67
83 Comments

💰How I got $1500 MRR in a month, with $0 spent on marketing!

Hey guys!

I'm Nikola, the founder of Howitzer - the first direct marketing tool for Reddit, made for Entrepreneurs, Startups and Growth Hackers.

We launched a month ago, and already got to $1500 MRR
... with $0 spent on marketing! 💰
Our FastSpring Dashboard
==================================
So, how did we do it?
Simply, by using our own tool to advertise and sell our own tool - Howitzer!

As I said, Howitzer is a marketing tool for Reddit.
It works on 2 basic principles:

  1. Target and extract only your ideal customers, your potential buyers
    (target by keyword, subreddit, positive/negative/neutral sentiment, time and much more)
  2. Direct message them, at scale
    (private message up to 18,000 Reddit users per month)

👉So, this is how I did it!

  1. Using Howitzer, I extracted all Reddit users who were asking about 'reddit marketing tools', or 'reddit growth hacking tools' or 'reddit marketing tips & tricks'.
    I got 1727 users that match that description:

  2. I created a messaging campaign through Howitzer, where I contacted the exported users.

  3. The result:
    📈 $1500 MRR in only a month.
    The whole marketing was done using our own product - Howitzer, and writing 2-3 posts in IndieHackers, and 2 posts in Facebook groups.

PS: OnlyFans dominatrixes are our clients too, besides entrepreneurs and startups!🍑
https://howitzer.co/

  1. 31

    What does it mean that you "do not support spam", when this tool is going to be used exclusively for sending unsolicited messages?

    1. 4

      Yeah seems a bit hypocritical, but I think this is probably as least spammy as it can get. Seems like they intentionally only messaged people who seemed like they could be interested.

    2. 1

      Thanks for the question Gajus!
      Your question is answered by Arrexus.

      PS: Please keep in mind that Howitzer is a growth hacking tool, and to understand it's nature, please approach it with growth hacking mentality/mindset :)

  2. 7

    Dang. Very clever. Drinking your own wine...

  3. 4

    Congrats on the awesome milestone - not super surprised you’ve found success here! I could definitely see creating spin offs of this type of thing for other platforms aside from Reddit. Excited to follow this 🎉

    1. 1

      Thanks!
      Yes, already working on something similar for Twitter and Facebook :)

  4. 3

    Checked out Howitzer, looks great — thinking to give it a shot, yet I really wonder what audiences Reddit is mostly about. I would go and try finding the product folk like Product Directors, Owners, Managers. Sounds to you like a step worth taking? Also, I wonder if you've got customer cases where Reddit acted as a reliable touchpoint in a b2b funnel.

    1. 1

      Thanks!
      Reddit is a community of communities. There is a community for nearly anything. You can find every persona, if you search by the right specific keywords.

      We haven't had any users who were looking for B2B marketing, but I was testing once for a friend of mine, and I can assure you that besides just casual users, there are businesses on Reddit too.
      My friend wanted to validate if I can find accountants who are interested into some kind of software that works like a back-office for their business, basically, small companies who wanted to outsource a part of their work (I don't remember the details for this, sorry).
      I was amazed that there was businesses (or probably business representatives) on Reddit.

      Howitzer offers a free tier, where you can get to know what you can do with Howitzer and get in touch with the product, so I encourage you to try it out, and see if you can get anything! :)

      1. 3

        In the theory of communications, you can find that people hang out around different communities in different 'roles.' Say, I'm a Product Director and I watch Twitch: I'm not in my professional role there and wouldn't engage well with the marketing messages targeted at me as a product guy, I'd rather click a local pizza CTA. But yeah, 'marketers don't think — they test,' so I'm taking off a snobby monocle and go testing, thanks :)

        1. 2

          Interesting point of view Ilya, but we target those people based on what they are saying. I wouldn't know that you are a Product Director on Twitch, if you don't say it explicitly.
          Also, if you say it on Twitch, and I make you an offer too good to refuse, or offer you something really valuable - probably you'll pay attention :)

          Good luck!
          Please share your feedback on Howitzer, ideas or feature suggestions with me!

