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Those making $1,000+/month on side projects – what did you make?
563 points by MucuMare on Jan 6, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 525 comments
As it's a new year 2015, let's re-open this topic to see how things are going on this front :)

It can be a SaaS app, a mobile app, or any side project that is netting you recurring revenue

Well, there goes my afternoon.

The afternoon and some hours a day once you pick a nice idea for a side project... this thread is inspiring!

Thanks for sharing...!!

Thank you

commenting for reference later.

Thanks for gathering these

Good idea, me too.

Thanks !



This is awesome! Thanks

Great resource.

Thanks for tracking these down!

Thank you for this!


Thanks friend.

I spent all of 2014 building a SaaS for dog daycare/kennel owners. The MVP turned out beautiful. Went to a few trade shows towards the end of last year and people went crazy over the software.

0 outbound marketing yet, and already have 22 customers at $100/month. This year my goal is to scale up to 200 customers.

It's a really weird market niche where no one has built software for in 10 years. Pretty neat.

This pattern works all over the place. Get to know any kind of small business owner and you'll see they need good software that doesn't exist.

Partly that's because they can be cheap and hard to market to at scale, which discourages deeper-pocketed software companies from going after them. But if you're solo and just interested in a lifestyle business with recurring revenue, it's a very reliable path.

I've seen it before in other markets and was dissuaded because of the lack of quantity in prospective customers.

After looking into the non-veterinary pet services market I was really impressed by the consistent growth, number of businesses, and lack of offerings in the market. And I was only researching the US at the time. UK, Australia, and New Zealand also have booming pet services market.

Thiel would agree. A niche that other people ignore or say "can't be done." Can always widen it later.

A close friend of mine earns a lot of coin by pointing out to medical marijuana dispensaries that they have terrible websites. They are happy to pay him for redesigns.

I've been thinking of doing something like that, but my aim would be to find websites that I regard as sucking particularly hard.

That's interesting. Every single one of my customers has a terrible website. Every. Single. One.

We're looking to expand into a subscription service that provides a CMS w/ dog-centric themes to our customers.

Shoot me an email, we should talk. Email address on my profile.

Start with a dedicated dog-centric CMS.

Now make a dedicated cat-centric one.

Surely they will have some common elements between them. Find a way to make a pet-centric CMS.

Eventually you will have a flexibly configurable CMS that you could sell to many local businesses.

But you are better off writing a couple of hardwired, dedicated CMSs, then to try writing that flexible one from the very start.

My very first shot at Warp Life for iOS, a Conway's Game of life implementation, had a frame rate of about two per second. Now it's about 8,000 per second.

Now that I've gotten it up to 8,000 per second, I'm getting some real insight as to how to optimize it.

There are other reasons one would want a Life App than because it's fast. MY Life App is for those who care about the speed; not everyone does.

It would be quite helpful to me were you to enable me to purchase things from brick-and-mortar shops with paypal.

I can order domino's pizza with paypal but it is a PITA.

PayPal is completely convinced that I am laundering money in support of terrorism, however they are cool with my ordering pepperoni with olives.

Why did you downvote this?

It really is the case that I can't get cash out of PayPal, but PayPal does permit me to use it for online payments. A few days ago I bought a pizza with a eGift card that I bought from Newegg.

What I'd really like to do is to buy coffee and food at cafes. Starbucks once did a promotion where one could buy a prepaid card with PayPal, that they don't do that anymore. I've never heard of anyone else doing that.

If I could use my PayPal to buy coffee, or find some other ways to spend it at brick-and-mortars, there are all kinds of ways I could earn money online, then get paid via PayPal.

I use PayPal to pay for my phone. That and the pizza are all that I've been able to find that I either want or need, that I can use PayPal for.

Using it to buy coffee would enable me to work more productively. I do a lot better working at a cafe, out among the public, than at home by myself. It's not coffee that makes me productive; I buy the coffee to pay for my cable, power socket and wifi.

The cafe I goto, 'Mahtay Cafe' in St. Catharines accepts PayPal built into their pos and PayPal app Surely, all brick and mortar have this choice. It's just a matter of showing them the benefits or even building POS into their website as a complete front end and backend restaurant platform. This in my opinion should be the selling point of all payment systems and integrations with inventory tracking and customer management....why have a separate system for everything...the website should be central to everything.

There is a widespread problem I see - not particular to PayPal or Starbucks - that many companies feel they make enough money, so they don't need to do better.

I expect PayPal could promote itself to brick-and-mortars, but PayPal's marketing people don't feel that they need to, because PayPal makes plenty of money.

Most brick-and-mortars make enough money for their staff to be happy, so they don't look into how they could increase their sales by accepting other payment methods.

This might seem OK but "making enough money" is one of the factors than enables the lean and hungry to come from out of nowhere with a disruptive technology.

Hi Lee,

Do you mind me asking what the development process was like behind this? You have a landing page and a great idea for a product in a good space. Specifically, did you develop the application yourself? If so, what language did you use and what were some challenges you came across? I am looking to start developing some SaaS product and have a few basic ideas, but don't exactly know where to start.

Thanks in advance.

Hi David,

Not at all! My girlfriend originally came up with the idea in January 2014...she works at a dog daycares/veterinary office.

I used LAMP, Bootstrap 3, React.js & Redis as my stack. I've been a PHP guy for a long time now, so I usually default to it for side projects.

I am the sole developer on the project. I have 2 non-technical co-founders who are heading up sales customer support, and business development. I just like to code :P.

The biggest challenge (read: the only real challenge) is to come up with a solution that works for a variety of businesses. This market is so fragmented; every business does everything their own way. My solution is to build abstract tools and data structures whenever possible. It's worked so far.

If you ever want to chat more about this, check out my profile and email me!

Hi, did you buy a template? Can you give us some more details about your architecture, as many of us are at the beginning to learn a programming language. Many thanks! BR

What are you using Redis for?

Report and audit log caching.

Awesome thanks!

Sounds like you had success at the trade shows, I'm about to embark on that route too. Can I ask how you went getting the word out at the shows, and any tips converting to a sale? Did they mind that it was still an MVP?

The trade shows were a great start. We signed up a few folks right away, and people are still calling us 2 months later.

