A solo journey to 100k

Dracula PRO has hit 100K in sales โ€” here's everything I learned along the way

Dracula PRO sales from Feb 2020 to Feb 2021
Zeno Rocha

I'm Zeno (@zenorocha) creator of Dracula.

Monetizing an open source project is very difficult, so I decided to share my personal journey and lessons learned. I hope this can be helpful and inspire your own journey.

January 2020

Getting Ready

$0

Dracula PRO sales / January 2020

Lessons learned

mail

Although I had traffic coming to the site, there was no way for me to contact people directly, so I began to build an email list.

mail
investigating

People are tired of using crappy products with no support. That's why I decided to focus on creating a premium experience instead.

investigating
hospital

Don't be afraid to tell your story, even if you're sharing the most difficult moment of your life. Being vulnerable online is an advantage, not a weakness.

hospital

Tweets from this period

February 2020

Building in Public

$9,918.01

Dracula PRO sales / February 2020

Lessons learned

key

Before launching to everyone, I asked some of my close friends about their opinions. Getting early feedback is key to a good product launch.

key
silence

People are afraid of sharing sales numbers as they think this will attract competition. The only competition you have is yourself.

silence
sparkle

Every milestone was shared publicly. Regardless of how big or small, I started to create a habit of publishing quick wins.

sparkle

Tweets from this period

Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
It took dozens of hours, but I think I have the final palette for Dracula PRO ๐ŸŽจ
12:51 AM ยท Feb 9, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
It's been years since I didn't record a screencast. This was fun!
2:55 AM ยท Feb 10, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐Ÿ› ๏ธ Finishing all the last details for the Dracula PRO site. ๐Ÿš€ Tomorrow is launch day!
3:25 PM ยท Feb 10, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐Ÿšจ The wait is over... Dracula PRO is live! ๐Ÿ‘‰ draculatheme.com/pro ๐Ÿ“ฆ Everything I know about color schemes, typography, and productivity tips for developers into one package. A thread...๐Ÿ‘‡
3:03 PM ยท Feb 11, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
I made $3,149.37 in less than 24 hours with draculatheme.com/pro Dracula PRO is an overnight success... 7 years in the making. Here's what I learned so far ๐Ÿ‘‡
3:55 PM ยท Feb 12, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
Made $5,428.91 in 3 days with Dracula PRO. draculatheme.com/pro Here are more behind the scenes ๐Ÿ‘‡
4:19 PM ยท Feb 14, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
I'm coding a testimonial section on the Dracula PRO site, but first I need testimonials ๐Ÿ˜… Let's try out @gumroad's Workflow feature, which allows you to send an email X days/hours/weeks after purchase. Automation++ ๐Ÿค–
8:52 PM ยท Feb 16, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
You can think about Revenue the same way you think about Coding. The difference is that there are only 3 variables you can define...
3:18 PM ยท Feb 20, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
People asked if Dracula PRO included the color codes for them to use in other apps. Because of that, I decided to not only describe all colors in HEX, RGB, and HSL but also add design files for: * Adobe (PSD/AI) * Figma * Sketch Go get them ๐Ÿ‘‰ draculatheme.com/pro
7:19 PM ยท Feb 22, 2020

March 2020

Reacting to Refunds

$17,476.46

Dracula PRO sales / March 2020

Lessons learned

money

I never had time to work on my open source projects, but now that I was monetizing, I was able to spend more time doing something I love.

money
crying

Itโ€™s painful to process your first refund request. It feels like you failed and that youโ€™re not good enough. Still, you have to understand that thereโ€™s no such thing as the perfect product.

crying
megaphone

Sharing stories from users is really important and creates social proof. Your first customers are the most important - make sure they are happy.

megaphone

Tweets from this period

Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
This is one of my favorite Dracula setups ever by @birobirobiro_. It uses: * Linux Mint * Gnome Terminal * GEdit * VS Code (@code) * Ulauncher (@ulauncherapp) * Insomnia (@getinsomnia) * Google Chrome (@GoogleChrome) ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™
4:40 PM ยท Mar 1, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
Dracula PRO just hit $10,000 in sales in less than three weeks ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰ To celebrate, I created 20 coupons with a 20% discount Go get it now - the code is "twitter10k" gum.co/dracula-pro/twโ€ฆ
3:50 PM ยท Mar 2, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
The new Dracula files for Figma, Sketch, and Adobe (PSD/AI) are now open source and available for free. 1. draculatheme.com/adobe 2. draculatheme.com/figma 3. draculatheme.com/sketch I can't wait to see what you're all going to create :)
3:32 PM ยท Mar 3, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐Ÿง›โ€โ™‚๏ธ Windows users, I have some good news for you. 2 new themes have been added to Dracula PRO: * Notepad++ * Windows Terminal Go get them at draculatheme.com/pro
3:18 PM ยท Mar 5, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
I spent the last few days working on a complete redesign of the Dracula site and logo. draculatheme.com What do *you* think???
2:03 PM ยท Mar 24, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
Variables you can control: โœ… Your thoughts โœ… How you spend your money โœ… What you do with your time Variables you can *not* control: โŽ The economy โŽ What happened in the past โŽ What other people think/say/do Where should you spend your energy?
3:50 PM ยท Mar 29, 2020

