How product decisions can heavily effect growth

Pintura made key changes to their pricing and offering that helped them get to $30k MRR

Publish Date
Dec 1, 2022
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What is Pintura and what does it do?

Pintura is a powerful JavaScript image editor that integrates with every tech stack. The fully configurable image editor SDK is intuitive on both mobile and desktop. You can set image requirements and help your customers upload better pictures by altering them.
Some functionality:
  • cropping
  • rotating
  • resizing
  • filtering
  • annotating
  • adjusting colors
  • much more!
The key benefit is that software engineers can add to their current file upload solution without having to build or manually edit photos themselves. It saves them both time and effort.

👨‍👨‍👦‍👦 Target Audiences

Pintura is aimed at developers and product owners who need image editing capabilities on the website.

📈 How has it gone so far for ?

Pintura is at about $30k MRR. The tool started 4 years ago but evolved quickly.
Rik also launched edit.photo last year, a complimentary browser photo editing software, which is now at 130k visitors a month.

📝 How did Pintura get to $30k MRR?

Making product decisions to accelerate growth

In 2016, Rik released a small image cropping and file uploading tool. It was perfect for profile pictures. There was quite a nice market for it and and people seemed interested. So, he tried to launch a new product where you upload multiple photos with all these free editing modules. The plan was to charge for the core file upload, and make money that way. What Rik found out is that developers weren’t interested in paying for the file management library. Rik wanted to offer a really nice UX, but that wasn’t what software engineers were willing to paid for.
Pintura’s first users were looking for a file management solution. If you build a basic webpage, for example, you can do file uploading. But to manage multiple files, reorder and limit file sizes, etc. – these aren’t included in basic file input. You’ll need a management library and there are lots out there. He was able to be discovered because he had an app that was nicely animated and native. It was the discerning factor in what he first built, and brought in a lot of his initial developer customers.
Rik made the file management library free, and switched the image editing solution to be paid. This allowed him to attract developers to the free part. Once they needed image editing, it would be easy to integrate into the product. Lots of devs don’t need image editing, they just need to upload the files. But once they do need editing, it’s just a 5min thing to upgrade. A no-brainer!
Rik’s first lessons?
  1. If you’re in a competitive market, differentiate yourself by solving a “niche” problem a specific group would use your tool for.
  1. A freemium model can have better long-tail growth than a free trial model. Just make sure your paid offering is a logical extension of the free plan.
    1. Note: This depends on the nature of a tool. You have to asses how likely it is they will need the paid version at some point.

What about marketing efforts?

Honestly, Rik doesn’t do a lot of marketing. But he is starting to experiment more.
He doesn’t do any ads or paid advertising, though he does do some content, along with what would be known as “engineering as marketing” or “side products as marketing” (more on that tactic here). This involves buying some domains where he offers free variations of the tool for image and video editing, like edit.photo. There is usually a tiny link on their that says “powered by Pintura”. This catches some developers or designers who will pay for the full version eventually, but aren’t yet ready
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Pintura
By now, Pintura gets a lot of SEO traffic from people searching “javascript image editor” or something similar. This is another benefit of using side products for growth. When Rik built Filepond, a JavaScript library that lets you upload anything you want, SEO happened organically because people found it useful. The traffic kept coming. He doesn’t have any tricks up his sleeve, just create something genuinely useful.
Rik also finds new developer problems to write about and publishes them on his blog. This helps devs find Pintura. In a sense, it’s the same approach he first used by building a solution for a group of people experiencing a very specific problem. This makes the solution easier to find. The same approach applies to content and SEO as well. Create pieces of content that are so niched in their solution, someone searching for it is almost certain to be interested in your product.

Turning word of mouth into an affiliate program

If your product is getting good word of mouth traction, it’s a pretty good sign that it’s ripe for an affiliate plan. Lots of developers recommend products to each other organically as a solution. So a few years ago, Rik started reaching out to those who had written about similar solutions to do affiliate marketing. This worked really well!
How did he do it?
Other engineers built image cropping solutions that were sort of dead in the water and not being used. Their Github pages, however, still got a lot of traffic. Rik asked them to put a link to Pintura, and then they get a cut through a subscription. He found it scary to email other devs and ask to redirect traffic, especially having already built something in the area. Turns out, this wasn’t an issue.
He now searches for competing free products, reaches out to the developers and asks if they want to join the affiliate program. The nice thing is that if you search for “image editor javascript” you’ll see lots of options but nearly every page mentions or links to Pintura. This is the power of an affiliate program!

🏗 How to replicate this on your own

If Rik were to start something new today, he would look at the market first. Many product Rik built did not get any traction at all. This category of photo editing tools got traction because he looked at the market to see what was working and what he could do better. First he made a bad version of the tool which still attracted a lot of customers. This acted as validation, so he made a full better version under the logic that it would have even more market interest. He was correct!
Step #1 is scouting the market to see what works.
Step #2 is to niche it or build it in a different way.
  • Rik is a developer himself, so it made since to start in this market. He used his strengths to build something he knew for a fact was an issue for himself and those around him.
Again, this isn’t true for just products, the same holds for growth channels as well.

💡 Advice for someone trying to build something similar?

Rik does mention that he advises not to build something like this for developers. When you’re working with Engineers, it’s a technical challenge. There is lots of support, tricky questions, etc. He suspects it’s easier to build an actual SaaS solution they need vs. an integration they will put into their actual products (although he admits he has not tried this route). But for him, dev products are more fun.

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