Sponsors - September 2021 retro

I’m on a quest to launch a new project each month until I get overwhelmed or bored. The goal is to find some fulfilling projects that can bring in some (‘ramen profitable’) revenue. This was month 6. And also the last one of the project. More on that later.

This month I started, developed, and then shipped my September project - TweetSponsor. All in just a few days.

Revenue across all projects is still negligable. And my focus is shifting to fix that.

This is my September update.

Recap of the projects I’m talking about this month

PC Nameplates - An Etsy style product. Custom aluminium plates for LianLi O11D PC cases.

Map of Strength - A directory of top gyms for enthusiast lifters and strength-sport competitors.

Art by an AI - a site that hosts a daily prompt comptetition. Art is generated for each of the top 10 prompts using VQGAN+CLIP. Canvases and posters of the art can be purchased.

Sterki - an online coaching platform for strength sports.

TweetSponsor (New!) - Monetize your tweets with sponsors.

My full project list is here

September’s goals

Launch ArtByAnAI on Product Hunt (and elsewhere) ✔️

This is the first time that I’ve put a decent amount of thought and effort into launching a project. It didn’t feel like my past projects were that suitable for launching on PH or HN. But ArtByAnAI felt like it would fit.

So I first launched on Hacker News as a Show HN post. I’ve seen AI art projects spark discussion on HN before, so I thought it would be a good start. There wasn’t any discussion. But the thread got a few upvotes. There were some prompt submissions and some voting. And it was all pretty decent - though there was some trolling prompts. I expected them. But it was still a bit annoying to see.

There was a small traffic bump, getting pushed just above 100 uniques (+ a bit more since HN users tend to block all analytics). And the traffic slowly dropped following that. Still better than nothing. And just the fact that people submitted their own prompts is good enough for me.

After that I planned and scheduled a launch on Product Hunt. I wasn’t 100% sure what day to launch on. But I eventually chose Sunday 12th September.

And it went well! Part way through the day we peaked at #5 before settling at #6 overall. I wrote more about the launch on Twitter and on Indie Hackers.

The short of it is that there was the nice spike of traffic - 315 uniques in the first 24 hours, with 910 total page views and over 90 prompts submitted.

And in total there were no sales of art prints. Which wasn’t unexpected. There are plenty of reasons why people might not have been interested in buying a print. But that’s not important for this goal.

Launching went well overall. And I’m pretty happy with it.

Start, create, and launch September’s project ✔️

I shipped TweetSponsor this month (just!). Tweet sponsor is exactly what it says it is. It’s a way to monetize your tweets via sponsors by connecting Twitter creators with prospective sponsors.

I bought the domain at the end of August. But because of the other work I have been doing, I didn’t actually start building anything until the final week of September.

Work started on the 27th of September, the MVP was shipped on the 30th, and finally launched on PH on the 1st October.

I could have spent the month working on building a fully featured platform, with listings, payments, user accounts, and all the rest of it. But the 3 day contraint was actually a huge benefit.

The original plan was to build a simple landing page with email capture. But I built that with time left over. Which is when I decided to go 1 step further and use an Airtable form for the profile listings, and Gumroad to pay for access to the listings. Taking it from idea-validation to MVP.

Technically the launch was October 1st. But I’m writing this on the 2nd. So I’ll write about the PH launch.

The PH launch went well overall. It was battling it out with other products for 9th, 10th, and 11th place. But ended up in 12th overall. My goals for the launch was to get 10 Twitter creators listed, and 1 sale of the access.

We hit the goal - and then doubled it. 20 listings, and 2 sales. Totaling $15 in revenue. Nice! (That revenue will be added in next month’s retro because it’s October).

Now I need to figure out what’s next for TweetSponsor.

Get 5 sales of Art (by an AI) ❌

Despite the pretty decent Product Hunt launch no-one purchased a print.

There are plenty of reasons why. From people just not being interested in a print, to the art of the day not fitting people’s tastes, and maybe people just didn’t know they could buy one.

I did get one email asking whether I would sell NFTs of the art. So I guess I need to look into that to see if people want to buy those instead. There seems to be quite the inflated market for them, so might be interesting.

