Monica, a native American software developer and engineering manager, founded Blogging for Developers to help developers improve their blogs. With 350 members and 250 paid subscribers, the developer-community has grown to over 7,500 email subscribers, $2000 in recurring monthly income, and recently reached $25,000. The platform offers SEO and content-focused support without the need for fame on social networking. With over 7,500 subscribers and $2000 in recurring monthly income, Blogging for Developers has become a significant source of income for developers.
To help developers improve their blogs, Monica established Blogging for Developers, a paid email course, newsletter, and online community. 350 people are currently a part of the community, and 250 of them are paid. There are now more than 7,500 email subscribers, $2000 in recurring monthly income, and it has recently reached $25,000.
Who are you and what are you currently working on?
Currently based in Berlin, Germany, I am a native American software developer and previous engineering manager. The majority of the individuals I communicate with have no idea where I’m from due to my odd diction!
About eight years ago, I relocated to Europe to work as a researcher at the Leipzig, Germany-based NLP chair. I quit my academic job and started working in Berlin for a fintech startup that was fast growing. After working there for five years and advancing through the ranks, I eventually left to concentrate entirely on my products.
I presently have two jobs that are my main sources of income, and by that I mean they both qualify as full-time jobs that require well over 40 hours per week of work.
The one I’m here to talk about today is called Blogging for Developers, though. This paid community, newsletter, and email course helps developers grow their blogs with outstanding SEO and content without the need to be “famous” on social networking.
350 people are currently a part of the community, and 250 of them are paid. There are now more than 7,500 email subscribers, $2000 in recurring monthly income, and it has recently reached $25,000.
What is your background, and how did you come up with this idea to make a developer-community?
I’ve never intended to make a product just for developers. This is what happened, even though I never meant to.
I launched Affilimate, an affiliate dashboard for content creators, as my first SaaS venture at the beginning of 2019. My travel blog was making approximately $5,000 per month when I became upset trying to track my affiliate income and figure out how to get more conversions on my website.
I understood the necessity for an automated solution because I’m a developer.
Before releasing the product, Gernot and I, a business partner, and I collected about 70 test users. Alongside them, I worked in the tourism sector. Why not start with what you are already aware of?
It is probably feasible to foresee what will happen in 2020.
After landing our biggest customer and making our first $2,000 per month, everything changed in two weeks, with everyone asking to terminate their subscriptions. My projects’ monthly revenue unexpectedly fell below $500, forcing me to rely entirely on my funds.
I decided to try something new after taking some time off to lament the collapse of my business (and play a lot of Animal Crossing).
I released Blogging for Developers as a free email course in May 2020.
Over 1,200 new clients were obtained in less than two weeks. On Product Hunt, it finally won the prize for Product of the Day. In addition, when I opened the premium community six months later, I made $10,000 in the first six weeks of enrollment.
This experience was special because I had a marketing plan in place—a Twitter following I had built up through years of blogging and presenting at conferences.
The need of creating distribution for your items was, in my opinion, the most important lesson I have learned. The reliability of the distribution network is essential, as product quality is essentially meaningless without it.
How did you develop a concept into a finished object?
The first iteration of Blogging for Developers was developed from concept to delivery in less than three weeks. “Launch quickly” was a phrase I had heard used in a number of situations. I paid close attention to this advice.
I created a 9-day email course using ConvertKit that consisted of an introductory email, a 7-day challenge, and a closing email.
Before agreeing to publish the email, I revised it twice with the assistance of eight friends who agreed to act as beta readers. The main change I made to the course was to narrow its emphasis to the targeted learning objectives:
“Write an optimized step-by-step article for your developer blog within seven days.”
I developed a secret, invite-only community in reaction to its popularity that was cost-free for the first 100 participants. I wanted to evaluate whether it was the best structure before carefully and gradually changing the culture.
It eventually took up so much of my time that I finally had to accept that I needed to go to work.
I gave myself the famed “12 startups in 12 months” goal, and I established the community as a paid business in less than a month.
My main marketing plan involves openly growing the queue on Twitter. More than 20% of the waitlist turned into paying subscribers in the first week after the show’s premiere.
What marketing techniques did you use to grow your company?
The main step I’ve done to increase the audience for Blogging for Developers is to include word-of-mouth marketing.
For instance, I ask them to post their email address on Twitter as soon as they confirm it for the free course. I shall do as the person does after the assignment is finished. This guarantees a steady stream of people promoting my items.
