02 August, 2020Progress reports

Progress report - July 2020

  • Ben Jenkins
Ben Jenkins
United Kingdom

July was a terrible month for income. Absolutely terrible – my worst in three years. Being truthful though, I’m not too sad about it. The fact that no new client work came in at JenksDev, and that I lost a client who wasn’t worth the return on investment anyway, meant that I could focus on VirtualTrs and get it launched. This was the key win for the month for me.

The launch of VirtualTrs
VirtualTrs is a database of virtual tours from around the world that I’ve collated with a view to keep families entertained; allowing them to explore some of the most famous landmarks and museums from the comfort of their own home. I also hope that they learn a lot from the experience.

My database now sits at over 100 virtual tours, but I was only able to add 20 tours to the website by the deadline that I set myself for the launch, while disappointing, it has a silver lining – people have to come back to the website to see the new tours.

VirtualTrs was the first website that I have put together in the last ten years that wasn’t built on WordPress. It felt weird, but there’s a good reason for the new technology. The website needed to be fast loading and lightweight, and optimised for newsletter delivery, so that I could inform people of the project growth and how the site is developing.

The website is intended to be free, and will always be free, so it needed to be cheap to run. While ConvertKit is great when you’re offering paid services, I was unable to justify the large cost if it was to become popular. In comes Ghost, and Dan Rowden from Gloat.

Ghost, I discovered, is a blogging platform aimed at lightweight blogs and newsletters. I got in touch with Dan at Gloat (an agency who specialise in Ghost) who explained the benefits. I launched VirtualTrs on a DigitalOcean server at a cost of £5 per month (although I did pay Dan to do the full set up for me, given that I had not touched Ghost before), and I only have to pay for the emails that I send. If I had 10,000 subscribers and didn’t send an email for a month, the cost would be £0. If I was to send one email per week, the cost would be £32 for the month. The comparative cost for ConvertKit would be £95.20.

ConvertKit’s features are undoubtedly worth every penny, but they weren’t needed for this project.

The site launched on Monday 3 August (okay, so that date doesn’t fall into July, but it was live on 31 July, with the official email going out a few days later – to me it counts!). It was posted in a couple of Facebook groups, and that was it. It received over 2,000 pageviews (1,000 uniques) over the first 48 hours which I was thrilled with.

I received so many messages of gratitude upon launch. These messages were why I created VirtualTrs in the first place, and why I’m pushing to make it the best, free, virtual exploration resource out there.

What next? Time to add which tours are mobile friendly and to add more educational material relating to each tour, as well as getting the additional 80 tours live on the site.

What else happened

Opened an account on BuyMeACoffee
I don’t foresee any big revenues coming from this, but it’s there if people want to donate towards the running costs of VirtualTrs (yes it’s only £5 a month at the moment, but there were startup costs too!).

Acquired a domain for the planned WordPress website course
I was surprised to find that MyWPCourse.com was available. As soon as I saw it, I had to have it. I’ve already got a large chunk of the curriculum planned (click the link, you’ll see what it will include) and am keen to get this started.

What’s the plan for next month?

I’ll continue to add tours to VirtualTrs. It’s not something that will help me towards the income goal, but in terms making me feel as though I’ve complished something that will help others, it’s already exceeding the target.

I’ll finalise the curriculum of MyWPCourse.com and start the pre-marketing. I’ve got to finalise the pricing, although I think there will be a monthly an annual option at this stage. This will generate monthly recurring income (MRR) and therefore always ‘pay me’ to provide future updates. Given that WordPress is ever evolving, I think this is key.

Fingers crossed for a successful and productive month.


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