How to make $800/mo with three lines of code

Even if you’re not a frontend developer, you can probably guess what the following line of code does, right?:

.feature {
    background-color: #ffc;
}

It changes the background color of a given element to #ffc: in this case, a dim yellow equivalent to the following:

If you were to ask any developer how much resources it would require to implement the above code, you’d be hard-pressed to find an honest answer that places it as less than an hour – hell, you’d be hard-pressed to find a front-end developer for whom it’d take more than three minutes.

But what’s the value of three lines of code?

For 37Signal’s We Work Remotely, it’s $800 a month – and growing. They offer the ability to ‘highlight’ your post for an additional $50 (off of a base cost of $200): and, as you might expect, that $50 buys you the above three lines of code:

Which, from a visual standpoint, works quite well:

As of the time of this post, sixteen job postings are ‘highlighted’ (seven of which not even appearing on the main page). (I’d imagine the number of monthly highlighted jobs is even larger, given that filled positions are quickly removed.)

There are a lot of lessons one can learn from this anecdote: the art of the graceful upsell, the underlying value of 37Signal’s brand/traffic that lets them charge $200/month for a glorified <li> element. But the most important lesson – and the most easily digestable – never confuse technical difficulty for demonstrated value.

Subscribe to my newsletter to be notified when I post something new (every few weeks):

Justin Duke is a writer and developer in Seattle.
He likes good, practical things.
(And writing in the third person, I guess.)


@justinmduke
me@jmduke.com