I make $100K+ ARR from my microstartups - AMA
By - 1hakr
Do you develop all those app yourself or you pay developers to do it ?
I build and grew all of them myself. When I didn't know a particular skill that was needed, I learnt and then applied it.
I am amazed how good design you are adding to your applications knowing that you are also good in the technical side. These both skills are very uncommon to be seeing together. Just to double confirm: are you also doing the design of your apps/websites?
Thanks, yes i do ideating, design, coding and then grow them
this is really inspiring to me, as someone who wants to make games and tools and cool software stuff
Just do it!
Super impressive! What coding languages did you learn?
i use Vue JS, Node JS, Go Lang and Swift
When I built, flutter was in alpha and I dont like react
Could you elaborate? As a longtime dev whose weak link is by far Frontend, React looks tempting as a solution to learn.
this is what i want to do, im actually about to go about creating apps with unreal engine
Take a leap of faith, Just do it!
How are you monetizing each app? and which one brings in the most?
There are multiple business models
- paid app
- in app purchase
Visalist brings in the most.
I want to get started with payment gateways, any advice for me? If you do not mind my asking, what kind of payment gateways do you recommend to developers not residing in US? Thank you for sharing your story with the community.
Use stripe, it's amazing.
How does visa list make money? It seems to be completely free.
Mostly through affiliate revenue, ads and subscription.
Interesting that such a straightforward strategy worked. Although I don't see where the subscription options are on the website.
I have disabled it during COVID and made it free for most features
That's a very nice gesture. What features were included in it?
All the pro filters
Are they all apps? Android or iphone? Is this a side hustle or do you do it full time?
Some are android apps, some are iphone apps and some are web apps. I built all of them full time.
Is it almost like an 80/20 type of situation? i.e. Visalist brings in 80% of the total.
Nope visalist is less than 40% of the total revenue
Mind if I ask what % of that ARR is profit roughly?
What's your biggest expense?
Congrats on the success btw and ty for sharing 👍
95% is profit. I don't have any biggest expenses except server cost.
Any marketing cost?
No, I don't do any marketing.
Howwww do you get traffic? Organic SEO? That seems nuts to me
Most of it is from SEO!
Impressive! Really well done! How much time did it take for your apps to start attracting visitors?
Around 2-3 months
Thanks! Any advice for someone who is ready to deploy an app but doesn't know much about SEO or how to attract visitors?
Start with clickminded SEO course, it helped a lot.
Awesome! Thanks for the tips! Btw, I looked into your visa requirements apps, it looks neat! I will definitely keep using it.
Wow. Imagine if you did.
Yes, I see the potential but I fundamentally believe paid marketing is not sustainable.
That’s amazing. Multiple sites with no paid advertising to drive that kind of traffic and downloads? I’m impressed. Can you explain more how you do it so well?
Would you be willing to share a bit about your hosting infrastructure?
How is revenue split among the different projects?
Visalist - 50%
ACrypto - 10%
Simple Ops - 5%
Oh wow, didn't expect Visalist to make $4k per month. Is it all through ads?
It's more than $5k and it's a mix of affiliate revenue, ads and subscription.
Cool, thanks! Where can people sign up? I wasn't able to find any additional information on subscriptions on Visalist.
This is fantastic - and thanks for sharing so openly! Can you describe the process for how you get the apps accepted by Google Play Store, for example?
Do you work full time else where? Or "microstartup" your full time bread and butter?
Recently I had more free time and with lockdowns, I hit a makers block. So took a product role but very much growing my microstartups every day. Just not creating new ones.
What programming languages are your apps made in?
I use Vue JS, Go Lang and Node JS
Do you use something like Ionic to make mobile apps with Vue? I know Angular and want to make my own apps but I'm debating on whether I should learn something like Flutter or React(and RN) or stick with Angular and learn Ionic for mobile.
Basically want something with good workflow and fast development times.
I would suggest to use what your know and covert the PWA website to an app and launch.
