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As an entrepreneur and neuroscience student, I use Maker Mind to share science-based practical tips for makers to make the most of their brains, with a focus on productivity, creativity, and mental wellness.

July 24, 2020 $2K MRR for my newsletter and community!

It took a lot of work and care—a true labour of love—but Ness Labs just reached $2K in MRR!

Ness Labs MRR milestone

That doesn't include workshops, sponsorships, ebooks, and consulting. This is just people who enjoy spending time on Ness Labs to read content and connect with the community, and who get enough from the experience to decide to support my work.

And this is exactly why I'm so excited about it!

May 29, 2020 $10K in revenue and 200 articles!

So happy! I just crossed $10K in revenue (screenshot) as I crossed 200 articles published on my website, which is all about neuroscience-based content for people who want to make the most of their mind.

The reason why I'm sharing these two milestones in a combined post is because I think they're a perfect illustration of a slow overnight success.

I launched the newsletter in July 2019, and I have been publishing between 3 and 5 articles each week since then, without fail. By February 2019, the newsletter had generated a grand total of $1.8K through sponsorships, which—admittedly—I never proactively pursued. In March 2020, I launched the paid membership, with a discussion forum, virtual meetups, extra content, discounts on mindful productivity apps, and more. Today, in May 2020, I crossed $10K in revenue from the membership alone.

To me, this is a significant milestone, because it's the first time I'm generating recurring revenue. It's also one of the first times the user and the payer are one and the same person. Compare this to corporate consulting and sponsorships, where the payer is an employee spending company money. Not only this is an incredible vote of confidence, but it's also much more sustainable. While losing one corporate client can be extremely stressful, my new revenue model is much more stable.

Thanks everyone for your support. I got so much help from this community, learning about newsletters, productisation, turning value into revenue, and more. I love being part of this hardworking community of fellow founders all figuring it out together!

May 4, 2020 10K newsletter subscribers!

It took 8 months but here we are—finally reached the arbitrary milestone of 10K subscribers for the Maker Mind newsletter! I'm not sure what I expected would happen (nothing special happened), but I'm super happy nonetheless. The growth has significantly slowed down the past few months but I'm fine with slow and steady.

For those who are curious, my main growth channel by far is Twitter, where most of my traffic comes from. Search traffic is also slowly growing and converts at a higher rate than Twitter traffic. I assume this is because people have a specific need which they want to address, versus casually browsing on Twitter.

Onto 20K!

April 29, 2020 $5K in one month!

I can't believe I forgot to post an update last week when I crossed that milestone, and I'm actually at $6K now, but wanted to celebrate with the IH community nonetheless!

I launched the Ness Labs community with the goal to create a sustainable source of revenue to support my writing, and to be able to rely less on consulting, which can fluctuate greatly in terms of income. It took me exactly 30 days to get to $5K in revenue.

I'm so happy because I've been pouring my heart into this project, and it's amazing to see people showing their support this way and having a tangible proof that they find the work useful.

The community is designed for entrepreneurs, creators, makers and researchers—people who like to come up with new ideas, understand how the mind works, and want to be their most productive and creative self.

Included in the membership are exclusive articles and research reports, a private community, virtual meetups, workshops, and Mind Match, where I manually match community members for 1:1 coffee chats.

While I initially was planning on only offering a yearly membership, the current circumstances and the high levels of uncertainty for many people—including my target audience—made me decide to add a monthly membership. The pricing is currently $5/month or $50/year.

My main acquisition channels at the moment are the free weekly newsletter I send to almost 10K subscribers, and sharing my work on Twitter where some people sign up straight to the membership.

Super happy to answer any questions for Indie Hackers thinking of launching such a paid community!

March 20, 2020 First MRR and $1K on launch day!

So far, Ness Labs and the Maker Mind newsletter have been funded through sponsorships and consulting — both time-consuming and unpredictable. Yesterday, I launched the Ness Labs membership to my newsletter audience.

This is a huge milestone as it's the first time ever Ness Labs is generating proper MRR—as in recurring revenue! The goal is to create a sustainable revenue stream so I can focus on creating great content and being helpful to the community.

I was initially planning on only offering an annual membership, but with everything that's going on, I thought it would be nice to give people more flexibility. So I ended up creating a $50 yearly plan and a $5 monthly plan.

