has_many :codes

Building DynaSite in public: relaunching DynaBlogger


Update: I describe how I now handle custom domains here.

Some readers might know/remember that I used to run a paid/managed blogging platform called DynaBlogger until I joined my current employer, Brella.

It's essentially a blogging platform with the most important features geared to publishing content and nothing else. No "bloat".

It didn't go well because I tried too hard to propose it as an alternative to Wordpress or Ghost, and it was a huge mistake because for most people blog means Wordpress so it was really, really difficult to convince them to even try my tool. Also my app was very weak on the themes front since I am not a designer.

I spent too much time on features and other things that could definitely have waited (for example I even set up a cool scalable Kubernetes cluster for the infrastructure that could handle lots of traffic, thinking that I would have tons of users in the short term, lol; I was clearly dreaming); I also delayed marketing and other, important non-coding related tasks for too long that I didn't like doing. I had absolutely no idea on how to do marketing and promotion either so the traction was overall much lower than anticipated. With my next side projects I will try to do better with research and prioritisation.

As first project, I decided to relaunch DynaBlogger with new features that allow publishing of static sites as well as blogs for now. Later, users will be able to manage other dynamic content with datasets they can upload or manage directly in the app.

Part of the Inspiration/motivation for the relaunch came from learning about https://tiiny.host/. I was intrigued by some progress the developer shared about it on social media so I thought that perhaps relaunching DynaBlogger could make sense, if approached in a better way  than in the first attempt.

What I already built is a lot more advanced than that tool and with some new features geared towards static sites I believe there's more potential. What I like of that tiiny.host is that it makes pretty easy and quick to publish a static site by just uploading an archive, for example. I am gonna try to improve on that if I can. I have some idea in that regard.

I already registered the domains "eloquentbytes.com" for the new company I am going to set up, and "dynasite.dev" for the new version of DynaBlogger. I choose "DynaSite" as the new name of the product because I didn't have better ideas and I still like the "dyna" part as in "dynamic". "site" also conveys that it's no longer about just blogs, but about other types of websites as well. "DynaSite" also rhymes with "Dynamite" which is kinda of funny, hopefully not in bad way. But hey, we know that naming things is hard.

I decided that I will open a "Toiminimi" (as it's called here in Finland) for the new company called "Eloquent Bytes" to manage this and future side projects. I like "Eloquent Bytes" because "eloquent" means "fluent or persuasive in communicating" or "clearly expressing or indicating something", and "bytes" clearly refers to software. The name, according to some feedback I already received, "is easy enough to remember. Also pretty broad in terms of what content you could have relate to the domain’s naming". Which is exactly what I was looking for.

The eloquentbytes.com domain cost the standard price for a .com domain at around $9/yr with Cloudflare, while the dynasite.dev one cost much more at $62 also with Cloudflare. So the .host TLD is a bit pricey, but I like this extension because the product is going to be about hosting websites, essentially.

A toiminimi (or private trader/sole proprietor) is much easier to manage than a limited company. It's also cheaper and faster to register (60 euros vs 240 for a limited company), and there is no salary or dividends involved. I can just do "private withdrawals" for personal expenses from the company bank account with no special action. Taxes are also easier in that the income of the company is taxed together with the income I earn from my full time job. This is better in the beginning when the revenue is small but in the long run, if sales grow it may become convenient to switch to a limited company. The reason is that with a toiminimi, since the company income is taxed together with the income from my employment, the tax % might get very high if revenue is significant on top of my salary. With an LTD instead (Oy in Finland), I can pay myself a smaller salary and leave the rest in the company or withdraw it as dividends and pay the lower corporate tax which is something like 20%. So with a limited company it may be possible to optimise things from a taxation point of view if revenue grows significantly.

Another difference between toiminimi and LTD is that with the toiminimi I am personally liable for the company as well, while with the LTD the liability would be limited to the assets of the company, not the personal assets. So with the toiminimi there is higher risk but in the beginning it's easier. Yet another advantage with the toiminimi is that it only requires one way bookkeeping instead of double bookkeeping with the limited company, so accounting is easier and cheaper if I outsource it. But to save costs I might do it myself if it's that easy.

In terms of coding, DynaBlogger is Rails app. Tonight I already updated it to the latest versions of Ruby and Rails and also updated all the gems I use as dependencies. I renamed everything related to "Blog" to "Site" and that's it for now.

At the moment I am also preparing for the "Web attacks with Kali Linux" certification with OffSec, and that will still be my priority (besides my day job) for some months. So for I will work on this relaunch a little on evenings if I can, or otherwise on weekends.

In any case I am gonna try to document what I do here on this blog with the "Build in public" spirit, since I myself enjoy reading about experiences of other "indie hackers" so others might be curious as to what I do for this project, and also because it seems that this practice can help build an audience that is already interested in your product.

So if you are curious about this project, stay tuned!

Update: see next post on how I implemented custom domains for DynaSite.
© Vito Botta