It was a really interesting story though...

My co-founder and I had the smallest possible booth in the very back corner of the room. Our biggest competitor had a triple sized booth manned with 4 people and 2 42-inch TVs in the center of the room.

We had 5 competitors within a 6 booth radius. Everyone else had a giveaway, huge screens, backdrops, lighting... the works. We had a 60" wide banner, a 24-inch monitor, 2 iPads, flyers and our phones.

These competitors had a decade of experience selling their product and had been to all these trade shows many times. This was our first trade show ever and only had 4 customers.

The first day was OK. Generated some buzz around the hall and had a few people really spend some time chatting.

In the afternoon, I branched out (co-founder stayed at the booth). I went around and introduced myself to about 1/2 of the other vendors. Then, I started walking up to folks randomly around the conference hall. I introduced myself, smiled and told them I was with Gingr. I then asked if they had a minute to chat about their problems with software. About 80% said yes.

I learned that just going out on a limb, smiling, being polite and asking people about their problems really worked. It makes sense IMHO ... everyone wants someone to listen to their problems.

Some were concerned that we were so new and small. I had practiced my spiel for that a hundred times by then. I managed to persuade most. A few had their "IT" person call me the next week. For the most part though, if you understand someone's problem and do have a solution, being new and small small wouldn't be a "deal breaker".

As far as closing a sale goes...don't treat it like a sale! I approached every conversation as just that.

Thanks for sharing.

> I had practiced my spiel for that a hundred times by then.

Mind sharing what that was?

Can you share a link to your service? One of my new clients (I provide managed IT services) is in this exact market with 10 locations and more coming.


URL is: gingrapp.com Company Phone: +1-877-324-7759

I'm Lee, few free to call anytime!

Link please. My wife's a groomer and recently evaluated the available software there, not many options - would like to see the similarities.

URL: gingrapp.com Company Phone: +1 877-324-7759

We're currently building out our "Additional Services" tool, which are services that get applied on top of a reservation. I'm currently working with a couple of groomers to build in some tools that could help fit their needs. Could use all the feedback possible.

Could you introduce your service better? Your landing page says what the purpose, not what it is...

Thanks for your advice!

My co-founder is currently working on a true marketing site. I'll be sure to pass this along.

Hi Lee. I have questions if you don't mind. Did you get all customers from trade shows or did you also use other methods? Did you cold call?

With the trade show did you just go and talk to people, or did you have a stall set up?


To date I've done 0 outbound sales/marketing. Just face-to-face interactions with folks at trade shows and our referral program. About 30% of our customers are referrals.

It's possible my co-founder are just so likable that our customers rave about us on private Facebook groups with their peers (our target demographic).

In this little niche, just being new and "not those guys" goes a long way. Add in a smile and an ear that really listens and you've got a pretty good initial sales strategy.

G'day! (From Australia!)

That is very cool, thanks for the information and being so open about your business. With so many good stories on HN I am considering writing a short book of interviews of people who have set up businesses of the bootstrap/lifestyle genre. Would you be interesting in being a case study?

Any specific reason for it being dog only - we put our cats in a cattery fairly often when we travel and I'd love to be able to use an online system to book things.

Awesome question! The software has completely customizable "reservation types" and "breeds", which allows for all kinds of animals. We actually don't say the word "dog" once in the app.

Not only can you manage your reservations online, we also feature photo/video report cards over SMS :). That's my personal favorite feature...love getting a video of my 2 dogs wrestling at daycare.

We have a pretty generous referral program, get in touch if you have a business you'd like to refer.

Very cool site. There seems to be a ton of software out there for dog daycares, is there anything different yours does?


We offer the fastest, most intuitive SaaS platform for Dog Daycares with world class support.

Currently there are 2 direct competitors, one has a slow product with poor support and the other has a decade old product that's inexplicably convoluted. I wouldn't consider anyone else on the market a true competitor (and our customers agree).

A couple of our favorite features are photo/video report cards over SMS, 1-click check-in/out with payments, and the customer app where they can request reservations.

If you're interested in a personal demo, shoot me an email and let's set something up! Email address on my profile.

Do you have plans to try to scale nationally? How many doggy daycares exist in the US?

Do you think this type of software would extend into similar markets well? Maybe vets, or actual child daycare?

We're currently in 14 states and Ontario. I have lofty international dreams, though :).

According to IBIS, there are ~11,000 dog kennels and daycares in the US alone. Self-performed research indicates ~12,000 similar facilities in Canada/UK/Australia.

I've looked into the veterinary world and beta tested our product at one practice. Turns out, there's tons of stuff vets need to keep track of that kennels don't. The basic premise is similar, though. We might fork the codebase one day.

Child daycares is a tough market. There are actually good products out there with medium-level investors. To be honest, I haven't spent much time looking into the market.

Hi - how did you determine pricing for a niche?

In my niche, there are 2 legit SaaS providers.

-One charges $85/month, has decent support but a disliked and old product.

-The other charges $60/month, has poor support and a very slow product (~30 sec. page load time)

I knew that I had a superior product (months of real-world testing) and that our business wanted to make support a priority.

In the end, we priced at $100/mo or $1000/yr. It's higher than everyone else which implies a better product (kinda). I haven't run into sticker shock yet for anyone with an existing business.

We're planning on raising the price >20% for new customers within 6 months.

That's awesome! Congrats on your success.

Very cool, Lee! Congratulations!

"Profitable side-project" might be an unstable equilibrium. If you're doing something without scale, it will die when you lose interest. If you're doing something with scale, perhaps it should grow into a bootstrapped startup.

inquicker.com started as a hobby / learning opportunity (2005) and grew into a side project with about $20k/yr in recurring revenue from corporate customers (2008).

Eventually, it turned into a full-time job (early 2009) and I found a co-founder (late 2009). We hired our first four employees in 2010. In 2011 we signed our 100th customer and hit $1m in recurring revenue. In 2013 we hit $5m in recurring revenue.

For a rational actor, it should be an unstable equilibrium.

If you can make more profit per hour spent in your spare time that in your job, then it won't be long until you quit and spend all of you time. If not then you will give it up, unless it is just a hobby. (Hobbies might be exception to the rule)

> If you're doing something without scale, it will die when you lose interest.

