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Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

4 months ago

R&D, S&M, and G&A expense ratios for SaaS

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Greg Lim

Greg Lim

7 months ago

How I made $160,000 from non-fiction books

I've sold over 40,000 non-fiction books on Amazon and made over $160,000 in six years while writing on the side.

I have a full-time job and three young sons; I can't spend 40 hours a week writing. This article describes my journey.

I write mainly tech books:

Thanks to my readers, many wrote positive evaluations. Several are bestsellers.

A few have been adopted by universities as textbooks:

My books' passive income allows me more time with my family.

Knowing I could quit my job and write full time gave me more confidence. And I find purpose in my work (i am in christian ministry).

I'm always eager to write. When work is a dread or something bad happens, writing gives me energy. Writing isn't scary. In fact, I can’t stop myself from writing!

Writing has also established my tech authority. Universities use my books, as I've said. Traditional publishers have asked me to write books.

These mindsets helped me become a successful nonfiction author:

1. You don’t have to be an Authority

Yes, I have computer science experience. But I'm no expert on my topics. Before authoring "Beginning Node.js, Express & MongoDB," my most profitable book, I had no experience with those topics. Node was a new server-side technology for me. Would that stop me from writing a book? It can. I liked learning a new technology. So I read the top three Node books, took the top online courses, and put them into my own book (which makes me know more than 90 percent of people already).

I didn't have to worry about using too much jargon because I was learning as I wrote. An expert forgets a beginner's hardship.

"The fellow learner can aid more than the master since he knows less," says C.S. Lewis. The problem he must explain is recent. The expert has forgotten.”

2. Solve a micro-problem (Niching down)

I didn't set out to write a definitive handbook. I found a market with several challenges and wrote one book. Ex:

3. Piggy Backing Trends

The above topics may still be a competitive market. E.g.  Angular, React.   To stand out, include the latest technologies or trends in your book. Learn iOS 15 instead of iOS programming. Instead of personal finance, what about personal finance with NFTs.

Even though you're a newbie author, your topic is well-known.

4. Publish short books

My books are known for being direct. Many people like this:

Your reader will appreciate you cutting out the fluff and getting to the good stuff. A reader can finish and review your book.

Second, short books are easier to write. Instead of creating a 500-page book for $50 (which few will buy), write a 100-page book that answers a subset of the problem and sell it for less. (You make less, but that's another subject). At least it got published instead of languishing. Less time spent creating a book means less time wasted if it fails. Write a small-bets book portfolio like Daniel Vassallo!

Third, it's $2.99-$9.99 on Amazon (gets 70 percent royalties for ebooks). Anything less receives 35% royalties. $9.99 books have 20,000–30,000 words. If you write more and charge more over $9.99, you get 35% royalties. Why not make it a $9.99 book?

(This is the ebook version.) Paperbacks cost more. Higher royalties allow for higher prices.

5. Validate book idea

Amazon will tell you if your book concept, title, and related phrases are popular. See? Check its best-sellers list.

150,000 is preferable. It sells 2–3 copies daily. Consider your rivals. Profitable niches have high demand and low competition.

Don't be afraid of competitive niches. First, it shows high demand. Secondly, what are the ways you can undercut the completion? Better book? Or cheaper option? There was lots of competition in my NodeJS book's area. None received 4.5 stars or more. I wrote a NodeJS book. Today, it's a best-selling Node book.

What’s Next

So long. Part II follows. Meanwhile, I will continue to write more books!

Follow my journey on Twitter.


This post is a summary. Read full article here

Rachel Greenberg

Rachel Greenberg

5 months ago

The Unsettling Fact VC-Backed Entrepreneurs Don't Want You to Know

What they'll do is scarier.

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

My acquaintance recently joined a VC-funded startup. Money, equity, and upside possibilities were nice, but he had a nagging dread.

They just secured a $40M round and are hiring like crazy to prepare for their IPO in two years. All signals pointed to this startup's (a B2B IT business in a stable industry) success, and its equity-holding workers wouldn't pass that up.

