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How I Made $261,225 in 20 Days Selling a Software Product Even Though I’m Not a Programmer

Yes! I Love to Learn

Finding the Right Keywords will determine 80% of the success of your websites. I’ll show you how to win.

How I Made $261,225 in 20 Days Selling a Software Product Even Though I’m Not a Programmer

If you’ve been hanging out on my blog for a while, you know that I talk a lot about building niche websites; including the recent massive income report for niche site project 2.

However, I haven’t discussed other parts of my business quite as much; including Long Tail Pro.  As you may know, Long Tail Pro is a keyword research tool that I created out of my own frustration with other keyword tools as I researched my own niche websites.

Today, I wanted to share a few lessons learned about how I’ve created a highly successful software business even though I’m not a programmer.  Along the way, I’ll share a few details about Long Tail Pro that I haven’t shared previously as well, including a massive payday that I achieved in a period of 20 days.

While my first love has always been niche sites, and they are still a great place for someone to learn the ropes and earn a decent income…I highly recommend you look into starting a software business as it can be a LIFE changing business.

Why a Software Business?

First of all, why is software such a great business?  The reasons are fairly simple; with software you can create something once and then sell it an unlimited amount of times.  For this reason, the profit margins are much larger than a typical business selling a physical product.

If you were manufacturing a product, like socks; you have to pay for materials and manufacturing costs every time someone buys a pair of socks.  This is not the case with software.  The additional cost when someone buys software is usually very little; especially if its an online application or something delivered by email.

Obviously you knew all that though!

In addition, a software business is something you can run out of your home or anywhere else.  I run Long Tail Pro completely out of my home as 100% owner.  All my programmers and customer support staff are virtual; working out of their own homes as well.

Isn’t business in the 21st century great?!

I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t start a business based on a physical product that you have to ship; any business is better than none in my opinion.  But from my viewpoint, a software business has some pretty nice lifestyle and profit margin advantages that others opportunities don’t offer.

To put it in perspective:  I currently put in around 1 to 2 hours a day on average running my Long Tail Pro business (sometimes more, sometimes less).  It now makes more money in 2 months, than most people make in a year.

Yes, this is revenue, not net profit…but as mentioned before the profit margins are pretty huge for software in general, and that is no different for Long Tail Pro.  In addition to my own time, I pay programmers, customer support, APIs, hosting, etc.  At the end of the day, the profit margin (excluding my own time) for Long Tail Pro is around 85%.

I’m Not a Programmer

I am not a coder.  I know some very basic html and CSS that I’ve picked up along the way creating websites; but that’s about it.  So, instead of just thinking, “Well, I guess I can’t create a software business…”, I decided to hire someone.

For Long Tail Pro, I actually made several rookie mistakes, and the first programmer I hired did not work out well.  Rather than share the sad story of what I did wrong, let me just share some tips that I learned for hiring a great programmer.

First, always communicate as much as possible before you hire a programmer.  Do a Skype call or phone call.  Exchange emails.  And document as much as possible what is expected for the task.

Second, ask your potential hire what concerns or problems they see with your project.  If they don’t see any issues, chances are they haven’t thought it through.  For every successful programmer I’ve hired, they’ve always been able to ask deeper questions or bring up issues that perhaps I hadn’t thought of.  What you are looking for is someone that is willing to take interest in your project and make it as successful as possible.

Third, clearly define what is to be delivered at the completion of the project.  You will want to specify that you have full ownership rights of the source code.

Fourth, discuss what the expectations are for ongoing maintenance and resolving bugs.  Every software project is going to have bugs that come up when different people use your product, so you need to know that your programmer is will to fix those; and what his compensation will be.

I paid my programmer a fixed job price to get the first version of Long Tail Pro up and running.  But I now pay him on an hourly basis for any ongoing maintenance, updates, and resolving bugs.  Your software is likely to need constant maintenance; you can’t expect it to be a one time payment and you are done.  It rarely works out like that.

Finally, I’ve learned that you get what you pay for.  Most of the time, the more expensive programmers are going to do the best job and perhaps save you money in the long run.  The very first programmer I hired, I tried cutting corners and found someone cheap…not good!  My second attempt, I found the most qualified…period.  I did not worry about price.  As a result, I’ve had the same programmer over the past few years.  Yes, he’s the most expensive programmer I’ve ever hired, but he’s well worth every penny.

A Slow and Fast Approach I Took to Launch My Product

The Slow Approach

I’ll be the first to admit that my first attempt to launch Long Tail Pro was pretty lackluster.  I did have a small list of readers (from a previous blog), and then I listed my Long Tail Pro offer on the Warrior Forum special offers section in January 2011.

That’s it.  That was my launch.

I listed it up and emailed probably around 1000 people on my email list.  I didn’t try to recruit any affiliates or really do anything else.

Despite the very small launch, there were still buyers…and the feedback was very positive!

The one thing I DID do right was to blog.  I had been blogging for about a year before I launched Long Tail Pro, and I continued after launching it.  My blog slowly but surely continued to grow.

For someone like me that didn’t want to go out and recruit affiliates or hold webinars or do active marketing in general, blogging was a great fit.  I simply wrote about my niche website business and it started to grow organically.

This continues to be my primary marketing strategy today: write great content and share true value; build a loyal following, and then solve their problems with software.

Sure blogging is a slower approach, it took a couple years before Long Tail Pro was a “real” business.  But my blog continues to be the #1 source of sales for Long Tail Pro by a long shot; even over all of my affiliates…combined.

The Fast Approach

After a couple of years and tons of updates to Long Tail Pro, I wanted to try doing an actual launch that generated some buzz.  In December 2012, Long Tail Pro was making around $10,000 per month (you can read a blog post I wrote around that time).

I decided to hire an affiliate manager (Mark Thompson) to help me recruit affiliates and put together a special offer, just to see what could happen and generate more sales.

