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Ask HN: Facet mission of extra that $2k month-to-month income what’s your mission?

Ask HN: Facet mission of extra that $2k month-to-month income what’s your mission?

2023-04-14 05:35:03

I’ve build BlueRetro [1] an universal Bluetooth controller adapter for nearly all pre-USB gaming console.

I made a gross income of around 3K a month last year out of Royalties on the soft for each device sold.
It’s Apache 2.0 software so people can do whatever they want.

I started making money when I decided to list on the GitHub README the list of manufacturers/makers that where sponsoring the project. (Only one person at that time)
Soon after the others offered to give royalty as well.

I even got a Chinese company, notorious for selling “clone” of OSHW projects, to support the SW development as well via GitHub sponsor.

I’ve been working on it for the last four years. I entertained the idea to make and sell the hardware myself. But in the end I learned that’s it’s not something I’m interested to get into. What I really like is working on the software.

It naturally pivoted into a more community driven project where multiple makers are selling various variations of the HW.

I wrote a retrospective last years [2].

[1] https://github.com/darthcloud/BlueRetro

[2] https://github.com/darthcloud/BlueRetro/discussions/289

What controllers you would recommend for retro games with a great d-pad and buttons? I can’t find anything that’s even remotely close to native controllers especially for Super NES.

I’ve never managed to find a Wii-connector-to-USB adapter that wouldn’t inexplicably die within six months, but the 1st-party SNES Classic controllers are basically perfect clones of the original. Ditto the NES versions they have. Wii Pro Controllers are also great and have a similar feel & quality, but with modern ergonomics (no rumble, though, so not great for e.g. Playstation games, and IIRC the triggers aren’t analog, which is limiting)

You can connect Wiimotes to PCs over Bluetooth and use any of those Wii-connector controllers through them, which would make them wireless and solve the finding-a-reliable-adapter problem, but I’ve never managed to make that kind of set-up sufficiently stable. Always having to screw with re-pairing and such.

In the end, my go-to for BT emulation controllers is usually a PS3/4/5 controller. I haven’t tried the XBone but I found the d-pad on the XB and XB360 controllers unusably inaccurate, and the face buttons weirdly slow when trying to play old-school Nintendo-hard games. Playstation controller d-pads are much better, and the face buttons feel quicker to switch between, for whatever reason.

This actually made me happy, considering all the bad news lately:

> I even got a Chinese company, notorious for selling “clone” of OSHW projects, to support the SW development as well via GitHub sponsor.

I suppose that’s RetroScaler?

>> If it’s Apache 2.0 how are you getting royalty payments from it?

It sounds like acknowledging the sponsors is “the right thing”, good Karma, or simply advertising for them. Not everyone wants to just rip off open source and not give back, they’re willing to share the wealth if you make it easy and let people know they’re doing it?

I need to set up github sponsors myself. We get the occasional request “how can I contribute money to you guys” and we always say stuff like “just spread the word”. I keep telling myself I don’t want to feel obligated by money, but I also know that I’d love to make enough to work on open source full time.

You’re not obligated by money when the money is coming from donations. That’s what donations mean. The people giving them to you are not your customers.

Also I can recommend OpenCollective; I’m sure there are other similar solutions as well. It’s nice to be able to “expense” stuff and I’m sure donors appreciate transparency.

I think it’s really important to make it clear that the contribution is for what is currently there. I get often ask “Will $$$ make you work on that issues” and I always answer no.

What will help fix that issue is my wife going shopping with the kids long enough for me to figure what is wrong. 😉

People are nice? But most likely they want a good relationship with me in case they get problems. Also they benefits from being able to tell their customer they support the project.

I consider donation what random user give me on patreon/gh sponsor/itch.io

I talked with the makers or manufacturer and we reached an agreement.
So to me (and them) it’s royalties.

You’re right, these are donations. But they are donations that are determined based on the number of units sold. I believe that’s why the parent is using the term royalty.

It’s not a contract, as the term “royalty” implies, but it is a royalty in the sense that it’s determined per unit sold.

I run HTTP Toolkit (https://httptoolkit.com) which handed $2k a few years again. Not a aspect mission, because it’s made sufficient cash for me to work on it full time for a good whereas now, nevertheless it actually began that method, and it is nonetheless a one-man present (plus many fantastic open-source contributors).

I think that’ll be a standard theme in solutions right here although: in case you have a aspect mission making $2k a month, in many of the world that is sufficient so that you can go full-time and attempt to take it additional. If you may make $2k/month on one thing working solely part-time, you may positively make much more in case you concentrate on it.

In your questions: HTTP Toolkit is a desktop app (plus a cell app and different elements for integrations) nevertheless it’s an Electron app that successfully features as a SaaS (with a freemium subscription mannequin) that simply occurs to have a part that runs in your pc. And really attending to $2k wasn’t in a single day in any respect – it took a few years of sluggish regular slog. Just a few inflection factors that made a notable distinction (releasing rewriting assist & Android assist notably) however principally it was a matter of “simply maintain pushing”, trusting the trajectory would maintain going, and steadily grinding upwards. It is nice the place it’s now, nevertheless it’s onerous work – a solo enterprise is just not for the faint of coronary heart!

