The Art of Slow Growth: How I Calmly Grew My Chrome Extension to 100K Users In 5 Years

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The Art of Slow Growth: How I Calmly Grew My Chrome Extension to 100K Users In 5 Years

Mind-changing lessons learned on my journey to build a stress-free side project.

We all want to change the world, ideally earn a lot of money in the process, and preferably do it as quickly as possible.

We tend to set the bar high for ourselves. Sadly, this often results in letdowns. This is where many of us throw in the towel. But, it’s crucial to realize that overnight success is rare.

In this piece, I want to share a few tips that kept me going and helped my Chrome Extension reach 100K users in 5 years 🐢

Don’t Rush

Most solopreneurs start their side hustle next to their full-time job. That’s why most of us have time. Still, many of us are rushing!

The day you stop racing is the day you win the race. — Bob Marley

Nowadays, so many "overnight" success stories bombard us. We believe that if our side project doesn’t go through the roof in the next few months, we fail.

However, it’s a fact that true success rarely happens overnight.

I am building Web Highlights now for over 5 years, and it took me over a year to gain my first 10 users.

TEN users!

Weekly users over time — Web Highlights Chrome Extension

Weekly users over time — Web Highlights Chrome Extension

And honestly, all of those 10 users were friends and family!

A few months later, the first unknown user signed up — I couldn’t be happier. It took me another whole year to make my first $9.99.

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.
― Bill Gates

If your financial situation doesn’t rely on your product, don’t rush; take your time.

Build habits around your side hustle. Improve your product every day and ensure to create an outstanding product your customers love.

Growth will follow, it just takes time.

Instead of trying to be a Lion in business, I strive to be a Tortoise. — Cameron Scott

To sum this up, Paul Graham would say: “Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like.”

Don’t Measure Yourself Against An Ideal

It’s deep in our genes that we always want more. We rush from milestone to milestone, but forget about what we already achieved.

Web Highlights is bringing in about $1,000 every month. That’s awesome and beyond what I had hoped for. I’m really proud of hitting this milestone.

But then I’ll glance at other Chrome Extensions with a similar user base and notice they’re making millions in revenue, with an entire team behind them. This realization brings me down and plunges me into a mental state that Dun Sullivan calls "The GAP":

There are two ways in which you can measure yourself: against an ideal, which puts you in what I call ‘the GAP,’ and against your starting point, which puts you in ‘the GAIN,’ appreciating all that you’ve accomplished.

Whenever we are in “the GAP,” we are looking at all the things we could have achieved. This can lead to stress, demotivation, and feelings of sadness. Instead, we should transform our mental state into the “GAIN” and look at all the things we have achieved.

So, instead of looking at others, we should look at ourselves.

The GAIN creates freedom. The GAP makes you a slave to your unhealthy need. — Dan Sullivan

This concept has helped me a lot. Whenever I start to compare myself to other businesses, I remind myself to turn my mental state to “the GAIN” and look at all the things I have achieved instead:

  • My app is making digital research easier for over 100,000 users worldwide.

  • I consistently receive heartwarming emails from users expressing their gratitude for how much the app helps them.

  • My Chrome Extension has an average rating of 4.8 stars with over 1,600 ratings, outshining most extensions in the store.

Yes, true, it’s not making me a living yet. Still, it’s making me a decent amount of passive income every month.

Reflecting on my past goals is helpful for me. Every time I do that, I realize that I have already achieved much more than I ever expected.

So, here is my tip: Next time you feel stressed because you compare yourself to others, don’t focus on what you could do next. Instead, take a moment to appreciate what you’ve already accomplished.

Build A Great Product First

Marketing is important — but it’s not everything. Nowadays, you often hear statements like these:

Even the greatest ideas need a megaphone. Without marketing, they’re just whispers in the wind. — Jeffrey Eisenberg in The Rice and Beans Millionaire

or this one:

Great products don’t sell themselves; marketing is the storyteller that brings them to life. — Seth Godin in This Is Marketing

Many solopreneurs hear that and focus everything on marketing while forgetting to build a great product first.

I have realized that for myself a few months ago. I was focusing on Marketing and SEO and gained millions of impressions on Google for

Still, I always knew that my product is not yet perfect. Recently, I saw this tweet about two paths we can take: either make a better product or create a mediocre one with more marketing.

While both strategies are viable, I feel like doing marketing for a “shitty” product shouldn’t be something you should aim for.

I am a true believer that, if you build an awesome product, it will be recognized sooner or later.

Improve your product, create something incredible, and let time do its thing.

Thanks for reading!

Want to learn more about how I scaled my Chrome Extension to almost 100,000 users as a solopreneur? Subscribe to my stories or follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you read a lot online, make sure to check out my Chrome Extension loved by 100k+ active user — it’s free and no account is needed.

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