I can't believe the year is already coming to a close. 2019 for me was a learning year. I launched a couple of SaaS products which was awesome, but financially it has been one of the more challenging years that I've ever had. I call it a learning year because I feel like now I know that I need to make smarter decisions about money management in the future, because the hard times will come.
I launched FnnlDb in February, almost 1 year after I started working on it. It's a headless ecommerce CRM. Growth has been slower than what I wanted, but I've been able to use it for my own projects (scratch my own itch) and expand functionality and features as a result of using it myself.
I didn't launch any other SaaS projects until November when my partners and I launched Shuffle. It's a payment gateway routing service. Overall it was a pretty quick launch because I had already built a lot of the functionality in FnnlDb, but we wanted something that we could extract out and offer to merchants on other platforms like WooCommerce and Shopify.
The rest of my time this year was spent working on launching and maintaining some brands that we manage and grow through affiliate marketing. This is where the majority of my frustration this year comes from.
I love using affiliates to rapidly launch and scale brands because it can be very rewarding very quickly, but at the same time I hate it because it can leave you in a hole just as quickly if your affiliates send you bad traffic and get your merchant accounts shut down.
The last 2 years in the industry has been a rollercoaster primarily due to MasterCard making policy changes about how customers in "free trial" billing models can be billed. As a result of this, most merchants in the space started running "straight sale" offers, where the customer pays the full cost of the product up front. This was awesome because it also forced the traffic networks to switch, this meant we had traffic available for our brands since we were only running "straight sale" offers.
However, this didn't last long because people always find workarounds for everything. It was only a few months before some merchants started finding clever solutions to the MasterCard rules, and now the "free trial" space is alive and well again, leaving us without traffic.
Why not switch to "free trial?" It's not as easy as it sounds, primarily with cash flow. It takes quite a bit of money to properly float a "free trial" campaign, and that's just not in the cards right now.
Looking forward to 2020 there's a lot I want to accomplish. I want to continue to grow and expand FnnlDb and Shuffle. I want to launch some new brands and document the successes and failures on YouTube. I also want to create a course teaching entrepreneurs how they can launch and grow brands outside of Amazon.
The future looks bright, and 2020 will be what I make it.