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GitHub stars is no longer going to pay your rent (2020)

Smartly, I finally hold a story to issue. I finally launched the unusual model of Sizzy. It went from a straightforward web app to a beefy-fledged browser for designers and builders. I might well perhaps well pronounce that it be been a essentially inspiring month, nonetheless the truth is, it be been a bumpy inch for 2.5 years. I made masses of errors and I realized masses of lessons, so I wished to portion your entire narrative with you.

Solve your beget disaster, everything else will prepare

As everything that I hold ever labored on, I modified into attempting to resolve my beget disaster. I modified into working as a freelancer on the time and previewing a domain on extra than one units modified into a predominant pain in the ass for me. The consumer wished the app to work perfectly on every utility, in every orientation. So after every commerce in my app, I had to change 20 utility variations in Chrome and it modified into driving me crazy. I’m automating things. I’d exhaust hours to automate a job that takes 3 seconds very finest so I don’t must repeat the steps ever yet again. Within the intervening time, my sister modified into swapping the batteries between two remotes 10 instances per day for nearly a Three hundred and sixty five days with out shopping a 2d pair of batteries and she modified into completely graceful. I say all people is diversified.

You might well perhaps well presumably also very well learn the long-established article that I printed after I launched the app.

Abet to the narrative. After handiest a day of labor, I already saved myself masses of time while working for clients in due direction. I printed the app and I originate-sourced it on GitHub so all people can exercise it and make a contribution. Folk cherished it. The undertaking bought 5k stars. The analytics were going crazy. I might well perhaps well no longer mediate what modified into going on.


Expectantly, folk will donate, upright?

I started an Open Collective for it nonetheless it definitely made 93$ in 2.5 years. After I tweeted about this, a couple of parents acknowledged: “well presumably folk are no longer using it”. I knew that they were very finest attempting to bring me down, nonetheless the analytics were pronouncing something else. 7 to 10 thousand folk were using the app every month. The donation link modified into considered in each place, so it wasn’t doubtless to omit it.

Right here’s the make a selection: while you give away something fully for free, folk are no longer that motivated to pay for it. Or no longer it is very finest how humans think, there is nothing unusual right here. When modified into the closing time you chose a price above 1$ on a “pay what you care for to hold” slider for an app? Exactly. (good ample, one person who’s studying the article, you are particular and you are a saint for selecting 2.5$ that one time while you were drunk)

I made a broad mistake

It did no longer snatch prolonged for me to bask in that launching Sizzy as a web app modified into a gargantuan mistake. There were hundreds limitations that refrained from me from realizing the app’s beefy skill. I had too many strategies nonetheless it definitely wasn’t doubtless to bask in all of them in a web app. I wished to supply a accurate browser. So I dived into Electron. Presently after getting the first (no longer essentially semver) Electron model working, I printed an editorial so diversified folk don’t must battle thru what I went to supply React and Electron work collectively. I modified into making development.

I clearly wished to supply a paid model of the app for the reason that donations weren’t exactly determining for me. But I had no thought what attain to grab.

  • Closing an originate-supply undertaking very finest to supply it paid looked care for a dick circulation.
  • Having an originate-supply model and a paid model looked very complicated to tug off.

I had a name with a chum to ask him about his stride in conjunction with his startup and he modified into very valuable, nonetheless when a plan appears too distant and we’ll have the chance to no longer envision a transparent direction to attain it, we consistently attain for the the same worn drawer:


I modified into born in Macedonia, and I modified into living in the Netherlands on the time, and each of these countries did no longer hold get entry to to Stripe. I contacted Stripe and they urged me that the Netherlands might well perhaps well hold get entry to soon (and it the truth is launched a few months later), nonetheless I modified into already clinging so laborious to the excuse that I haven’t got a attain to price for this app.

I imply, every frosty developer is using Stripe, upright? They hold got a groovy flashy site and a dashboard that all people loves. I WANT TO SEE MY $$$ IN A PRETTY AND COLORFUL DASHBOARD WITH ROUNDED CORNERS AND NEAT SHADOWS GODDAMMIT. Screw the reality that there are really 108351 diversified price suppliers that I will exercise. No. Payments are laborious. This is highly unlikely. Furthermore, I hold to resolve out a attain to auto-update this app? How attain I even attain that? Where am I going to retailer the overall installers? What if it payments masses of cash? How am I going to handle all of that mess? What about licenses, registrations, emails, newsletters, and deal of others. and deal of others. and deal of others… You realize what, I better forget about this “disaster” and completely ignore it for 2 years.