  5. 2

    Hey, great tool I just pinged you over an email. You and I can make TONS of money selling this, I know exactly where/how to sell it so hit me up ASAP! :)

  6. 2

    Good job! Congratulations!
    I am working on my side project https://cheetaho.com/ and I will try your product. :)

    1. 1

      Your product seems interesting.
      Is there gif optimization?

      1. 1

        Yes. You can try to optimize the gif image here https://cheetaho.com/free-online-image-optimizer/
        The CheetahO also supports animated gif image optimization :)

  7. 1

    Reddit is known to block domains also. If a domain is blocked, it can't be sent on chat. Can the product domain getting blocked be a side effect of bulk messaging? That would be a huge price to pay.

    1. 1

      Thanks for informing!
      It hasn't happened to anyone, and we've users who have been sending messages since the start of the product, so I guess it's not a case here.
      Also, we don't suggest sending the link in the first message, just to make sure that you are not 'spamming' the user.
      Anyway, we'll take a deep look at this.

      Thank you very much!

  8. 1

    Bold venture into a space that historically has been very touchy about “spamming”. How are you ensuring this isn’t being used maliciously?

    Great validation that folks want marketing tools for Reddit’s platform!

    1. 1

      Hey Scott, thanks for the comment!
      We're currently working on solving that problem.
      Our first step is adding the 'Built-in spam checker' and adding a maximum allowed spam score, for the user to be able to start the messaging campaign.
      We'll start from there, and see where it's going.

      If you have any other ideas, please share them with me! :)

  9. 1

    Great, would it work for freshly created accounts?

    1. 1

      Yes!
      It works the same for fresh new accounts and 1000+ karma accounts.

  10. 1

    This is too tempting to pass up. Sending out 700 messages. Will report back if my reddit account gets banned lol.

    1. 1

      Good luck!
      And keep in mind - please make sure that your message is not spammy and you target specifically your target group!

      Remember: You can get suspended (for 3 days), only and only if some of the users you are messaging - report you for spam.

  11. 1

    I've had this concept in mind for a while now and realized that Phantombuster didn't create this kind of Reddit bot due to Reddit's extremely strict anti-spam policies.
    Don't get me wrong man. I really love the product and i even wanna try it out myself. I just honestly think that Reddit will give you quite the fight with this product in the short-medium term, if not kill it entirely. I'd say to setup certain limits if possible, within the product to atleast make it the outreach become a bit more under radar. Try to amp up some more users prior to that move so you can be financially stable while treading your ship out of danger zone.
    I really hope you make it because once used right, this product can help a ton of businesses like how LinkedIn outreach does.

    1. 1

      Thank you very much Romeo!
      Yes, I'm aware of this.
      We've set up a complex network of proxies and backend services to protect Howitzer from getting in Reddit's radar. I guess after some time it will become a cat-mouse game. However, I believe we are ready for this :)

  12. 1

    Congratulations!

    This is some serious traction for one month.

    Are you concerned at all that Reddit might change their API terms to prevent bulk/aggressive DMs?

    1. 1

      Thanks!

      We were concerned about this at the beginning, but if Reddit change their API terms to prevent this kind of messaging, a lot of helper bots (and I mean - a LOT) who aren't commercial businesses would go 'out of business'.

  13. 1

    Congrats.
    How big is the risk of being banned by reddit? Is it allowed to mass message their members with 3rd party tools?

    1. 1

      Thanks.
      Well, there's a possibility to getting your messaging permission suspended (for 3 days) , only and only if you get reported for spamming, from other Redditors.
      It seems that Reddit doesn't care how many messages you send if everything is okay.

      I don't think Reddit explicitly said they allow or don't allow this kind of tools, but anyway, this is a growth hacking tool, so we - the growth hackers use everything we can to grow our businesses, apps, websites, etc.

  14. 1

    Hey bro, that is a great post!

    I signed up on a free trial but I can't seem to execute my messages. As the button labelled "message all users from* " won't drop down for me to choose an option. Is this a bug you know of?

    Cheers
    Lou :)

    1. 1

      Probably you haven't any list with Targeted Users.
      In order to message a list of users, first you must target those users and save them as a list.
      Let me know if you need any further assistance!

