OnlineOrNot Diaries 19

Max Rozen

Max Rozen (@RozenMD) / March 08, 2024

It's a rainy Friday morning here in Toulouse, and I had thoughts about the last few weeks.

Table of contents

Sugar-surge marketing

It's been a while since I wrote a diary, hopefully the article describing my third year of running OnlineOrNot kept you entertained in the meanwhile.

I'm not going to lie, articles like that are a successful part of my marketing. Between reddit, Hacker News, and various newsletters that syndicated the content (much love!), tens of thousands of people have read that article, a few thousand searched OnlineOrNot, a few hundred tried it out, some have even become paying customers.

It's a complete sugar surge, in that the folks coming in aren't my ideal customer (members of software teams) so my conversion rates are less than half what they normally are, but it is nice to have folks go through the funnel at scale, as it lets me see what works on my landing pages, and what doesn't.

What I actually should be doing, and have started doing, is working out what "jobs" folks hire OnlineOrNot to do, and create consistent content (as in, one article per week) for that.

What's been stopping me until now is that getting tens of thousands of random people reading your content feels good. My more-relevant (for my target audience) content gets maybe a few hundred reads in comparison, but converts at a much higher rate.

Side note: founder psychology is fun!

Am I just screwing around?

Looking back on last year, I wasted a shit ton of time. I spent months on a monolith rewrite that didn't pan out, I spent weeks writing and testing ads for a product that didn't meet the bar for "viable" in "minimally viable product", and more.

Apart from promising to complete MVPs (and asking customers where the gaps are) before marketing them, my new tactic for this year is asking myself "am I just screwing around here?" when picking up a new task off my backlog.

Things that don't immediately fix a customer pain, help folks find OnlineOrNot, or explain a feature to users go to the bottom of the backlog now. It's been working out, customers have been noticing:

Insane velocity

Refactoring the business entity

Since writing the third year of OnlineOrNot article, I've even had inbound interest from folks to learn more about our enterprise plan for the first time in a very long time. Filling out vendor risk assessment forms made me realize running OnlineOrNot as a micro-entrepreneur here in France wasn’t going to cut it in the long term (the equivalent of a sole trader in UK/Australia).

The benefits of doing so are huge, and I'm kind of annoyed with myself for not doing it sooner. One of those afraid of success things I guess.

How huge, you ask? I currently pay around 44% tax on revenue for OnlineOrNot. As a business, it goes down to 25% tax on profit. I don't plan on paying myself, and I intend to re-invest 100% of everything it makes back into the business, so it'll be a nice boost to the marketing budget.

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