Hardcore Year is done: My journey from quitting my job to building 7 apps and $1,000+ MRR.
This is Andrey.
Hard to believe it’s been a year, but I’m happy to say that finally I achieved my goal of $1,000 monthly recurring revenue after 14 months.
- Mar 2018: Quit my job to ship products with $1,000 MRR
- Mar 2018: Sheet2Site a web app that allows to create a fully functional website from Google Sheets without writing code. Story
- Apr 2018: Progress Bar OS X a macOS menubar app that shows you exactly how much % of the year, month and day has progressed. Story
- Jul 2018: Make OS X Great Again a tool that fix annoying things in macOS like stopping asking if you want to update or disable opening iTunes when you connect your iPhone.
- Aug 2018: Preview Hunt a web app that can preview and prepare your Product Hunt submission.
- Oct 2018: MacBook Alarm (acquired) an macOS app that will secure your laptop with an alarm if someone will try to still it. Story
- Nov 2018: Encrypt My Photos an end-to-end encrypted photo storage. Story
- Jan 2019: I won Product Hunt’s Maker of the Year
- Mar 2019: Sheet2Site 2.0. Brand new version with templates like affiliate, job board, event, travel, and features: maps, tables, search, filters, HTML snippets
- May 2019: Achieved the goal
The story in tweets👇
Why did it take 14 months?
Recurring revenue is generally harder to generate than one-off sales. Subscription products have to be continuously needed by users for them to justify the monthly cost.
I have 7 products but only 2 of them have a subscription:
- Sheet2Site (subscription)
- DarkModeList (subscription)
- Progress Bar OS X
- Make OSX Great Again
- Mac Book Alarm
- Preview Hunt
- Encrypt My Photos
So why did I build a bunch of apps that only charge the user once if my goal was to generate recurring revenue?
When I initially set up this goal I just want a stable $1,000 income to be able to pay my bills and working on something that I like. I was not really care if it’s MRR or Gross or whatever. MRR was just look more stable for me back then.
The reality is that subscription products usually harder to monetize and it’s take longer time compared to one time payment products. People are hate subscription.
After I quit my job in March of 2018 and launched my first SaaS product, Sheet2Site, it started making between $100-$200/month right away. It was really exciting to get my first paying customers, but was generating far too little money to pay my bills.
I had enough savings to last about 3 months
I started building any apps that solved problems I’ve experienced and that could be monetizable in any way. If I didn’t, I would have been starving and live in a tent 🙂
I was living in Bali a cheap room, eating street food.
I couldn’t afford a motorbike, so I didn’t have any form of transportation. I walked 4–5km per day.
During the night was pretty hard here because of dogs:
Sometimes I worked in very weird places at night, where everything was close:
I even have a spreadsheet that showed me how many days I still can live (money in the bank/ave cost of the day). I thought when I will have on save point I will go back to subscription based apps.
It was harder than I thought
When I started it I thought like I will be sitting in cafe for a year and wring a code but I under estimated a lot of things.
Each of my morning started with reading an email and hoping that PayPal didn’t send me an email of death “Sorry we blocked your account and we can’t tell you why. Your money will be available after 6 month.”
Somethings was not working all the time. Pain from trying to solve some technical problem is common :).
It’s hard to be consistent and keep doing it something for a year. Especially something that have very clear metric like revenue and this revenue is not growing, sometimes even falling. But even more harder to keep doing after some success. How many artist that made a 1 cool song continue doing it?
It’s really hard for me to finish all that I start. Especially on the final stages. Even this post :). But during this year I develop a habit to finish everything that I started.
50% of the year I had anxiety, stress, procrastination, don’t know what to do. Thanks for friends that stopped me to gaveup.
After 9 months on the save point
After 9 month and making 4 apps when I was on the save point I have choose make a new subscription product or improve an existing one and I choose the last.
Sheet2Site was the first app that I launched in my hardcore year (Mar 2018) and it has subscription.
Sheet2Site is a tool that can create a website from Google Sheets without writing code.
In December 2018 I decided to focus on Sheet2Site to be able to achieve my initial goal in $1,000 MRR and next 4 months worked on it full time.
