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Making $2,500 monthly Roasting People’s Websites & Products

Making $2,500 monthly roasting people’s websites

Hello! Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your business?

Hey, I'm Ollie. I'm a 29-year-old designer and entrepreneur with a diverse background from the UK and Cyprus.

My early years in Cyprus, followed by a move to Birmingham were marked by financial challenges. However, it meant that a relentless work ethic was instilled in me and this tenacity to build and improve things was born from those experiences.

I've always believed that while the foundation of any successful business often involves manual, repetitive labour, the end goal is to simplify and enhance. Having spent over a decade in the design industry, I've had the privilege of witnessing and, in my own modest way, contributing to some evolving industry trends, especially through my work and YouTube channel.

While I've been fortunate to be part of projects and businesses in the tech and finance sectors that have seen significant success it didn't come from trying to juggle countless tasks at once.

We tend to think of ourselves as masters of multitasking and its no different for businesses. A phone in one hand, a keyboard in the other and the TV in the distance. We're obsessed with the idea that more is somehow better or more efficient. I personally think it's bullshit. I need laser focus or else I tend to churn out mediocre garbage and I’m not the only one.

This mentality has been the cornerstone of my successes, especially in projects like Roastd and my freelance design business at oefez.com. Roastd.io embodies this philosophy.

Instead of trying to be everything for everyone, it offers a specialised service: brutally honest feedback on landing pages and websites that they wouldn’t normally hear from friends or colleagues for example. It’s a very matter of fact tone of voice with a little cheeky humour that I think my customers really appreciate.

By focusing on this niche, customers receive the best advice to elevate their platforms and it’s having a little fun in the process. Just as I've learned the value of dedicated focus over multitasking, roastd.io helps startups zero in on their website's pain points, leading to massively improved conversion rates and user experiences.

How did you start this business? Take us through the process.

Now don't get me wrong I've had my fair share of failed startups. I've thrown away thousands of dollars into ideas that were never going to work and came out the other side feeling like I've learnt absolutely nothing.

However... a few months ago I got a text from a friend linking me to their startup that I've seen variations of a thousand times before. It'd been launched for a while but wasn't seeing any paying customers come through the door. He was convinced that he just needed a few more weeks to clean things up and that his landing page is the greatest interface to grace the internet. As if it was only a matter of time before the subscriptions came pouring in. I text back saying "Good luck" and that's when it hit me... Before wasting his hard earned money to bootstrap this to likely fail, he needed to hear the truth!

I design for a living so I sent back another text saying "pay me and I'll roast your landing page, let's keep this transactional so there's no hard feelings". After a while he got back to me with a payment receipt and the chains were unshackled. I let loose on his landing page and roasted his countless hours of hard work, reducing the front page of his startup to dust. I sent him back over the brutal feedback and waited... the next day he responded saying "done". He had stayed up that night making the changes and when I saw the improvements he'd made I was super impressed, he did it all within a matter of hours. I'd accidentally just validated my startup.

I put my phone down and opened up Framer, a web design tool I knew I could rapidly use to build a landing page and whipped up a site in a couple of hours - Roastd.io I spent another few hours cleaning it up and thought to myself I'd post it on Product Hunt for fun.

Within a few hours I'd got my first paying customer, finally! Years of what felt like an unbreakable curse clinging to second grade ideas and sinking money into them had been broken. It's been a while now since launch, I've got a nice backlog of customers and my friend made his first sale and continues to do so based on my roast. Life is good.

How did you get your first initial customers?

The success of Roastd.io in its first week was exhilarating, especially considering I didn't invest a monumental amount of effort into its promotion. The platforms I tapped into, however, played a pivotal role in spreading the word.

Starting with Product Hunt, it's an obvious choice for many, but the devil is in the details. I ensured our assets were of the highest quality and using a gif as the main image seemed to draw more eyeballs than many other listings. Then there's Indie Hackers.

While you can announce a product launch there, I found traction by sharing my story of building Roastd.io overnight and its immediate profitability. There's something compelling about an authentic journey with all of its hardships.

Hacker News was another significant source of traffic. I showcased Roastd.io there and while the feedback was a mix, it did bring in some paying customers.

Twitter DMs were a surprise hit. This method gave me the highest conversion rate with minimal effort. It's not a sustainable strategy, and there's a risk of coming off as spammy, but it led to some memorable interactions, like roasting teambuilding.com and Janiz Ozolins' website.

