Coping with competition who has better products

As a solo developer, I usually face a fact that there are products that better than mine in some extends or even many extends. In cases like this, having the right response is important to save myself from negative thoughts.

Step 1: Face the reality

Competitor’s product is better and even I like to use it, it’s a fact. Giving the two products to 100 people and 70 would choose the one that isn’t mine. You may say that owning 30% of the market is that bad. However, the market doesn’t just have two players. There are many others out there. In addition, satisfying being second or worse will make the business go south.

Step 2: Learn from the competitor

The competitor is better for obvious reasons, they have done certain things better than I have. So, the task is to find where they’ve done better and apply, if applicable to my current application.

Step 3: Discover how can both products improve

No product is perfect, even the competitor’s. By inspecting their product in step 2, I had a good idea on how the product can be improved.

Step 4: Apply the changes to the my product

Saying is easy, implementing is hard. However, this step is vital to keep the product relevant to the customers.

Competition is a reality. One can be stressed because of it. Other can learn from it. Which response I choose is completely up to myself.



10 Hours Apps

I’ve recently posted a blog here detailing my plan to generate $10,000/month from various sources (by making software, of course). The plan was to make many apps and monetize them in a various ways. Time is limited since I still have a day job. So, I came up with the idea of 10 hours apps. The backbone of this idea is one app/game should take at most 10 hours from idea to the first MVP (most viable product) to be used by the users.

10 hours doesn’t seem to be much. However, with careful planning, I believe I can create decent apps in that time frame. 10 hours isn’t short for concentrated coding and planning.

Here is the plan that I’m going to use that 10 hours:

  • Hours 0 to 1: Drawing the interface, find out the requirements of the app, what libraries I need to use.
  • Hours 1 to 2: Break down the components that comprise the app. By doing so, I can see the map that I need to go through to actually build the app.
  • Hours 2 to 10: Build components by components until the app is completely built.

Here are the advantages of this method:

  • It makes me more time conscious: For a long time, I think time is an unlimited resources, not anymore. Careful use of time is the most important thing in life.
  • It makes progresses measurable: Instead of spending months and months on a app. I can now see how many hours I’ve worked and how much progress I’ve made.
  • It minimizes the risk of app’s failure: If the app is a failure, I will move on to next app. 10 wasted hours isn’t good but surely better than 10 months.
  • It makes me more careful when picking ideas to work on: As I have only 10 hours per project, I will need to be very careful when picking ideas to start. If projects that costs a lot more than 10 hours, it will be put on the shelf.
  • It force innovation: Limited resources promotes innovation. I will need to come up with better way to manage my time and work more efficient.

Some concerns

  • Does this mean the apps will be crappy: No, the app will be released after 10 hours of work. However, I will work to improve them gradually, depends on their potential.

So, that’s the plan, now comes the execution.

What does it take for a solo developer to make $10,000 a month and how long


I’m a solo developer by self-taught. Practically, I learned from ebooks and online courses such as Lynda, Tuts plus… My background is in economic, not in software development.

I’m currently making around $1,000 to $1,500/month. For a single man, that would be sufficient. However, for a family, that would be deficient.

So, my goal is to make $10,000/month. Why $10,000? For a family to have a decent life in where I live, $3,000 is enough. However, there would be little left to put in saving accounts. So, $10,000 seems to be a good number for long term plans.

How am I going to make money?

The answer for this question is quite obvious, I’m going to make software and use monetize options on such applications.

My options to make money

1. Make money selling WordPress plugins

As mentioned earlier, I had experience in making and selling WordPress plugin. I currently have one plugin that make landing pages. I’m confident that I can create other plugins faster and sell using the freemium model.

To create a WordPress plugin that worth using (I have no idea what they would be), it possible cost me a month of full time work. Coding the plugin is the easy and fun part. Marketing is harder. I definitely need a system to promote other plugins that come afterward.

2. Make money selling desktop applications

I have experience in JavaFX. Creating apps with JavaFX would not be difficult. My plan is to search for tasks that many people need and it can be done easily with software. Image processing is the first thing come to my mind. Bulk email sending software is another option. The price of the app should be around $15 to $30.

3. Make games and monetize with ads

Call me Jack of all trades if you want, I can make games with Unity too. Honestly, I have a very basic knowledge of Unity. However, I can buy templates and customize them then publish to mobile app store to monetize with ads network.

4. Create free applications and monetize with affiliates programs

I don’t really have experience with this method so there is little to say.

5. Create a SAAS

Creating a SAAS is another great way to make consistent amount of money monthly. Unfortunately, I don’t have experience in this subject 🙁

How can I reach $10,000/month

As the options laid out, the math is quite obvious. If I price my software to $10/per license, I would need 1000 customers a month. From my experience, 1000 customers is a big number.

Option 1: Create app and sell

How about increasing the price up to $50? The number of customers needed is now 200. It is much feasible now but still, 200 is not an easy goal to reach.

If selling 200 licenses per month for a single application is hard, how about creating two applications and sell 100 each, 4 applications and sell 50 each.

I wouldn’t want to go this way, maintenance would be super challenging.

I would go for creating one or two apps and make as much value as possible and charge for higher price. Less customers is easier to care for. I could estimate that after 2 months of development, I could make around 50 sales total. That makes $2,500. Still $7,500 to go.


Option 2: Re-skin games and publish on google play

This one is hard to predict. One game could take up to 10 hours to re-skin. I already has two games on the play store and they amass 15 downloads :D. So, I’m not overly optimistic. However, it’s worth a try.

Estimate: $100/month after 2 month.

Option 3: Create a SAAS

What can I do to bring value to my customers on monthly basis? What makes people pay more than $20 per month? Answering these questions will make it clearer to start making an SAAS solution.

Estimate: 100 customers after 4 months, possibly paying $20/month-> another $2000.

Option 4: Create free apps and sell affiliates programs

I see that performance plugins and hosting/CDN are great combination to make affiliate marketing works. My initial idea would be creating apps to optimize the site’s load and offer maxCDN as the affiliate program.

Following all the options would be suicide. I will pick method #1, #3 and #4 and hopefully, after 6 months, good results will turn out.

Making my first WordPress Themes In 1 hour

I’ve been always wanting to make a WordPress theme, partly because I want to sharpen my WordPress development skill, partly because I want to create an unique theme for my own site. It’s been a year since I planned to make that theme and today, it finally come to reality.

The template is nothing special. It is built based on the underscores starter theme, bootstrap and a bit of extra CSS I entered myself. It’s is super lightweight, it only takes the responsive part from bootstrap (you can customize the part of bootstrap you want to use on your site here.

I made this theme under 1 hour. I plan to spend few more hours to customize the header and add some nicer fonts to the theme. The main goal of this theme is to make it lightweight and has a clean look.

I’m not a designer so the best bet is to go out there and look at the clean themes and take all I can to apply to this one.

In case you ask: “what theme you are talking about?” It’s the theme I’m using on this site.

Have a nice weekend!