Growing a Facebook Preview Editor to $1,600/mo

Hello! What's your background, and what are you working on?

Hey, my name is Nick. I'm a software engineer by trade and have been busy working on different side projects for the last five years. When Facebook announced that they would disable the ability to customize link previews, I teamed up with two friends to develop a solution that addresses this issue for digital marketing agencies.

ShareKit.io restores the ability to edit link previews on Facebook — users simply upload an image and enter a title and description, and ShareKit.io will generate a new link that can then be posted to Facebook with a beautiful preview.

Since launching in November, we've ramped up to $1,600 in MRR. Today, ShareKit.io is used by social media managers at small and large companies, marketing agencies, and independent freelancers who care about how their (clients') Facebook pages look.

ShareKit.io Website

What motivated you to get started with ShareKit.io?

Most of my friends work at startups and marketing agencies, and they were floored when Facebook announced that they would no longer be able to customize the preview image, title, and description when posting a link on Facebook. A lot of their clients' websites don't define the "open graph" meta tags necessary for Facebook to generate a meaningful link preview, and the default preview is therefore often pixelated or doesn't convey the post's message.

However, they're paid to keep their clients' social profiles looking sharp, and those clients aren't satisfied with "This is Facebook's fault" as an answer to why their link previews suddenly appear generic and bland.

The fact that I had worked on multiple "hobby" side projects was super helpful in getting an early MVP of ShareKit.io out of the door quickly.

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Facebook implemented this restriction to stop the spread of fake news, but in the process they hurt a lot of social media agencies and freelancers who have nothing to do with fake news. My friends continued to bug me to help them find a solution for this, and in September, I finally spent some long nights and weekends putting together an MVP.

What went into building the initial product?

I started working on ShareKit.io in September, and after trying to attack the problem from different angles, I arrived at a working proof-of-concept four weeks later.

ShareKit.io works by acting as an intermediary between Facebook and the target website. Users paste the link they want to share into our tool and can then customize the image, title, and description of the link preview. ShareKit.io generates a new link that is then shared to Facebook, and Facebook will display the new preview image/title/description.

ShareKit.io Sample

Based on feedback from our early customers, I added an analytics feature and a custom domain feature, which allows our users to use their own domain when sharing a link. Since part of our product comes down to being an advanced link shortener, uptime is very important for us. We use Uptime Robot as a public status page and New Relic to monitor our AWS infrastructure.

How have you attracted users and grown ShareKit.io?

Since it solved their problem, my friends' employers were immediately willing to pay me for access to ShareKit.io. We also cold-emailed marketers who expressed their frustration with Facebook's move on Twitter and Facebook. Once we had enough feedback and initial growth to establish product-market-fit, we launched on Product Hunt, which lead to a spike in traffic and new sign-ups.

Now, we're starting to experiment with Google and Facebook ads and are reaching out to social media blogs for guest posting opportunities. We're also continuing to contact social media managers directly via LinkedIn and are responding to cries for help on Twitter. To increase conversions from trial to paying users, we implemented a drip campaign which shows off the different features of ShareKit.io (e.g. analytics and our custom domains option) to encourage people to upgrade to a paid plan.

What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

We offer a free two-week trial and then ask users to select from three monthly subscription plans, each aimed at different personas (freelancers, full-time social media managers, and agencies).

Our agency package allows our clients to use their existing domains when sharing a ShareKit.io-link, which drives sign-ups for the largest plan. We've been charging from day one and use Stripe to process payments. Our conversion rate from site visitors to free trial signups currently sits at 10%, and we convert 3% of trial users to a subscription. So far, our churn has been an awesome 0% — fingers crossed that it stays that way! We're currently making $1,600 in MRR. We'll likely try out higher price points in the near future and maybe introduce an "unlimited everything" plan for enterprise customers.

ShareKit.io Pricing

What are your goals for the future?

At the moment, we're laser-focused on growing our traffic — we're happy with our conversion and churn rates, and our users love the product. We'd like to hit $5,000 MRR by mid-2018, and I think that based on our current trajectory, that's achievable.

In terms of our goals for the product itself, we'd like to make it easier to A/B test different link previews — at the moment, you can already use ShareKit.io to split-test which link preview is best received by your audience by generating two ShareKit.io URLs for the same target URL. However, we'd like to turn this into an actual feature, where ShareKit.io compares the performance of both previews over the same time period and provides users with a statistically valid answer based on the number of clicks on each link.