Firstly I run a survey to existing customers to identify what are the biggest problems.
I understand that main problem was that is have 1 to generic template which people are trying to use for everything but it’s not good enough.
I added a lot of new templates:
- Job board
- Facebook posts
Also I added a lot of new cool features:
- Filters and search
- Detailed pages
- HTML snippets
- Amazon affiliate
- API (for people who want to build their own website from Google Sheet)
Landing page redesign
New landing page:
I made a promo video
I used QuickTime + iMove for editing
And demo video
Documentation and manuals how to use it
Showcase of websites made with Sheet2Site
Remove free plan. Here is a tweet thread with details and numbers:
As always I launching it Product Hunt.
I decided to make a special video for the launch where I talking a bit. Firstly I tried to act like a cool but it didn’t work so I included all failed moments :).
It went pretty well and become #1 of the day.
Villa Pool Party
With my friends Pieter, Marc, Lenilson and Daniel we rent a villa in Bali and made a huge party with around 100 people. In the middle of the party I stopped the music, went to the scene and yield:
Attention please, I’m launching Sheet2Site and press the button on laptop! And people start cheering! I felt like a rock star :)
In 14 months all my apps (without acquisition of MacBook Alarm) generated $32k in revenue
Am I happy now?
Yes :). It’s very great feeling to make thinks that I love, see that people are using them and I be able to pay my bills.
What I learned
- Follow a dream and do something that you a passioned about. This fuel will help you to do not comfort and boring things that are exist in any stuff that you are doing. Better to have hard things on easy way.
- Surround yourself with people who believe in you. I was super lucky to meet such cool people what helped me. I even think that it’s mostly their achievement, not mine.
- All important details you will start to find after you will start doing things, not before
- Always finish what you start (close the loop). It’s critically important. You will learn a lot each time you build a product from zero to the end. Make a habit to finish things. Most people give up. Train your “finishing muscle”.
- Don’t relax after each success. Use this momentum for next step but take a bit of time to actually enjoy your achievements and don’t jump to the next things instantly.
- It’s marathon, not a sprint so you need to charge your batteries!
- Focus on product, not tools (code, no code whatever.). Your users will not care how you done it. Your product should solve their problem.
- Don’t validate it too much, just build it quickly and see what happen. But don’t build shit. It should work! Share to your friends first (if they are your potential users)
Should you quit your job?
I would suggest to start building a product while you are working on your job. It’s much more safer and less stressful, especially if you have a loan, a family and kids. And after your product will generate minimal income can quit.
Start making something NOW!
If I can do it you can do it for sure!
Stop thinking and start making! I believe in you!
- Keep working on Sheet2Site and make it really awesome.
- Launching new apps
- Incorporate a company, bank and Stripe
- Take my mom to Bali. I haven’t seen her for 3.5 years
Subscribe to know when I’ll make something new
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- Users who are purchased my apps
- Pieter Levels
- Marc Kohlbrugge
- Jeroen Pixel, Lowen, Oskar
- Michal and Kat from Dojo Bali co working space
- Yaroslav Lazor and Lena
- Fyodor Ivanischev
- Pierre-Gilles Leymarie
- Daniel Lockyer and Lenilson
- Pat Walls
- John O’Nolan
- Filip Hráček
- Craig Brott and Ben Rahnema
- Thanks people who helped me with coding and designing my apps: Max Rovensky, Sergey Gerasimenko, Joel Dorne, Sasha Koss ,Max Manzhos, Miljan Aleksic, Marie Denis, Lukasz Oslizlo, Raman Ksaitor, Dasha
- Juliana and Jayden
- My patrons: Max Makarochkin, Sindre Sorhus, Joel Runyon, Georg Martinka, Daniel da Rocha, Harry Guinness, George Belanger, Jake Bernstein, Justin, Sindre Sorhus, Aleksandra Jovanović, Maksim Golub, Aamir Javeed, Armin Ulrich and all people who donated
- Product Hunt and the team: Ryan Hover, Nick Abouzeid, Amrith Shanbhag, Abadesi, Andreas Klinger
- My Blog subscribers
- Twitter followers
- Thanks people who proof read my articles: Eva Gutierrez, Chris from Ireland and all other people