The Internet is awash with get-rich-quick schemes, which promise vast returns with almost no effort.
Most are bogus, but some really do pan out, according to a recent thread on discussion board Hacker News.
“All profitable side projects are profitable because they solve a real pain so people are willing to pay money to have something that solves their problem,” a director at video game developer Ubisoft and thread creator Cezar Floroiu told Business Insider UK.
Floroiu knows this first hand. After going through the time-consuming process of recruiting his own team, he built an online platform to measure candidates’ skills before the interview. It’s now tested more than 22,000 candidates, and asked more almost 430,000 questions.
“Believe in what you are building,” Floroiu said. He offered two main pieces of advice: “Be open and communicate and learn from people using your product” and “listen to them and add those features that are missing.”
Below, we’ve pulled out some of the best examples of “profitable side projects” from the thread:
A website that lists routing numbers for Bank Of Americas across the United States. User dynofuz says the website was thrown together in less than a day and monetised with ads. It now pulls in $US150 per month with little maintenance required.
A spam-busting, self-destructing email service. 10MinuteMail offers users a temporary email address that deletes itself after 10 minutes for users who don’t want to give out their more permanent email. It was created by user modoc, who claims the service pulls in between 850,000 and 1 million monthly unique visitors, with two Google AdSense ads turning a tidy profit. Like dynofuz’s site, this site is based on using a simple tool to solve a common problem.
Selling “libraries” for app prototyping. Hacker News user robinhood sells relatively obscure resources that can be used by designers to prototype the look of apps and websites, such as Facebook page layouts, online shopping checkout designs, and website formatting tools. Robinhood claims to have created a source of “100% passive income,” making $US45,000 in 2014 while devoting just 30 hours to the site over the year. It’s been so successful that in 2015, he’s quitting his job to run the website full time. “If I make that much money while doing practically nothing, I can surely make a ton more by actually working on it every day for a year.”
A healthcare website for scheduling medical visits. Self-scheduling website inquicker.com was founded by user tikley in 2005 as nothing more than a “hobby” and a “learning opportunity.” But it transformed from side project to full-time job in 2009 after it began pulling in $US20,000 a year. I n 2013, they hit $US5 million in recurring revenue. “If you’re doing something without scale, it will die when you lose interest,” tikley says. “It you’re doing something with scale, perhaps it should grow into a bootstrapped startup.”
An e-book on online payment systems. Side projects don’t need to be websites to be profitable. User zrail capitalised on an expertise in online payments to write an e-book on the subject: A year and a half later, it’s surpassed $US42,000 in revenue, requiring only occasional updates to reflect software developments.
Software solutions for kennel owners. This example required more effort, but shows how opportunities can arise in unlikely places. User leesalminem spent 2014 building software for dog daycare and kennel owners, which people “went crazy over” at trade shows. Despite zero marketing they have snagged almost two dozen customers paying $US100/month. The creators benefited by breaking into a neglected industry with no new software in the last 10 years.
A video-ripping website. Requiring more active input than some of the other projects listed due to frequent design changes and counter-measures made by video-hosting sites, savdeo.com nonetheless earns its creator almost $US30,000 every month with almost no operational costs.
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