On May 6, 2021 I soft-launched a new Premium Pass on my website for random TTRPG generators. About an hour later I got the Stripe notification:

Someone had purchased at the launch price of $25 USD.

It was an emotional moment for me. This is my first time trying to build my own software business. Making that first sale made everything seem possible. If I can make 1 sale, I can make 1000.

It feels like a phase-shifting event. My life can now be divided into the time before I made this sale and the time afterwards. I’m going to celebrate this weekend and then get back to work. I have customers now and a real product to figure out how to market!

Why are premium generators my first revenue stream?

I went into some detail on my thinking in this podcast episode with my brother Brandon. I’ll quickly summarize in writing here.

It’s worth reflecting on why I decided to ship this. One of my biggest challenges as a new founder is the fact that I can build almost anything. So why did this Premium Pass for a random generator website become my first revenue stream?

I needed low hanging fruit

The first reason is that I needed low hanging fruit. I was not financially burdened but I was mentally burdened. I had got myself into a rut thinking about how long it could take for me to build some of my more ambitious ideas. It’s extra difficult when you scroll through Twitter and see so many interesting SaaS products that are years ahead of you. You can’t help but think to yourself: I want to be there.

But I was being impatient and I was forgetting a key lesson I learned at the end of last year: You need to ship constantly and ship small. Thankfully, I was able to see the mental trap I was walking into. I took a step back from the big ideas and asked myself “Where is there low-hanging fruit?”. Turns out it was right where you would expect: dangling in front of my face.

The market liked Here Be Taverns

To find quick wins I took stock of all the assets I already had. When I looked at the numbers and the qualitative feedback a clear winner emerged: Here Be Taverns was my strongest asset by far. At the time of this decision, the site was getting more than 2000 unique views per month. (I’m happy to report that after further investment in performance and some fan love, that number is now closer to 2000 uniques per week.)

In addition to that, it’s launch in January was a resounding success. I got more love and affection online for this website than anything else I had put out so far. People made it very clear that they loved it. One user literally told me she would “marry it if she could”.

It was clear that adding a paid offering to this website was the way to go. The best part - I could do it in weeks instead of months.

Racing to launch

I’m proud of myself for the decisions I made along the way to launch quickly.

I decided to make the premium generators a one-time purchase for all of them. I could have tried subscriptions. I could have charged for each individual generator. But I was determined to keep things dead simple in order to launch quickly, and that included the business model. Making it a one-time purchase for a lifetime pass allowed me to make less decisions and write less payment processing code.

I released it before it was “done”. As of now, I’ve only launched one out of three premium generators. Anyone buying a Premium Pass today is essentially making a pre-order. For that reason, this was a soft launch. I plan to do real marketing once I complete all three generators to ensure I have made conversions more likely before scaling up.

When all was said and done it took me ~4 weeks to build and that included a 1 week detour into new tech and payment processing which is something I’ve never built before.

I’m looking forward to sharing more results and lessons in the future. This thing is just getting started 😄