This is a cool project. Looks like a good replacement for Charles (which I hate) and reminds me of Fiddler (which I love). The fact that this is a desktop app makes it all the more enjoyable to work on as a profitable side project, imo.

> A few inflection points that made a notable difference (releasing rewriting support & Android support particularly)…

Do you mean that improving documentation helped get customers? I have a small side project and I think this is one of its weaker spots, even if it is relatively simple [0]. I noticed “helper popups” are getting used quite extensively.

[0]: https://aihelperbot.com/guide

> Do you mean that improving documentation helped get customers?

It probably did, but no that’s not what I mean, sorry :-). By “rewriting support” I mean adding features that allowed you to rewrite arbitrary network traffic, rather than just viewing it (as in the very first PoC).

This is so inspiring! Thanks for sharing your story.

I was wondering what the early days of the journey looked like.
– What did the first iteration of this product look like? Was it more or less similar, or substantially different from the spirit of httptoolkit today?
– How did you go from (some semblance of a product) to first sale? / acquiring first customer?
– did you spend anything on marketing/distribution?

> What did the first iteration of this product look like? Was it more or less similar, or substantially different from the spirit of httptoolkit today?

Technically, the first iteration was https://github.com/httptoolkit/mockttp – an HTTP integration testing library for JS. Not a desktop app in any respect! I might initially constructed that for testing makes use of, however because it matured I realised that with a UI and automatic setup instruments it might be helpful as an entire product (however Mockttp nonetheless powers all of the internals right this moment, and you should use it on to construct your individual customized intercepting proxies too).

For the primary actual product, the very first public ‘launch’ was actually a touchdown web page with some demos of the potential UI and a signup kind, simply to check curiosity and verify it wasn’t a horrible concept. The outcomes seemed promising, in order that was adopted a number of months later by a really primary however usable free model (completely read-only, and solely supporting Chrome interception) with the freemium options on high showing a number of months after that. From this stage it was all very a lot the identical spirit as right this moment, simply much less function full.

> How did you go from (some semblance of a product) to first sale? / buying first buyer?

As soon as I introduced the paid model (a weblog publish to my tiny set of e-newsletter signups, plus somewhat response on HN/Reddit/Product Hunt and many others) I bought a handful of paying clients (however actually lower than 10) inside 24 hours. Good however not a significant earnings, and from that wild peak it dropped again right down to perhaps one new buyer per week or so afterwards, so it was fairly sluggish going initially.

Nevertheless, these paying clients (and the mere reality of providing a paid service typically) resulted in _much_ higher suggestions. Slightly than “that is cool” rapidly I had actual calls for for particular options, from individuals with concrete use instances and cash of their fingers. The preliminary paid options had been simply made up off the highest of my head, and actually did not create a very compelling paid function set. It is very onerous to actually know what individuals pays for! That suggestions was extremely unbelievably helpful to repair that.

From there, constructing out the important thing options individuals requested for over the next 6 months boosted issues very considerably, and began to get issues shifting for actual, and then you definitely get right into a virtuous circle, the place extra customers => extra suggestions => higher product => extra customers => …

> did you spend something on advertising and marketing/distribution?

I examined promoting at a small scale for a number of months, nevertheless it did not actually work nice. I believe largely as a result of it’s extremely very freemium – 99% of customers pay nothing – so the acquisition price for a paying consumer would not make sense, and likewise actually I haven’t got a lot expertise with advertisements and I am unsure I am any good at writing them.

Content material advertising and marketing in the meantime has labored nice, retains passively returning dividends, and price nothing. I’ve tried to fill the weblog (https://httptoolkit.com/blog/) completely with detailed & high-value unique content material (detailed breakdowns of a latest HTTP safety vulnerability, not “high 10 HTTP libraries for Python”) which shares properly on social networks for an instantaneous burst of visitors, after which (most often) gives each a long-term search engine optimisation increase and fixed incoming visitors on associated matters that converts into customers. That begins sluggish, however once more steadily builds up over years, in case you maintain working at it. Content material advertising and marketing + search engine optimisation are just about the one advertising and marketing channels I work on proper now.

The nice bit of running a project for a long time is that eventually your old answers accumulate and save you time like this :-).

That said, one point there is outdated: HTTP Toolkit does now fully support websockets too. There’s more I’d like to do there, but as far as I’m aware it’s equally capable to mitmproxy in that sense today.

Yes: ease of use, lots of additional power (for starters, you can modify traffic, not just view it) and being able to intercept anything (multiple tabs, multiple browsers, mobile, docker, CLI tools, backend services, you name) all in the same interface.

For the web dev case, for example, if you’re debugging some interaction that means you can intercept your browser <-> server traffic and your server <-> upstream API traffic all in the same place, and see the full flow, and you can modify server responses or backend API responses in flight, to test out different edge cases.

There’s a Chrome dev tools vs HTTP Toolkit comparison page here with a little more detail: https://httptoolkit.com/chrome-devtools-alternative/

Thanks! Yes, I found that a huge percentage of visitors to the site were on mobile (especially for HN/reddit/etc traffic) and when your product is a desktop app there’s not much you can do with that, so for a long time I effectively didn’t have a call to action for most visitors at all, which isn’t great for anybody.

Under the hood it’s just a tiny automated email flow set up via Mailchimp that sends out the download link when you sign up. Nothing fancy, but it’s easy and it does the job.