I made exactly $1,105 in new memberships since launching 12 hours ago. After all the work I've put into writing free articles and the newsletter, this feels like a massive hug from my readers! 🤗

Both plans include:

  • Mind Match: a service where I hand-match members for virtual coffees. I include a discussion guide to help them have interesting conversations.
  • Partner deals: I negotiated some offers on mindful productivity and creativity apps, tools, and courses. It's a win-win add-on for members and partners and it's much easier to negotiate these compared to sponsorships, so I'll keep on adding to that directory.
  • Events: obviously online only for now.
  • Member newsletter: a monthly digest with exclusive content, new offers, community highlights, etc.

Next week, I'll launch a proper community where members can connect with each other.

In terms of growth, I'll keep on writing the free weekly newsletter, and hopefully in a few weeks I'll have a good idea of what percentage converts to the paid membership. Excited to grow this community!

February 27, 2020 8K subscribers & 150 articles!

It's interesting to see how much my growth has slowed down in the past few months. I attribute this to the lack of articles on the front page of Hacker News, which were skewing my results. Now, the growth is slower but much more predictable. At this rate, I should reach 10K subscribers in the next few months.

Another milestone is 150 articles, which I'm much prouder about, as it's a results of my consistency and passion for the topics I write about. Much of the themes I cover are applied in the way I work and manage my time, and I'm excited to see it pay off.

Next: the very first IRL meetup with Maker Mind's subscribers, which will happen next week! It's going to be one of the first experiments I conduct to turn the newsletter into a proper community.

November 28, 2019 6K subscribers & published 100 articles!

I reached two big milestones this week. Over 6K subscribers, and I just published the 100th article on my website since I started my little writing experiment back in the summer.

Here are some of the things I learned:

  • Consistency beats strategy. Picasso created more than 50,000 works of art, but only about a hundred are considered masterpieces. Following the Pareto rule, most of my traffic comes from a small subset of articles. To this day, I still have no idea if an article will perform well. It's a bit like fishing. By writing every day, I maximise the chances something will hit a chord.
  • You don't know what you don't know. Instead of spending lots of time researching the best ways to grow a newsletter, I just decided to get writing. I only did research when I was confused about something or felt like something could be optimised, on a "need to learn" basis.
  • Communities are powerful. I can attribute most of my success to sharing my articles on Hacker News, Twitter, and Indie Hackers. By contributing to these communities, I create a virtuous circle where I get feedback, improve my content, and attract more people with relevant interests.
  • Newsletters are making a comeback. Since I started my newsletter, I've discovered a whole world of indie writers, publishers, and content creators. I think there's a whole audience to serve there, driven by the passion economy, and indie hackers would do well to explore it.
  • It's okay to not have a plan. I didn't have one when I started this experiment. I just knew what I cared about and who I wanted to help. Now, I have a much clearer idea of where I want to go. But it only happened because I put the work in first to connect with the right audience.

I wrote a bit more about my experience here if you're interested, and I'm gifting a one-year Audible subscription to one random subscriber today at 4pm GMT / 8am PST through my newsletter to celebrate these milestones! 🥳

October 17, 2019 5,000 subscribers!

Super excited about this milestone — the fact that 5,000 people trusted me enough to give me their email address means a lot to me. I'm hoping to keep Maker Mind growing this fast even though it's been stalling for the past week due to no big "hit" article.

How did I get there?

  • July 9th, 2019 — Sent the first newsletter out to about 300 existing subscribers on my personal list, who I hadn't emailed in about 9 months.
  • July 22nd, 2019 — My first article hit the front page of HN!
  • August and September — Several more articles hit the front page of HN and a couple got quite popular on Twitter, which resulted in being picked up by a few other newsletters and aggregator. Most of my traffic these two months came from social media. I reached about 1,000 subscribers at the end of August.
  • September 24th, 2019 — Reached 2,000 total subscribers.
  • October 1st, 2019 — Launched on Product Hunt, ended up #2 of the day and #3 of the week. This resulted in 1,300 new subscribers on launch day and 2,000 new subscribers overall, for a total of 4,000 subscribers at this point.
  • October 8th, 2019 — First paid sponsor, Maker Mind officially became a profitable project!
  • Today — 5,000 subscribers! With an average open rate of 51.7% and click rate of 14.7%.

Thanks everyone for the support, and virtual high five to all my fellow newsletter creators. It's hard work but worth every bit of it. 💌

October 8, 2019 First paid sponsor and revenue!

Just secured our first sponsors for the next 6 weeks — that's $1,200 in revenue after three months. I'm super happy to have been approached by a sponsor that's perfectly aligned with Maker Mind's values, content, and audience.

Subscribe to get the next newsletter and discover who the sponsor is.

As an entrepreneur and neuroscience student, I use Maker Mind to share science-based practical tips for makers to make the most of their brains, with a focus on productivity, creativity, and mental wellness.