Reposting from my Medium blog
This chart shows recent sales on msabundle.com where I sell contract document templates for freelancers and consultants. Nice, eh?
I started the project a little less than 2 years ago and have experienced very slow but steady growth in revenue over that time. For the most part it's a side project that I have ignored on a daily basis, especially so during the first year and a half when I only got a few sales a month. I say that ecommerce takes patience, because there were a handful of occasions during that time where I wondered if it was worth the mental bandwidth to keep it going! The ramp up curve was really that flat. But in retrospect, I think part of the issue has been the lag time it takes to get a naturally high ranking for my most effective search terms. I have not done any proactive SEO work like getting bloggers to create inbound links.
Costs? Granted the reason I can offer this service is because of my career experience and lots of other intangibles, but the cumulative hard time investment in creating the site and content over the last two years has to be less than a week. There's only a small amount (2-digits) of cost associated with hosting the site, so the margin is almost 100% profit. A perfect lifestyle business and the mailing list of customers that I'm building up is invaluable for marketing my other projects such as the monthly Consulting Masterclass and my new book about consulting.
Really proves out the value of selling your byproducts! (Thanks Jason and 37signals for popularizing the concept!)
Ch-ch-changes! I've joined Lean Startup Machine as their CTO and will be working remotely from Atlanta, with occasional trips to NYC.
I've been advising LSM for a couple of years already, since becoming friends with their CEO, Trevor Owens, one of the best-connected entrepreneurs in NYC. The vibrant team that Trevor has united and the success they've experienced so far with their weekend workshops all around the world, well, it's simply a testament to their great vision and execution. I'm excited to take a greater role in the company as we dive into a promising market for tools that help teams stay lean and accomplish validated learning every day. Expect to hear more about it from me over the coming months.
This is an actual email from of one of our students:
Here's what I've experienced over the past 4 weeks since taking the course:
1. In the last week I've been able to take two of my "do work once a year" clients into a monthly retainer relationships which will bring in an additional $20,000+ revenue annually.
2. Changed my estimating process from time & materials to value-based, fixed bids (with a couple clauses mitigating the risk of scope creeps). For example, projects I was estimating at $5,000ish are now closer to $8,000ish, and prospect clients are biting just as hard... harder actually. Communicating my companies value has completely changed our current & new clients eyes are willing to pay for any given product. If you're after hard data, two new clients are in the door grossing an additional $6,200 above what I originally would have grossed... and are both interested ongoing retainers :)
3. I'm planning a workshop based on Brennan's advice geared towards How to get new clients from your website scheduled for the end of January. This is an exclusive event catered to our Oil & Gas clients and their extended networks only. Our dev team is hyper busy while the web team is only booked until the end of February, so it's time to fill our web design/dev pipeline. Once this event passes, I'll keep everyone posted on what comes from it.
This isn't everything, just a few of the bigger notable successes I've experienced. I'd love to hear how your businesses are doing, growing, alongside giving back to Brennan re: measurable outcomes from this wicked awesome course!
Tata for now,
I want a kill switch for all the electronic communications in the house. I'd like it to be a physical device, with a big red button, in my master bedroom. Kind of like how some people have a security console next to their beds, except mine would assist with mental safety. At midnight, BOOM, one of us hits the switch and no more internet, mobile phones or cable television for anyone in the household for the next 7-8 hours. The concern started with Taylor's disturbing lack of sleep, but extends to my own desire to limit my connectivity and inject a measure of peaceful detachment into my nightly routine. Self-discipline gets you part of the way, but not all the way. With a kills switch, disconnect and it's time to sleep or read or do something non-connected and relaxing so that our minds can rest. More and more I am finding that the always-on nature of our daily lives dampens our creative energies and saps my internal, more spiritual motivations.
Implementation of this device is relatively straightforward when it comes to the internet and cable television... it could literally be a relay inserted into the main coaxial feed coming into the house. Mobile phone is a lot trickier and would probably involve some sort of cell scrambler of dubious legality. I have not investigated implementation of this proposed device at all and would rather discuss it further with my friends in the form of a mind experiment, with the following kinds of questions: Is it a good idea to begin with? What are the dangers? How to phase in, especially with regards to my contrarian and somewhat rebellious 16-year old daughter? Is this thing even feasible and if so, could it be a commercial success?
Working on raising a half-million dollar seed round. Getting commitments for half of said seed round. Feeling really good about the future. Networking. Making phone calls. Doing demos. Banging out Keynote presos.
Booking last minute tickets to San Francisco for pitch meetings with a couple of the most legendary personalities in the valley. Feeling proud of yourself and a little scared at the same time.
Having to multitask between coding and emails and phone calls with investors and service providers and customers and potential customers and lawyers and advisors. Signing documents. Emailing documents. Faxing documents. Coding. Managing. Snacking. Somehow keeping everything from falling apart.
Remembering to call kids. Remembering to call mom.
Spending a few minutes adding a message in your app's notification emails telling users to hit reply to add a comment. Routing said replies to your own inbox, as a test to see if anyone will actually use that feature. Realizing that it would probably be really bad if they actually did start using that feature, so biting the bullet and writing incoming email processing. Taking a few hours to get it all tested and working, but mostly because you have trouble getting a reliable SSH tunnel between the outside world and your local development environment. Getting lots of help from #lazytwitter and singing the praises of modern development tools and web services.
