Product Development June 1, 2020

Built a service business over the weekend

Dan Rowden @dr

Over the weekend I created a new project.

Recently, I've been building in the Ghost ecosystem (Cove and Tools for Ghost).

Since the beginning of the year, I've installed 7 Ghost sites. During this time, I've noticed a decent number of people here on IH and on Twitter talking about wanting to self-host Ghost for the low cost but complaining that it was too hard to do as non-developers.

There seems to be a market for a simple Ghost installation service. So I created one.

For a one-off $59 fee, you can get a self-hosted Ghost site, which then enables a tiny $5/month hosting fee on DigitalOcean. After a year, your total cost would be $109, compared to $348 on Ghost(Pro).

I just launched installghostforme.com today after planning processes and building the marketing site over the weekend. I'm really excited to be able to help non-developers get a Ghost site quickly, on really cheap hosting.

I'd be really interested to hear if anyone else has created a similar service product. What are the challenges you've faced or wins that you've experienced?

  1. 4

    This seems like a great value @dr

    I have too much feedback to type. Looking forward to our call

    1. 1

      Thanks @dru_riley. Looking forward to chatting!

  2. 3

    This is a clever idea, I really like it :)

    The challenge here is going to be getting people to know about it and why it's valuable. The cost savings is one thing, but it'd be helpful to see some use cases. Some prompts:

    • Why Ghost? Why not WordPress?
    • What businesses/industries is this service most-helpful for?
    • How do I know you know how to do it? Any examples or blog posts you can show me?
    1. 2

      Thanks Ryan! I appreciate your feedback and you bring up solid points.

      I'm positioning this at people already interested in Ghost. I haven't thought about a Ghost vs Wordpress explainer; maybe an expanded site would allow room for this (I already think the one-page site is too stretched!)

      As for proof of expertise, I have Cove and Tools for Ghost listed at the bottom of the page. It's not much at the moment, but when they start coming in, I will be adding customer testimonials higher up the page.

      1. 1

        Pull those up! Think of it like a "what's possible" or "what we can make together" sort of thing. There's a ton of value in teasing the possibilities to build interest and get folks excited (think of it like window shopping).

        1. 1

          Done! I revamped the page and moved that section up.

          https://gloat.dev (had to rename it)

          1. 1

            Nice, I dig the update! Very compelling.

  3. 2

    did you know you can also host for free using ghost as a headless cms? i would pay someone to convert this for me.

    1. 1

      Yes! That's outside of my skillset, but there must be someone else out there who could help.

  4. 2

    Interesting to see you doing that, the idea came to me a few months ago, and not only ghost for blogging solution. A wiki js setup could be provided for wiki platform, also redash for powerful analytics, and a great crm. All those tools would cost far less than going for the multi tenant hosting.

    I then felt it was pretty dull to offer a service based on opensource software, open source that is usually fed by the company charging the hosting fee. Anyhow maybe I was wrong, let us know how it goes!

    1. 1

      As to your question on challenges, I figured users may want updates, especially if security vulnerabilies plague the software too often and support in general. Is your service really cheaper? For it to be cheaper, you got to offer maintenance out of the box. At least for a year. Could cost you less but without maintenance I figured customers may quickly ask for it. Or not.

      As a coder I know about maintenance, maybe non coders would overlook this aspect and only see your install fee being cheaper than going with the official provider fees.

      1. 1

        I offer Ghost updates as another service ($19). (It's lower down on the page)

        I see this service as between a managed host and doing it yourself. Like pay-as-you-go manage hosting :) If you want an install or an update, you pay one-off fees; in the meantime you're running on a $5/month server.

        Compared to every host I've checked, my one-off install fees + $5/month hosting are cheaper once you hit 8 months of running a blog. After that you're saving money every single month.

        1. 2

          I'm super interested in seeing how it goes. Please do give us an update in a few weeks :)

          Good luck.

  5. 2

    I've been wondering where all the Ghost services and extras are. Aren't they a big enough platform too? Thank you for offering something for Ghost!

    1. 1

      Apparently there are +2m Ghost sites out there. It's a huge market and opportunity.

      1. 2

        Yeah the ecosystem has a bunch of room for sure. Wonder if there's a hangout of Ghost community. In general it seems they're targeting a less technical users compared to Wordpress.

  6. 1

    Hey, have you considered using gumroad.
    I am not commercially affiliated but a proud customer of the product.
    It is against their policy to sell services but yours seem to be a Straight Forward proposition.

    1. 1

      Hey @SrineeshFlutter_io. I've looked at Gumroad but as you say, they explicitly say no service businesses. I'm happy with a straight-up PayPal button. It doesn't need to be any more complex than that.

  7. 1

    Why is better than finding a gig on Fiverr?

    1. 1

      It's not any different from you hiring someone on Fiverr. It's just a service I offer.

  8. 1

    really cool. hadn't realised you'd only just started doing this :) I think you're onto something here... I couldn't believe my luck when I stumbled across Ghost and then realised how easy + amazing it was (I didn't expect to find a 'contender' to Wordpress).

    ps. you seem to be working on a bunch of stuff, how do you manage your time/energy?

    1. 2

      Just spending a few hours a day working on things, and eventually I have products or projects to launch :) I have a job and three children that keep me busy. Working on side projects is a hobby, not "work" so I can do it for hours at a time!

      1. 1

        I love this :)