Blog post

I quit my job to work on JustComments full-time

by Alex on 6/20/2019, 11:00:00 AM

Hi there!

I got some great news for you today! I decided to quit my job to focus on JustComments full-time. So starting from mid-July, I will be working more intensively on shipping new feature and selling JustComments to potential users (caveat: I will do some part-time freelance work in the beginning).

So far, JustComments has been an only slight commercial success:

  • In 2018, the revenue was 380 Euro (but profitable from day 1, if you don't count development time).
  • In May 2019, 206 websites used JustComments, and JustComments processed 1,339,333 requests.

You see that the numbers are not impressive, and it's not possible to turn it into a sustainable full-time business at this point.

The major challenge for growing a business like this is the scale of the adoption and the pricing model. To grow in terms of revenue, JustComments should not only grow in terms of the number of clients, but also the clients should have heavily-used websites. It is a challenging problem in either way: attracting a lot of small clients continuously or finding several significant users. You can get an idea why the most popular comment system out there, Disqus, does not follow the same model as JustComments. Instead, they offer the service for free and show ads. Removing ads is a premium feature in Disqus, and still, they probably can collect the data about the users and extract some revenue from it.

Let's do some math: JustComments generates roughly $15 of revenue per 1 million page views. I imagine the cost per thousand ad impressions on Disqus is quite low, even if CPM is $0.2, it leaves Disqus with $200 in revenue for 1 million page views. The scale is also crucial for Disqus, and they were able to grow faster because of all free users which they can monetize still:

If you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold.

This difference means that eventually, Disqus can invest much more in the product, its features and grows more quickly winning even more users.

What does it mean for JustComments? It means that I need to find a way to generate more revenue while remaining compatible with my principles and values that I set for this project. Moreover, I have identified some action points to help it:

  1. In 14 days, having an active API key on JustComments will cost credits: 150 credits per day (or $0.00225 per day). There will be a way to delete and re-create the API key in the dashboard at any time, allowing you to keep the credits on your account if you are not using JustComments actively for some time. As a side effect, it will enable you to rotate API keys easily.
  2. I will add a support plan with a fixed monthly payment. If you are business and you need priority support and help with setting up and using JustComments, I'd ask you to subscribe to the support plan. The price will be $59.95 per month and includes priority email support and up to 1 hour of my time dedicated to help you with JustComments.
  3. Shipping more features, thanks to your fantastic feedback. The next ones will be: 1) new, more accessible and more customizable frontend with Facebook login and comment preview 2) better moderation tools including comment deletion and data export 3) reactions on the comments and sorting by the popularity of a comment

Perhaps, JustComments will not become a full-time business as I hope, but I feel it's a useful project which I intend to keep running as a side project as long as I can. I have some other project ideas to build upon JustComments too and, if you have some, please share them.

I am thankful for your feedback and support!

Best regards,
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