I read most of patio11's advice as being about exactly this: how to build a not-necessarily-scalable business that you can lose interest in without it dying. (Namely, by contracting out content-generation and community management and treating the commissions/wages of those people as part of your user acquisition costs.)

We need more stories like this! It's not all about crazy growth over a year or two after founding like in the most front page stories.

Great job in being persistent!

I wrote a book and video series on Sublime Text - https://SublimeTextBook.com

It's done about 80k in sales in 3 months - I'm in the process of writing a blog post about how I did it, what worked and what didn't. It's not inexpensive, but it pays for itself quickly so people are fine with spending the $45 on the book + videos.

Feel free to ask questions here so I have content for the post.

Where there any legal implications you had to consider? I mean did you reach out to the creators of SublimeText before creating your product?

Yep - I have permission to use "Sublime Text" in the book title

How did you get into writing?

I tried to write blogs and had to write papers for university, but I always struggle.

I have the feeling that some people can produce much text from nothing, where I put my ideas into a few sentences...

It was really hard to write - took me 1.5 years, tons of research and re-writing. This isn't something I slapped together over a weekend. Far from passive income.

Creating content for me is always hard, but once it's done, I love to deliver it (via talks, teaching, videos or books...)

Thanks for sharing. Writing for a 1.5 years is a long time. How did you stay motivated to keep going?

Great job man. Skimmed your book a couple months ago.

Well, the passiveness of that income probably depends on how timeless your book is.

I too, am laconic.

That's pretty cool. How did you market it? What's your net looking like(assuming 80k is gross sales)?

There have been 5-6 things that have contributed to - the biggest one is that I'm somewhat of an expert in the community - I have lots of free blog posts and videos so I've gained trust there.

Hi Wes, I would very much be interested in the case study of what you did for marketing of the book. What did you do? How did you go about it after you wrote the book?

Thanks! Matt

You used to (still do?) spam this heavily on the programming subreddit. It annoys me to see that it's selling rather well, yet you apparently can't be bothered to buy an ad.

Please see: https://www.reddit.com/wiki/faq#wiki_what_constitutes_spam.3...

I just looked at my submission history and I've only submitted it to /r/programming once - so that isn't spam.

And yes - I've bought all the reddit ads I can get my hands on - they are in pretty limited quantity.

Nearly every submission you've ever made to reddit is either directly to your book, or to a post on your blog, most of which include a massive ad at the bottom for your book. That's spam. Even if there was no ad on your blog and you receive no compensation in any way, it's still spam.

Here's another good informational link that delves into this aspect: https://www.reddit.com/wiki/selfpromotion

I'm glad you've bought ads (though I don't remember ever seeing one), but that doesn't exempt you from the rules about self promotion.

Get over yourself. This is part of why I hate the Reddit community-- it's a bunch of snarky, pretensious neckbeards.

Folks gotta eat and have kids to pay for as well.

People demanding something for nothing doesn't scale, so it we must settle for something in between: Mutual value.

An Android app I made in a few hours makes $500/m from ads, and has 1M+ downloads on Google Play. It claims to be a radar detector for your phone, but that's not even possible (it's actually just completely random).

The description says that it is for novelty purposes, but the reviews show people believe it works and it has a placebo effect. Most reviews say things like "I drove past a police station and it went off! 5/5".


It's funny to see it up in the top 20 of the Transportation category on Play, alongside companies that are heavily VC funded. https://play.google.com/store/apps/category/TRANSPORTATION/c...

No wonder you make money: charlatans often do. Take homeopathy for example, magic shops, so-called "healers" who manipulate your aura to make your cancer go away. Not to mention all the churches which have a very long tradition of exploiting by promising impossible things, just as you do.

You really should add something like "WARNING: this is just a simulator, it doesn't work in real world at all".

One thing is is fundamentally different than your examples: the money is coming from advertisers, not the users.

Actually the fact the the users don't pay for it is not relevant. You're still making a transaction with the user, providing them with a service, in exchange for them putting up with your ads. But in reality the service you say you're providing is false.

> The description says that it is for novelty purposes

And common sense really.

The extent of the technological capabilities of a device like a smartphone are far from common knowledge for the typical user. An app can allow your phone to perform the functions of a gps, why can't it allow your phone to perform the functions of a radar detector? I mean even people who know enough about their devices to know that the idea of it acting as a radar detector is unreasonable may not know what their phone IS capable of. How more technologically proficient users do you suppose are there who are completely unaware of the fact that their phone might have a barometer?

Your app description is highly misleading - the first three lines strongly give the impression it works. Even your "disclaimer" says "do not rely on it" rather than "this is complete bullshit".

Worst case this probably encourages people to slow down when driving and doesn't actually help them avoid tickets, but you're still being quite dishonest.

I'd say the worst case is that it might encourage people to drive faster, if they assume that the app will warn them of speed traps.

It's actually totally possible with crowdsourcing, and a lot of applications actually work, like Waze.

So people believing it works are not stupid, they can legitimately believe you're pulling that from a common database with an app that lets user signal radar or police cars.

The description clearly says "Your phone is able to detect strong radio signals, just like the ones directed at your car by police when measuring your speed.", and the reviews show people expect it to work by radar detection, not crowdsourcing. Many comments are police officers that tested it with their radar guns (and they of course realize it is fake).

Except, the FTC will bankrupt you with false and misleading claims like these. If it is pitched as a toy, that's one thing but you haven't. You're just lying.

This app should be reported as having a misleading description or at least it should be in the "games" category not in the "transportation".

Had he not pointed it out to us, nobody would be the wiser.

"I seriously didn't think it would work at all but to my surprise it did so I put my phone along side my $500 Valentine detector and they both went off same time"


Funniest thing I've read all day.

You should just make it detect a radar when it notices any hard acceleration. :P

It already is more likely to go off the higher your speed is. :P

This app should be reported as having a misleading description or at least it should be in the "games" category not in the "transportation".

This app should be reported as having a misleading description or at least it should be in the "games" category not in the "transportation".

This app should be reported as having a misleading description or at least it should be in the "games" category not in the "transportation".

This app should be reported as having a misleading description or at least it should be in the "games" category not in the "transportation".

