A few days ago I came across a Hacker News post that asked the following:
Can I build something within that 1 year which starts giving me $1000 profit every month?
An important constraint here was that this was strictly a nights and weekends project because he has a full time job.
The answer of course is YES. There are plenty of examples of people doing just that and more. I’m happy to say that I’m one of the examples of someone that’s built a product in less than a year that brings in over 1k a month in profit.
The Hacker News crowd is full of a bunch of brilliant people that tends to have some great ideas and an interesting perspective on many of the articles posted there. That’s why I was stunned to see how horribly wrong so many of the answers were.
I’ll give some examples of the ones that I had a problem with and where they went wrong.
Example #1: Solve a problem that you are having. If you try to solve a problem that you’re not having yourself, you’ll likely fail.
This simply isn’t true. There are plenty of examples of this not being true — like me. I don’t do freelance web design and I’m currently not experiencing the pain of having to write and manage proposals using MS Word. This had nothing to do with how easy or difficult launching my product was.
What I do have is experience with the problem I’m solving. I used to freelance and I’ve experienced that pain before. Still, I would’ve done just as well launching my product if I didn’t know the first thing about this type of pain and relied on other people to fill in the gaps for me.
If you’re going to rely on someone else’s experience; I recommend you read up on it, observe others during said process, and talk to as many people as you can find about it.
Example #2: Copy a successful app.
This isn’t good enough. Facebook is successful, but copying would take you forever and then get you nowhere. What about something smaller? Basecamp is nice and slim but without the insane following that 37signals has you don’t stand much of a chance of hitting that 1k a month mark.
Hitting 1k a month is hard. Much harder than you would think. Simply copying something that’s making millions isn’t a shortcut to getting there.
If you’re going to copy something, copy the stuff that matters.
Wanna copy Facebook? Go niche with your social network and blow away any competition with a product that’s so well tailored to what those users want that anything else pales in comparison. Forrst comes to mind; it’s a social networking/code & design sharing app for designers.
Copy 37signals by building a big audience first. Take a controversial stand on all sorts of topics you truly find yourself going against the grain on, and build something where every ounce of it reflects your philosophy.
Example #3: Tackle a real problem companies face where the solution is relatively easy to implement.
I like the thinking regarding focusing on businesses but we’re still off the mark here. The problem with this statement isn’t even that the solution is easy to implement (though it’s something to be careful of). The problem is that you don’t know if you have a market!
Not all solutions will put you in a market where you can earn 1k of monthly recurring profit. There are just way too many factors to consider.
- How long are the sales cycles in that market?
- What does the competition look like?
- Will anyone pay for this solution?
There are plenty more but even taking these three questions into account could drastically change how viable you perceive your idea to be.
So how do you make +1k a month in under a year?
There isn’t a single answer to this question but there a few things that will drastically improve your chances of success.
Some of important things to think about: find a market, gather tons of feedback at every stage, start marketing before you write any code, build an email list, solve a real problem, and build something people like.
That still doesn’t solve the most interesting problem this person has in meeting their 1k goal:
How do you survive the mental and physical abuse you’ll get in a year’s worth of product building as a part time effort?
I won’t lie; It’s freaking hard. But it can be done. And my next post will show you how! Stay tuned…