Or, How to Build a Successful Service-Based Business with UBot Studio
Even though some of our customers may have hit it big with a well-marketed launch and a high-priced, valuable product, there are lots of ways to make money in this world – and UBot Studio can do a lot more than just one-off products. One of the more “secret” methods of using UBot Studio is to convert your app into a service (or even a Software as a Service (Saas) tool) and draw in customers and recurring payments.
Software as a Service is “software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers.” Basically, instead of selling a tool that your customers download, they have access to it remotely. With UBot Studio, there are several options for this.
First, remember that currently UBot Studio only compiles executable files. That means you can’t put the software you build inside UBot Studio onto a server and have someone log into it through a web panel (pretty common for SaaS) without some PHP work on your end that translates what they do on the web site into an action on a Windows Server. Unless, of course, what they are logging into is actually a front-end for the server itself, ie through a Remote Desktop or Virtual Server – and that’s what I’d recommend.
Option #1: Sell access to your VPS, and stock it with your app(s). Your clients pay for weekly or monthly access to login and run the apps as often as they want.
- Setting up access takes time. Finding a box to host your apps on and creating access accounts for each new customer, along with the regular demands of a recurring payment, means extra work on your part on the front end.
- If there’s a bug, your customer will have to alert you and you may have to try to reproduce it on your end – which could be difficult, and could mean lost sales.
- Updating your app isn’t as easy if it’s hosted on a box that your customers are logged onto often. This may require extra communication.
- In some ways, this option is a security risk. The tool is sort of out of your hands (I know I wouldn’t think of it, but how do you know extra users aren’t sharing access?). And, some nosy/greedy customers may try really hard to send your app and all its config files to themselves, which means you have to really lock down that server. Which, again, is extra work. Also, if your customers are doing anything at all questionable on your VPS, you’re going to be the one that gets the nasty letter from the VPS host, or worse still, has to deal with unhappy customers when access is turned off.
- You don’t have to worry about running the service – your customers do that for you. If you’ve built a rock-solid app or bot, then once you hand out access info to your customers, you can basically just step away.
- The customers have unrestricted access — which, depending on the privacy requirements of what they are doing, might make them happy. Some other UBot-as-SaaS models require you to ask for customer information, which in some cases, may cost you sales.
- This method doesn’t require you to learn anything extra except how to administer a VPS. No PHP, for example.
- You can sell simple access to multiple apps (some of which can be offered as “Bonuses”) and help increase the cost of your service.
Quick story: Once, years ago, Seth and I were sharing a VPS for work — hosting some websites or something — and my internet at home was slow. I REALLY wanted to watch a lecture series on something like Best Books in the English Language. (We’re definitely self-learning lecture geeks at UBot Studio – I think Seth has an honorary degree from The Teaching Company.) Anyway, I went and grabbed a torrent of the file, downloaded it as quickly as I could, and deleted the evidence– all on the VPS.
Two days later, work stopped completely because our access to the VPS got frozen. Seth cleared it up by letting the hosting company know that he was never letting me have access to the VPS again. I still have no idea how to connect to the VPS.
Don’t do stupid stuff on your VPS, folks. And if you want to do some self-education….there are lots of free options
Free UC Berkeley Software Engineering / Software as a Service Course Online
Option 2: Customers pay you to run the service for them on your own machine or VPS.
This is the simplest option, but it’s also the one that requires your customers to have the most confidence in you. They have to trust that you’re doing what you say, sometimes with a service that doesn’t produce immediate results. There are a couple of ways to overcome this, though–for instance, if your service produces results, like a scraping service might, then there’s nothing to worry about. They pay, you run the app that gets the data, you give them the results. But if that’s not the way the service is set up, then you will want to add automatic reporting data (i.e., number of URLS visited, etc), which isn’t difficult in UBot Studio. Just make sure all the variables and URLs are added to a table and saved to an excel file every loop, and you’ll be fine.
- Overcoming confidence and trust issues with your customers will require extra work. Since they can’t see what’s happening, it might cost you sales early on, until you get testimonials and a strong reputation.
