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TweetingMachine, InboxCleaner (and others) Year in Review 2011

This is my first annual review, and what a year it’s been! A doubling of revenues, several new apps launched… but sadly still nowhere near being able to work full-time on them. That’s my target for 2012; turn these from paying the rent to paying a full-time salary instead. So without further ado, here are the details:

I launched 4 new SaaS apps in 2011: Interactwive, twitter contest managerFasterDev, Facebook development tool; InboxCleaner, for deleting Twitter direct messages; and CampaignBar, website marketing tool. I also started implementing the advice I’d read elsewhere and tested the potential for EasyEmailProtection, a Gmail burglar alarm. Finally, Twitter tool TweetingMachine ran happily in the background.

The Failures

1. FasterDev

At the start of 2011, developing apps on Facebook was still surprisingly painful. The developer tools provided by Facebook were sorely lacking, and I saw a potential market for an app I had created for my own purposes. I quickly knocked together FasterDev and started telling the world about it.

Sadly, I had made a painful mistake which stopped search engines from indexing FasterDev’s website, to the extent that you couldn’t even find it by Googling for “FasterDev”. By the time I figured out where the problem lay, FasterDev had been meandering along for six or so months. And then Facebook improved their tools, I’d stopped developing for their platform, and the whole thing’s gathering dust now.

Total revenue in 2011: $100.

2. CampaignBar

I’ve previously written about my many, many mistakes with CampaignBar. My biggest mistake was doing zero research and thinking that if I build it, people would magically start using it, simply because it’s such an awesome idea. That and a complete and utter inability to explain what it does, how it helps solve the problem and so on… not pretty. Oh well. It was a learning experience.

Total revenue in 2011: $0.

The Successes

1. TweetingMachine

I first told the story of TweetingMachine back in April of this year. At the time it was bringing in revenue of around $500/month, against expenses of $20/month hosting, c. $10/month domain fee, and 1-2 hours/month of support costs. I’m delighted to say that since then, TweetingMachine has slowly grown to a little under $1,000/month – at time of writing, the total’s standing just $40 short for this month.

After receiving a lot of advice regarding TweetingMachine, I spent a couple of days rewriting the copy, and fixing a couple of new browser bugs. I’m probably going to leave TM running in this state whilst working on other projects that I think have greater potential.

2. InboxCleaner

I had a couple of moments this year where I wondered whether to scrap InboxCleaner altogether and use it as a promotional tool instead. Imagine my surprise – and wonder, frankly – when I finally found a price point that worked to the tune of earning $200/month! Previously I’d tried $4.99/year, $4.99/month, and higher and lower variations on that. Nothing has worked as well as the current one-off fee of $19.99. I’m tempted to try other one-off fee prices (say, $9.99, or even $4.99), but given the current support costs of zero, I’m reluctant to rock the boat.

3. EasyEmailProtection

I had the idea for a Gmail burglar alarm after reading some comments elsewhere. I wrote a proof-of-concept just to make sure that what I wanted to offer was feasible, and then set about getting people to sign up for a mailing list, and gauging their opinions. I received a lot of feedback, very little of which was happy about my idea of charging for such a service

I sat down and thought about ways to monetize a premium service – and, by the way, the idea itself people seemed to love! – but ultimately decided to shelve the idea; right now I think I still need to work on my core skills, and doubt I could pull off a truly successful freemium product.

Why do I list EasyEmailProtection under successes? It was the first time I attempted the marketing side of things first, leaving development for afterwards. Had I repeated the mistake of CampaignBar, I would have another few months of development with nothing to show for them.

The Potential Success?

1. Interactwive

The idea for Interactwive came to me one day: wouldn’t it be great if I could save people huge amounts of time when they run a competition on Twitter? We’ll collect the tweets themselves, so none get missed, make it easy to pick winners at random, and give some great statistics as well.

Idea firmly in my mind, I contacted various friendly contacts I’d made via TweetingMachine, and asked them for their opinions. Happily, they were all positive, with no complaints about paying for such a service, and with several requests to let me know once I’d put the tool live.

I thought I’d try and be clever by using Bootstrap from Twitter for the tool’s design… and forgot that I have all the graphical design skills of a blind wasp. As with TweetingMachine, as soon as I replaced the design (just a couple of weeks ago) with one from ThemeForest, I saw user registrations increase hugely.

