Being a B2C business I have had people tell me that the .co looks a bit doubtful. A large part of my customers aren't tech savvy so having a .com does make them feel better. When serving end users, having something they're more used to is not to be underestimated.
I also had a lot of people already trying to email me @thankbox.com and then get annoyed that I wasn't answering their emails 😂
The acquisition was actually a very straightforward and pleasant process.
I had actually contacted the previous owner at the start of 2021. At that point they didn't want to sell though.
I tried again in June and, surprisingly, had a good response! He suggested the price - $3000. I thought about it and thought it was reasonable.
He offered we use escrow.com and even offered to pay for the fees, which was a kind gesture. Once I had sent the funds and Escrow had confirmed it he transferred the domain the same day - through GoDaddy.
I'd heard horror stories of buying domains off someone like this before but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this whole thing was. I guess I was lucky?
The owner was super awesome and, when he found out what I was doing, wished me luck.
The main downside of changing the domain is that, for a while, I'll take an SEO hit. I hope it'll bounce back within a couple of months since I have done all of my 301 directs correctly (I hope 🤞)
I also found an issue where old secure URLs to Thankboxes (the one I send recipients) were redirecting but were giving a 403. I quickly had to scramble and send an email to all recent recipients with a new link to their cards - that's 7000 emails going out, hah.
Suffice to say, I'm expecting to have an increased level of customer support for the next couple of weeks, though.
This was totally worth it, though. I feel so much better having the .com
Super thrilled to report that, a year after launch, Thankbox has moved into $10k territory!
And for June I'm tracking to get even higher. Here are a few of the latest highlights:
💌 Users are consistently leaving over 2000 messages a day in Thankboxes.
🎁 I now have days where users collect over $5000 for gifts for their friends & colleagues.
🛠 I had to learn how to edit my Nginx config to allow more simultaneous connections because it was starting to hit the limits.
💷 Received the first part of my grant funding, which allowed me to increase my ad spend.
💰 Sold Thankbox number 7000! 6.1k of all sold Thankboxes have been in 2021 alone.
Thankbox is now maturing as a business, dealing with many different users and running into problems I wouldn't have expected when starting. With that in mind, I decided to invest a sizeable amount into having a lawyer do a review and rewrite of my terms and conditions. This should be ready soon and help me sleep a bit better at night 😅
🙋♂️ While an increased ad budget is definitely responsible for a large part of the growth, it's definitely not the only thing. Networking effects are starting to compound now. More and more people are reporting that they found out about Thankbox through their work or friends.
📊 SEO efforts are also paying off, with Thankbox ranking on the first page of search results for a lot of relevant terms.
I found out on Friday that I was one of the seven finalist in the Scottish Young EDGE competition this year. I applied back in February and, after a final where I had to do a 3 minute pitch, followed by a Q&A on Zoom, I found out that I won a £10,000 grant!
This is really big for Thankbox because it means I can 2x or even 3x my Google ad budget. April was the first month since October 2020 that Thankbox did not grow because - mainly due to increased competition in PPC spend. My average CPA went up from £1.70 to £2.70.
Despite that, ads continue to be my main traction channel and will be my main focus moving forward. Using this grant to increase the spend here should bring back growth.
The good news for April is that even with the reduced amount of acquisitions the month finished with a similar revenue to March. This is a clear indications that customers are sticking around and networking effects are pushing growth on their own ⭐️
March marks the 5th month in a row of amazing growth for Thankbox. This month brought in just over $3k more revenue than Feb, inching Thankbox elusively close to that $10k/month goal! I still find it unbeliavable that a one-off charge product with a low base price of $5.99 can achieve this.
I've had an increase in returning customers. Nearly 20% of all purchases in March were made by users who've previously bought a Thankbox:
Premium sales have also increased. The premium Thankbox tier is priced at $9.99. 12% of all monthly sales were premium. Up from 8% last month.
Thankbox has now issued over $120k in gift cards. This is all cash that users have collected for recipients through the platform. Almost $50k of that was just in March.
I hired a dedicated google ads consultant to manage the Adwords account. He only spends a few hours a week on it but he's already figuring out how to optimize ad spend based on time of day and day of week results.
I've slightly increased my ad spend, resuming to run ads in the US. Unfortunately the cost per conversion there is quite high but I will maintain them and hopefully try to bring costs down. I've already had some really high profile US clients discover and start using Thankbox regularly so it's a good long term investment.
I added more options to the premium tier - custom fonts that users can use for their messages as well as an increased collection cap of $600 (compared to $300 for the standard tier).
I'm almost ready to launch a blog as I want to invest in long term SEO. I have found a couple of really good copywriters who'll be able to provide content for it. I hope the first posts to be live by end of April. Thanks to @andreboso for continuously nudging me towards this direction with his tweets 😂
Blasting past $10k this month, of course 📈
Last May when I was getting started with Thankbox I had very little knowledge of SEO. I thought it was this magic box of inaccessible tactics that surely I'd never figure out.