It depends :-). If it’s Android (like a Fire stick) then in some cases, but all the Android caveats apply, e.g. you’ll need root access to access traffic from apps that don’t opt-in to debugging. For testing your own apps that’s fine, but for reverse engineering HTTPS traffic you’ll generally need a rooted device. In practice, if you don’t already have a rooted phone on hand it’s usually best to use an Android emulator on your computer, since most of those provide root access out of the box.

Even with root, certificate pinning can cause problems (as the sibling comment points out) but you can usually defeat that fairly easily: https://httptoolkit.com/blog/frida-certificate-pinning/.

For non-Android, HTTP Toolkit cannot set it up for you routinely, however you may completely intercept _anything_ manually in case you can configure it with your individual HTTP proxy setting (pretty frequent) and add a trusted CA certificates (much less frequent).

Not really! To be honest it’s a bit of a hassle and I don’t have good tooling or a proper setup. I write a little script, then just record myself manually clicking through it (which is boring, and takes a bunch of tries to do smoothly) and then load it into iMovie and trim it down and speed up any awkward slow bits. It’s not a perfect solution at all, but it does the job and I only update it once a year or so.

In a perfect world, I’d kill for a tool where I could define a script (something similar to a Playwright test) and it’d automatically run and record everything, so I could redo the video much more frequently and accurately. I think you probably can do that for a normal web app already (?) but the challenge here is that HTTP Toolkit is launching other apps that also pop up over the top, and so I need to record them all together.

If you’re looking for inspiration around this sort of thing, the Android demo video is different and also worth looking at: https://httptoolkit.com/android/

So first off, your gif looks great! I like your sizing and resolution–that’s one of the things I was worried about. Video recording is new to me, so I’d love to know what you record with and resolution settings to pick?

I stumbled on this nice blog post on automating these recordings. Maybe a partial solution?

https://martinheinz.dev/blog/94

I used to be considering of doing a guide course of like yours for a begin quite than automating, however listening to your ideas makes me assume I am going to attempt automating sooner.

I see what you imply in regards to the multi-app side. I am going to have to change to browser home windows for mine as properly. Your android strategy is sweet!

> I’d love to know what you record with and resolution settings to pick?

It’s an _extremely_ simple setup. Actual recording is done with Mac’s built-in screenshot tool: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208721. It is recorded at an arbitrary window measurement I eyeballed the primary time, that now I most likely have to stay to eternally (as a result of in the event that they’re all the identical measurement, I can reuse elements to keep away from re-recording unnecessarily).

All of that is suboptimal (utilizing 1080p would have helped, for starters, since a number of instruments work higher with normal resolutions) nevertheless it would not actually matter, it simply annoys me mildly someday a yr and that is it.

IMO: in case you’re initially, until you could have an excellent distinctive scenario, I would not take a look at automating movies or perfecting the recording setup in any respect – simply ship one thing barely acceptable and see if it really works, after which concentrate on ache factors that really become blockers later. Getting a core product into actual individuals’s fingers and getting actual suggestions ASAP is extra worthwhile than tweaking the video decision or something comparable!

A friend and I host a monthly dinner club for people interested in ethnic cuisine. We work with a single restaurant each month to create an 8-12 course all inclusive price fixe menu. The food is served family style and is authentic to the region we are hosting. We typically host the dinners on a Tues or Wed when the restaurants in our region aren’t too busy and could use the extra business.

So far we’ve hosted 12 dinners over the past year. Growing from out first meal with 13 friends to as many as 80 guests for this months meal. Our mailing list has over 400 people on it and we’ve sold out every event since our 4th. Sometimes we end up hosting multiple nights.

It’s not a very scalable business as it exists today. For now is just a passion project that makes a few bucks, allows us meet interesting people, and provides the opportunity to discover new foods and restaurants.

This is actually a really cool idea because for those of us who only dine out once or twice a month, it’s nice to make it a unique or fun experience rather than a humdrum outing to eat average or templated food.

I would definitely be interested in something like this coming to our area.

I’m happy to share my experience and lessons, but its a bit too much to type. If you are serious about starting one feel free to shot me an email (address in my profile).

What I will say is that I think the timing was right. My co-host and I lived in Manhattan pre-pandemic and regularly took advantage of the restaurant variety there. Our dinners are hosted on Long Island and our theory is that people who move from Manhattan to Long Island over the last 20 years started to expect higher quality food and a larger variety of ethnic options. Over the past decade or so the variety and quality of Long Island restaurants has greatly improved from what was here 25 years ago when I was growing up.

Post pandemic we saw an appetite (pun intended) for people to just get out of the house, be around other people, and have an experience. Quite a few people who come to the dinners say that they keep coming back because their partner/family aren’t adventurous eaters so they never get to try new foods or typically wouldn’t order some of the things we put on the menu. We aren’t going for a fear factor vibe, but we do try to get people out of their comfort zone. We have a large number of solo guests who enjoy meeting new people and sharing a like-minded experience. Initially the group skewed heavily towards males in their 30’s, which was our friends. Today its a very diverse group of people.

