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An accidental, successful startup: 2012 in review

2012 has been a year of highs and lows. On one hand, the realisation that my copywriting skills – and general marketing-savvy, for that matter –  remain less than useless, despite repeated attempts to improve, has been extremely disheartening. On the other hand, one of my startups has taken off quite beyond my wildest expectations.

Year in review: 2012

At present, I have four main sources of income:

1. TweetingMachine

I will always look back on TweetingMachine fondly, but the poor thing hasn’t been updated in well over a year. It does a few jobs very well, and people still like it enough to continue paying to use it. In all honesty, I’m kinda surprised that it still brings in money, especially since Buffer start taking over the world.

Average income, 2012: staying flat at $500/month.

2. InboxCleaner

This one constantly surprises me. A tiny tool that solves a tiny problem: bulk deleting the direct messages in your Twitter inbox.

At present, I’m charging a one-off fee of $19.99. I did experiment for a week at a time with lowing the price – first to $4.99, and then to $1.99 (the latter mostly just to win a bet, I still consider it a stupid price point whether charged once-off, per month, or per year) – and the sign-up rate remained the same.

Average income, 2012: jumping between $200 and $300/month.

3. Interactwive

It really was a stupid decision to build this tool, and a big mistake was giving in to the urge to create it. Just from the basics alone: are there many firms out there with such tools, focussed on Twitter alone? No? I wonder why that might be? *sigh*

To be fair, Interactwive does bring in a small amount of money each month, and the few customers who have used it have been very enthusiastic about doing so. I have no idea if some of their enthusiasm can be explained by them trying to justify their purchases and avoid buyer’s remorse, or something like that, but I have started to believe this is the case. Still, the success just hasn’t come, despite having talked to many delightful and potentially interested people. One to learn from.

Highest monthly income: $900. Average monthly income: $300.

The surprise success!

4. TBB Polska

I started TBB Polska back in February.  One of my main goals was that rather than letting location dictate my price – I’m based in Warsaw, Poland – I’m going to let my skills dictate my rates, and charge what I want to get paid. By the time summer arrived, I had more work than I knew how to handle. I’m now in the fortunate position of being able to see what happens when I increase my daily rate; if new clients go for it, I’m sure they’ll be happy with the service provided, and it’ll be that bit easier for me to pay the rent. Win-win!

I’m pleased to say that to succeed as an independent consultant, you plainly don’t have to be a rockstar developer. I’m certainly not one, but what I can do well is  get stuff done, on time and to budget. Responding on time, communicating effectively, and understanding the business case behind decisions – this all helps, as does remaining honest about what I can and can’t do (and if I make a mistake, holding my hand up to it). But thinking you need to be some incredible overlord of programming? Not necessary.

I’m won’t deny that having 15 years of web development experience helps; ultimately, you need to know how to get the job done. However, the sheer number of incompetent people out there is staggering, and if you can get the basics right, you will shine out above them. As I say, I’m not the best programmer in the world, and definitely not a programming rockstar: I just get stuff done, and what I get done works. Thanks to this, my clients are happy people.

Closing thoughts

I have been growing more and more frustrated with Twitter. I’d be delighted if it was possible to give them money and get an answer from their support team in a reasonable amount of time. Sadly, I doubt that’s ever going to happen, and I’ve decided in the meantime to take my toys home and stop any further development on things that rely on their platform.

Instead, I’ve finally started taking my own advice, and any day now will be releasing a tool that fits into an already crowded market, inspired by another tool (or two… or three) that I think could be doing the job oh-so-much better. What’s more, it doesn’t rely on anyone else’s platform. As the cherry on top of the cake, I also know exactly how I’m going to market it (whilst not forgetting to frame my previous marketing catastrophes as a learning experience).

2013 is shaping up to be a chaotic and exciting year. In addition to my consultancy and SaaS app fun, my family is starting to grow, and life is suddenly starting to look very grown-up and responsible. And you know what? At this stage, it’s all tremendous fun :-)

Written by Tom

Are you looking for web development or just someone who will work with your business needs and not against them? Get in touch with me here, or take a look at my business website. I’m confident I can help you.

Published inFreelancingOpinion

One Comment

  1. Stwn Stwn

    Nice Review, can’t wait to see 2013 in review

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