Words with friends.
Realizing you're not sure where you're going to sleep while you're on your trip to San Francisco. Realizing you probably should get a rental car so you can drive yourself down to Mountain View. Kicking yourself for not having more meetings lined up, to make better use of the trip. Rationalizing that the trip was too last minute anyway.
Putting the finishing touches on a major piece of functionality. Beaming with pride. Realizing it's 10:30pm and you had commitments tonight. Rushing home. Dragging yourself out to a cousin's birthday party past midnight even though you're exhausted.
Drinking. Karoekeing. Subwaying. Sleeping.
Waking at 9 even though you went to sleep at 4:30am. Not being able to fall back asleep because you're thinking of great ideas to work on once you get up. Reaching over and grabbing your notebook to start hacking on some ideas while still in bed. Hunger finally gets you out of bed at 10.
Remembering you better pick up your laundry because otherwise you won't have any clean underwear for said trip. Further realizing that you don't have any shoes with you that aren't flip flops or sneakers, because you've been traveling and living out of a suitcase for the last four months and forgot your nice shoes somewhere along the way.
Deciding that since it's Saturday you might as well stop by the barbershop and get a haircut on your way in to the office since it's been a few weeks and you don't want to look shaggy for the upcoming SF trip. Finally getting into the office at noon, to meet up with the rest of your team.
Putting the finishing touches on another major piece of functionality. Beaming with pride again.
Breaking for lunch and deciding to celebrate Saturday by turning left around the corner instead of right. Amazing yourself with a whole new array of lunch options, which you have neglected until now in favor of the same falafel place where you've been buying meals about 75% of the time for weeks.
Going back to the office and banging out yet another major piece of functionality. Beaming with pride again, but celebration is somewhat tempered by your back, which is hurting since you've been sitting all day, everyday, for the past week. Deciding to alleviate said hurt by hanging upside down for several minutes, suspended by ankle shackles. Having your lead engineer hover nervously around you during your suspension, nervous that you might fall and break your neck prior to close of current funding round.
Getting less and less ambitious with coding as energy wanes until eventually you decide to call it a night and go home at 10:30pm. Buying a hummus wrap on the way home, because you realize that you forgot to eat dinner during your exciting all-day coding session. Eating said hummus wrap on the subway.
Walking home from subway stop in 100 degree heat. Smiling at the wide open fire-hydrant flooding the street next to the building where you've been living. Thinking that there were probably a bunch of kids playing in that hydrants cooling stream hours earlier. Feeling nostalgic for simpler times, but realizing you really couldn't ask for things to be any better.
Packing to trip. Turning down offers to go out with friends. Getting into bed at a reasonable hour. Not going to sleep.
Writing a blog post.
Join Hashrocket for a shot of Jack as we bid farewell to one of our oldest employees, notorious as the creator of the Mongoid mapping library for MongoDB. Losing Durran is particularly bittersweet for me, since he was my protege earlier in the decade and has been one of my best friends ever since. He's one of the hardest working (and hardest drinking) people I know. It's going to suck seeing him less often from now on.
One of my most important possessions was stolen last night when the Hashrocket office was burglarized: my 17" MacBook Pro, which has had a permanent home on my desk since I got a MacBook Air about a year ago. The thieves also got some of our iMac workstations and a couple of 30" monitors. Today has not been a happy afternoon for me.
The incident (and the subsequent trouble I'm going through pulling SSH keys and changing passwords on everything) has me thinking that perhaps there should be a sort of "self-destruct" file on the desktop. It would have to be named in a honeypot fashion that would seem irresistible to thieves and anyone nosing around your system without your permission. So maybe it would be named "account_numbers.txt" or something like that. When they double clicked it, a series of events would happen. First the computer should turn on the camera and snap a photograph and send it along with IP address and any other information that could be gleaned from the local network. (If the computer was offline, maybe it would wait until it got connectivity?)
Finally, if not disabled within a few seconds in some way that the thief would not be aware of, the computer would delete everything sensitive as well as disabling itself for future use - "bricking itself."
I can't be the first to have had these kinds of thoughts. It sucks big time to get your stuff stolen.
The sad part of this whole affair is that we've normally been very happy-go-lucky and easygoing about guests and even strangers visiting the office. Not to mention all the photos and videos online of us in our offices showing tons of nice equipment. The list of potential suspects is huge and we know we were targeted in particular. This world seems perfectly designed to kill idealism and make you cynical as you grow older.
nextangler: I certainly have a line as well
nextangler: And it goes at violence
obie: LOL you certainly are a european
nextangler: Which, funny enough, seems to be the inverse of a lot of people here
obie: americans have hangups about sex, but not violence
nextangler: And that's some fucked up shit
nextangler: That needs to be attacked at any given opportunity
nextangler: By arguments and pictures of mating!!
On Ada Lovelace Day, it's my pleasure to sing high praises for my best friend and partner of over 8 years, one of the most wonderful, hardworking and ethical people that I've ever met in my life: Desi McAdam.
Not only is Desi a role-model and example to women software developers through her tireless work as a Principal Consultant at Hashrocket, she's also the founder of DevChix, an organization devoted to advocating women's place in our unarguably male-dominated industry.
Not trying to be immodest, but you know that saying: "Behind every great man is a great woman"... well in this case it's certainly true. I'd be lost without my beloved Desi.