The first dinner was all 1st degree friends. Then it turned into friends of friends of friends. The 4th or 5th dinner was a big turning point. We had a minimum of 55 to hit for a popular restaurant we wanted and we were trending short (we actually would have ended up hitting it) and for the first time opened the dinner up to people who weren’t directly connected. We posted an invite in a popular Long Island food Facebook group and after that we never had a problem selling out a dinner again. Last month Newsday wrote an article about us which added hundreds of Instagram followers and close to 100 new applications for membership. We sold out 48 seats for our April dinner in under and hour and ended up working with the restaurant to add a second night.

https://www.newsday.com/lifestyle/restaurants/dead-chefs-soc… (https://archive.is/w9Z1A)

Not the poster but I used to host potlucks on a semi-regular basis. No money involved but I imagine the skills are basically the same; inviting people, managing the incoming food, etc. I would probably start by hosting a potluck for 5-10 people and then scale up from there.

The cost per plate is negotiated with the restaurant ahead of time. We collect all of the money at time of RSVP which includes our margin. We then pay the restaurant and keep our fee.

How do you deal with drinks?

As a customer I’d probably want to run a tab at the restaurant for whatever I drink (assuming they’re alcohol-friendly) but as an organizer I’d probably want an upfront corkage fee I could take a reliable cut of.

Most meals include at least one alcoholic drink as well as soft drinks. Anything not included can be purchased a la carte and paid directly to the restaurant. A couple of dinners have been BYOB if the venue doesn’t have a license and there’s no fees for that.

> The food is served family style and is authentic to the region we are hosting.

Cool project, but about this: I highly doubt.

It’s very hard to cook “authentic” food on foreign soil, everything from ingredients not being the same to boiling water being of a different kind just changes the taste immensely.

That depends on what your definition of authentic is. If it means ingredients sourced from their host countries, then that’s going to make it extremely hard for any restaurant to start; considering the logistical cost and generally things not being fresh enough. The appropriate definition should be authentic methods. If I want to cook dum biryani and market it as dum biryani, I should be cooking it in the traditional method of using a bread sealed handi; but calling it unauthentic if my chicken wasn’t born in Hyderabad makes no sense.

I “think” I understand what you’re trying to get at. But it’s an unfortunate and limited perspective. Sure, New York isnt Thailand and the restaurant didn’t source their ingredients from a Bangkok market at 4am that morning. But that doesn’t mean the chef didn’t cook, study, or live in the region previously. So does that mean the only thing that makes a dish authentic is its local ingredients and there’s no credit given for the chefs experience? Also, how do you know the chef didn’t import any of the ingredients or spices from the place you’re expecting for it to be authentic?

While I disagree with the above poster’s attitude, I agree with the point about food tasting different depending on where you are.

Perhaps you can get relatively authentic Indian food (ignoring the variations in Indian cuisine for a second) in the U.S. and Canada, compared to India (I’ve traveled India for comparison). Because there are tons of import markets in both countries to get all the same ingredients.

But Indian food in Greece definitely has a Greek flavour to it, because it’s quite hard to find the proper ingredients to make more authentic Indian food. They used feta instead of paneer!

You are coming from what I assume a Western perspective. You should talk to the restaurant owner about authenticity. They will likely have the same opinion as the person you’re replying to. Meat or veggie ingredients if imported from a different continent, will often be frozen and not fresh. The water obviously is not imported and that affects the taste directly. The meat will have a different smell if sourced locally, etc.

If you know anything about cooking, water affects the taste of food. The water in Turkey vs America taste very different. Therefore it is very difficult for restaurants to achieve the same “authentic” taste in foreign countries.

Your comment is confusing rudeness with your ignorance of how foreigners feel about food in their host countries vs at home. His comment is not any different than what my Indian and Chinese friends say.

No, you are missing the point. Saying the OP’s comment, as stated, is just rude and socially inappropriate. In person, it would come off as being standoffish, nitpicky, and hostile. It’s not a good way to make friends and influence people.

This doesn’t exist online, where it’s acceptable to post “drive by” snarky putdowns that add nothing to the conversation and don’t actually address the issue at hand – in this case, the difficulty of sourcing ingredients.

A constructive comment would have asked about the difficulty of sourcing obscure ingredients and how the founder deals with that.

I am not missing the point. The person is giving an actual answer from his own lived experience and you are saying they are rude for it. I encourage you to expand your network of foreign friends so you can ask them about the food here vs at home. They will almost certainly say the exact same thing. The tase and the smell of the food here even if they make it will not have the same taste and smell back home.

I have a huge network of foreign friends and have lived abroad for the last decade.

Again; you are missing the point. It has nothing to do with whether the food is “authentic” or not, which is itself a highly debatable question. It has everything to do with the way you communicate to people when disagreeing with them or criticizing their ideas.

If you don’t care that people will immediately think you’re a pedantic, difficult person, as long as you get to be “right”, then sure, feel free to disregard what I wrote.

Have you asked them about the food here vs. back home? Will you return here when they tell you the food tastes different just like what the person said?

The guy said two sentences. You may think it’s rude but it’s probably the language barrier and he’s just trying to give his honest perspective and there was no rudeness intended.

“The food tastes a little different” != “The food is entirely inauthentic”

Authenticity, in other words, is not an absolute. It’s a spectrum, and you can get pretty darn close to the “authentic” end of said spectrum without needing to literally import foreign water.

I have lots of foreign coworkers and enjoy going to restaurants we find. No one sits there and complains about how this doesn’t taste exactly right so what’s the point in trying something new.

