Issue#21: Building $1K-$10K MRR Micro SaaS products around Headless Browsers & Headless CMS

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No fluffy content. If your goal is to build a $100m ARR business, this is not the right post. Here I am are NOT going to talk about building the next Facebook or Twitter. If your goal is to make a $1K to $10K MRR, continue reading.

This post will cover one SAAS area and talk about multiple niches in this space. This post also explains more on how to do tech implementation, do market analysis, how the current players are doing, and also ends with a cost analysis to understand the overall cost for 100 users.

Just to give the context of “Headless” - Headless is a way of using something (software) without having a GUI (Graphical user interface). If you haven’t heard of ‘Headless’, this could sound silly but there are millions of dollars business around Headless.

There are primarily two concepts that run around ‘Headless’.

  1. Headless browsers - A browser without a UI/screens

  2. Headless CMS - A CMS (Content Management solution) without a UI/screens/front-end

We will dive deep more in the next sections. But let’s see some players in this niche.

Browserless: Web browser automation built for everyone. Fast, scalable, and reliable web browser automation. Making $40K/month.

PhantomJSCloud:PhantomJsCloud is a crash proof and problem free cloud of Headless Browser instances. Simple to use, no-install required.

Contentful:A modern headless content platform. The easiest, fastest way to manage content. Integrate your tools. Publish across channels. Estimated revenue $57.7M/year.

ButterCMS: Headless CMS with fast content API for modern apps. Estimated revenue 1M/year.

GraphCMS: Rapidly deliver digital content at scale. Move away from legacy solutions to the GraphQL native Headless CMS. Estimated revenue $3.5M/year.

ScrapingBee:Render your web page as if it were a real browser. ScrapingBee manages thousands of headless instances using the latest Chrome version. Currently making $200K/year.

Prismic: Make your website editable for the whole team Choose your technology. Use the API to fetch content. Empower your content team. Estimated revenue $4.9M/year.

Strapi: Strapi is the leading open-source headless CMS. It’s 100% Javascript, fully customizable and developer-first. Estimated revenue $2.2M/year.

CloudCMS:CMS for the Enterprise for high velocity changes and collaborative environment. Estimated revenue $500K/year.

StoryBlok:39,000+ developers & marketers use Storyblok’s CMS to deliver powerful content experiences on any platform: Corporate websites, ecommerce sites, mobile apps, and screen displays. Estimated revenue $1.6M/year.


Negative Nancy says - “Headless browsers - browsers without a GUI(Graphical User Interface) serves no purpose as there is no way to browse”

Me - GUI consumes more resources. Non-GUI solutions are cheaper and can scale. Browserless making $40K/month by using headless browser.

Negative Nancy says - “Headless CMS solutions - With out a GUI, a CMS solution makes no sense.”

Me - The world is moving more towards loosely decoupled systems. Having more control on what UI can be used gives more power. This way you can bring any front-end to your data. Note that ‘Headless CMS’ is getting extremely popular with with 34000 searches per month in Google.


Deep-dive & Some niches

A headless browser is a great tool for automated testing and server environments where you don't need a visible UI shell. For example, you may want to run some tests against a real web page, create a PDF of it, or just inspect how the browser renders a URL.

Headless Chrome is a way to run the Chrome browser in a headless environment without the full browser UI. One of the benefits of using Headless Chrome (as opposed to testing directly in Node) is that your JavaScript tests will be executed in the same environment as users of your site. Headless Chrome gives you a real browser context without the memory overhead of running a full version of Chrome.

  • Headless CMS: The term ‘headless cms’ is extremely popular. To get a better idea of a headless CMS solution, get onto Contentful or Strapi, or GraphCMS. The concept is simple - Headless CMS lets users store data into the CMS and provides APIs to access this data at scale. Users can use these APIs to fetch data from CMS. This is required for people who want to build content-based solutions like blogs, displaying data on web pages.

    A headless CMS is a back-end-only content management system (CMS) built from the ground up as a content repository that makes content accessible via a RESTful API for display on any device. The term “headless” comes from the concept of chopping the “head” (the front end, i.e. the website) off the “body” (the back end, i.e. the content repository). A headless CMS remains with an interface to add content and a RESTful API (JSON, XML) to deliver content wherever you need it. Due to this approach, a headless CMS does not care about how and where your content gets displayed. A headless CMS has only one focus: storing and delivering structured content.

    Just to give you a rough estimate of how popular the related keywords are, the keyword ‘headless cms’ has 33K search queries per month.

    Build a Micro-SaaS solution that lets users store data into the CMS and provide APIs to fetch this data at scale. Start with just support for text data and images. As you progress, add more functionality where users can create quick data models and establish relations between data. Before you try building something like this, make sure to logon to products like ContentfulStrapi or GraphCMS

  • Web browser automation: One of the main reasons for the creation of ‘headless browser’ is to test website functionality much faster. For example, if you want to build an automated script by opening a URL, filling in some data, selecting some drop-downs, and then take a screenshot of the website, it takes a lot of time. When you want to do this at scale it becomes tougher. In a traditional world without headless browsers, your automation script has to open the webpage and do all these in a GUI mode. But if we have to automate the same process to do at scale for 1000 screens, it costs a lot of resources as it's not possible to open 1000 browsers to do this. For cases like this, you would need to use ‘Headless Browser’ that can do the same process with fewer resources and in less time. You can build this on top of a solution like Puppeteer. More at here.

  • Website Screenshot App: Create a simple Micro-SaaS solution that lets users enter URLs and get a screenshot of the URL. Make sure you provide various options whether to take a full-page screenshot or only the visible area etc. Extend the tool by proving an option for API access. Using the APIs, users would just call the API by passing the website link and your tool should just capture the screenshot and send the screenshot in response. As you make progress, provide more options to the API to let users pass other parameters like Full page screenshots or not, etc.

    ScreenshotAPI making $1K MRR by providing an API to capture screenshots of websites.

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