Is visalist a PWA?
Yes it's a PWA
Cool mind if I DM you? I have a project I've released (still working out links) that I'm not sure what to do with, if I should keep it up or not etc.
Do you do server rendered pages for SEO or stick with SPA and hope google can index it all properly?
I do server rendering
This is by far one of the most interesting things I’ve seen and read on the sub. All your projects are amazing 👏
Wow, that's fantastic. This year I also decided to follow this path. I'm currently releasing my first serious app. My question is: how do you market your products?
Try to find where your potential users usually hang out, like twitter, facebook, indiehackers etc, engage with them. Try to find the problems they usually face, if they do then show them your solution. That's the best and easiest way to start.
But what about those millions of downloads? Are they organic? Or do you do use paid ads?
Congrats! What does your monetization split look like between different ad formats, in app purchases, etc. is there a clear leader?
As of now, it's primarily the app purchases, then ads, then subscriptions
Definitely earned my follow, this is inspiring ! Also curious to know if you develop say a free alert app like you have, do you still get kickbacks from the app stores? For XXXXX amount of downloads or interactions?
Thanks. No, not really, you can only generate revenue from In app purchases or ads on free apps.
How do you monitize visalist. I see ads out there. Can u share with us how much it brings in revenue.
What was the business problem you were trying to solve with visa list? With my current passport what countries I can go to without asking for a visa? (I use wikipedia for that).
Cheers and thanks
$400 a day is $12,000 a month (simplified), and visalist brings in half of that. He said that he monetized visalist using ads, affiliate, and subscriptions.
That is awesome! Congrats! This is my dream to to learn programming and create things people would need and solve problems. We’re you a CS degree grad? How did you learn the programming and follow a business model? Advice for a guy stuck in a 9-5 and feeling like I’m not progressing?
Yes I did CS degrees in college. The best way to build something is to solve a problem that you personal face, where you become your first customer. There are tons of no code tools out there, just try them and see if you can build a simple solution to solve a problem.
Tried my hand at programming but I responded to designing things better. I was able to hold my focus a lot longer so I'm playing around with Bubble.io. Have been thinking about the whole micro SaaS concept. What's your input on noCode micro SaaS?
It has huge potential, imagination is the limit IMHO
So many no code tools! I'm trying to find the right one for mobile app that includes camera and detailed record keeping that is accessible through a web app. Any thoughts on these tools?
What language is the best one, for creating these kinds of apps? How long does it take to learn them? Did you also design the graphics for these apps?
Btw, congrats and TY for the AMA...
Vue JS is easiest and the best framework to build websites. For apps, flutter will be the best. It usually take 3-4 weeks for me to learn a new language. Yes I designed all of them myself.
Where do you host these apps? So, you use flutter to create these apps? Are these apps iphone or android apps?
How long would it take for someone, to learn flutter?
I didn't try flutter yet, I built these on Java and swift. Some of my microstartups are apps. It shouldn't take more than a month to learn basics. Then it's all about what you want to build.
Are these mobile or website apps? So you use Java + swift to create your apps? Can you design the graphics as well with java + swift?
Yes, I used Java for Android apps and swift for iPhone apps. You can design you with these.
could you please briefly describe the flow of creating one of your services, e.g. what if you would start making visalist right now? what do you do 1st, 2nd, etc.
How did you get users or traffic to your site?
It took a long time but kept experimenting on SEO and finally i cracked it.
Any SEO tips?
I have shared my learnings on SEO here https://twitter.com/1HaKr/status/1284378397800456197
Congratulations on the success! I’m trying to develop an App on IOS …once its done how do you get your initial users? Basically how to get the word out there about your app/website
I usuallyy do a public launch in IH, PH, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Reddit.
Hey mate, what's IH?
Any chance you could share an invite?
How did you get first initial customers?
How did you get your sponsors? What you did to get them?