Five months after starting the work, my friend struggled with leaving. We might overlook the awful culture and long hours at the proper price. This price plus the company's fate and survival abilities sent my friend departing in an unpleasant unplanned resignation before jumping on yet another sinking ship.

This affects founders. This affects VC-backed companies (and all businesses). This affects anyone starting, buying, or running a business.

Here's the under-the-table approach that's draining VC capital, leaving staff terrified (or jobless), founders rattled, and investors upset. How to recognize, solve, and avoid it

The unsettling reality behind door #1

You can't raise money off just your looks, right? If "looks" means your founding team's expertise, then maybe. In my friend's case, the founding team's strong qualifications and track records won over investors before talking figures.

They're hardly the only startup to raise money without a profitable customer acquisition strategy. Another firm raised money for an expensive sleep product because it's eco-friendly. They were off to the races with a few keywords and key players.

Both companies, along with numerous others, elected to invest on product development first. Company A employed all the tech, then courted half their market (they’re a tech marketplace that connects two parties). Company B spent millions on R&D to create a palatable product, then flooded the world with marketing.

My friend is on Company B's financial team, and he's seen where they've gone wrong. It's terrible.

Company A (tech market): Growing? Not quite. To achieve the ambitious expansion they (and their investors) demand, they've poured much of their little capital into salespeople: Cold-calling commission and salary salesmen. Is it working? Considering attrition and companies' dwindling capital, I don't think so.

Company B (green sleep) has been hiring, digital marketing, and opening new stores like crazy. Growing expenses should result in growing revenues and a favorable return on investment; if you grow too rapidly, you may neglect to check that ROI.

Once Company A cut headcount and Company B declared “going concerned”, my friend realized both startups had the same ailment and didn't recognize it.

I shouldn't have to ask a friend to verify a company's cash reserves and profitability to spot a financial problem. It happened anyhow.

The frightening part isn't that investors were willing to invest millions without product-market fit, CAC, or LTV estimates. That's alarming, but not as scary as the fact that startups aren't understanding the problem until VC rounds have dried up.

When they question consultants if their company will be around in 6 months. It’s a red flag. How will they stretch $20M through a 2-year recession with a $3M/month burn rate and no profitability? Alarms go off.

Who's in danger?

In a word, everyone who raised money without a profitable client acquisition strategy or enough resources to ride out dry spells.

Money mismanagement and poor priorities affect every industry (like sinking all your capital into your product, team, or tech, at the expense of probing what customer acquisition really takes and looks like).

This isn't about tech, real estate, or recession-proof luxury products. Fast, cheap, easy money flows into flashy-looking teams with buzzwords, trending industries, and attractive credentials.

If these companies can't show progress or get a profitable CAC, they can't raise more money. They die if they can't raise more money (or slash headcount and find shoestring budget solutions until they solve the real problem).

The kiss of death (and how to avoid it)

If you're running a startup and think raising VC is the answer, pause and evaluate. Do you need the money now?

I'm not saying VC is terrible or has no role. Founders have used it as a Band-Aid for larger, pervasive problems. Venture cash isn't a crutch for recruiting consumers profitably; it's rocket fuel to get you what and who you need.

Pay-to-play isn't a way to throw money at the wall and hope for a return. Pay-to-play works until you run out of money, and if you haven't mastered client acquisition, your cash will diminish quickly.

How can you avoid this bottomless pit? Tips:

  • Understand your burn rate

  • Keep an eye on your growth or profitability.

  • Analyze each and every marketing channel and initiative.

  • Make lucrative customer acquisition strategies and satisfied customers your top two priorities. not brand-new products. not stellar hires. avoid the fundraising rollercoaster to save time. If you succeed in these two tasks, investors will approach you with their thirsty offers rather than the other way around, and your cash reserves won't diminish as a result.

Not as much as your grandfather

My family friend always justified expensive, impractical expenditures by saying it was only monopoly money. In business, startups, and especially with money from investors expecting a return, that's not true.

More founders could understand that there isn't always another round if they viewed VC money as their own limited pool. When the well runs dry, you must refill it or save the day.

Venture financing isn't your grandpa's money. A discerning investor has entrusted you with dry powder in the hope that you'll use it wisely, strategically, and thoughtfully. Use it well.