A year ago I developed an universal video downloader site http://savedeo.com.

I didn't pay much attention to it at first, but people liked the site and kept coming back. Year later the site generates around $30k a month and the operation costs are around $90 (close to nothing).

The site is very lightweight as it doesn't really downloads anything. It just extracts direct links to the files.

There are a great challenges that I have to deal with (like YouTube blocking IPs, sites changing designs all the time, etc.).

You're pushing malware via popups.

To convert one video, I was subjected to each of these popups three times:

http://i.imgur.com/qqK77qp.png http://i.imgur.com/eCAtjOi.png

You're probably paid per install, unless the distribution model for malware has significantly changed in the past six years.

Assuming $2 per install, that would mean you're infecting 15,000 machines per month.

At bare minimum, this malware you distribute probably maliciously replaces all ads loaded on the infected machine with ads controlled by the hackers who created the malware, and it does this for the remainder of the lifetime of that machine.

The legitimate site operators currently obliviously and naively praising you in the comments here are the very same victims who are robbed by the criminals you are colluding with via this ad-replacing malware you distribute. Their CPM and CPC numbers are suffering because of crooks like you.

All that aside, none of this takes into account the people who are duped into calling the 1-844 number in those popups who then have their bank accounts cleaned out by the scam artist on the other end who succeeds in socially engineering the victim into sharing their credit card details.

What you're doing isn't praiseworthy; it isn't impressive. It's despicable.

That's weird, I'm not seeing these popups, and Google says the site is OK: https://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=savedeo....

If indeed the claim is true (I have not verified it), it is possible that the malware creators don't offer up these popups to Google's bots.

The directrev.com malware installation popups I provided screenshots of were triggered by this script embedded in savedeo's post-conversion page:


Checking that script, we see a lot of "gunggo" references, which is the ad network doh admits to using. Gunggo apparently owns directrev.com, and both are considered pretty shady from what I can gather:


Savedeo.com is ranked 49,679 on alexa. I'm guessing it gets around 9,000 visitors per day. With such little traffic, and no legitimate product or paid services being offered, there is absolutely no remaining way to earn 30k per month other than to spray hapless visitors with the most aggressive/malicious advertisements known to man.

Here are the stats from his ad network which he showed off earlier: http://i.imgur.com/LfgWL7D.png

I'm assuming those numbers are ad impression counts. There is no possible way savedeo.com is receiving anything close to that many page views per day. If it were, his alexa rank would be closer to 1,800; certainly not 49,679. I run a site approaching the alexa 2000 range, and it only gets half as much traffic as his ad network statistics screenshot boasts. Since the numbers in this ad network screenshot cannot possibly represent savedeo.com's traffic, we are left to guess what they actually do represent.

Here's my guess: It's the number of ads served to infected machines per day via the malware he helped install through popups like these. Assuming he's infected 25,000 machines, each infected device would only need to maliciously replace 20 legitimate advertisements on victim sites per day for him to reach this absurdly high impression count. If that is indeed what is happening, he's earning roughly $1.50 per thousand ad impressions which is fairly standard.

Alexa is highly inaccurate. My website (http://www.ranksignals.com) have Alexa rank 7,000 with 3,500 visits / day while my other websites with higher traffic have far lower Alexa rank.

My other websites have Alexa rank 23,000 with 15k to 20k visits/day and Alexa rank 250k and 5k visits/day.

I'm interested in how you are extrapolating daily visitors from Alexa rank. You mention having a 2000ish ranked site and knowing the page views from there. I imagine its not a linear relationship. Do you have other data points you are using? Any other information you could be provide would be super appreciated.

Strong words, but I don't disagree. I left a previous job in large part due to the shady advertising companies we were directly connected with, and which I had to integrate. It's really tricky, because the business people on the advertiser's side have all these justifications for why it's a valid model, and the business people on our side had a bigger check than any legitimate provider would give them (same argument the owner of this site is making).

I'm seeing them as well.

Understanding this problem--what would you say is the most "legit" way to advertise and earn money with a sight like this--? Adwords? Something else?

I don't see any popups, it's probably just you.

Though I like how you based ALL of your reasoning around a probably false alarm, and you just kept going on and on with conclusions.

The site operator himself said that there were pop-ups, it's not a false alarm: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8844978

I'm just getting betting sites tab-pops

It is possible that the site was hacked to serve malware.

That's pretty awesome. I just tried it out to see how you make money and noticed that you have both banner ads and also open popup-tabs. Are you comfortable sharing how much of the revenue is from the banners versus the popups? Are those the only two streams?

There are no banners only pop-up ads. There are two different providers, one generating around 1/3 the other the rest. I get probably one inquiry a week to test new ad system, which I mostly do. This way I went up from 6-7k a month to beyond 30k.

Awesome! Any recommendations on what pop-up / interstitial providers to use? I have a small site which has free, useful file downloads, and these could work well on that as an additional revenue stream. I have Adsense on there now but it is only pumping out $200-300/Month off of 10K+ visitors.

Any thoughts towards allowing people to promote their videos to that top list you've got there on the homepage? I'm er.. asking for a friend!

I actually spent a decent amount of time preventing people from promoting their videos on the homepage. The traffic dropped a bit afterwards but I like to have a real data there, just for the curiosity.

Fair enough, I was more thinking similar to how Google searches do it, a sort of yellow-backed "Promoted" link as an alternate/additional source of income than artificially bumping something to the top through fake downloads

Well, the top videos get barely over couple of 1k views so I don't know how valuable it is.

I am extremely strict with what I count as a hit (I have a whole GEOip & browser combination) so if two people come from the same country with the same browser, it's only one hit, ever.

It seems like there are hundreds (or thousands) of other sites that do the same thing. What do you feel separates yours from the others?

Speed and simplicity of the design. You can for instance download a whole playlist of videos at once and get a .m3u file that includes all the direct links to the top quality videos.

You are using worst kinds of ads on the internet. And the only thing which my chrome blocks is actually the link to video.

How does savedeo.com actually make money? It isn't obvious.

There are pop-up ads whenever you click somewhere. It's crazy intrusive, but unfortunately google like services are generating barely 1/3.

