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110 Comments

My SaaS finally seeing decent growth after ~2 years — don't give up!

Growing a SaaS isn't always quick and easy. In my case, my social media scheduling platform (pallyy) plateaued at about ~1k MRR for around 1-1.5 years.

It's pretty easy to see everyone talking about how they grew to X MRR in X months and feel like your SaaS is probably a failure, wondering if you should continue - but sometimes it just takes time and persistence.

The last 6 months or so it's really started to pick up due to our marketing efforts & listening to our customers and seeing our MRR grow 52% in December (and now 58% in Jan) has really helped give me that extra push to keep going. It's grown to a stage now that it will cover my living costs with a bit left over, allowing me to continue working on it fulltime.

I guess the point of this post is just to keep at it, try to not read too many of those posts about growing to X MRR (some can be helpful for sure), listen to your customers and if your dedicated, persistent and work hard, it will pay off.

  1. 13

    The last 6 months or so it's really started to pick up due to our marketing efforts & listening to our customers and seeing our MRR grow 52% in December (and now 58% in Jan) has really helped give me that extra push to keep going.

    What type of marketing were you doing that contributed to the turn around? Was it paid social, or any specific strategy in particular?

    1. 13

      Reaching out to my target customers on Instagram directly mostly, along with some SEO/blog posts.

      100% free, unless you take into consideration the hours it takes.

      1. 5

        Cold outreach is super powerful. Happy to see it worked for you.

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          Indeed. I've tried paid ads on Google & Facebook but they did nothing for me. Perhaps it was my budget and lack of knowledge but this is a much better way when you don't have a huge marketing budget.

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        This comment has been voted down. Click to show.

  2. 5

    Thanks for sharing Tim! It's popular to share rocketship-style growth but actually my favourite stories are ones like these where growth plateaus and then picks up again due to putting in some hard work. Keep it up 👍

    1. 1

      Cheers mate, I feel the same - gives me more motivation for sure.

  3. 5

    Congrats man!
    I understand that you are getting enough traffic to your website. More precisely 180k visitors. ( checked on similarweb :)).
    It is amazing to see as a solo founder.

    Can you share your journey to SEO?

    Also, why is the conversion rate to paid customers is much lower comparing with monthly visitors?

    1. 6

      Thank you!

      Yep, we get about 60-70k/month which we're pretty happy about although it doesn't convert that well TBH.

      In regards to our SEO journey, we hired a blog writer and had probably around 60-100 posts done in the social media niche. Many of them rank well however the ones that rank well aren't really targeted towards our platform, we probably should of thought about that before writing them lol.

      Have had some better success with "Alternative" pages that I created my self, comparing our platform to others like Later, Sendible, Hootsuite etc. Most of them rank on the first page!

      Conversion rate, would be because of what I mentioned above :).

      1. 3

        What do you think is causing the low conversion rates on your landing page?

        I took a peek at it and off the top of my head (I'm a marketing agency owner, although we don't do SMM) I'd say:

        • change the color scheme to something bolder, esp for the CTA - the greyish blue + light custard color scheme feels dated and is a turnoff in comparison to the copy "#1 SM scheduling platform"

        • LOVE the video demo clips throughout the page, but I'd add context so you know exactly what great feature you're talking about in comparison to other tools for each clip

        • add some numeric results from real customers

        • add social proof relating to each feature

        • use language that your customers are using for each of the feature descriptions, right now they feel super bland like every other SMM tool

        I'm launching a tool for writing landing page copy tomorrow, happy to send you the link if you're interested! (I also do landing page rebuilds including copywriting if you don't want an DIY option.)

        1. 3

          Thanks for these tips, I agree with them all. Once I get some time, I'll be putting them into action!

          Shoot me an email at hey@pallyy.com, might be interested in some copywriting in the future so would be good to have your contact.

          Cheers Sophia.

          1. 1

            Sounds great. Just emailed you Tim!
            Can't wait to chat. :)

      2. 3

        Thanks a lot for taking your time to write a detailed answer.
        It is quite useful insights.
        Wishing you all the best.

