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I sort of like the Drip widgets (http://getdrip.com) and there exist numerous Javascript things which can do roughly the same.

I don't have much experience with physical products and am not sure this generalizes, but in SaaS, one of the best ways to get opt-ins with advertising is to:

a) Send the ad not to a landing page but rather to content pitched in the ad

b) Have a further incentive which takes the piece it's attached to and deepens it. Gate this one with an email submit.

c) You generally want to get to a state where you have N content pieces, M creatives for the premium (downloadable whitepaper or whatever), and P premiums, where N >> M >> P. Then you can start testing to find which ads/content/house ad creatives/premiums get you the best results. It works perfectly adequately with N = M = P = 1 though.

This works particularly well with retargeting. You get someone to visit your site once or a few times organically (your content was on HN or Twitter or what have you), you cookie them up, and some day when they're browsing Facebook your company (which they already trust to give them useful info) says "Hey, more stuff for you to read of interest to you." They come over, read for a bit, and hand over the email address semi-casually. Your marketing and sales processes now take over.

Sourceforge is essentially a gigantic set of Google doorway pages which MITM downloads initiated by unsuspecting (largely non-technical) Internet users of popular free-as-in-beer projects. They're open about doing this. https://sourceforge.net/blog/gimp-win-project-wasnt-hijacked...

These "mirror" (MITM) pages outrank the authoritative sites for many projects because Sourceforge has been around for 10+ years and has superior trust/backlink profiles compared to the newer author-blessed sites which presently host the software. Gimp is actually fortunate in this regard -- gimp.org is stickied to the top spot when searching [gimp] and Sourceforge floats around #8 or so.

Sourceforge should get hit with Google's standard penalty, which is "we smite your rankings with the hammer of an avenging god." Minimally, Google should at least tighten up their enforcement of AdWords policies. Their "installers" are per-se violations of the Unwanted Software Policy (http://www.google.com/about/company/unwanted-software-policy...).

How about it, resident Googlers?

There you go.


Reported. If you report, please provide some reason. I provided- "embeds malware/adware with downloads"

Thank you, also reported the site now.


And done.


a) I wouldn't confuse your pricing model with the delivery model here. You can certainly charge monthly for downloadable self-hosted software or charge once for SaaS hosted in the cloud.

b) If you're in email, and you're not working with clients at the very, very top of the sophistication chain, you should not expect them to host their own email servers because their deliverability will be terrible. I suppose you could theoretically let them use your product with a bring-your-own-MSA, but that should probably be in-scope for your product. (You'd also be crazy to do this yourself, but you can use an MSA on the backend, like substantially every company providing UI and logic on top of email does.)

c) The operational difficulties of doing release cycles and maintenance for client-hosted software, particularly hosted software which has to play well with client-provided infrastructure, strongly, strongly, strongly suggest you host things yourself.

Thank you for your details response,

1. Yes for email delivery they can always bring their own smtp like sendgrid or mandril, in that case may be they may not have to think about delivery? 2. Don’t you think customers can save money on self hosted if we sell for onetime payment (let say price at 6 or 8 months subscription cost) like whmcs. 3. What do you think about customer acquisition cost for both options will it be equal or any one will have any advantage over other?

Just a note on 2.: If your onetime price is equal to just 6 month subscription time, you're going to lose money. Either you're lowballing your onetime payment, or making a subscription too costly. Consider a case where you offer both at the same time: Unless the costs associated with self-hosting are incredibly high, very few people would choose the SaaS option if they can save 6 months of budget on the first year. In this case, I would increase your price to at least a year of SaaS subscription.

As to your original question: Unless your software is special in some way that you don't want anyone to find out about, you can offer both SaaS and self-hosting at the same time. My advice would be to do that, but use a yearly-license model for the self-hosting. Calculate the costs a self-hosted version would cost in total to a client (license, hardware, maintenance etc.), and make the SaaS version slightly cheaper than that.