What happened during this launch still blows my mind.   Not only did it exceed my expectations by many times over, it also broke all kinds of records at the time for the biggest launch on JVzoo and Forum Special Offers.

The offer we made was pretty simple.  We ran a 7-day special offer that started at about $70 off the normal $97 price tag.  Yep, people were grabbing Long Tail Pro at $27…but it was on a dime sale, so the price went up every 10 sales or something like that.  (We ended up increasing the number of sales required for the price to go up because so many people were buying).

I also created an upsell: Long Tail Classroom that taught people how to build niche sites using Long Tail Pro.

Because the sale was SO successful after 7 days, we increased the price to $47 and left it there for a few more weeks; and sales continued to roll in before we eventually closed it down.

How successful was this sale?  Well, for the first time ever I’m going to share the exact numbers.

ltplaunchimage

(An image from the special offer launch sales page)

The Launch Numbers…

The screenshot below shows the revenue from the special offer launch after just 11 days (Jan. 11th, 2013 through Jan. 22nd, 2013).  I wanted to show this screenshot, even though the one further down shows the total revenue after the sale; because this one shows more stats such as conversion rates and revenue per visitor, etc.

ltplauncha
Click to Enlarge

Money Paid to Affiliates

The below screenshot shows that not all of that revenue was mine to keep, we paid out over six figures to affiliates after the first couple of weeks. (We paid out more once the entire sale was done, not all of these screenshots were taken at the same time, which is the reason for some differences in the numbers).

paidtopartners
Click to Enlarge

Total Revenue from the Long Tail Pro Special Offer

This screenshot below, shows the total revenue after 20 days (Jan. 11th 2013 to Jan. 31st 2013).

ltplaunch2a
Click to Enlarge

The numbers from this sale STILL blow me away!  To put it in perspective, I was selling about $10,000 worth of Long Tail Pro per month prior to this launch.  Then in a matter of a couple of weeks, I sold over $260,000 of the software!

Obviously, a lot of that went out to affiliates, but trust me, I ended up with the fastest paycheck I’d ever seen in my life.  In fact, I personally made (in my pocket) more money in Jan. 2013 than I made in an entire year at my previous job as a business banker with an MBA.

Going into the sale, Mark Thompson (affiliate manager) told me to be ready for up to 2,000 sales of the software.  This number blew my mind and I said NO WAY are we selling that many copies!  Well, we were both wrong…and sold nearly 6,000 copies of the software when all was said and done.

What made this launch so incredibly successful?

Here’s some quick points, because unfortunately not every product will be able to replicate, but if done properly, you can have a huge payday:

  • I created a solid product and had been updating it for 2 years.  I believe a huge reason (the biggest?) for the success of this launch was that Long Tail Pro was already a great product and had lots of happy users.  Many people had heard of it before, but they weren’t necessarily willing to pay the full price right away.  Having a solid reputation in the marketplace goes a long way.
  • Offer a price people can’t refuse.  Some people already knew about the product and hadn’t bought.  But when they saw it for $27, it was a no brainer!  So many people pulled the trigger, it was ridiculous.
  • Recruit affiliates…and then recruit some more!  Mark Thompson had connections with lots of affiliates, and so a huge hats off to him for recruiting some great people.  However, once the sale started going and we saw it was a huge hit after the first day, Mark hit up even more people and said, “you don’t want to miss out on this!”.  So, keep recruiting, even after the launch has started…and ask them to email their lists multiple times if possible during the week.  I also recruited a few of the top affiliates myself including Chris Guthrie and Pat Flynn….
  • Email your own list.  I have always been hesitant about emailing my own blog email list about offers.  However, it was my own product!  I emailed a few times during the sale to my email list, and as a result I was the one of the top sellers of my own product.  Yep, I was right near the top of all “affiliates” for the entire sale.  But trust me, the I NEEDED all those other affiliates…combined, they sold WAY more than me.
  • Try something new.  I’ll admit that I was super hesitant about the “salesy” type copy that was proposed.  I never really liked the long sales letter with the “sales” copy.  But I decided to let go and try it out.  Turns out long sales copy works really well!  For this particular offer it was a home run.  I’m not saying you should always do that (and if you look at LongTailPro.com, you can see I have a short video sales page now)…but trying something different can yield nice results.

Get Ready for Customer Service

Before my special offer launch at the beginning of 2013, I handled all of the customer service myself, and escalated issues I couldn’t handle to my programmer.  I’ve always done my best to respond quickly to customer questions or concerns.

If you are starting your own software business, you need to know that this can be a large amount of the time spent on your business; customer service.  There will be pre-sales questions, post sales, bugs, happy testimonials, and complaints.  You need to take it all in stride and do everything you can to keep your customer happy.

When I did my special launch, I was NOT ready for the customer service needs.  As you can image with nearly 6,000 sales in a couple of weeks, I didn’t sleep much.  As soon as I could answer 20 emails in my inbox, there would be 20 more when I was done.  This didn’t stop for about a month.

I did nothing but customer support for almost 2 weeks.  But I didn’t go alone!  After the first day, I could see that I needed help and immediately went out looking for someone to hire.  Luckily I found an existing user of Long Tail Pro that was happy to help out…and he is still my full-time customer support rep to this day!

Those few weeks of refreshing my inbox every few minutes to see sales rolling in and customer service issues was the most exciting, most draining, and longest hours I’ve probably ever worked, but also the most rewarding.

The bottom line is that you need to have some sort of customer support in place.  If you are going to handle it yourself, that’s fine; but be ready for the good times when you have so much work you need to hire someone else!

I personally now have a few different products; and I use a few different ticketing systems for support.  The 3 that I currently use are OS ticket, HelpScout.net, and FreshDesk.com.  All are good – with pros and cons for each.

Paid Marketing

I have not really done any paid marketing for Long Tail Pro.  However, I AM in the process of getting a Facebook campaign set up to expand the reach of Long Tail Pro a bit more.

So, in a nutshell, paid marketing is not actually needed…if you go the same route I did with Long Tail Pro.