Benjamin Lin

Benjamin Lin

5 months ago

I sold my side project for $20,000: 6 lessons I learned

How I monetized and sold an abandoned side project for $20,000

Unfortunately, there was no real handshake as the sale was transacted entirely online

The Origin Story

I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur but never succeeded. I often had business ideas, made a landing page, and told my buddies. Never got customers.

In April 2021, I decided to try again with a new strategy. I noticed that I had trouble acquiring an initial set of customers, so I wanted to start by acquiring a product that had a small user base that I could grow.

I found a SaaS marketplace called MicroAcquire.com where you could buy and sell SaaS products. I liked Shareit.video, an online Loom-like screen recorder.

Shareit.video didn't generate revenue, but 50 people visited daily to record screencasts.

Purchasing a Failed Side Project

I eventually bought Shareit.video for $12,000 from its owner.

$12,000 was probably too much for a website without revenue or registered users.

I thought time was most important. I could have recreated the website, but it would take months. $12,000 would give me an organized code base and a working product with a few users to monetize.

You should always ask yourself the build vs buy decision when starting a new project

I considered buying a screen recording website and trying to grow it versus buying a new car or investing in crypto with the $12K.

Buying the website would make me a real entrepreneur, which I wanted more than anything.

Putting down so much money would force me to commit to the project and prevent me from quitting too soon.

A Year of Development

I rebranded the website to be called RecordJoy and worked on it with my cousin for about a year. Within a year, we made $5000 and had 3000 users.

We spent $3500 on ads, hosting, and software to run the business.

AppSumo promoted our $120 Life Time Deal in exchange for 30% of the revenue.

We put RecordJoy on maintenance mode after 6 months because we couldn't find a scalable user acquisition channel.

We improved SEO and redesigned our landing page, but nothing worked.

Growth flatlined, so we put the project on maintenance mode

Despite not being able to grow RecordJoy any further, I had already learned so much from working on the project so I was fine with putting it on maintenance mode. RecordJoy still made $500 a month, which was great lunch money.

Getting Taken Over

One of our customers emailed me asking for some feature requests and I replied that we weren’t going to add any more features in the near future. They asked if we'd sell.

We got on a call with the customer and I asked if he would be interested in buying RecordJoy for 15k. The customer wanted around $8k but would consider it.

Since we were negotiating with one buyer, we put RecordJoy on MicroAcquire to see if there were other offers.

Everything is negotiable, including how long the buyer can remain an exclusive buyer and what the payment schedule should be.

We quickly received 10+ offers. We got 18.5k. There was also about $1000 in AppSumo that we could not withdraw, so we agreed to transfer that over for $600 since about 40% of our sales on AppSumo usually end up being refunded.

Lessons Learned

First, create an acquisition channel

We couldn't discover a scalable acquisition route for RecordJoy. If I had to start another project, I'd develop a robust acquisition channel first. It might be LinkedIn, Medium, or YouTube.

Purchase Power of the Buyer Affects Acquisition Price

Some of the buyers we spoke to were individuals looking to buy side projects, as well as companies looking to launch a new product category. Individual buyers had less budgets than organizations.

Customers of AppSumo vary.

AppSumo customers value lifetime deals and low prices, which may not be a good way to build a business with recurring revenue. Designed for AppSumo users, your product may not connect with other users.

Try to increase acquisition trust

Acquisition often fails. The buyer can go cold feet, cease communicating, or run away with your stuff. Trusting the buyer ensures a smooth asset exchange. First acquisition meeting was unpleasant and price negotiation was tight. In later meetings, we spent the first few minutes trying to get to know the buyer’s motivations and background before jumping into the negotiation, which helped build trust.

Operating expenses can reduce your earnings.

Monitor operating costs. We were really happy when we withdrew the $5000 we made from AppSumo and Stripe until we realized that we had spent $3500 in operating fees. Spend money on software and consultants to help you understand what to build.

Don't overspend on advertising

We invested $1500 on Google Ads but made little money. For a side project, it’s better to focus on organic traffic from SEO rather than paid ads unless you know your ads are going to have a positive ROI.

