Carl here. You signed up to receive updates about Ymir, the WordPress serverless DevOps platform that I’m building.
Hello again! I'm back from my month long travel to the USA for WordCamp US. It's been a really busy time trying to catch up on everything.
Being able to connect in person always energizes me. I spoke to so many people about Ymir, but I also I pitched other's product a lot. In fact, the joke was I was a better salesman for other products than my own. 🤣
A lot of hosting executives were at WordCamp US. I think I managed to speak to all of them. I'm more convinced than ever that serverless is something that the whole hosting industry will need over the next decade. But it made me also think that certain plugin businesses need it as well.
That said, business is still hard. Still hovering just below $1k MRR. I'm feeling very overextended trying to juggle Ymir and consulting work. I've been trying to find ways to bridge the income gap between now and when Ymir can pay me.
I'll expand more on this in the business section.
You can always view the history of Ymir's product development at https://ymirapp.com/changelog.
Product development is very sporadic at the moment. During my time in the USA, I made time to work on the dashboard. You can now create DNS zones from the dashboard. I still want to add a wizard to import DNS records as well, but that's for the next phase.
I also started working on the larger featuring of allowing you to create projects from the dashboard. This feature is complex with a bunch of moving parts. For example, GitHub integration isn't that straightforward and there are a lot of design decisions around it. I was trending in one direction, but, while discussing with a friend, they suggested going in another, which will require more work.
And, since my return, I haven't had a chance to go back to it. I still consider improving the dashboard to be the most important product development task at the moment. I've just had to fix some things with the PHP runtime for a customer.
That said, this "Create Project" feature highlights my current struggles in product development. I need some quality undisturbed engineering time since it's pretty complex. It's been incredibly hard to get some lately as I context switch constantly between all my consulting work, Ymir development and Ymir support.
Some work happened on the marketing front, but still not enough. I think working on the video course is going to be put on hold for the next month or so. I have a few things I want to write about and I'm not sure I'll have more time than that with everything else going on.
So what did I do for marketing?
First, there was this post on Reddit about high performance WordPress on AWS. I gave a pretty detailed answer with my thoughts on it. Also tweeted a small excerpt:
This Reddit answer encapsulates a lot of what I figured out talking to executives and other developers at WordCamp US. I plan on doing more writing and marketing about WordPress Applications. Ironically, as I was developing this thesis, Syed Balkhi tweeted a huge thread, essentially discussing the things I was talking and thinking about.
@wpbeginner @AwesomeMotive 1. Customized Managed Hosting Experience If you started using WordPress 15+ years ago, you probably remember the famous 5 minute install. You had to download the zip file, upload it on your hosting, setup MySQL, etc etc. This WAS NOT beginner friendly.
I'm excited about these trends because: - I have spent the last 15+ years in WP (nearly half my life) - 13+ years helping beginners get started with WP via @wpbeginner. - also over 20 million websites use the software we build @awesomemotive. I'm dedicated to WP's growth!
September 22nd 2022
The rest of my marketing time went to preparing for my talk at Longhorn PHP next month.
We are pleased to announce @twigpress as a speaker at this year's #longhornphp! Carl will be joining us from Montreal, and will be giving at talk called "Getting Started With Serverless PHP". Get your ticket today at longhornphp.com pic.twitter.com/Uh7YAZ6W4a
September 29th 2022
The way I prepare talks is always the same. I write an article on the topic of the talk. I then convert the article to slides. It's time consuming, but it's what makes me the most comfortable when giving a talk.
Right now, I'm in the writing phase. I think I'm probably over a third of the way through writing the article. The goal is to wrap it up next marketing cycle and start the slides.
I don't plan on focusing on much else marketing wise until I'm done preparing the talk. It'll just stress me out too much otherwise.
You can always view Ymir's up-to-date business metrics at ymirapp.com/open. They're updated every 10 minutes.
Still sitting at 25 customers. That's just one customer shy of $1k MRR milestone. But like last month, I have a lot of cancellations and failed payments at the moment. So it's hard to imagine I'll get over this milestone in October.
As I said earlier, this current situation of maintaining 3-5 consulting clients while working on Ymir is just not something that can work long term. I'm doing ok financially, but the context switching between everything has been overwhelming me cognitively.
WordCamp US continued the trend of people asking me if they could write me a check. It would solve my current problems, but it would create others. People who invest in you expect you to turn your company into something large enough to get a good exit. That's not what I want for Ymir.
This is something I'm accutely aware of after years reading startup post-mortems. It's also why I'm not looking to take investment for @YmirApp even if people ask me all the time 🤣 Just want a nice lifestyle business/calm company to fund my open source work ✌️ twitter.com/mijustin/statu…
This pain/reward ratio doesn’t get talked about enough in startups. If you’re a founder, mega-funded startups are often more risky, more stressful, more work. And, contrary to what people think, indie SaaS founders often get paid better than founders who raise tons of money. twitter.com/_rchase_/statu…
September 23rd 2022
Other people asked me about an acqui-hire scenario. (e.g. Would you sell for $5M and work there for X years?) They weren't serious discussions, and, frankly, I'm not sure that's what I want either. Although my lawyer friend and another friend who sold his WordPress business said I should have a term sheet, so I might eventually do that. 🤷♂️
Someone suggested I start a GitHub sponsor since most of Ymir's intellectual property is actually open source. I asked around and people generally said I had nothing to lose by doing it, which is true.
So I now have a GitHub Sponsor page >>
I'm especially proud of my copy! I had a whole Twitter thread ready for it as well, but I'm holding off until my next marketing week to post it. I felt it was a bit insensitive with hurricane Ian. I've also had feedback on the draft and I want to fix it up.
Realistically, I don't expect to get a few hundred dollars a month from it. It won't replace consulting work. The only way I see it supporting me is if I manage to get hosting companies to buy into the idea that they should help me work on this. I’m essentially doing hundreds of thousand of dollars worth of free R&D for them. But having talked to a few friends who work for them, it's unlikely that they'll sponsor me.
The other angle that might get me out of this situation is partnerships. This ties to all the work I want to do around WordPress Applications. There's going to be a lot of opportunity there. If I could close someone for a significant sum per year, that would really help me financially, but also give Ymir more legitimacy.
That's why I plan to spend a decent amount of marketing time on it.