* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

can something *this* simple make money?

I have seen some super simple products/services making money but this one http://www.calendarsquick.com/printables/index.html really surprised me.  It is just a bunch of PDF/excel templates, and they're charging 10 bucks a year, and none of these templates would take anyone more than 5 minutes to make.  Wonder how successful their biz is.

Any more surprises like this?
anabayan Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
I'm not a subscriber of their services. But I'll say this. If their service is no more than a bunch of PDF and Excel templates, it means anyone can easily copy their service. I would assume this can be done by a single guy within 5 days. So even if they do make money now, the future looks dim.
Bill Holt Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
I get your point Bill. They probably are making some pocket money, which is OK considering that it'll take not more than 3-4 days to make the site, and a couple of hours a week to manage it (unless they are really seriously marketing it)

Just wondering what other services like this are out there.
anabayan Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
Well in the grad scheme of things basecamp is pretty damn simple (granted not as simple as the example you gave). Copying it wouldn't be rocket science (I have seen some carbon copies of basecamp).

The thing is strong branding. Whenever project management tools are brought up, basecamp is mentioned, their carbon copy competitors are not. Therefore they make millions in revenue, the copiers do not (even if their competitors undercut them).
Robin Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
Not so sure they are just making some pocket money. Before joining this forum I had a very limited perspective of the kind of programs/services that could make money. However, after seeing many succesful examples in the forum I never had imagined, I've changed my view.

Also, the price is really cheap (10$  year). Even if can create the templates in my own, it may not be cost effective. For instance,  if it takes me one hour to create the templates I need and they already have them, it is more cost-effective to buy them (I value my time at more than 10$ hour)
Jordi Cabot Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009

Staying simple is part of the business plan. It's not a weakness of the software, it's a strength. The phrase "so easy your boss could use it" comes to mind. It takes a lot of work to keep things that simple.
Jos Stoned Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
Basecamp is definitely not as simple as this "bunch of templates" site.  I mean, it is not a set and forget type of site.  You still need to answer support emails, do backups, keep adding new features etc.  As the userbase grows, support work would only grow more. Only coding the site itself simple, after that it does take work to keep it up and running, isn't it?

This example, on the other hand, is mostly a "set and forget" kind of thing, except for a couple of hours/month may be, to add new templates.
anabayan Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
i think this is a great product! I mean probably 1 guy out of his basement and he is making a decent living doing this.
Patrick From An IBank Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
I'm currently building a product to help designers write proposals. In researching my competition, I found that the vast majority of my competition is just like this. Simply a bunch of Word and Excel templates. Of course, they don't have a handful of templates (more like hundreds), but the more Word templates you have the bigger of a mess it is to manage and find what you want.

I know of at least one of them that is making a ton of money this way. But at least they have a "wizard" you can pay extra for that helps build the templates.

It's all very weak but as mentioned above, my fight is really at the marketing and brand level, not so much the technology. Though it helps that to have a better product of course.
Ruben Gamez Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
Ruben, just out of curiosity, can you give examples of such "template" sites that are doing well?
anabayan Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
Sure, this one is the main one that is doing well and works off of templates but has a Wizard you can buy for an extra fee:
Ruben Gamez Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
wow, they sure have put tons of effort into their products - they have hundreds of templates and documents.  I have no clue what goes into these templates, but they surely must be more complex than those calendar templates.  I wouldn't be surprised if their revenue is in 4 figures or more.

Thanks for posting the link.

Signed up for your beta :-)  I'm not a freelancer, not sure if I'll use your product.  Just curious about it though.

Good luck !!
anabayan Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
Thanks! Yeah, they certainly did put a ton of work into the product. Problem is, the work went into templates. The effort could've been put to better use I think. Well, they're making money so it worked out for them in the end I guess.
Ruben Gamez Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009

I think you're underestimating the sheer amount of time that goes into making all those templates and wizards and samples.  One template may take an hour to produce.  One hundred templates (plus the organizational overhead) is pretty much a solid month of 9 to 5 business days producing nothing but templates.  I know I certainly couldn't do that.

I suspect the real reason he's making money is because once you find a template site that you like, with as many choices as he's offering, you tend to just bookmark that site instead of Googling for more options.

