Nothing really compared to the short-lived but very successful WordPress plugins I used to build and sell. A few days' work could turn into the equivalent of a year's salary. One had over $250,000 in sales in 18 months before I sold rights to it for another $90,000 to another company. I don't work with WordPress much anymore, and don't have much motivation to force myself back into that ecosystem to sell more plugins. It just wasn't as fun as running live services that handle lots of users and lots of data.
For anyone interested, I'm guessing this is it...
I'm selling Wordpress plugins right now with nothing near the same success as you. Do you think it's a market that is too saturated to achieve the level of sales you saw?
I'd also love to hear how you managed to attract the number of users to your website that gave you over $250k in sales? It's something I'm having trouble with right now and any pointers would be greatly appreciated!
Not at all. There are thousands of plugins, but there are 72 million WordPress sites.
I wish I could find a really good online marketing guide. One aimed at developers would be perfect. It seems there is no shortage of "learn programming" resources out there but marketing courses always seem so scammy.
Also, how did you market them?
There's nothing about employment I miss. You could double the salary and I wouldn't trade lives with an employee at any of those companies. I wake up in the morning without an alarm, decide what I want to work on, program in my PJs, work as long as I care to, answer a few customer e-mails, and I'm done for the day. Some days I flip the schedule and shop/socialize/veg in the morning/afternoon, then work late at night. If I want a day or a month off, I just take it.
If I'm building something new, like the two months or so I spent on Improvely, I probably work about 4 hours a day, which is the most number of productive hours I ever got while working for someone else 8 hours a day. That's 1300 hours a year of time wasted on commutes, meetings, endless e-mails, employee reviews, forced socialization with coworkers, and kissing up to managers so you rank well for bonuses and get better projects. Ugh.
There is one downside to what I do. I'm on call to keep the servers running 24/7. That means I pay for some monitoring that can SMS me if something fails, and I carry a Surface Pro in the trunk of my car so that even if I'm away from home I can get to a computer. It's a once-a-year type responsibility. Had a hard drive crash in one server this year, and a power supply pooped out last year. Not a terrible burden.
I don't talk numbers about Appointment Reminder, but suffice it to say that it's both modestly successful and on the Long Slow SaaS Ramp of Death.
I get about $1.5k in monthly royalties from book sales and in residual sales of the course on Lifecycle emails that I did last year. Hoping to launch another project like that in the near future and plow some of the profits back into AR - people are expensive.
I've always liked that term (which I presume you used ironically). It's the most pessimistic way one could possibly describe the state of "If I don't ever touch anything from here on out, I'm still pretty much set for life."
I assume it was a Venture Capitalist who coined it, since VCs don't like profitable companies that get slightly more profitable month after month. People, however, pretty much universally would think that was a rather nice predicament to be in.
Congrats on the Ramping!
One venture is about to fold. The other can safely quit its day job and start entrepreneuring full time without having to worry about starving in the immediate future.
I started it three years ago with a single web page and an email-me-when-it's-ready form. I barely got enough emails (50-60) in the first couple months to justify moving forward. But I did, with three designs and a simple design-by-form interface. Fast forward to today and I have dozens of templates and a custom drag and drop interface done in canvas. I have a pretty good conversion rate given that I only get ~90 uniques per day.
If it looks inspiring, keep in mind that:
1) It's revenue, not profit.
2) PostJobFree took about 4 years part-time + 2 years full-time.
3) I'm not doing it alone.
4) I still would be better off financially if I just worked as a programmer for hire.
Startups are tough.
I am curious, on how are you posting the jobs? Have you made an agreement with these websites, are they willing to provide an API at some cost? Or, simply, pretending being a human and submitting form POST requests?
Great job on the service, not only it looks promising, but is essentially improving lives of many people.
It's written in Python. Hosting costs about $700/month on Google App Engine. It doesn't cover our costs yet, but it's growing. Hardest challenge so far has been to find ways to let the world know about it.
App Engine has it's disadvantages as well. At one point I used typhoonae (open source framework that let's you run you GAE apps on EC2) and was about to switch, and then decided against it.
I expect the cost per user to go down as the percent of paying to trial users goes up. Trial users stay for 30 days, and then most of them stop. But paying users continue using it much longer. Also, there is a lot of room for optimization, which I'll get around to doing later, once the key features are in place.
- Instead of storing an array in the database directly, store it as a json string. storing an array uses a DB write for every array element.
- Don't index things if you can get away with it (indexing doubles writes).
In my case I was using about 600 writes for every user action when I only needed two. This may be common knowledge, but I was pretty surprised that storing arrays was costing me so much.