Try to find where your potential customers usually hangout, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook? Try to engage and check if they have found any problems, that you are solving. If they do they tell them you have solved it using your solution. Anyways try to provide value before promoting your products.
What about sponsors? I have a website with good amount of traffic.
But I don’t know what to do and where to start. Could you give some advice how did you find sponsors?
Visa List is genius - well done.
I can't believe all the questions about how to code but no asking you how you generate all these ideas and your failures. So, what is your number one tip to come up with creative ideas? Have you had any failures in the past that you invested alot of time in or do you research the market quite a bit before hand? Congratulations man! Products look amazing :)
Yes there were a few. But I try to always keep the cost of failure small.
This is how I try to be frugal.
* I see a potential problem, see if I can solve it. See if it's already being solved, if not I pitch the idea to few people. If atleast 50% got excited. I pick this idea to build
* I set a goal on day 1 on what the microstartup should achieve once its launched. I try to take no more than 4 weeks to build it.
* I do a public launch in IH, PH, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Reddit. In few weeks if I reach the goal that I set at the beginning, then I continue working on it to improve. If not then I will drop it and move on the next.
You have an objective in making this choice, most people cling to the sentiment.
This way I keep the cost of failure fairly small.
Very cool man! Thanks for the answer =) Any tips on spotting problems or do you not actively look for them?
Someone with no coding experience at all. Where would you recommend they start?
Start with [makerpad](https://www.makerpad.co/)
Which platform do you use for accounting, i.e keeping track of income/expenses/taxes etc? I'm thinking of building a SAAS in this domain.
i use quickbooks
Cool do you connect it to your sass via an API? Such that when someone makes a subscription it automatically adds an accounting entry on QuickBooks?
No i don't do that
Ahh I see. Let's say the simple ops website? How do you go it? When someone makes a subscription do you manually add an entry on QuickBooks or do you just copy the aggregated values at the end of the month from a provider like stripe to QuickBooks?
Usually, it's the end of the month.
Top effort from you. Do you think you could make more by focusing on two? 25k gross for each seems fairly low. But I guess it depends how automated they are.
Yes I think may be, but then I will lose some freedom to build and try new things and focusing on few means I will have to build a team as well.
How much time/week do you spend on each project now for Marketing, maintenance, new features and so on?
- How many countries have you visited?
- What's your favorite city so far?
- How long are you staying in one location?
How can I begin making apps?
you start using nocode tools to begin with.
Thank you! Do you have an Instagram?
Yes i do, search for 1hakr on instagram
Do you have any tools that you would recommend?
What are your go to key performance metrics? (I realize that they may defer depending on the startup, but surely there are common ones you keep track of)
Users, as long as people come and use your products, you can even at a later stage, monetize them.
Do you use any resources like mixpanel to track and analyze these users?
I use GA for metrics
(Last one I promise) how do you tackle issues such as ensuring customer stickiness and customer viraliry?
I currently work at a saudi based startup called [PalmHR](palmhr.net) and the ceo wants to promote me to a data analysis/ business intelligence role and tasked me with reading Lean Analytics, hence all the questions.
I try to understand what the users are looking for, try to build those things or improve existing things.
Thanks and best of luck to all current and future endeavors. Would you mind if we connected over LinkedIn, insta, Twitter etc?
Not OP, but have relevant experience.
Look beyond lean analytics and dive into acquisition and retention models.
You want to have few business health metrics (active users, CAC and LTV would cover a lot already).
Deeper analysis and insight rarely comes from global datasets, rather by looking at cohorts and observing/comparing behaviour over time.
Lastly, figure out how you can A/B across the funnel because that's where your learning at scale comes from.
And - please! - don't be afraid to talk to your customers and prospects. Go and find them, connect with them and learn as much as possible about who they are and what void you're filling for them.
Thanks for the insight! The main reason I’m focusing on the analytics side is because all we’ve been doing is speak to customers or potential customers. More often then not, they’ll say that everything is wonderful and they want to sign with us, only to ghost or go with a competitor. The existing users are great tho since they’ll always share their opinion on how we can improve.