Funny story time: in my late and unlamented career as a translator, I was attached to a pair of US artists visiting Gifu's international arts and crafts fair. Both were vegans and expressed a desire to have vegan ramen.

I explained this to the ramen shop proprietor. He came out with a bowl of ramen with chashu (pork) on top of it. When I pointed out that pork does in fact count as a meat product, he plucked it off with chopsticks. I then said "Excuse me, I don't mean to be a bother about this, but I can't help but notice that you poured the broth from a pan marked Pig. Is there, I don't know, pork in the broth?" "Oh you read Japanese!" "Yep, literacy is a handy quality in a translator." "Do your guests read Japanese?" "No." "Then as far as they know it's hearty vegetable broth now isn't it!"

Haha, the real question is, did they notice the difference? Or did they just say, "Damn, that was the best vegetable broth I've ever had!"

We ate elsewhere, after a round of apologies to all concerned.


I'm sort of hesitant to use Gawker as an authoritative news source, but I'm willing to trust them that they do not entirely manufacture quotes from PR reps.

This is really fantastic (just got done with listening to it). Highlights include:

1) Why/how to price productized services at $500+ per month, and what this implies for your target customer and delivery methods.

2) Delivery specifics: AppAftercare has N clients for M principal consultants where N >> M. Each consultant is principal with regard to a client portfolio, rather than e.g: striping incoming requests across all available consultants. This means incoming requests generally handled by someone intimately familiar with codebase at issue.

3) Einar's brief sketch on how he does prospecting, which is the single most impressive part of a very impressive business. Briefly, he algorithmically identifies signals which suggest that a client is uniquely in the market for the product, scalably identifies decisionmaker contact details, and then cold pitches them with an 80/20 email where 80% is templated and 20% is client-specific value. After closing the new client all services are actually provided through the team.

Capsule summary: a great way to spend your hour if you consult. Even assuming one does no productized consulting the prospecting discussion alone (approximately last 3rd of interview) is more than worth your time.

Bookmarked the podcast to have a listen later today. I've managed to productize my consulting which has worked well for me in terms of sales conversions and engagements etc. Ive been unable to identify a recurring revenue stream however. My consulting work is all strategy based. Im paid to think rather than do, whereas most others I have spoken to do some form of execution as well. Do you think there's a way for me to come up with some sort of recurring revenue model?

Hey Khuram, just took a look at your website and I think there might be an angle where you can charge a monthly retainer for KPI analysis and recommendations.

Strategizing about growth is just the first step, you also need to put in place the appropriate analytics to be able to measure it.

You can help your clients sift through what's really important, what needs to be improved, etc. A lot of the tools today allow for the collection of unlimited amount of data but it's pretty meaningless if you can't decipher and act on it. Just my 2c.

Hi Hristian,

Thanks so much for the suggestion. I think you might totally be onto something here. I've had a number of recent clients ask me to take a look at their analytics for them. I could definitely turn that into a recurring revenue model.

Would love to chat further with you about some ideas I have, would you be up for a quick chat via skype or email? I may be able to pass you business as well anyhow.

Thanks again.

Yes. I have seen models where all the "ongoing execution" is "hang out on slack and answer questions at $1000/month"

Yes a special case, but realize that information and ongoing access to expertise is a significant value add

Thanks for the headsup Einar. I'm definitely going to explore this further. Your podcast was incredibly insightful.

Hey Khuram, I'm very interested in what you're doing, it's something I'd want to do as well! I love strategy but havent figured out how to leverage my knowledge/skill to get started there. Are you available for chat via email or Skype?

Hi Ergest,

Yes, I would love to chat. Always looking for new people to work with, or help. Please do shoot me an email at kam[at]krmmalik.com , and I'll send you my calendar so we can schedule a time to chat.

..and just a random thought for ongoing - could you wire up a white label version of eg cyfe.com and have that be the ongoing service?