Also storing objects that don't need indexes as pickled blobs in a parent model helps a lot. The advantage over JSON is that you don't need extra code to parse, (de)serialized and validate the object.
it is making absolutely zero money (yet), but the engagement on the site is INSANE. also, the site itself, and the people who come to it (and email/tweet/blog/instagram/vine/smoke signals/carrier pigeon/etc about it) are passionate and willing to support craft beer.
besides the benefit of interacting with super cool, kick-ass people who love craft beer, i've also been in touch with some breweries who are wanting to partner on a multitude of things, and i've been invited to come brew a batch at a few of them, with the head brewers!
so to summarize:
• making no money on this side project.
• not losing any money on this side project.
• over 75 million hits since launch, over 1 million people and over 50 million suggestions every month.
• fuckloads of fun interacting with the craft beer lovers and the craft beer world.
• the amount of engagement the site has will help support the next phase which will make money :)
you have broken the system and you should be rewarded for such a thing… go drink a good craft beer and celebrate!
It just mocks whatever you put in and suggests something else?
Or will it actually express approval if you put in something 'good'?
if on the other hand you typed in "Mephistopheles Stout" you would of course not have entered the name of the beer, and you would be rightly told that you are an inspiration for birth control (or other such wonderful life lessons)
or at the end of it, you can be like the others who get it and realize, it's vulgar insults and vulgar encouragements that helps suggest craft beers to drink after you're done drinking the one you're currently on. either way, thanks for looking and taking the time to type in your beer to see if a shitty website approves of your (mostly) shitty life choices :)
but really, it's not an exhaustive list as there are HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of beers and new ones getting all of the time, so I'll make sure to add it. and like it says on the site, shoot an email if you've got suggestion ;)
Definitely broken, VB is worse than sea water.
the real question is: why don't you know the beer's actual fucking name?!
THE Crisp (by Sixpoint)
it's even IN the url slug!
ps: i typed in "sweet action" and it went all green for me. i submit to the jury exhibit B that clearly shows that ANDREW RITCHIE can not fucking type!
but how about you go drink a sixpoint and then take one of the suggestions it's thrown at ya?! enjoy a good fucking beer tonight :)
typing "Dale's Pale Ale" brings forth the lovely foamy compliments i so desire in a green, hoppy, insulting website. go give it a shot and you'll feel warm and fuzzy (from the website, not just the beer)
so tonight, i raise my bottle of pliny to you and tomorrow i shall raise my can of heady topper to you. for you will have checked out a site about beer. and typed your shit correctly.
 http://www.amazon.com/Masters-Doom-Created-Transformed-Cultu... - highly recommended, really good read
I launched during summer and have made around $200.
Have 1125 developers subscribed to daily alerts
Have processed around 1500 applications for 81 jobs posted (most of them through 100% discount tickets given away)
The idea was not very well thought, but something simple to start with.
I used it to start gaining experience and also to start building a reusable code base (mailing, billing, etc) that would let me move faster with future products, not expecting to make any money at all from it.
As a single founder/developer/designer/sysadmin/marketer/support guy etc, I found it very hard to accomplish, but very rewarding once it was launched.
I built a few sites:
for django jobs: http://djangojobbers.com
for ruby on rails jobs: http://railsjobbers.com
Now I am getting ready to launch a new thing (identee.com) to help low level users increase their security by storing their usernames & passwords encrypted in the cloud.
I am currently very busy trying to launch my new project, but as soon as I have some spare time to dedicate I will try to build this feature.
Thanks for your feedback.
Last month made $474.85 from premium upgrades, $152.53 from ads. The servers cost $144.63.
The app has been added to 601,409 Facebook pages so far. For each of these pages I do a weekly dance with FB to look at their feed, see if access tokens are still valid for automatic posting etc., so it makes for a pretty interesting server usage pattern. http://i.imgur.com/Q1WylAY.png
Congratulations to everyone that's found success doing this. And a huge go for it to those of you on the fence of writing your own product.
The number isn't enough to support us in the US yet, but it excites us regardless because of its implications. Between the revenue and usage (weekly photo totals are consistently up and to the right) we believe we're on a reliable path to financial sustainability with this one:
Assuming ARPU stays at $50, we're earning 6 figures per founder (ignoring costs, just revenue) at just 333 customers, and we'll reach 7-figure earnings at 1,666 customers.
Those numbers are completely doable! God bless the economics of monthly recurring revenue, and DHH for spelling it out so clearly in his Startup School '08 presi (on YouTube). I can say without irony that that video has deeply influenced the course of my life.
It started as a tool for my company so I know there's a need for it - not sure yet how to best market it, though.
Released a new improved version of the site two weeks ago (the rewrite took about 60-80 hours total but has bigger potential for the site). Now thinking of selling templates or skins on the site too - that would be a whole lot more $ than the ad...
