2017

  1. I’m getting married

    I proposed to Julia in August, and we’re tying the knot in October.

  2. I sold Visitor Boost

    Visitor Boost was my first really successful website. Over 12 years it generated $1.5 million in sales. It was an exceedingly simple and low-effort business: resell another company’s advertising packages at a markup, the orders got filled automatically, and the support burden was minimal. Basically digital dropshipping. And it paid for most of my undergraduate college education.

    Changes in Google’s search algorithms, increased competition, and my investing no time into the site for years led to a steady decline in traffic and revenue. By 2017 it was generating only $1200/month in sales. I sold it through Flippa, a website brokerage, for 24X monthly profits last month.

    That was a good sale for me. I was never going to invest time into that site when investing the same time into Improvely would always have a better ROI. There’s no guarantee monthly sales wouldn’t decline further, but I locked in 24 months worth of profit. And the taxes on that money will be lower than had I earned it from customers, since it’s a capital gain rather than income.

  3. A stable Improvely

    Both financially and technically.

    Improvely has, for the past few months, plateaued at $500-600K annual revenue. New customers sign up at about the same rate as old customers churn out. I do minimal marketing (a $1000/mo AdWords campaign) and no outbound sales, so that’s a pretty good level to have grown to mostly organically, I think. Most new signups are referrals of existing or past customers that recommended Improvely.

    I think the business could be 10X larger if I had a small sales team doing some outreach. I also still don’t want to hire and manage people. I loathe even getting on the phone. Maybe some day there will be a “salespeople as a service” startup I can subscribe to.

    Feature-wise, Improvely is pretty stable as well. The big new thing in 2016 was funnel reports. There’s a certain type of marketer that really, really loves “funnels”. It’s the main word in their marketing vocabulary. Big overlap with the “affiliate marketing” group. They’re super happy to have funnel reports. The new features since then have been more minor, but important to day-to-day quality of life for lots of users, like leaving notes on customer profiles, manually adjusting historical cost data for their ad campaigns, and more granular notification subscriptions.

    In 2016 I also moved Improvely’s hosting 100% to Amazon Web Services. With reserved instances, it’s no more expensive than Softlayer was. But I no longer have to worry about live-migrating the entire site to a different host in the middle of the night because some new Xen vulnerability was found and Softlayer can’t hot-patch Xen, unlike AWS.

  4. I’m in love with electric cars

    That’s my Nissan Leaf, which I bought in the spring of 2015.

    It launches from a stop like a rocket, then feels like you’re gliding over the road rather than being dragged down it by a roaring engine. It’s totally silent. It uses no gas, emits no exhaust fumes, and you never have to take time out of your day to refuel it. I plug it in when I pull into my garage, and it’s got a full “tank” of power every time I want to leave the house. The electric is 50% cheaper than gas per mile driven.

    It has no belts to wear out, no oil to dirty, and the brake pads will likely last for the life of the car. The service schedule goes up to 120,000 miles with nothing but “rotate tires, check brake fluid” every year. 5-year-old Nissan Leafs start at around $5000. For a “grocery getter”, or a short daily commute, there’s nothing that new with a lower total cost of ownership.

    After driving the Leaf for two years I doubt I’ll ever buy another non-electric car. I would like a car with a sportier look and longer range per charge, which is why I put a reservation deposit on a Tesla Model 3. It’s supposed to go on sale later this year.

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