        I also found some loopholes in your landing page that can may increase your convertion rate.

        Can I share through mail?

        1. 5

          Thanks Faheem.

          Maybe you could share the tips here? May help some other indie hackers in the process!

      3. 1

        Yep top 10 listicle type articles about your competitors with comparisons including your product are gold for conversions when they rank, plus linking to the top sites, competitors, for your keywords in the beginning helps then rank really fast

        1. 1

          Yeah, that would work too. We've gone with 1 vs 1 comparisons, which are easy to rank for things like "Alternative to X".

          Have you had luck ranking comparison pages with lists instead?

          1. 1

            Not really, basically my story is that I was blow away recently by seo results for my new b2b saas site i started 3 months ago or so. I am a paid ads marketer so i dont like seo (even though i did it successfully alot back in the day) much because its slow, and i like instant gratification from ads ;-). But since I wanted a long term business i started my site and seo before the development was even 10% completed.

            Because low volume low competition keywords can still be valuable to a more expensive b2b saas i targeted some of these low volume high relevancy buyer keywords with around 10 to 200 seaches per month across the major english countries.

            While i did a few normal high quality information posts to save time and make things a bit easy i also got quite a few lists and reviews done, like top 10 competitors, top 10 blogs in my niche, positive reviews of competitors (no comparison yet) etc as well because they are easier to outline and get written by more affordable writers. I only did about 10 posts in total, 70% these were list/top 10/review types.

            What I did with the review and list posts is had many of them link to all the top blogs, info and competitors in my niche, so my site ended up with a lot of links to the top ranking sites for my main homepage buyer keywords as well because i read somewhere that you get some SEO benefit, "authority" or trust in the eyes of Google by outbound links to the best resources that google already ranks and trusts in your niche. So basically, you want to rank for xxx keyword then link to the top sites for that keyword. The quality of these posts werent great either, i skimped as much as i could to save budget for "more important" things like development. I did not think I would get results from this meagre seo effort.

            So in the end i only built 3 fast easy links, a FB page link, a pinterest business profile link and a quora answer to a highly relevant question related to my product, thats the only offpage I did, nothing basically, so i dont attribute my performance to these links beyond getting my indexed. However i will say that as soon as i got 1 high value quora answer link (which is no-follow even), i got massive improvement in overall site rankings (could be coincidence but its seemed like an indication to me that google still values highly relevant nofollow links for seo)

            What I found shortly after, 1-2 months later is that my homepage and some posts have suddenly ranked in the top 5 for my best "money" keywords much to my surprise, im getting leads and attempted sales (I have a fake purchase button to test validation) and I dont even have a product yet, its nowhere near done and i cant afford to finish it which is frustrating (any tech founders out there interested in helping out :-) ). Not the worst problem to have I guess.

            Since my linkbuilding was basically nothing I have to attribute most of the performance of my rankings to the fact that my site was deemed trustworthy in the eyes of Google because I wrote about and linked (dofollow and all) to the top resources and services in my niche, im 80% certain this is the primary reason for my surprising performance.

            Anyways so I think i discovered a good strategy here to rank fast for low competition keywords so its going to be my go-to strategy for future sites. I have even gotten on page 2 for some higher vol keywords now without doing any more work on this.

            So I did no fancy seo stuff, complex interlinking or any onpage optimization, I just added very specific highly relevant content that I thought google would want to see on a quality info site for a microniche. And outbound linking to top resources in a microniche just seemed like appropriate logical behavior for a legit site in a specific niche. In the beginning it didn't matter to me that i was linking to competitors and ill prob still keep those links in future but maybe turn those into comparison posts or promote my product at the top of the list.

            Essentially i only spent about $500 in total for content (and maybe 2-3 days of time to create content briefs) to get enough rankings to generate at least 2-5 $50pm SaaS clients per month when the product is actually ready and that could be easily increased by putting in a little more seo work. A great ROI on time and money spent imo.