However, if done correctly, paid marketing can potentially be a very smart move for your business.  Obviously, its much faster way to grow your business than taking the simple blogging/content marketing approach that I have with my software business.

Ongoing Maintenance

As mentioned previously, there will likely be ongoing maintenance that is needed for your software.  Long Tail Pro in particular may need more updates than most because it has so many moving parts and gathers data from so many different sources.  When any of those sources change how they share or present the data, we also have to change.

In addition, you may want to update the look and feel of your software over time; or come out with newer versions with updated functionality as your business grows.  For Long Tail Pro, we are constantly updating features and have a backlog of requested features to be added.

This is an ongoing investment and cost that I’m more than happy to pay.  You just need to be aware when you go into the software business, that you will likely always be paying a programmer to update, fix, revamp, or otherwise keep your software up to date.

Still beats the heck out of manufacturing and shipping a physical product though!

How I’ve Significantly Grown Long Tail Pro Since That Launch

Since that launch, Long Tail Pro has continued to grow beyond my expectations.  More affiliates now have Long Tail Pro on their radar, and even though the “special offer” is over, they still want to promote a great product.

So, sales gradually grew from the norm of $10k a month before the offer to $15k/month over the next couple of months immediately following.

However, the smartest thing I ever did for my business was creating a monthly subscription option for Long Tail Pro (Platinum subscription).  You see, all the sales previously were just a one-time purchase.  People bought the software and had lifetime access to the software and all updates forever (and still do).

The platinum subscription was actually in the works for almost a year before it was released in Feb. 2013.  I wanted to provide users with some advanced features (including a Keyword Competitiveness calculation) that other keyword tools didn’t offer.  The problem was that to gain access to the data needed, I had to pay each time I queried the APIs or they had a monthly charge.

So, I had to charge a monthly fee in order to offer these features.  At the end of the day, people LOVE the platinum features, and they are happy to pay the small $17 per month that it sells for.

As a result, my business has grown significantly since adding a monthly subscription option in 2013.  I highly recommend a SaaS model or some type of subscription option if you are going into the software business.

Your Thoughts

I’m sure that this blog post will bring up a few questions, especially if you are considering getting into the software business.  I’m more than happy to answer those questions in the comments below.

Overall, I’ve always been hesitant about sharing exact income numbers for my business.  However, I hope you don’t mind seeing some of these launch results even though they are over a year old.    If this post can help inspire others to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, then that will be the biggest success of all.

I look forward to the discussion below!

Yes! I Love to Learn

Finding the Right Keywords will determine 80% of the success of your websites. I’ll show you how to win.

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134 Comments for this Post

  1. Luke Dennison

    Luke Dennison

    Intriguing title followed by a great article. Really nice read.

  2. Perrin

    Perrin

    Such a great case study. It’s a good reminder that there are a lot of business ideas out there, and some of them can scale MUCH bigger than niche sites.

    It’s also a good reminder that big ideas take a ton of work, which is important!

    Great story, and great post!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Perrin!

    • Perrin's mother

      Perrin's mother

      Perrin get back to work, what are you doing creeping the internet.

      • Perrin

        Perrin

        Sorry, mom!

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  4. Vlada

    Vlada

    Could you share the costs of outsouring the software? And the maintenance too

    Great post btw :-)

    • KimP

      KimP

      Great post. I’d sort of like to know about outsourcing costs as well. How long did it take you to get out of the red in regards to start-up costs?

      • Spencer Haws

        Spencer Haws

        Well, I paid for all the startup costs out of my own savings, so I was never in debt. But it probably took 4 to 6 months to recoup the initial costs (I’d have to research to know for sure)…but things really started to pick up after that (as you can see).

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I won’t share the exact costs, but I will say that it was not cheap. I pay my programmer $125/hr just to give you an idea though for ongoing maintenance. If you read my post here though you can get a rough idea, as I shared that I saved up enough cash in the bank to pay for the development (in the timeline section): http://www.nichepursuits.com/how-to-be-a-family-man-and-still-bootstrap-a-successful-business/

  5. Raj

    Raj

    You are really inspiration for us. Its really informative, resourceful and complete information guide for newbies.

  6. John Shea

    John Shea

    Awesome post, I knew you were killing it with this product especially after I saw people like Pat Flynn promoting it on his blog.

    I actually just bought it the other day for full price and started the platinum trial which I may continue with.

    One of my fellow entrepreneur friends, Matt Allen of DumbPassiveIncome.com always talks about your tool and now he sells keyword research services through his blog (Something I don’t see anyone else really doing all that much, especially not at the quality level he provides) and he is doing really well. He sold over $1000 worth of keyword research services last month all due to the aid of LTP every month.

    I knew it was necessary tool to have in my arsenal of software! Looking forward to future enhancements to the tool. Congrats on all the success with it.

  7. John Shea

    John Shea

    P.S. I think a case study with Matt Allen about how he uses LTP would be cool for your blog. He is the most avid user of Long Tail Pro out of all the entrepreneurs I know!

  8. Nick

    Nick

    I am using it and I have to say it is a really amazing product! Thanks for creating it!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Nick, glad you enjoy it…

  9. Charlie

    Charlie

    So why, Spencer, do you bother continuing with niche sites at all if you make so much from LTP? That doesn’t make sense to me.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Why not? I have the time and money to be involved in lots of businesses: long tail pro, several niche websites, rank hero, domain jawa, vylo and more. I LOVE being an entrepreneur, so I relish the chance to find profitable businesses and make them successful; including niche websites.

    • Bashar @DroolingDeals.com

      Bashar @DroolingDeals.com

      Because many of his ideas Spencer turned into a business have the same common root and i.e. “niche sites”. Thats why he keeps on making niche sites and while solving his problems and needs for building them he also tries to make the associated product and services which would help not only him but also his readers to accomplish that with a perfection and ease. You can see it with Domain Jawa, LTP, RankHero, etc as examples for that.

