Selling a Tiny Project

December 18th 2020

Building tiny projects in my free time is something that I love to do.

My main goal is to test out ideas that I note down in my phone. Sometimes they work and I make a bit of money, but usually they don’t. Either way, it's a fun hobby.

Recently I was lucky enough to sell a tiny website I'd built. Although the sale was small, the experience was great.

The process of selling a website had always been a mystery to me. Therefore, in this post I'll tell you what it was like to sell a tiny project, and how I think anyone can.

🛠️ 1. Building a Project

Back in June, I built One Item Store. It's a micro online store builder that lets you create a page to sell a single item on repeat.

I hacked it together over two weeks, launched it, and wrote about the process. It was a basic MVP with nothing really fancy about it.

To my surprise, a few hundred users created stores, and I even made a staggering £1.64 in revenue through the 1% cut I took on every sale.

People were selling t-shirts, hats, poems; you name it. One guy even started a store to sell his soul. I saw some very interesting things.

👨‍💼 2. Meeting the Buyer

My online following is pretty small, but when I type up a blog post like this, people check out the projects I've built.

One morning I received this email from such a person:

Hi Tiny Projects,

.. Anyway, it got me thinking about your One Item Store, and actually, I'm wondering if you have any interest in selling it.

No pressure, but if you are open to it please let me know and I can make you an offer.

Part of me wanted to keep working on this project, but deep down I knew that I didn't have the drive. Besides, I was really interested to know what the offer was:

Hi Buyer,

I would definitely be open to offers if you were interested in taking it off my hands, especially as you've been following along Tiny Projects for a while.

A few hours later I got an offer.

Hi Tiny Projects,

Glad to hear you're open to the idea. Would you consider $4000 for it?

⚔️ 3. Negotiating a Price

Was this a good price for a tiny project? How do you even value something like this?

After doing some back of the envelope math, I sent back a counter-offer:

Hi Buyer,

.. With a bit of a polish up and some better store designs, One Item Store could have some potential. However, I'd personally be keen to sell and focus on other things. Would you consider $7,500 for it?

We went back and forth with offers over the next few days:

Buyer: As for the price, how about $4800?

Me: Would you be willing to meet me at $6,500?

Buyer: The upper limit of my budget for this is $5,000.

Me: If you met me at $5,300 (£4,000), you have a deal.

Buyer: Ok, you got a deal at $5,300 :D

My price dropped, but I was happy and ready to cash out of the e-commerce world.

The buyer was also a talented developer & really nice guy, with a good idea of how he wanted to integrate One Item Store into his own website.

💸 4. Money For Code

How do you securely exchange code for cash?

Although it would've been hilarious to do this transaction through a store on One Item Store, we decided instead to use an escrow service.

It worked like this:

That was it, the deal was done.

🔮 Conclusions

I'm aware that I wouldn't have sold this project if I didn't have a small audience.

It's made me realise there's this really fun strategy for any developer trying to make money on the internet:

  1. Build things you enjoy
  2. Write about the process
  3. Attract a small audience
  4. Attract opportunities (buyers, customers, job offers)

It's that simple. Code something for a few weeks, then type up how it went. Maybe publish it on your own blog like this.

Five people will probably read it, and that's awesome. Next time it might be ten!

Keep building lots of little things that pique your interest, talk about it, and great things will start happening.