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  • A Site Teaching Backend Development Making $80,000 A Month

A Site Teaching Backend Development Making $80,000 A Month

Making $80,000 a month teaching backend courses

This is one of the most impressive revenue growth charts I’ve seen in a while.

Going from $23,000 MRR in June, to $80,000 MRR just 3 months later!

You got to check out their story!

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

I’m Lane Wagner, the founder of Boot.dev, a website where students learn backend development in Python.Our product is a learning path that consists of 20+ courses and projects that students complete by writing real code.

We sell to anyone interested in learning backend development in a fun, hands-on way. Everything is self-serve, so prices are low: about the cost of a gym membership.

I love to work in Go, JavaScript and Python, but I'm happy to use whatever tool is most suited for the job at hand. I'm also interested in the marriage of the SSR/SPA world, and how we can build client-first webapps that still have certain pages that prerender immediately for SEO purposes.

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

I built Boot.dev for my wife Breanna who wanted to transition from x-ray to back-end development.

I was a backend engineering manager when I started Boot.dev as a side project, and I noticed that while the number of entry-level developers was going up, the quality of the hires seemed to be going down, particularly on the front-end side due to boot camps and online learning platforms that made promises of a new career in engineering after a quick 3-month learning curve. I strongly believe that you don’t need a degree to be a good developer, but that you do need a solid foundation that takes longer than 3 months to build.

The trouble is, we couldn’t find any e-learning platforms that impressed me as a hiring manager. I decided to build a curriculum tailored to back-end developers who aren’t afraid of in-depth education. My wife was my first student and loves the courses. In hindsight, I spent too much time building the custom course platform. I built the platform and launched the first course about the Go programming language in just a couple of months. I built the whole thing from scratch in Golang and Vue.js with a Postgres Database.

At Boot.dev, we encourage students to dive deep into the material, build tons of projects, and plan on around 12 months of learning. It just so happens that there are twice as many backend developers in the world as front-end devs, but very few boot camps and e-learning platforms are effectively serving those learners.

How did you get your first initial customers?

The trouble was, I started out with no marketing channels. I launched to crickets. I had no plan, no budget for marketing, and no existing followings on social media.

That was a big problem. I had zero customers for months, which is a really hard place to be.

A couple key metrics:

  1. I launched Boot.dev (then called Qvault classroom) in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic as a side project

  2. In January 2022 we were making $1,000/mo

  3. In Summer 2022 we were making $6,000/mo and I raised $330,000 to go full time from an angel investor with the goal to simply become profitable quickly and never raise again

  4. Q1 2023 we are now profitable!

In hindsight, I would have done much better to just start a YouTube channel talking about Go and backend engineering. That would have gotten me familiar with the audience and customer base without building a v1 of the product that is essentially gone at this point.

We eventually grew through my blog. I had articles that ranked on Google for programming-related terms and was essentially a self-taught SEO blogger. That got us to a few thousand dollars in monthly revenue, but conversion rates were abysmal.

Turns out that most people look up “how to write a for loop in Go” don’t want a Go course. They just want that info and will immediately bounce.

Interested in more growth strategies?

Check out this extensive database of over 300+ growth strategies from various indie founders.

With this database, you would be able to find out stories of:

  • who got 100 paid users in just 1 day for his SaaS

  • who used a pricing strategy to hit almost $15,000 in sales for his digital product

  • who shared a step-by-step process to finding journalists and their email address in order to get free PR coverage for your business

  • who went from merely hundreds to over 200,000 monthly search impressions implementing just this one strategy

  • how this creator went from 0 to 2,500 email subscribers in just 30 days

  • who generated 6 figures from a digital product in just 2 weeks

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

SEO has been a consistent flow of new customers, especially since we started targeting higher “intent’ keywords like “learn backend development”.

It’s steady, but it hasn’t been any kind of real growth hack.

The most important thing regarding SEO was to just consistently put out high-quality articles that are laser focused on topics our customers care about. The best thing for big “pumps” where we bring in big volumes of customers all at once has been going on as a guest to coding podcasts or coding YouTube channels.

It’s like influencer marketing that you don’t pay for. I mean, you pay in time and content. You won’t get far trying to just advertise your product on other’s channels for free, you need to show up and provide real, free, valuable content to their audience, and some of them will remember you.

Emails are valuable: collecting emails from people that are interested in your product is super important. It’s a free channel that you own, and you can hit those people with targeted discounts and product updates in the future.

Our best months revenue-wise have been when we’ve run promotions to our mailing list.

As far as product experience goes, the thing we’re focusing on is just standing out as much as possible in practically every way. We have this fun fantasy feel to the app, and it stands out in the e-learning market. People don’t forget us.

How does your business make money?

We offer a subscription basis to access our courses, with different pricing tiers based on monthly, yearly or pay-per-course mode.

We also allow users to buy on behalf on a team, or as a gift to another person.

Our costs (in running the business) are mostly just salary for myself and my 2 employees (software engineers), a few contractors, some SAAS subscriptions, cloud hosting costs, and any marketing we happen to do in a month.

Last month we spent around $40k total.

How does your day look like running the business?

I spend about 25% of my time coding (building the platform),
50% of my time making content (either top of funnel content like youtube videos or the podcast, or Boot.dev course content in the platform).

25% of my time doing all the other random stuff like managing folks, working with contractors, putting together sponsorships, doing customer support, or hopping on onboarding calls with new customers

I recently hired a VA and was able to offload a lot of my manual digital tasks to him, which has been fantastic.

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

Here are some links you can go to learn more:

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