I Learned To Code And Launched A Social Media Scheduling Platform [$2K/Month]
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey everyone! My name is Tim Bennetto and I’m the founder of Pallyy, a social media scheduling platform built for social media agencies and managers.
Pallyy is in an extremely crowded space but has managed to carve out a subset of users in the social media scheduling space with our intuitive and affordable platform.
Only in the recent months did Pallyy start to gain some traction, with almost 100% growth happening in just the last 3 months.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
A little about my programming backstory, back in 2015 I had an app built that allowed people to trim & merge videos, to post on Instagram. Instagram has recently had the feature - but removed it for some reason, so I thought it's a great opportunity to try something. I had the app built by a great company over in India, for a very reasonable price and learned a little about the development process along the way. The app received over 500k downloads, and I eventually sold it for about $10,000 so that I could focus on other things.
Don’t worry about failing, just start on any project – you’re still going to learn new things.
This was a great experience, however, it made me realize that if you want to build new ideas, knowing how to code is a great advantage to have. You don’t need to go back and forth with a developer or pay crazy amounts of money just to get your idea off the ground, not knowing if it’s going to work out.
In 2016 I decided to take the plunge and give it a crack. I started on CodeCademy (which I loved) and tried to do at least 1 hour per day. As soon as I could, I started building things – even if I didn’t have all the skills. After a few years, and many personal projects that went nowhere I became fluent and was happy with where I was at in terms of coding experience.
Many of my projects involved analytics and charts, so I thought – let’s try something with that! I was familiar with Instagram’s API – so that’s when I began building an Instagram analytics platform. I knew there were many other analytics platforms at the time – which to me meant that there was a need, so I didn’t need to validate my idea (maybe stupid thinking).
I managed to get a few customers early on and grow to $100 MRR quickly, but in the beginning, I was charging a fraction of what the service costs today. It wasn’t until later down the track (a year) that I pivoted to a social media scheduling platform.
Also, Pallyy used to be called ShareMyInsights. I changed the name this year (2021). > I’ve learned that it’s so important to focus on a certain niche of users. In the beginning, I wanted to target everyone, I wanted every person who managed an IG account to use the service. Once I started targeting a subset of users (social media agencies) only then did I start to see some traction.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
In the beginning, I wanted to get Pallyy out as quickly as possible. I already had frameworks built from previous projects for user authentication etc., so I utilized these. I built a core set of analytics that would be useful for any Instagram users and added a few creative ones that no other service had. The feature that made me stand out from the rest was my shareable insights reports. You could hook up your account, and then get a link to share with others – so they could see your insights. I later found out that no one used this.
I’ve always kept screenshots of my old designs as it’s great to look back on. Looking back on the first versions, I can tell how much I rushed it – but being a team of one, I just wanted to get something out there so I could get feedback and start moving.
Dec 2019 homepage & dashboard design:
May 2020 Homepage & dashboard design:
Pallyy didn’t cost me anything except personal hours to get started. Server costs were extremely low (<$50/month) which made it a great starting point – there was no pressure. Also, working as a solo founder gives me more flexibility and allows me to build new features much quicker.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching Pallyy was great, it was awesome to have something I built from the ground up out in the wild. That feeling quickly vanished. Marketing was never something I was good at, I loved to code and was always so focused on it that I pushed marketing completely aside.
My first step was to launch Pallyy on Product Hunt. This to me was important but looking back I can see that my audience is not on the Product Hunt – something I didn’t think about then. I put a few days into the launch, trying to make it the best I could but it was a complete flow. I was nowhere to be seen.
I had one other ace up my sleeve, or so I thought. I had a friend with a free Instagram statistics site that had to stop because of the change to Instagram’s API– so I reached out to him and he was happy to redirect it permanently to Pallyy – awesome! We were getting about 300-500 unique hits per day, 300-500 unique website hits from what I expected to be highly targeted traffic, which gave us a little kickstart although I had hoped for a better conversion rate. It seemed those users were more interested in a free service. We had people signing up and even upgrading to the paid plan (we had a free forever plan back then). Getting those first few paying customers is extremely motivating.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
During the first 10 months after launching Pallyy was growing very slowly. We reached a peak of about $1300 MRR but our churn was pretty high meaning we started to drop once we hit that mark. We probably stayed at $1200-$1300 for about 6 months, which made it pretty hard to continue working on it with no future insight.
The main feature our users wanted was to be able to schedule their posts and check their analytics. Using Pallyy simply for analytics meant they still had to use another scheduling platform like Hootsuite or Buffer. I was losing a lot of customers because of this, and though there was nothing that could be done – Instagram’s publishing API was restricted in BETA for years to the big guys like Buffer, etc.
