April 5, 2019

Leveraging a smaller project for future gains

Denham Rogers @denhamrogers

I'm currently working on a small project to learn some new skills. There's a really popular camping place in the Smokey Mountains that books out years in advance. Occasionally there are some last minute cancellations that they only announce on their twitter page.

I've built a tool that detects when they tweet about a cabin becoming available, then sends an email.

Originally, I considered this to be a product. Charge a small annual fee to get onto the mailing list.

Now I'm reconsidering... Maybe I should just give it away, build an email list with it, then sell something more valuable to that group later on?

Should I leverage this project to build an email list and capitalize on it later? Or should I go ahead and charge an annual fee to get on the list?

Note: this project has cost me nothing but time and the domain name.


  1. 1

    I would try to research and see if other similar (vacation-oriented) venues broadcast on twitter when cancellations happen and there's new availability. How many are there? Contact some of them and ask if they would be interested in reaching customers more directly through email and if they would be willing to pay some fee for that service.

  2. 1

    I try and measure the time to reward in this kind of situation.

    There are some parts that you wouldn't need to build if this was free vs paid.

    How much time will that take? Is the revenue from selling this service likely to cover the cost of the time you spend on this.

    If you make it free, will the increased signups be a customer base that you can sell something else to down the road.

    EG: Could you expand to other camping sites? Maybe you get one campsite for free and additional ones you have to pay for.

    The one other thing to keep in mind is that what happens if for a season there are no cancellations (or not announced on Twitter), will people be happy paying for something that they don't get anything from?

  3. 1

    Hmm... I think you could leverage it to build a list, which you might be able sell gear to or charge for faster notice about cancellations and openings.

    The things I wonder about are how many people care about this and how much is one customer for this worth?