Mind sharing your provider's name (email is in my profile)? I have a hosted service, in a different space, with a similar demographic. Adsense banned my account (mistakenly may I add) over a year ago and now I'm out of monetisation ideas.

The smaller one is http://www.gunggo.com, the bigger one is invitation only.

Can you ask them to invite me? My site Twicsy has over 6 million unique visitors per month but I only make about 1/4 what you make.

When you click on things on the website, they pop open online betting and other affiliate links

I was wondering if you can point to me where and how you can get information of how to extract/download audio/video files.

Are there any legal implications associated with this site, as in is it legal to download videos from those sites?

Well, this is a kind of a gray zone. The data hosted on sites like Youtube don't belong to them but to the creators. The site itself doesn't download anything, in a way it simulates what your browsers does.

As a user, that's more complicated. In European Union it's legal. Everywhere else? Hard to say.

>The site itself doesn't download anything, in a way it simulates what your browsers does

Don't you arrange the download and provide a way for the user to "actually" download the video?

The site gives you a direct link to the file. Based on the site behavior and your browser settings, your browser will or start downloading or open the video directly.

Would you mind sharing your traffic numbers? Daily page impressions & unique visitors would be interesting...

How did you get those visitors in what i see as a crowded market? That's always been my problem....

Never did anything special. After a month got promoted by Lifehacker which crashed the site so the traffic went back to the original. Everything is WOM.

Is it possible to extract audio out of a video file you generate?

Sure. For that reason I wrote other service, http://auderio.com ;)

This must be less legal than Savedeo (which only creates a video link), because if the extracted audio is hosted on the servers it's very likely an illegal copy. I'm not sure DMCA would help in this case.

auderio.com api is through mashape ..which is around 100 request per day .. any way this limit can be increased for hacker accounts ?

ah i see. I was wondering if its possible to make a configurable autoupdating podcast channel based on these audio files.

You can use the API from http://auderio.com and do whatever you want

That's not to hard to do on your end, but it would be asking a lot of a free website: they'd have to actually download and pick apart the file.

How are you generating revenue? I don't see any ads.

Disable popup blocker and click one of the download links - it opens up the download link [I assume to convince you to disable popup blocker] and (for me on this attempt) a bet365 advert in popups

Clicking around pops-up ads in a new window.

Impressive work man.

How many visitors do you get on the website?

Do you bother with a day job now?

I actually do. My main thing is http://pexe.so

huge thanks for your story and the transparency of revenue.

is most of the income from the nfsw section?

Actually, the NSFW section is only 0.65% of the site traffic. I think the most income comes from some casinos or this type of ads.

What do you mean income from some casinos? Are casinos downloading videos, or what does that traffic source look like?

I mean the pop-up ads are sometimes ads to online casinos, sometimes very popular mobile games, etc.

To be honest, I am very frustrated with the ads, but I have to make money somehow and I never found a better way how to do it.

Cool! If you're willing to share, what is the most popular site people download videos for? I was thinking NSFW sites as well, but you said they only account for 0.65%.

Youtube (64.08%), Soundcloud (11.37%), Vimeo (9.94%), Mixcloud (3.84%) and then everything else is less than 1%

Hey , can you share which hosting you are using ? and what backend tech you are using ? only high-level. thanks.

I wrote an Android app based on a blog post of mine which got popular:



It reached the reddit front page for a day, and earned £3,000 during that day. Since then, it's averaged ~£150 per month, with only small input from me (minor updates)

I saw your write-up on this before; very cool work. Could you talk a little about the programming side of things and what you had to do to go from your initial mock-up (what did you use for that?) to the Android app, and how that process went? I saw that you'd written it was your first time with Android/Java.

Thanks! And sure, I wrote the initial simulation code in Matlab, which is very simple, just adding 2D arrays which Matlab is fairly quick at.

I then saw the traction the blog post was getting, so wanted to capitalise on that quickly. I had an Android phone, so for simplicity (and ease of monetisation) decided to write an app for that. From zero knowledge of Java it took probably 30 hours over a weekend to get the app out, then perhaps another 10 hours over the next week on a few updates and bug fixes.

Getting the app up and running was relatively simple, most of the time was spent looking up API functions in Google's SDK documentation (and SO!). The only complication was making sure the CPU-intensive parts ran in a separate thread to avoid locking up the UI, and dealing with different device display sizes and resolutions. Everything else (dealing with input, generating images etc.) wasn't particularly difficult, but did take time to implement.

I could have used this last month. I went through 4 crap routers before caving and buying a 250$ router to cover my home.

I wrote a book[1] a year and a half ago that just recently crossed $42k in total revenue. These days it consistently earns $1.5k/mo without much further input from me, other than tweaks to the landing page copy and updates once in awhile when Stripe or Rails changes significantly.

[1]: https://www.masteringmodernpayments.com

Edit: If you'd like to read a preview, you can do so here: https://www.masteringmodernpayments.com/read

I was thinking about doing something similar. Do you recommend using your own domain name (like nathan barry) or having a custom domain?

Why not both? Make a custom domain for the book, then treat your own site as if you were guest-blogging on it to pump link juice to the custom domain.

That way, your venture ends up with the combined page-rank of your personal brand and the exact-domain bonus. (Whereas if you just redirect from one to the other, you lose one or the other.)

If you have a domain name already, use it. I launched with just a page on my blog and later moved it over to a separate domain. I don't think it matters in the long run, and in the short run you get a boost from your personal domain that people already know.

What proportion of that revenue are you receiving?

I use Stripe (and sometimes PayPal) so I get 97% of the gross revenue. Monthly recurring expenses are a cheap VPS to run the app and Facebook retargeting fees.

Hi, are you an expert or at least well established in the community? Because that usually helps a lot to sell. Thanks!

Do you mind sharing how you advertised your book or made it popular?

I wrote an article[1] all about it a few months after I originally launched. There was some HN discussion about it too[2].

[1]: https://www.petekeen.net/adventures-in-self-publishing

[2]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6320333

I created a card game that I sell on Amazon. I have it manufactured in China and sell it though Fulfillment by Amazon.

Quite a change from my day job working in software but I enjoy the diversity.


Mind talking some about how you do it?


I've been trying to understand the full remote supply chain, going directly from the offshore supply chain directly to FBA.

