The Highs and Lows of Running a Content-Based Business

What is The Success Manual?

My project, The Simple Project, basically creates all-in-one kinds of content-related projects.

The Success Manual is a popular all-in-one skills guide. It's packed with proven tips from the best books and experts to help you deal with any career and self-improvement challenge.

I also run Bighow News and Basicversity educational quizzes. Two more projects — one in content and the other in eCommerce — are under development.

How did you get started?

Having worked in content-related businesses (books, blogs, web content etc) for the past 20 years or so, I've tried to build a business involving content.

Where have you found the time and funding to work?

I've funded all my projects from my savings. I don't have coding experience, although after 15 years of launching small projects, I can understand PHP, CSS, JavaScript, etc a bit. Just not enough to code on my own.

I'm most comfortable doing my own projects. I often focus on my projects for a while, and then take up a job to pay the bills. I keep my cost of living reasonable, so I am able to stretch the budget somewhat, which is now proving to be a demanding task since I have a family to support. It is what it is.

What do you do for marketing?

Most of my projects have grown organically, and have required little online/offline marketing work. I just make sure the content is something people need/want and is presented in an SEO-friendly style. The rest I leave to the gods of chance. So far.

How have you dealt with incorporating and other legal issues?

Presently, The Simple Project is a sole proprietorship. I plan to incorporate as soon as I get a serious nudge from an investor/partner. I don't want to involve myself in bureaucracy or paperwork unless I absolutely need to.

What's your revenue like?

The Success Manual sells some copies. I hope to sell more now that I've decided to devote more into its marketing and promotion. I have kept, the quizzing site, ad-free for three years now, a situation I plan to change soon.

What were your biggest challenges, fears, and mistakes?

  1. Having no coding experience means the development time is always contingent upon the availability of developers I have grown comfortable working with.
  2. Not being in touch with latest UX developments.
  3. Not focusing on marketing for long (more than 8 years) has hurt more than anything else. Especially, not being that active on social media. It didn't help that I was one of those who dissed the "yack-yack" nature of Twitter and the "narcissism" of Facebook and such. I am paying for my sins, I guess.

What tools, apps, resources, skills, techniques, and habits were most useful to you?

  1. Using open source tools as much possible.
  2. Reading up daily, especially Hacker News. I have been reading it ever since it launched.
  3. Passion for UI/UX: I'm a long-time fan of Jacob Nielsen. I haven't used any outside designer for any of my projects.
  4. Taking time out daily to give a couple of hours to my projects.

What's your advice for hackers setting out to be their own boss?

Much of what I will say is common sense, and many have said it before me:

Keep your costs low. Focus on providing value over everything else. Go to where the users are. (I've paid a big price for being kind of shy.) Keep learning. Keep reading. And please, please, PLEASE make some friends who get you.

What was your tech stack?

XAMPP, Bootstrap, and the rest of the best of the "free stack".

Where can readers learn more about you and/or your company?

Check out or leave a comment below.

Parmit Singh , Creator of The Success Manual

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