It’s strange how you are being downvoted when my foreign friends say the exact same thing. They say that the food at the restaurants we go to have a different smell from the food back home.

I’m building Pirsch Analytics [0], a privacy-friendly web analytics tool. I think it took the two of us ~1.5 years to get to $2000 MRR. Currently we’re setting just above $4000 MRR.

It started as an experiment for my personal website and I was in the same position as you’re right now. We were already working on a Notion like app to take notes, but didn’t make any money and probably went into the wrong direction. As my prototype seemed to work quite well, we decided to turn it into a product.

My initial goal was to do server-side analytics without the downsides of parsing access logs, but of course we now also have a “regular” JS snippet integration.

You can learn more about our journey here [1] and on our blog [2]. Let me know if you have any questions!

[0] https://pirsch.io

[1] https://pirsch.io/about-us

[2] https://pirsch.io/blog

7 years ago I started a site project for forwarding logs and metrics from k8s, docker, openshift in Splunk. It is enterprise offering, and I started making money pretty quick. After 6 months I already made 40k, and quit my employer. Tight now this company generates 7 figures, and still run by me with one more person helping with accounting.

https://www.outcoldsolutions.com

Now I additionally began macOS improvement for the final 2 years, and making round 2k a month.

https://loshadki.app

How do you get enterprise customers to feel comfortable depending on a project run by a very small shop? Like, how do you assure them that their operations will not be impacted if something were to prevent you from working for a while, etc?

Is your pricing usage based on log volume?

This helps hockey stick revenue but is also the #1 customer complaint since logs will always grow (no cap).

Just curious how you hit millions in revenue with a 2-person company.

I’m sure lots would love to hear more about your story (e.g. perfect write-up for IndieHackers.com)

I have a B2B micro-ISV, and getting our infosec product in front of the right people is tricky. Would love to hear something about your approach to marketing and advertising?

I run two side projects atm but they are both becoming more and more the main job.

I am building a Zillow for Europe [1]. The real estate market in Europe is a big mess and for the past 10 years not much has happend so far in proptech because it was easy to rent/sell properties. Now things are changing and I see a lot more supply coming on the platform. So far rented out 40 apartments doing around 3k in profit a month. We focus primarily on overseas/expats right now

Another project I started with a good friend from Google is Webtastic AI [2] it’s a lead gen platform that indexes large amounts of data and I am using simple ML models to clean it up and make sense out of it. It does around 1.9k a month now but we just launched 2 weeks ago so that looks promising. Thanks to google cloud we got 100k credits which makes it a bit more feasible because the startup costs are extremely high.

[1] https://homestra.com/
[2] https://webtastic.ai/

Are you planning to deal with all the complexities that each market brings? For example, compare with one of the standard German property search websites: https://www.immobilienscout24.de/ and listed here are some issues that I, personally, would or have used when looking for property that I do not instantly see in your website:

For flats:

* Looking out by flooring (or beneath or above flooring)

* Looking out by presence/absence of elevator

For all property varieties:

* Looking out by rented / unrented standing (evicting tenants in your personal use is onerous)

* Looking out by construct part, in case you’re fascinated with new-build properties

* Looking out by construct yr (some individuals want Altbaus, some take into account them the work of the satan)

* Looking out by heating kind (underfloor vs radiator)

* Looking out by rooms, not bedrooms. In Germany, a 1-room flat is a Studio Condominium and would not have a bed room.

* Show of and looking by charges when shopping for (usually that is looking for “no property agent price”)

* Show of and looking by Heat & Chilly lease when renting

* Capacity to go looking by state & metropolis (at a naked minimal, and word that state impacts how a lot property tax must be paid when buying)

I believe most nations are going to have lots of little quirks like this, and it’ll be a tough promote to get individuals to change over till you’ve got bought lots of these in place for every nation. I do know that I’ve used worldwide websites like this prior to now and finally deserted them as a result of they both made it too troublesome to search out what I needed, or there simply weren’t sufficient properties on there.

There is a big update coming that is fixing/adding a lot of the features you mangent, build year etc. is added but I need to review harder on that.

Thanks for your feedback, really appreciated!

I run small outsourced IT systems for SMBs. Web scrapers, reporting, stuff like that. Baisically private bespoke SaaS.

About $10k/mo gross revenue and takes a few hours of work a week (unless there’s a downtime event that needs fixing). A lot of upfront work to build some of these systems though.

Got to $2k/mo in the first month of doing this. I don’t recommend working (as a solo operator) with clients who have budgets less than $5-10k/mo. Too much overhead for too little return in that case.

In what little spare time I have left after my day job and looking after two small kids, I put more automation in place to improve reliability for my clients and reduce my own ops time requirement.

I get leads for this by referral from people I’ve done good work for in the past. But it’s the kind of thing you could bootstrap by direct outbound sales, publishing authority-building content to the right business audience, going to conferences/trade shows, or building a referral network from other service provides.

I’ve thought about doing this, but a few reservations came up when I considered getting started with a family friend. I just pictured a contracted ”IT MANAGER” getting rabbit holed into some time-sink extreme;

1. Dedicated operational IT admin:
Dealing with repetitive tasks+requests, like managing customer’s Microsoft environment and on-site infrastructure.. Owning physical and AD infra doesn’t sound like a part-time job.

