Feb 2011

A Road More Traveled is a Road Less Paid

by Steve Wortham
You can certainly look at success in different ways. One of my projects in particular has taken up a lot of my time.  But it's also been one of the more enjoyable projects I've ever worked on.  It's been a good learning experience, and it's a good feeling to have helped as many people as it has.  It's called Regex Hero. And it has received a good amount of attention since I launched it in April 2009, which in turn is good attention for BucketSoft.

In fact, it continues to grow in popularity...

40,000 visits overall, and lately over 3,000 visits a month.  And this February looks like it'll be a record-breaking month in terms of traffic.  On top of that it's now the #2 ranked regex tester out there according to AlternativeTo.

In terms of sales, however, the numbers have not been as spectacular...

18 sales overall.  Or about $270.  Taking a conservative estimate of 1,000 hours of design and development time I've spent, that amounts to 27 cents/hour.  I've found that most people are satisfied with using the free version.  That really illustrates to me how hard it can be to sell software today.  It also reminds me of a piece of advice I heard recently in a talk by Peldi (founder of Balsamiq).  He said, "Don't look for an idea.  Look for a problem."  I think that holds true of Regex Hero.  I didn't really solve a big enough problem with Regex Hero.  I merely created an alternative to many other similar tools.  It has a richer feature set than any of the free tools, but most people aren't willing to pay for that.

Despite its lack of financial success, I'm not one to give up on a website.  Regex Hero is not going anywhere but up.  You can look at my track record.  GLdomain.com, for example, is a site I created in 1999 when I was in high school.  Some of the work I did then was published in a book called OpenGL Game Programming.  And one of my screen savers from that site was published on 3dfiles.com (now GameSpot), and was downloaded over 75,000 times in 2000.  Even though much of what you see on gldomain is outdated by today's standards, there are still people looking at it everyday.  They're downloading my work, studying my tutorials, and hopefully it's helping a few people.

So just because it's costing me more money to host GLdomain and Regex Hero than what I make from them, doesn't mean I'm going to take them down.  That's not going to happen in my lifetime.