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Matthew O'Riordan

Matthew O'Riordan

5 months ago

Trends in SaaS Funding from 2016 to 2022

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Carter Kilmann

Carter Kilmann

5 months ago

I finally achieved a $100K freelance income. Here's what I wish I knew.

Source: Canva

We love round numbers, don't we? $100,000 is a frequent freelancing milestone. You feel like six figures means you're doing something properly.

You've most likely already conquered initial freelancing challenges like finding clients, setting fair pricing, coping with criticism, getting through dry spells, managing funds, etc.

You think I must be doing well. Last month, my freelance income topped $100,000.

That may not sound impressive considering I've been freelancing for 2.75 years, but I made 30% of that in the previous four months, which is crazy.

Here are the things I wish I'd known during the early days of self-employment that would have helped me hit $100,000 faster.

1. The Volatility of Freelancing Will Stabilize.

Freelancing is risky. No surprise.

Here's an example.

October 2020 was my best month, earning $7,150. Between $4,004 in September and $1,730 in November. Unsteady.

Freelancing is regrettably like that. Moving clients. Content requirements change. Allocating so much time to personal pursuits wasn't smart, but yet.

Stabilizing income takes time. Consider my rolling three-month average income since I started freelancing. My three-month average monthly income. In February, this metric topped $5,000. Now, it's in the mid-$7,000s, but it took a while to get there.

Finding freelance gigs that provide high pay, high volume, and recurring revenue is difficult. But it's not impossible.

TLDR: Don't expect a steady income increase at first. Be patient.

2. You Have More Value Than You Realize.

Writing is difficult. Assembling words, communicating a message, and provoking action are a puzzle.

People are willing to pay you for it because they can't do what you do or don't have enough time.

Keeping that in mind can have huge commercial repercussions.

When talking to clients, don't tiptoe. You can ignore ridiculous deadlines. You don't have to take unmanageable work.

You solve an issue, so make sure you get rightly paid.

TLDR: Frame services as problem-solutions. This will let you charge more and set boundaries.

3. Increase Your Prices.

I studied hard before freelancing. I read articles and watched videos about writing businesses.

I didn't want to work for pennies. Despite this clarity, I had no real strategy to raise my rates.

I then luckily stumbled into higher-paying work. We discussed fees and hours with a friend who launched a consulting business. It's subjective and speculative because value isn't standardized. One company may laugh at your charges. If your solution helps them create a solid ROI, another client may pay $200 per hour.

When he told me he charged his first client $125 per hour, I thought, Why not?

A new-ish client wanted to discuss a huge forthcoming project, so I raised my rates. They knew my worth, so they didn't blink when I handed them my new number.

TLDR: Increase rates periodically (e.g., every 6 or 12 months). Writing skill develops with practice. You'll gain value over time.

4. Remember Your Limits.

If you can squeeze additional time into a day, let me know. I can't manipulate time yet.

We all have time and economic limits. You could theoretically keep boosting rates, but your prospect pool diminishes. Outsourcing and establishing extra revenue sources might boost monthly revenues.

I've devoted a lot of time to side projects (hopefully extra cash sources), but I've only just started outsourcing. I wish I'd tried this earlier.

If you can discover good freelancers, you can grow your firm without sacrificing time.

TLDR: Expand your writing network immediately. You'll meet freelancers who understand your daily grind and locate reference sources.

5. Every Action You Take Involves an Investment. Be Certain to Select Correctly.

Investing in stocks or crypto requires paying money, right?

In business, time is your currency (and maybe money too). Your daily habits define your future. If you spend time collecting software customers and compiling content in the space, you'll end up with both. So be sure.

I only spend around 50% of my time on client work, therefore it's taken me nearly three years to earn $100,000. I spend the remainder of my time on personal projects including a freelance book, an investment newsletter, and this blog.

Why? I don't want to rely on client work forever. So, I'm working on projects that could pay off later and help me live a more fulfilling life.