Get 5 sales of PC Nameplates ❌

We had just 1 sale of PC Nameplates this month. It’s the same story as last time, I haven’t been promoting this because I’ve been working on other stuff, so Etsy is really bringing all of the sales here.

We missed out on one sale because the image that a customer wanted wasn’t suitable. I was honest and told them that it just wouldn’t look good at all. I’d rather be honest than take ~$10 from someone for a lackluster product.

Add filtering to Map of Strength and do a slight redesign on the landing page ✔️

There were a bunch of changes to Map of Strength this month. The first of which was a redesigned gym card and pagination for the gym listings (amongst other small changes). This was probably the first time I looked at something I designed and was genuinely happy with it. And that maybe it was designed by an actual designer. I even tweeted about the change.

Then I built out the functionality for filtering. So you can now filter by sport, day-pass availability and price, and you can search for equipment and other keywords too!

I redesigned the map popup to look more like the redesigned cards. But I didn’t get around to redesigning the landing page becuase I don’t really think it needs it just yet. So I’m considering this one done.

Since getting comfortable with TailwindCSS I’ve gotten much better at designing for the web. And it makes a huge difference to how your products are received.

There are still some UI updates that are needed. But growth is the #1 issue right now.

Create some real (consistent) Instagram content for Map of Strength. Get >50 followers ❌

I kept putting this off again this month.

Although I did hit >50 followers on the Art by an AI instagram - so there’s that?

Kill the current iteration of Sterki and replace it with a landing page ✔️

The first thing I had to do here was to dump the database which is thankfully pretty easy in Django. It had my training data from when I used it myself and I didn’t have it logged anywhere else.

Then I built a barebones landing page with Jekyll and Tailwind. And it’s using Netlify’s form handler to gather emails. Super simple, nothing crazy.

I don’t expect any traffic to the site, but the static version is there just in case. There are no specific plans for the V2.0 project yet either. And the project is now marked as ‘dead’ on the project page.

The server that was hosting the original V1.0 has been shut down and it feels a bit weird if I’m honest. Not much came of the SaaS - though I did learn a lot from it.

Which brings us to the next goal.

Write a blog post about killing Sterki, and the failure story ❌

This wasn’t one of my top priorities this month. I started writing it, but don’t really know what to write.

September was a busy month and I haven’t really gotten around to thinking about it all that much.


I had a very exciting opportunity come up this month. I’m not going to go into any details because it’s not confirmed yet. Maybe I’ll be able to talk about it in the next retrospective.

A couple of days ago, I got a payment from Amazon. Which was unusual. So I did a bit of poking around and found out that I sold 2 copies of my paperback book Grim Tales - all the way back in July. I’m not sure why I didn’t get notified of the sales back in July. And I don’t know where the sales came from. But it was a welcome surpise. The royalties are super negligable. But fun to see. Maybe I’ll ‘launch’ the book on Product Hunt and see if anything happens?

October goals

Overall, September didn’t go how I expected it to - there were a lot of goals that I didn’t hit. But I was still busy and productive. And the one thing that stands out is that growth is still low across all of my projects.

And that’s one of the reasons why I’ve decided to end my 1 project every month challenge. There are still projects that I want to work on (my idea list has >150 entries right now), but I don’t want to shoe-horn them into consecutive months.

So the current plan is to start focusing on growing my exisiting projects. There are 4 that have potential to be bigger than they are now. I just need to make it happen.

However, I’m also quite tired. So I’m going to take a few days off in October to recover and to be a bit more fresh for the next steps.

I’ll be writing about my ‘1 project per month project’ - which is now really a ‘6 projects in 6 months project’ in a blog post to discuss what I learned and if I would do it again.

That’s all I really have to say for September.

Here are my October goals:

  • Finish the blog post about killing Sterki and its failure as a SaaS
  • Write a blog post about my 6 projects in 6 months project
  • Create some real (consistent) Instagram content for Map of Strength. Get >50 followers
  • Take a few days off
  • Look into NFTs for ArtByAnAI

September’s revenue from projects: $16

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