Yes, I think -- broadly speaking -- this is where I need to focus. Help the clients with looking at their data coming in, make sure the right questions are asked of that data, and then help them make strategic decisions going forward.

Hey, I just took a look at your website and what you do, it's quite cool. Do you get any finance questions? Like how to set up a P&L and Balance Sheet, cost tracking, cash, etc.? In my world, those are all part of a growth strategy.

Thanks for the suggestion. Sadly, I don't get asked about finance at all. Most of the clients I work with tend of have that nailed down quite well. As per the other suggestions, I think KPIs is the way for me to go.

I broke down the audio to find the pieces you mentioned: http://clarify.io/try-it-now/?id=7f833e66216a43dea4af21eef43...

Search for "prospecting" to find some great bits.

How does the site find where the words are spoken?

We use speech recognition to extract the words and keep track of their individual timestamps. Here's a high level explanation:


Wow that's an amazing service. Thanks for this.

Thanks Patrick - a couple of shameless self promotional links I mention in the podcast: productizedconsulting.com (free course) as well as outreachsignals.com

The latter is a new recurring revenue service I just launched where the aim is to be super transparent about how I'm selling and closing each customer - see blog.outreachsignals.com - potentially of interest to people.

Thanks for the really insightful breakdown, added link to this in the show notes.

I'd comment but am en route back to Japan in about a minute. If anyone has questions, for example anyone contemplating a sale of their own business, my inbox is always open.

I'm going to be blogging a bit about the sale later but have been holding off to wait for it to finalize (handover day was last Monday) and attempting to not step on a forthcoming Starfighter announcement.

How much time and effort was involved in selling the company? Did you need to engage an accountant or lawyer in order to provide documents for the buyers due diligence? Place domain names in escrow? Does this place a lower limit of the value of a company worth selling, because of the costs involved?

At least three weeks of full-time work, most caused because BCC was excessively entangled in my other businesses and disentangling them was not always straightforward. (Example: running on a VPS in the same Rackspace account used for AR's VPSes. Rackspace support was not responsive regarding account moves, so I ended up rebuilding an entire environment from metal at another provider then syncing/cutovering. Now multiply that by a sixty point checklist.)

If I had had my affairs in better order it would have been closer to one week of work spread over a few weeks of calendar time. Most of the unskippable process was due diligence, which was a real eye opener. Imagine an ex-Goldman employee quizzing you about a CC chargeback which was reflected in Stripe but not in the revenue books, which he had discovered by examining every transaction for 12 months with a microscope.

I'm told, somewhat to my surprise, that BCC was much better documented than most acquisitions handled by FEI, particularly in this price range. While the infra was lacking it was a major help to have nice clean books.

I didn't get my accountant or lawyer involved aside from a mentioning that I was selling BCC, as it wouldn't have been cost-effective. The deal was executed on FEI's standard purchase agreement with 2~3 clauses added at the buyer's request. Yes, the domains were escrowed.

What's the justification in doing three weeks of full-time work, which, at your average published rates is worth roughly $90k, to sell a site for $57k? Wouldn't it be much more sensible to spend the time contracting, making more money and keep the site, which is passive income?

Patrick does not optimize for the money. If he did he would have posted only about consulting for the last few years. He stopped consulting because he valued other things, like lifestyle. Since there are other things he values I think it's safe to recommend fixating less on the dollar amount of this transaction and consider the other benefits more.

His story has been all about contribution to the community. Since the BOS days he's been writing about his adventures and people who have earned far more have used his writings to make money.

One of his writing tricks is to over-contribute. He sometimes responds to an HN question with overwhelming value that often surprises the asker. Fuck 30k a week. Measure something else.

(Primary benefit of his mentioning gig weekly cost: you can probably charge more. Focus on the value you provide and up your rates. That's been his message for years.)

Patrick has been on record for quite some time that he is forgoing his maximum earnings in consulting to focus on his other businesses.

