How I Built a $600 / mo Product In One Day

I’ve been working on a few big projects recently, and became frustrated with the inertia built into launching anything big. Sometimes it seems like things will never be ready; like there’s just too much to do.

So I decided to take a break, and really challenge myself.

The Challenge: Building a $500 / mo Product in A Day

For some reason, I’m most motivated by absurd goals. Could I really find a market, pick a niche, and build a product in a single day? And what about marketing?

I decided that a single day wouldn’t afford any time for marketing, and so decided to just focus my efforts on finding a simple market inefficiency. That is, finding a pain point from within the web.

Deciding to Build Something Small

I decided to build some sort of plugin for an Open Source web project. I’ve noticed a real inefficiency here. All the good programmers are out there building the next Twitter, not making life easier for the businesses using Open Source software.

But which Open Source web software? To find out, I pulled up Google Trends, and searched for my potential targets:

As you can see, WordPress turns out to be the great big old winner. It simply gets searched for more often than my other two potential targets combined. And it’s growing like crazy.

A perfect market to search for inefficiencies.

Total Time Spent Finding Market: 2 hours

Narrowing It Down: Finding Unserved Pain Points

The most obvious market for WordPress is within Commercial themes. However, this market is pretty damn competitive, with multiple companies already established making 7 figure incomes. I decided building a complete theme and finding a place to market it in a single day was too obvious a path.

Seems WordPress plugins may be an interesting niche.

So instead, I focused on secondary needs. What is the purpose of WordPress, and what’s a user’s greatest pain point that isn’t being served?

In my case, I decided it was figuring out what the hell to write about. Having run a company, I know that it can be a pain to write content about widgets every day. I mean, how much can a person say about widget x?

Problem Definition: Making it easier to come up with ideas about what to write about.

Having the Aha! Moment

So again, I began researching. How do writers aggregate data relevant to their topic?

The answer was by monitoring RSS feeds, twitter, news sites, etc.

So my product would put that very front end right into WordPress. Grabbing RSS feeds, and putting them directly into the WordPress backend.

This is going to be our product.

Product Definition: RSS feed aggregator integrated into WordPress with the ability to put excerpts into post automatically

Total Time Defining Product: About 30 minutes

Leveraging Existing Technology

So we’ve defined our product roughly. The question now becomes:

What existing technology can I leverage to solve this problem?

It turns out, there’s an incredible library for manipulating RSS feeds in PHP called SimplePie. It’s dead simple to use, and it’s got great examples. I build upon one of the examples and get my RSS feeds working in under an hour.

Plugging into WordPress

I don’t want to say WordPress is poorly documented, because it isn’t. However, it is pretty dry to read technical writing. That being said, my next job was to bring my nice SimplePie based RSS reader right on into the WordPress backend.

To do so, I needed to create a plugin skeleton for WordPress, and add a plugin for TinyMCE. These two meant I had to go back and forth between the WordPress and TinyMCE documentation to figure out how the two fit together.

But once it was all plugged in, I had a working prototype another hour and a half into my actual work.

Total time to build the actual product: 2 1/2 hours

Finding a Marketplace

This was the real opportunity for efficiency. As part of my experiment, I didn’t want to spend a dime on building a market or processing sales. As the day wore on, I decided this could make a great example for someone with absolutely no monetary resources.

So I began researching markets to publish my Commercial WordPress Plugin to.

There was my old favorite, the Envato Marketplace, but they charge a ridiculous commission structure. Something like 50% if you decide you want to retain control to your own product.

That’s just a little too high, even for me.

So I kept looking, and found this great site, Turns out they only want a 10% commission to add your software to their marketplace.

However, they insist upon all plugins being released under the GPL, and so I needed to go back and make sure all my code had the GPL inserted into it. However, I signed up for an account, created a zip file, and began writing the documentation for my plugin.

All told, creating some screenshots, writing up a description and cleaning up code probably took more time than writing the actual software.

