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$300k ARR

$0 to $25k MRR in 2.5 years.

June 22, 2020

Well, I’ve arrived at a new milestone. It’s been two months since my last post about taking action. I’ve been taking action to get to this milestone, and I’m both shocked and not surprised at the same time.

Shocked, because I didn’t intend on building something this big from the beginning. Not surprised because it’s exactly how I planned and I’ve been working on it every day for 2.5 years.

It’s weird to have a business this size. From people below (people who have never started a business), it seems incredible. From people above, it’s just a stepping stone.

1000 Customers

The business is inching its way towards 1000 active subscriptions, and it has helped over 7000 customers make more money on Poshmark. That’s really cool.

1000 customers itself isn’t really that many people. It’s a lot more than 0, but it’s also a lot less than other businesses. Even most small businesses.

Now that I’m at this point, what’s stopping it from helping 10,000 customers at the same time? Mostly marketing, distribution, and education. But it’s also the fact that I don’t even know if the market is that big.

The “most popular” (sub-par but cheaper and older) app in the space has ~6000 active installations.

One thing that inhibits me from getting more customers is simply pricing. Not everyone is willing to commit to the premium pricing that comes with a premium product.

And I’m just fine with that. Higher pricing means better customers, more money per customer, and less support requests for me.

One cheat code I have that other apps in the space don’t have, is that my app helps people make lots of money. And because of that, I can create new customers that would not have been customers in the past simply because I can help them make lots of money (not just save them time).

New Features

I wouldn’t have been able to get to this point without having launched some really useful and money making features in the app. Features that customers have been asking for since the beginning, but the right foundation was not in place to deploy them yet (as a solo developer, laying the groundwork can take some time).

I’ve heard people say that building more features doesn’t replace marketing. But, when a huge portion of your marketing is word of mouth (in this underground niche, it is), then features start the flywheel going.

When people can go from making $hundreds in a month, to $hundreds in a day by me launching a new feature, they’re going to tell all of their friends.

I’ve said all along (well, the last two years or so), that if you don’t help your customers make money, or save time, you’re going to have a hard time selling. By me adding some new features that 10x results for my 1000 customers, I am just making it easier to sell in the future.

With those new features come a few challenges though. Now there’s more code to manage, more points of failure, and more confusion added to the product. I’m constantly trying to refine and do work now so I don’t run into a big mess later on that I can’t handle.

Growth

Speaking of selling (and growth), the business/product/app has been growing incredibly fast. Well, relatively incredible. Considering it took the business roughly 3 months to get to $1k MRR, and now it grows at ~$1k MRR every week, it’s quite a big difference.

SEO is still my number one marketing channel. Some of my “competitors” (people who steal my code and the name of my app) think it’s fun to try and compete with me there and it’s hilarious at best. They also have the audacity to perform some black-hat SEO tactics to try and jump my rankings. I just watch them slowly fade off into the abyss that is the second, third, and so on pages of Google.

I’ve also been running some advertising. Lots of it actually. It’s paying off big-time. I’m doubling down on my Google marketing strategy, and it’s working. My search ads perform really well, and I’ve been pushing double-digit free-trials every day for the last month.

It’s nice to pay for some marketing, since you have slightly more control over distribution. SEO is great, but you have to write the best content. The best content is subjective. Ads are not subjective, they are put right in front of your face whether you like it or not.

If things continue this way, I’ll be at $400k ARR in just over 8 weeks, and a half-millionaire in 16 weeks. Who knows, it might even go faster (or hey, it could go really slow. Who knows).

As things are clipping along I am planning out some of the next long-term steps for my domination of the space. It’s a lot of fun to work on something that makes an impact on people at scale, and also makes good money while I sleep.

Challenges

One thing that has been getting increasingly harder is customer support. As I approach 1000 customers, even just talking to 1% of them is taking up a significant part of my day.

A few months ago, I would get 1-2 chat messages and emails a day. Usually it would be new customers asking about the application, sometimes users reporting bugs and anomalies.

Now, I can safely say it’s approaching 5-10 message streams every day. It’s not taking all of my time, but definitely some of it.

One of the most common things I do is work to avoid talking to customers. Not because I don’t want to, but because that’s the only way to scale my time.

I try to keep up with documentation, adding to the FAQ, making emails and other text that help people understand the app and how to use it best.

Doing things that help you scale your time is the best way to build something that grows beyond yourself. It’s also the best use of your time.

So many people say “do things that don’t scale” but it’s mostly a waste of time. You want to make a large impact in a personal way, without having to spend all of your time doing it.

Sure, do things that don’t scale in the beginning. But don’t stay that way. Tech companies are built on the fact that products scale.

Advice

I don’t have much advice that I haven’t already given. I eat my own dog food and it’s worked well for me. I don’t do anything that I don’t talk about publicly.

I don’t want to lose touch with the person I was when I was just getting started. I want to help people who are early in their journey and are trying to build something that people will pay for.

I try to keep my principles simple, and advise people to be cautious of who they listen to.

At the end of the day, markets exist. Make something that serves a market, and you can make money. Make something that scales your time, and you can make more money. Make something that makes other people a lot of money, and you’ll make a lot of money.

Make things that help people do what they were already doing, better and more efficiently.

I think one thing I haven’t talked about a lot is code and being able to code well. I think there’s a lot of developers that are terrible at what they do, and it holds them back.

I don’t really have a ton of advice for people like that other than it takes practice. You have to push yourself and learn new things. I am the only person who is innovative in my space. All the others just copy what I do (or don’t because they can’t).

I myself know that I am not the best developer, but I think I am one of the best in the world at being able to figure out how to develop something (AKA, read the documentation and understand it). You don’t get to $300k ARR by being average.

Level up your skills. Level up your development skills, your writing skills, your communication skills, your selling skills, any core skills that will help you become the best Indiehacker you can be.

What’s Next For Me

My wife is expecting baby number three this week, so that’ll tie me up for a bit.

I’m working on a course. I don’t know what it will be called, but I think it will be helpful for people. Not sure if it will be free or cheap.

I’m also working on a more long-term focused SaaS with a friend. That will probably eventually replace Closet Tools in the future (at least in terms of my time), and the market is much larger.

I’ll continue to build, write, develop skills, and become better every day. I want to take this life by the horns and make the most of it. I want to have success in business, as well as with my family and in my faith.

See you in the next post when I reach another milestone, or teach you something valuable.