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Ymir Report #40 β€” GitHub Sponsorship

Published over 1 year agoΒ β€’Β 5 min read

Heya friend!

Carl here. You signed up to receive updates about Ymir, the WordPress serverless DevOps platform that I’m building.


INTRO

The major story of the past two weeks has been the GitHub Sponsorship I talked about in the last report. Thank you to whoever sent a few dollars my way. It really helps. πŸ’–

I spent much of my product week working on a large Twitter thread that I'd started last cycle. I rewrote most of it with the help of Lesley. (Thank you! πŸ™) She really helped me clarify my thoughts and message.

It took a lot of time to edit and polish the thread. The response from the community was really good as well. But all that took a lot of time and that means I didn't do that much work on product development.

Meanwhile, marketing week was mostly consulting work. Whatever free time I could carve out, I spent on preparing for my talk at LonghornPHP next month. So nothing much to show publicly, but I've been thinking about some positioning and marketing changes I need to do. I'll talk more about this in the marketing section.

Business continues to be rough. I'm on track to churn four customers with no new ones. This would set me back to February this year in terms of revenue.


PRODUCT

You can always view the history of Ymir's product development at https://ymirapp.com/changelog.

As I said, not a lot of product development work this cycle. I tracked down and fixed a complex bug. That took a while, but I'm happy because it was holding back a customer building a platform on top of Ymir. (I'll be talking about them in the business section.)

Otherwise, I did a bit of progress on the "Create Project" feature for the dashboard. I finished working on the flow to connect Ymir to your GitHub account. Here's how it'll look on "Manage Account" page.

This is only one part of what I need to do. Integrating with GitHub is a surprisingly convoluted process if you want to do it correctly using a GitHub App instead of an OAuth App. In that scenario, connecting your account to GitHub is just the first step. Next, I need to manage the installation of the GitHub App on accounts and organizations.

Through all this, I'm using Vercel as my inspiration, both for the "Create Project" feature and how to integrate with GitHub, since everyone loves the product. So the next step is to work on the "Create Project" page and allow you to connect the Ymir GitHub App to different GitHub accounts and organizations. I'm hoping I can do some good progress on that next week.


MARKETING

So, as I mentioned, I did a Twitter thread to promote my GitHub Sponsor page. It's the size of an article. That's why it took so long to write and edit! (If you don't like Twitter threads, you can read the whole thing here.)

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Carl Alexander
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@twigpress
October 5th 2022
36
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The topic that I discussed is the overall state of open source sustainability. It's something I have a lot of experience with in the last 10+ years. It's also why I started Ymir too. I needed some way to fund my open source work. If you didn't know, everything Ymir uses to make WordPress serverless is open source.

The main thing I hoped from the thread was to get a conversation started within the community. I think I achieved that. That said, I'm sure that I'll have to keep bringing it up regularly.

Otherwise, I've been working on my talk for LonghornPHP. The article still is taking longer than expected to finish. I thought I'd wrap up this week, but consulting work consumed most of my time. I'm looking forward to being done with it all so I can do other marketing work.

One of the thing I want to do is change the pricing page to highlight all the plugins and services Ymir replaces. Similar to what Atarim does on their pricing page:


BUSINESS

You can always view Ymir's up-to-date business metrics at ymirapp.com/open. They're updated every 10 minutes.

This is probably the roughest month since I started Ymir. I have four cancellations. Technically, I have two active trials, but I'm convinced they're the same person and one uses an email domain which had a failed credit card charge last month.

So effectively, I'm looking at a net loss of four customers. This would bring my revenue back down to what I had in February earlier this year. It's definitely looking like 2022 will be almost flat in terms of growth.

It's a bummer for sure. I'm strangely ok with it at the moment, but you never know where you'll be in a few weeks. (That's the entrepreneurship 🎒 for you lol.) It definitely helps to have friends like Tom McFarlin tweet things like this:

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Tom McFarlin
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@tommcfarlin
October 12th 2022
1
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15
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That said, I'm definitely on the lookout for a burnout situation. That's because I'm working 7 days a week. I just can't see a way out until Ymir can pay me to work on it full time. I don't think GitHub sponsorship will ever reach a point where I can live off it either.

By my estimate (and confirmed by my accountant), I'd need around 100 customers to use all of Ymir's revenue to work on it full time. When I'm one fifth of the way there with minimal growth, it's hard to see myself reaching that milestone.

That said, I think there's a way out. Since WordCamp US, I'm convinced I need to have an offering for companies who want to use Ymir to build hosted WordPress product(s) without having to partner (or be bought out) by a hosting company. I know of two Ymir customers doing that and one of them announced their product publicly this week.

twitter profile avatar
Carl Alexander
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@twigpress
October 12th 2022
5
Retweets
25
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There's a lot to unpack around that. I'm not sure how to price and market something like that. I don't know someone really selling a platform like that anywhere.

Within WordPress, the closest is maybe WP Cloud. I know Pressable runs on it. But it's not exactly the same value proposition since you're using Automattic's infrastructure. They also have no pricing information, but it wouldn't be the same thing either way since customer would be in charge of their own AWS bill.

So yeah, that's what's going on in the back of my mind at the moment.

Carl

Ymir

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