The Place Card Pivot

January 2019 Retrospective

January was another roller-coaster month.

I met a hero of mine and got my first subscription revenue while also managing to earn my lowest profit in almost a year.

I accomplished almost nothing I set out to do and instead pivoted in a totally different direction. But, I’m excited about that direction and feeling good about the future.

And the future is place cards!

More on that below, but first the regular update.

Profit

January is always a bloodbath for me, but it was even worse this year.

Project Profit Monthly Change
Place Card Me $1350.47 -52.10%
SaaS Pegasus $189.04 -66.44%
Chat Stats $178.79 -20.83%
Total $1718.30 -52.38%

Last month I said “I’ll be happy if I break $2k” and I fell quite short.

The most disappointing thing here is Pegasus, which had only one sale the entire month. That’s back-to-back months of disappointing sales, and I’m growing concerned about its long term trajectory.

Place Card Me had it’s usual post-holiday dip, but a silver lining of a $200 annual plan sale included in its profits. Without that, things would be even uglier.

Chat stats continues to do its normal thing and remains the neglected bastard child of my product offspring.

Time

January 2020 Time

Time breakdown for January 2020

Finally back to a more personal-project-focused schedule!

About 52% of my time went to sponsored work. If I can keep that number around 50 moving forwards I’ll be happy.

The other big news here is that I worked more on Place Card Me than any month in the last two years. Excited to be giving the project my love and attention again.

Last Month’s Goals

# Goal Grade
1 Chat stats subscriptions in alpha B
2 Spend 15 hours exploring non-traditional projects B

It was hard to grade these goals this month!

I haven’t touched Chat Stats, but I did sell a subscription to Place Card Me and built out a lot of functionality there that serves the same intent as the previous goal—building out a product subscription offering.

Likewise, I only spent five-hours on truly “non-traditional” projects—teaching myself a bit of SonicPi and re-creating the introduction to “El Pico” in code—but I spent another 15 hours on writing-related activities and realized that writing actually serves the same intent as the previous goal—understanding how I might invest my energy if I didn’t have to work.

So, I gave myself B’s. Because B’s are the ¯\(ツ)/¯ of report cards.

The Big Pivot

I already touched on this in my subscription revenue blog, but the big change this month has been shifting all of my attention back into Place Card Me.

This decision was based on advice I received from a chance encounter with Courtland Allen, founder of Indie Hackers. His input was basically “you should obviously be working on Place Card Me because it has the most traction and plenty of room to grow”.

Taking that advice to heart, I’ve adopted a renewed focus on the project. And in the last month I’ve been able to make great progress on the site, including:

  • Rolling out user accounts and the ability to support an “unlimited” plan
  • Thinking big-picture strategy, and coming up with new potential markets and product offerings
  • Making several revisions of new pricing/positioning for the site
  • Starting to make backend changes to the product to support rolling out a new pricing model

Place Card Pricing

Place Card Me’s possible future pricing / positioning

At first I thought that I’d only make updates to Place Card Me that were aligned with my goal of building out subscriptions for Pegasus, but I’ve now shifted my mindset to growing Place Card Me itself—while also learning about subscriptions.

One big thing I’m hoping to do this month is roll out the new pricing which will be an 80% increase above previous prices. Very curious to see how that turns out.

Anyway, I’m back on the Place Card train big time, and the engines are firing!

Pausing Pegasus

Despite the concerning sales trends on Pegasus, I’m not planning on doing any substantial proactive work on it for at least another month. I want the time and space to focus on Place Card Me, and I’m not in a rush to get the next Pegasus release out the door.

I will continue to be hyper-responsive to support my existing little customer base—who I continue to enjoy serving and learning from.

This Month’s Goals

February’s goals try to capture my renewed focus and enthusiasm for place cards:

  1. Release new place card pricing / positioning
  2. Have self-service place card accounts and subscriptions publicly available

Gonna be heads down trying to make these things happen.

Recommendations

A few things I enjoyed this month:

  • Blog: My Second Year as a Solo Developer. Michael Lynch is a solo-developer whose work-style and values are highly philsophically aligned with my own. His year-two retro is excellent. I also have been using and enjoying his “What Got Done” app.
  • Product / Podcast / Article: TikTok. I have a fascination with Internet culture—especially that of people younger than me that I don’t really understand. And I’m late to the game, but TikTok is definitely an embodiment of that culture. My enjoyment of Tiktok toes the line between anthropological interest and genuine fun, but either way it’s an entertaining way to spend a few minutes on your phone. On the anthropological side, Acquired did a fantastic episode on TikTok and Taylor Lorenz’s piece on the Hype House is absolutely wild.

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