John O'Nolan talks about getting 30,000 mailing list signups, raising $300,000 on Kickstarter, and growing his open-source publishing platform to $750,000/year.
Discuss this interview or ask questions of your own for John.
John, how do you decide what to pay yourself and co-founder?
Sorry about the slow reply! At the moment we use market rates based loosely on Buffer's salary calculator, nothing too complicated at our current size. In future, if/when the size of the organisation warrants it, we will probably have executive compensation determined by a board of trustees -- which is the same thing for-profit companies do with a board of directors.
Would you happen to have any suggestions or details on getting those first 30,000 subscribers? Was the big blog post a lucky viral hit or was there a specific promotion strategy?
I'm particularly looking for repeatable, usable steps although I understand every situation is different and results will vary a lot.
There was certainly some luck to it, but ultimately it was a combination of things. I had a pre-existing twitter/blog audience of about 15,000 people (built up over about 5 years) which meant I had a sizeable amount of exposure for my initial tweet about the idea. That was the seed which got the initial readers, and then someone submitted it to Hacker News, which was largely responsible for all of the other early subscribers.
Thanks very much for the reply! My takeaways from this will be:
Spend the time to build an audience early
When possible use existing audiences in one's network
Sorry for maybe a noob question. But if it's non-profit foundation, doesn't that mean that all money are actually not their own? Or all spare cash just converts to founder's salary?
I mean if company very successful and you i.e. want to buy yacht or the golden toilet bowl you can't.
I believe they are an NPDO:
So all profits get re-invested into their open source initiatives.
Just an FYI/Observation: The title of this article on the homepage says "How Ghost Makes $750k a Month Building a Better WordPress" but here it sounds like that should perhaps be $750k a Year.
ah dude "just build something" has not worked for me 10 times already.. I'm not afraid to jump in, but have grown tired of failing so much... fuck this shit...
Harry Potter was rejected by 12 different publishers, I started at least 7 failed projects before Ghost, Pieter Levels only made NomadList because his last project earned $0.00 so he decided to start 12 new projects, of which most of them failed.
The difference between success and failure is often whether you learn something and get up to try again, or just say "fuck this shit" and give up.
You aren't a beautiful unique snowflake that gets a free pass on failure. Don't look at the world around you and assume that everyone else has it easy. We all have problems. We all have failures. We're all struggling.
Nobody ever said it was going to be easy.
hehe, great reply. Really I'm still frustrated, but there's no way I'm giving up my dream. Thanks for the pep talk :)
Why do I feel like Ghost shouldn't be considered "indie"?
I don't know Francis, why do you feel like that? :)
Hi John, as a Node.js dev I love Ghost: https://franciskim.co/wordpress-vs-ghost-which-is-faster/ - I found it 'performs 40 times faster' than WP. Probably faster. But I'm really not singling out Ghost here, I've been reading Indie Hackers from day 1 and I really connected with it because there were all these other dudes like myself who were doing cool things by themselves, full-time or on the side. Ghost Foundation is a well-established non-profit organisation (which did start out small or 'indie' at one stage) which in my mind, doesn't fit the picture of an "Indie Hacker".