When I started SongRender, I had one lofty goal: forming an LLC… and not paying out of pocket to do it. I'm overjoyed to report that I've now accomplished that goal. SongRender LLC has been incorporated!
I incorporated using Stripe Atlas, because it's been such a pleasure using Stripe so far that I figured I'd continue to give them my business, and I was not disappointed. I still had to figure out a bunch of legalese in order to sign the contracts, but I think they did just about as good a job as they could of wrapping the process up nicely.
I will have to migrate all my customers from my previous Stripe instance to the new one they created for the LLC, which is slightly annoying. But so far that's been the only downside.
I'm still waiting on some things like my business bank account, so the process isn't totally done. But I can officially say that I'm a business owner now! 😁
When I posted my last update in the beginning of May, I had just gotten my first monthly subscriber and netted around $500 in one–time sales. I’m happy to report that number is now only a few bucks shy of $700!
My infrastructure costs scale with the number of videos people are rendering, but I made more than enough sales to cover it this month. It definitely helped that I downgraded my render server, going from the $40/mo CPU–optimized one to a $15/mo normal one. So I guess the takeaway is, make sure you’re not overprovisioning your infrastructure — it can make the difference between profit and loss!
Lately, SongRender has had a big increase in traffic from this article. Most people just create free watermarked videos, and a few pay to have the watermark removed. That's still great, and I'm happy about it — money is money and the watermarks help market SongRender — but the thing that makes SaaS apps go is recurring revenue.
Then, all of a sudden, I got a notification from Stripe on my phone. "New customer! Subscription created!"
I'm over the moon. SongRender has netted about $500 in one–time sales, but this feels like the first real step toward building a sustainable business.
Feels pretty amazing to be able to say that! I posted the introductory IndieHackers milestone exactly one year ago.
Here are some numbers:
A lot of the time this year was consumed by building important retention features, such as user accounts. Focus this coming year is going to include a few more of those (like subscriptions) and a lot of marketing. I should be able to get the costs down to around $50 a month, which means I only need to sell 10 videos (or 3 bundles!) to break even.
It's been fulfilling, stressful and just plan fun working on a project like this in public for a full year. I wrote a pair of blog posts to celebrate: one on the SongRender blog and another on my own blog with a more behind–the–scenes look.
Yesterday SongRender launched on Product Hunt! It ended up hanging out just below the front page, with 74 upvotes. Despite that, it got 330 unique pageviews, 111 people tried it out, 15 signed up and one person bought a video.
In retrospect, one thing I wouldn’t have skimped on is an animated thumbnail. I posted SongRender immediately after returning from a weekend tour with my band, so I was in a time crunch beforehand and I spent most of my free time working on the marketing site. But looking at the other products that day, almost all the top ones had animated thumbnails whereas mine was just the SongRender logo.
There’s also opportunity to evaluate the product journey. SongRender lets you try out the full-featured editor anonymously, and only makes you sign in when you want to render your video. 15 accounts out of 111 trials is actually pretty decent — just under 15%.
I also suspect the audience for Product Hunt is not quite right for SongRender, because they’re very maker- and startup-focused while SongRender is specifically for musicians. Even so, it pushed me to really critically analyze my marketing site and do a bunch of product polish. And making $10 isn’t bad either!
It’s taken about six long months of hard work, but I finally pushed a big enough update to SongRender that I’m informally calling it v2.
The first version was a true MVP. There weren’t even any user accounts — once you started a video, you’d lose it forever once you closed your browser. It was great validation, though, because despite a small initial marketing push and then mostly radio silence as I worked on this update, SongRender has seen over 150 videos created and made almost $300!
This update adds user accounts, a file manager, a totally rewritten editor with HTML Canvas, and a lot more. Almost every corner of the app has been redesigned or improved under the hood. It’s a huge architectural change, and I’m super excited to finally release it.
Special shout-out to this community — this is the longest I’ve kept up a side project and I never truly appreciated how difficult it is to put in consistent work at building a business in your off time. Balancing design, development, marketing, normal work and a social life is a herculean task. Keep up the good work, y’all!
After months of hard work, I'm finally launching! https://songrender.com
When you're a musician, it's hard to get your music noticed. SongRender helps you stand out by turning it into cool waveform videos that you can share on social media.
Check it out and let me know what you think!
I've played in a lot of bands, which means trying to promote music online. I noticed that a lot of YouTube channels use cool music visualizations for their videos, but I couldn't find an easy way to make them myself.