Shifting focus

Presently after the initial beginning I ended freelancing, I launched React Academy and I modified into too busy doing workshops, so I did no longer hold the want to exercise Sizzy the least bit. I fully unnoticed the app and stopped caring about issues and deal of others. The usage wall silent excessive although, and the usage modified into even going up. The app modified into priceless to folk, even in its most frequent produce. I received a couple of provides from companies which wished to grab it from me, nonetheless I did no longer are attempting to advertise. I knew that one day I will be in the upright mindset and lag motivate to it.

If it would no longer work for me, I don’t are attempting to promote it

Final summer I tried using the app yet again and my first reaction modified into “omfg why attain folk even exercise this thing, it is miles also so noteworthy better”. But folk did no longer question it that attain. Will hold to you tune your mind to this disaster-fixing mindset you commence up seeing complications in everything. When I modified into using the app, I did no longer care for it because I had this diversified skill model of the app in my head. So I made up my mind that I are attempting to work on it yet again. I made up my mind to begin it when it be gonna glance care for something that I might well perhaps well exercise daily. That modified into the plan.

A 2d probability

I modified into so busy doing workshops and conferences that I barely had the time to focus and work on any diversified undertaking. I modified into touring every week and I grabbed this one from the excuses drawer:

“Until I’m in one notify for a essentially very prolonged time I very finest can no longer push myself to focus and accomplish apt work” - Kitze

But I did no longer are attempting to let that quit me, so I employed Praneet to work on the app a couple of hours per day. He helped me bring Sizzy motivate in form from a technical standpoint. We updated masses of worn dependencies, cleaned up some code, switched a couple of libraries, and deal of others.

The disaster modified into, I had no thought circulation the undertaking ahead. There were so many things left to attain that I did no longer know where to commence up. The price integration wasn’t even started and there modified into no touchdown page. I started engaged on the touchdown page while he modified into engaged on fixing bugs and at the side of unusual facets. Many of the unusual facets did no longer dwell in the contemporary model because I wasn’t thinking everything thru. We were going one step ahead and two steps motivate. I might well perhaps well no longer pronounce that it modified into fully misplaced time, nonetheless I wish I modified into better at prioritizing and estimating things. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. I did no longer keep of residing any closing dates and weekly desires. We were very finest coding.

The diversified disaster is I will no longer handle a plan for too prolonged. I started engaged on the touchdown page, nonetheless ended up engaged on a React library for making touchdown pages 🤦 (presumably I will liberate it one sunny day)

I wished to resolve that disaster too, nonetheless I ended up with two half-ass alternate strategies. There were so many things left to attain, the beginning looked too distant, and I very finest burned out and misplaced ardour yet again. Praneet made up our minds that he would no longer are attempting to price up for me beefy time and we parted ways.

The closing probability

I went motivate to my journeys, conferences, and workshops. I started filming vlogs. I had masses of relaxing, and I modified into using stride as an excuse that I haven’t got time to work on my apps.

Someplace initially of 2019, we started discussing with Praneet for his beefy-time employment yet again. After masses of motivate and forth, we agreed on a contract for 1 Three hundred and sixty five days, and we went motivate to engaged on the app. Paying somebody every month out of my beget pocket earlier to being a success modified into a gargantuan motivational boost for me to get my shit collectively. I honestly think that if I tried to supply everything by myself, the app wouldn’t question the light of day.

The conference and workshop season modified into nearly accomplished for me, so I finally had masses of time at home and I finally went motivate to my zone. Truly, stride and the overall hippie nomad shit might well perhaps well glance relaxing to you, nonetheless trust me there is nothing better than working from the the same worn notify and being focused for a essentially very prolonged time. Will hold to you question folk put up photographs of working by the pool very finest think that they’ll no longer question shit from the overall glare, and there is a community of formative years playing Marco Polo that is driving them bananas. Or no longer it is all part of that false Instagram existence.

Anyway, I made up my mind to eventually take a seat down and ship this thing.

The touchdown page might well perhaps well’ve been accomplished in a day if I extinct any of the lunge and fall tools for constructing touchdown pages, nonetheless noooo, that wasn’t very finest ample for the perfectionist in me. I had to attain everything from scratch. The whole lot wanted to be optimized, spirited, and thought out down to the closing detail. I’m a believer in #YOLO #JUSTSHIPIT boost nonetheless the upright touchdown page can on the overall promote the app for you. I proved that with Twizzle and I wrote about Lawful ship it is miles no longer consistently the upright mindset. With zero advertising and marketing and marketing folk were sharing and shopping the app very finest thanks to the outlandish touchdown page filled with easter eggs.

The touchdown page for Sizzy modified into accomplished, and it modified into time to circulation on.