I won't speak for him, but is it really that hard to understand? Once you hit a certain income level, doing work that is interesting trumps maximizing paychecks by several orders of magnitude (at least I found that to be true).

Putting a nice little bow on a hobby project he's run for a decade and getting paid for it sound pretty good to me. Not to mention all the new learning he's just leveled up on.

Focus is a big one, as nate mentions below.

The second is that when you've spend this much time working on a project, watching it die because you no longer have the time/focus to work on it is painful.

I've been in this situation several times, and being able to hand a project off to someone who will take decent care of it is far better than seeing it go under. There is a personal connection to projects like this, to the point where the time invested in selling it might not make sense to an outside observer.

It is just one less thing to worry about.

Also, he may not have known it would take 3 full weeks at the onset (eg; if Rackspace had waved a magic wand on the accounts it probably would have saved a week)

I don't believe the "one less thing to worry about" argument. If I had to pay $30k to close a side-project, I'd have let it die.

Same for not knowing how much work it would be, it makes sense to stop when you realize it's going to be more work than it's worth, even if it creeps up on you.

It really didn't cost him $30k to close the project.

I'm sure Patrick felt a certain obligation to his users to ensure BCC was transitioned to someone who would look after them.

He could just stop answering support requests or flip off the domain, but then he's just paying with his integrity.

Just letting a creation of mine die feels like letting a part of myself die. You can say it shouldn't but that's not important; preferences are preferences ;-) and people are weird.

For certain people, myself and perhaps patio11 included, it'd be worth that $30k of opportunity cost.

Not sure why that has been down voted. Yes it does not add up. If you claim you are able to make 30k/week, you don't spend that much time on closing a 57k sale. I'm a sorry but the level of responses here are fanboism at best. Patio11 might be treated as a god here, but that doesn't hide the fact that this is a huge inconsistency ... Like the previous OP I will be down voted for expressing an opinion that deviates to much from the norm on HN. How can we have productive, constructive, discussion when we can't express an opinion. Take aside the name/popularity of the guy and you'll be left with a simple problem: 30k/week versus 3 weeks/57k, dealing with much much less exciting things (you know what I mean if you've dealt with a purchase agreement and the likes...)

This is why I stopped commenting on this thread too, nobody else will even consider the fact that it's at least a bit fishy that you'd do three weeks of boring work to get what you yourself have said amounts to two weeks of your income, which you can get at any time.

This is a really silly subthread. I can make X0k/wk in steady state with a consultancy up and running, at perhaps 70-80% utilization. But to do that, I have to invest Y number of days of overhead to get the consultancy into steady state: I have to prospect for work, I have to write proposals, I have arrange staffing, I have to spend Z hours every week working on scheduling and logistics, and I have to account for all the "breakage" hours that go into keeping a business running†. It is a significant amount of work. From a standing start --- without preexisting contracts to feed me leads on new work, for instance --- it's a tremendous amount of work. Notice how few people do it.

I don't do any of those things right now because, like Patrick, I'm building a pretty complicated piece of software, and don't want to spend the time and energy it takes to get a consulting practice into steady state and keep it there.

We both decided we wanted a break from consulting. Lots of people do that. It's not suspicious; in fact: thinking that it is suspicious is a pretty good tell that someone hasn't ever run a consultancy.

It feels like lots of people on this subthread chose an extreme interpretation of Patrick's story about his consulting practice: that running a practice with an X0k/wk average bill rate means that he also claims to be able to generate X0k/40 on any given hour. Anybody who claims that also probably hasn't run a consulting practice.

I'm not Patrick so it's a bit weird for me to be chiming in like this, but, on the other hand, it's pretty easy for me to point to a pretty big consulting practice that works the way I say it does (hi, NCC US people!), so maybe I can be more helpful in clearing this stuff up and not ratholing on "I've never run a high-value consultancy at scale and all this stuff sounds pretty fishy to me hmmm" stuff.

