Hardcore Year is done: My journey from quitting my job to building 7 apps and $1,000+ MRR.

Hi!

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.

Video summary

1 min 25 sec

TL’DR:

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:

  1. Sheet2Site (subscription)
  2. DarkModeList (subscription)
  3. Progress Bar OS X
  4. Make OSX Great Again
  5. Mac Book Alarm
  6. Preview Hunt
  7. 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.

Payments

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.”

Technical problems

Somethings was not working all the time. Pain from trying to solve some technical problem is common :).

Discipline

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?

Finish 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.

Emotions

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 2.0

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:

  • Affiliate
  • Job board
  • Table
  • Travel
  • Tweets
  • Facebook posts

Also I added a lot of new cool features:

  • Filters and search
  • Detailed pages
  • Maps
  • HTML snippets
  • Amazon affiliate
  • API (for people who want to build their own website from Google Sheet)

Landing page redesign

Old landing:

New landing page:

I made a promo video

I used QuickTime + iMove for editing

And demo video

Testimonials

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:

Launch

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 :)

Sorry I don’t have better photo of the party, because I forgot to make it

Sheet2Site Revenue

Total Revenue

In 14 months all my apps (without acquisition of MacBook Alarm) generated $32k in revenue

Including all my apps, grands, donations, Patreon. All refunds are excluded. Acquisition is excluded.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. All important details you will start to find after you will start doing things, not before
  4. 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”.
  5. 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.
  6. It’s marathon, not a sprint so you need to charge your batteries!
  7. Focus on product, not tools (code, no code whatever.). Your users will not care how you done it. Your product should solve their problem.
  8. 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!

Andrey ❤

What’s next?

  1. Keep working on Sheet2Site and make it really awesome.
  2. Launching new apps
  3. Incorporate a company, bank and Stripe
  4. Take my mom to Bali. I haven’t seen her for 3.5 years

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Follow me on Twitter. If you’re feeling really generous, you can buy me a pack of ramen by sending $2 to my PayPal address or become my Patron.

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Thanks