$8600 MRR with a simple email app

How Email Engine reached $8600 MRR as a solo business

$8600 MRR with a simple email app
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Email Engine is a Simple Email Integration app doing $8600 MRR
  • Solo founder
  • Self hosted solution
  • Selling to other devs and businesses
Love the tagline - "Email client but for apps, not people"
This is it’s revenue -
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What is EmailEngine

Email Engine is an email integration service for SMBs, developers and other SaaS businesses.
It’s sub headline says - “Effortless email integration for your app or service. Simplify IMAP and SMTP complexities, and focus on what truly matters. Build better features, faster.”
According to it’s landing page, Email Engine serves SaaS CRMs, agencies, cold out reach services and more.
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Starting with Open Source

Email Engine’s founder Andris Reinman started writng open source software (OSS) 15+ years ago.
He didn’t care about monetization, instead he focused on reach. All that mattered was that reputed companies use his open source licenses.
And that worked!
Nodemailer is one of the most popular node.js modules for email sending.
It’s so popular that it attracts significant organic traffic every month and has 10K+ backlinks linking to it.
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But unfortunately, it’s a harsh reality that open source software doesn’t make a lot of money on it’s own. At most, developers get a few tips and donations from patrons but its never enough to be substantial.

Multiple Pivots

You need to build something on top of or related to OSS to generate revenue from it.
After not making any money from Nodemailer for more than a decade, Andris decided to build something with the goal of making money.
Not open source, but under a copyleft, AGPL license.
But even that didn’t work out. Andris couldn’t get enough sales, and decided to pivot once again, and go from “Open Source” to “Source Available”
From AGPL → Commercial License.
And redesigned the UI to be more professional looking.
That’s when Email Engine started to get traction -
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Andris went from charging $250 a year to $895 a year.
The key was nailing down the correct ICP.

Nailing down the ICP

It took a while for Andris to figure out the Ideal Customer Profile for Email Engine.
It wasn’t large enterprises because of long sales cycles and no managed hosting.
But it wasn’t small companies as well, because they didn’t bother to pay.
Eventually, Andris arrived at an ICP who is an older version of himself - CTO at a small SaaS company.
Someone who understood the complexity of building email integrations in-house.
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Top Lessons

  • Always charge for your core offering. If you don’t ask, people won’t pay.
  • Build free tools and give away free knowledge, but use them to drive traffic to your core paid offer.
  • Pivot business models, licensing models, pricing models. Be ready to keep changing till you find something that works.
  • Obsess over your ICP - Your ideal user is the most important aspect of your business. The better you know them, the better you will be at building features, writing copy, creating content for them.
  • Don’t sleep on SEO - Andris’ free tools get 100K+ visitors from organic SEO every year. That is his only marketing channel right now.

Further Reading -

Tips for High Converting Landing Pages

7 fundamentals to create high-converting landing pages -
  1. Strong CTA
  1. Clear Value Proposition
  1. FAQs to handle objections
  1. Attention grabbing headline
  1. Focus on Pains and frustrations
  1. Copy that speak directly to 1 person
  1. Lots of Testimonials and social proof
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3 random post from the Superframeworks archives -

Useful links you don't want to miss -
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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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