How to Start and Scale a Side Project [Interview with Rich Clominson from Failory]

This is an interview-style post with Rich Clominson.

Hey Rich. Tell us a bit about yourself, what you do, and – most importantly – what your side project is?

Hey! My name is Rich Clominson and I am the co-founder of Failory.

Failory is a community, where failed startup owners come to tell their failure stories and the mistakes they committed, so that future entrepreneurs can learn from them and don’t make the same errors.

Our main objective with these interviews is, and has always been, to help entrepreneurs achieve financial independence and do not fail in building their business. The audience who reads Failory is mainly wannapreneurs and small business owners. There are also many developers who love our interviews.

I, in partnership with my 2 co-founders, started Failory on July 15th. 13 days after, our new startup was receiving 4,000 visits in a single day. They were 2 really crazy weeks, in which our main objective was to launch soon and validate our idea. And we succeed!

Why did you start Failory?

failory side project

The idea and motivation behind Failory are quite ironic.

With my 2 co-founders, we have tried building many side-projects with little or non-success. Tired of failing over and over again, we decided that we should take an advantage of all the lessons we have learned from failing, and help entrepreneur avoid committing these errors. We were specialists on failure, so I think we were the perfect people to start this project.

When our last startup failed, we started wondering on the idea of creating a website that would collect stories of failed startups, in which we would reflect about the mistakes they committed.

After a competition analysis, we discovered that there were some other websites which talked about failed startups, but neither who interviewed the owners of those startups. So, inspired by Indie Hackers, we decided that this was the best way to talk about failed startups.

How did you start it with and why?

The process of building Failory started with an analysis of the competition and validation of the idea. I have to confess that at first, we didn’t trust too much on the project. We decided to start it just like a “thesis”. So, these two parts were made fast and probably not too deeply.

After this, we moved into the naming process and business plan election. After a big brainstorming of possible names, we chose Failory. It surged from the combination of “failure” and “story”. The business plan was simple. However, we had many doubts about the monetizing strategy, but analyzing our competition, we found that the best way to earn money from Failory was with advertisements and sponsorships. (+ affiliate marketing, of course)

After a few days, we began designing and developing Failory. The design was pretty basic. Again, we were inspired by Indie Hackers, and we made a website design similar to theirs. It only took us a few hours, and we rapidly moved into the development part. We didn’t want to spend hundreds of hours coding the website, as, as I have said, we first needed to validate the idea.

Therefore, we built the product on Webflow, a totally recommended tool.

This part took us only a few days. But, what about the interviews?

Collecting the interviews was definitely the hardest part.

To get the first ones, we sent some cold-emails to people who have published online articles talking about their failed startup, and some emails to entrepreneurs, asking if they have failed with a startup on the past.

Somehow, we managed to get 9 interviews. Some people were really enthusiastic to talk about their failed startup, but others didn’t trust us, as the website wasn’t even published yet. As a result of this distrust, the quality of the first interviews wasn’t so high as the ones we are publishing now.

And finally, while we waited to our interviewees to complete the questionnaire of their failed startup, we began writing the blog articles, in which we tried to help people who were starting with their startups.

You recently started publishing income reports. How does that help?

In December we decided to become a transparent or open startup and began sharing all of our numbers.

We are still working on this, as we are building a page under /open, in which we will keep our readers updated on our monthly revenue, our google analytics, and any other metric they can care about.

To share our numbers, we decided to start publishing income reports. You can find them on our “startup help blog”. This helped us achieve two goals we had.

In the first place, to publish more constant high-quality content, which brings more visitors to our site.

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On second place, it helps us humanize our brand. When arriving at our homepage, people couldn’t find out if we were real humans or just robots. We didn’t talk about ourselves and nobody knew who was behind Failory. The income reports have helped us solve this big problem.

A lot of people have sent us emails or commented on Reddit or social media that they really appreciate our monthly reports and encourage us to keep publishing them.

