Hello again, Paul! Remind us about your background and what you're working on.
For those who didn't catch my JungleFlip interview, my name is Paul Dessert, and I design, build, and grow internet businesses. I work full-time as a full-stack developer and growth marketer, and I create my own projects on the side. Resume Beacon is the one I'll talk about today.
Resume Beacon is a web application that helps people create professionally formatted resumes. It also offers free resume templates, free cover letter templates, and free career resources. And it's approaching $600/mo.
What motivated you to get started with Resume Beacon?
I have a goal called "5x2000" where I'm hoping to build five products that each generate at least $2,000/month. I came up with Resume Beacon earlier last year as part of this challenge.
Friends and family kept asking me to help them format their resumes. Since I was a "computer guy" I was the one to go to. I noticed that they all had trouble with formatting their resumes. It was a technical obstacle for them.
I happened to be hunting for a new project to work on, so I decided a tool to help people format their resume was a good place to start.
For a lot of people (especially those reading this article), creating a resume is second nature. But there is a large percentage of the population that can't format a nice-looking resume. It's just not something they do every day. And a simple-to-use piece of software is exactly what they're looking for.
What went into building the initial product?
When I researched the competition, I knew simplicity was going to win. Other solutions were complicated, over-engineered, and didn't offer an immediate solution to the user's core problems.
Unfortunately, simplicity isn't that simple. I spent about four months (on and off) building. I released the first version and found a lot of bugs and UI/UX issues. I've slowly been building new features and fixing issues as they've arisen.
The most challenging part of building Resume Beacon was designing the templates in a way that was both flexible and rigid enough to be converted to PDF.
How have you attracted users and grown Resume Beacon?
Reddit has been very good. Marketing on Reddit is tricky, but if you do it right, it can be very beneficial. The key is to NOT market directly to Reddit users. If you gain enough attention in the community, you'll attract other media outlets.
Some worked better than others. But the ones that took off paid off in the end. I ended up getting a featured article on LifeHacker as a result of my Reddit promotion.
What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
The site generates money in three ways. Ad space, premium templates, and partnerships.
Each user is given an option to upgrade to the premium templates. I give away one free basic template. The others are part of the premium package. Unlike other sites, I only charge a one-time flat fee for access to everything. No monthly billing.
The last source of revenue is from a partnership with ZipRecruiter. If the user is interested, they can get a daily email with new and relevant job listings.
When I first launched the site, I experimented with pricing. I tried $24.95, $19.95, and $14.95. Overall, I convert more users and generate more revenue at the current $9.95 price point.
There is a lot of talk about "charging more", but that all depends on your audience. If you're running a B2B SaaS app, charging more might be the way to go. For me, charging less has improved my revenue numbers.
My expenses are very small. I only pay about $30 for hosting (Digital Ocean) and about $40 for my email marketing subscription (Drip). I expect my hosting bill to increase as I add more traffic.
What are your goals for the future?
My goals for Resume Beacon are to steadily increase traffic and improve the user experience. My conversion rates are still a lot lower than I'd like, so I'm exploring ways to improve it.
And as I mentioned in my other interview, until I can do more to ramp up Resume Beacon and JungleFlip interview — my only two revenue-generating products — I won't move on to make the other products for my 5x2000 goal.
What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome?
One large technical challenge was a partnership with LinkedIn that ended up being revoked.
About a year ago, LinkedIn changed their policy and made it much harder to qualify for API access. I had built some nice features that allowed users to simply import their LinkedIn profile and their resume would be created based on that information.
The integration was so deeply embedded in my code that it took about a week to undo. (Pro tip: don't do that!)
I expect this is common with indie hackers, but as I've mentioned, my mindset has been the biggest challenge. It's great to be able to code, especially when you build and run internet companies. But since I spend most of my time marketing and managing the sites, it's crucial that I focus on developing the business side of things.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
They've all spent a lot of time learning valuable lessons in this space and documenting their findings. So follow them and read what they've got to say. You won't be disappointed.
Where can we go to learn more?
You can check out Resume Beacon at www.ResumeBeacon.com.
I'm happy to answer any questions in the comments below!