Oh boy, the price part

Despite the indisputable truth that Stripe modified into on hand in Poland, where I’m presently primarily based, I silent chose Fade as a price provider handiest since it robotically handles VAT for EU prospects. I’d’ve completely extinct Fade motivate in the Netherlands nonetheless my hand modified into kinda caught in the excuses drawer.

Since the app modified into in Electron, I might well perhaps well no longer exercise Fade’s SDK for licensing an app. “Add few lines of code” grew to turn out to be to “few weeks of figuring everything out manually”. I had to write down literally everything around the price common sense from scratch. Fr om the backend to a separate app for managing licenses and subscriptions, and the overall Electron code for activating, deactivating, and validating licenses. Will hold to you glance handiest on the functionality of an app, you might well perhaps think “hah I will write this myself in a few weeks”, nonetheless the truth is packing it in something that might well perhaps also be dispensed to customers entails masses of labor. Earn no longer get me started on the updates and liberate server.

I realized plenty for the length of the job nonetheless I don’t want somebody else to attain this manually. I hold already received some plans about releasing your entire infrastructure as a carrier, so folk can with out disaster promote their Electron apps with Fade. This might well snatch me handiest 3 years to liberate it.

Deleting the GitHub repository

Truly, it felt form of shitty to delete the repository and unpin the undertaking from my profile. I hated the sensation nonetheless I had to shrug it off. I had to convince myself that I’m no longer doing the relaxation tainted. The app modified into serving masses of parents for 2.5 years, and I infrequently received any contributions. It modified into time to get accurate and take into narrative what matters.

Oh, right here we lag… I’m gonna point out the M discover and lose a ton of readers at this point.


Money matters.

Most builders, hell, most folk are in the mindset that money is something irascible and that it be no longer relevant. Or no longer it is miles a taboo field. Lunge ahead and complain to your mates that you simply are no longer making ample or can no longer pay your payments this month. They are able to care for the dialog and everyone will issue their very beget narrative. Now lag ahead and issue your mates that you simply made masses of cash this month. That you just can cut the rigidity in the air with a knife. Folk don’t are attempting to hear that shit. Money would no longer matter. Lunge away with that dialog. I’m making ample. I will barely build the relaxation, nonetheless I don’t are attempting to take into narrative that upright now. Not no longer up to I’m studying. Within the future things will magically commerce, I know that. That man is making money because his grandpa is well off. That lady is making money because she’s fortunate. Let’s no longer discuss that and lag motivate to complaining, please.

There are so noteworthy of amazing builders constructing amazing tools and they’re no longer interested by making them a success, even for a 2d. A friend as soon as called me “grasping” because I left a firm for a bigger wage. What the reveal fuck. That is a essentially excessive college mindset to hold, and I’m doing my simplest to spread this message to every developer available in the market…

Open supply, writing blog posts, and fidgeting with tweaking lint settings and editor subject matters all day are fully graceful unless your landlord knocks for your door or you are on the checkout on the grocery retailer. You are doing a crazy 2-hour commute daily telling yourself “well no no longer up to I’m studying plenty about SVG”. Fuck that. We do no longer know the diagram prolonged things will quit this attain. No one can guarantee that we’re going to hold our jobs and we’ll be in the most a success and imperfect industry in the subsequent 10 years.


A manufacturing facility lector - a person who modified into studying the newspaper to manufacturing facility team

The manufacturing facility lector thought his job modified into accurate unless one day the manufacturing facility proprietor walked in and modified him with a radio. However the manufacturing facility lector did no longer hold Medium and Hacker Details to issue him each day that the radio is coming to grab his job. However, builders are consistently studying that AI and ML are taking a broad momentum and everything is popping into an increasing selection of automatic. We fully ignore that truth and are attempting to mediate that we’re going to protect our highly paid job of transferring rectangles with CSS forever. (Of us that know fix printers are an exception, you’ll protect your job forever)

I realized a really prolonged time prior to now to no longer obsess with stars and likes. I silent care for originate supply and I’m silent originate-sourcing masses of things, nonetheless no longer everything must be originate supply. Please are no longer getting defensive and are no longer getting me tainted. If it wasn’t for originate supply we wouldn’t be ready to ship the relaxation, ever. There are masses of amazing folk in the neighborhood, there are folk that attain originate supply for living, there are highly funded originate supply tasks care for Babel, Webpack, and deal of others.

However, most builders produce zero money off originate supply. Zero.

I hold masses of mates (and by mates I imply folk that responded to my tweet twice) who constructed a great app or a carrier, they did no longer produce it paid for a bunch of reasons, and now they’re buried in a sea of issues, on the overall fixing diversified folk’s complications for free. No matter how merciless this sounds, it be the sad reality. I essentially hope that with GitHub Sponsors things will commerce, nonetheless it definitely is no longer going to be wherever come launching a paid SaaS product, because donations are elective.