We're continually talking to our customers to find out what features they'd like to see next and are basing our to-do list on their answers.

What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?

In the beginning, we were playing a cat-and-mouse game with scaling up our infrastructure. Whenever a new agency would sign up, they'd often bring in millions of clicks from their clients' social media pages, which we had to handle gracefully by immediately adding capacity.

Now, we're using autoscaling to automatically react to our growth. There's always a trade-off between delivering a perfect product from the very beginning and reducing time to market — if I had to do it again, I probably wouldn't change my approach, since there's no point in having an elaborate autoscaling system if you have zero customers and aren't yet sure if you'll ever grow out of your current server.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

The fact that I had worked on multiple "hobby" side projects was super helpful in getting an early MVP of ShareKit.io out of the door quickly. Even if your aim isn't to make money, you learn a lot by going through the process of validating an idea, developing the product, launching it, and marketing it.

I would start with something that you care deeply about and are already immersed in — this makes it easier to know what your users want (because you're a user yourself) and you know where you can find potential users (because they hang out in the same places as you). Explicitly framing it as a "just for fun" project reduces the pressure to grow quickly.

What's your advice for indie hackers who are just starting out?

Having some early customers who worked with us to nail the product itself was incredibly valuable. If you can, work on something that is a proven pain point for people (which they've actually told you and isn't just based on your guesswork).

Talk to your extended network — people love sharing their day-to-day business problems if they think you can help. Make sure you talk to multiple people to confirm that the problem exists for all of them. Don't be afraid to pick a niche — you can always expand your focus later on, but you can't fix not having a clear target customer and go-to-market strategy.

Don't be afraid to pick a niche — you can always expand your focus later on, but you can't fix not having a clear target customer and go-to-market strategy.

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Try to spot openings in the market, which often appear suddenly. If a big player like Facebook or Dropbox changes something that enrages a lot of people, chances are that you can come up with an alternative or a solution that will have them sold instantly.

On a broader scale, the same goes for legal changes, like market deregulations that you can take advantage of. Peter Thiel's Zero to One talks more about these kinds of opportunities, and I think they're currently underrepresented in what indie hackers and SaaS businesses are working on, because they may not be as glamorous as a blockchain-enabled machine learning startup.

Where can we go to learn more?

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section or email me at [email protected]!

Nick , Co-founder of ShareKit.io

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  1. 1

    Isn't it scary to have a business that's so dependent on one platform? If Facebook changes their policy about previews you could end up closing business overnight.

  2. 1

    Is it violating the facebook terms? Coz I can edit the link preview image of any website and share it immediately.

    1. 1

      Hi Benny,

      thanks for checking us out! As we mention in our FAQ, as per Facebook's updated terms, you're still allowed to change link previews for sites that are under your control. You should only use ShareKit for links to your own (or your clients') website, blog, etc.

  3. 1

    This reminds me of Adespresso, but I really love it! Keep it up :) I'll give it a try.

    1. 1

      Thanks, Wilson, I appreciate it :)! Let me know if you run into any issues.

  4. -3

    This comment has been voted down. Click to show.

    1. 4

      Hi Juraj,

      thanks for the feedback!

      Yes, you can use your own domain when sharing a link with our "custom domains" feature (available on the "Agency" plan).

      You should probably mention that LinkPreviewEditor was developed by you / Kontentino :). Another thing that we offer that I didn't see on your website was the ability to get detailed analytics on each shared link (for A/B testing different link preview images).

      Kind regards,
      Nick

      1. 1

        Hey Nick,

        Yes you're right. We've developed it right after Facebook released those changes. So our users can input generated link into Kontentino, add CTA as well as customize displayed URL.

        Analytics module is now in beta version so it should be possible to get detailed data on how these custom link previews are performing, although our initial focus is effective social media management - collaboration and approval workflow.

        I really like your approach and a notion of finding a certain niché. Results you got so far are very promising as well :)

        Would be great to hear some updates from you!

        Best,
        Juraj

        1. 1

          Thanks, Juraj! Good luck with Kontentino, it looks like a great tool!

          Best regards,
          Nick

          1. 1

            Hey Nick,

            How it's going with ShareKit now?

            Any updates?

            I wanted to share that we have brought back the functionality of customizing the link previews directly in Kontentino.

            The only thing you need to do is to get your domain verified on Facebook.

            Here's a short step by step guide how to do it - http://bit.ly/2ogoSGa

            Happy to your thoughts.

            Best regards,

            Juraj