Independent Development Monetization Weekly (Issue 98): An email subscription SaaS tool, earning $15,000/month


From side project to $15,000 monthly income: The rise of email subscription tool Button Down

Hello everyone, my name is Justin Duke, and you may have heard of Button Down, the email subscription tool I created. Today, I want to share with you how this project grew from an amateur idea to a business with tens of thousands of customers and a monthly income of $15,000.

Original intention and pain points

Five years ago, when I was an engineer, I found that the email tools on the market were either too feature-heavy or required me to write my entire blog content on their platform. All I want is a simple, lightweight tool that allows me to easily insert markup into my blog and automatically send emails. So, I came up with the idea of ​​creating Button Down.

Getting Started and Challenges

In the first few years, Button Down was a project that I continued to improve in my spare time. I took a deep dive into my competitors’ workflows to understand what worked and what didn’t work in their approaches. In the early stages of a product, I need to make a lot of decisions about branding, color schemes, technology stack, etc. I chose a familiar framework, stuck with the system default fonts, and emphasized content performance with a minimalist interface.

Publishing and feedback

When I finally launched Button Down on Hack News and Product Hunt, it wasn't a huge success right away, but I gained some valuable initial users and feedback. The support from these users keeps me motivated to keep going.

Growth and strategy

Button Down's growth didn't happen overnight. However, through virality—my clients added a “Powered by Button Down” logo in the footer—and traditional marketing channels, I gradually attracted more users. Additionally, I learned two important lessons along the way: don’t be clever with pricing, and that agility is a superpower.

Suggestions and Outlook

I have three pieces of advice for entrepreneurs who are just starting out: first, create content that satisfies you even if you are the only user; second, carefully distinguish between one-time and long-term decisions; finally, be patient, because success takes time. and investment of energy.

Looking back on Button Down's rise, I feel very proud. From a side project to a business with tens of thousands of clients today, the journey has been filled with challenges and rewards. In the future, I will continue to work hard to optimize product functions, improve user experience, and explore more sustainable marketing channels. At the same time, I also look forward to sharing my experiences and lessons with more entrepreneurs to grow and progress together.

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