Build In Public - The Whirlwind First Month of FutureTools
Here's my first breakdown of FutureTools as I pull back the curtain and show you the numbers and what's happened since I started FutureTools less than a month ago.
A little over a month ago, I wrote about how I still didn't know what the heck I wanted to do next. I felt lost and confused about my next steps.
I had been going down "The AI Rabbit-Hole" and built FutureTools.io as a fun weekend project in an attempt to learn WebFlow and working with APIs. I did a full write-up of how it started here.
As I started building it, I began sharing the results I was getting on Twitter and Facebook and people were loving the behind-the-scenes look at what I was doing. These simple actions helped build more momentum for the site, grew my followers, and really started to build my confidence again.
I figured it would be a fun idea to create periodic updates on this site about what I've been doing, what results I'm seeing, and what I'm learning.
I'm going to call it my "Build In Public" series.
Building in public is a common term among developers who share what they're doing and how it's going for them so that others can offer feedback, encouragement, and be inspired. All of those things are reasons why I blog in the first place.
So here's my first breakdown of FutureTools as I pull back the curtain and show you the numbers and what's happened since I started FutureTools less than a month ago.
First off... These were the goals I set for myself on December 31st for the month of January:
- Twitter Followers: 1,000
- Email Subscribers: 2,500
- YouTube Subscribers: 2,000
- Affiliate Revenue: $10,000
Alright, now let's see where we stand as of January 10th...
☝️ I built the site on Dec 17th and those first 6 users were likely me, looking at the site from different computers and devices. :)
☝️ Over the past 5 days, the site has averaged roughly 6,000 users per day (24-days later)
☝️ Unfortunately, I don't know where most of the traffic is coming from. It's not from my own mailing list though. I can usually only send maybe 200(ish) clicks when I mail my list and I only mailed about FutureTools once. It didn't drive enough clicks to even make the top 10.
However, what is cool is that you can see that the site is ranking REALLY well in Google, sending over 12,500 users in the last 24-days. What's also exciting is how much traffic Twitter (t.co) is driving to the site. The time I've been spending on there has been paying off big time! (More on that in a minute)
Facebook, YouTube, and Product Hunt all get honorable mentions as well.
I launched the site on Product Hunt on December 29th (12-days ago). It reached #8 in the daily rank, #53 in the weekly rank, and drove 521 new users to the site.
☝️ In November, before I started FutureTools, I got 28 new followers and had a little over 10,000 impressions on my tweets.
☝️ In December, I launched the site half way through the month and started sharing it and talking about AI tools... I gained 187 new followers and 106,000 impressions! How crazy is that?
☝️ Now here's January (as of January 10th). We're only 1/3rd through the month and I've gained 238 new followers and 123,000 impressions so far!
This thing is really starting to pick up some steam! I've never had engagement like this on any social media platform... Ever!
☝️ Here's the overview of the past 28-days... Remember, I launched the site just 24-days ago... 221,000 impressions and I've hit 773 followers! I'm thinking I set my sights too low with a goal of only 1,000 this month. At this pace, I should blow past that. Here's where you can follow me.
☝️ Ok... So the above screenshot isn't really fair. I was with ConvertKit and I migrated the list over to BeeHiiv because I like the way their newsletter layouts look. So the big spike on the 5th was the day that I imported them over. However, that 1,164 subscribers was from between Dec. 17th and January 5th. That's roughly 58 new subscribers per day in that timeframe.
☝️ Today, it's just shy of 1,700 subscribers. That's 529 new subscribers in 10-days.
☝️ The big spike on the bar graph was the day I imported the list. You can see I'm averaging over 100 new subscribers per day for the Future Tools newsletter for the past 5-days in a row!
My goal was 2,500 subscribers by the end of the month, If I stay on the pace I'm on, I should actually be able to pass 3,000. Here's where you can join the Future Tools Newsletter.
☝️ In the last 28-days, since I started putting up more videos about AI tools, I've gained 21,834 views on the channel.
YouTube has been completely unexpected. I've had this YouTube channel for 12+ years now and had a few videos do ok but I've never had this kind of growth on a channel. The AI content that I've been making has been really resonating with people.
☝️ Over 2,000 watch hours in the last 28-days. My channel is not monetized yet because I haven't reached the 4,000 watch hours in a single 1-year period yet. I've gotten 1/2 that quota in just the past week!