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Entreprogrammer

Entreprogrammer

2 months ago

The Steve Jobs Formula: A Guide to Everything

A must-read for everyone

Photo by AB on Unsplash

Jobs is well-known. You probably know the tall, thin guy who wore the same clothing every day. His influence is unavoidable. In fewer than 40 years, Jobs' innovations have impacted computers, movies, cellphones, music, and communication.

Steve Jobs may be more imaginative than the typical person, but if we can use some of his ingenuity, ambition, and good traits, we'll be successful. This essay explains how to follow his guidance and success secrets.

1. Repetition is necessary for success.

Be patient and diligent to master something. Practice makes perfect. This is why older workers are often more skilled.

When should you repeat a task? When you're confident and excited to share your product. It's when to stop tweaking and repeating.

Jobs stated he'd make the crowd sh** their pants with an iChat demo.

Use this in your daily life.

  • Start with the end in mind. You can put it in writing and be as detailed as you like with your plan's schedule and metrics. For instance, you have a goal of selling three coffee makers in a week.

  • Break it down, break the goal down into particular tasks you must complete, and then repeat those tasks. To sell your coffee maker, you might need to make 50 phone calls.

  • Be mindful of the amount of work necessary to produce the desired results. Continue doing this until you are happy with your product.

2. Acquire the ability to add and subtract.

How did Picasso invent cubism? Pablo Picasso was influenced by stylised, non-naturalistic African masks that depict a human figure.

Artists create. Constantly seeking inspiration. They think creatively about random objects. Jobs said creativity is linking things. Creative people feel terrible when asked how they achieved something unique because they didn't do it all. They saw innovation. They had mastered connecting and synthesizing experiences.

Use this in your daily life.

  • On your phone, there is a note-taking app. Ideas for what you desire to learn should be written down. It may be learning a new language, calligraphy, or anything else that inspires or intrigues you.

  • Note any ideas you have, quotations, or any information that strikes you as important.

  • Spend time with smart individuals, that is the most important thing. Jim Rohn, a well-known motivational speaker, has observed that we are the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time.

  • Learning alone won't get you very far. You need to put what you've learnt into practice. If you don't use your knowledge and skills, they are useless.

3. Develop the ability to refuse.

Steve Jobs deleted thousands of items when he created Apple's design ethic. Saying no to distractions meant upsetting customers and partners.

John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple, said something like this. According to Sculley, Steve’s methodology differs from others as he always believed that the most critical decisions are things you choose not to do.

Use this in your daily life.

  • Never be afraid to say "no," "I won't," or "I don't want to." Keep it simple. This method works well in some situations.

  • Give a different option. For instance, X might be interested even if I won't be able to achieve it.

  • Control your top priority. Before saying yes to anything, make sure your work schedule and priority list are up to date.

4. Follow your passion

“Follow your passion” is the worst advice people can give you. Steve Jobs didn't start Apple because he suddenly loved computers. He wanted to help others attain their maximum potential.

Great things take a lot of work, so quitting makes sense if you're not passionate. Jobs learned from history that successful people were passionate about their work and persisted through challenges.

Use this in your daily life.

  • Stay away from your passion. Allow it to develop daily. Keep working at your 9-5-hour job while carefully gauging your level of desire and endurance. Less risk exists.

  • The truth is that if you decide to work on a project by yourself rather than in a group, it will take you years to complete it instead of a week. Instead, network with others who have interests in common.

  • Prepare a fallback strategy in case things go wrong.

Success, this small two-syllable word eventually gives your life meaning, a perspective. What is success?  For most, it's achieving their ambitions. However, there's a catch. Successful people aren't always happy.

Furthermore, where do people’s goals and achievements end? It’s a never-ending process. Success is a journey, not a destination. We wish you not to lose your way on this journey.

Ivona Hirschi

Ivona Hirschi

1 month ago

7 LinkedIn Tips That Will Help in Audience Growth

In 8 months, I doubled my audience with them.

LinkedIn's buzz isn't over.

People dream of social proof every day. They want clients, interesting jobs, and field recognition.

LinkedIn coaches will benefit greatly. Sell learning? Probably. Can you use it?

