otherwise looks interesting. I'll wait on what others say before committing the $25.

Also, if we purchase the PDF today, are we guaranteed the mobi/epub when its released in the future?

If you purchase the PDF you are guaranteed the mobi/epub next week as well as any future updates to the book.

The same happens in Chrome 21.0.1180.83

The same problems appears in Opera 12.00.

I've been speaking with the author for the last year as he worked on the book and have reviewed it. Lot's of good material and a great read for anyone interested in building revenue generating side projects. I've got a few of my own side projects up my sleeve and this book helped inspire me to get going again. I'd recommend it, especially once the epub/mobi versions come out.

I will pay for it as soon as the epub/mobi version come out so I can read it on my kindle, I despise pdf's for reading books.

Just to make the contrarian point:

I absolutely hate any format that is not a pdf file. It puts way too much limitation on the content. Just as an example: I use three "systems" most of the time, one windows, one ubuntu, one android tablet. Pdf works with each one out of the box, I can hight text or copy/past it, edit them, heck even open them in some graphic editing software and extract illustrations as vectors, save it in different formats. In contrast to that, for epub/mobi I don't even know what their native editing tool is so I can convert them into pdfs.

The problem with PDFs is that they make a lot of assumptions about layout and formatting, whereas mobi and epub are HTML based, and therefore work on a much larger array of devices - from mobile phones to Kindle for PC, including, critically, eInk based readers which are way better for sitting down to read than anything LCD based.

Though if you are writing a book about design you often want the level of formatting and design ability that a PDF gives you. It's hard to give that up with an ePub.

If you need something to be pixel-precise, you'd probably just include a .png file.

eBooks aren't perfect for everything, though. I think a design book, for instance, is something I'd rather read as a paper book.

If you haven't checked out Calibre for conversions then you should.

As others have said - the issue with PDF's is that they assume A4/Letter size. When you're reading on a smaller screen (especially a basic e-ink one) the content is much more important.

But a PDF doesn't have to be A4/Letter. I published a book recently (ebook in PDF, ePub and mobi and paperback) and decided to use 6.69 x 9.61 inches for the PDF. I found that this size looks good on paper and on screen.

He just signed up with my own bootstrapped business, http://www.LiberWriter.com so we'll be producing one for him ASAP:-)

mobi/epub will be released next week, everyone will receive an update

The price advertised on the site is $25, but when I go to buy it's $34 (which incidentally is incredibly steep for an eBook). At least where I'm from there are laws against that kind of advertising.

was updating some things, its fixed.

It's back at 34$ 40" after your post What's the official price?

it's $34

Please mention the price somewhere. Having to click the "Get the book" button, then waiting 5 seconds, then having Paypal finally tell me the price is a turn off for me.

It's $25 for now, probably will be switched to normal price of $34. I found it immediately.

The price is listed under the Buy buttons. Maybe he updated the site already.

Anyone know who the author of the book is? I can't seem to find his name on the website.

The WHOIS info on the domain (sideprojectbook.com) is under privacy protection as well. I find it a bit odd that the author is masking their identity.

The redirect domain, sideprojects.com, is owned by one "Houtan Fanisalek", but it's unclear if Houtan is the author of the book.

Did anyone read the book yet? Would you recommend it?

If the subject interests you, I'd recommend it since I've personally found it difficult to find detailed information about side projects. I purchased it partly for the information, but also to hopefully motivate myself to pursue some projects I've been thinking about. I do feel like $25 is a lot for any book, let alone a relatively short PDF file, but I understand there's a limited market.

I feel the same way. I read founders at work before and I am not sure I want to spend $25 just for motivation at the moment :) Thanks for your replies.

I had a chance to look it over. It's a straight forward Q&A format and which packs a lot of responses from startup founders into a single document. If that sounds appealing to you then I'd recommend checking it out.

Just FYI; the menu top overlay on the page makes browsing on a mobile device really bad. It covers more then half the screen, and I'm on a fairly large one (Galaxy S2).

The listed price is $25 (<s>$34</s>), but when I went to PayPal, it was about to charge me $34. How do I buy for $25?

email sent.

Same problem here -- Paypal/Gumroad offering a price of $34.

Would like to buy for $25 too. Can't wait for kindle version.

price has just been updated to $34 since launch day is over :(

Ah saw this post after replying to your previous one above. This really is the tipping point (no go) for someone pondering about buying it like me since I saw it in class earlier this morning. Sorry I'm cheap :( college student status

Same here, $34 is a little steep, college student here too.