TLDR: Consider the long-term impact of your time commitments, and don't overextend. You can only make so many "investments" in a given time.

6. LinkedIn Is an Endless Mine of Gold. Use It.

Why didn't I use LinkedIn earlier?

I designed a LinkedIn inbound lead strategy that generates 12 leads a month and a few high-quality offers. As a result, I've turned down good gigs. Wish I'd begun earlier.

If you want to create a freelance business, prioritize LinkedIn. Too many freelancers ignore this site, missing out on high-paying clients. Build your profile, post often, and interact.

TLDR: Study LinkedIn's top creators. Once you understand their audiences, start posting and participating daily.

For 99% of People, Freelancing is Not a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme.

Here's a list of things I wish I'd known when I started freelancing.

  1. Although it is erratic, freelancing eventually becomes stable.

  2. You deserve respect and discretion over how you conduct business because you have solved an issue.

  3. Increase your charges rather than undervaluing yourself. If necessary, add a reminder to your calendar. Your worth grows with time.

  4. In order to grow your firm, outsource jobs. After that, you can work on the things that are most important to you.

  5. Take into account how your present time commitments may affect the future. It will assist in putting things into perspective and determining whether what you are doing is indeed worthwhile.

  6. Participate on LinkedIn. You'll get better jobs as a result.

If I could give my old self (and other freelancers) one bit of advice, it's this:

Despite appearances, you're making progress.

Each job. Tweets. Newsletters. Progress. It's simpler to see retroactively than in the moment.

Consistent, intentional work pays off. No good comes from doing nothing. You must set goals, divide them into time-based targets, and then optimize your calendar.

Then you'll understand you're doing well.

Want to learn more? I’ll teach you.

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.

Victoria Kurichenko

Victoria Kurichenko

5 months ago

Updates From Google For Content Producers What You Should Know Is This

People-first update.

Image credit: Shutterstock. Image edited in Canva

Every Google upgrade causes website owners to panic.

Some have just recovered from previous algorithm tweaks and resumed content development.

If you follow Google's Webmaster rules, you shouldn't fear its adjustments.

Everyone has a view of them. Miscommunication and confusion result.

Now, for some (hopefully) exciting news.

Google tweeted on August 18, 2022 about a fresh content update.

This change is another Google effort to remove low-quality, repetitive, and AI-generated content.

The algorithm generates and analyzes search results, not humans.

Google spends a lot to teach its algorithm what searchers want. Intent isn't always clear.

Google's content update aims to:

“… ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”

Isn't it a noble goal?

However, what does it mean for content creators and website owners?

How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful after the updates roll out?

Let's first define people-first content.

What does "people-first-content" mean?

If asked, I'd say information written to answer queries and solve problems.

Like others, I read it from the term.

Content creators and marketers disagree. They need more information to follow recommendations.

Google gives explicit instructions for creating people-first content.

According to Google, if you answer yes to the following questions, you have a people-first attitude.

  1. Do you have customers who might find your content useful if they contacted you directly?

  2. Does your content show the breadth of your knowledge?

  3. Do you have a niche or a focus for your website?

  4. After reading your content, will readers learn something new to aid them in achieving their goals?

  5. Are readers happy after reading your content?

  6. Have you been adhering to Google's fundamental updates and product reviews?

As an SEO writer, I'm not scared.

I’ve been following these rules consciously while creating content for my website. That’s why it’s been steadily growing despite me publishing just one or two stories a month.

If you avoid AI-generated text and redundant, shallow material, your website won't suffer.

If you use unscrupulous methods to boost your website's traffic, including link buying or keyword stuffing, stop. Google is getting smarter and will find and punish your site eventually.

For those who say, “SEO is no longer working,” I dedicated the whole paragraph below.

This does not imply that SEO is obsolete.

Google:

“People-first content creators focus on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value.”