Once Thankbox started getting real traction with search ads I realized that, if search ads work so well, then that means good SEO and discoverability is where my long term traction goals should be.
After all, while ads work, what's even better(and cheaper!) is naturally ranking for the keywords I'm bidding on.
I started working through the Ahrefs recommendation and doing as much as I can to get my health score up. Here is a few of the more important things I did:
I'm currently sitting on ar eally nice Ahrefs healthscore and slowly starting to accumulate some backlinks:
But what really made me happy was when I started seeing Thankbox appearing in the first page of search results for terms like "virtual leaving card" and "online leaving card" which I've been targetting the longest.
There is still a long way to go - some of my competitors that have been around for longer have a lot more backlinks but it's at least a sign I'm doing something right!
I actually got an email from a user who told me to "work on my SEO" because Thankbox "barely made it into the first page of search results".
I was just bloody thrilled to even be there 😂
I was originally setting myself up for a slow January - I thought it'd be about 80% of December revenue.
In a case of classic underestimation Thankbox actually ended up growing by almost 20% in January compared to December 😁
The best day was funnily the last work day of January - Friday the 29th. I think this was due to two reasons:
Both of these combined into a day of 77 sales! I actually ran into some scaling issues I have to address because of that. All good problems though 🔥
Last week I also released the new premium Thankbox tier.
I've not started properly advertising it yet but have already had a few premium Thankboxes created. Just yesterday I sold the first one! For this month I'll try to focus more on marketing the premium tier. I'm putting some hope into it being a driver for a step-up increase in revenue for the next few months.
One massive other event that happened this month was that the awesome @andreboso did a case study on Thankbox for his excellent www.zerotomarketing.com newsletter. Already working away on some of his tips!
That's it folks - hope to write another one soon!
P.S. Did you know, that February is a perfect square in the calendar (if your week starts on Monday). How awesome is that?
I was super happy to be invited to do an interview with IH about my journey building Thankbox.
I spent a lot of time on it and aimed to capture as much of the important details of my journey as I could. I hope it serves as inspiration for others here.
You can find the full interview at https://www.indiehackers.com/interview/how-i-launched-and-grew-my-startup-by-500-during-the-covid-crisis-d526999b35
The IH Editorial team also did a great summary of it their Deep Dive series at https://www.indiehackers.com/post/deep-dive-valentin-hinov-of-thankbox-723727219e
Thanks @HaldenIng and team for the opportunity and the awesome piece ❤️
I have been riding the Christmas wave with Thankbox and it's brought mindblowing growth.
I had a day with almost 40 sales in one day (~$250 in a day).
Today I finally hit the 1000 messages being posted in a day goal I wanted!
At the end of November I noticed that a huge use case for Thankbox would be for parents organizing Christmas cards for their kids' teachers. Therefore I decided to increase my search ad spend for December a bit (just by about £5-10/day) and target a few new keywords.
The effect was immediate - about 20-30% of all Thankboxes sold this month are bought by parents. Some buy one for each teacher their kid has - it's great 😍
Obviously, this particular use case will dry up post-Christmas so I am expecting a slowdown in January 2021. Though despite that, I am still getting more and more companies (my bread and butter) using Thankbox and most seem to love it.
My latest scores on the "would you use it again" survey question I send buyers were all 9/10 or 10/10. All in all, a great end to the year!
November was absolutely bonkers for Thankbox, as you'd see in my recent milestones. At the end it just managed to get to $1k in revenue for the month which is nuts!
I went from 3-4 daily sales at the start of the month to having one a day with 24 sales towards the end 🎉
I love the IH revenue charts - I think it's those sweet bezier curves.
I've decided that this is enough proof that our landing page and messaging is clear enough to try re-launching on product hunt which I've just done today. Fingers crossed this could result in a nice springboard for continued growth in December 🤞
Christmas arrived in November for me and Thankbox. The month has been absolutely crazy in terms of milestone after milestone being smashed.
I know things will start settling down a bit in December and the growth won't be as crazy, but I wanted to take the opportunity to ride my high and share how long it took me to get to 200 sold Thankboxes.
I never knew how exponential growth felt like until I started modeling Thankbox sales in increments of 50.
1st thankbox sold: 05/05/2020
50th thankbox sold: 28/08/2020
100th thankbox sold: 23/10/2020
150th thankbox sold: 12/11/2020
200th thankbox sold: 24/11/2020
From 1->50: 116 days
From 50->100: 57 days
From 100->150: 20 days
From 150->200: 12 days 🔥
I've mentioned in earlier milestones that Thankbox is suited heavily on networking effects. Since I've had search ads running for about a month now I've already started seeing the networking effects compound. People who received a Thankbox or left a message on one end up making one of their own just weeks after. It's awesome!
I'm now working on better KPI modelling so that I can more precisely track these networking effects.
Thankbox addresses a key frustration I've faced in the many different teams I've worked with - how to celebrate a member's occasion. Be it a birthday, farewell or just expressing gratitude for a job well done.