Its difficult to completely automate the supply chain as incoming FBA shipments expire 30 days after they are created. If you're shipping heavy freight from China this is cost prohibitive. I currently "touch" my inventory one time in-between the source and FBA. I'm working on streamlining that part though.

Be sure that your mfgr isn't running off extra for AliBaba, free markets or other channels. Contract mfgrs are notorious about ripping off IP and product.

How is it possible to be sure of that, though? If they're a contract mfg then by definition they've already signed a contract that says they can't do that, so if they do it, they've broken the contract.

Check these guys at www.forestshipping.com - they can ship direct to FBA from your factory and do labeling services if needed.

I'm happy to answer some questions... can you be a bit more specific?

Well, what kind of companies do you work with—a printer, and a distributor? Any others? How did you find the ones you work with—and how did you know that they were the right ones? What have you done for marketing—gone to trade shows, paid for advertising, giving samples to the right people, or what? How well is it doing? Have you sales been steady, increasing, or was there a big burst at the start, and a trickle since? Um... that's what I can think of off the top of my head.

I work only with a printer... Amazon is my distributor. I found them on Alibaba.

I'm starting to ramp up my marketing but to date I've done some adwords and advertising on Amazon.

Sales are steady, I don't reach $1000 every month but the holiday season more than makes up for it when you average it out.

Thanks for the info :-)

Roughly how much did you have to invest in the first couple of sets? Most manufacturers have a minimum order, and I imagine that would be the case for you considering you were getting something custom made.


I don't know exactly but it was no more than 3k and a decent amount of my time.

Good job! Which card manufacturer are you using?

Would you mind sharing the name of the manufacturer in China? Cheers!

I've created five years ago http://www.totalwireframe.com, based on a hunch that it would interest people. It's a site where I sell libraries for an obscure/niche market.

The first year, I sold for $0 of librairies. In 2014, I've made ~$45,000 and it's 100% passive income. I'm not proud to say that I've worked a total of 30 hours on the site last year (it sounds as if I'm lazy, and I'm not). Moreover, I've never spent a single dollar on marketing, no matter its form.

It works so well that I've taken the decision to leave my daily job to work on the site full time. I (perhaps naively) think that if I make that much money while doing practically nothing, I can surely make a ton more by actually working on it every day for a year. On Feb 1st, I'm making the jump.

It has been tough to get there though. The first year has been a disaster. I nearly abandoned the site. Then, one day, I started to gain traction. To this day, I have no idea why. Then, months after months, the sales went up. It took me weeks and weeks of work to create the libraries I'm selling today. I also did a lot of variations, based on the feedback I received from my customers. My customers are the best, I think. They like what I do, they give me a lot of feedback. In the course of my business, I also did stupid things I regret immensely, like copy a competitor (but honestly it was not intentional), and I'm really, really not proud of this.

Sales have reached a peak of $7500 for the month of May 2014.

The site is based on http://jekyllrb.com/ and is hosted on https://www.webfaction.com/, on a 9$ per month plan. As the site is static, I just need Nginx. That's it. GetDPD allows me to collect payments with both Paypal and Stripe.

To let people pay and downlaod, I use http://getdpd.com/. They are fantastic. I've tried a lot of other options and even though GetDPD looks terrible, it's a great product, well worth the tiny monthly cost.

I hope my story will let people know that it's totally feasible to do a great business as a side project. I honestly wonder EVERY.SINGLE.DAY how come it worked for me, but well,... it worked :-)

Great story! I'm also extremely curious as to how it started to gain traction.

I'm wondering if it has to do with where the site appeared in search results. For example if Google changed their algorithm or if perhaps your web host somehow changed something?

Do you remember when it started to gain traction?

It took off after 9 months. I have NO IDEA why. I know, it's not sexy to say this, but it's the truth.

Would you be interested in trying something new for delivering downloads, while allowing to collect revenue and build your community? Let me know, I'm working on something very similar. My contact info is in my profile.

Nice story! And you created all libraries you sell only by yourself?

Yes, everything by myself. It's not that hard, really, but it's really time-consuming.

I'm making about $500/month (was $800/month when bitcoin price was better) by code reviewing altcoins for exploits, undisclosed premines, and other scams that can hide in code. I have an arrangement with an exchange for a monthly fee, and sometimes am paid by others as well.

I've successfully stopped 1 full blown exploit (admanteumcoin) where there was code that allowed a block to mine any amount of coins desired, (and had RPC calls modified to hide this).

I started out doing it to try to help the altcoin ecosystem, because it's pretty interesting, and because it's a great way to learn more about cryptocurrencies and all their implementations. My code review directory (that isn't actually up to date) is on github: https://github.com/Earlz/coinreviews

Do you do code reviews outside of altcoins? After reading your page I immediately wondered if you're a freelance code reviewer & what languages you specialize in. If so, you should add more details about that in a Services / Work section of your site, and link to those details at the end of your blog posts about code reviews.

Kudos on your About page too, instantly builds connection through good taste in music & drinks!

I've never really considered it. Reviewing altcoins is easy because all you do is figure out a known-safe coin it's forked from (since everything eventually boils down to bitcoin) and check the differences.

I really don't pay enough attention to my blog these days, but glad you like it :)

10MinuteMail - http://10minutemail.com

Temporary email. Got lucky with traffic, and run two Google Adsense ads.

I use this almost daily ( for testing my web app ), thanks for creating this site !

I'm a big fan of 10MinuteMail, it's saved from a lot of spam. Thanks!

How much traffic do you get to make $1k+ a month with Adsense ads?

I get 3.7-4 million page views per month from 850k-1 million unique users.

OK, that is a lot!

What sort of hardware do you need for that kind of load?

As zrail mentioned below, it's not that much traffic from a load perspective. It's a Java app, so it uses some RAM, but honestly the hardest load to tune for was the inbound spam.

I have a massively overspecced server that I use for this, and many other sites/projects - 24 GB RAM, dual X5670 CPUs, etc... Typically runs at a load average of only 0.5-0.6. Like I said, overspecced:)

You probably need a better mail server that can more easily handle that load. Check Haraka out (shameless plug, but it's designed for high loads and this kind of app).