            So anyways i am really impressed with seo now and no longer "dislike" it. Content marketing really does work and way faster then I expected, even if you half-arse it like I did.

            1. 1

              Great story, so you primarily think it was linking to the top resources in your niche that helped your SEO the most?

              1. 1

                I have a background in SEO (but dont do it much these days) so the results where beyond the expectation of my pervious experiences from years ago, so unless anything major has changed with SEO these days (im not really up to date with the latest news) then the results were unexpected

                So this made me try an analyze and think about what could have caused these results and the only thing i can attribute this to is the outbound linking to authority sources, but I also believe the extremely relevant keyword anchor text Quora answer link had a significant impact as well, since I saw a major jump after that, and its nofollow so that opens an interesting can of possibilities.

                But its important to note my keywords (4 word phrases) are also not very competitive, the ones targeted have low "phrase match" results in Google like 3000 or under and none or very few intitle:"keyword" directly targeted blog posts, which is why I targeted them, so this surely makes things easier.

                I made made sure to do proper keyword research for the low hanging fruit, low volume but high value buyer keywords. I think since all the articles are very specific to my microniche, this high relevancy of all the pages to my main homepage keyword helps as well.

                Onpage SEO is shoddy, ive done nothing but add the articles to the blog and made sure the keywords appeared a few times and the outbound links. I havent optimized the article content for keywords in any way. The articles are also rather average quality cheap fiverr gigs. I do have rank math plugin installed however with its default settings.

                No offsite likbuilding beyond the 3 I mentioned and the competitor sites for those keywords have so many more links. Currently still ranked around 5 for my best main homepage keywords for over a month so it seems consistent not just a temporary jump.

                I only have 5 blog posts, 4 are top 10 lists with lots of outbound links to authorities in the niche, even link to Google's support pages. I also have 7 pages so total of around only 17 pages overall.

                Competitors have hundreds/thousands of pages and links BUT, they dont target my keywords directly.
                Not putting more effort into the seo yet since the product isnt ready but I believe I could easily get ranks to 1 or 2 by actually putting some proper effort in. Hope that helps.

      4. 1

        How were you able to build up to get 60k-70k per month? That’s amazing!

        1. 1

          Blog posts. Lots of blog posts!

    2. 1

      Just tried your similarweb tool and it was off by a factor of 6.7 times on my project

      1. 1

        We get about 60-70k per month for yeah, about 3x for us haha.

  4. 3

    Congratulation Tim! It's not just a win for pallyy, its real world first hand experience for you and your team (if you have one) that listening to your customers and letting that lead your marketing and product efforts actually works. It's also evidence that you can execute.

    I know from first hand experience that it can be hard, when your numbers are still relatively low, to allow yourself to celebrate a win. So make sure that you let it sink in. You can execute. The process works. Allow your faith in yourself and in the process you're developing to grow. And, again, congratulations 🥳

    1. 3

      Thanks Mark, and you're exactly right. I've been working so much over the past 2 years so I definitely need to take some time and reflect.

      Listening to your customers is so important although I do believe I may of listened to certain customers too much, and built features that only they use but this is the problem when you're still new & don't get a lot of feedback. I guess in the end it doesn't matter much, as long as they're happy!

      1. 1

        I may of listened to certain customers too much, and built features that only they use

        This is super-important to be aware of.

        I always ask myself if this feature will be used by 10 people or 1,000 people.

        Usually I'm very slow in implementing features (because of the man hours involved), but when I do I want to know it's serving the majority of my users, not just some idiosyncratic user wanting me to develop a custom solution to his unique problem.

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          As I get more customers willing to give feedback it's become much easier to do it this way.

          In the beginning, you might only get feedback from a few, if any at all (was my case anyway).

