Tell us about yourself and what you're working on!
My name is Aaron Lumsden. I'm a full stack developer and the founder of jQuery Cards. I've been working as a web developer for the last ten years, mainly working for agencies and doing freelance consulting.
jQuery Cards is a repository of over 1000 quality jQuery plugins that lets users collect and store their favorites.
How'd you get started with jQuery Cards?
I initially started jQuery Cards in December 2014 as a personal project for me to create collections of my own and my personal favorite jQuery plugins. Before this, I had to visit various different jQuery plugin repositories. but these would always link me off to other sites or to GitHub for me to find the documentation. I wanted to create a repository that had all this information in one place.
It was just over a year later in January 2016 that I decided to release it to the public and let others create their own collections.
I did consider doing some other kind of repository (such as an Angular or React repository), but when I did some research I found that jQuery plugins still received many more searches per month than some of the latest, jazziest frameworks.
What did it take to build the site?
The site is built with WordPress, and it hasn't changed too much since its initial conception. User accounts were added a little later, as well as the ability for users to create their own collections. We then added the blog where we managed to secure an interview with the president of jQuery, Dave Methvin. We also tried integrating Codepens for each plugin, but much to my surprise, these didn't prove popular with our users.
The initial build took around 3 weeks, most of which was spent collecting many of the plugins. I have since built tools to help me streamline the process and automate as much as possible, such as automatically posting the plugins to social media. Currently, I spend probably around 3 hours per week on the project.
How've you found the time and funding to work on this?
During the initial development, I was a freelance consultant working on various e-commerce projects. This allowed me to spend time creating the site as well as earn enough money to pay the bills.
I currently work full time for a digital marketing agency, so I often find myself working on the site during weekends or on my lunch hour.
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What have your approaches been for growth and marketing?
I owe a lot of the success of the launch to Product Hunt. It was featured in January 2016, and was at the number one spot on the day of launch.
Since then, I have grown the email list and send out a bi-monthly newsletter to let people know about the new plugins added to the site. This has a great open rate of over 50%. I also spend money on Facebook advertising, where I spend 40% of my budget on acquiring new users and 60% reposting to my following.
To be honest, other than this I haven't done much marketing as it has grown organically. However, I plan to spend more time on marketing than developing in the coming months.
What about revenue?
Initially the site wasn't generating any revenue as I just created it as a tool for developers. I guess I'm a typical developer rather than a marketer. Since then I've created a few ad spots, and that's where the income from the site comes from. The site currently generates around $200 a month, which isn't gonna change my life, but it gets me a bit of extra pocket money whilst helping other developers along the way.
In the coming months, however, I do plan to do a lot of marketing and improving the site and hopefully creating some form of SaaS product. I have a few ideas that I'm tinkering with — I just need to validate these before I implement them on the site.
Any advice or book recommendations for aspiring indie hackers?
With regards to books, I recommend Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares, which gives a great insight to how you can get new users both online and offline. I've also read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
One of the most motivating books I've read is How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products by Poornima Vijayashanker. It's great for developers like me who are wanting to understand a little more about actually turning software into products, and it also has some great advice on how to stay motivated and not get side tracked.