      • Spencer Haws

        Spencer Haws

        Good point. Niche sites were my first business…and I just have never stopped building them and am always looking for ways to build them more effectively.

  10. MASSMAN

    MASSMAN

    You found a solution to a problem we all were having and executed by creating a product that was better than anything else on the market.

    The KC is my favorite part of LT KW pro. Before, I was using a competitors product that I needed a PHD to understand.

    Thanks for the inspiration once again—-keep them coming!

    Scott in Boston

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Scott; and best of luck in your business as well

  11. lynn

    lynn

    Very inspiring! I hope to follow your blueprint

  12. Mark S (Salespro Agent)

    Mark S (Salespro Agent)

    WoW!! That is awesome Spencer!

    I use LongTail Pro all day everyday. I was actually using it while I received your email :)

    By the way….Since you got some serious coinage now, maybe you can add a feature to LongTai Pro that is very much needed.

    Please make LongTails Pro accessible from the Cloud!!!

    I run a Web Design Company out of Canada (Toronto and Mississauga) and I’m always away from our office most of the day meeting with local clients. Since I spend lots of time in and around town I would love if I could use LongTail Pro on the go (on the Cloud).

    Right now LongTail Pro is only installed on my PC at work and lately, when travelling to clients offices I take my Chromebook Laptop (Cloud based Google OS w/ 16GB hard drive).

    My entire business is setup on the cloud, I would love to be able to use any laptop or PC or Table to access my LongTail Pro. That way I can use it when I have the best ideas for Niche websites, usually when I’m having my coffee in little Italy (Toronto :).

    Thanks Spencer. Keep up the good work and thanks for helping us grow!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Mark…awesome that you were using Long tail pro at the time of this email!

      As for the recommended feature, its easier said that done. I’ve explored this idea, but its actually a complete rewrite of the code from the ground up – I would have to start from scratch. (And any type of code rewrite brings other issues along with it) So, its not a feature, it would actually be a completely different software program. I completely understand the need, but its too much of a pivot for the business.

      I AM constantly trying to make upgrades etc; and we have some major things in the works right now…

    • Ken

      Ken

      A work around for Chromebook is to use Chromebook Remote. It’s an app that allows you to access and run any program installed on a PC. I use it to run LTP installed on my PC from my Chromebook. Works like a charm!

      Love LTP – thanks for creating it Spencer!

      • Spencer Haws

        Spencer Haws

        Awesome! Thanks for sharing the tip…

      • Jon Haws

        Jon Haws

        Great tip Ken. . .I am going to try this as I need remote access (cloud type) usage of LTP.

    • Steve Wyman

      Steve Wyman

      Hi

      What I do is run it I a. Remote Desktop on a vps server

      Lnyxvps.com I use the entry level server which is itself rock solid. 90mb download as well

      It’s designed for senuke but you don’t need to
      Use. That and can load ltpro on it with a license ofcourse

      Means I can even run ltpro from my iphone. I don’t do that much but certainly excellent from ipad, macbook and pc

      Regards

    • Steve Wyman

      Steve Wyman

      Use a Remote Desktop running on a vps service very easy

    • Fran

      Fran

      One other workaround is logmein or teamviewer (free for personal use), that you can use to remotely access your PC or Mac at home along sign their apps. If you don’t have a pretty fast internet connection though it can get a little frustrating.

  13. Dennis

    Dennis

    Iam glad to know I was part of that great team that promoted Long Tail pro for weeks on Jvzoo

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thank you!

      • Jon Haws

        Jon Haws

        These work arounds for not being available on the cloud are AWESOME. . . perhaps a post of tutorials on nichepursuits or within LTP itself would be beneficial to users/readers

        • Spencer Haws

          Spencer Haws

          I agree…if any readers are willing to email their LTP hacks; I’m all ears and could work with one of you to create a tutorial…

  14. Mate

    Mate

    You did a great job with Long Tail Pro and still are. Great product + great marketing = money.

    I agree that SaaS is a great model. I think that the hardest part is to recognize the need of the market. There was a need for LTP on the market and you recognized that.

    I know some other great examples of SaaS. The agency in which I used to work as a PPC marketer created a Facebook analytics software because they needed it for their own purposes and now they are part of SocialBakers, one of the largest social analytics platforms in the world.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Mate! I agree you have to do your market research and see the need. I honestly get most of my ideas because I’m involved in some project or some business and have a problem…sounds like the same for SocialBakers that you mentioned.

  15. Quinton

    Quinton

    Inspiring post. I can’t brag enough about LTP. It is the #1 reason why I am sitting on my porch typing instead of at the call center.

    Thanks for creating such an inspiring product.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Awesome! Thanks Quinton for all the kind words you’ve shared on your blog and here. Boo for call centers! :)

  16. Sammy

    Sammy

    Amazing post, Spencer. But I have a couple questions.

    1) How do you go about conceiving a software idea that you feel people will pay for? I’d have to imagine it was very costly just to get someone to create something like LongTail Pro–without having a great idea it would be a big seller?

    So was it just a gamble, in a way?

    2) What are your thoughts on creating software in other niches? I think yours worked very well because you teach people how to be successful online. It would seem all kinds of software ideas can come about based on this niche. And on top of that, you have a blog and podcast as a platform to discuss software products.

    But do you think that software creation is really only viable if you’re in a niche like Internet Marketing–where you’re teaching people how to make money? I mean, if you have a real estate blog, or a travel blog, or something like your survival knife blog, will people really be gung ho about paying and downloading a piece of software?

    3) Lastly, you talked about finding your great affiliate manager. Where does one go to even seek out an affiliate manager?