      2. 1

        That’s an important distinction, tim. I’ve definitely made the same mistake. In the early days we took a long detour building an email platform into our admin portal because of some feedback from the sales cycle. It ended up having low usage. Our customers probably would have liked a mail chimp integration + a better promotion feature much more and it would have kept our scope way more focused and lean. As important as it is to listen to customers, it’s just as important to stay focused on what’s actually getting usage and adding value. Finding the overlap between solving a customers problem and your products mission is an art. Keep it up 👍🏻👍🏻

        1. 1

          That's very true, but you also have to be open to changing your focus too in my opinion. In the beginning my focus was 100% Instagram analytics, however I ended up doing a huge re-focus and turning it to scheduling instead.

          Good luck to you too!

  5. 3

    Congratulations on sticking with your product and finding success! I Love the design of your page and product, it looks like a lot of love went into it, and it still looks very functional!

    What were you doing during the time your MRR plateaued? Were you just focusing on the product? Were you doing something wrong or simply just not investing enough time into marketing?

    1. 2

      Hey Macks,

      Thanks! I've probably done 3 complete re-designs before this version, haha.

      When I had plateaued, I was pretty much 99% of the time working on the product. I built so many features, many that weren't even requested. This was my biggest mistake I believe. Almost no marketing.

      I had never been a marketer, and much rather coding than marketing so it didn't come naturally. Figured I just had to force myself or it wasn't going to work out, so I started doing at least 4 hours a day, of any marketing I could think of.

      The results came in relatively quickly, and could definitely be attributed to the marketing. So I just kept that up!

  6. 2

    As someone who has battled the sheer painful periods of self-doubt/self-questioning and feeling trapped with a stagnating product, I completely understand how you feel throughout the plateauing period.

    For a while, Zlappo was stuck at ~$500 MRR in mid-2020, but some things happened later that multiplied it several fold in mere months -- so hang in there for sure if you ever found yourself stranded on a plateau.

    In a way, you should be glad that it's plateauing instead of declining (which would be a huge red flag), but that's hardly the standard for excellence.

    In SaaS, you either grow or eventually die.

    I'm so glad you're able to break out of your plateau.

    I know how much it sucks while you're stuck there, how self-doubt keeps sapping away at your motivation during that period, and how much uncertainty it introduces into your mind about whether your SaaS is a flop.

    Congratulations for getting past that hurdle! 🚀🚀🚀

    1. 2

      See, this is what I like to hear! Can I ask what you changed that you can attribute to breaking the plateau and starting to grow?

      Very true and declining growth, that would make it even harder - but it still doesn't mean you can't turn it around.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

      PS. Just checked out Zappo, looks cool & we're in the same niche (kind of)! We should stay in touch, I'm sure we can help each other out at some point :).

      1. 2

        What happened is that a close competitor started adjusting their pricing, thus began an exodus of users to my side.

        That and also signing up big partners/influencers in my niche as affiliates.

        So it was mostly luck, but either way it helped me to move forward.

        1. 1

          Well, that's one way to grow haha! How much did they increase their pricing by? Must of been significant for that to happen.

  7. 2

    Congrats on hitting the inflection point, Tim! I understand how it feels to build the product for two years, see it getting better every day, yet still stare at the same revenue numbers month over month :)

    You said that direct Instagram marketing helped you spread the word. Could you share some more details? What was your approach, were you selling directly, asking for customer interviews, etc? What was your approximate response rate for direct messages outreach?

    1. 3

      Thanks!

      Well, I simply find people I think would like my platform and follow them, likes their posts, engage with their posts and if they end up following me back - I'll usually send out a DM and see if they're keen to try it out.

      Response rate is pretty good but the process takes quite some time. If I were sending DMs without them following me etc, it would be miserably low.

      1. 2

        Cool! And you do it from your personal or Pallyy account?

        1. 2

          From my business account.

  8. 2

    Wow Tim, this is awesome to see. It’s so easy to give up but looks like you figured it out to spark growth into your business. I agree with your message, it’s unrealistic to expect exponential growth even with a great product such as yours. It seems there are a lot of founders that run into similar challenges as you and start to spin their wheels. I’m glad you figured out marketing to move the needle. I’m actually building a marketing strategy app right now to help with this exact situation so maybe I can get some feedback from you in the coming weeks?