People lie, numbers don’t
What programming language/engine do you use?
I use vuejs, nodejs and golang
When you create a new startup in a space you don't have experince, a network, or an audience in, how do you go about getting traction to your product? I imagine that's the hardest thing about jumping to relatively different ideas and customer bases with each new microstartup
Yes that's true. So what I do is try to figure out where the users usually hangout, I try to engage with them there and ask if they have faced any problems, if they do then I introduce them to the solution that I have built. Thats how I get the initial traction.
What do you do after? Say you get an decent uptick, product is validated, but it's not enough for the long run. Eventually the initial users will fade and you can't just spam the same channels, what do you do then? Have you done ads? Or are there ways to keep re-engaging communities?
No I don't spam but usually try to comment/help users generally. Also that's only one way, there are other ways like bulding good SEO, tools that help bring users to your website and then convert them .
How do you market your apps? Your marketing channels?
What advice you give who is good at building things but suck at selling?
Start learning SEO, writing promotional copy, banners for your products to post on social media, etc. It's not hard, there are so many courses out there.
How do you overcome your self doubt when you think of an idea to start working on.
I'm always stuck thinking an idea is not good enough and I'll not be able to make money with it.
When I see a potential problem, see if I can solve it. See if it's already being solved, if not I pitch the idea to few people. If at least 50% got excited. I pick this idea to build
Thanks for the reply.
Is the whole of $150k/year passive income?
If I were to learn **Programming** right now, which would you suggest and what is the best way to learn, I am just 16
Learn Vue JS, its the easiest
Thanks for sharing! super inspiring!
Are you able to do any mentoring? I'd be interested.
Yes i do, you can start here https://mentors.to/1hakr
I like wanna say thank you for actually answering people's questions. I see a lot of posts on here where OP's answer one or two and then disappear lol.
It's nice to see someone continually launching stuff.
This is cool. How did you get initial users?
How/where did you promote your services once they were ready for deployment?
Great job! Also very inspiring! It’s been scary to become a solo founder and now I’m step away from finishing a microstartup of my own, and posts like this one help a lot when you’re exhausted or else
I'm happy that you found this helpful. Good luck for your microstartup!!
Love your apps mate. How many apps have you worked on which didn't make this list? I'm assuming that you have worked on other apps which didn't work out?
I've been learning full stack development and gradually coming out with better and more successful apps with each new idea. I'm enjoying the process :)
How do you get the data for the visas, the travel advisory and Corona virus cases?
Hi. I might be a little late for this AMA but I got a question - Where do you source all the data you need? ie. all the visa information you used for your visa list. Are you using free/paid API for this or do you build web scraper to do this?
What resources would you recommend someone noob with zero experince who wants to be you in 2 years?
Start building things using Vue JS
whats your advice for someone who wants to build apps and make their ideas real without knowing any coders? how can i go about finding someone i can pay that will be able to make what i am thinking of?
1. You mention you don't do marketing, then how did you get all those people using your services?
2. Ever used bubble to set one of these apps? if yes, how was your experience?
I use organic means, social media, communities where actual users hangout.
Impressive. Do you do these all on your own? Did you hire or outsource any part of these?
I do all of this on my own as i enjoy building things.
How did you market all this stuff... was it through Paid ads or organic
All of this is organic.
Coding, designing, doing everything else. How?
This is unbelievable. It's hard for me to master just the design aspect itself. Not even talking about programming.
Experience, time, no one does it in one day. Pick a path commit to it over the years.
What are you best ROI distirbution channels?
What did you learn on scaling?
Product hunt and search engines
How do you promote your products?
As someone with a coding background how do you approach UI/UX? Do you have any learning resource to get started?
how do you decide which idea you want to start building ? is it from interest or after market research ? if its after market research, how do you search the market ? thanks !
Its mostly from the problems i personally face day to day
So you’ve never needed any type of funding to begin?
