PRR Case Study: Starting a New Project

I have long had it in the back of my head that I would like to do something sort of in the vein of BestPlaces.net. I never really had a clear idea what I wanted to do. I just keep seeing questions in various forums to the effect of "What city can I move to that has X?" and I feel like that represents some kind of underserved market or need.

Then on March 30, 2017, I was snarkily tweeting a lot to vent and probably losing followers left and right. Somewhere in there, I began tweeting about wanting to do personalized relocation research for pay. And then I spontaneously created a website to go with the idea. I have since done an Ask HN and posted a question on Metafilter. I also had this useful little snippet of a conversation. I also added a newsfeed to the site in the form of a Google Group and posted a couple of articles to it. I still need to figure out pricing and services. I have a smidgeon of experience doing something similar.

I have been blogging for a lot of years. I have learned a lot about how to communicate things I want to talk about for various reasons.

My very first website grew out of people asking if they could forward some emails I had written to share the information therein. Since there was demand for the information, I decided to post it publicly so they could share the links freely. Thus, my subjective experience has been that there is demand for things I know, but I have never been good at getting a wide audience nor at turning that seeming demand for my expertise into much of a money stream.

But, historically, I developed blogs in response to people being interested in something I know. My primary impetus was simply to make that information available (for free). Monetizing it was a thing that was kind of an afterthought, like "Oh, I put a lot of time into this and people apparently get value out of it. I ought to find a way to get money for what I am doing. Um, how do you do that. Ummmm...Not sure."

This project is the first one where I had this idea of "I would like to do x service and charge money for it." and then created a website. For that and other reasons, I think this has more potential than most things I have done to turn into good money.

My thought is that people who can't afford to pay for custom research done by a third party can use the information posted publicly on the site to inform their own research efforts. That piece can be monetized with ads and tips.

But, I think the blog part of this will also serve to prove I know my stuff because, ultimately, the idea is to turn this into some kind of actual business. I am not clear yet what form that will take. At this point in time, my assumption is that it will be a service business where I do research for pay for people. But I am certainly not married to that idea.

I love websites like BestPlaces.net, but everything I have ever seen in this space that tries to give a "custom" list of cities that YOU, yes, YOU in specific should move to is basically incredibly generic and not done well. You answer a list of canned questions and the list of cities it generates often don't in any way fit the parameters I put in. For example, I typically get back a list of cities with weather that in no way matches my stated preference for weather.

I think there is room for significant improvement in this space. I don't know exactly what something better will look like. I am in the process of trying to cook it up currently.

I have written a couple of people requesting feedback. I haven't heard back yet. Historically, that sort of thing has not performed well for me. So far, it isn't looking promising this time around either.

I am writing this post mostly for my own edification. It is meant to gather together what I have done so far. I am posting it to Business Bootstrappers (a Google group that I own) and Hacker News in hopes of helping other people think through their own nascent project or business idea.

I am also hoping it will generate discussion or constructive feedback that will help me further develop the idea. Comments can be left on this blog or on the Hacker News discussion.

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