    Thanks
    -Sam

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Great questions Sammy, here’s some answers:
      1. Yes, market research is required. I did my homework and knew lots of people bought keyword research tools; and I had bought several myself and knew why I didn’t like them. Yes, it was very costly, but I knew there was a hungry and active audience. You can do this with keyword research (!), seeing what other companies are doing well, visiting forums, and more.
      2. I think software in other niches has fantastic opportunities. That’s why Perrin and I currently have a software project under way for gamers: http://www.nichepursuits.com/introducing-the-vylo-case-study-creating-a-software-business-without-programming-skills/. There are WAY more software opportunties outside the IM niche…think of ANY market and there are big ideas there: running, plubming, gardening, videos…anything
      3. I asked around. Talked to people I knew and found someone. If you don’t know anyone, go the forums in your niche.

  17. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson

    Another great post, Spencer!

    This goes to prove that you don’t need to know it all to bring an idea or vision into reality. Sometimes I get caught up in the details on how to do things, thinking I’d have to do it all myself or know a bunch of specialized knowledge.

    This is not the case — it takes a team of the right people. All you have to do is put the pieces together and manage the project.

    You’ve written a great overview on how to launch a software company. This is definitely some valuable premium content. I’m now considering launching a software program in the future, thanks to your inspiration!

  18. Dhruv Bhagat

    Dhruv Bhagat

    You’re THE CHAMP!

    Keep inspiring us ;)

    Great work :D

  19. Shamim

    Shamim

    You have done a tremendous job Spencer. I have been in the IM industry for several years but never took any such attempt…though i had the same idea.

    Its the day of Action Takers…at the end of the year. Thats true. Cheers! Lets do something big…:)

  20. Matthew Allen

    Matthew Allen

    Spencer – I’m surprised you finally shared these numbers! I remember when you were thinking about sharing, not long after that launch. Probably wise to have waited this long. So, $10k/month, then $15/k, then the release of Platinum. Nobody else asked yet, so I will (totally not expecting an answer). How much do you bring in monthly now? ;)

    I feel the need to personally thank you for creating this awesome product. I’m making a good deal of money because of it myself. The need I found is that people don’t want to take the time to do their own keyword research, even with LTP which makes it so fun and easy. People are willing to pay for good done-for-you keyword research packages. And I couldn’t do it for them without Long Tail Pro. So thanks!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Glad to hear that your keyword research service is going well…very cool!

      As for what the LTP income is now…perhaps I’ll wait a year and reveal my April 2014 income then :)

  21. alex

    alex

    Very motivational Spencer. I’ve been following you for a few years and in fact bought LTP during that special offer sale lol.
    It’s a great tool, and I knew you would make a lot from it. $200k in such a short period of time is insane though! I would probably retire if I ever made that much.

  22. Chris Guthrie

    Chris Guthrie

    Hey Spencer,

    I know we spoke on Skype but looks like you decided to share the success story after all hah.

    I know you linked to me as one of the affiliates so I thought I’d chime in and share my stats from this affiliate promotion:

    http://screencast.com/t/hbNewdwlq2c

    Those are my stats for Long Tail Pro. I earned $6,664.88 for sending a few emails and offering a great bonus for people that bought using my link.

    The earnings are all based on the trust I’ve established with the people on my email list (yah if you’re not building a list – regardless of niche – you’re an idiot).

    I offer really useful applicable bonuses for the products I recommend because the more successful the people are on my list the better (and it helps my business when others succeed as well).

    It doesn’t matter which niche you’re in. Build a list.

    One other quick piece of advice:

    Regardless of niche there will always be a vocal minority of people that may be annoyed at being “sold” a great product, but they typically hate life and anyone that succeeds at it.

    Ignore them.

    Focus on the 99.5% of people that want to hear from you and add value whenever you can.

    Chris

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for sharing the screenshot Chris! Once again thank you for promoting. Great comment with tips and advices…thanks!

  23. Phil

    Phil

    Hey Spencer, thanks for those insights. I think the hardest part at all is finding a good idea and also having the funds to outsource a first version.

    By the way I’m a platinum customer and love it!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      True; the idea and execution are critical. But its all very possible.

  24. Sgt. Kraut

    Sgt. Kraut

    Thank you for this inspiring and motivating post! I’ve some ideas for a great software in my mind and this encourages me even more to start programming soon.

  25. Kenny

    Kenny

    What an inspiring post! Thank you for the eye opner. Though I sent you a message sometimes ago and I never recieve a response. With this sam email address. Pls look into it.

  26. Angel

    Angel

    Very inspiring Spencer! And you’re so right about the solid reputation thing.. I actually just recently started following your work, but I bought Long Tail Pro months ago simply because Pat Flynn said it was a good product (and who doesn’t trust Pat’s opinion? LOL)

    I also immediately upgraded to Long Tail Platinum, because let’s face it, it’s a big timesaver and a no-brainer!

    Keep up the great work my friend, you are the man!

  27. Eric

    Eric

    All I can say is wow. Your email list of all those satisfied buyers of LTP (past and present) is a freaking gold mine.

    You have already proven yourself to them and they trust you. I mean, all you have to do is keep making quality software they need, send out a promotional to that list, and BOOM! Its raining money.

    Dude, you are set for life…All you have to do is keep repeating the formula over and over and over for each project…Its crazy to think about. Obviously you realize this.

    Thanks for putting everything out for all to see. The good and the challenges. No one does that these days. Everyone else is full of B.S. and solid businessman can smell B.S. a mile away. Stay honest and transparent. Don’t ever change. Sorry for typos.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Nothing is ever set. But I have a much better business foundation than say a few years ago :). The thing is, I’m honestly nothing special…I’ve just stuck it out, worked hard, and had a couple decent ideas. Others can replicate what I’ve done: build an audience and create a useful product. Sure, its taken me a few years to get where I am, but as you said…its a nice spot to be in now. Best of luck to you and everyone in your ventures!

      And I’ll have many more ups and downs to share here. Currently working on a couple of case studies, including Vylo (a software idea from Perrin), that should be interesting: http://www.nichepursuits.com/introducing-the-vylo-case-study-creating-a-software-business-without-programming-skills/

  28. Enstine Muki

    Enstine Muki

    This is awesome! Exceptionally admirable and thanks for sharing the details buddy

  29. Kevin Carson

    Kevin Carson

    Thank You. Thank you. Thank you, Spencer for all of your hard work.