For e.g; a/v and physical IT asks; like conference room operation maintenance and support, Desktop workstation triage (have you tried turning the monitor on?). The dreaded “can you set up the printer?”…

And what if the customer sets me up as their site’s dedicated AD domain admin? Resulting in repetitive requests for user/access management CRUD operations. And/or micromanagement of tedious things like email and mailing lists…

Or

2. Dedicated software developer, website or business workflows.

Building a website and getting micromanaged or overburdened. (“can you change the logo to blue?” “Can you redesign the whole home page?”)

Or, get pulled deep into providing a business-critical software workflow or application. Fielding sales/exec requests, interpreting their business requirements, and then building AND delivering (for e.g a customer management system) is not a part time job…

How do you operate to keep the scope limited? What steps help buffer yourself from a slippery slope of full-time services?

A couple questions, if you don’t mind. How did you go about finding clients? What is the nature of the work agreement—project-based, hourly, or something else?

I built mmm.page [1] originally for personal websites, or “internet canvases.”

They’re meant to be pages for very easy combinations of text, mixed media, embeds, etc. — let more people create fun/interesting places on the internet. [2]

I started working on mmm.page in Feb 2021, and launched it that May on Hacker News [3], then it hit $2k/mo last year, and has been growing steadily since. There are roughly 30,000+ users at the moment. Revenue has been trickier for this project because it’s a SaaS aimed at consumers, who are more price sensitive — but the flip-side is I love working with all the people who use the platforms. Just today, someone shared this moodboard that captured exactly how I’ve been thinking about it mmm.page [4]. Some other fun examples here [5]. I’m planning a second launch in May. Hopefully some good news to share there.

One note: it’s a website, and most people edit it on desktop, but a surprising # of users convert /after/ trying it on mobile. I also found the conversion rate increased significantly after I made the homepage itself editable — thereby demo’ing the product without a login. Just a small note.

Anyway, feel free to reply or DM on Twitter if you have questions — especially re: solo bootstrapping “fun” consumer products that are trying to also become self-sustainable.

[1] https://mmm.page

[2] https://twitter.com/xhfloz/status/1631746024120221698

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27128424

[4] https://diemichi.mmm.page/moodboard

[5] https://showcase.mmm.page

If you have iOS/Android development experience, you can look at the Developer sector, which is relatively niche IMO.

I’ve developed the iOS/iPadOS app, Proxyman for iOS [0], which gains steadily ~2k recurring revenue every month. Basically, it’s an iOS app that helps you to capture and decrypt HTTP/HTTPS traffic on your phone. The app is needed if you need to inspect traffic from your app.

Because it’s an iOS app, published on AppStore, you can provide a subscription pricing model: e.g. $4.99/month, $39.99/year, or lifetime $99.

I also develop the macOS version, but it’s a huge market, which is out of context.

– [0]: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/proxyman/id1551292695

You built Proxyman?! What a great project. This can’t just be a side project though right?

Even if its with a small team thats impressive, the UI is polished and full of features.

Does it work with DNS-over-https queries from Apple ?
I tried to grab the Airtag position from my Ipad with MITM Proxy running on a computer, but because it is DNS based some http packets from Apple wouldn’t be visible

Thanks. I assume you’re using the macOS version. You might check out the iOS app too : ]

Don’t forget to activate the Premium for iOS with your Mac License Key. No need to purchase the Subscription.

See Also

I run https://pixelpeeper.com on the aspect.

It is a micro-SaaS for photographers who edit in Lightroom. Allows you to reverse-engineer Lightroom edits from JPG recordsdata and obtain them as presets you could apply by yourself photographs.

Took a month or two to succeed in $2k/mo, driving the wave of instagram’s reputation in 2017-2018, plus the mission went viral initially. Nevertheless, the area of interest is finally too small to develop the income considerably. Nonetheless chugging alongside, nearly 6 years later, although.

This looks super awesome! I just tried it in Chrome however, and after a minute of playing the game it just drops me back to the game library screen. Love the idea though!

I built prop_odds [1]. It’s an API offering live (and historical) sports betting odds from different sites.

I’ve been working on it for about 2 months. While not quite at 2k/month yet, it’s nearly there and progressing in that direction. Revenue is coming from several customers who are using the data to build Discord bots that alert them (and their own paying users) about good odds, arbitrage opportunities, etc.

[1] https://www.prop-odds.com

I guess you scrape odds from bookmakers’ websites (I expecxt a fair bit of headless Selenium). Is there any legal implication of scraping data this way and reselling re-packaged as an API?

Thanks for the advise, we do have some full screen ads, but use it conservatively. It is always more satisfying getting revenues through in app purchases since it’s a sign that people value what I’ve created

I’m the founder of the open-source and cross-platform note-taking app https://www.get-notes.com (written in Qt C++).

I earn about $2000 a month from advertisements on the touchdown web page (natural search engine optimisation), however very quickly plan so as to add a subscription for professional options (whereas individuals might nonetheless compile it from supply and get the complete expertise with out paying, if they want).

I began the mission 8 years in the past to create a slick wanting note-taking app for myself on Linux. Then I open-sourced and revealed it, and it simply took off and bought widespread (greater than 1.2 Million downloads).

