The (not so) daily

6 projects in 6 months (and why I'm not proud)

I’ve recently realized that I’ve built 6 projects in 6 months.

This was not an objective and I don’t feel very proud about it. Let me tell you why.

I’ve been obsessed about building new products and trying to generate a passive income while traveling the world (more on that on a later post). So I set out to build projects that would somehow allow me to do that. I’ve successfuly built and released them. So what went wrong?

There were 3 main problems: expectation management, validation and community.

1. Expectations

“Build it and they will come”: we’ve all heard that it’s false but we keep doing it. As a developer, it’s easy to get excited about an idea, start developing it and expect that everything will work out. People will sign up, they’ll tell you what’s wrong, you’ll iterate, fix it and in time people will love it.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

There’s so much more involved that sometimes it feels that building the actual product is the least important thing: generating awareness, validating the idea, building or engaging a community around the topic you’re solving, economically viability, etc.

Even if you set out to build a project where all these conditions are not present (which may happen), the important thing is to know what to expect.

SciShare can be an awesome project for me and a couple of friends but that was certainly not the case for everyone else. I was expecting a lot of growth and engagement without properly investigating and testing besides people telling me: “Oh! It’s awesome.”, “Great idea, can’t wait to use it”. Don’t let your expectations feel defrauded just because it didn’t work out as you wanted, that was just me being spoiled.

2. Validation

You’re probably thinking: “I hear that everywhere, I know I have to do it, of course”.

Until you don’t. Or you think you did it but you did it wrong.

I don’t have a secret formula on how to do it (there are a ton of posts about it on Indie Hackers, Justin Jackson blog or Smart Passive Income) but I’d like to reinforce that validating is much more than understanding if it will sell. If you don’t pick the right audience, the right selling model, the right value and many other variables, your interest in growing your project will decline and so will your sales.

Make sure everything is aligned, continuously step back and analyse your product from every possible perspective.

3. Community

I left this point for last because I think that it’s the one that has the greater impact and exactly what I’m trying to do with this post. My background is in medicine. Most of my closest friends are in the medical care area. Yet, I’ve been building tech products with a wide range of audiences (developers, scientists, digital nomads, etc). It simply doesn’t work.

I want to get closer to these communities but I’m neither an extrovert nor do I know how to engage with them. That’s why I’ve been forcing myself to write a travel log on twitter and to write posts like this one to be more open while continuing to build these projects.

These 6 projects were neither successful nor a failure. I simply didn’t have a clear goal while building them and that makes me not feel extremely proud about them. Partnering with other people is helping me take a step back and define the processes a lot better so I’m revisiting some of them and re-thinking their approach.

Thanks for reading and if you think this quick recap of the projects was helpful reach out on twitter @alvesjtiago and share your experiences.

Tiago Alves