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Building my first SaaS, a Disqus alternative - Part 1


#21

Well, they all agree, but I believe it is applicable only when you gained some trust and figured out your niche. If you just waltz into the market flashing a high price, the market will think you’re either a freak or a fraud.

Also, price per pageview schema may look good to you, but I have my doubts. In the context of the commenting my metric would be not the pageviews, but comments. Why should I pay for a page with high pageviews but no comments?

P.S. Does Disqus allow to tag commenters in say Drip? I’d see every comment as an inbound marketing piece, and look for ways for the hosting site to use that info. Then charging per comment would make more sense, too.

P.P.S. I also believe there should be more alternatives to Disqus. And I wonder why there are no more competitors? Some barrier for entry may be there which we are not aware of (aside of the cost of running a HA cluster).


#22

Well, they all agree, but I believe it is applicable only when you gained some trust and figured out your niche. If you just waltz into the market flashing a high price, the market will think you’re either a freak or a fraud.

I agree, but I’m definitely not a freak or a fraud :slight_smile: . The way I’m approaching building trust is to to do personal outreach and point people at some of my other works online which show that I care about privacy and that I am capable of building and running a product. Nothing too impressive, but it seems to work so far.

The blogging aspect is already working! I have received 1 promising inbound inquiry from a business who came across my blog post and businesses are not too price sensitive when they are dealing with $30/month subscriptions. I can’t explain how incredible it feels!

Also, price per pageview schema may look good to you, but I have my doubts. In the context of the commenting my metric would be not the pageviews, but comments. Why should I pay for a page with high pageviews but no comments?

Well, I incur costs for pageviews so I want my pricing to scale with pageviews.

P.P.S. I also believe there should be more alternatives to Disqus. And I wonder why there are no more competitors? Some barrier for entry may be there which we are not aware of (aside of the cost of running a HA cluster)

I can only speculate, but most of the current alternatives (excluding fb comments ang g+) don’t really offer much over the paid version of Disqus. There is no real differentiating factor. I am trying to really push the privacy + lightweight message as my selling point.

Thanks for the feedback.


#23

Well, users do not really care about your cost structure. :wink:


#24

You’re absolutely correct about Pingdom’s results not being typical of a real user. WebPageTest (or MachMetrics - for recurring speed testing, based on WPT) will give you more realistic results as they use real browser running real OS’s (and can simulate realistic network speed too).

I was one of the original commenters in the Remarkbox post because I could not stand Disqus’ load time. Made my site crawl. If you and/or Remarkbox ever get to the point where you’re live and stable, I’d love to do some speed testing comparisons between the options out there.

It’s going to be really hard to compete with Disqus. But it’s obvious there is a need for more options. I hope you (and Russell_Ballestrini) end up seeing it through and launching out of beta.


#25

Personally I don’t think there’s business in commenting system precisely because there are many options already.

This discussion here is framed as “competing with Disqus” but you would also competing with JetPack, Lifefyre, Intense Debate, Facebook and many, many others.

Even if this was 2008 and those options didn’t exist, economics don’t support $20/month comment hosting business because acquiring users is not free.

You can’t just sit and hope users will come to you.

There’s only so much traffic you can get by promoting in forums like this one.

Lacking some genius (and free) marketing strategy, you won’t get enough users to support yourself.

Disqus (and everyone else who matters in this space) went with free product with ads because of the economics.

The free product was a marketing strategy and initially it was very costly, which is why they had to raise $10 million in total (https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/disqus#/entity) and go big or go home.

They were lucky and got big but that’s not a route you can replicate.

Philosophically speaking, if you plan to do something different from everyone else (i.e. do a paid-only business vs. generous free tier with ads or upsell to paid tier as everyone else who’s successful) then either you understand something they don’t about this space or you don’t understand something they do.

In this particular case I think they understand the economics of this business and you don’t.


#26

If you and/or Remarkbox ever get to the point where you’re live and stable, I’d love to do some speed testing comparisons between the options out there.

Based on my current estimate, I should be live by tomorrow. I’ll do a followup post on this forum to explain the changes I’ve made based on the feedback I received on this forum as well as others. Some changes : pricing, keeping the code closed source based on weighing out the pros vs cons etc.


#27

Congrats on your upcoming launch!


#28

Thank you. I checked out Remarkbox, good job with the site!


#29

Yep, that’s what I was going to write.

Also, I strongly agree with:

In the context of the commenting my metric would be not the pageviews, but comments. Why should I pay for a page with high page views but no comments?

What if, conversely, there is a segment that has a very high comment to pageview ratio. They are getting more value than average, so you are undercharging them.

Really… it boils down to what’s EASY for the customer to understand, and, ideally, has a strong correlation between what you charge for and what their benefit is. BTW, simply making is a SaaS gets you much closer b/c how LONG you use it is proportional to the value value. (Use it 2X as long, you’re getting 2X the value, and paying 2X the cost).


#30

Hey Russell - can you give us an update on RemarkBox? It’s been in beta since the last time I looked at it.


#31

So quick update - I have two paying customers who were impatient and wanted to on board ASAP!

One of the customers is using it on a blog that never had comments before, that was an easy integration.

The other customer had a custom CMS so I spent a couple weeks writing import facilities from CSV into Remarkbox. The customer is happy with the outcome!

Once my Beta list grows to a certain size I’m going to launch to the service privately to the beta people. For that to happen I need to focus on marketing and building landing pages. I only have about 15 hours a week to work on Remarkbox so its really tricky to figure out how to spend my time so that the service and marketing efforts work for themselves.