How Briefmetrics makes $350 per month

Shane Labs July 29, 2014 4

Six months ago I came across a service called Briefmetrics while browsing Reddit. Although it sounds simple, Briefmetrics accomplishes the very helpful task of sending you a weekly email summarizing your Google Analytics. Yes, you can always login to Google Analytics and check your stats at any time, but I prefer to have data “pushed” to me instead of having to go out and “pull” it.

Briefmetrics Homepage

In fact, I like BriefMetrics so much that I featured it in my last blog post about the top 5 email reports everyone should be receiving.

I reached out to Andrey Petrov from Briefmetrics last week and was stoked to hear back from him. Here are a few insights I’ve learned about his side project that I thought were worth sharing with all of you.

About Andrey

Although Andrey doesn’t work a full time job, I still consider him a sidestrapper. Just take one look at his website and you’ll see a collection of side projects he’s created, from games to SaaS websites.

He left his full time job at Google last year (where he contributed to Google Analytics) to pursue his development dreams. He spends about half of this time working on Briefmetrics, and the other half on other projects.

How did Briefmetrics start?

The core drive for it is that it was something he really wanted. Many people told him they never check their Google Analytics, either because they forget or the interface is too cumbersome. His goal was to solve this problem by making all the interesting analytics come to your inbox. He pitched the idea to a few people and signed up his first paying customer before building it.

The first “MVP” prototype was built in under a week. After he had it up and running with a few test users, he rewrote it in Python which took about another week but then had payments and much more sophisticated backend.

How’s it going?

He’s been working on Briefmetrics for about 8 months now. If he stopped work on Briefmetrics, it would continue to run itself, which is a developer’s dream. As for the numbers:

  • Users signed up to date: 317 total users so far, 14 paying
  • Website stats last month: 620 visitors, 76% bounce, 1m17s time on site
  • Revenue last month: $350

So he definitely has a solid product. 300+ users is something to be proud of, especially the 14 customers that pay for the service (he provides 10 weekly reports for free, then charges $8/mo once that runs out, or more for additional features). And his website is getting a decent amout of eyes on it every month.

Where are his struggles?

Marketing is definitely the hardest part for him (as with me too!). He’d be much happier if he could sit back and whip out code and customers would pile in on their own, but alas it doesn’t work that way. He’s thinking of trying some retargeting maybe, or buying ads on relevant sites, or something else. It’s hard to justify spending a lot of money on acquisition without a good amount of revenue to work with. Reaching the right people is tricky.

Additionally, all of his original validation was misguided in retrospect. First he targeted hobbyists and entrepreneurs like himself as customers—and he found a few. But as time went on he realized that the customers who benefit from Briefmetrics most are web design agencies who build sites for lots of other clients.

Getting a hold of relevant customers is a huge struggle. He has an abysmal success rate at cold-emailing web design agencies, but that’s partly because he doesn’t think he does it nearly enough (maybe ~15 attempts so far with maybe ~3 responses and 0 conversions) and he doesn’t enjoy this part so he drags his feet on it (I’m the same way – I hate sending out any emails that someone could consider spam). Every paying customer he’s received so far has either been somebody who knows him or from “Show {Community}” posts.

He’s messed around with Adwords and such with no success, and is going to try retargeting next.

My take

I simply love Andrey’s service because it’s something I could see myself creating. He did a great job of finding customers before building the product (validating the idea), and not spending too much time on an MVP until he got some feedback. The product itself is useful, easy to use, and elegant, and I think the majority of the work to be done is on the marketing front.

A lot of people may warn Andrey that Briefmetrics may be viewed as a feature, not a product. In other words, if Google Analytics comes out with an email report feature next month it could immediately put him out of business (actually, Google Analytics already has an email feature, it’s just very difficult to find and set up, so no one uses this. Andrey is aware of this and is focused on delivering a more consolidated and opinionated analytics right out of the box with zero setup). The response to that is to find something of value that Google Analytics doesn’t provide, and add it to make the service more indispensable. And he’s done that with the custom branding. Which is also why he’s finding most success with agencies as customers instead of solo webmasters.

I’m sure he already knows it, but that’s his target customer and that’s who he need to be focusing 100% on.

Andrey – I’d suggest two things:

1. Go through all of your marketing – from your website, to the footers of every email, and make sure people know about your agency features. You really need to be looking at everything from the point of view of agencies, not solo webmasters. They are your customer, not the average joe webmasters out there.

2. Make the basic plan free, and possibly support it with ads. The basic plan should just be a way to spread the word about your service, hoping that it will eventually reach agencies. If it becomes too cumbersome to support the basic plan for free, I’m sure you could sell advertising, or create revenue from affiliate programs to other, better stats programs (there are a million out there, such as ChartBeat, CrazyEgg, and ClickTale, to name a few). But this basic plan should just be a way to get your name out there, as your bread and butter is going to be agencies.

UPDATE – Since this interview, Andrey has informed me that his user base has more than doubled – up to 780 users now. This is a result of being featured on ProductHunt – awesome! I need to look into ProductHunt more…

Thanks, Andrey

I want to personally thank Andrey for sharing his experience with us. It’s easiest for me to learn through examples, and having real stories like this helps me improve as a side project developer. Thank you!

If you are interested in giving Briefmetrics a try, signup here: https://briefmetrics.com/

Did you have any other suggestions for Andrey? Let us know in the comments what you think of his service!

PS – This post is the first of the Sidestrapper Profile series where I interview successful (or struggling!) side project creators to see how they’re doing. Did you like this? Let me know if you’re interested in more.

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4 Comments »

  1. Andrey Petrov July 29, 2014 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Hey Shane, thanks for the interview and great advice!

    I completely agree with #1, much of the original copy was done when I first launched Briefmetrics and was targeting hobbyists. I have a wonderful redesign mockup with new copy burning a hole in my Dropbox but I haven’t gotten around to implementing it.

    As for #2, I am very reluctant to add a free plan. I’ve done this on a couple of previous projects and the results were disastrous. More often than not, a free plan attracts very different kinds of users than those who would become paid customers. They request different kinds of features, giving the wrong feedback, and they’re far louder and more demanding than paying customers. Over time, the product becomes optimized to be what your free users would want which is often the opposite of what paying customers would want.

    Once the product is fleshed out and mature and frankly.. big and successful, *then* switching over to a freemium model is safer, as the incorrect influence is less likely to steer the venture in the wrong direction at that point. Briefmetrics is not there yet. 🙂

    Thanks again for the opportunity. I’ll be hanging around in the comments here to answer any questions your readers post.

    • Shane Labs July 30, 2014 at 6:40 am - Reply

      I see your points on #2. I have also seen how free stuff attracts people that won’t ever pay for anything, plus they require more support somehow. I was just thinking you still need a way to spread the word, and free users would probably do that for you. Anyway, thanks bud – good luck and keep in touch!

    • Rohan July 30, 2014 at 11:26 am - Reply

      Thanks Andrey – nice service. How did you come up with your pricing?

      • Andrey Petrov July 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm - Reply

        It was not an easy task, and I’m still not sure it’s quite right.

        I started out with just $8/mo flat, but I found a few customers who needed more features like whitelabeling and such. I worked with each such customer to figure out what pricing would make sense for their business. This yielded the Agency plan suite.

        I’m considering raising the $8/mo to $10/mo and introducing a $40/site/year plan, but I’m not sure this is a great idea yet.

        Pricing is hard. Reaching out to customers and figuring out the value they’re getting from the service and their budget is really important, and then it’s a matter of segmenting the plans to different kinds of customers.

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