So far, earnings are unimpressive – my first customer paid $30 on Christmas Eve – but the first customer has paid, and that’s always an ego boost. I’m not expecting much until businesses return to normal in the New Year, and then I’ll ramp up the marketing efforts.


2011 was a fantastic year, proving that I can create apps that pay the rent (and a few decent meals out each month). My target for 2012 is simple: I want to earn enough to move to working on these apps full time. I’ve set myself a target of $3,000, which even after tax leaves enough for a good standard of living here in Warsaw, Poland.

And what if that doesn’t happen? In that case I’ll keep making mistakes until it does :-)


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 consultancy’s website: Moo Unlimited. I’m confident I can help you.

Published inOpinionWeb Apps


  1. great article, and even better attitude my friend! :) I love the way you ended it – “And what if that doesn’t happen? In that case I’ll keep making mistakes until it does!”


    best of luck in 2012 man, I’ll try do chase the same dream as you! 😉
    Dushan from Serbia

  2. Soho Soho

    Great article as usual. Best if luck in 2012.

    Just curious,
    What software do you use for accepting payments or doing reoccuring billings? Paypal? Chargify?


    • Tom Tom


      Regarding payments, I use PayPal. I’m based in Europe, and there aren’t a whole host of other options here. That said, I’ve been perfectly happy with them so far :)

  3. Hi Tom,

    How do you use Paypal for multiple services? In my research I’ve found that each separate Paypal business requires it’s own bank account – do you have them all going to one bank account?


    • Tom Tom

      Hi Bartek,

      There’s no reason why one company can’t own several services :-) So I have one PayPal account that feeds into one bank account. Job done! :-)


  4. Thanks Tom for the article.
    2011 is an excellent year, I have built one first passive income stream. My goal for 2012 is to build two more passive income and also work on client projects at the same time.

    • Tom Tom

      Yay, well done! I hope that 2012 works out very well for you :-)

  5. gsova gsova

    Happy new year Tom. I enjoy very much reading your “lessons-learned” articles. They provide such an inspiration.

    I wish all the best for the new year,

  6. Sandy Sandy

    Awesome, keep up the good work

  7. Tom,

    Love your honesty throughout the blog. Most startup founders are inclined to pony up false figures when it comes to revenues and market share. Appreciate the fact that you are more than willing to share your failures.

    P.S. Don’t you think it would be a better idea to ditch all the noise and just focus on one project at a time? TweetingMachine is already doing $1k/month. Why not focus on it alone and push it to $10k/month?

    • Tom Tom

      Hi Puranjay,

      Thanks for your kind words :-) I’m a firm believer that it’s possible to learn an awful lot by making various mistakes, and hope that others can learn from my, err, less successful moments 😉

      Regarding focusing solely on TM, there’s one thing holding me back, and that is that it relies solely on Twitter’s platform to exist. I was hoping to escape this via the (extremely) failed CampaignBar… but in my failure then got drawn back to their platform for Interactwive (an itch that I couldn’t resist scratching in all honesty). This year, I want to develop one idea that doesn’t rely on Twitter (or Facebook for that matter!), mostly so that if it starts bringing in enough money to go full-time, I can sleep soundly without worrying “But what if Twitter pull the plug…?” Maybe it’s a bit paranoid, but I think it’s a valid concern.

  8. C C

    Hi Tom, thanks for writing this exceptional post.

    Just one thing I was wondering – all of your projects seem sort of “small scale”. I’m not sure how to explain it, but it seems they just won’t take a lot of code, won’t require a lot of data storage, and so on.

    Is there any specific reason for this? Are you only trying to create low-maintenance projects? Only trying to create projects with low monthly costs for the users?

    It seems like you could just create one larger project, charge a higher monthly price, and make the same amount of revenue. Or maybe you’re just trying to diversify your income sources.

    What the reason is, I’d love to hear about it.

    Best of luck for 2012,

  9. Dan Dan

    $20 for inboxcleaner was a big disappointment. My suggestion, lower it to $4.99 one-off. People like me just don’t need it that bad.

    • Tom Tom

      I massively disagree with you there, albeit with insider knowledge 😉 I tried $4.99 one-off, and can you guess what the difference in sales was? Absolutely nothing. Also, it would take a large increase in sales to be truly worth it: whilst more money is always nice, supporting 4 or 5 times the numbers of users for the same amount of money, meh, I’ll stick with the current plan 😉

  10. setiawan setiawan

    Can’t wait to read your next annual review (2012)

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