Around January 2021, Instagram finally launched its publishing API to the public! You still had to undergo review, but there was a chance I could work with this.
Within 2 days of the announcement, I had built a scheduling prototype and applied it to get approved. They knocked me back a couple of times due to technical issues, but finally, on the 3rd try they gave me the green light, I was stoked! I worked on it for another week, then it went live. People were loving it but it brought a whole new problem – they don’t just want Instagram scheduling, but all the major platforms.
Over the next month, I worked one by one to add Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Google My Business to the platform so they could post everywhere. This was great, people were liking it but I also unknowingly just entered an even busier market – social media scheduling.
Having these new features, I managed to level out my churn and the growth finally started. Over the last 3 months, Pallyy has grown by almost 100% to $2450 MRR (AUD).
Using social media, especially Instagram has allowed me to reach out to social media managers and agencies. I’ve tried running ads on Instagram & Google, but they just don’t work as well as I would have hoped for now. I know my competitors use them, but they chew through cash – which I can’t justify just yet.
We’ve also had some success with SEO. I hired a blog writer (who’s also a social media manager) who writes 4-8 posts per month. We make sure every article is targeted towards a certain keyword and include it at least a few times throughout the post. We also try to have at least 3-4 images per post. Funnily enough one of our top-performing posts (in terms of conversions) is our post about the best time to post on Instagram. Over time this has grown our blog readers to about 60k per month (see image below). We do get conversions that come directly from those articles, but not as many as I would have hoped.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, Pallyy is a profitable business. We pay around $200/month in server-related costs and $200/month for marketing (social media posts & blog posts).
Our blog has grown to 60k/month and our Instagram following has reached 1400. Instagram is the best platform for us to organically generate new customers, either through DMs or just engaging with them on their posts.
Currently, we’re in lockdown here in Australia and I’m working on Pallyy full time. I’m handling everything, but my core job these days is marketing. As many people say – you can have the best product in the world but if no one can find it, then there’s no point. I usually spend until midday doing marketing, commenting on IG posts, Reddit, Quora, etc then in the afternoon I’ll do customer service and fix any bugs (if any) followed by some coding of new features.
Probably my number one mistake was in naming my business & branding.
I’ve only recently started targeting a subset of users (social media agencies), so I’ll be working on more features for them – to make the service stand out in that niche. I’ve already built a few and they seem to be loving it so far, so hopefully, the word spreads.
My long-term goal for Pallyy is to become one of the top social media scheduling platforms. I’m up against some huge companies (Buffer, Hootsuite) that have endless funds for ads, but I’ve been seeing more and more people switching from them to us so we must be doing something right. I’d also love to hire a developer, so I could focus more on marketing.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Mistakes, ah yes – quite a few!
Probably my number one mistake was in naming my business & branding. In the beginning, we were called ShareMyInsights, because that was what the service did – share your insights. Never give yourself a name that could restrict your growth. Once I started scheduling, how does Share My Insights sound? It was terrible, didn’t make sense, and just sounded bad. I would try to think of something that doesn’t pigeonhole you into the one niche – go with something creative perhaps.
Another big one was branding. At the start, I created the logo. I suck at graphic design, so there’s the first mistake but not having a good brand identity just makes the product feel less cohesive. This year, when we changed our name – I also paid a graphic designer to make a logo. It only cost $300, so it was worth every penny.
Over my time working on Pallyy I’ve learned that it’s so important to focus on a certain niche of users. I read this quote that stuck with me (wish I read it earlier) “Find a market that’s always in demand, then build a product for a subset of users and do it exceedingly well”. In the beginning, I wanted to target everyone, I wanted every person who managed an IG account to use the service. Once I started targeting a subset of users (social media agencies) only then did I start to see some traction. I was getting higher-paying users, who would give me amazing feedback and work with me to build new features – amazing!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Currently, for our tech stack I’m using mongoDB as a database, nodejs/express as the server and Vue/Nuxt on the front end.
We use Canva to design social media posts (free version), Trello for tracking my internal roadmap and features and Canny for our public roadmap & changelog.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The lean startup helped me on my journey, it helped me to realize that targeting everyone doesn’t work – and I should be focusing my efforts on targeting one niche only.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Just get started.
Don’t worry about failing, just start on any project – you’re still going to learn new things.
Also, If you have 1 hour a day, learn to code. Being able to code has been a huge factor for me, I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t learn how to code.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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