I'm Sander, the founder of Checkout Page.
Three years ago I launched Checkout Page on Product Hunt as a no-code way to take payments with Stripe.
This year Checkout Page started consistently breaking $1500/mo in revenue and I went full time in February.
Today I want to share how I approached these past years. The good and the bad. Slow revenue growth. Feeling trapped as an integration product; constantly comparing my product with the product it integrates with. Losing and regaining motivation. The ups and the down.
When Checkout Page launched, it's USP was simply that there was no straight-forward no-code way to take payments into your Stripe account.
It's tough to admit, but I didn't think much more about it. No big vision. No plans to change the world. People used Stripe. Stripe didn't yet offer something people want. I built it.
That launch went well. May 2018, it was a busy Thursday on PH and Checkout Page became #5 of the day with ~700 upvotes.
The response was great, considering the design and the limited feature set. It felt like I was on to something here.
From the launch traction, it looked like I had momentum. But new features took long to build and large projects scared me. I had just started doing full stack development. My front end skills were a bit better, but building SaaS was new to me. I was afraid to break things and found it hard to justify spending a lot of time on feature development instead of marketing.
I worked on-and-off on Checkout Page. I did freelance development work and worked on Checkout Page in between projects. I lost focus every time a new freelance gig came in.
In these on-and-off sprints, I redesigned the website, redesigned the checkout, added subscriptions, variations, new form fields, custom email confirmation messages, advanced URL redirects, subscriptions and more.
Revenue grew, but slowly. I favoured freelance work over product development and instead I kept looking at statistics.
At the revenue graphs. At monthly traffic. At how good it was doing considering the time I put into it.
In my head, I was living some passive-income dream. I was fooling myself. An inconsistent $1000/mo is not enough to live off. And without product development and marketing, it didn't grow beyond that point.
Then came September 2020, and Stripe launched the new Stripe Checkout. It felt like Checkout Page lost its novelty. How was I going to compete with Stripe? Stripe! They were the sole reason Checkout Page existed in the first place. I felt empty inside.
I convinced myself that Stripe Checkout was different. It wasn't a payment link. You had to use a button on a website to go to your checkout. You couldn't just share it in an email, put it in your instagram bio or tweet it. I believed Checkout Page was different because it did all those things. Hmm.
In the last few months of 2020, Checkout Page started consistently hitting $1000/mo in revenue. I got fed up with my on-off on-off approach. I wanted to either make this work, or quit and do something else.
My friend @jorisderuiter suggested to mentor me in growing Checkout Page. We started doing a call every other week or so to discuss product direction.
We set the following goal:
An amount I would be able to comfortably live off. It's why I had become interested in SaaS in the first place: earning an income independently. Not reliant on one, two or three customers, but hundreds.
Then a freelance project I was relying on was canceled. I looked at my savings. With $1000/mo in revenue, I realised could sit this one out. I went full time!
Going full time caused a huge shift in focus. I wanted to get stuff done. I wanted to make this work. I started getting more ideas for features and improvements. Customers were excited to see new features come in at a faster rate.
I redesigned and rewrote our marketing site. Added a ton of small features, UI improvements and new dashboard views. Improved the Help center and wrote more guides. Revenue started growing slowly, breaking $1800 in May. I started to believe I could do this.
And then Stripe launched Payment Links.
It felt empty again.
I should have prepared for this moment, but I hadn't.
I spoke to some friends. Had a mentorship call with Joris. And it turned out to be the most insightful turning point yet.
I can't fathom how it took me three years to realise this.
Our customers don't use Checkout Page just to take a payment on Stripe. They use it because of everything else it has to offer. The features that help them serve their customers. The easy-to-use dashboard. The intuitive design. The personal support. The ability to quickly test new products. The customizability.
My customers knew something I took three years to figure out. It's not just some sort of integration or plugin. It's a product of itself.
Things are starting to connect. The features I've built over the years are starting to work together. There's a solid foundation to build on top of, with many exciting ideas and many excited customers. Here's the first.
Today I'm launching Digital Downloads on Product Hunt. A no-code way to sell digital downloads on your own site and with payment links.
It's as easy as creating a checkout page, adding some files and sharing the page with your customers.
I'm glad to have shared some insights into this journey so far, and I look forward to share more in the future.
It's been rough. It's probably the hardest thing I've done. I like to think I'm not susceptible to self doubt, but SaaS is something else.