April 2020

Going Viral

$29,734.00

Dracula PRO sales / April 2020

Lessons learned

eyes

Transparency is a scarce resource. When people see someone sharing numbers and lessons openly, they get inspired by that, and you get credibility in return.

eyes
screaming

One day one of my tweets went viral. That caused a huge spike in traffic and sales. It definitely helped, but it's a one-time event.

screaming
gear

When you're a company of one you have to do engineering, marketing, accounting, etc. Creating systems is crucial to manage everything.

gear

Tweets from this period

May 2020 - July 2020

Adding More Value

$52,879.37

Dracula PRO sales / May 2020 - July 2020

Lessons learned

cycle

By listening to users and implementing their requests, I was able to create a feedback loop. Keep adding value and people will notice.

cycle
sad

I decided to write a book and give that for free for existing customers. I never wrote a book before, so I was super scared.

sad
microphone

Once the book was out, I did many podcast appearances to spread the word and attract a new audience. There's no such thing as "build and they will come".

microphone

Tweets from this period

Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐Ÿ™ The most requested Dracula PRO theme is finally available! ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ป Vim users, Neovim users, MacVim users, here it is. ๐Ÿง›โ€โ™‚๏ธ draculatheme.com/pro
2:28 PM ยท May 4, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐Ÿคฏ I canโ€™t believe Dracula reached 100 themes! ๐Ÿฅณ Open source is a crazy thing. Thank you so much for everyone involved in this. ๐Ÿ‘Š Let's continue to make the most cross-platform theme ever created :) ๐Ÿง›โ€โ™‚๏ธ draculatheme.com
2:07 PM ยท May 6, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
I implemented a little color selector to help new theme developers. Units: * HEX * RGB * HSL * ANSI npm packages used: * react-select * color-convert Live at: draculatheme.com/contribute
1:21 PM ยท May 8, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
As promised... here are the new Dracula PRO themes for @GoogleChrome ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™
3:09 PM ยท May 21, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
it's official, I'm writing a book! 14habits.com
4:01 PM ยท May 27, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
Dracula PRO just hit $40,831.92 in sales. I never would have thought that a side project could have such a big impact on my life. Here's a breakdown of all the metrics... ๐Ÿ‘‡
3:22 PM ยท Jun 4, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
14 HABITS OF HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE DEVELOPERS Pre-order is now open! ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ English: amazon.com/dp/B08BF74RRG ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Portuguese: amazon.com/dp/B08BF7PZZX If any of my tweets, talks, or open source projects ever helped you, please consider getting this e-book. It would mean a lot to me! โ˜บ๏ธ
1:54 PM ยท Jun 23, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
Q: In your opinion, which book cover looks better? A or B?
3:33 PM ยท Jun 30, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
This is the first time ever that I'm doing a pre-sale ๐Ÿค“ Here are the numbers so far: 162 copies sold ๐Ÿ“Š And here's what I learned... ๐Ÿ‘‡
4:39 PM ยท Jul 7, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
I just released a book! ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰ 14 Habits of Highly Productive Developers is now available on Amazon and Gumroad. It's everything I know about productivity, tech career, and side projects into one package. 4 months of work, 10+ years in programming. ๐Ÿ‘‰ 14habits.com
1:29 PM ยท Jul 14, 2020

August 2020 - December 2020

Being Consistent

$87,733.80

Dracula PRO sales / August 2020 - December 2020

Lessons learned

pumpkin

To keep people interested and maintain the momentum, I created a community challenge where users would share their setups on social media.

pumpkin
nerd

As the number of users grows, the number of support emails also grows. Because of that, I decided to increase the price.

nerd
turtle

Some days people would buy a lot. Other days I had almost no sales. Never underestimate the power of being consistent, especially when things are bad.

