How We Launched Backend Development Courses That Generate $26K/Month Revenue

Published: June 12th, 2023
Lane Wagner
Founder, Boot dev
Boot dev
from Salt Lake City, UT, USA
started March 2020
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

I’m Lane Wagner, the founder of, a website where students learn backend development in Python, and Go is playing an RPG-style coding game. Our product is a learning path that consists of 20+ courses and projects that students complete by writing real code.

We sell to anyone interested in learning backend development in a fun, hands-on way. Everything is self-serve, so prices are low: about the cost of a gym membership.

We made roughly $26,000 last month, and we’ve been growing quickly, only making $3,000 at the same time last year. We had a real turning point in the business in the early part of 2022 where we stopped thinking about the learning game as just a “fun place to learn to code” and instead focused entirely on backend development in Python and Go.

We even deleted some courses that didn’t fit the niche, but in the end, it helped fuel growth in a serious way.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I was a backend engineering manager when I started as a side project, and I noticed that while the number of entry-level developers was going up, the quality of the hires seemed to be going down, particularly on the front-end side due to boot camps and online learning platforms that made promises of a new career in engineering after a quick 3-month learning curve.

I strongly believe that you don’t need a degree to be a good developer, but that you do need a solid foundation that takes longer than 3 months to build. At we encourage students to dive deep into the material, build tons of projects, and plan on around 12 months of learning.

It just so happens that there are twice as many backend developers in the world as front-end devs, but very few boot camps and e-learning platforms are effectively serving those learners.

You need to show up and provide real, free, valuable content to their audience, and some of them will remember you.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

In hindsight, I spent too much time building the custom course platform. I built the platform and launched the first course about the Go programming language in just a couple of months. I built the whole thing from scratch in Golang and Vue.js with a Postgres Database.

The trouble was, I had no marketing channels.

In hindsight, I would have done much better to just start a YouTube channel talking about Go and backend engineering. That would have gotten me familiar with the audience and customer base without building a v1 of the product that is essentially gone at this point.

We originally had this weird game system where students would buy gems and then exchange gems for course access, earning discounts by performing well in the courses. It turns out, most people just want to buy the course, the gem thing is confusing and adds friction. Selling memberships immediately increased revenue by 2-3x.

Describe the process of launching the business.

I launched to crickets. I had no plan, no budget for marketing, and no existing followings on social media. That was a big problem. I had zero customers for months, which is a really hard place to be.

We eventually grew through my blog. I had articles that ranked on Google for programming-related terms and was essentially a self-taught SEO blogger. That got us to a few thousand dollars in monthly revenue, but conversion rates were abysmal. Turns out that most people look up “how to write a for loop in Go” don’t want a Go course. They just want that info and will immediately bounce.

To find your audience. Hang out with them. Take them to lunch. Start a blog, YouTube channel, or Twitter account to talk to them. Know them well

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

SEO has been a consistent flow of new customers, especially since we started targeting higher “intent’ keywords like “learn backend development”. It’s steady, but it hasn’t been any kind of real growth hack. The most important thing regarding SEO was to just consistently put out high-quality articles that are laser focused on topics our customers care about.

The best thing for big “pumps” where we bring in big volumes of customers all at once has been going on as a guest to coding podcasts or coding YouTube channels. It’s like influencer marketing that you don’t pay for. I mean, you pay in time and content.

You won’t get far trying to just advertise your product on other’s channels for free, you need to show up and provide real, free, valuable content to their audience, and some of them will remember you.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We’re still growing faster than I can keep up with. I’m trying to find a healthy balance of investing time and money between new courses, more marketing content, and improving the platform itself.

I think we’ll see the best long-term ROI by focusing on the product and the courses themselves. Word of mouth is the best way to grow, and if your stuff is remarkable and just insanely high quality, people will talk about it.

I’m also starting my podcast “Backend Banter”, which I hope to grow into a new top-of-funnel channel as well. The plan is to grow the podcast by marketing it to my existing students, as well as the fans of the expert guests I bring on to each episode.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Emails are valuable. Collecting emails from people that are interested in your product is super important. It’s a free channel that you own, and you can hit those people with targeted discounts and product updates in the future. Our best months revenue-wise have been when we’ve run promotions to our mailing list.

As far as product experience goes, the thing we’re focusing on is just standing out as much as possible in practically every way. We have this fun fantasy feel to the app, and it stands out in the e-learning market. People don’t forget us.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Indie hackers podcast

Nudge podcast

The Purple Cow (book)

Hooked (book)

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

To find your audience. Hang out with them. Take them to lunch. Start a blog, YouTube channel, or Twitter account to talk to them. Know them well, then find the problem that they have that you can solve. I, like so many other first-time founders jumped into solution building way too early, and specifically, I jumped into building a vague solution for everyone, when I could have been targeted from the beginning.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

Lane Wagner, Founder of Boot dev
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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