My philosophy is that if I’m investing masses of cash and time in making a utility that is gonna build customers and companies in the direction of the enviornment hundreds time, I’d as well price for it.

I’m expanding on this point extra particulars in this discussso might well perhaps well hold to you are concerned you might well perhaps well also question it.

Jesus, what modified into this article even about… Oh yeah, Sizzy.

It modified into time to begin. I did the overall calculations and I hoped that no no longer up to a little share of my existing customers will convert to paid ones.

It modified into time.

The 0.0.1 model of the app modified into interesting for procure.

The whole lot modified into examined properly.

I made a knowledgeable video demonstrating the overall facets of the app.

The Twitter put up modified into interesting.

The Product Hunt put up modified into interesting.

It modified into time to press the button, nonetheless it definitely modified into so laborious.

I modified into so nervous that every definitely one of my existing customers are gonna make a selection pitchforks and wait in entrance of my home for the reason that utility is no longer free anymore.

But oh boy… I modified into completely no longer interesting for what came about next.

The gargantuan beginning

Holy fucking monkey balls flying thru home! I completely did no longer search files from that response!

Sizzy received 2352 upvotes on Product Hunt. It modified into the fabricated from the day, the fabricated from the week, and third fabricated from the month. It received extra votes than Libra by Facebook and Raspberry Pi 4, is no longer always that bananas?! (or raspberries, whatever)

I made up my mind to exercise a giveaway on Twitter to motivate folk to retweet, and it labored! After the giveaway modified into accomplished I might well perhaps well no longer obtain a apt utility for selecting winners so I made Lucky Retweet. Strive doing a giveaway for definitely one of your products and you’ll also be taken aback by how well it essentially works. As a substitute of handiest 3, I gave away 30-lifetime licenses. Even supposing your few mates will groan and is no longer going to RT, and the overall winners will be broad ecstatic and grateful. Or no longer it is overall a essentially sure expertise.

The initial feedback modified into amazing. When I started getting my first subscribers I very finest might well perhaps well no longer mediate it. Or no longer it is been 1.5 months since the beginning and I silent get the the same feeling after I get a brand unusual subscriber.

Haters are consistently louder

I mediate that paying a few dollars per month for something that goes to build you and your team hundreds of hours per month is a no brainer. In retrospect, I will also silent’ve priced it attain elevated. It modified into selling care for crazy. If you glance on the list of teams who are using Sizzy on the touchdown page you’ll obtain Samsung, Bentley, Comcast, Toyota, Sketch, Hallmark, Basecamp, Algolia, and deal of others.

What on the planet is occurring?

Of us that might well perhaps acknowledge that a utility will the truth is build them, and even produce them money, very finest snatch it straight and circulation on with their existence.

However, folk which are clearly consultants at pricing SaaS products are attain, attain louder. If you handiest glance on the feedback from the out of doors, with out appealing the reveal stats, you might well perhaps get a fully tainted affect that the product is no longer always doing well.

Primarily the most well-liked complaints were:

  • I are attempting to pay handiest as soon as!!!111!11!
  • This need to no longer be a subscription
  • I’m gonna produce my beget model and distribute it for free because screw these grasping companies which are charging customers for something care for this (staunch comment, W T F )
  • Smartly, is no longer always this the the same as Google Chrome?
  • Smartly, is no longer always this the the same as that one Chrome extension that got right here out in 2007? I will very finest exercise that.

Icy, who’s stopping you from no longer using it, or using something else?

Lawful imagine might well perhaps well hold to you enter a clothes retailer and be care for “OMFG THIS SHIRT IS 20$? ARE YOU CRAZY? I CAN GO TO THE STORE NEXT DOOR AND GET ONE FOR 7$. I CAN GET A SKIRT, CUT IT, AND WEAR IT AS A T-SHIRT. OR EVEN BETTER, I’M GONNA SEW MY OWN SHIRT!!!111!”

Or imagine coming into a grocery store and starting to weep on the cashier “WHAT?! THIS MILK IS 3$? DO YOU KNOW THAT ON THE OTHER END OF TOWN I CAN GET THIS FOR 2.5$? I CAN EVEN BUY MY OWN COW, RAISE IT, MILK IT EVERY DAY, AND DRINK MILK FOR FREE!11!”.

