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February Month in Review

1,069 page views and $108 US dollars in revenue

2017年03月06日 - 5 minutes read

By Gabriel J. Pérez Irizarry
Posted in Follow The Koipun Story

This month I am publishing the monthly review late, which is a little bit of cheating since I pushed out quite a couple of things on the first few days of March (;一_一) The upside is that I have more good things to report on!


Everything has remained stable traffic wise and the traffic sources have stayed the same. I haven't done any big marketing moves, so I didn't expect traffic to improve. In fact, I am happy it has stayed the same without any extra effort.


Revenue and Expenses

This was a good month for Anki deck sales. I suspect it might have been due to this post on where somebody mentioned our Anki deck. The Anki flash card sales amounted to a total of $108 US dollars. Anki flash card sales remain the only source of revenue, but I do have many expenses for this month.

  • Payment Processing Costs: $4.92
  • Heroku for hosting the website: $7
  • MailChimp for the Koipun Newsletter: $11
  • One year of ButterCMS for hosting the blog: $288
  • Paid a native speaker on Fiverr to manually revise the Genki I deck: $120.75
  • Paid a native speaker on Fiverr to manually revise the Genki II deck: $168
  • Paid on Fiverr for a set of 64 recordings of Japanese phrases, which I used to make an Anki deck for the mailing list subscribers: $10.00
  • Japanese candy for this month's Valentine's giveaway: ~$40 (didn't keep the receipt)
  • Shipping the Japanese candy for this month's giveaway: ~$35 (didn't keep the receipts)

That comes to a grand total of $684.67 in expenses which leaves me $576.67 in the red for this month, ouch! That said, I do not regret any of these expenses. Even the Japanese candy for the giveaway was worth it, even though the Valentine's giveaway was a failed experiment.

Valentine's Giveaway

At this moment I have over 260 newsletter subscribers, but few Twitter followers and Facebook likes. I wanted to convert some of my newsletter subscribers into Twitter followers and Facebook likers, so I came up with a Valentine's day giveaway to encourage people to join Koipun on those other platforms. The following is a screenshot the relevant part of the newsletter where I promoted the giveaway.

 Valentine's Japanese Candy Giveaway for the Koipun mailing list

In the end, only around five people ended up participating, which comes around to about $15 per like/follow when taking into account the cost of the candy and the shipping. I was expecting more participation, so I asked the folks at the SoloFounders Slack group for help in doing a post-mortem. These are some of the theories that where floated around:

  1. The picture is not good
  2. The prize is not enticing enough
  3. It is too much work to enroll to participate
  4. People want an immediate and guaranteed reward

I think that the giveaway failed because of a combination of all of these points, but perhaps the most important point is that people want immediate and guaranteed rewards. If I try another giveaway in the future, I will probably try it with a digital download that I can give away to everybody who participates.

"How I learned Japanese" Interview Series

I am running an interview series featuring Japanese learning gurus who share their insights on learning Japanese. The series is tittled, "How I learned Japanese". For February, I had set the goal of reaching a total of six interviews and launching the series on reddit. I didn't reach the six interviews, but I finished and published three new interviews, which brought me to a total of five. The interviews are getting better and better and I have been tremendously lucky to find so many great participants. 

The goal of the series is to eventually increase traffic to Koipun, but even if it fails on that regard I will be happy I did it. I have learned so much from talking to these folks, they have been a great source of inspiration. 皆様、参加してくれてありがとうございました! (Everybody, thank you for participating)

I still want to eventually promote the blog on, but I have decided to delay doing that until I have released a new version of Koipun Reader. I am worried that folks who remember Koipun, from my original release, will see it again and lose faith on it because it still looks about the same since the initial release. On the meantime, in order to not operate in a total void of feedback, I will keep posting the interviews on the newsletter.

I have posted all of the interviews on the newsletter and although I haven't received any direct feedback on them, people keep clicking on the them at high rations (~40% click rate) so I assume they are enjoying them. I also got a friend who is into learning languages to read it and even though he is not learning Japanese he enjoyed them and read all of them, without me asking, so I take that as a sign that the content is good and interesting.

The new Genki II Anki deck

Finally it has been finished and shipped to everybody who pre-ordered it! Shipping this new deck was one of the three major goals I had for February. I had been taking pre-orders for this deck along the sales of the Genki I deck since July of last year. Some people had emailed me already asking about ETAs for the release and it was long over due. I have to thank my girlfriend for doing the bulk of the work.

She wrote all of the sentences, recorded the audio and searched for all the images. It is a tremendous amount of work. After she was done with that work I turned it into an actual Anki deck and had a native speaker I found on Fiverr revise the deck. For the original deck I had done the revision myself, but it is a tremendously painful and time consuming process, so I decided to outsource that part this time. The deck is available for sale at our Anki decks page.

Koipun Reader Development

My other goal for February was to release a new version of Koipun Reader, which did not happen. The interviews and the other projects, such as the weekly newsletter, have taken way more effort than expected and I found myself quite busy with my day job. That said, I did make some slight improvements. I have everything setup to start migrating from Angular 1 to Vue.js. I also put in quite a few hours worth of development this month in improving the blog and the overall styling of the page.

Goals for March

This month I want my main focus to be development on the Koipun Reader, but I must also continue the newsletter, the interview series and finish the Genki I Anki deck revision.

  1. Release two new interviews for the "How I learned Japanese" Interview Series
  2. This time actually release the blog on
  3. Make a new Koipun Reader release
  4. Released the revised version of the Genki I deck

I want this new Koipun Reader release to run on Vue.js and have the following features:

  • True support for mobile
  • A new goal based on-boarding tour
  • Have a new "article" and an article selection page
  • Develop some back-end assistance for the creation of articles, which will put me en route to having a way to import arbitrary text

These are ambitious goals, so I may cut down on some of these features, but I will try as hard as I can to focus on development and get a new version out of the door.

This month I was hoping to report on time spent on Koipun via time tracking, but I have been quite bad at doing time tracking so I do not have any useful data to show. Time tracking is not a priority at the moment, but I will still try to improve in that area so that I can eventually start reporting how much time I am spending on Koipun.

As always, thank you for your support — if you've got any ideas, feedback, or questions, please email me!