The official helpful content update page lists two people-first content components:

  • meeting user needs

  • best practices for SEO

Always read official guidelines, not unsolicited suggestions.

SEO will work till search engines die.

How to use the update

Google said the changes will arrive in August 2022.

They pledged to post updates on Google's search ranking updates page.

Google also tweets this info. If you haven't followed it already, I recommend it.

Ranking adjustments could take two weeks and will affect English searches internationally initially.

Google affirmed plans to extend to other languages.

If you own a website, monitor your rankings and traffic to see if it's affected.

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Jason Kottke

4 months ago

Lessons on Leadership from the Dancing Guy

This is arguably the best three-minute demonstration I've ever seen of anything. Derek Sivers turns a shaky video of a lone dancing guy at a music festival into a leadership lesson.

A leader must have the courage to stand alone and appear silly. But what he's doing is so straightforward that it's almost instructive. This is critical. You must be simple to follow!

Now comes the first follower, who plays an important role: he publicly demonstrates how to follow. The leader embraces him as an equal, so it's no longer about the leader — it's about them, plural. He's inviting his friends to join him. It takes courage to be the first follower! You stand out and dare to be mocked. Being a first follower is a style of leadership that is underappreciated. The first follower elevates a lone nut to the position of leader. If the first follower is the spark that starts the fire, the leader is the flint.

This link was sent to me by @ottmark, who noted its resemblance to Kurt Vonnegut's three categories of specialists required for revolution.

The rarest of these specialists, he claims, is an actual genius – a person capable generating seemingly wonderful ideas that are not widely known. "A genius working alone is generally dismissed as a crazy," he claims.

The second type of specialist is much easier to find: a highly intellectual person in good standing in his or her community who understands and admires the genius's new ideas and can attest that the genius is not insane. "A person like him working alone can only crave loudly for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be," Slazinger argues.

Jeff Veen reduced the three personalities to "the inventor, the investor, and the evangelist" on Twitter.

Ryan Weeks

Ryan Weeks

7 months ago

Terra fiasco raises TRON's stablecoin backstop

After Terra's algorithmic stablecoin collapsed in May, TRON announced a plan to increase the capital backing its own stablecoin.

USDD, a near-carbon copy of Terra's UST, arrived on the TRON blockchain on May 5. TRON founder Justin Sun says USDD will be overcollateralized after initially being pegged algorithmically to the US dollar.

A reserve of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins will be kept at 130 percent of total USDD issuance, he said. TRON described the collateral ratio as "guaranteed" and said it would begin publishing real-time updates on June 5.

Currently, the reserve contains 14,040 bitcoin (around $418 million), 140 million USDT, 1.9 billion TRX, and 8.29 billion TRX in a burning contract.

Sun: "We want to hybridize USDD." We have an algorithmic stablecoin and TRON DAO Reserve.

algorithmic failure

USDD was designed to incentivize arbitrageurs to keep its price pegged to the US dollar by trading TRX, TRON's token, and USDD. Like Terra, TRON signaled its intent to establish a bitcoin and cryptocurrency reserve to support USDD in extreme market conditions.

Still, Terra's UST failed despite these safeguards. The stablecoin veered sharply away from its dollar peg in mid-May, bringing down Terra's LUNA and wiping out $40 billion in value in days. In a frantic attempt to restore the peg, billions of dollars in bitcoin were sold and unprecedented volumes of LUNA were issued.

Sun believes USDD, which has a total circulating supply of $667 million, can be backed up.

"Our reserve backing is diversified." Bitcoin and stablecoins are included. USDC will be a small part of Circle's reserve, he said.

TRON's news release lists the reserve's assets as bitcoin, TRX, USDC, USDT, TUSD, and USDJ.

All Bitcoin addresses will be signed so everyone knows they belong to us, Sun said.

Not giving in

Sun told that the crypto industry needs "decentralized" stablecoins that regulators can't touch.