Took round 2 years to get a excessive rank on Google. Then it was only a matter of placing advertisements (which I do not like however my earnings depends on) and ever since it has been fairly secure.

Congrats on your accomplishments. I did not see any ads on your landing page. Am I missing something?

In the early 00’s when I was debating if I should pursue software dev (again) I wrote a couple of Win32 native apps in C and absolutely loved writing them. One of the apps was a workout timer which I submitted to Freewarefiles.com. It peaked around 48K downloads. Unfortunately freewarefiles is no more so I can’t show off my one and only “successful” native app.

Sometimes I feel I want to delve back into native apps instead of web based.

There is a small one on the landing page, but most of the revenue comes from the ones on the download page, actually.

Awesome story! Come back to the light (literally) side.

Wuut.. Never heard of this! It looks very slick, I searched and searched for a nice note taking app on Linux and eventually landed with NoteKit, but this looks better.

The main goal is to support working with arbitrary folder (currently, we store notes in a local databse), so it will be easier to sync using your existing cloud provider (eg, Dropbox, etc..)

But maybe in the future will create our own paid syncing service, is that something you’ll want?

What are your opinions about QT? Do you use the open source version or the paid version? (I like it myself but mostly because I like their wysiwyg and the debugger support is intuitive relative to other ides)

Overall, I love Qt. I started studying QML 2 weeks ago to implement a Kanban view based on the underlined Markdown styled todo items in the text editor, and it’s been really great so far. Property bindings, signals & slots, integration with C++, it all makes so much sense, much more than other declarative languages/frameworks (looking at you, React) imo.

Qt has been around for years, the documentation is extensive and the community is large and supportive. With QML I faced many problems, especially half-assed examples/documentation, Qt Creator’s intellisense doesn’t work well with QML sometimes, etc… But the tradeoff is worth it. I’m getting things done in a much faster pace with QML.

A problem that is common both in Qt and other cross-platform frameworks is that you end up writing some custom code for each operating system to make the look and feel more native. But I think it’s getting better with awesome open-source projects taking care of beautiful native window decorations[1].

[1] https://github.com/wangwenx190/framelesshelper

I run Buttondown (buttondown.email) full-time now, but until this past year it was a side project for me alongside my day job as an IC (later EM).

It took…around two and a half years, I think, to hit $2k/mo MRR. It was definitely not the stereotypical “launch → iterate a bit → boom, PMF” story that you often hear, which was fine because it was ‘just’ a side project and I didn’t have to worry about running out of money or time.

> The advantage of getting older is time is at warp speed so 2 years is nothing ha ha!

To be honest: Realising that time is going by so fast really scared me this week. Being mid-30s I really need to get my shit together, soon… 😀

There’s a quote from Sarah Manguso’s _300 Arguments_ that I love:

> With great and solemn portent, my teacher announced she would tell us something that her teacher had told her, and that her teacher’s teacher had told him, and so on, back to Yeats: The thing to remember is that no one ever finds out that you don’t know what you’re doing.

I’ll give you a small anecdote.

A few months ago, my uncle died. To the outside world, he was very well put together, eloquent, and admired by all who knew him. Worked on physics books as a proofreader for a major publisher his whole life and was celebrated for his work. He was a recluse, but very sociable and an excellent go-between for any socially difficult situation, a real keeper of the peace.

When I went to clear his home, I discovered that his personal space was the opposite of all the above. Dirty, messy, not well organized.

Of all the people I ever expected that from, it wasn’t him, but he did an excellent job of appearing to have his shit together.

I shared this with a few others who had late family members that had done very well in their respective field, and the sentiment was the same: nobody ever really seems to get their shit together, they just get better at presenting the parts of themselves that matter.

He was a very happy soul.

Looks amazing, good job man 🙂 I’m actually way more motivated by seeing a post like this where you specifically say it took effort and time to build something meaningful, than seeing “10k$ MRR in a week, no-code” crap that we get bombarded with lately. Keep up the good work!

Buttondown is great! It seems that being indie allows you to just ship a good product that does what it says on the box, instead of trying to squeeze every last bit of juice out by building a bloated product that is a jack of all trades but master of none.

I run a site for people learning Japanese (https://jpdb.io) as a aspect mission. I am at present at precisely ~$1996/month from Patreon donations. (It is not an aggressively monetized mission.)

I have been doing this for over 2 years now. You’ll be able to check out my changelog to see many of the updates (at the start I didn’t keep a changelog so it would not begin precisely once I began the positioning): https://jpdb.io/changelog

Wow, this is great! Love the simplicity of the website (focused on the essentials, no fancy design). Do you share the number of visitors / regular users?

A few thousand daily.

Not everyone uses every feature though; some people only use the dictionary, some people use the SRS, some people look at my difficulty lists, some people look at my vocabulary lists, some people only upload their Anki decks to see which shows/books/etc. have the most known vocabulary, etc.

Maybe someday, but not at this point.

I’d love to support other languages too, but at this point it isn’t very feasible. I’m just a single man, and this is just a side project, so I simply don’t have the resources to even do everything that I want to do with Japanese (and there’s still so much more I want to add/improve!), never mind branching out into other languages.

I built Scanii [1], an unsafe/malware content detection API/SaaS, as a way to keep my coding skills sharp as I moved into engineering leadership roles. Over the years it has grown into a lovely $35k/month business while spending $0 in marketing thanks to our amazing customers.

