$1M ARR with single page site builder

How Carrd became a $1M ARR single person startup

$1M ARR with single page site builder
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Carrd is such an incredible business.
  • $1M+ ARR with 2 person team.
  • Running 4M sites now
  • Bootstrapped for the first 5 years
All built without the founder revealing his real name on the internet.
Just a pseudonym - AJ on Twitter.
This is from an AMA he did 2 years ago -
notion image

Constraints as Superpowers

Carrd is a great example of the power of constraints.
While every other website builder is trying to do it all, Carrd is intensely focused on a single use case - 1 page websites.
It solves just 1 problem, but does it very well!
AJ’s existing audience and expertise was around responsive HTML5 templates, with his previous projects like HTML5UP and Pixelariy.
One of the most popular templates on html5up was the "one page site" template.
So it made sense for AJ to build a single-page website builder. He knew there would be a market for that product.
Constraints he set for himself in the early days-
  • Only 1 page sites
  • Only focus on features he can build himself
  • Simple no brainer price - $19/ year for a website
What resulted was a powerful product like Carrd - A sharp spicy Catana in a world full of Swiss army knives!
(Fun fact - The Indie Masterminds landing page is also built on Carrd. I love the simplicity of the product!)

Growth Strategy

Product Hunt Launch

Carrd’s initial success came on the back of a successful Product Hunt campaign. With 6000+ upvotes, it was number 1 product of the day and week.
And even won the golden kitty award in 2016.
But a PH launch can only take you so far.
Your product has to provide actual value for people to stick around and actually pay for it.

Product Led Growth

AJ made it very easy for people to try out Carrd. If you go to the landing page, the hero section just has 2 buttons -
  • Choose a starting point
  • Login
This means, you can just start building a website on Carrd without even logging in or paying.
You can also publish websites without paying. You only pay when you want to use a custom domain on a site.
By default, everyone gets a .carrd subdomain website for free.
This helps with product led growth, because whenever someone shares a free website, they end up promoting Carrd because of the subdomain.
So it works as free marketing!

Going Viral

By May 2020, 4 years into the journey, AJ had reached a solid $30K MRR with Carrd.
But the inflexion point in Carrd’s journey came when Kim Kardashian tweeted a Carrd website during the BlackLivesMatter movement.
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This tweet and website went viral as the movement gained momentum.
And with it, Carrd became mainstream.
Google searches for the word “Carrd” found a new high after this tweet -
notion image
Since then Carrd has grown to $1M ARR and now runs more than 4 Million sites on the internet.

Top Lessons

Top Lessons from Carrd -
  • Constraints are superpowers, lean into them. Do 1 thing, do it well.
  • Single feature products are easier to build AND simpler to market, especially for solo founders.
  • Be a Catana, not a Swiss Army Knife 🤷‍♂️
  • Launch platforms like ProductHunt and Betalist can be powerful to get initial traction.
  • Leverage Product Led Growth - the mere act of using the product can market the product. That’s how you get free marketing.
  • Offer a generous free plan and no-brainer pricing. Traditional advice is “charge more”, but not necessarily applicable to all products. (Pinboard and Liinks are also good examples of this)

Further Reading -

7 Deadly Sins

Good gut check for any landing page -
Must address at least 1 of the 7 deadly sins
Otherwise it won't convert well
For SaaS it's sloth and/or greed -
  • Save time/effort or make money for customers
For consumer startups its 1 or more of gluttony, pride, envy, lust, wrath.
notion image
More in this tweet.

From the vault -

3 random post from the Superframeworks archives -

Useful links you don't want to miss -
Last week’s top link -

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Eternally Curious. Writing, Learning, Building in Public. Writing about Ideas + Inspiration + Insights for creators, solopreneurs and indie hackers | Simple tips and frameworks to help you build a sustainable solo business

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