In every eventualities, you might well perhaps well presumably be considered as a crazy person and escorted out by safety. But sadly, on the fetch, folk forget that they’re talking to accurate folk. Or no longer it is straightforward, might well perhaps well hold to you don’t agree referring to the pricing of a product, don’t snatch it and circulation on. Then lag and exhaust the the same quantity of cash on a mountainous latte, and exhaust 25 hours per week manually doing something that a dedicated utility might well perhaps well’ve accomplished for you. That might well show hide ’em!

Care for the prospects

Fortunately, I realized to ignore detrimental feedback and I did no longer extinguish too noteworthy time on pointless web discussions.

As a substitute of losing my vitality on convincing folk to grab the app, I made up my mind to home prospects who the truth is bought it, and be obvious that that they might well perhaps get the simplest price out of it. Ever since launching the app we hold been working non-quit on bettering it and we hold launched 5 unusual versions with a lot of unusual facets. I opened a public Trello Board where folk can question the roadmap and vote on facets they would protect to glance in the app.

The emails were piling up and there hold been attain too many of them for me to handle by myself. I tried a couple of tools nonetheless nothing modified into determining. I realized that I will no longer attain everything on my beget. My female friend, who modified into already doing QA for the undertaking, supplied to work further hours and reduction with the e-mail and the overall diversified administrative tasks. After every week I made up my mind to rent her part-time and properly compensate for he r time. This might well perhaps well sound broad outlandish to a few, and honestly, it be rather laborious to separate the work from our personal existence, nonetheless one diagram or the other we produce it work. She is broad hyped referring to the undertaking and went all-in on making every form of merch.


I wished to be obvious that that every customer space and a complaint is addressed as soon as doubtless, and she modified into valuable in the job. After fixing a disaster that a customer reported, we in my view ship them an e-mail to allow them to know that in the unusual update their space is mounted. All people loves this level of consumer beef up. We’re mindful that it be no longer gonna work at a bigger scale, nonetheless we’ll attain our simplest to comprehend it that attain.

Next steps

Currently, Sizzy has around 1600 customers, which is crazy for the reason that handiest advertising and marketing and marketing I’ve accomplished up to now is sponsoring one newsletter, and that modified into closing week. Many of the advertising and marketing and marketing is highly finest a discover of mouth from folk that expertise the product. I are attempting to beef up the balance of the app noteworthy extra earlier to I commence up properly investing in advertising and marketing and marketing. Or no longer it is silent distant from my closing plan. I hold so many strategies about shaping Sizzy to be a utility that every developer and dressmaker will rely on for the length of their day-to-day work. I are attempting to attain 1,000,000 customers. It’ll also sound crazy, nonetheless I know I will get there. The handiest thing standing between me and that plan is highly finest … me. But I is no longer going to let myself lose observe yet again. Sizzy is my predominant focus now, and everything else comes secondary. Or no longer it is essentially laborious to sleep properly while you understand you’ll want masses of shoppers who rely on you. Or no longer it is miles a outlandish feeling, nonetheless I care for it!

I haven’t any thought what’s gonna happen next. I received reached out straight by 5 gargantuan funding companies. I’m silent no longer sure whether I will also silent snatch the VC route because I hold a feeling that I will hold a boss yet again, and I modified into consistently struggling to work when somebody else modified into in protect watch over. I will are trying and push as noteworthy as I will with out getting an funding because proudly owning 100% of a startup and rising it with out looking on somebody is highly finest a great feeling.

Startup?! Did I pronounce startup? I disfavor the discover, seriously. It fully misplaced that formulation because folk originate a hello world undertaking and straight commerce their Twitter bio to “CEO & Founding father of X”. The title in my bio would no longer imply shit. I’m making an app, who cares, it be no longer relevant what you name it. Things need to no longer going to magically commerce might well perhaps well hold to you commerce your bio. You are very finest lying to yourself. Be ecstatic and quit giving a fuck about proving your 3 mates from excessive college who you are.


  • Solve your beget disaster
  • Drawl your resolution to diversified folk as soon as doubtless
  • Bundle it and distribute it as soon as doubtless (show hide to self)
  • Earn no longer be worried, ashamed, or sad to supply it paid
  • Earn no longer let somebody issue you how noteworthy you might well perhaps well also silent price for your work

I am so nervous that diversified makers are focusing handiest on the detrimental feedback about paid products, and get sad from making their next product paid, in its place of free.

Please don’t fall for this!

Please price your work and mediate that no matter the reality that haters are loud, you are silent gonna get masses of shoppers who would gladly pay for what you made.

As a acquainted legend as soon as acknowledged:

‘Situation off the gamers gonna play, play, play, play, playAnd the haters gonna disfavor, disfavor, disfavor, disfavor, disfavorBaby, I’m very finest gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shakeI shake it off, I shake it off

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