Lastly, Slack Channels were an unexpected hit. I hadn't considered this avenue initially, but after joining channels created by other founders, the word about Roastd.io spread with minimal effort.

However, it wasn't all smooth sailing. Some platforms, like Startups.FYI, didn't yield the expected results after pouring in a few hundred dollars for an ad. I only received a few hundred visits and no customers.

Reddit proved to be a challenging platform. Navigating the maze of mods and rules sucks and in my opinion not even worth the effort. Facebook didn't resonate much with my target audience, and CtrlAltCC, while a minimal investment, didn't offer much in return.

In conclusion, while I didn't start with a set strategy for Roastd.io, my past experiences including lessons from a failed startup helped shape my approach. The journey taught me to keep experimenting, test different avenues and not to dwell on methods that aren't fruitful.

Interested in more growth strategies?

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Since launch, what are your marketing strategies or channels to get new customers?

I'm still maintaining the same strategies I set out with.

However, I’ve included more outreach to startup listing platforms now and also word of mouth plays a huge role in new customers purchasing roasts.

I've created an affiliate referral program too so people can get $50 for every customer they send my way and this seems like the perfect spot to plug it: https://roastd.getrewardful.com/signup

How does your business make money?

It’s is a service for startups to improve their website conversion rates and user experiences.

The primary revenue stream for the business is through direct sales of roasting services, rather than relying on subscriptions or ads. Customers have a few options when it comes to the type and speed of the roast they want.

For instance, there's a single page roast for $169, where you’ll get your feedback in 3 days. For those in a bit more of a hurry and want more benefits, there's a faster option at $199 complete in 48 hours.

For more extensive needs, especially catering to products and agencies, a package is available at $569, which covers 3 page roasts in 3 days and includes my Design OS workspace to accompany it.

Also as I mentioned previously I have the affiliate program too. I roast a variety of content, from live URLs to design files ranging from categories like landing pages, product pages, and even e-commerce sites.

Oh and your site doesn’t even have to be in English, I get quite a few international customers so with the help of Google translate they can get it too. I'm always thinking of new ways to expand and testing out different ideas but nothing concrete at the moment.

The business makes $2.5k MRR right now but this could fluctuate over time. Not every month had me seeing green. There were times profits dipped, and I questioned every decision I made, but so far, I've just been reinvesting everything I've made back into the service, so it's bound to have a few bumps every now and again

I have worse months and it might not last forever but so far so good and it costs approximately $100/month to run it.

Take us through a typical day in your life running the business as a solo founder

My days are pretty routine, but there's a rhythm to them that I've come to appreciate. I spend my regular 9-5 hours engrossed in design contractor work.

Once that wraps up, evenings and weekends become my time for Roastd. Since I've never been great at multitasking, I make it a point to focus on one thing at a time. If I'm designing, that's where all my energy goes. If I'm roasting a website, I'm all in on that.

I split my work locations between co-working spaces, cafes, and my home office. Each offers a different vibe, and I enjoy the change in scenery. Over time, I've learned not to overthink things too much. Instead of getting bogged down in the "how," I just dive in, try things out, and learn from the process.

While I run Roastd on my own, I've had some interesting offers and conversations along the way. I always keep an open mind, even if I'm not actively seeking collaboration.

As for tools, Figma and Notion are my tools.

Before you go, what advice would you give to another who wants to start a business like yours?

Don't do it...

If you decide you're still going to anyway then you've already passed the first test. Also advice is mostly bullshit I mean what do I know, it doesn't matter if you listen to 10 podcasts, watch 100 YouTube videos and read 50 books on business, what matters is if you actually do it.

Everyones a critic that'll shoot your ideas down because they're afraid to try themselves or even that you might actually pull it off. You likely won't have success even after your tenth attempt but if you're still going its a good indicator you might eventually get rewarded.

Building something from scratch is a rollercoaster. I've had my moments of doubt, days where I questioned everything and times when the next step was super foggy and unclear (even to this day). But I've also had those small victories, lessons learned and the joy of seeing Roastd.io make a difference for people.

Lastly don't deep root your idea of success in the finances, sure use it as a metric to test whether something is working but if that's the sole reason you're building, you're going to hate it even if it does 'succeed'.

Where can we go to lean more about you and your business?

Roastd - https://roastd.io 

Design Contracting - https://oefez.com/hire