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Hi, I am Amer, a programmer and bootstrapper


#1

Hi,

I have been here for a while. I am work fulltime for a good company. But I dream about financial, time, and location independence.

In evenings and on weekends, I have been working on various side projects for over 10 years. These are side projects because I didn’t know the difference between project and product. I enjoy programming especially solving complex problems. But I would get bored once I figure out all the hard parts. Then project would die and a new one would born.

Anyways, after reading “Start Small, Stay Small”, I am changing my approach quite a bit. The biggest lesson from the book for me was that programming is not equal to profits. (Very hard to accept that). For example, I enjoy photography, I have spent a lot of money on photography equipment and books. I have even done some paid photography gigs. But photography is still just a hobby for me. I don’t think I will ever make a living from it.

The same concept applies to programming. It is my hobby. I am lucky to have a job where I can do programming everyday. But I don’t really have to turn it into my business also. There is a programmer I know, who has several gas stations. Another guy has a farm. And one is dog breeder. Their businesses are not glamourous but they are making some money from it.

Based on some advice in the book and some soul searching, my new plan is:

  • I bought a pre-built dating site script. Not going to modify it a whole lot. Just going to spend about $100 a month marketing it using social media, Adwords and FB ads. If in a year or so, it has decent number of members, then I will introduce paid membership. (I know everyone says dating market is saturated but that is the only market I could think of for this experiment).
  • Treat programming as my hobby. Start using Github right way and share my code if I come up with something cool. Don’t try to build a business around it.
  • Based on advice from many friends and family, re-focus my blog on teaching programming. This goes well with my desire to play with many different technologies. It should generate recurring income from Adwords or Amazon affiliate links.

So this is my story and plans. Hope to learn from all of you and share my experience as well.

Thanks

Amer


#2

So you are going to have a site that is pretty identical to lots of other people’s in an incredibly saturated market? That sounds like a surefire recipe for failure to me.


#3

BTW I hate to sound so negative. But I hate to see people wasting their time and money even more. Unless you have some genius idea to exploit some untapped segment of the dating market?


#4

Yeah I hate to waste my own time too but it is more of learning experience right now. It is forcing me to read marketing blogs etc. We will see how it goes.


#5

How are you going to get past the ‘chicken and egg’ problem that no-one wants to join a dating site with no other members? Spend loads of money on advertising a free site?

I think you would learn more by picking something with a reasonable chance of success.


#6

Hey, Amer. I am new here as well!

So one thing I got from Start Small Stay Small was that you should try to find a vertical niche so that you can focus on just fulfilling their specific needs. This also allows you to more easily target your potential users.

If you are going to go try to make a dating site you should at least try to tailor it to a very specific market that does not yet have a dating site specifically for them. There are a TON of very specific dating sites ranging from sites for red heads only to trekkies.

I agree with Andy that it will be very hard to enter into the dating market scene, but if you have a very specific audience for the site it would be less than impossible I imagine.

Just from googling for a few minutes I noticed that there are occupation specific dating sites like FarmersOnly.com. You might want to try to change the presentation of the code just a bit to target a specifc occupation that feels alienated in some way. That is the major trend I have noticed from most of these very specific dating sties. For example, I know a lot of people in the service industry (think bartenders, waiters, waitresses, kitchen staff, etc). They find it hard to have relationships with people outside of that industry because they have opposite schedules from most 9-5ers. This could be a niche dating site.

Just keep thinking. I don’t think a dating site is an inherently bad idea, but I do think that just a normal dating site aimed at everyone has almost no chance at all at succeeding and is a bad idea.


#7

Ps my example about a dating site for service industry workers would probably be very hard to advertise to via adwords. From my experience servers and bartenders have almost no unique googling habits short of googling for recipes for drinks or something.

The farmer or trekkie dating sites were probably successful because of how easy it is to know if someone is a farmer or trekkie by what they are googling. Ex: ‘farm supplies’. Or ‘tng episodes synopsis’.


#8

Hi Samangan,
Yup I am going after a vertical niche but it just might be too narrow. I just logged on Google Adwords account and saw that there were only about 100 keyword searches in last 2 weeks. Only 1 click and 1 sign up. I guess I may need to tweak my keywords a bit or expand target market.

Hi Andy,
The chicken and egg problem seems easy to solve with dating sites. You simply don’t allow guest users to browse or search for members before signing up. After they sign up and find out that there is only handful of other members then they may delete their profile or they may just leave it there. Of course initially it will be free but eventually, new members will have to pay to interact with other members.

But based on so far performance of keywords, I am not very optimistic about this idea being successful even in a year or two.

My focus for next few months is going to be programming for fun and blogging though.