When you showed your product Simple Ops in HN in 2020 there was an interesting conversation about pricing:
In summary, there was a philosophical argument about if it is better for the profitable success of the SaaS product to keep the prices above a lower barrier to prevent annoying customers to join.
How is your experience on this regards? is it actually true that keeping prices low is hurting profits in the long term?
Yes its true but the pricing model also needs to evolve along with your product.
Hey man there is a bug in your visa list website. Im using the brave brower on my phone and I click on enable ads. But tjis message comes again and again beforecI even can do something. Brave blocks ads as a standard but it offers an alternative payment method for content websites.
Nice! What did you rely on to grow the user base, particularly for visa list? SEO, paid ads, word of mouth or was it a mixture of stuff?
Did you put your projects on Github or kept them Local, I am referring to OpenSource like did you got help from the community while you were developing your apps?
All of them are closed source.
Hey u/1hakr well done! Curious to know about any launch strategies for your apps, generating buzz, initial reviews etc.... or are you simply focusing on getting the right keywords on your listing and the general ASO tactics?
I usually tweet WIP screenshots and tease what's coming, then I do a public launch on PH, LinkedIn, Facebook groups and Indie Hackers.
there r some entrepreneurs here so could u guys tell me some books that teach u bout business
Congrats and thanks for sharing! This is really inspiring!
Could you share your growth process/tips? What's your marketing budget aprox.?
Amazing what you did. Having an online project seems difficult, can't imagine how hard it could be to have four...
I have a few questions about a side project that I started. It's a simple report-find things website. It's a Django/React webapp and in the future I'd like to create Flutter apps for mobile (hopefully also swapping the webapp for Flutter, but I read that it's not great for SEO). I don't have a suscription plan in mind yet (didn't expect to have one either) but it'd be great if I could generate some income to pay for hosting / services at least.
So my questions are:
* Can you provide a simple example of how much revenue can be generated from ads? I know that this is a super broad question, but let's say 1000 monthly active users; top and side add banners, and people mostly from south america (if you can provide a better example, more than welcomed)
* Most of the web pages will be generated by users (like Amazon products). Should these pages be optimized for SEO as well? Or just the home or "static" pages?
Hey there, no questions, just wanted to say that this is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.
Visa List is absolutely awesome.
(note, I assume you went mobile-first, but the cover images on the cards don't adapt to well on 16:9 or worse - my case - 21:9 )
How do you manage customer service? I noticed that you used both paid and subscription models. How do you keep users satisfied?
How much money, and time did you spend, and how much profit in your bank account after taxes.. this is more important.
Everyone pays taxes, I spend less than $250 on monthly expenses. 95% is profit.
How do you market these apps? Are you spending any money directing traffic to these apps?
I use mostly SEO, no I don't spend anything on paid marketing.
So do you create the software, tweak the SEO and people come? I’m sorry, I’m just so used to people saying paid marketing is the only way to do it that I’m really trying to understand how to do it organically
Nice work! How do you monetise these platforms?
Affiliate revenue, paid purchases, ads and subscriptions
I love it! How do you deal with adblockers? I'm sure it is a real pain.
RemindMe! 1 week
This is really encouraging for me to hear
I have a question
How did you realize the need for the product you created?
Dude. Congrats. Very inspiring. I had so many ideas for apps. I want to do exactly what you are doing. I'm good at creating something quickly but then I dont have motivation to maintain it.
Awesome stuff dude!
I also am trying to do something like this! Inspiration!
this is the way
How did you get your first paying customers, especially that you said you spent 0 on marketing?
Awesone job! I'm curious as to how many other 'failed' attemps you've had until you found these. By failed I mean completed ideas that didn't really pick up.
Everyone has different opinions, and I noticed you are a Vue fan.
Any special reasoning or is it what you started out with?
Anyhow, fantastic reading, and really impressive!
what programming languages/tools do you use and how long did it take you to learn them to make your products?