Failory. The Cemetary For Startups!
Over the last few weeks, we've been hearing a lot about Failory, a website dedicated to sharing the tales of founders who got it wrong. It seemed like a great idea to us. What better way to learn, than by someone else's mistakes? We checked them out on Twitter, and were excited to see that Failory are an Open Startup, which means that they share a lot of their stats like traffic and revenue. We were interested to see how much they've grown since they launched. It just goes to show what a relatively simple but highly original idea can achieve.
Failory are especially interesting to us, as their model is similar to our own. Where we focus on those who've got it right, Failory share the other side of the story, entrepreneurs whose businesses went wrong. There's a certain Yin & Yang to Growth Rocket and Failory, so we needed to learn more.
After enjoying and learning from almost every story on the site, we reached out to Rich Clominson, founder of Failory, to find out exactly how he came up with the idea for Failory.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself please?
Hey GrowthRocket readers!
My name is Rich and I’m the founder of Failory, a content site for entrepreneurs (quite similar to GrowthRocket, in fact!).
I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I studied marketing and have been working at different agencies for the last decade. Nowadays, I work full-time at a digital marketing agency and run Failory as a side hustle.
Can you describe Failory in a single sentence?
Yeah, I think.
Failory, the content site for startup founders.
How did you come up with idea for Failory?
I started Failory 2 years ago when I found a gap on the internet where lots of podcasts and blogs were talking about the success of entrepreneurs and how these were making thousands per day, but few websites were showing the other side of the coin, the entrepreneurs that failed, which in fact, were the majority!
By that time, I was really active on Indie Hackers and loved reading their interviews, which I still do. That’s why I decided to copy their model and, instead of interviewing successful entrepreneurs, interview the failed ones.
Can you tell us about the development of Failory?
Immediately after having the idea, I started looking for failed startups. I looked for some post-mortem articles, comments on startup communities and even asked on Quora and FB groups if there was anyone who had failed and was interested in sharing their story. I was able to get 9 interviews… really bad and short ones, but enough to launch the site.
I built the site super fast with Webflow, a tool I had 0 experience with. I kind of copied the style of Indie Hackers, contacted one of the top hunters of Product Hunt, prepared some tweets and FB posts and, just 3 or 4 weeks after having the idea, I launched the site.
It went super viral from one moment to the other, ending up in #1 on PH. During the 3 days, +7,000 users visited the site so I understood that there was a real interest on the topic.
How has Failory grown since you launched?
It has grown amazingly. First of all, it has stopped being just a site of interviews with failed startups, to become a content site for entrepreneurs, with interviews successful entrepreneurs, as well, short post-mortem articles, entrepreneurship-related blog articles, tools for entrepreneurs and, in the following weeks, a podcast.
Secondly, it has grown amazingly in terms of traffic.
It has gone from 1,000 monthly users (without considering spikes caused by viral interviews) to 10,000 at the beginning of 2019, to 30,000 in this last month. It used to be mainly traffic from promotion on communities and social networks. However, nowadays, it is mainly organic traffic which is much more stable.
As for email subscribers, it has been a rollercoaster journey: We have gone from 0 to 500 in the first week, to more than 7,000 in the first year, to less than 3,000 in the following months (as a result of a huge clearance of fake and inactive emails) to +5,100 nowadays. Click rates and open rates are high, as well.
Finally, the site has also grown in terms of monetization. During all 2018, the site made less than $800 I think. I wasn’t even thinking about the revenue, I just wanted to publish and create great stuff. This year, we’ve been making +$800 per month and without big efforts on it.
You have gained quite a following in a short amount of time. How have you been so successful at reaching your target audience and building the Failory community?
I think that one of the main reasons why I have been able to create a Failory community or audience is that the idea behind the site is really original. As I said before, few sites talk about the failure of startups, so when you find one that does it in such a complete way, you bookmark it and share it with friends.
However, I think I still need to do a huge work in terms of making the audience come to the site over and over again. Retention of the newsletter, as well, isn’t really high.
What are some of the biggest challenges you've encountered since launching Failory?
Lots of them! Time is probably the main one. I have my full-time job so I find it super difficult to find time to work on the site. There have been some weeks in which I wasn’t able to publish any stuff.
I’m not a techie founder so I’ve encountered lots of challenges when building new features and projects. Not being techie has also prevented me from automating stuff that would help me solve the first challenge, so it is quite a vicious cycle, difficult to leave.
Hopefully, I’ve recently partnered with a dev agency that’s called NerdPilots that I hope that will save both of these challenges. In exchange for promotion on the site & newsletter, NerdPilots has become Failory’s dev team and they are working on the migration of the site from Webflow to Wordpress + automation of things.
This will remove any development workload I would do and will also automate many things for me, allowing me to have more time to work on other projects, like the podcast.
Finally, I’ve faced challenges monetizing the site. I have experimented with different strategies but couldn’t find one to maximize Failory’s potential. There are similar sites with equal amounts of traffic and email subscribers, that are making many thousands per month. I believe that $800/month, although its a really cool figure, is lower than what Failory could be making if it was acquired by someone with a wider vision and bigger focus on money.
If you could go back to the beginning of Failory and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Focus on what’s really important. I think that in some opportunities, I haven’t taken the biggest advantage of my stretched time availability and I’ve been focused on projects that were useless and drove no traffic, no money, no email subscribers.
Where would you like to see Failory in 5 years time?
Like the TechCrunch, or Entrepreneur, or Forbes, for failed startups.
Journalists, a lot of content per day, different media forms, etc.
What's the best thing that's happened since you launched Failory?
That’s a hard question… so many things have happened!
One of the best ones has been to meet Brandon, a guy who joined Failory as an intern and has been working along with me on the different projects for the last 6 months (I think?). He will be hosting the podcast and he has recently become the first “employee” (if you can call it like that) of the team. Why one of the best? Because he has not only helped me on looooots of things and helped me a lot growing the site, but also made me feel more eager every day to work on the project.
Another one has been to meet GenM and experiment with building a Failory team. GenM is a tool that allows you to hire digital marketing students for $49/month. In February, I hired 3 interns and started building a Failory team with other collaborators. We were once a team of 7-8 people, but it was too disastrous. We’re now a team of 5 working on really specific sectors of Failory.
If you are interested in joining Failory, you can check out our Team page here!
Finally, I think two partnerships I’ve recentlycame up with. The first one is with NerdPilots that will be key for Failory’s growth in the next 6 months. With more free time to focus on growth & money, and with a team of techie people working on Failory features and projects, the website will skyrocket. The second one is a big sponsorship I’ve sold to CloudWays, which will boost Failory’s revenue in October, and hopefully other months as well.
If you could interview any entrepreneur, who would it be?
I think it would be Elon Musk (super cliche). I really like all of his ventures and agree on many of the ways he think about education, entrepreneurship and life on its whole.
Finally, can you give us a rundown of a typical day as the Founder of Failory?
Yeah! The day as “founder of Failory” being at 5.00 pm when I arrive home from my full-time job.
I check my Gmail, open 5 or 6 communities I'm part of, check Youtube (I should do it less!), check Analytics & Search Console, quickly look if I’ve got any affiliate sales, and then open Slack to chat with the team.
I use Notion & Todoist to track my tasks. Once a week, I need to spend 2 or 3 hours publishing content and preparing the newsletter. The rest of the time, I’m contacting entrepreneurs, hiring writers for the blog, thinking of marketing strategies and working on the monetization of the site.
As it becomes night, I generally check the email one more time and make sure there aren’t any new messages on Slack.