Consistency has been key in my eight-month study of LinkedIn. However, I'll share seven of my tips. 700 to 4500 people followed me.

1. Communication, communication, communication

LinkedIn is a social network. I like to think of it as a cafe. Here, you can share your thoughts, meet friends, and discuss life and work.

Do not treat LinkedIn as if it were a board for your post-its.

More socializing improves relationships. It's about people, like any network.

Consider interactions. Three main areas:

  • Respond to criticism left on your posts.

  • Comment on other people's posts

  • Start and maintain conversations through direct messages.

Engage people. You spend too much time on Facebook if you only read your wall. Keeping in touch and having meaningful conversations helps build your network.

Every day, start a new conversation to make new friends.

2. Stick with those you admire

Interact thoughtfully.

Choose your contacts. Build your tribe is a term. Respectful networking.

I only had past colleagues, family, and friends in my network at the start of this year. Not business-friendly. Since then, I've sought out people I admire or can learn from.

Finding a few will help you. As they connect you to their networks. Friendships can lead to clients.

Don't underestimate network power. Cafe-style. Meet people at each table. But avoid people who sell SEO, web redesign, VAs, mysterious job opportunities, etc.

3. Share eye-catching infographics

Daily infographics flood LinkedIn. Visuals are popular. Use Canva's free templates if you can't draw them.

Last week's:

Screenshot of Ivona Hirshi’s post.

It's a fun way to visualize your topic.

You can repost and comment on infographics. Involve your network. I prefer making my own because I build my brand around certain designs.

My friend posted infographics consistently for four months and grew his network to 30,000.

If you start, credit the authors. As you steal someone's work.

4. Invite some friends over.

LinkedIn alone can be lonely. Having a few friends who support your work daily will boost your growth.

I was lucky to be invited to a group of networkers. We share knowledge and advice.

Having a few regulars who can discuss your posts is helpful. It's artificial, but it works and engages others.

Consider who you'd support if they were in your shoes.

You can pay for an engagement group, but you risk supporting unrelated people with rubbish posts.

Help each other out.

5. Don't let your feed or algorithm divert you.

LinkedIn's algorithm is magical.

Which time is best? How fast do you need to comment? Which days are best?

Overemphasize algorithms. Consider the user. No need to worry about the best time.

Remember to spend time on LinkedIn actively. Not passively. That is what Facebook is for.

Surely someone would find a LinkedIn recipe. Don't beat the algorithm yet. Consider your audience.

6. The more personal, the better

Personalization isn't limited to selfies. Share your successes and failures.

The more personality you show, the better.

People relate to others, not theories or quotes. Why should they follow you? Everyone posts the same content?

Consider your friends. What's their appeal?

Because they show their work and identity. It's simple. Medium and Linkedin are your platforms. Find out what works.

You can copy others' hooks and structures. You decide how simple to make it, though.

7. Have fun with those who have various post structures.

I like writing, infographics, videos, and carousels. Because you can:

Repurpose your content!

Out of one blog post I make:

  • Newsletter

  • Infographics (positive and negative points of view)

  • Carousel

  • Personal stories

  • Listicle

Create less but more variety. Since LinkedIn posts last 24 hours, you can rotate the same topics for weeks without anyone noticing.

Effective!

The final LI snippet to think about

LinkedIn is about consistency. Some say 15 minutes. If you're serious about networking, spend more time there.

The good news is that it is worth it. The bad news is that it takes time.

Frank Andrade

Frank Andrade

15 days ago

I discovered a bug that allowed me to use ChatGPT to successfully web scrape. Here's how it operates.

This method scrapes websites with ChatGPT (demo with Amazon and Twitter)

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels

In a recent article, I demonstrated how to scrape websites using ChatGPT prompts like scrape website X using Python.

But that doesn’t always work.

After scraping dozens of websites with ChatGPT, I realized that simple prompts rarely work for web scraping.

Using ChatGPT and basic HTML, we can scrape any website.

First things first, use ChatGPT's advanced version (Playground)

ChatGPT Playground's enhanced version is needed to scrape websites quickly. It generates code faster and has less constraints.

Here’s how it looks.

