LinksSpy.com – Monthly Income Report September 2014

Welcome to the second installment of my monthly income report. I nearly quit this after I realized what a horrible mistake I had made with the first income report. I triumphantly announced having doubled my monthly recurring revenue (MRR) – when in fact I had committed an embarrassing blunder.

Before I get into the details here are a few things I want you to know about my income reports:

  1. I publish income reports for two reasons:
    1. Accountability helps me push forward.
    2. I know that most of us compare ourselves to “famous” people like Patrick McKenzie, Brennan Dunn, Nathan Barry and others. I am no stranger to that and it is hard to feel good comparing yourself to them. Well, compare yourself to me and you’ll feel better instantly 😉
  2. I will only cover what I make from LinksSpy – no consulting, no day job
  3. I am terrible at accounting – so most numbers (especially expenses) are not 100% accurate.

The Numbers

Last Month’s Revenue

In August I boasted about having doubled my MRR to $480 from 21 customers – only I didn’t. I fucked up royally.

The short version is that I had 2 different ways for users to cancel their LinksSpy subscription. Unfortunately, I only knew about one of them. Worse yet, most people cancelled using the way that I was unaware of. This also happened to delete any traces of their account in my database WITHOUT cancelling their Stripe subscription. In essence, people could cancel their account and I would keep charging them.

After I learned about this blunder, I immediately searched for every (previous) customer who had been affected by this. I cancelled their subscription and refunded the last payment – together with an email explaining my error.

This has cost me 6 customers and $216 MRR. In fact, I only had $273 MRR from 15 customers in August. A modest increase over July, but not exactly great.

This Month’s Revenue

In September I increased MRR to $320 from 16 customers. Small steps… small steps…

Expenses

Due to the way LinksSpy is set up my costs are really low. It was one of my design goals to keep most things running on Heroku‘s free tier. This is partly because I’m really cheap and – more importantly – because I didn’t know how well LinksSpy would do and I was afraid of catastrophic failure.

Thus, I only pay $9/mo for the hobbyist database plan and $20/mo for the SSL endpoint.

Other expenses:

  • $15.80 in Stripe fees
  • $49 for Drip
  • $230 for one blog article per week – written by my content marketing genius
  • $100 for design work for a blog article I wrote

If I didn’t miss anything (which I probably did), the total costs were $423.80.

Profit

For the time being, I don’t plan on making any profit from LinksSpy. I want to focus on growing it as fast and as big as possible, thus I’m re-investing everything back into LinksSpy.

LinksSpy operated at a net loss of about $100 in september and I refunded $295. That leaves me some $400 short for september – nothing to worry about.

My Takeaways

The biggest takeaway for me is that messing up the payments and subsequently apologizing to your customers is painfully humbling. I never want to do this again.

Another “takeaway” this month is that content marketing drives quite a few people to your blog posts, but it does not bring in new customers immediately. If you are doing content marketing, you commit yourself long term.

Progress

The biggest thing I managed to get done this month was publishing an amazing in-depth research article about the prices of paid links.
It managed to briefly climb to the front page of Hacker News and was quite popular on /r/bigseo – accounting for 1,403 visits combined.
It was shared by some “famous” people in the SEO industry and reached an audience of about 300,000 on Twitter – which sent a grand-total of 268 visitors.
It also made it into the Moz Top 10 newsletter, which drove 4,578 people to my blog.

Again this shows me that email marketing is insanely effective.

The outcome of that blog post has been fantastic: I have about 100 new subscribers to my drip email campaign. I also enhanced the drip email campaign by adding another email that is more of a hard sell – something that was previously missing from the drip campaign altogether.

Furthermore, with the influx of new visitors I finally was able to start retargeting via PerfectAudience. I had the banner ad done months ago, but never had enough people tagged. I’m sending them to a dedicated landing page and trying to sign them up for my email list.

Additionally, I finally re-designed parts of the LinksSpy homepage to make it more appealing. I also integrated HireFire into LinksSpy, which will dynamically spin up/tear down Heroku worker instances and help to bring new reports into the hands of my customers faster.

What to Focus on Next Month

Same as the last few months: More marketing. I have ordered more articles (1 per week instead of 3 per month) from Ryan, my content marketing genius.
We are also going to implement a better process (using Trello) for publishing new blog posts. This will include adding pictures to all posts – something we haven’t done in the past – and publishing all new articles to a few places such as reddit, inbound.org and others.

In addition, I am already working on a follow-up post to the last one. This one will be about how buying a link on BuzzFeed can affect your search engine rankings. I hope this post will have a greater reach than the previous.

I will also start sending out newsletters to my mailing list. I will probably use the new content for those newsletters as well.

Conclusion

September was a month of mixed feelings: The bug was horrible, but on the other hand my article was great.

LinksSpy is improving in small, but steady, steps and revenue is also increasing. I’ve got more than enough to get on with in October, not least among them attending MicroConf Europe (If you are coming, don’t be shy – say “Hi”!)

I’m looking forward to seeing you again next month 🙂

Social Share Toolbar
About Christoph

Christoph lives in Munich, Germany and is bootstrapping his own SaaS application as a part-time entrepreneur.

He likes to write on this blog about anything of relevance to single-founder bootstrapped software startups.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Engelhardt, another good friend of mine, has just published a heart-warming and heart-wrenching post about launching his SaaS startup (you should check it out if you need help with your SEO […]

  2. […] On the plus side, I published a blog post that got quite a bit of attention in early september. That brought me about 5,000 unique visitors and 100+ subscribers to my mailing list. You can read the full story in my last income report. […]

  3. […] Add on top of that a way for users to cancel without deleting their subscription – meaning they still get charged although they cancelled(Read the full story). […]

Speak Your Mind

*