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The good, the bad & the old
Some good news, not-so-good news & a good old perspective
Some good news – it’s been 4 months since I first crossed the $1,000 monthly revenue milestone. Initially I thought it was a one-off fluke, even though revenue had been climbing slowly but steadily close to the $1k mark in the past months leading up to the month of March.
That’s the thing about a mostly one-time payments as revenue – you’ll never know what you’re going to get. There’s always a nagging doubt that this month could be the fateful month where you didn’t acquire any new customers, and your sandcastle comes crashing down. It’s weird when you contrast that doubt with one-time revenue with the optimism of monthly recurring revenue – by itself, customers can still churn, but yet we tend to expect MRR to be more reliable and steady.
When can we start to feel more assured in our hot seats and say with confidence that we passed a revenue milestone, when your business model is mainly one-time payments?
I don’t know.
But sometimes I like to think that this “I don’t know” is a good thing. That I don’t take things for granted and start feeling complacent. Because accepting that you can win big with asymmetric bets that will take off like a rocket, also means you might lose it all in an asymmetric black swan event that rug pulls everything you built up under your feet.
The bold might thrive sometimes but only the paranoid survives.
The trick seems to be knowing the best time to be either.
The not-so-good news: In the past 9 months since I went hard on Carrd plugins project, I’ve achieved these:
In at least 12 distribution channels, not counting the occasional guest blog post
19 new plugins launched, more if I count those not published
tripled my revenue, and looking to hit $1k from my plugins revenue alone in the next few months
took over first page (7 out of 10) of Google for “carrd plugins”
built up street cred/personal brand as the Carrd plugins guy
But despite the results there’s some hard truths I need to face:
Small market: Plugins continue to sell, but not at a volume that can help me reach my goal of $5k/m soon. Ahrefs tell me that the search volume is just 30 (i.e. average monthly number of searches for “carrd plugins” on Google in the US alone). Google Trends can’t even show me any data. So even while my SEO game is great, the search volume—and by inference, the market size—is just too small perhaps. By “small”, that’s of course with reference to my $5k/m revenue goal. After 9 months being on so many channels, realistically speaking, the most I can expect from this project is a slow and steady growth in small increments. Not reason to drop it, but not a good reason to focus on and keep hammering at it either. I need to try new bets where the market size and/or revenue steps are bigger.
Little to no moat: The competitive advantage, or moat, around this project isn’t huge. All it takes is someone who some dev experience to come in and start making plugins to compete. The dev don’t even need to be very experienced or senior. Over the past few years, there’s always been devs coming in and dropping out. But as Carrd gets more popular, I’m sure more will come. Who knows, maybe even copycats.
Unsustainble community contribution: The current way of actively contributing to communities might not sustainable in the long run. It does take time and effort. Right now it’s still manageable. But as the user base grows, there’s more questions being asked. And there’s a bit of a Schrodinger’s cat paradox going on here too – my mere presence actively answering questions is bringing in more people, leading to more questions, and vicious cycle. I might have to start looking for more scalable ways, e.g. trying out ads, on Google, Facebook, Reddit.
Platform risk: This is probably a remote chance, and the Carrd folks are super nice, but I’m still building on someone else’s platform. Like how in March this year I had one such black swan event for my mega navbar plugin. That in itself is a great reason to explore products that does not depend on a platform for it’s existence. An example could be creating plugins for any website instead of just one platform.
I love this project, I love the product, the founders, the community, and I want to keep building plugins for it. But it’s dawning on me that I cannot put all my chips in this project now.
I got to keep shipping new projects, to land on something else that has a bigger market, more revenue, and sustainable.
The time is now.
Good old days
There’s this poignant scene from The Office US where Andy was saying, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”
Things ain’t easy on my indie journey right now. The past few years had been pure struggle. All these hard truths are hard sh*t to deal with.
All tough questions.
No easy answers.
No handholding here.
All the while looking on either side at others getting through it with ease.
Sometimes you feel like rage quitting.
But somewhere in the future, a future me will be looking at this moment now and saying what Andy said.
These are the good old days.
That I will reminiscience at my struggles and look upon them fondly.
That I will re-read the writings here, and wonder what the hell was I thinking.
That I will pine to live this day, this moment, all over again, if I had the chance.
These are the good old days. And I’ve not left them yet.
I can still act now, to not miss them.
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