Damn, I couldn't get it at work this morning because I don't have my password safe there, any chance of a repeat price?

we may run another deal for $25 sometime, but it is back at $34 for the foreseeable future. that was just a promotion for launch day.

Can I still get it for $25?

Any plans to make this book available in iTunes/iBooks? It's just that i have a gift voucher that i'd love to be able to use.

Big thanks for including our site! When I have some time over the weekend I'll be reading all the other interviews, but from the two others I've read so far, this book should be very informative for people getting into bootstrapping a business. Nice work!

Nice work selling the shovels. :D

A lot of people pinning their hopes on the 99 cent appstore lottery are now probably pretending they didn't just read your comment :)

"I don’t really market it much but I working on that department."

Hey, before I pay $34 for your book, can you make sure its edited for grammar? If this is in the sample, I'm afraid of what the rest of the book will contain.

Well I believe that is my typo....So I deserve the blame for this!

Well, that's what editors are for! ;)

I'm interested in doing something like this (not same topic, just structure). Could you share something about your approach to convince the founders and the technicalities of the interview process.

I don't think the founders (of small personal projects) need a lot of convincing, do they?

"Hey, I'm doing a book and would like to feature you. Do you have 15 minutes to answer 6 questions?" You're going to get a 90% hit rate for side-project founders I bet.

your approach to convince the founders

Just ask.


Here's more detail into the process for compiling a similar book - Startups Open Sourced: http://www.startupsopensourced.com/2011/05/01/startups-open-...

It could be just me, but judging by the sample chapter I cannot really justify spending $34 dollars on this book.

I am sure author has put a lot of work into it, yet still the price feels way too high.

My business is part of this ebook. Had a chance to read the other interviews earlier this week and must say that there is a ton of great content in there. Definitely worth its price!

I'm featured in the book as well (BatteryBar). I can say that the interview in the book is exactly as I submitted it, so the author didn't take any liberties in editing the content. I assume that the other interviews are also exactly what the product owners wanted to put out there.

>I assume that the other interviews are also exactly what the product owners wanted to put out there. //

So, poor interviewer? Or was that not meant to be as backhanded as it reads??

I just meant that they didn't take poetic license to edit the content, such as by shortening or summarizing it.

Thanks for the book. I bought it after reading some comments on here about it being motivating and have some good ideas and thoughts.

I figured even if I only learn 1 thing from this, it's money well spent.


your welcome! the goal of the ebook was to be motivating, but a big part of the interviews contains actionable and tactical advice about getting started, profit numbers, metrics, traffic/growth charts, marketing, finding users, and other things you'll likely encounter. the intent is it will be as knowledgeable as much as it is a motivator.

What about these 37signals bootstrapped profitable projects? http://37signals.com/bootstrapped

it's a different thing. the book advertised by OP just happen to have 37 "study cases".

I'm sure it's no accident that there are 37 projects. I'd be more interested to hear feedback from people who aren't featured in the ebook.

Looks interesting to say the least.

@sideprojectbook, if you reprice for a day at $25 ("launch day pricing") when the epub version is released I'll pick it up. 34 bucks though? eh....

You should try and get this in the iBook store too?

The iBooks store has a maximum price of $15 which doesn't make it very good for value based pricing.

Will there be a sequel? I want to be in it! :) I'm sure there are lots of us here that would be happy to participate.

consider this one volume 1!

Can't wait to read it - it would be really helpful if the chapters in the table of contents linked to the content

Great job on this. Thanks for asking me to be a part of it. Very interesting thoughts from a lot of great devs.

thanks for being a part of it :) hopefully more good stuff coming soon after mobi/epub, stay tuned.

Just bought! I was looking for a book EXACTLY like this yesterday. I got lucky that HN pushed one into my lap.

Great book and I just bought it. Is it possible to get a version with a white background for better printing?

working on it!


It'd be nice to have a way to get notified when the Mobi/Kindle version is available.

I have no way to read a long form PDF.

it will be available by the end of next week. it's already in process. anyone who buys the pdf will receive an update via email with mobi/epub asap.

How do these things work? Do the interviewers get a cut of the profits? Or do they do it for the kudos?

Seems like a great book. Please publish it on Kindle and I would buy it immediately ;)

coming next week, if you purchase you'll receive the update

Please please change the type. Otherwise, looks interesting.

Ah, yeah. Changed, should be clearer.

nice book. I've only glanced over a couple of the chapters but I'm looking forward to reading it!

Great job. Humbled to be part of it!

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