  15. 1

    Have you faced any issues with Reddit suspending your accounts for sending so many DMs?

    1. 1

      Reddit won't suspend your account if you send too many messages.
      Reddit may only suspend your account if you are reported for spamming, by the users you are messaging.
      That's why we encourage you to use Howitzer for bringing value only to the people of your interest.

  16. 1

    What you use for sentiment? VADER, afinn, some of API's?

    1. 2

      We use an local University project for sentiment classification of Reddit posts in a combination with some NLP libraries (other than VADER).

      We consider moving to Google NLP next month, if we can cover up the expenses.

  17. 1

    Is there anything like this but for LinkedIn? In my particular niche, that's where my customers are.

    1. 2

      Yeah you got Zopto and Phantombuster

    2. 1

      There's something called LinkFire. I saw someone post about it somewhere else, but I haven't been able to find it online anywhere. Apparently, it's really good. If I find it I will link it for you. :)

    3. 1

      Ugh... I'm not aware of something similar for any other social network.
      Good luck!

  18. 1

    Looks awesome. Would it be applicable to this use case:

    I've had 2-3 semi-viral posts on Reddit that've had 1k+ upvotes. They are about my own content, but they haven't led to conversion-ready pages (as self-promotion gets banned uber-quickly at some forums). Is there a way to engage the people who've upvoted and/or commented on these specific posts?

    Will be trying your product out anyway

    Cheers

    1. 1

      Thanks!
      Unfortunately, we haven't implemented that feature :/
      However, if you try it - let me know what you think about Howitzer!

      1. 1

        Thanks for the reply!
        Another Q - does it make more sense to use my profile with 2k+ karma and the track record of the semi-viral posts in the same general topic (electric vehicles), or should I create a 'burner account' for this?

        1. 1

          It depends on your use case, your target audience and your skills for writing cold messages.
          If you are spamming or if you sound like a spammer, there's a possibility to get reported from some of the users you are messaging. If you get reported for spam, there's a possibility for Reddit to suspend your messaging permissions for 3 days.

          If you want to play it safe, you can easily do it with a 'burner account'.
          Howitzer works the same for accounts with 2K+ karma and accounts with 1+ karma.

          If you want to learn more on this, please check out our FAQs:
          https://howitzer.co/#faqs

          Good luck!

  19. 1

    Interesting product. Well done.

  20. 1

    Mate is your onboarding broken? I can't seem to create an account or access it?

    Keeps saying email confirmation required even after confirming it

    1. 1

      Hm, that's weird. I just tried to create another account and login, and it's successful.
      Can you please contact me at [email protected], and send me the email address you are trying to create an account from?

      Thanks, and sorry for this inconvenience!

  21. 1

    Interesting. Is it possible that they will cancel your client id? Even though you send via the user account or that you require each user to get api credentials?

    Thanks.

    1. 2

      Hey Tzahi!
      Yes, we require the user to authenticate an reddit app and connect it to Howitzer.

      We haven't had any cases where Reddit closed our user's app/client id. Also, I haven't heard that something like this ever happened.

  22. 1

    Congrats, and good work! That's the best sort of marketing, proving your app works by using it to build its revenue.

    1. 1

      Thank you very much! :)

  23. 1

    Congrats, this is really interesting!
    Have you measured how this compares to cold emailing?

    1. 1

      Thanks!
      Yes, we have a comparison image on the landing page. With Howitzer, we've achieved 40-45% response rate, compared to the only 3% response rate from cold emails.

      1. 1

        That's pretty good. 40% response rate is also much cmore than LinkedIn's (around 10-30%). What about the Conversion rate? How many leads per every 500 you'd estimate (based on your own outreach of course)?

        1. 2

          Thanks!
          Well, the conversion rate depends a lot of your product, your target audience, how good is your landing page, CTA, etc.
          Howitzer's responsibility is to get engagement and responses. I believe the response rate is that high, because Reddit is still not so utilized for marketing, and the users are not used to getting private messages about a product. + The personalization through personalization variables makes wonders!