- It will take you more time. Simply put, even if you have to push just a single button to get the app going, that’s extra work. So my advice is to ensure that your app requires very little upkeep, runs automatically, and if possible, is running on its own VPS. I’d even suggest you outsource the app-running itself to a service like freelancer or a VA if you can find one.
- Simplicity for your customer: When there are bugs, you encounter them. When something doesn’t work right, you fix it on your end. Your customer never has to know about any issues – they pay a fee, and you produce a result. This method is ideal if you’re running an SEO-service, for example, because generally customers don’t need to know the “process” as much as the results.
- Places to sell these sorts of services abound, as do options for ideas. Check Warriorforum and Fiverr.com for anything that sounds like it can be automated entirely in a browser, build a bot, and automate the process. Think numbers when you’re trying to sell the service – (“I will give you x # of things for $”.) If you think the folks already making a killing on Fiverr aren’t already doing that, you’re wrong. It might not seem like much money, but when all you have to do is push a single button–$5 a pop isn’t too bad. Remember, with SaaS, slow and steady wins the race. $5 today, $25 tomorrow, $500 next week.
- Expanding is easy. If you get to be too busy to run the apps, just find a friend or a VA and have them do it for you.
Option 3: Build a web-interface that communicates directly with your bot.
This is the only true SaaS model, and potentially the cleanest, but it also requires a bit more work.
- Your customers are used to this style of SaaS, populated by sites like SalesForce, Github, Basecamp, etc, and are much more likely to get on board. The directions can be simple (login and enter your site information) and if you’re a good designer, can look beautiful.
- The entire process can be automated, for everyone. Your customer logs in, enters or checks their info, and then logs out. Your service runs either on a schedule (daily scheduled task that pulls data from CSV or MySQL), or upon completion of your customer’s purchase.
- This is by far the most complicated option to set up on the front-end. It will require either additional web programming work (PHP) or MySQL or both.
- There are a lot of moving parts, and because of that, there will be more broken pieces. Even though it’s entirely automated, you’ll definitely need to build in a lot of features to make sure that when the communication between site and server, or server and bot, or bot and data, fails, you know about it.
If you follow any of these models, you can absolutely build a successful service-based business with UBot Studio within a couple of weeks. Over time, a great service can be perfected and automated, can grow, and can give you a large list of new customers to whom you can offer bigger, better services. It’s not as exciting as a $500 product, but there’s a lot more potential in a $29 /mo service–lower cost means lower bar for entry means far more sales. You can even offer a discount for month one, or a promo to the first 10 customers, without taking much of a hit. Or, sign users up for a yearly plan at a discounted rate!
Don’t get caught up in the “I built a bot and now no one’s buying it” dark ages. A lot of people are buying SaaS now, every month, instead of one off sales – it’s the “new thing,” and it’s only growing. And you can take advantage of it with just a little work!
Some totally stellar ideas there. Personally I would rather provide my software as a monthly service than just a one time sale. Chances are you are going to have to update your software as often as every month anyways so it makes sense to charge a month access fee. The VPS idea sort of crossed my mind before, but now that reminded me about it I am liking the idea even more.
Just a thought…
Another option would be to charge a higher fee for the bot – but then a monthly (or semi-annual) fee for updates. A lot of companies, now charge monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually for updates. This still creates a residual income for you from one product. Obviously not everyone will pay ongoing, but in my experience (which is 17 years online, and doing monthly memberships for much of that time) – the fact is, a lot of people will only stick around for a couple of months. (Industry average is 3-6 months).
While we’ve had members stay for as much as 2 years (and still going) on our SAAS system, I know many (including myself) also like the options to have one payment, even if it requires occasional fees for upgrades/support.
Think of offering a “Pro” edition… Basic edition, one off price. Pro edition, buy the software, but get monthly updates, priority support, and further upgrades (not just bug fixes). It works.
This is great information, thank you. I definitely want to offer SaaS, rather than inexpensive one-offs, although as the article states many are making a small fortune doing this. The SaaS model is a lot more, but thank you for shedding light on the possibilities. These articles are very timely because I for one don’t realize all that uBot can do and how it can partner with other services.
Great Idea Seth,
for completeness of the article it would have been great to see a list of SaaS providers that do not cost the earth to use.
But really appreciate the heads up.