    1. 1

      Yo Stephen,

      Much too easy to give up, there's been many times I considered looking for a new idea etc. I know some SaaS see amazing growth but it's probably the 0.1%, and then everyone hears about that 0.1%.

      Good luck with your app, more than happy to give you some feedback if you need. Shoot me an email hey@pallyy.com

  9. 2

    Congratulations, the appearance of your site looks quite professional. When you launched your product, did you not do SEO on your website? Why don't you add different languages like French, Portuguese, etc.

    1. 1

      Thanks Luis.

      Never considered adding translations to my website, do you think I should?

      Would you have any recommendations of what to use for translating?

  10. 2

    Love the look of it. I’ve been using Sendible for a while but it’s UI is really dragging these days. Pallyy has a great look.

    1. 1

      Thanks! I've spent countless hours on our UI for web & mobile as it's so important. I think I've created like 3 new version since we started, each one better than the last, at least in my opinion haha.

      Sendible and many others in this space haven't kept up with the times for sure, most of them don't even work on mobile and need a separate app (with super limited features to use). I've tried some of my competitors platforms that feel like they're from early 2000's haha.

  11. 1

    It is amazing to see as a solo founder......

  12. 1

    Thanks for posting this; great to see your results. I think this is still a huge pie and in my view a lot of the earlier movers (Buffer, Hootsuite) are pretty stagnant hard to use. I've been surprised at how finickity the competition is to use - Pally looks like nicely straight forward.

    As a tech-first person, I've always struggled that these scheduling services don't offer APIs (i.e. I create something on a site/app and it triggers an API to schedule a series of posts with a given asset). Is there something in the social platform T&Cs to prevent this (looking at you, IG!).

    Back in the day I had a monster of a browser automation script putting our stuff in Hootsuite out of our CMS - they changed their UI very frequently so was like whack a mole.

    1. 1

      Thank you! I agree about the big movers being pretty stagnant too, I guess it just doesn't matter if you're making a ton of money already haha.

      In regards to an API, to be honest I just haven't had the time or requests to make one. I don't think it goes against the APIs unless you were spamming it - but even in IG's case there's a 25 post/day limit.

      Haha, wow - browser scraping isn't ideal at all. What kind of content was it that you were scraping and scheduling into Hootsuite? Perhaps there's another way that a service could integrate with the CMS.

  13. 1

    Great to hear a story of slower growth and perseverance. Interested to hear what you changed from what you were doing prior to the last 6 months.

    1. 2

      I was focused on coding prior. Once I switched my focus to marketing as #1, coding #2 then it started to pick up.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the context. Trying to play both roles is tricky particularly someone like myself who is not a marketer. Lots to learn.

  14. 1

    Thanks for sharing this Tim, persistance and hard work clearly pays off! Congrats and well earned :)!

    1. 1

      Exactly, sometimes it just takes a bit longer than others - but that's okay!

  15. 1

    Congz Tim ,Keep rocking !!!
    I would like to ask what sales funnels did you use to attract&convert your potential customers

    1. 1

      Thanks George.

      Don't have a specific sales funnel to be honest. I just reach out to people via Instagram and try to get them on our free plan.

  16. 1

    Congrats man!
    Its easy to lose focus and interest when your product doesn't see much growth for a considerable amount of time. Glad that you stuck with it. Hope it goes 10x. Keep us posted.

    1. 1

      Thanks, I hope so too haha.

  17. 1

    Congratulations! 🎉 🥂

  18. 1

    Yesterday you got me! I registered to Pallyy :-) The UI is super simple to use. I guess it is the point here. Actually I would like to have that skills to build that kind of UI :)))) I am the founder of https://pagemtr.com - here is my field to enjoy the long days ;-)

    I will use Pallyy to promote PageMTR on social media, at least that's the plan for now :) Congrats, you've executed really good product.