And that downtick on January 9th... That's not my channel falling off a cliff. YouTube had reporting issues yesterday platform wide and people's views weren't tracked properly. It freaked me out at first, until I heard everyone experienced it.
☝️ 1,100 new subscribers in the last 28-days! Most of those coming just over the past week!
☝️ This is what my subscribers number looks like at the time of writing this (from the realtime subscriber view).
My goal was 2,000 subscribers this month!
Here's where you can subscribe on YouTube.
I'm going to circle back around to revenue when I create another "Build In Public" update at the end of the month.
Right now, the site is only monetized via affiliate links. Some of the tools on the site are affiliate links (but most aren't). I've probably generated roughly $1,500 in affiliate commissions so far but it's hard to say because I'm signed up for about 50 affiliate programs and I'd need to login to each one and tally up all the numbers... Something that I plan to do at the end of the month.
What I can tell you is that the tools listed on the site are getting some serious benefit from being listed. I'm blown away by the traffic that this site can drive to other people. It's such a win-win for everyone!
☝️ Those are the top 5 most clicked on links on the site. I'll likely need to change the default sort to "most upvoted." Listing alphabetically seems to be giving a major advantage to some of the tools on the site. :)
What I've Learned
The biggest lesson that I've learned while building this is to build something that I wish I had for myself and, most likely, others will want it too.
I built the site because I wanted a better way to organize tools that I had listed on a spreadsheet. I shared it for fun and it took off.
I also learned that building in public has huge benefits.
- Others will provide a ton of feedback. A lot of the features on the site and the work I've done have been the result of others making suggestions.
- Everyone wants to chat with me. My DMs and email are getting flooded (in a good way) with people creating cool things. They all want to collaborate, connect, and support each other. Plus I've gotten access to a ton of cool tools before they're publicly available. :P
- Others will push you to make it better and keep working on it. Knowing that so many people are following along to this journey and watching what I'm building keeps me extra motivated to continually update and improve.
Staying consistent has been the key to all of this and the biggest "growth hack" I've seen. I've adopted the philosophy of "No Zero Days," meaning that I won't go a single day without making at least some progress on the project, even if it's just a little thing... I'm going to show up every day.
Where I'm Taking It Next
Here are some of my plans for what I'd like to do next with the site...
- Build "The AI Income Database" into the site. Right now it's another Google Sheet with ideas to make money with AI. I'd like to build an organized, filterable, database that people can easily find cool ways to make money.
- Build a database of prompts for GPT, MidJourney, Stable Diffusion, etc. As I come across cool prompts, they'll be organized into a section of the site so others can find them and play around with them as well.
- Create a "Matt's Picks" or "Staff Picks" tag to help people better choose the right tools. As the site grows and I add more tools, it gets more and more difficult for users to determine which tools are the best in a specific category. There are now 76 generative art tools on the site, 65 copywriting tools on the site, 27 generative code tools, and 20 text-to-speech tools. A lot of them do very similar things... So which is the best. I'm going to create a category to show people what I'd pick.
- Toy with the idea of "Featured Listings." I am monetizing via affiliate links right now but I'd love to be able to actually make a living with this site. I don't want to go the Adsense route and slap spammy looking ads all over the place. I want simple and friendly UI / UX. I'm considering the idea of doing featured listings where a tool company can pay a fee to be featured towards the top of the site. I'd have a limited number of slots each month, probably 4, and generate income that way. I'm not 100% sold on this yet but it's an idea I'm considering. User experience is the main thing I don't want to compromise.
- Offer sponsorships inside the Future Tools newsletter. The newsletter is growing rapidly and the audience are all people interested in cool new tools. I can see unobtrusive (and transparently-labeled) ads doing well. It's not a large enough list to justify yet but, in a couple months, I'll likely explore this a bit closer.
- Go heavy on YouTube. When I talk about AI on YouTube, the videos get views. At the rate I'm going, the channel will be monetized within a week or so. I'll be turning on monetization as soon as I can to generate some of that sweet Adsense revenue.
And that's pretty much my game plan.
I'm also planning on periodically writing updates like this to hold myself accountable. If I don't follow a path that I say I will, I want to explain why. If something works really well, I want to share it with everyone.
These posts are just as much for me to log my journey and to feel accountable as they are to share insights and behind-the-scenes with you.
2023 is off to an exciting start! Thanks so much to everyone that's supported me so far!