Build something for less than the price of a Netflix subscription

Building software in 2020 is really, really cheap. You can put together a full blown product, and start charging money for as little as $15 dollars a month, and in as little time as a few weeks to a few months. If price is the one thing holding you back from committing to building something, then you should stop worrying and get started now.

I’ve been building Imprint, a blogging platform that combines the audience and simplicity of Medium with the control of Wordpress.

My total monthly cost? $15 per month. That’s pretty good considering the fact that Imprint is a relatively content heavy application. Here’s a breakdown of all the services I’m using to build Imprint, along with their costs.

Frontend hosting: I’m running a Next.js app on a Heroku hobby dyno. $7/mo

Backend hosting: I’m hosting my API and reverse proxy on a DigitalOcean droplet running Dokku. $5/mo

Domain: I’m paying for a .to, which is a bit pricier at $40/yr, or $3.33/mo. If you get a more standard .com, .net, or .co, it’d boil down to $1/mo.

Transactional email: Mailgun for sending and receiving emails from the domain. Free for first 5,000 emails

File storage: AWS S3 stores all images, videos, assets. Free for first 5GB.

CDN and image transformations: AWS Cloudfront provides the CDN for all my S3 images. Also provides on the fly image transformations. Free for 50GB of data transfers

Database: MongoDB Atlas has been super reliable, and I’ve had no problems hosting my MongoDB/NoSQL database here. Free up to 2GB storage

Error Logging/Monitoring: Sentry. Free for 5k errors

Search infrastructure: Algolia saves so much time in both building a UI for a search bar and for the underlying search functionality. Free for up to 50k operations and 10k records per month

Analytics: Google Analytics is informative, and totally free.

And this should all scale up, at a similar price, for AT LEAST the first 5,000 active users.

BONUS: A couple ways to get platform credits and save a hefty amount of money.

AWS Activate. Could net you a couple thousand in AWS credits to get started.

DigitalOcean Hatch. Apply to their program and get started with a ton of DigitalOcean credits.

YC Startup School. They’ve partnered with dozens of companies to provide amazing deals to all program participants. The program is free, and the curriculum is great.\nGithub Education. If you’re a student, the Github Education Pack has countless deals for almost all of the services I’ve mentioned above. Take advantage of this if you can!