January's Journal

January. It’s always a bit of a ‘meh’ month. Christmas and New Year have come and gone, everyone’s back to work, and the weather (in England at least) is shit. In fact, the third Monday in January is known as Blue Monday, due to it being the most depressing day of the year. Over all, January is not a happy month.

At the end of 2015, my monthly recurring revenue was $967, just two $19 / month subscriptions from reaching the $1,000 MRR milestone. It seemed pretty likely I would reach that mile stone in January 2016.

I did not reach that milestone in January.

I annihilated it!

The Figures

  This Month (Jan 2016) Last Month Change
Savings (end of month) £14,563.71 £16,600 * N/A
Monthly Recurring Revenue $1,244 $967 28.65%
Average Month on Month Growth 14.9% 11.8% 26%
Paying customers 24 21 14.3%
- Personal Plan 9 8 12.5%
- Start Up Plan 11 10 10%
- Corporate Plan 4 3 33.3%
Unique users on landing page 2,987 2,275 31.3%
New Free Trial sign ups 55 34 61.8%
Free Trial sign up rate 1.84% 1.49% 23%
New Paying customers 3 4 25%
Lost Paying Customers 0 2 100%
Free Trial to Paying conversion 7.27% 8.82% 18%

* This savings figure was an estimate, as I received all my income from Fastspring for December and January in one payment at the end of January, so I'm not entirely sure what my December savings figure actually was.

Where to begin? So much green :) I think it makes sense to start with revenue. January actually started quite slowly, on the 8th there was a new $19 / month subscription, bringing me even closer to that $1,000 MRR milestone, and then nothing. It wasn’t until the 22nd, when I got a new $59 / month subscription, that I finally broke the $1,000 MRR barrier. Then, just 3 days later, it happened. My first subscriber to the corporate plan since October 2015!

My savings have dropped quite a bit, which is mostly because as a company director, I have to make my student loan payments yearly. This year’s bill was nearly £700, and had to be paid before the end of January. I’m not concerned (yet) though, as at my current growth rate I’ll be profitable by August, and still have over £10,000 in savings.

Traffic was up on December, but still not anywhere near November 2015, when I was putting more time and effort in to traffic generation. What interests me though, is that January had more free trial sign ups than any month in the history BugMuncher, and the sign up conversion rate for January was the best it’s been since I started this quest. I’ve long known that there is very little overlap between the audience for these blog posts, and BugMuncher’s target market, which is why my sign ups don’t increase linearly with my traffic. But why were my sign ups higher this month than they’ve ever been? I can’t say for sure, but I have a theory - landing page optimisation. I made some slight changes to the home page hero unit at the beginning of January:

Homepage in December 2015

Homepage in January 2016

Before the change, a few people had told me that it wasn’t immediately clear from the homepage what BugMuncher actually was, and I could see their point. With the tagline I had been following the old adage of “Sell the benefits, not the features”, but clearly I’d gone too far. I strongly suspect the new tagline, along with the reintroduction of the “Try Me!” arrow will have helped improve conversions.

Tech start ups usually test and measure everything, so why didn’t I set up an A/B test for this to see if it really did help? Simply because I’ve found when trying A/B tests before that my traffic is just too low, most of the times I never get a conclusive result, and when I do get a result, I have to run the test for months first.

As if all that wasn’t enough, January also marked this blog’s mailing list reaching 100 subscribers! I know that’s a paltry amount in the grand scheme of things, but to me it’s amazing. The fact there are 100 people who like my story enough to subscribe for updates is mind blowing.

However, the statistic from January I’m most happy with is not mailing list subscribers. It’s not sign up conversions, nor growth, and it’s not even revenue. The number that makes me happiest is that big fat zero in the Lost Paying Customers row. It’s the first month since I started full time on BugMuncher that I have had zero churn, and that makes me ecstatic! Getting new customers is awesome, but keeping them is what really counts. I feel it’s a testament to both my devotion to customer support, as well as the value BugMuncher provides.

Revenue Growth

I think this graph speaks for itself:

I know I’m unlikely to maintain the current level of growth, as it’s been heavily influenced by the $199 / month subscription, but baring in mind when I started this mission I needed at least 7% month on month growth, it’s great to now be so far ahead of that target.

It’s also comforting to know that being so far ahead of the 7% target has given me a healthy buffer, so if I do get a few quiet months I’ll still be ok.

I’m also happy to report that the middle ‘Start Up’ plan is still the most popular, so I don’t have to take that label off the pricing page :)

Back to work

Just a short one this month, as I’m still deep in code, working on the new back end API, and completely revamped control panel. I’ve also got a whole new market segment to start targeting (more on that next time).

As always, thanks for reading. And a special thank you if you’re one of the 100 who subscribe to this blog series, it means a lot to me.

- Matt