The classic ChatGPT display just allows you to type a prompt. Playground is more customizable and generates code faster than the basic version.

No more delays or restrictions.

In this tutorial, we'll write prompts underneath Playground.

How to Use ChatGPT to Scrape Any Website

To show you how to utilize ChatGPT to scrape any website, we'll use subslikescript, which lists movies.

Later in this post, I'll show you how to scrape Amazon and Twitter, but let's start easy.

If we try a basic prompt like “scrape the movie titles on this website: https://subslikescript.com/movies” it won’t scrape anything. Here’s when we need some HTML knowledge to build the right prompt for ChatGPT.Let's scrape the above movie titles. First, check the webpage. Right-click any element and choose Inspect.

Then see below.

We identify the element to scrape (those in the red box). The data elements are ul, a, and scripts-list.

Here's the prompt for movie titles.

Scrape this website: https://subslikescript.com/movies with Python and Beautiful Soup. Locate the element with tag “ul” and class “scripts-list”. Scrape all the “a” elements inside. Get the text attribute and print it.

Code generated:

import requests
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup

page = requests.get('https://subslikescript.com/movies/')

soup = BeautifulSoup(page.content, 'html.parser')

scripts_list = soup.find(class_="scripts-list")

all_a_elements = scripts_list.find_all('a')

for element in all_a_elements:
    print(element.get_text())

It extracts movie titles successfully.

Let's scrape Amazon and Twitter.

ChatGPT's Amazon scraping

Consider scraping Amazon for self-help books. First, copy the Amazon link for self-help books.

Here’s the link I got. Location-dependent connection. Use my link to replicate my results.

Now we'll check book titles. Here's our element.

If we want to extract the book titles, we need to use the tag name spanclass attribute name and a-size-base-plus a-color-base a-text-normalattribute value.

This time I'll use Selenium. I'll add Selenium-specific commands like wait 5 seconds and generate an XPath.

Scrape this website https://www.amazon.com/s?k=self+help+books&sprefix=self+help+%2Caps%2C158&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_2_10 with Python and Selenium.

Wait 5 seconds and locate all the elements with the following xpath: “span” tag, “class” attribute name, and “a-size-base-plus a-color-base a-text-normal” attribute value. Get the text attribute and print them.

Code generated: (I only had to manually add the path where my chromedriver is located).

from selenium import webdriver
from selenium.webdriver.common.by import By
from time import sleep

#initialize webdriver
driver = webdriver.Chrome('<add path of your chromedriver>')

#navigate to the website
driver.get("https://www.amazon.com/s?k=self+help+books&sprefix=self+help+%2Caps%2C158&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_2_10")

#wait 5 seconds to let the page load
sleep(5)

#locate all the elements with the following xpath
elements = driver.find_elements(By.XPATH, '//span[@class="a-size-base-plus a-color-base a-text-normal"]')

#get the text attribute of each element and print it
for element in elements:
    print(element.text)

#close the webdriver
driver.close()

It pulls Amazon book titles.

Utilizing ChatGPT to scrape Twitter

Say you wish to scrape ChatGPT tweets. Search Twitter for ChatGPT and copy the URL.

Here’s the link I got. We must check every tweet. Here's our element.

To extract a tweet, use the div tag and lang attribute.

Again, Selenium.

Scrape this website: https://twitter.com/search?q=chatgpt&src=typed_query using Python, Selenium and chromedriver.

Maximize the window, wait 15 seconds and locate all the elements that have the following XPath: “div” tag, attribute name “lang”. Print the text inside these elements.

Code generated: (again, I had to add the path where my chromedriver is located)

from selenium import webdriver
import time

driver = webdriver.Chrome("/Users/frankandrade/Downloads/chromedriver")
driver.maximize_window()
driver.get("https://twitter.com/search?q=chatgpt&src=typed_query")
time.sleep(15)

elements = driver.find_elements_by_xpath("//div[@lang]")
for element in elements:
    print(element.text)

driver.quit()

You'll get the first 2 or 3 tweets from a search. To scrape additional tweets, click X times.

Congratulations! You scraped websites without coding by using ChatGPT.