FYI: searching for Haraka on duckduckgo links to the page with a description text of "This is the meta description of your form. You can use it for SEO purposes.". Whoever runs the website should probably clean up the meta-tags.

I'm writing some plugins for Haraka _right now_. Definitely recommended!

That's approximately 2 hits per second. If you're serving static content (or heavily cached) you could handle that with a Raspberry PI. Heck you could probably do it with an arduino.

Edit: this depends heavily on your traffic pattern, of course. Super bursty traffic from Reddit, TechCrunch, etc is going to swamp your IO, but CPU will never dominate the equation.

Depends on your users I think. If 50% of that traffic is during a 10 hour window of time each day, that could be around 70 views per second. And pulling email for an account could be more costly than a static page view. Then if he's getting that many views, he could be processing tens or hundreds of emails a day per account more or less.... Could get expensive.

> If 50% of that traffic is during a 10 hour window of time each day, that could be around 70 views per second.

How do you get that? Assuming 4M/month, that works out to 130K/day. Even if all that traffic comes in a 10-hour window, that works out to 130,000/36000 =~ 4/sec, not 70/sec.

Might as well serve it from Amazon S3 with Cloudflare in front of it.

Of all the things that would be suited to Amazon S3 with Cloudflare, a simple mail client/server that saves email securely for 10 minutes is not one.

At all.

I use your service religiously. Hi!

PS: I will disable uBlock on your domain. I like people who advertise properly.

How did you get approved for AdSense? I'm trying to get approval for a small app with little textual content, but it seems Google want reams of text so it gets rejected.

I didn't have to do anything special (that I remember - this was many years ago).

Awesome. I used to run a similar service, but almost got banned from AdSense by users who received emails with adult content. What do you do to account for content in emails that users receive that may be objectionable to your advertisers?

May seem like a basic question, but I'm curious what different use cases your users us your service for. The obvious to me would be to sign up for a service that requires an email and use the fake one. What else is it used for?


Thanks for making that! Out of interest, are you willing to share a rough idea of how many emails have been created or how many are made a day?

40k-50k addresses are created, with about 80-85% of them receiving an email. I also get about 300k-500k email a day to expired addresses

> I also get about 300k-500k email a day to expired addresses

Ever had any ideas for monetizing the junk mail you receive? I'd imagine most of the mail filters do something similar to learn on, but it seems like there has to be some value from that volume.

Big fan of 10minutemail - great job! How are you able to keep track of the emails going to expired addresses? Aren't those addresses destroyed? Do you ever repurpose expired addresses?

> I also get about 300k-500k email a day to expired addresses

Ever had any ideas for monetizing the junk mail you receive? I'd imagine most of the mail filters do something similar to learn on, but it seems like there has to be some value from that volume.

> I also get about 300k-500k email a day to expired addresses

Ever had any ideas for monetizing the junk mail you receive? I'd imagine most of the mail filters do something similar to learn on, but it seems like there has to be some value from that volume.

HTTPS link for those who care about security: https://10minutemail.com/10MinuteMail/index.html (Which should be everyone; I find it disappointing you would have posted the HTTP link at all, to be honest.)

Curious, how did you market it?

Nice idea. Thanks for sharing!

big fan also - how are you dynamically creating those address on the backend ?

how did you create the website and everything?

Lead generation service for mobile developers: iOS Leads - http://iosleads.com & Android Leads - http://androidleads.net

Have an assistant that helps curate freelance/contract positions from around the internet and through opportunities I hear about offline. I'm a mobile developer, so it's an effective side business to be working on.

Many people have scored new clients and worked on interesting projects through the service. Some people find it's not for them. Definitely offer a money-back guarantee if you're working on something digital/saas. No reason to be taking people's money if they're not getting value out of your product.

Another valuable lesson: we did really well with podcast advertising thanks to Release Notes (http://releasenotes.tv/). If you can find a podcast with 10,000 - 20,000 listeners that serves a niche, you should be able to produce a nice return. IMO our landing page is terrible, but it converts quite well.

Out of interest regarding the podcast advertising - how much does that sort of thing cost? Obviously there's going to be differences based on the podcast, listeners, etc but as an vague number were you looking at $hundreds, $thousands?

Per episode with the size audience mentioned, you're looking in the hundreds. Start out with one advertisement to test the waters. I ran one advertisement that had good results (5-10x return). Like an idiot, I assumed I milked the cow dry and should look for other podcasts or advertising mediums in general. That was dumb. I booked a couple of episodes again with Release Notes that produced the same ROI.

If you're having success with an advertisement, don't be afraid to double down and spend thousands. Ideally, you should get a bulk discount from the show.

I don't have conversion rates based on % listener or cost per listener. Would love to see podcast advertising evolve to this point in the future, but it certainly hasn't yet.

The folks at Baremetrics (https://baremetrics.io/) run an awesome service for monthly recurring Saas companies that use Stripe. If you know what your lifetime customer value is, you really have more faith in your advertising dollars.

Awesome stuff thank you - I'm currently creating a podcast hosting service, advertising on podcasts themselves seems an obvious choice to look into. I aim to have something that allows podcasters and advertisers to easily interact - that bit about ROI for advertisers has given me a bit of inspiration! :)

It would be fascinating to see a complement to this thread, "Side projects that never got any traction". The tech press has a huge bias toward reporting on "what works" based on projects or companies that succeeded, without ever looking at the many projects and companies that do exactly the same things as the successful ones without ever getting anywhere.

I've been very successful in the technology world, including running my own scientific and software consulting company for many years, but as a novelist and poet I've been a complete failure, despite approaching the two in very similar ways. Maybe the markets are simply very different, or maybe it's just luck, or something else. So I think it would be interesting to see some side-by-side of projects that took off and projects that didn't.

There are lots of really interesting things people are posting here, but I bet for every success story there is a story of failure that involves a great many of the same elements, yet somehow never grew beyond the "that was an interesting way to spend my spare time for a while" stage.

I guess there are 100 failed projects for every financially successful ones. So it could get a bit TL;DR.

Here is one that makes $5-$10 a month from admob. A lot less than I hoped: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.martincapo....

