How I Gained Traction and Became Profitable After Almost Quitting

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

I'm Ramy Khuffash and I run Page Flows—a library of user flow recordings from proven products that designers and product managers use to learn best practices.

Before I went full time on Page Flows, I contracted as a full-stack web developer in London. I aways wanted to start a business and have built and launched a few products, but Page Flows is the first that's been somewhat successful.

It has over 500 customers and makes about $4,500 per month.

What motivated you to get started with Page Flows?

While working as a web developer and building a bunch of side projects, I always found the UI design side of things super interesting.

I wasn't particularly interested in other aspects of design, like typography or logos, and I thought I wasn't the only one, so I started a newsletter called UI Movement, which was specifically for sharing interesting UI design animations.

After a successful Product Hunt launch, the newsletter continued growing organically and now has over 27,000 subscribers.

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A year after launch, I was ready to build something new. This time I wanted to make something people would pay for. I set up interviews with UI Movement subscribers and asked about what kinds of things they'd like to see me work on next and what they might be willing to pay for.

Although I did a pretty horrible job of what I thought was "customer development," one theme emerged from the conversations. People enjoyed seeing the experimental UI designs shared in the newsletter, but wished there was a resource for learning from more realistic and practical UI inspiration.

That's where the idea for Page Flows was born. It would be a growing library of user flow recordings from popular products. People who were designing common user flows like user onboarding, upgrading, or inviting teammates could learn best practices instead of reinventing the wheel.

While much has changed since then, that core idea remains the same.

What went into building the initial product?

Technically, the first version of Page Flows was super simple. I built it in Django because that's what I knew.

Recording and annotating the user flow videos is what took ages. I don't remember exactly how long I spent on this, but there were plenty of late nights.

At the time, I was only contracting three days a week so I could spend more than just nights and weekends on the recordings. It took just over a month from when I got the idea to when I started sharing it with the UI Movement audience.

What's your tech stack?

I started with Django because that's the first framework I learned. I still use Django today. For the front end, I started with just HTML with a bit of jQuery, but eventually switched over to Vue.js.

I recently redid the front end and went back to just HTML and Javascript because I found that Vue wasn't necessary for such a simple site. I explain some more about that here.

The site is hosted with Digital Ocean because it's very affordable, has a great UI, and their guides are second to none.

I also use:

  • Letterfuel to send newsletter emails
  • Postmark to send transactional emails and parse incoming emails captured during the user flow recordings
  • URLBox.io, which is by a fellow indie hacker, to screenshot those emails

How have you attracted users and grown Page Flows?

UI Movement has been a key source of traffic from day one.

I've also launched various iterations on Product Hunt and each launch was picked up by the wider design community.

There are infinite things I could try, but as a solo founder I can only try one or two things at a time.

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The fact that UI Movement and Page Flows are both clearly made for designers made them spread much further than other products I've launched.

There are plenty of influential design communities and sites that are always looking for new and interesting things to share with their audiences. For example, sites like Bookmark Design and Design Notes continue to drive good traffic.

I haven't really focused on SEO, but it's started to drive growth on its own. Customers discover the site after searching for specific user flows like "Slack onboarding." Although this hasn't been a huge driver so far, it should increase as I add more videos.

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

I launched Page Flows with a $14 monthly subscription, which flopped. After a couple of weeks, only one person had signed up.

I actually gave up on the whole idea after that. I made all the user flow recordings free to access and moved on to other projects. After reading so much advice about charging more and businesses only being viable if they can charge $20+ per month, I figured there's no way I could make this work if people wouldn't even pay $14 a month.

A year or so later I saw from Google Analytics that the videos were getting decent traffic, so I thought it would be worth putting them behind a paywall to see if people would be willing to pay a small one time fee of $29 instead of a monthly subscription. None of my other products were doing well, so I had nothing to lose.

I put up a landing page with a fake payment form and to my surprise, a couple of people tried to pay within 24 hours. At that point I scrambled to set up a proper paywall using Stripe and people have been signing up since.

Over time, I've experimented with various pricing models before settling on a $99 per year plan as well as a $39 per quarter plan.

I'm still far from getting the pricing model right. Most customers watch a few user flow videos occasionally. Some watch them daily, and a decent amount just want to see a couple of videos for a specific flow they're working on. It's been hard to find a pricing model that works for everyone, but I'll continue to experiment.

Month $
Apr '19 3001
May '19 4332
Jun '19 3897
Jul '19 5126
Aug '19 4501
Sep '19 4905
Oct '19 5402

Expenses, including hosting and the price of an accountant, come to around $300-$400 per month.

What are your goals for the future?

My main goal is to grow Page Flows to $10k MRR.

I'm not exactly sure how I'll do that or if it's even possible with such a low-priced product in a fairly niche market, but I'm going to try.

Currently, I'm focused on reducing churn by improving the content on the site and growing the audience through SEO and whatever growth experiments show promise.

I'll continue to speak with customers to try to figure out why some get more value from the product than others, and what I can do to either increase the value of the product or find more people who are likely to get value from it as it is.

What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome?

My main challenge has been managing my own mental health. I'm constantly doubting myself. When a couple of days go by and no new customers sign up, it's hard to stay motivated.

Being in a mastermind group and frequently meeting with other indie hackers has helped keep me on track.

I also suffer from "shiny object syndrome". Although Page Flows has been my most successful product so far, I've spent a good chunk of time working on other ideas that haven't really gone anywhere. I don't think there's anything wrong with building side projects, but I refuse to repeat the mistake of spending months building something no one wants.

If you're trying to build a small lifestyle business, listening to advice aimed at people trying to build million dollar businesses could do more harm than good.

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Another challenge has been prioritization. The organic growth Page Flows has seen so far is slowing down, so I need to figure out how to take it to the next level. There are infinite things I could try, but as a solo founder I can only try one or two things at a time.

If you had to start over, what would you do differently?

I wouldn't have initially given up on Page Flows after spending only a couple of weeks struggling to find paying customers. I'd also spend way less time building ambitious features and products without first making sure I can deliver something people want and are willing to pay for.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I'm in a weekly mastermind call with a couple of other indie hackers and that's been massively helpful in keeping me on track.

The accountability is great, but the main benefit is being part of a group with similar experiences.

Indie Hacker meetups and local co-working spaces have also been great for connecting with other indie hackers.

PageFlows on Slack

The most impactful book I've read is The Mom Test. It completely changed the way I speak with customers and makes it super easy to figure out whether a pain point a customer tells you about is worth trying to solve.

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

Without switching to the $29 lifetime membership, Page Flows would never have worked. People are happy to spend a few dollars on a one-time purchase, but a $14 monthly subscription is a much bigger decision. If I'd started with the smaller pricing plan, I might have avoided spending a year working on failed products.

Subscription businesses are so appealing, but I think most solo indie hackers should consider starting out with a smaller one-time-purchase product that they can start selling right away.

It's also important to figure out what you want to achieve, then filter advice through that. If you're trying to build a small lifestyle business, listening to advice aimed at people trying to build million dollar businesses could do more harm than good.

Where can we go to learn more?

You can check out Page Flows here. I've also got a personal site which I'll eventually start sharing more on.

I'm always happy to hear from other indie hackers on Twitter and would love to answer any of your questions in the comments below.

Ramy Khuffash , Founder of Page Flows

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