When I help developers with their blogs, they frequently post about my website, which promotes discussion of the newsletter in developer-focused public forums and creates backlinks.
Currently, 20–30% of Twitter users sign up for the website’s newsletter. Even higher opt-in percentage (often over 60%!) when a well-known tech journalist suggests membership.
As a result, it is by far the most successful tactic for growing my email list.
I’ve had little success using my rankings of the best development websites to increase organic traffic and gain subscriptions.
I need to do more testing to find the best email opt-in forms that won’t upset the devs that hang around in these ranks. You may already be aware of how sensitive pop-up ads and the majority of lead magnets are to developers. Giving their email address is therefore challenging for an accidental Internet founder.
The email course serves as a channel for community engagement in terms of revenue creation.
At the end of the semester, students have the choice to join the community and work on their blogs with other students. They also obtain the foundations they need to act in two final emails. Both notifications and commonly asked questions are sent via separate emails.
Although they may be improved upon, they are the main way that individuals discover our community and ultimately sign up as premium members.
What are you currently doing? What are your long-term goals?
My first employee was only recruited a month ago! A local citizen named Stefanni Brasil works part-time to help with everyday operations.
Examples of tasks that need for human engagement include integrating new members, developing guides to help people find community resources more quickly, organizing events, and a plethora of other duties.
I release monthly revenue reports that include a complete list of my earnings and outlays.
It is far more expensive to run a community since it requires the fusion of many technologies and the facilitation of bigger groups. You are therefore eligible for several SaaS subscriptions under the “mid-sized” or even “enterprise” classification.
We make between $2,000 and $3,000 on a monthly basis on average, and we spend between 25% and 33% of that sum.
I rely heavily on growing my newsletter since I need it to keep a sizable community following when it comes to expansion. I don’t want to make it huge since a lot of new people joining might quickly erode the group’s feeling of community.
My main goal is to grow my SaaS rather than make the community into a monstrous money-making machine. This is due to the fact that (at least for the time being) I see it more as a pastime than something I want to grow into a sizable business.
My ambitious objective for this year is to gather 20,000 newsletter subscribers. I’ve got a couple of missiles under my sleeve, and I’m sure I can cross the finish line.
What have you learnt that you consider to be the most important since starting Blogging for Developers?
The importance of distribution and the efficiency of email are the two most important variables.
I am still primarily focused on my SaaS product, which is what I want to be my main source of revenue, but if I had to start again right away, I would utilize an email-first strategy.
My current marketing initiatives are mostly geared around improving email interaction. Not what I had imagined before meeting you!
I also discovered what a difficult task community management is. Excellent behavior doesn’t get you days off; you have to help others around you every day. Communities cannot function without a facilitator to bring people together, build relationships, and make things happen.
I log in at least once a day, even while I’m on vacation, to the community.
What were the toughest obstacles you overcame? What were your biggest mistakes?
Blogging for Developers has been really successful for me so far. However, the main cause of this is because I made all the rookie mistakes with my first product, Affiliate.
No marketing strategy other than “build it, and they’ll tell their friends”—a quick implementation strategy that only used SEO (which has its own implementation timetable, especially in a cutthroat sector like affiliate marketing).
Thankfully, Blogging for Devs assisted me in avoiding a lot of these mistakes, and the result was favorable.
I’ve been able to turn around the bulk of them even with my SaaS, and things have changed significantly from a year ago. Some tasks merely take time:)
What tools and resources do you suggest?
The paid community is managed by ConvertKit and Circle. I edit and add captions to every Vimeo movie that I publish privately using Descript.
I covered the following resource-related subjects in my 2020 retrospective: My perspective was altered by Amy Hoy’s piece, Content Marketing that Sells.
It explains how to utilize side project marketing to draw customers to related companies.
The way I develop and carry out initiatives has been significantly impacted by this perspective, so everything sort of melds together. Being a developer, it is more easier and less expensive for me to start side projects that help my revenue-generating enterprises grow.
I suggest the following online business and marketing blogs to Failory readers in addition to Amy’s article: Detailed.com (SEO blog), Gaps.com (online business ideas and in-depth case studies), and Marketing Examples (marketing case studies).
My two favorite podcasts for content-driven businesses are without a doubt Authority Hacker (about internet marketing) and Inbox Besties (about email marketing).
We gather unique stories where people could build a community or something amazing from their passion. We collect stories from all over the internet, to awake your muse and use your creative power. This case study was supervised by our team and it definitely caught our interest. You can find other creative stories here.