LinksSpy – Monthly Income Report February 2015

LinksSpy has seen a bit of growth during February, not much mind you, but it’s going the right direction. But before I dive deep into this, first let me get some boilerplate out of the way.


You can find all my income reports here:

These are the ground rules for my income reports:

  1. I publish income reports for two reasons: a) Accountability helps me push forward. b) I know that most of us compare ourselves to internet-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.
  4. I have an agreement with Nathan Powell of that I will stop income reports by the time I hit $1,000,000 annual run rate. According to Nathan that should happen sometime in June 2015 – we’ll have to see about that.

The Numbers

Last Month’s Revenue

In January monthly recurring revenue (MRR) for LinksSpy was $1,245 from 42 customers.

This Month’s Revenue

February ended with $1,285 MRR from 39 customers. Which is great, because it is slightly higher than the previous month.


MRR growth for LinksSpy – provided by the fine folks of



As you can see from the number of customers, a few customers in the lowest plan cancelled. That was offset by new customers in the higher-price plans. While I have fewer customers, the MRR increased. I lost $114 in MRR and gained $234 for a net MRR increase of $120.

So why do I only report an MRR that is $40 above last month’s? Let me show you another picture:


$443 MRR are caught with past-due customers (i.e. their CC charge didn’t go through) – picture by HookFeed


That’s right. I currently have 8 customers with failing payments. Another 34.5% of my current MRR is “past-due”.

I’ve been historically bad at reaching out to people after their payments failed and sending dunning emails. I usually waited for 3 charges to fail, because that was something my friend Andrew recommended. Then I would loose count of how many failed charge each customer had and then I’d just let it be.
This is something I am going to tackle in March.


Due to the way LinksSpy is set up my costs are relatively 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.

Total expenses:

  • $36 to Heroku for database, SSL and Papertrail
  • $74.67 in Stripe fees (More on that later)
  • $49 for Drip
  • $12 for
  • $10 for Google Apps/GMail
  • $40 to oDesk for research
  • $195 for blogging services
  • $50 for a VA

If I didn’t miss anything (which I probably did), the total costs were $466.67.


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 made roughly $800 in profit this month. That means it has made a (small) profit in 4(!) consecutive months and I really want to change that (i.e. blow that money on marketing).
Something always keeps me from doing so.

My war chest is filled with a bit of money and my intention is to spend that money on marketing.

I’ve come to an agreement with two new bloggers who will do paid guest posts on the LinksSpy blog and I guess think I am going to spend the money this way. Additionally, I think I am probably going to invest money into one big content piece, because it would take me half a year or more to finish it on my own.


Traffic numbers for this months aren’t spectacular.
One thing of note: Almost 400 users came from a single list/collection on Product Hunt. AMAZING! 375 sessions – 311 users 1,594 sessions – 1,208 users


February was a month of rather small wins: I set up an email campaign for users who start the signup process and abandon it. They will get two follow-up email.
In case you want to use it, here are the two emails:

Subject: Start stealing links today
Hi {{subscriber.first_name}},

You started the registration for LinksSpy a few hours ago, but stopped before finishing it.
Was there a problem?
Is there anything I can help you with?

You can continue the registration at:


Subject: Don’t leave me this way…
Hi {{ subscriber.first_name}},

You started the registration for LinksSpy yesterday, but got stuck half-way through.
Is there anything that’s blocking you?
If so, how can I help you get unblocked and start earning links to crush your competition?


Additionally, I followed Rob Walling’s advice and dropped the mandatory cancellation reason box in favor of an automatic follow-up email after cancellation.
The reasoning here is that users are frustrated if you make it complicated to cancel their subscription, but once they answer to an email it’s relatively easy to get a conversation going.

Here’s the text for that email – an exact copy of Rob’s email:

Subject: A quick question…

I was hoping you could spare 15 seconds of your time and let me know why you decided to cancel your LinksSpy account. Feel free to just hit reply and fire away.

Thanks in advance,

Founder, LinksSpy

P.S. I’d really appreciate your reply – even if it’s just a few words letting me know why you decided to cancel.

Apart from the improvements to my email campaigns, I also took part in a few expert roundup posts such as this one: – yes, apparently my opinion is almost as important as Neil Patel’s.
Yes, I am also utterly shocked by that.

Furthermore, I invested a lot of time to implement proper invoicing and reporting for LinksSpy. That took a lot of time, but it was necessary to file my taxes. Sometimes you’ve got to spend some time on the plumbing.

Lastly, I started a rather big new feature, which will improve the quality as well as the frequency with which LinksSpy delivers link opportunities for your campaigns. I finished an early version in early May and am getting the first beta users set up with it as I write this.
Pretty excited about that one, as I hope that weekly emails will help make LinksSpy’s value more easily understood by my customers.

What to Focus on Next Month

In March I am STILL going to focus on growing my list with my new lead magnet (Get a free competitive link analysis in exchange for your email address).
I have to make a slightly less ugly version of that site and want to promote it on other blogs and podcasts.
Then I have to figure out how to properly promote it.

Additionally, I am going to do something about the “past-due” issues.

My Takeaways

I definitely improved my email marketing, which will be a great asset moving forward. I’m super stoked about the new feature I am developing and hope it will deliver great results. If my predictions are true (they probably aren’t), this feature will help reduce churn.

At the moment updates to the underlying data are few and far between (>1 month between updates on average), which leaves a lot of room for my customers to forget about LinksSpy. Not a happy place to be in ™.
With the new feature at least customers on the highest plans will get weekly updates, which should help quite a bit.


Baby steps to victory. That’s all I’m going to say for this month.

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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.


  1. I love reading these! 🙂

  2. Where is March? 🙂

    • Christoph says

      ah yeah… I’m pretty booked right now 🙁

      I hope to deliver it soon-ish, but there’s just so much going on right now.


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