Failing to Get Traction and (Almost) Giving up on the Road to My First $1,000 in Revenue

A few weeks ago I was listening to an interview of Patrick McKenzie on the podcast, and heard my name being mentioned.

Andrey (one of the hosts) mentions that he was reading my blog and found that I made launching and growing Bidsketch sound easy:

“It’s kind of like, ‘I announced it on Twitter, now I’m in beta and the beta is 600 users. Now I’m out of beta and it’s three months in, and I’m making $1,000 a month.’

This has been the experience of reading blog posts about how to launch a SaaS app, but this has never been my experience of launching a product.

So I went back through my old blog posts and read through them. Sure enough, reading through those posts it sounds like I had no trouble launching and growing my first real product.

But it wasn’t easy; it took a ton of work and I almost quit a few times.

So I’ve decided to write about how many times I failed to get traction, or almost gave up, on the way to my first $1,000.
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Hiring High Quality Developers on a Bootstrapper’s Budget

Most of the info you’ll find on hiring is meant for large companies or startups with funding.

What if you’re bootstrapping?

While you’re not going to be competing with Google or Facebook for the same people, you still want developers that can do high quality work to help build your product.

The post that follows covers what I’ve learned about hiring high quality developers while bootstrapping Bidsketch over the last three years.
Continue reading “Hiring High Quality Developers on a Bootstrapper’s Budget”

Going to Some Conferences

I’ll be going to the following conferences:

MicroConf  (late April) –
I look forward to the conference all year. Mainly because there are so many startup founders like myself there and it’s a smaller conference which means you can spend quality time talking with the speakers.

ISVConv (mid July) –
Haven’t been to this one but I like the list of speakers and it sounds like it’s going to be lots of fun. Looking forward to it 🙂

MozCon (late July) –
Another one I haven’t been to. It’s an SEO conference which is new as well so I’m excited to see how this turns out. Being that it’s an SEOMoz I think it’ll be great.

Business of Software (late October) –
I’ve gone to this one the last couple of years and while I’m not 100% sure I’ll be going this year, it’s one of my favorites. Very likely will be going again.

If you’re going to any of these send me an email I’d love to meet up:

2011 Review and 2012 Goals

So much happened in 2011 that it’s tough to cover it all but I’ll briefly go over the major events in this post.


Unfortunately, I didn’t write down my 2011 goals but I there were so many things that happened with Bidsketch that were amazing. Some of it was hard work and some of it was luck  (you do in fact get luckier the harder you work).

The major highlights:

  • Gained enough revenue to support my family and quit my job
  • Over 10k in monthly recurring revenue by year end (almost 3x increase over December of 2010)
  • Interviews on Mixergy and TechZing

To say it was a good year for me is an understatement. I feel incredibly lucky.

Where could I have improved last year?

More marketing and outsourcing. While I did a fair amount of both throughout the year, I stopped outsourcing and spent more time doing development after I quit my job because I only had one source of income. Thing is, after I had grown revenue to give me a cushion, I waited longer than I should’ve to start outsourcing again. I’ll do better next year.

2012 Bidsketch Goals?

Just one… Double my December, 2011 monthly revenue. Way harder than it sounds. In fact, if I don’t grow much faster than I’m growing now I won’t even come close.


Moving out of Florida has been a major goal of ours for a long time. A condo I was underwater on and the day job made it difficult to leave. Plus, with a wife, three properties and 5 pets, it’s not an easy or cheap thing to do.

But last year we were able to move to Washington (state). Spokane to be exact. The main goal was to be in a place where we would easily be able to do the type of outdoor activities we love to do (hike, ski, snowboard, etc). We’re 45mins away from a ski resort and much closer for some great hiking. The move was a big win!

The other goal, one I’ve had for an even longer time, was to gain freedom and control by quitting my day job and never working for another company again. After years of hard work, I was finally able to achieve this goal. Simply put, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Personal goals for 2012?

Become a father for the first time! We’re the middle of the adoption process so that will likely happen in about 6 months. It’s both exciting and scary at the same time 🙂

 Final thoughts…

2011 was one of the most productive (and luckiest) years I’ve had. Personally I’m in a good place and professionally I’m very motivated to do better than last year.

Bidsketch has grown past the what I saw it becoming when I launched so I’m not 100% sure where I see things going right now. I’ll have to take some time to set long term goals and decide on which direction to take things.