turtle

Tweets from this period

Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
Today marks exactly 6 months since the launch of Dracula PRO. The results? 1,148 copies sold $55,878.77 in sales What started as a simple side project, became something much bigger...
3:17 PM ยท Aug 11, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
Playing around with some custom app icons. Here is @code's icon as an example. Would you use these?
5:05 PM ยท Aug 15, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐Ÿง›โ€โ™‚๏ธ Presenting the Dracula PRO Desktop Icons! After using it for a couple of days, my personal favorites are Firefox, Chrome, Hyper, and Xcode. This is another free update for draculatheme.com/pro users :)
5:23 PM ยท Aug 18, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
ยกHola! ๐Ÿ’ƒ Coming soon: 14 Hรกbitos de Desarrolladores Altamente Productivos Thanks @mdelapenya for helping me make this a reality! ๐Ÿ‘‰ Don't miss an update: 14habits.com/es
1:45 PM ยท Aug 25, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐Ÿšจ You have 24 hours to get Dracula PRO for $49. After that, the price will increase to $79. draculatheme.com/pro
12:00 AM ยท Sep 1, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐Ÿง›โ€โ™‚๏ธ This week 11 new themes have joined the Dracula clan! * Adminer * BetterDiscord * colorls * IDLE * Obsidian * Plank * Pywal * Roam Research * The Lounge * TiddlyWiki * Zathura There are now 129 themes on draculatheme.com ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
2:12 PM ยท Sep 29, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
My side project launched in February just hit $70,336.33 in sales. Here are 5 ways to monetize your open source project as an individual: 1. Ads 2. Licensing 3. Consulting 4. Sponsors 5. Premium Code (thread)
3:34 PM ยท Oct 5, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐ŸŽƒ Introducing the 2020 Halloween Costume Contest! ๐Ÿง›โ€โ™‚๏ธ Take a photo or screenshot of your setup and share it using the hashtag #draculatheme ๐Ÿ‘ป The best post will get a free Dracula PROย and the winner will be announced on October 31st. ๐Ÿฆ‡ I'll start, here's my setup...
2:19 PM ยท Oct 28, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐ŸŽƒ Happy Halloween! ๐Ÿง›โ€โ™‚๏ธ I would like to say THANKS to all the Dracula users out there! ๐Ÿ‘ป VSCode: 1,661,819 users ๐ŸงŸ JetBrains: 280,392 users ๐Ÿ’€ Atom: 219,224 users ๐Ÿฆ‡ Let's continue to build the most used theme for developers in the world :)
2:35 PM ยท Oct 31, 2020
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
This year Iโ€™m thankful for... - The 2,063 people who read my book 14 Habits ๐Ÿ’š - The 1,568 people who supported Dracula PRO ๐Ÿ’œ - The 75 people who work with me at Liferay Cloud ๐Ÿ’™ - The 1 person who makes each day special, my wife Carol ๐Ÿ’› Happy Thanksgiving! ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿฆƒ ๐Ÿ
9:30 PM ยท Nov 26, 2020

January 2021 - February 2021

Hitting The Mark

$101,578.04

Dracula PRO sales / January 2021 - February 2021

Lessons learned

globe

Pricing is hard, especially when you have to deal with different economies on a global scale. To address this, I implemented Purchasing Power Parity.

globe
star

Don't look for a shortcut or some secret formula. Just be yourself and do your thing. Build your own journey and share it with others.

star
finish

When you're creating a product there's no finish line. Although I'm happy to hit 100k, this is not the end, it's just the beginning.

finish

Tweets from this period

Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
๐Ÿ”ฅ After tons of requests, I'm super happy to announce Purchasing Power Parity! Why? Because not everyone earns in dollars. If you are in Brazil, India, China, or any country outside the US, check this page for a special code draculatheme.com/pro
1:01 PM ยท Jan 13, 2021
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
If you are a developer... - working on open source - and struggling to get visibility Reply with a link to your project. I'll take a look, provide honest feedback, and suggest some ideas on how to improve it.
2:39 PM ยท Jan 20, 2021
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
I get a lot of questions about building a career in tech. I try my best to answer every question and recommend other books about it. But the truth is, this doesn't scale. That's why I decided to compile all my book suggestions into this Notion page: notion.so/1e6aa053a4124cโ€ฆ
2:36 PM ยท Jan 27, 2021
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
I just built a full testimonial feature using no-code/low-code. Here's my entire workflow: 1. @gumroad 2. @typeform 3. @zapier 4. @airtable 5. @vercel Keep reading to see numbers and more details ๐Ÿ‘‡
2:57 PM ยท Feb 20, 2021
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
Open Source Lifestyle. Itโ€™s the unique intersection of building, sharing, and being transparent. Anyone can see, modify, and distribute your ideas as they see fit. Itโ€™s about taking a software distribution model and applying to your personal life.
4:34 PM ยท Feb 23, 2021
Zeno Rocha
Zeno Rocha@zenorocha
How I made $101,578.04 selling colors online draculatheme.com/pro/journey A visual timeline... ๐Ÿ‘‡
2:18 PM ยท Feb 25, 2021

Follow the Journey

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