          I have users who are OnlyFans findoms, and their conversion rate is much higher than SaaS users, for example.
          I haven't calculated a conversion rate for my product, based on the approach you suggested. Maybe I need to do it in the future.

          1. 1

            Sounds good man. I'll add your tool on my list. It'll be in the top spot too based on the numbers so far. I do more math and planning and maybe around next week I can look to try it out👌🏾. Will shoot you an email if I need help with onboarding.

  24. 1

    Nice job! The product looks great, I'm going to give it a shot.

    Is that your voice in the explainer video? Or did you outsource?

    1. 4

      Thank you!
      I outsourced it. I'm not a native English speaker with a native accent, so I just wanted it to sound and look professional :D

  25. 1

    Such a great idea – I'm gonna try using this for sure. Thanks!

    1. 1

      Thanks Britton!
      Feel free to share your feedback! :)

  26. 1

    Congratulations man !!!!
    Great tool didn't know i could send 300 DMs in a day on Reddit!

    With LinkedIn Limits, this came at a great time.
    I'm enjoying the tool.

    Cheers to continued success!

    1. 2

      Thank you Yoofi!
      Actually, you can send up to 600 DMs in a day on Reddit, by using Howitzer's Ultimate plan :)

  27. 1

    Interesting, I'm probably gonna use this app.

    What % would you say end up as paying customers as opposed to free ones?

    1. 1

      Thanks Albert!
      29.3% of the users who signed up for the free plan converted to paying users.
      However, this is from the first month, and we added 'Free Trial' 3 weeks ago, so it's too early to say :)

  28. 1

    Congratulations @nklvlk
    The idea is great and your dashboard is easy to use and I see that you're about to add an anti-spamming feature which is great but does it support user consent to receive that message? Do you send that message from a Howitzer bot?

    1. 1

      Thank you!
      No, it doesn't support a user consent. Everything is done through the process of targeting users, and contacting them to solve their needs/give them value.
      Also, we don't support spamming in any way - that's why we are working on the anti-spam feature, and we encourage our users to abide by Reddit guidelines. The targeting feature helps a lot here because it enables the users to contact only interested Redditors. Everything besides this is left at our users' consciousness.

      No, our users send their messages through their own Reddit accounts.
      They just grant us permissions by connecting their Reddit accounts to Howitzer (using OAuth2 tokens - Reddit's official way of doing things), and they send their messages automatically through our servers.

      We established a good infrastructure to handle this, so everything is 'plug&play' for our users, and everything is done in a cloud (you don't need to download or install anything).

      1. 1

        This comment was deleted 6 months ago.

  29. 1

    This is amazing @nklvlk! Congratulations!

    1. 1

      Thank you very much! :)

  30. 1

    Honestly congrats! Looks great, signing up to try it

    1. 1

      Thanks!
      Feel free to share your opinion on Howitzer, any feature suggestions, ideas and feedback! :)

  31. 1

    Wow this is a growth hack!
    Congratulations!

  32. 0

    hey @nklvlk , enjoyed your post. I want to offer you a partnership if possible. I am co-founder of hacktika.com and we provide growth idea backlogs to our users. I think we can help each other out

    1. 1

      Hey Neshat, thanks for reaching out!
      Email me what you have in mind, and we can discuss this further!
      [email protected]

  33. -1

    This comment has been voted down. Click to show.

    1. 1

      Hey Gregory, thanks for the comment!
      Please approach this product with a growth hacking mindset/mentality.
      It's a growth hacking tool, made for founders, small businesses and growth hackers, I don't expect it to be liked and used by everyone.

      AirBnB stealing users by scraping Craiglist wasn't so "ethical" too.
      #growth_hacking

      1. 0

        I hope you approach all those "ENLARGE YOUR PEN15 NOW!!!" emails sent by the billions with a #growth_hacking mindset too.

Trending on Indie Hackers
I will promote your startup to 50K+ people 69 comments I made Session, a productivity timer that makes $5K/month in net profit, AMA! 25 comments I built an NFT Guide site. Feedback welcome! 17 comments Only 30 days! We finished a great Etsy products research tool 10 comments #1 on Product Hunt with an open-source project 8 comments Landing page for my latest project. Thoughts? 6 comments