I have a feeling that if you set up an online course which teaches how to design using bootstrap, it could sell pretty well.
I'm thinking of offering early adopters a significant discount for helping pay for the costs whilst the site develops, as it's nowhere near the point where I'd be happy charging a similar amount to Flickr/500px yet. However the popularity of the project has helped me out personally; I've been offered a number of jobs due to my increased visibility as a developer.
It's not so much a question of what you feel happy charging for, as what your customers are happy paying for. The only way to find out is to add paid tiers and see what happens. You can always round out the feature set by adding additional 'premium' features to the paid tiers - free upgrades for paying customers!
If you're like me, you'll never feel like it's complete. But, is it useful?
I'd suggest charging now or very soon. Early adopters who are willing to use an incomplete service want that service to grow and be around. Charging them a nominal fee increases the changes of that happening.
I must admit that one reason why I've been putting it off is having to finish setting up the business side of things. I probably can't put off figuring out my accounting much longer :D
Thanks for the advice!
For the first month reliability was a bit spotty but for the past 3/4 months it has been really reliable. The only problems I had at first were network latency which they seem to have resolved now.
I'm happy to answer pretty much any questions about my projects! There are currently 1687 users. Signups go in bursts when I promote the site; once I've got a number of improvements done over the next month or so I'm going to try to promote it again.
I'm also really excited by what other people are doing with the codebase. There's a chap in Japan who's managed to get it running for his figurine fan website, which is impressive mostly because my documentation is so shockingly bad :D
Have tried out many alternate ad networks and exchanges, and the only other one I've found worth taking space from google so far is AOL's new Advertising.com. Individual relationships and niche affiliates can be worthwhile too, but come with more overhead. I'd generally rather optimize UX and try to attract more users than worry about managing a bunch of advertiser relationships. For a larger or smaller site that would probably change though.
Did a small launch in August. It's now just over $1,000/month in revenue. I use WPEngine to host the site. It's built mostly on the open source BuddyPress platform.
Uh? Is it Friday today? I am unsure whether I shall hurry, or the site wasn't updated for years.
I'm looking for remote work if you're hiring.
The backstory on why and how I created it is available on my blog.
We are mostly using OSX, but it is really a struggle to learn people to run their images through an optimizer.
CourseCraft (https://coursecraft.net, since December 2012, e-course creator tools + we handle transactions for 5%-9% of sales) is a lot less consistent but growing faster, currently $300-$400/month in revenue.
The idea was to get content for the main website so that it would make money. I've got over 2000 recipes now but traffic is still under 1000 hits a day so I've still not tried to monetise the main website.
I've now started to develop a job recruitment website as I can see that earning money a lot easier. Other sites in the niche have 10 job postings a day each and charge on average my prices which would mean £1000 a day. I just need to solve the recruiter / applicant traffic problem... http://www.platejobs.com/
Some of that research has led to new projects (http://magic-playlist.com puts music recommendations into your Rdio or Last.fm account), but all of them contribute to the overall ecosystem. I'm hoping to eventually support everything.
I recently started using Google AdWords as so far I've done very little marketing. Hopefully AdWords can improve that number into something far more impressive.
I'm also building a couple of other websites which I think have potential to make a lot of money but they will take a while longer yet.
It's my ultimate goal to build a sustainable living from software products online. I think it's a realistic, yet very difficult goal but I'm enjoying the challenge!
I just launched a new App.net project that I'm hoping will bring in a lot more.
I mainly get new e-mail clients from cold e-mailing contacts from the farmer's market database courtesy of data.gov.
Hopefully that's because I'm competing against some established and open source projects, so anything with a lesser feature set isn't good enough for people to pay.
Now I'm slogging away on features to be the best, then hopefully the sales will follow.
Started 3 years ago, have one part time employee working on these besides me. I only work part time one them too.
I have dialed up the revenue after I attended a conference resently by turning more 'pro'
Re-investing all profit into advertising.
- Run hosting company that just became slightly profitable.
~$110/mo fully passive affiliate commissions for referrals to recurring membership businesses.
- Looking to enter into personal development niche.
So I got dedicated server to myself and fully configured it for hosting needs including automated iptables-based firewall protection and malware protection.
Then i sent emails to my past web. dev clients out of which a few signed up.
Right off the bat I started to offer malware protection for which site5 charges $30+/mo (10 sites max) and thevault.com charges $40/mo (1 site).
I offer everything for $25/mo, unlimited sites, no BS, firewall, complete malware detection/protection, daily account-wide, off-site (off-continent actually) backups for which I renting specialized service in another country.
Originally I was hoping to just cover my costs but it started to become profitable already - so I plan to boost this side of effort.
People do see value in this where they feel protected and having fast service without doing anything.
It also may be a reason for poor returns if this has been going on for a long term.