Imagine you're an administrative assistant, your boss comes into your cubicle and asks you to put together a one page marketing brochure, and provides you with the text.  If you know this guy has a template for a one page marketing brochure, you just go there, download it, insert the text and you're done.

Clip Art is another example of a "can something this simple make money" field.  Putting up 20 sample pieces of Clip Art is dirt simple.  It's also not going to make a lot of money unless the art itself is especially unique.  The successful sites I've seen have in excess of 20,000 pieces and they're adding more on a monthly basis.  They basically want to be Wal-Mart; there's just one site you go to and they're pretty much guaranteed to have anything and everything you possibly could need at an affordable price.
TheDavid Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009

The site Ruben pointed out (proposalkit) would have taken months to build, but the one I gave as example 3-4 days at the max, probably a high school kid can do it in his spare time. 

Not all templates are easy to do.  Definitely marketing templates would be much more time consuming to do, and clip art is even more time consuming, even if you are an artist.

But a calender template on a excel sheet?  that is too simple to do.  check out the PDFs they have there.  not one of them would have taken more than 5 minutes.
anabayan Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
Fair enough.

As Bill Holt suggested, it would be very easy for the competition to include calendar templates in their products.  At that point, this kid is gambling that potential customers would find it easier to Google calendar templates (and find him) than to learn how to use that feature in Microsoft Excel or Word.

Personally, I would not try to feed a family of four and pay a mortgage off of the calendar template business.  For a little walking around money, it's not bad.  It may even be enough to buy a top of the line Mac Pro computer (at roughly $3,000) every couple of years.

Also, keep in mind that their eventual goal may be to sell the business and the customer list.

If they do want the ongoing revenue stream for the next five, ten, fifteen years or until they retire, then yes, they're going to have to keep adding more and more templates until they reach the point I described previously.  For all I know, that may in fact be their plan and what you're seeing now is just the start of an empire.

Short story short though, the days of throwing out one basic idea on the web and retiring a millionaire, are long over.  The people that do become millionaires, do have to start somewhere.  :)
TheDavid Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009

Haha yes, that is true.  Nothing wrong in trying though.  Nobody would've thought Twitter would become this big when it first launched, right?

I'll compile a list of such simple products/services one of these days, just for fun :-)
anabayan Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
i like the templates. i like the website design. i like the price. i'm lazy. i would buy.
Victor the Python Artist Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
I might not buy it, but I have no doubt my wife would. And there are a lot more people like her in the world than like me.
Neal Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
Why do people think it has to be complex or take a lot of time to make a product?

It is all about solving a PAIN POINT for your customer. The human condition has two real states... the are attracted to pleasure, and repelled by pain. If you can hit on either of those chords... they will open their wallet.

It matters not if it took 5 hours, 5 days or 5 months. If you build something that eliminates a pain a customer has, they will throw money at you. When there is a low barrier to entry, you need to expect that others will enter that field too. That may be alright... if you move on to another pain and solve that too. And the great thing is... you will have an exisiting customer base to sell to... which means the second time it might actually be easier.

With that said... most people have a single great idea but can't capitalize on it as too many other people have the same thought. In the absence of a strong value proposition for a product that is harder to duplicate and has a higher barrier to entry, most of these companies are doomed to stay around long.

So to answer the question if something *this* simple can make money, the answer is YES. But the reality is, making a quick buck is not the same as building a healthy business that can stand the test of time, and generate you profits in the long term to meet your lifestyle and needs, even when you are not there. 

That is the reason you got into the business of software, isn't it?
Dana Epp Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
> not one of them would have taken more than 5 minutes.

Mind to try? o_O Everything is easy in dreams on a coach...

I like the site. It's clean, easy to use and well-done. It may not make millions, but it could potentially make enough to cover someone's mortgage.

Would be interesting to invite the owner to this thread....
Vladimir Dyuzhev Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009

It wasn't my intention to demean the work, or say it is not of any value.  I am genuinely surprised that someone can make a business out of such a simple concept.  I am just wondering, how many such simple businesses exist, thats all.

Yes, the site is definitely well made and clean. 

It would be nice if the owner can join this conversation.
anabayan Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009
it is so easy for most of geek, but to make something of this perhaps not so easy for housewife, granpa/grandma, church officer and so on...

the simpler the better and easy to get money.
Fherry Send private email
Friday, May 15, 2009

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz