I got the chance to chat with Noah Bragg on the Product Journey podcast. We talked about some of my projects, including T.LY URL Shortener and Weather Extension. Project Journey is a weekly podcast where Noah talks about building his online businesses, what’s been going on and what he is struggling with at the moment. Join him on his journey and listen as he builds, works through failure, and hopefully, succeeds in creating a profitable business.
Yeah. So you’ve had people that have done the upgrade and that kind of supports the rest of the business. Yeah, I don’t really have those numbers in front of me, but so often people will upgrade and it helps to cover the cost of it. Obviously, I’d like to grow it bigger and it was doing well. And unfortunately, I don’t know if I was competing against some other weather extension, but I think it was maybe 2018. That extension was spammed by malicious reviews to where it went from being like five stars everybody loved it, to two star review, which was really unfortunate. And Google being so big and everything was hard to get anybody to hear that. The last three years, really, I’ve been trying to get people to leave reviews. So really I almost gave it away, the pro for free. If somebody’s willing to leave a review just to try to build those reviews back so that it could keep growing because it was almost 300,000 users. And then once the spam attacks happen and all that, people started thinking we’re not installing it as much. And then you’re constantly with an extension of having people uninstalling. So if you’re not obviously getting more installs than people uninstalling, your user base is down. So that’s where it’s actually gone, back down to like $200,000. Okay, yeah, that makes sense.
Yeah. Maybe there’s some of the possible downside of obviously building on top of another platform like Google. There’s tons of benefits of people finding you and kind of using the tools and stuff they’ve built. But then maybe like this, there could be some downsides where it’s like their review system. You’re dependent on some of their things. If that kind of goes awry and you don’t necessarily have complete control of it, you’re kind of leaning on Google a little bit. That could be like a downside of building on a platform. I have some similar things. I have to I guess they’re more like worries. I guess. Than anything. But they can definitely make my business harder with it being built on top of notion. Where just like the possibility of them building some features that potion ads that could take away some of the value of what I’m doing. Or just kind of the downside of them updating things and I have to kind of keep up to date with their changes so that everything works well. So those are some of the little downsides of building on top of a platform. So it’s kind of pros and cons, I guess, with these kinds of businesses. Yes. I think you read a lot of people post stuff on any hackers around that same thing. Like if you build on top of another platform, what if they shut you down? I’ve heard a lot of people have built on top of Shopify and have issues there. So it’s definitely a risk. But to build a business or a website that’s completely independent, it’s tough because you’re really going to always be dependent on something so your hosting company could decide to shut you down and then there’s a lot that could go wrong. But that’s where the extension are great. Especially like the Link shortener extension because it just works with T Ly. But T Ly isn’t required that the extension be there. If I ever had to pivot to turn the extension into just like a bookmark click, that could be done and then if the extension went away so that is the one nice thing. The weather extension is fully reliant on the browser’s, web stores to be in there. Yeah. What would you say throughout your whole kind of journey? Kind of all the stuff we’re talking about, what has been kind of the main kind of learning points for you, kind of like challenges you kind of went through and you’ve learned a lot from throughout this journey. Yeah, I think just being really time efficient, I try to build things well, scale and think about my code, write a lot of tests, but often when you’re just building it yourself, you may not be able to spend as much time if you want to get something out. So I tend to focus on doing releases more than having the perfect code. So that’s kind of one tip. Depending on your time and what you’re building, if you always be trying to release new features and if you only have an hour a night, don’t waste it watching a YouTube video or something. Work on the project. And then I guess some of the downsides would be just staying motivated. For this many years, I’ve had things be semi successful, but you look at people that have like more of it feels like they have an overnight success, that’s always difficult. You’re like, Well, I’ve been working on this for ten years and haven’t had anything blow up that big yet. So I think it’s just being determined to keep working on something. And I enjoy anything I’ve built over the last ten years has been because it’s just something that I kind of wanted going back to the weather extension, that’s something that I just wanted for myself. And I learned a lot building it and learned a ton about scaling and servers and marketing and all that stuff. And then all that helps even if in my case still working full time, I’m able to translate what I learned back to my day job. And also I can take what I learned in my day job and helps me build my side project. Yeah, that’s good. Do you hope to quit your day job eventually and just work on your own stuff at some point? Possibly. I have family and three kids, so it’s definitely a little bit riskier to do that. But maybe one day, depending on how things go, yeah, that’s great. I mean, I think the one thing about your talking about projects like blowing up, I think it’s kind of a trade it off again there. I feel like those businesses that can do that where they kind of blow up overnight typically are a lot more intensive. It is going to take all your effort and all your time to do that and maybe even more than you’d like, where a lot of indie hackers we’re building because we want to build a business that kind of gives our time back and allows us to build something that kind of scales passively. And in some ways I feel like those kinds of businesses for them to be like that are just probably going to be slower. And it seems like you built some cool businesses where they’re kind of in those spaces where maybe it takes time for them to build up, but once you’ve built them up, they kind of just like run on their own, maybe a little bit. In some ways they just don’t take as much resources to run. So hopefully after going some more and stuff like that, you’ll have some businesses that make some good money, but they don’t take a ton of time to run, which that would be a pretty cool spot to be in. Yeah, definitely. Anybody who is considering building something, I think that first night, if I think back, I woke up and looked at my phone and somebody had upgraded to my weather extension. So while I was sleeping, $10 or whatever. It’s a neat feeling knowing that you can put something out there in that case wasn’t doing any work at that time and still being paid. So definitely I always think of what can I do? And anything that’s passive that just kind of sits out there and makes money is always really neat. Yeah, for sure. That’s awesome. Well, Tim, thanks so much for sharing your story with us. I’ll put some links to your services and to where people can find you online in the show notes so people can kind of check out what you’ve been working on and yeah, thanks for a lot for coming on. Yeah, thank you very much for having me. It was neat talked to you. If anybody has any questions, extension related, or any of these projects, definitely reach out and I’ll be happy to help. All right, thanks. Well, we’ll see you guys another episode. Bye.