    I am new to your website and very overwhelmed with all of the great information that you have shared with all of your followers.

    I am now starting to go through your second project with Perrin and writing down questions as I go. I would like to say congratulations to Perrin for having the opportunity to work with Spencer, asking great questions and producing a successful website.

    Both of you are very inspiring to me and my family. I look forward to the day when I can branch out and produce my own program, but for now I need to start with my first niche website.

    Keep up the Great Work.

    Sincerely,
    Kevin

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for the kind words Kevin! Best of luck learning and finding success.

  30. Sean

    Sean

    Is the software still being updated? It seems to me it could do with a few bug fixes.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Absolutely is still being updated; we have developers working on it constantly. If you are having issues; fee free to submit a support ticket at longtailpro.com/support and we’ll happy to get it resolved.

  31. Jon Haver

    Jon Haver

    Hey Spencer, really glad you decided to share your numbers! Definitely an inspiring amount! I was actually surprised I thought that LTP would have been doing even larger numbers when you launched it. I think the sign of a good product is when it can grow month over month the way you have done since it was first launched.

    Congrats on the big launch in January, the launch itself probably was worth even more to your business than just the numbers quoted since it would have brought in another 6,000 people onto your list you can now let know about RankHero etc.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Jon! When I first launched LTP back in early 2011; I was a nobody…very few readers of my blog. But my audience has grown over time…and yes, the numbers of the launch don’t tell the entire story. Building an audience is important for both current and future opportunities.

  32. Mr Alexander

    Mr Alexander

    Well done spencer, congrats. Really inspiring post, I am a web developer myself and been having long tail pro on my radar, and in general your blog, as the next project for me as soon as I finish the current ones. Heard many of your podcasts, looking forward to implementing your strategies.

    Good luck and hopefully many more similar posts.

  33. Jay

    Jay

    Great case study as always Spencer.

    Its easy to think hire the cheaper guy and keep more for yourself, though as you say cutting corners just aren’t worth the time, hassle and money lost in the long run!

    What language did you have in code in?

    Jay

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Its an adobe air based application…I let you research the code options there :)

  34. Gary

    Gary

    I get an email a day before from Hayden about a business opportunity with software. Spencer what is the motive of this post honestly? Make us guinea pigs for Hayden in mexico and giving us false hope?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I am in no way part of what Hayden is doing in Mexico. I hadn’t heard of it until I saw his email, just like you. There is no connection with this post and Hayden whatsoever. I shared this post because I thought others would find the inner workings of a software launch interesting.

  35. Darijan

    Darijan

    Hi Spencer,
    Thanks for sharing this with us. I have a question regarding a programmer. Is it someone you hired on-line and never met in person? If so, what on-line service did you use to find him?

    Thanks again for another great post!

    Darijan

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      That’s correct, hired online…never met before the hire (we’ve met since then). I used Elance.com.

  36. Atif

    Atif

    Very inspiring – I love to read your all posts Thanks so much

  37. Chris R Jensen

    Chris R Jensen

    Spencer,
    Thank you so much for writing this – this is truly inspirational and honestly something I needed.
    As you know I am in the process of creating a software tool, that I hope will complement yours.
    Initially I set out to do it all by myself, as I happen to know a little bit of coding – but I quickly realized that I needed help.
    I therefore started looking for some one who could help me out – and I ended up with a small company out of India. At first things went really well and it wasn’t long before I had a first version – and that’s when (looking back I see this) the problems began. The company had no understanding of what I was trying to achieve with the software nor the purpose and as you write -this is one of the keys to success. After 4 months of getting no where – I decided to end the collaboration. Looking back and evaluating what went wrong – which I think is a key to always do in order to do better next time – it is clear to me that I was blinded by a very low hourly rate. So back to basics and out to look for a new programmer – this time I found a super guy in the US. The cost was 7 times per hour of what I had been paying -but I felt this had to be worth it. 3 weeks after engaging in a collaboration and spending USD 800 on his services – he told me he had been offered a full time job, and that he could no longer continue the work…. GREAT! – looking back there is one thing that is good about this – he didn’t understand the purpose of the software – so when getting test versions – he hadn’t tested it for what I was looking for it to do – merely if it worked or not.
    So now what? Well since I now actually had a product – a beta version – I decided to give a shout out to a few people to ask them to test and give input – this proved a very good idea – as these people where in my target group and understood what I was trying to achieve. I got some very very good feedback and some excellent suggestions on how to make it better…. but oh – no programmer at hand… fortunately I managed to find a new one – one that understood what I was trying to do, and that could see the benefits. In his first email – he asked me if I had thought of X, Y, and Z, and how this could be made in so and so manner. – YOUR HIRED – back to it.
    Now this is not meant to be a post about me – and the product – which is also why I am not linking to my site here. I simply wanted to share my experiences – in that I am well underway in creating a software product, but it has not been easy.
    The things you write here is so great for me – because I can relate – and there is even somewhat of a “once it is ready” then you have to – which has brought me some perspectives which I haven’t thought of before.
    So when I saw this post I got super excited and almost felt that it was written to me personally.
    Thank you very very much for writing this – it makes me want to succeed at this even more.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Chris! And since we’ve exchanged a couple of emails about your software idea, I know exactly where you are coming from. Its not an easy process; and I made all kinds of mistakes along the way as well. But the education is invaluable! Best of luck with everything, and I’m glad you found my experience useful…

  38. Ugur

    Ugur

    Wow, this is amazing Spencer. Congrats!
    I really like to read your success stories. But there is a missing peace in all those challenges you went through.

    Please write the story of your first year in niche marketing business. What you struggled, what were the challenges that gave you a hard time, how long it took you to come to a point that accelerated the processes etc…

    First year is the key to success. We need to know your first year.