Most of the installs are from non-english speaking countries. I spent about $20 on Fiverr to get the descriptions translated into Russian, Portuguese etc, which helped me get a few more downloads. I now have 1000 downloads, 250 current installs, and about 10 new installs (and 10 uninstalls!!) per day.

We need a thread about most revenue from least investment ($, time). :)

Reddit thread on this subject from yesterday: https://www.reddit.com/r/webdev/comments/2rb487/people_who_h...

I made http://bankofamericaroutingnumber.com It took less than a day and makes about $150/month. Not quite the 1k but not bad for minimal work.

Did you also make http://www.chaseroutingnumber.com/ ? Looks exactly the same.

There's a link to it and a Wells Fargo version at the bottom, so I would say yes.

Yes, it's at the bottom of the page and Wells Fargo too.

Hm, how do you get visitors? You don't show up on the first page of Google results for 'bank of america routing number' for me. (I guess you show up second if I add certain state names.)

He's 2nd on Bing

Can someone explain what this is, is it like a UK sort-code [which identifies a particular bank branch, like a zip-code only for banks]? Why do people need to look it up [online].


more or less

>What is an ABA routing number?

The ABA routing number is a 9-digit identification number assigned to financial institutions by The American Bankers Association (ABA). This number identifies the financial institution upon which a payment is drawn. Routing numbers are sometimes referred to as "check routing numbers", "ABA numbers", or "routing transit numbers" (RTN). Routing numbers may differ depending on where your account was opened and the type of transaction made.


That's ingenious - good work, and I'm glad it's working out well.

Wow. So simple, yet so brilliant. Kudos!

How does it make money? Just curious.

Looks like ads.

I always forget that my ad block extension is active. Makes sense. Thanks.

you are using "bank of america" in the url - no trademark problems?

I created a soccer app that provides information on betting. It trickled along nicely and then in November it jumped to £3k (~$4.5k) then December it jumped to £7.7k (~$11k) and looks to be on that line still as it is on £2k after 5 days of January!

I have also just started to allow 3rd parties access to my data!

I plan on expanding this functionality over the coming months as well, as there are a number of websites that keep requesting feeds and API access to the algorithm predictions.

Do you mind to disclose your data source(s)? Every now and then I've ideas in this space, but ultimately I'd need a (free or very cheap) API with history soccer results and match data - which I did not find so far.

I use a number of sources and several systems that I have built myself for collecting live score data on a daily basis.

A good place to start out would be here: http://www.football-data.co.uk/data.php

Could you share more, what information on betting? I was looking into this area.

I have developed an algorithm that has a strong strike rate for picking outcomes of matches.

My app/website simply provides this information to users for free.

One of the good things about affiliate relationships in the betting niche is that they offer lifetime earnings if you go down that route. They also offer fairly strong CPAs if you negotiate with the brands you drive a lot of traffic to.

I am now branching out into more sports such as Tennis over the next 6 months!

(Chances are this will be less of a side project and more of a full time gig in a few months time if it keeps growing)

I should point out that I had never made an app before giving this a try! Beginners luck!

Oh, so your revenue comes from affiliates? I thought that you have a monthly subscription fee :)

No monthly fee. I don't really like services that charge for this data.

I prefer to make it available for free and then make the money by signing people up for bookies that they might not normally use.

Any specific reason for doing this instead of just charging people for using the tips? Are your users generally skeptical of accuracy of tips and as such not likely to pay?

Just feel it is better to provide the service for free.

Maybe at some point in the future I will consider a premium tier but it is not on the roadmap at the mo.

link please ? I'd really like to try it.

Hey, the site is: http://betalyst.com/

It is just on a stock wordpress theme at the moment as I am currently developing a better site for it.

The algorithm selections can be seen here: http://betalyst.com/tips-zone/

Still a lot more work to do on it! - Feel free to share are potential improvements, I am not afraid of constructive criticism! It is very much something I threw together to get the algorithm into the wild, an MVP if you like.

The app is currently not available on the app store as I have to re-launch it with some changes as Google were not happy with the amount of 'gambling' content in it, they paused it when it got to 200k downloads!

It is due to be re-launched before the end of the month once I have time to make the changes they requested.

Nice job! You're probably aware of this site https://betegy.com/ maybe you can get some ideas from them (not affiliated). You should discuss your site at /r/soccerbetting my email is in my profile if you want to discuss further.

Yeah, I am away of the Betegy site. They offer a paid service.

That is not something I am looking to do, I would prefer to hand out all my tips for free.

I have on two occasions run my predictions vs theirs and have beaten them on both occasions which is good.

I may set up a tracker between both algorithms over a longer timescale to see which is more accurate.

All tips are in a database.

In my new template there is a section that will have a graph of stats on performance and ability to check how the algorithm has performed across segments (leagues, etc).

I am planning on using a Betfair bot in the future. Once I am happy that I have everything in place I will create this.

Cool! Shoot me an email if you'd like to chat further, myself and a friend had a betting tips site and facebook group going at one point, I like talking about this topic.

Do you track your results? That would be a good thing to have on the site for marketing purposes. Also, ever consider writing a betfair bot to automatically bet on your tips through their API? How do you decide on bankroll in your tips? (this is an area that interests me)

Thanks for the heads up on reddit.

May ask for some feedback in there!

Ya good idea. I'm a moderator there so if you need tips about promoting it correctly without being spammy let me know. Also, posting your picks to oddsportal picks (e.g. http://www.oddsportal.com/profile/DPT/), certain facebook groups, reddit, relevant forums and so on would be good to raise your profile.

Some great tips there. Thank you very much!

Am deffo going to keep a close eye on the Reddit group so might shoot you an email about that in a couple of days

No worries, I like the idea, happy to help. Might pick your brains about it a bit if that's ok. Some traffic stats for that subreddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/SoccerBetting/about/traffic/

Email away!

That links does not seem to work.

There is a Useful Resources section on the sidebar of the reddit page. How would I go about requesting a link to my site in there?

Pretty sure that link was public before... the mods must have made it private.

Your site would not be accepted into the Useful Resources section (lots of spam in the gambling industry, affiliate stuff etc). You have to be careful about how you get links, otherwise your domain will be quickly banned from the sub. A better suggestion would be the daily picks thread, perhaps auto posting the picks....

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