What it’s Like Building a Software for 1,000 Users

In 2022, my side hustle consisted of building Morsel a recipe-sharing software. Our software is focused on helping families, friend groups, and companies come together around food and the recipes they cherish most. Our solution is pretty simple you can create recipes and groups, and that’s it.

If you’re curious about where we began, you can read about that here.

As we close out our first full year “in business,” I’m pleased to see us pass the 1,000-user mark pretty quickly. If you would have asked me at the start of the year if I would think we would have 1,000 users I would probably giggle. That seems like a lot of people.

And it is a lot, relative to the amount of effort put into it for transparency’s sake. I likely put in about 3-5 hours a week if I’m being realistic.

Things that are working well

  • SEO CONTENT, SEO CONTENT, SEO CONTENT – it’s always been a strong suit, so I am glad this is going well for me. I am glad I invested in this very early on. We have about 40 articles and five strong landing pages that drive 5-digit session numbers this early on in the domain’s age. I’m very proud of this and excited that after about Month 2, we turned off all paid ads and let SEO drive 90% of our user numbers.
    • I plan to double down on this effort again and beef up our content for another round.
  • Switching to Freemium vs. Trial – This was important for us. Now users can use Morsel completely free up to 40 recipes. This allows users to take their time getting to know the software and not feeling pressed for time under a 14 day trial. I think we will see this pay off long into the future. A big win for us this year for sure.
  • Focusing on company and team initiatives. Who would have thought? Teams are some of the heaviest users of Morsel. We closed the year with some of the world’s largest tech brands using Morsel as an employee engagement project. The plan is to dig into this, even more, this year.

What I’m surprised by

  • The hunger for printed cookbooks. About 60-70% of our users would like to print a cookbook in the future. It is a manual offering currently that we don’t promote much because I have to design it myself. We plan to automate this offering in Q1 so that users can create their own. This is also exciting as it is likely going to be our biggest revenue driver for ’23 if I were to guess.

Goals for 2023

  • Focus on session growth again. I would love to see our numbers 3x. I think we still have room to grow with our current keywords still climbing and then doubling content should see this help.
  • Be very disciplined with software feature request additions (they can run you broke if you let it)
  • Get the cookbook printing offering working like a well-oiled machine to start making us money
  • Start generating revenue and pay for our original investment in the solution (developers aren’t free)

’23 I don’t care if I see upgrades from Free to Pro users. We don’t make much money off of that MRR, and I don’t see us moving that needle until we have the bandwidth to make the software itself feature-rich. And as a side-hustle business, I’m not prepared to sink another $50-100K to do that. Instead, I want to focus on cookbook sales. So in ’23 new user growth and cookbook sales are my north stars.