Total Time Finding Marketplace, Writing Copy: 3 hours

Success! The product has been built and sent out in under a day!

Finally, Watching the Money Roll In

With the marketplace I chose, there was a delay in waiting for my plugin to be approved. However, from the very first day I had sales.

I chose a very low cost for my product, because I believe people don’t have a problem paying for something if it’s less work than pirating it.

That being said, my product is being sold at $14.95 per copy. If you’re interested, you can see a video of it in action below:

You can check out the final product, Content Avalanche here.

Why Facebook Will Destroy Google

First off, I know technical people love Google. They love the idea of all that intelligence and capital all flowing together and creating really exciting technology. However, I’d say that Facebook has been beating Google strategically for the past year.

The Internet’s Dirty Secret

The internet doesn’t run on top secret algorithms, or cool server technologies. Instead the internet runs on good old commerce. Five years ago, Google really innovated in this market, and created a new advertising that was extremely effective called Adwords.

Now, the market within Adwords is becoming too competitive. It simply isn’t the best bargain for advertising. Instead, Facebook has become the advertising innovator. They now give the best value for advertising dollar spent.

They have disrupted the market with their advertising solution.

Customer Building for Dummies

Facebook has built a platform for businesses to build customers, and permission marketing. Rather than paying to simply have people see your page, Facebook has innovated by letting you pay to have people “Like” your page, granting you access to start having a conversation with your potential customer.

In simple terms, Facebook is selling you a relationship with their marketing, and Google is selling you eyeballs with their marketing. You can guess which is more effective.

Technology Fragmentation On Google’s Side

Think about coming to the internet for the first time from a small business’ perspective. What tools would you need to get your company online?

For Google, you need  the following fragmented, painful tools:

  • Adwords – Pay to get people to your site, hopefully set up some way of capturing their information
  • Google Sites Build a website, get your information up
  • Google Analytics Test your advertising, see where your visitors are coming from, where the action points are at
  • Google Apps – Manage your online points of contact

And this is just a bare minimum to get up and running for a small business owner who has very little time to spare on technology. The fragmentation here is a real pain point.

Contrast this with Facebook’s Fan Page System:

  • Set up a Fan Page
  • Pay for Traffic
  • Use the Fan page to have a conversation with your customers

There is almost immediate entropy built in to Google’s Advertising Solutions if you’re not very sophisticated. On the other hand, Facebook’s platform is built to spread your business. Everyone who likes your page shows up in all their friend’s feeds.

Big bang for your advertising buck.

The Eyes Are Worth Less Every Day

My internet marketing friends are seeing this happen every day. The old reliable people who still clicked on Myspace ads are becoming more sophisticated. Everyone is becoming blind to the barrage of ads, even the basic web surfers.

Facebook’s advertising model is most certainly the way of the future. Only listening to the people your friends already trust.

Google’s Billion Dollar Mistake

Google’s strategy in advertising has been to track everything you do, and target ads at you based upon what pages you’ve seen, and what you’ve searched for. This does not create a better experience for the end user.

This creates paranoia for the end user.

But again, Google’s solution for everything human is a better algorithm, so damned if I don’t really need to see ads on every site I visit for my last search.

But Search Is Everywhere!

Do you know any women between the ages of 18 and 30? How many times do they check their Facebook profile on an average day?

I’d say Google is only providing on sort of information stream, one that isn’t targeted to our personal lives. Guys may be interested in searching algorithms all day, but girls are more interested in information streams from their social contacts.

And women are the future arbiters of commerce.

When All You Have is a Hammer…

Google’s only hammer is algorithms. Algorithms will solve every conceivable problem. But for their main customers (business owners), algorithms aren’t what they need. They need to start building relationships with new customers.

Google is ignoring their customers, and hasn’t been solving their needs very well for a long time. Instead, they try to let algorithms solve the problems of dealing with humans. And that is the last thing we humans want.

A world where you speak and the only thing that talks back is the algorithm.