    Thanks

  39. Colin

    Colin

    Hi Spencer, very informative post! I’ve been going down this line myself recently and came up with an idea for a key piece of software which helps me with my business using Amazon FBA – letting Amazon sell goods on your behalf and them doing all the packing and posting etc. It’s an easy and profitable business but it was time consuming finding items to buy which would give the required profit margins.

    The upshot is that I therefore had created a piece of software do the finding for me! I think I must have been lucky in finding a really great programmer ……he coded it for $200. I then found someone do build the graphics and sales page for it. This cost another $200. So for a grand total of 400 bucks I have a great piece of software which finds some great bargains……..

    I’m now planning the marketing for it, so your post was very useful in seeing the various alternatives.

    Thanks buddy!

  40. Steve

    Steve

    Wow such an amazing story Spencer. I am glad you shared this story with us. Software business seems to be the way to go. I was part of the people that were hesitant to get the product until it hit $27. I am glad I made that decision to get it. thank you for providing us with a great tool. I do not know who can top this product!

  41. Marc

    Marc

    Spencer,
    I was one of the customers that bought Long Tail Pro through that promotion. I don’t remember how I came across it, but someone’s mailing list I believe. When you also consider the lifetime value of customers the numbers are even more impressive I’m sure. I never purchased the version of Long Tail Pro with the monthly subscription, but I did buy Long Tail Classroom and I follow your blog as a result of coming across that offer.

  42. santel

    santel

    Hi Spencer,

    Thank for sharing this wonderful experience. It is a very inspire story. I think I bought Long Tail Pro at $27, at the moment of your special launch.

    You’re right, I heard Pat Flynn mentioned it several time but it is still an expensive product for me. When you offer it at $27, I bought it without any hesitation.

    It’s a very good marketing strategy!

  43. Jeff

    Jeff

    Great article…..Long Tail Pro is such a great product…

  44. avi

    avi

    If you like updating and adding features please make a version of longtailpro for smartphone.

  45. Dave

    Dave

    Hi Spencer,

    I’ve got some money saved and I’m not exactly sure how to start this. I did read your blog above but need some more guidance. I was wondering if you could email me if possible. Thanks

  46. Fran

    Fran

    Well done on your hard work paying off so well. The one thing I would say is don’t be shy about what you’ve earned. I know your a modest guy but you’ve worked hard and it’s paid off. Simple! There will always be haters and those who are jealous but I think 99% of your users and readers simply appreciate your openness as it only goes to help and show just what can be achieved with a bit of commitment and work.
    Congrats on your success and best of luck with the other ongoing projects!

  47. Rohit Jain

    Rohit Jain

    Great insights Spencer!!! Thanks for sharing your journey on software and blogging, it is inspirational and motivating to read the success story of a fellow entrepreneur.

  48. Aaron

    Aaron

    Wow, those are some amazing numbers! What an inspiring story. Longtailpro is a wonderful product, i still use it regularly till this day. Thanks for sharing with us.

  49. JJ Wong

    JJ Wong

    Very impressive figures you got there. Long-tail Pro is really good in helping me finding niche markets, and potential traffic source that I can easily rank high on search engine.

    Keep up the great work Spencer Haws! =D

  50. joehann

    joehann

    You are a great inspiration to me and others here I am sure.
    Thank you for posting the stories of your internet marketing episodes.
    They are very motivating for us to read.

  51. Arun Kallarackal

    Arun Kallarackal

    Hi Spencer,

    That is too much money in too little time man! Impressive I must say. After seeing such exploits, I get inspired and pumped! :)

    It is good to know that you achieved such an impressive feat selling a software despite not being a programmer! Nice strategy of yours to hire programmers and move on with your dream.

    Thanks for sharing your story of how you got to a rocking start by making use of affiliates. It gave me lots of new idea on how to deal with such aspects.

    I found the link to this blog on Kingged, where I’ve Kingged this post.

    Thanks for sharing! :)

    Arun

  52. Andries

    Andries

    LTP has been a great tool for me, I love it!

  53. Alex Stoian

    Alex Stoian

    Wow, you really scored big, Spencer.

    Fortunately, there was a solid product behind, which is not always the case with the JV best sellers.
    I paid the full price for LTP (97$) but I think it’s worth all that money.

    Do you know how can I contact Mark?

    It seems there are at least two persons with this name in the IM niche.

    I’ll be launching a new product on Jvzoo soon. We are very proud of it and the sales we generate, but we look for an experimented affiliate like Mark to join us and make it a JV hit.

    So I’m absolutely thrilled about your article – it was just in time to deliver value, as usual :)

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Alex, thanks! You can contact Mark via the link in the article: digitalkickstart.com

  54. Ryan James

    Ryan James

    Such an exciting post Spencer. I had to screenshot it on my iPad for quick reference!

    Your sock business example really puts things into perspective in the sense of what actually scales.

    Looks like I won’t be moving forward with “Super Slick Sock World”!

    Proud of you buddy.

  55. isse

    isse

    This post has really gotten me interested I software development. This is a great case study on just how much opportunity is out there.

    What I didnt like though was the subject title. I mean its not “a” software its “your” software. 20 days also undermines the the 2 years woth of time you put in the project.

    But I enjoy learning from you otherwise.

  56. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin

    Great story.

    I have LTP and absolutely love it by the way!

    This is an inspiration to us all. Just because YOU can’t do something, doesn’t mean it is impossible.

    This was seen on Kingged.com

  57. Stephen turner

    Stephen turner

    LTP only looks for Exact Match keywords,because I don’t see that box on my LTP to pick anything different.

  58. Jeffrey

    Jeffrey

    Hi Spencer,

    Powerful title to start with. Caught my attention and find a lot of gems inside.

    Just curious what can LTP offer something new to us? Any updates on this.

  59. Kevin Muldoon

    Kevin Muldoon

    Fantastic post Spencer. It is inspiring to see how you have developed the product from scratch to be an established SEO application.