Sun said the Luna Foundation Guard, a Singapore-based non-profit that raised billions in cryptocurrency to buttress UST, mismanaged the situation by trying to sell to panicked investors.

He said, "We must be ahead of the market." We want to stabilize the market and reduce volatility.

Currently, TRON finances most of its reserve directly, but Sun says the company hopes to add external capital soon.

Before its demise, UST holders could park the stablecoin in Terra's lending platform Anchor Protocol to earn 20% interest, which many deemed unsustainable. TRON's JustLend is similar. Sun hopes to raise annual interest rates from 17.67% to "around 30%."


This post is a summary. Read full article here

CyberPunkMetalHead

CyberPunkMetalHead

1 month ago

I made ChatGPT copy itself.

OpenAI's ChatGPT is an amazing AI-powered chatbot. It can write poetry, stories, and marketing campaigns, and it's also adept at coding. ChatGPT's coding is so amazing that it replicated itself. What happened:

Me: Hi

Hello! Can I help? I'll answer any inquiries you have.

Me: Build a python and flask AI chatbot that responds to user messages on the frontend.

CGPT:

from flask import Flask, request, jsonify

import openai
openai.api_key = "YOUR_API_KEY"

@app.route('/chatbot', methods=['POST'])
def chatbot():
    user_message = request.get_json()['message']
    response = chatbot_response(user_message)
    return jsonify({'response': response})


def chatbot_response(user_message):
    response = openai.Completion.create(
        engine="text-davinci-002",
        prompt=user_message,
        max_tokens=1024,
        n = 1,
        temperature=0.5
    )
    return response['choices'][0]['text']

if __name__ == '__main__':
    app.run()

To integrate a chatbot with a frontend, use Flask to serve an HTML page with a form for user messages and the chatbot's answer. AJAX can submit the form to the /chatbot route, and JavaScript can show the chatbot's response.

I imported code snippets at the top of the file.

Let's add a frontend interface, I said.

CGPT:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
    <title>AI Chatbot</title>
</head>
<body>
    <h1>AI Chatbot</h1>
    <form id="chatbot-form">
        <label for="message">Message:</label><br>
        <input type="text" id="message" name="message"><br>
        <input type="submit" value="Submit">
    </form> 
    <div id="chatbot-response"></div>

    <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.5.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
    <script>
        $(document).ready(function() {
            $("#chatbot-form").submit(function(e) {
                e.preventDefault();
                var userMessage = $("#message").val();
                $.ajax({
                    type: "POST",
                    url: "/chatbot",
                    data: JSON.stringify({message: userMessage}),
                    contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8",
                    dataType: "json",
                    success: function(response) {
                        $("#chatbot-response").text(response.response);
                    }
                });
            });
        });
    </script>
</body>
</html>

To serve this HTML page using Flask, build a new route that returns the page as a GET response.

So far, so good.

Looked quite basic so I got chatGPT to add some tailwind to the project.

Me: Tailwind the chatbot.html page, please. Give it a futuristic style with purple and neon

After a few more prompts, Talk GPT aligned the form to the center, changed some colors, and added padding.

CGPT:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
    <title>AI Chatbot</title>
    <link href="https://unpkg.com/tailwindcss@^1.0/dist/tailwind.min.css" rel="stylesheet">
</head>
<body class="bg-black flex flex-col justify-center items-center">
    <h1 class="sm:text-center text-purple-500">AI Chatbot</h1>
    <form id="chatbot-form" class="border-purple-500 bg-purple-800 rounded">
        <label for="message">Message:</label><br>
        <input type="text" id="message" name="message" class="min-w-30 rounded"><br>
        <input type="submit" value="Submit" class="bg-purple-500 border-red-500 transform hover:scale-110 rounded">
    </form> 
    <div class="flex justify-center">
        <div id="chatbot-response" class="text-white rounded"></div>
    </div>

