Ideas and Validation May 22, 2020

Is my idea any good? Can I monetize it?

vargadevelop

Hello everyone!
My name is Varga and I work as a full stack software engineer.
I just recently joined indie hackers because I wanted to create a side hustle that would eventually grow into my own business.

I couldn't really come up with anything that wasn't totally mind numbing for the longest time, for instance.. I don't want to create a drop shipping store or a simple blog. I wanted to create something that people would use as a web app, something where people can go in order to feel as if it actually benefits them in one way or another.

So this is what I came up with..
I play this game called Runescape, the oldschool version of it, and ever since I was young there's been multiple websites that helps people in various ways such as showing quest guides, item prices etc etc, and I figured I could build something similar.

And I know that making money in that game is something that people really enjoy so I figured I'd develop a website that does exactly that.. A website that helps people make money.
I would showcase ways for the player to make money and hope that they like it and would come back for more. Because I know I would.

Here is the issue, there are two other websites I know of that does pretty much the same thing but my website would have it's own special quirks to make it more unique.

One of the websites requires you to pay $1.99 a month to use it, the other one is free but it only has one of the features.

My website is currently free to use and I can't add Google Ads because I keep getting denied saying that I'm only using copied content even though it's not at all and my competitors get to use Google Ads.

I've been getting really good feedback on the website so far, it's been up for about 4 days and I've had 1,500+ unique visitors in total making it roughly 375+ a day and it's currently going up.

I have a Patreon for the page but so far I only have my friend that supports it.

So now I'm sitting here, thinking, should I keep going? The project is fun, but at the moment I'm essentially paying to code. I need to maintain the server hosting costs, which to be honest isn't all that much, but still, you get the idea. You want to at least break even when working on a fun project.

Should I make the website pay to use? Are my nerves just getting to me? Am I asking all this too soon?

If you want to check it out you can find it over at
https://runemarket.net

Thank you for taking the time to read this! :-)
Good luck with your business!

  1. 2

    This is actually pretty cool. I would say you could definitely make some premium features and monetize it for ~$1.99 like your competitor.

    P.S. what stack did you use for this?

    1. 1

      Thank you! So should I make the website free to use but some features locked behind a pay to go version? And I used ASP.NET MVC With Blazor and Bootstrap for the majority of it :-)

  2. 1

    As someone who has been in the "Runescape bubble" for many years... The URL RuneMarket sounds like a gold selling website right off the bat and the app itself looks very similar to GETracker - do you have any features they don't offer?

  3. 1

    The website looks great and I think you're on the right track. Don't stop now.

    Monetization is something you're going to have to experiment with to see what works. My advice is to be as honest as possible with your audience. Tell them directly why you need to charge money and you should get a better response.

    For example, you've got the "Become a Patron" button at the top but you don't really tell people why they should. Ask more directly. Explain that you're really passionate about the project and you really want to keep working on it. Incentivize by saying that you don't want to put ads on the site (most people hate ads anyway).

    Of course, keep your expectations in check. In my experience, Patreon donations won't make you rich but it can be enough to cover your costs.

  4. 1

    Almost everybody starts paying for their project. It can be in the form of money, time or both, so your experience is not unusual.

    I suggest you to offer a paid subscription with a money back guarantee.

    If I understood correctly, you are just getting started. For this reason, it is better a yearly subscription right now as you probably wouldn't be able to produce enough content to justify monthly payments.

    In the future, you coukd switch to a more traditional monthlt subscription with a discounted yearly payment.

    Good luck for your project!

  5. 1

    Is anyone in your market selling something complimentary to your audience?

    Assuming the answer is yes, call/email them and offer an "early" sponsorship opportunity at $1, $5, $10 per month (or whatever you're comfortable with) to secure a position as you grow the site.

    Doing so will allow you to skip Google ads and solicit feedback from others in your market.

    Ask anyone who declines why, and what you would need to change to make sponsoring the site a no-brainer.

    1. 1

      I'm not quite following.. What do you mean when you say "Is anyone in your market selling something complimentary to your audience" ?

      1. 1

        At the risk of looking like an idiot because I don't know your market; an example could be someone who sells Runescape t-shirts.

        Their target audience is people who enjoy Runescape and so is yours.

        Despite the same audience, you're not selling t-shirts and they're not trying to sign people up to teach them how to play Runescape. So in that sense, they're complimentary.

        1. 1

          That's a really good idea! So I would essentially market their products as an ad on my website? They being my sponsor for whatever amount a month? Or did you mean something else?

          1. 1

            Exactly. But I wouldn't go far as to market their individual products, just their store.

            You have a great sidebar and space at the top above the graphs. You could create a banner in either location that says "this site sponsored by XX Runescape Shirts" and link out to their site.

            1. 1

              That's really smart! Thank you so much for the idea! What do you reckon is a good price? I was thinking $10 a month but I've been told not to undervalue my stuff. Considering I only get roughly 400 unique visitors a day, should I calculate it a certain way?

              1. 1

                Advertisers will usually buy ads on a CPM basis, or cost per 1000 impressions. With ad sense you could probably expect to earn between $1-3 CPM. Offering direct and exclusive sponsorship to a highly relevant audience normally would get you higher CPM's, but you also have no historical track record making it a harder sell.

                So say you maintain ~400 visits a day you're offering 12000 impressions a month, which at $1CPM means $12 a month. I'd offer 3 months at a fixed $10 a month, regardless of traffic growth, with a reassessment after 3 months. That's a relatively low risk investment for an advertiser, but it also doesn't lock you into selling yourself too low for the whole year.

                Hopefully in 3 months you'll have seen traffic rise and you can then use those metrics to negotiate a higher CPM going forward (especially if you also see a good rate of people clicking out i.e. 0.5% or higher).

              2. 1

                I don't have enough knowledge of your market to give proper advice.

                It will depend on who contact, what your costs are, etc.

                But if $10 a month covers some of your costs, motivates you to keep going, and forms a relationship in your market, it's a great price to start with.

                How about $10 a month of $100 for the first year?

                The worst-case scenario is that you send them leads for $10 a month and raise your price for other sponsors as you find out that you're worth more.

                Good luck.