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How I manage running multiple products of ~$18K/mo total revenue

Hello everyone, I'm Tony.

At the time of writing this, I'm running 3 products:

  • DevUtils.com - A developer tool macOS app. Made $5,256 in the last 30d.
  • BlackMagic.so - A browser extension for Twitter Analytics & CRM. Currently at $9,778 MRR.
  • Xnapper.com - A screenshot app for macOS. Made $3,555 in the last 30d.

For a lot of people, running multiple products is distracting, but for me, I find it both helpful and fun. Here is how I do it:

1. Do what really matters

Having multiple products, a long backlog, and limited time forces me to think really hard (in the background) before coding.

This helps me make better decisions.

2. Break big tasks into small tasks

90% of the tasks I work on are built, tested, and deployed within less than a day.

I deploy to production almost every day.

This helps to switch between projects on any day of the week easily.

Untitled

3. Move slowly

I don't have deadlines.

I don't share a public roadmap.

I strictly never make any promise to the customer about ETA.

For a bootstrapped, profitable business like mine, time is an ally.

So, it's ok to move slowly for one or all projects (and enjoy life instead)

4. Think about diversifying

My life objective "diversifying everything" encourages me to work on multiple projects.

It's sad, but most indie projects fail.

Having multiple products gives me the confidence if a product dies (either by the market or by accident), I'll be fine.

5. Dogfooding

I use all of my products every day.

It's the number 1 source of motivation to continue working on the products, or just to push out a new update.

Also, because of this, I often find bugs before the customers do, so that's even better.

6. Automation

I try to automate everything that can possibly be automated. Especially around customer support.

E.g.,

  • self-refund, no question asked
  • a lot of FAQs
  • add tips and GIFs around the app UI
  • "rule of two": when the 2nd customer ask for somethkng, I'll try to automate it.

Is this sustainable?

Will I be able to run multiple products like this forever? Or will I fallback to focus 100% on one single product?

I have no idea. Time will tell I guess. But for now, I feel pretty comfortable and loving this.

I hope this post has been helpful for you!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave it below. I'll try to reply to everyone ❤️

PS: subscribe to my monthly newsletter where I write more about my inde journey. ✌️

  1. 12

    How long time did it take for you from running the first MVP to getting $1k MRR for each project?

    1. 3

      The only product with recurrent revenue is Black Magic. The others are one-time purchases.

      It took me about 4 months IIRC to reach $1,000 MRR. Mostly the customers come from my Twitter audience (about 2000 followers at the time).

      You can check my old newsletter issues where I write about it as it happens 😄 https://news.tonydinh.com

        1. 1

          And thanks for sharing! Really interesting and motivating!

        2. 1

          Now I wonder how long it took for Twitter to become the main acquisition channel :)

    2. 1

      Hoping to get a reply from Tony on this question as well. Regardless, these are some phenomenally designed tools. Congratulations on the well-deserved success!

  2. 5

    I have been following you for a year now. Curious to know, have you done any marketing at all other than Twitter?

    1. 2

      I tried $400 into Twitter Ads, didn't work.

      I haven't tried anything else ever since, all from Twitter and organic word of mouth 😄

  3. 2

    Such a great post, Tony! Thanks for sharing. These projects can really take time, and I like that you mentioned move slowly so you know it is a sustainable path.

  4. 2

    Amazing post, can I know if you have a workflow plan to learn to code, I tried to learn to code 3 months ago but I feel frustrated, your story gave me support and I will learn more to take freedom

  5. 2

    Congrats! awesome framework on how to work on multiple products

  6. 2

    "Rule of two" - is very valuable from this post. Thanks for sharing!

    What tools you use to make them multiplatform and look beautiful?

  7. 2

    Thank you for sharing Tony. Managing 3 products is not an easy task but you make it look easy. 👏👏👏

    I am currently building a product in public to keep me accountable and also to grow hype around it.

    I have found the build in public community on Twitter very supportive and hope to share my progress here on indie hackers too.

  8. 2

    "It's sad, but most indie projects fail", @tonydinh how many products have you built and shipped so far to realize 3 profitable?

    1. 5

      I never count them properly, but maybe 4 or 5 failed projects. I'll write about it at some point!

  9. 2

    IMO, the building part is fun! The most challenging task is getting product out to the crowd. Any suggestions on how you marketed these products?

    1. 2

      Firstly market it to your friends and people you know.

      Then build an audience if you can. It makes everything easier.

      Those are the two channels I did.

      Other than that, just traditional marketing: ads, SEO, sponsored content on YouTube, TikTok, newsletter, etc. (disclaimer: I have never done these)

  10. 2

    Bro, off topic question. But on blackmagic how did you create the animation on the landingpage where you shwo off the actual product?

    I'm not a twitter pro but if I was you would have sold me on that product demo, omg it looks incredible!

    1. 1

      Agreed. I don't even use Twitter and I was trying to think of an excuse to buy it!

    2. 1

      What animation do you mean? The one under "The best Twitter experience ever" section?

      1. 1

        That also! But I meant the video rather, under the product hunt banner!