My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: get it out there quick, listen to your customers and be ready to act on their feedback. Finding product/market fit is a journey even if you are selling into the most well understood vertical since it’s not just about what the market expects it’s about what your engineering talent/capacity can delver in a reasonable amount of time.

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

Impressive! What do you think it is that you do that allows you to compete with VirusTotal, and even free tools like Jotti?

Presumably you’re now using commercial AV tools, rather than Clam? Did you have to get some kind of special license from them to use it like this?

> Impressive! What do you think it is that you do that allows you to compete with VirusTotal, and even free tools like Jotti?

Thanks and good question. We don’t really compete with virus total since it’s more of a research tool and, for a while, their terms explicitly prohibited commercial use (but I think that has changed). Jotti is a similar thing, more of a research tool than a high performance API you can use to build commercial products on.

> Presumably you’re now using commercial AV tools, rather than Clam? Did you have to get some kind of special license from them to use it like this?

Yeah the product has expended a bunch over the years and we use multiple detection engines [2] to catch all kinds of unsafe content. But you are right, we do license a commercial AV engine to act as a backup to our own to ensure best possible detection rates. The licensing process warrants a blog post of its own since it’s not what I would call easy.

[2] https://docs.scanii.com/article/149-how-do-the-different-det…

> Congratulations on your success!

That is very kind of you, thank you.

> What did “getting it out there” consist of for you? How did you get it out there in the beginning?

For Scanii in particular, the original product was a thin wrapper around an open source AV engine, a hacked on a weekend UX, and a credit card processing integration to collect payment – the very minimal needed to find out if _anyone_ was willing to pay for this service.

With that said, what worked for me in this case is not what I would focus here since it depends on what kind of business you are trying to build. What I do believe is important is focusing on the economics of your space which, for IT, is all about productivity or, more succinctly, saving people’s time – they pay you X for something that could cost them, in terms of people’s time, Y to do.

So, what you want to ask yourself is whether signing up, paying and onboarding onto your product (the X in the equation above) is significantly lower than the next best alternative, either doing the same on a competitor product or building something themselves – the Y above.

For scanii, even at launch it saved people lots of time managing and operating malware detection engines which are cumbersome and hard to keep up to date. I had a feeling that would be the case when I launched but I couldn’t be sure until our first customer voted with their credit card.

I guess more of what I’m asking is, how did you launch? The biggest problem I have is getting word out about my product, which always ends up killing them.

I’m a developer by trade, so marketing and the like isn’t my forte. Did you use ProductHunt? Indiehackers? Reddit? Twitter? Word of mouth?

Thanks for the reply btw, very helpful info. I’ve been iterating on something in my free time that fills a very small budgeting niche. I’m going to wrap it up with a website this weekend and see if I can gain any traction. At the very least, I know that if I had found the product I’ve built for $1.99 a month or something, I would have just paid the money. Hoping that others feel the same.

Got it, in that case it helps to build a product for a community you can interact with. In my case, this was connecting with folks on Stackoverflow that were struggling with integrating malware detection into their apps… that was all the marketing I did to get the product validated – but keep in mind that was 10 years or so back.

Best of luck with your launch!

Just curious, so how exactly do you source your IPs? I clicked on the “How IPs for web scraping are sourced” page expecting an answer on how you do it, but it doesn’t actually tell me that; it just tells me how they’re not sourced. You said that “it involved working with hardware”, so did you source your own mobile SIM cards in various countries, hook up your own phones to that and use those as proxies?

Some of us find that type of attempted lock-in extremely off-putting. I know it is common, but just a heads up. I have no idea how much of a minority we are.

I run a service that lets browser extension developers easily take payments in their extensions: https://extensionpay.com

Began making $0.15 a day and has taken a pair years to make respectable month-to-month income. One cool factor is that it is also helped builders make some huge cash — over $200k up to now and rising!

I think the point is it would probably be well worth spending more time on. Either tapering off employed work, or being underpaid/using savings for a little bit while you push to increase it.

At least, that was my reaction too, and it seems echoed by many of the people sharing their (‘no longer a side’) projects.

Started AwardFares (https://awardfares.com) again in 2018. It is a search engine for locating flights to ebook utilizing your airline miles. Began as a side-project, fully bootstrapped and self-funded.

We hit $2k month-to-month income after about 1.5 years. Development fully stopped throughout COVID, however is now rising very properly (greater than 10x that).

I don’t know if that counts, but I see it as a tech side project.

Last year I’ve built for my gf, a custom D2C (direct to client) ecommerce webapp [0] for her handmade products.

Then I started looking into PPC, tracking, social advertisement & marketing etc.. Now we are profitable avg ~8k / month only on retail.

[0] https://yuma.gr

This is not a large company or a fully established business. The value could be derived from both, or only from one side. If the value is derived from the metrics setup that OP has implemented, he can re-produce this with another creator. Think about it as two partners (one developer and one designer) starting a freelancing business. There is no “business” to own.

Because I want 100% control and flexibility. It would take me more time to do this in shopify as it holds a lot of custom behavior and it has many automations on the backend.

Also with a custom admin dashboard we were able to scale a lot in our & employee’s productivity

[edit]

I would use shopify for bootstraping temporary viral campaigns for niche products.



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