Thinking more about why this is the case, it occurs to me that the consultancy running several years in also generates BATNAs for contract negotiations, which makes it easy to walk rates up --- you pay my full fee, or I have my choice of several other clients to give a discount to.

I ran a site which earned a few thousand dollars a year, but closed it down a few years ago. Sites like this are not passive income. They require some level of thought and maintenance, even if it's only once a week to clean out spam. That can be distracting especially when you are able to earn a lot more by other means and don't need distractions.

Keeping around BCC and not maintaining it means it continues to lose money and still nag at him. Easy to see how that alone could return positive value, let alone the non-financial implications of dealing it with once and for all compared to taking contracting work he may or may not actually enjoy doing.

> your average published rates is worth roughly $90k

What? Sure, saying "I made $30k/week under one engagement" is cute, but that doesn't mean your rate is $30k/week. When the stars align, you take the nice gigs, but clients aren't standing outside your door begging to pay $750/hr every day of the year.

Patrick has said that he could have kept these engagements going regularly.

He's also said he doesn't want to.

You also seem to think 30k is the 100% bill rate. A successful consultancy looks to be closer to 70% (and successful in this case means that they don't actively seek customers). The other 30% doesn't come from vacation, it comes from overhead.

The Bingo Card Creator falls into the same spectrum of charge out as Patrick's posted consulting engagements. Whether it was more or less is largely immaterial because consulting engagements are things he's been actively avoiding for a long time, while being done with Bingo Card Creator is something he's actively engaged in.

Okay, so 70% of 30,000 is $21,000. Instead of it costing him ~$90,000 worth of time to sell BCC for $57,000, it cost him ~$63,000.

I'm not 100% sure I agree with Stavros' point, and I'd guess that there was a lot of downtime in the 3-week sale in which Patrick was doing other things, but if you read the situation as Stavros proposed it, the economics are the same -- as $63,000 > $57,000, it cost more to sell BCC than to keep it.

For the "loss" of $6K compared to seeing your creation die and the loss of reputation for ditching your users I'd say it's worth it.

> I'm told, somewhat to my surprise, that BCC was much better documented than most acquisitions handled by FEI, particularly in this price range. While the infra was lacking it was a major help to have nice clean books.

Was this thanks to Stripe, or another service, or another way you documented transactions? Or just the fact that you documented them at all?

On a related note, I asked Rackspace what it would take to transfer my VPS image in the event I sold my company. They told me that transferring an image to another customer was not possible. This was about 3 years ago. Are any other VPS providers more friendly about transferring disk images between accounts?

I've found Rackspace to be super unhelpful the moment you make a request that isn't either in their interests (e.g. "can we have another server and pay you more please") or falls outside of what they would normally do. Other VPS providers I've used since have been infinitely more flexible and helpful, including transferring disk images.

It is really easy on Digital Ocean. On Rackspace it is theoretically possible but you have to "self-serve" with the API apparently and it is a %{#+{^#]#{## from start to finish.

Congrats Pat!

More time for podcasts now eh? :)

If you've never seen the "Japanese bartender parlor trick":


Apply numbing cold to digits and then hack around them with a sharp knife for around 4 minutes per ice-ball. I wonder how often you cut your fingers when making these things.

Send one. Social lubricants are not fluff -- society is an actual thing. In this particular case, it is a thing which can be appeased by a trivial amount of effort which has no conceivable downside and a six figure upside.

"Hey $BOB,

Thanks for taking the time to meet with me yesterday. I really enjoyed our conversation. I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with you and the team. Let me know if you have any questions.



Quite possible. You're presumably very early in your research if you haven't heard of dropshipping yet, but that should probably be your first choice option. (You capture orders and then fulfillment happens through the manufacturer. You pay the manufacturer less than the retail price you charged and pocket the difference. Your hands never touch product.)

After you've got the business humming, you may choose to actually have inventory, likely at an outsourced fulfillment center. This should probably not be your first choice, as inventory risk is a real thing and fulfillment is expensive/complicated.


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