        1. 2

          You can do that with any screen recording software. :)

          1. 1

            Ahhh cheers, it looks so good though.

            How about an animation like you see at the top of the screen here: https://jenni.ai/

            1. 1

              It can be done by screen recording too. But if you look at that specific one, I'm not sure if they made a lottie or why, but it is separated into a few webp files.

              https://renderer-v2.vercel.app/_next/image?url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.typedream.com%2Fv0%2Fdocument%2Fpublic%2F591cc656-12d9-4508-8481-de903bac3078_6267a6960192cb616e0c9869_Screen_Shot_2022-03-24_at_3_53_05_PM_png.png%3Fbucket%3Ddocument&w=1920&q=75

              https://renderer-v2.vercel.app/_next/image?url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.typedream.com%2Fv0%2Fdocument%2Fpublic%2F122a46f1-1f44-4479-af18-448782cd05bb_6267a6960192cb1c1f0c9868_proactive-gen-demo_webp.webp%3Fbucket%3Ddocument&w=1920&q=75

              And then they put them together in that format.

              It would be way simpler to screen record it completely in my opinion. But I guess the actual software doesn't look like that. So they would have to crop it and basically build that layout in a video editor and export it in that resolution.

    3. 1

      Also interested in this, looks amazing!

  11. 2

    Hi Tony and congratulations for your awesome products. Really inspiring to follow your journey. Do you plan to launch more products in the near future?

    1. 3

      Thanks, Mathieu!

      I don't have any concrete plan right now, but if something comes up, it can surely a possibility that I'll build new products 😄

  12. 1

    You're good at storytelling, the automation and "rule of two" stayed with me.

    Any resources on "content marketing" via storytelling tip?

  13. 1

    I particularly like your rule #5 about using all of your products.

    i'm not so sure about diversification; it seems to be working for you, but sometimes and with some projects, you must be all in.

  14. 1

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Haven't you thought about putting Xnapper in Setapp?
    With that you could also have a recurring income on this product, right?

    1. 1

      It may become available on Setapp in the future 😄

  15. 1

    Awesome, thanks for sharing! 🙏
    What do You think, can You start another project or three is the limit right now?

    1. 2

      I can certainly do more once Xnapper is stable. mac OS apps generally don't need much attention other than occasional updates every few months 😄

      1. 1

        Indeed, keep up the good work!

  16. 1

    That's impressive. Thanks for sharing @Tony !

  17. 1

    Congrats on your success, @tonydinh!

    Until 5) the points you make completely resonate with me. Regarding automation I'd like to know what kind of automation are you talking about. Can you please give some examples? Also, since automating tasks can be complex can "rule of two" really be efficient?

    1. 1

      For example, previously it was not possible to transfer the subscription to another Twitter account. After some customers asked for it (and I had to do it manually), I added a feature so they can transfer their subscription by themself 😄

      1. 1

        That makes total sense. I'd argue though that in this case it is a feature that will be used by more than two users.

        From my point of view, one should be really confident when implementing bigger feature requests or automations. Implementations take time and if it is only for a handful users it may not be worth it and you end up jumping from request to request.

        For instance, it can be sensible to curate a backlog, observe until you have a good feeling of user needs and implement the features which are most requested.

  18. 1

    I like your Automation rule- it's a great rule of thumb, especially starting out early. Your "2 customers" are your lifeblood at the start and you want to focus on their needs and accelerate to delivery where appropriate.

  19. 1

    Great work Tony!
    Wonder what's your frontend stack on the blackmagic website. Tailwind ? Bootstrap?

  20. 1

    Congrats! What you do with the customer support part is very smart.

    1. 1

      I agree - really like: "rule of two": when the 2nd customer ask for something, I'll try to automate it.

  21. 1

    thanks for sharing your tips :)

  22. 1

    Hi Tony,

    I'm following you, and congrats to all.

    You missed the point: "skills"

    Your success is also because of your excellent skills in development and execution, so it can be an inspiration for many other indies that want success/money with little skills.

    For on great product like yours, I see dozens of people compiling growth hacks and other shits, making a paywall, and calling that a success.

    Again congrats, and would love to see your next products ;)

  23. 1

    I just have one question, who is your favorite customer? 😆

      1. 2

        😆 I'm jking of course. Congrats on your success Tony! You are an inspiration to many! Thank you for sharing everything so openly all the time, we have a lot to learn from you 🙏

  24. 1

    Amazing work Tony, very inspiring.

    How do you decide what project to work on? Do you do any market research before starting to build?

  25. 1

    This is really inspiring!

  26. 1

    Well, this is inspiring and humbling at the same time. Everything you said makes a lot of sense. It's amazing how a bunch of seemingly simple ideas can make a huge difference when followed with discipline.

    Thank you for sharing and good luck!

  27. 1

    Great post, Tony! Really shedding some insight in the world of an indie hacker. How much time do your reserve to start off a new project, or do you just go with the flow?

    1. 1

      I always try to finish the first version within a week. Then I'll come back and add updates and bug fixes as people use it.

  28. 1

    That's impressive. Thanks for sharing!