The only disadvantage I can find of monthly reports is the time the writing of them consumes. 2018 February report has +3,500 words and it took me +12 hours to write it and publish it on the web. I obviously can’t hire a freelancer to write the income report for me, and I had to spend a lot of time going through what we have done in the entire month. That is why I am still re-thinking the way in which I should write the reports.

How do you structure your day and week now that you have this on the side?

Apart from working on Failory, I work at a marketing agency. The same with my partners. That is why we are making slow improvements to the site.

I devote the majority of my free time and weekends to Failory. I manage myself with the to-do method, using Todoist and Notion.

Every day, I have a small routine which consists of checking social media, emails, Google Analytics, MailChimp, and some startup communities, such as Product Hunt, Hacker News, and Designer News. After that, I check my to-do things and begin completing each of them.

This is probably not the most productive way to organize my time and tasks. I definitely need to try new methods and keep experimenting.

What are your weak points and how do you plan to improve them?

One of my weakest points is my lack of knowledge on web development.

I have so many ideas for cool projects I could build inside Failory, but I don’t have the tools to carry them out. Without coding a single line, I was able to create a good-looking and functional website, which makes me love the no-code movement. However, I had to look for alternative ways to do lots of things in order to avoid coding.

I don’t have a true plan to improve this. I am still wondering whether I should learn how to code, or not. The main issue I have is time. Taking a course on HTML, CSS and Java would take lots of months.

Another weak point I suffer from is not being productive.

I have a really tight free time to work on Failory, and I constantly get distracted by social media and YouTube videos. As I have said, I am still experimenting with different productivity methods and strategies. I want to increase the number of tasks completed per day and began to ship more.

How did you earn your first money with Failory?

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Our main priority right now isn’t monetizing Failory. We want to first, build a great website and enlarge our scope from interviews with failed startups, to the site of the failed startups. We want to build many tools and different content pages about failed startups, which would include the people participation with a community.

Although, we are not focusing on monetization, in December 2017 we made our first dollar. We got affiliated with ThoughtLeaders, a website that connects advertisers with newsletters. They sold an advertisement on our email, which resulted in $40.

Since then, every week, we send an email featuring our newest interviews and sponsoring different companies. We make $40 per week, which we use to pay our expenses and improve the site.

We have also thought of making money with Failory through affiliate links and advertisement on our homepage. As soon as we convert ourselves into the website for failed startups, we will begin with these two strategies.

Furthermore, a fourth monetizing strategy we have considered is building a community and providing premium content. However, we still need to figure out how to do it.

Do you think everyone should have a side project? If so, why?

Starting a side project is not only a really great idea to make a passive income per month, but also to develop your skills and abilities. Having a side project has so many benefits:

  • Funny: I really enjoy working on Failory. I have a stupendous time building and growing the site. Having a side project is so funny!
  • Great for learning and gaining experience: Side projects allow you to put into practice everything you know.
  • Encourage creativity: From deciding the name, to designing the website, I had to use my imagination and decide on the Failory brand which has definitely boosted my creativity.
  • Benefit your career: While building a side project, you will learn lots of new concepts on different topics that will, in the end, help you in your career, giving you more job opportunities.

What’s next for Failory?

On the last few weeks, Failory has grown amazingly. Lots of new emails subscribers, many new interviews published, even an invitation to an event! As I have said, we are trying to convert into the website for failed startups. We are focused on building new tools and little side-projects inside Failory.

We are also wandering around the idea of starting a podcast. This idea was proposed by the audience, and we know it can result being super successful.

However, if you are reading this two months after being published, our plans may have already changed. So, just send us an email and ask us about them ;)

Thanks for reading the interview. Remember to check our website and our blog. Moreover, if you want to keep updated on our latest additions, you can get subscribed to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter, where we daily tweet about the most important news in the startup world.

How to Start and Scale a Side Project [Interview on letsreachsuccess.com with Rich Clominson from Failory]

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