  60. David

    David

    Amazing story for all the people who make software.

    Congrats and thanks for sharing!

  61. LeslieZ

    LeslieZ

    Great case study Spencer! I’ve thought software is definitely something I want to get involved with but I’m focused starting up my internet presence currently. Kinda have my hands full.

    When do you think would be a good time to produce your first software product?

    LeslieZ

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      As soon as you have a good idea and enough money you are comfortable investing.

  62. Winston

    Winston

    Way to go Spencer! Shows that you don’t have to be a programmer to build software. Just need to find a way to get things done.

    This is a bit off topic, but wanted to ask anyway. I’ve heard the past few days that a lot of blog networks are getting hit (many of their blogs getting de-indexed).

    How true is this and is Google cracking down on PBNs? They seemed to have gotten quite hot lately, did it get G’s attention?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Sure, google is always trying to find the large blog networks; but I’m unaware of any automated method they have to find the smaller or truly private networks.

  63. Patrick

    Patrick

    Excellent post Spencer! I’m glad to see you’re doing so well. I’ve made some great success with my websites thanks to Long Tail Pro! I even have one site that’s getting close to 100,000 visitors!

  64. Joseph Brown

    Joseph Brown

    Very impressive results, and certainly makes the case for pursuing a software-related business. I just wish my LongTailPro software worked properly when I needed it to do so.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      If you are every having issues, let us know…we’ll fix it. Send a support ticket to longtailpro.com / support

  65. Rob Orr

    Rob Orr

    Spencer – this is inspiring! I’m big fan of Long Tail Pro and I’m actually a Platinum user and I use it all the time. So much to learn here, I’ve saved this one for future reference.

  66. jack

    jack

    After reading this post I looked into a lot of your old stuff. At my stage I much prefer your old ways, for me, of building hundreds of MFA sites.

    Just wondering spencer; with googles increase in serp title synonym and LSI detection; is it still possible to easily rank these MFA sites on 1-5k info queries as you once did?

    I know with the right links everything is rankable, but is it so much harder that they are now not worth the PR links it would take?

    Thanks

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Its certainly a bit more work, but definitely still worth it. (I still do this).

  67. TAN MEHEDI

    TAN MEHEDI

    i was in a similar situation like you. i started a software project myself in 2013. i am not a coder,i know basic stuff. i faced some of the same problems you did. Finding a good programmer is key. i had few programmers at the beginning who was just taking money,didn’t get almost nothing done.then i found a programmer by luck, he has been very good and he knows his stuff. i am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. my project is almost finished. its been taking 15 months to finish the project. its a gigantic project i started, i stuck with it without giving up.My questions are 1. what you are using in your website for this comment section (i mean any wp plugin), 2.how do you capture and truck the bug fixing? 3. who you use for your customer service , support ticket,and how you respond those support ticket?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      1. Standard wordpress comments, akismet and cookies for comments for spam. 2. We started on codebasehq.com but now use asana. 3. I hired someone for customer service; OS ticket.

  68. George

    George

    Thank you for sharing this. $261K in 20-days! Awesome. I especially like the recurring revenue in your strategy.

  69. Lisa Irby

    Lisa Irby

    Spencer, this is amazing!! I really love LTP. It’s the only keyword research software I use now. And I even generate a few affiliate sales every now and then so glad I could add a few dollars to those reports as well. ha ha ha!

    I think my biggest fear with outsourcing is trust. I really need to get over that though. Like you said, you have to have several Skype calls, exchanges, etc. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yep, just get over the trust issue :). Thanks Lisa!

  70. Why You Should NOT Start a Podcast | Niche Pursuits

    Why You Should NOT Start a Podcast | Niche Pursuits

    […] I can see no growth in my blog readers and can’t track any sales of my products directly to my podcast.  However, I CAN track huge amounts of sales and blog readership to other methods that I have taken. […]

  71. Brian

    Brian

    Great article Spencer…thanks for being so authentic and transparent. You bring up some really great points…appreciate the great insight!

  72. Mousumi

    Mousumi

    LongTail Pro is a unique product and it’s very useful indeed, for niche site owners. Your blog is on the same, so you got many direct sales from that as well as some power affiliates who promotes it and you make more sales in count. Great work with the software man :)

  73. George

    George

    I always wanted to hear your Long Tail side of the story. I am glad you made it public at least now. Thank you. I have been wanting to launch something of my own like a standalone desktop based software. I may one day.

  74. Kim

    Kim

    Great post Spencer. I have and love LTP and the platinum version. It’s brilliant.

  75. Jack

    Jack

    Hey spencer do you have any keyword research tips on what to do; or other means to accurately gauge keyword competitiveness when sites are blocking crawlers?

    There DA/PA in LTP will always be at 0, or lower than it really is. Seeing PA 15 ranking for 60k medical query. lol.

    Obviously looking at the other sites is a good way, but when half the sites in SERPs are doing this it make it very hard.

    Im sure you run into this daily, so just wondering.

    Thanks

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      That is tough if they are blocking crawlers. Site age, pagerank, and content quality are going to be strong indicators as well.

  76. SK Yadav

    SK Yadav

    I too surprised on seeing the figures. Its too much as for 20 days.
    After reading the full story, what I found is, its not the software that made the money for the author, its the idea that helped to put in real scenario to provide something that is unavailable before.

    Anyways, it was an inspirational story too. What I learned is, If you can’t do things in best effective way – hire someone else to do it for you.

  77. max

    max

    great article thank u so much thats really inspare me

  78. Sebastian

    Sebastian

    Hy Spencer and congrats man !
    I really appreciate your work !

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    […] is partially what I’ve done for my Long Tail Pro business.  While I still remain involved in many aspects of the business, I’ve also developed systems […]

  80. Christine

    Christine

    I am an IT graduate and you just encouraged me to use what I have learned to earn more money. Thank you so much!

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