  29. 1

    Great advice (and products)! I think I'm going to have to buy a license to Xnapper too...

  30. 1

    Thank you for sharing this information

  31. 1

    @tonydinh What tech stack are you deploying these on? Do you utilize the same for all 3 to reduce overhead?

  32. 1

    This is impressive, Tony!

    I am curious about what your day looks like, and how you allocate your time. Do you have people working for you, or others on your team? What do you do when you run into problems you can't solve in a reasonable amount of time?

    1. 1

      I work mostly alone. Recently, I hired a freelancer dev to help me with some coding stuff.

      For challenging problems that I can't solve right away, I usually reprioritize it and work on other stuff while trying to solve it at a later time.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the insight, and good luck to you :)

  33. 1

    Thanks for this post, Tony! For me dogfooding was something bad.. I'm checking forms and downloads every day, maybe something is not working omg!! Because of my website, this is my full-time job, so still, check everything every day...

    But with your post, I understand that this is normal, and more, this is cool! Everything will work 100% if I'll check everything ALL TIME haha

    Thanks for the post! Thinking about the second project.

    1. 1

      Not sure if I read your comment right, but you may have misunderstood the dogfooding definition.

      By dogfooding, I mean that I use my product, not checking my product stats and traffic.

      Apologies if I get it wrong 😄

      1. 1

        Oh, it's my fall, I read this wrong, thanks!

  34. 1

    I'm just starting this Indie hacker journey myself and already getting inspired by you Tony! Great work and very insightful article

  35. 1

    "Dogfooding" is my favorite concept here. It's such an advantage to be your own user and I would argue, required, as an indie dev with limited resources (esp for testing)

    "I deploy to production almost every day." Also really stands out tp me. I like to run 1 week sprints and aim to ship tangible value into production weekly. The fact that you ship more often is impressive and makes complete sense.

    Great post - you're paving the way for indie hackers.

  36. 1

    Love the 'rule of two' under automation.

    I'm definitely going to use this for myself!

    My question would be.. with your one-off purchases, does the 'MRR' stay consistent? Or have you noticed huge differences month-to-month?

    1. 1

      The only product with recurrent revenue I have is Black Magic. So I don't use “MRR” for the other two products 😄

      And yes, it can be a huge different month-to-month!

  37. 1

    You dont! Do more discovery and figure out which one will create the largest impact.

  38. 1

    trying to answer your question

    Will I be able to run multiple products like this forever?

    A wise man said once that in life you can choose to do many things and be mediocre at all of them or only few things and be good at all of them.

    If you are working as a solo founder, I see this hard to keep up with.

    1. 1

      I heard that too.

      But there are people like Pieter Levels who can push the bar of “be mediocre at all of them” very far, so I'm still looking to reaching that limit 😄

  39. 1

    Love your summary. Helps everyone, not only developers. Great tips! Thank you.

  40. 1

    Do you enjoy working on one project vs the others? Or does that vary from week to week?

    1. 1

      Vary from week to week!

      Sometimes, I feel demotivated on product A (slow sales, churns, negative feedback), I just switch to work on product B and C for a while.

      In the background, I'm still thinking, processing, and organizing my thoughts on product A.

      Usually after a week or two, all of my negative thoughts goes away and I can be productive again.

  41. 1

    Hi Tony, I've created Japplis Toolbox https://www.japplis.com/toolbox/ which is quite similar to DevUtils, I have multiple tools, I use most of them regularly, I do about 6 tasks a day, I have a long backlog, I don't have deadlines. At the moment, I'm at $12 MRR.
    I'm working full time of them and having a lot of fun.
    Thank you for the post that encourages me to continue.

  42. 1

    Congratulations Tony, you’re a real inspiration!

    I saw on blackmagic.so that you have a “Remind me later via email” feature. I think it’s quite clever but do people actually enter their email? 🤔

  43. 1

    Same as me, i build many projects and happy

  44. 1

    This is outstanding. Can we know, how many products you have created that where dead on arrival or later complete flops? We can learn much more from your failures than your successes.

    1. 1

      I never count them properly, but maybe 4 or 5 failed projects. I'll write about it at some point!

  45. 1

    HI TONY CONGRATULATIONS FOR AWESOME PRODUCT

  46. 1

    How did you market your products? Especially for your dev tool product since developers are a tough crowd to sell to.

    1. 1

      Mostly via my Twitter and organic word of mouth.

    2. 1

      I got referred to BlackMagick from a friend who suggested it based on their experience. So I think referrals play a very large part in his marketing.

  47. 1

    Nicely done Tony. Loved it.

  48. 1

    Thank you for sharing this, Tony.

    I'm in the same lane as you. It's super important for me to have multiple diverse projects. As much as I want to spend all my time on one project, I just know I can't. I would burn out in a heartbeat.

    So having my YouTube channel and my project Planzer.io helps me stay motivated and work on just the thing I want to. I feel so blessed to be able to do this. It's amazing!

    Keep up the excellent work. I enjoy following along on Twitter as well!

    1. 2

      Thank you, Phillip! Good luck with Planzer.io 😄

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