    1. 1

      Hey! So glad you liked it :)

      Checked out your product and actually have a question for you, do you have any kind of custom event tracking with alerts?

      For example, I'd love to be able to send events to a service from my APIs for a range of different things, and if there no events or too many events, receive an alert.

      1. 1

        Yeah, sure - PageMTR has it https://pagemtr.com/events-monitoring. Ping me directly to admin@pagemtr.com and let's figure it out.

        1. 1

          Yeah well, that's exactly what I meant haha. I'll shoot you an email when I get some free time!

  19. 1

    In my case, my social media scheduling platform (pallyy) plateaued at about ~1k MRR for around 1-1.5 years.

    Did you have a day job during this period? Could you please share how many hours per week did you dedicate to your project? Congratulations on a great result with covering your living costs!

    1. 3

      Thanks mate! No day job, I was working on this full time since the start. I had saved a little from my previous job which helped me get through.

      I worked a lot, probably 8-10 hours a day with not too many days off however I do usually have a decent break in the middle of the day to go for a skate, haha!

  20. 1

    Just wanted to say I love the design of your app 😍

  21. 1

    What specific aspect of marketing did you focus on to achieve this great progress?

    1. 1

      Just doing marketing as a main focus, instead of coding first then marketing when I found time.

  22. 1

    Did you market through groups and communities? If so, how did they work out for you?

    1. 1

      Hey Rory,

      I marketed by reaching out to my ideal customers on Instagram. Works well, but takes a long time to be honest.

  23. 1

    Congratulations.

    What is your average revenue per customer?

    1. 1

      Thanks. Not that high, around $30/month.

      1. 1

        That's pretty cool in my opinion. That means on average, customers choose 2 social sets 🤔

        Aren't agencies supposed to have more social sets? Do you think focusing on the agency is the best with your ARPU being $30/month and them buying just social sets?

        1. 1

          Yeah, listen that's probably a good point. I do have a lot of users just using it for 1-2 social sets, so maybe I should be focusing more on them you think, instead of agencies?

          1. 1

            It is worth thinking through. To position it well to the right users. You should already know the profile of the people that use it most.

            1. 1

              Will have to have a think about it, thanks for giving me the idea!

  24. 1

    I saw you're using Canny
    I'm working on Nolly.io can you share some feedback
    also my approach is different on how to engage users in product development
    Thanks

    1. 1

      Had a quick look via mobile, however the content is overflowing so that needs to be fixed as I can't use it!

  25. 1

    Hi Tim are there any projects I can work along with you.

    1. 1

      All good for now, but if I need anything will yell out.

  26. 1

    I have the same confusion about the situation that gives me confidence to move forward

    1. 1

      Glad I could help!

  27. 1

    Thank you so much for sharing! Just reading this comments section has been great for me.

    1. 1

      I'm glad it's helped!

  28. 1

    This is inspiring! Thanks for sharing, Tim B.

    1. 1

      You're welcome Feek!

  29. 1

    Congrats man, Great to see...just curious to understand when you say we pick up the marketing, what did you changed and what worked

    1. 1

      Basically just mean that I started marketing haha.

      My main marketing channel was reaching out directly to people on Instagram. It's not easy - and is time consuming but it does work!

      1. 1

        Great man, I understand its time consuming...but main point it is working...happy for you..

        1. 1

          Exactly, thanks mate!

  30. 1

    Nice work!! Keep it up :) I'm a strong believer in persistence and hard work and you clearly have both

  31. 1

    Congrats and love it!

  32. 1

    pallyy looks great!

  33. 1

    That's awesome! What changes to marketing did you do?

    1. 1

      I started marketing haha.

      Previously I was doing marketing but very rarely. Once I started focusing more on it, probably around 4+ hrs a day it really made a difference.

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    1. 1

      Hey Mano,

      That overnight success only takes a few years to achieve haha.

      Sounds like you're on a good trajectory, what have you done marketing wise for your startup to achieve this?

      PS. Your website link doesn't work.

      1. -1

        This comment has been voted down. Click to show.

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