Stats for my projects this month:

Fantasy Congress:

  • $694 total revenue
  • $958 MRR
  • 5 new customers
  • 4 churns

My SEO experiment:

  • 889 unique visitors
  • 1,793 page views
  • 1:27 minutes avg session duration

I'm beginning to think this year won't be as lucky as 2021 for Fantasy Congress. Revenue is down 20% from this time last year. But, I suppose that's expected when you stop promoting something and shift focus to other projects.

Speaking of which, traction for my experimental SEO website really took off in March. Visitors to the site practically doubled from February, and so far April is on track to double traffic as well.

This month, it became clear my hunch about programmatic SEO was correct. I started exploring ways to utilize this new knowledge, and as a result, might have launched a new product.

Full Recap

I spent the first week of March tidying up my blog in preparation to add some traditional, long form SEO content.

The blog was originally slapped together with a Digital Ocean one-click install of Ghost, self-hosted for $5/mo, using the default theme. I'm cheap. 🥲

I found getting into the nitty-gritty of ghost theme development to be fairly painless. However, updating the instance from Ghost 3.x to Ghost 4.x was a bit tricky, even with the help of ghost-cli. Overall, I spent a few days sprucing up the blog, something I could have avoided if I purchased hosting through Ghost and paid for a more advanced theme.

That's a big lesson I've learned in my past few years of making things: You can save money doing it yourself, but you'll pay the price eventually with your time.

Ironically, I didn't even get to writing content for my blog this month. Instead, I started work on a new project.

Since publishing a write up about my SEO experiment last November, I've had a steady trickle of people asking me about it. Most notably, a handful have asked for help implementing this strategy for their own sites, and a few have inquired about the application I threw together for the experiment.

I had a license for SaaS Pegasus (a Django SaaS boilerplate) hanging out unused in my inbox for about 6 months at this point. I thought, "Well, why not put the application online and see if anyone finds any use out of it."

Using SaaS Pegasus to handle all the boilerplate code for accounts and a landing page and what not was so easy and helpful. The application was ready to launch 10x faster than when I handle that stuff myself.

Everything was ready, but I wasn't entirely sure how to introduce this new idea to the world. At the suggestion of my indie hacker B.F.F. Tony Chan, I made a short demo of the application and added a waitlist sign up to the site, then shared it on twitter.

Then, wallah! Opal was born.

By the end of March I had a little over 20 people signed up to beta test Opal. And shortly after sharing it on Twitter, I got a paying gig to help a client implement programmatic SEO on their website.

So far, the response to Opal seems encouraging. But I still have a long way to go before the idea is validated.

April plans

My focus right now is research. The assumption behind Opal is that programmatic SEO is very difficult to implement unless you have technical skills, but there are many non-technical folks who want to take advantage of this strategy.

I want to learn as much as I can about people interested in programmatic SEO, their pain points, and their current work arounds in order to validate this assumption.

This is, of course, much easier said than done.

It's funny. I've consumed so much media around building and launching things, now that I'm going through the motions, I feel...discombobulated? Disoriented? A little bit of a mess I guess.

When you listen to the advice of others, everything seems so clear. But practicing your studies in the real world is never so simple.

It doesn't help too that March was a whirlwind for me personally. I had a couple weekends of travel for family stuff, battled a nasty cold (not covid!), and my car got hit for the second time this year (same guy as before, long story 🙃).

Life doesn't stop when you want to start a business. Part of me wonders if I have the stamina to launch something new while picking up contracting again and maintaining a personal life.

But there's no harm in trying I suppose, so why not go for it. If anything this experience has shown me I need to build and launch stuff more often if I want to get better at it.