    <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.5.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
    <script>
        var colors = ['red', 'orange', 'yellow', 'green', 'blue', 'indigo', 'violet'];
        var colorIndex = 0;
        
        $(document).ready(function() {
            setInterval(function() {
                $("#chatbot-form").css('border-color', colors[colorIndex]);
                colorIndex = (colorIndex + 1) % colors.length;
            }, 1000);

            $("#chatbot-form").submit(function(e) {
                e.preventDefault();
                var userMessage = $("#message").val();
                $.ajax({
                    type: "POST",
                    url: "/chatbot",
                    data: JSON.stringify({message: userMessage}),
                    contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8",
                    dataType: "json",
                    success: function(response) {
                        $("#chatbot-response").text(response.response);
                    }
                });
            });
        });
    </script>
</body>
</html>

Improved:

A few more prompts like “Add more vertical and horizontal padding to the submit button and vertical margin, and vertically align this file's body.”

The result:

Is it effective? Now, I'll chat with ChatGPT's AI Chatbot. I intervened minimally throughout construction. Chat GPT created numerous files, connected and interacted with its own API, and presented the user request response on the front end by itself.

Me to AI Chatbot: Hey, can you give me 6 name suggestions for a black horse?

Me to AI Chatbot: Write a poem in the style of Jim Morrison. Make sure to mention cacti and black holes

ChatGPTs Chatbot:

In the desert night, I am confronted by cacti, 
Their arms reaching out, As if to grab me and take me away. 
The stars in the sky, Beckon me to come, 
To a world of black holes, Where I can be free. 
I am in a trance, My body and mind, 
In a state of limbo, As I wander the night. 
I hear a voice, Calling me to the unknown, 
I cannot resist, The lure of the black hole. 
The cacti watch, As I take my leave, 
To a place of mystery, Where I can find peace.

Of course, the next question I gave it was to build a chatbot!

Me: Build a python and flask AI chatbot that responds to user messages on the frontend.

ChatbotGPTs:

import os from flask 
import Flask, request, jsonify 
from chatterbot 
import ChatBot 
from chatterbot.trainers 
import ListTrainer 

# Create a new chatbot 
bot = ChatBot( 
  "My Bot", 
  storage_adapter="chatterbot.storage.SQLStorageAdapter", 
  logic_adapters=[ 
    "chatterbot.logic.BestMatch", 
    { "import_path": "chatterbot.logic.BestMatch", 
      "statement_comparison_function": "chatterbot.comparisons.levenshtein_distance", 
       "response_selection_method": "chatterbot.response_selection.get_first_response" } 
    ], 
    database_uri="sqlite:///database.sqlite3" ) 

# Train the chatbot with a few sample conversations 
conversation = [ "Hello", "Hi there!", "How are you doing?", "I'm doing great.", "That is good to hear", "Thank you.", "You're welcome." ] 
trainer = ListTrainer(bot) trainer.train(conversation) 

# Create a Flask app 
app = Flask(__name__) 

# Define a route for the default URL 
@app.route("/") def index(): return "<h1>Chatbot</h1>" 

# Define a route for the /get_response URL 
@app.route("/get_response", methods=["POST"]) 

def get_response(): 
# Get the user's message 
user_message = request.form["user_message"] 
# Get the bot's response 
bot_response = bot.get_response(user_message) 
# Return the bot's response 
return str(bot_response) 
# Run the Flask 
app if __name__ == "__main__": app.run()

No matter how many times I tried, the second generation always used chatterbot instead of the ChatGPT API. Even when I told it to use the ChatGPT API, it didn't.

ChatGTP's ability to reproduce or construct other machine learning algorithms is interesting and possibly terrifying. Nothing prevents ChatGPT from replicating itself ad infinitum throughout the Internet other than a lack of desire. This may be the first time a machine repeats itself, so I've preserved the project as a reference. Adding a requirements.txt file and python env for easier deployment is the only change to the code.

I hope you enjoyed this.