September 20, 2021

Creating for Learning (and Profit)

In the past two years, I have tried to create projects, validate product ideas, setup landing pages, develop my following, without success.

Two years of learning

Reflecting on this, I see now that it was not because I was using the wrong methods. It was a lack of focus. Not because I was not interested in what I was doing, but I always ended up doubting that the end product would be useful, and that anyone would ever buy it. I was never sure that I wanted to be, or could be, the “this” or “that” guy, and I always ended up jumping ship before getting any once of result.

I was pursuing money (and freedom), and it ended up as in every tale you can read about doing entrepreneurship this way: nowhere.

Thankfully, I did not go all in on this. I still have a day job which is great, where I can grow and that allows me to feed my family. This makes it easier to say that those years were great for learning, even if there is nothing to show for yet.

I don’t think I went deep enough in any topic, nor I have created something useful yet, but I have learned a lot. And with this learning, I will go forward in a slightly different direction.

Creating in public

I will still try to create a product in order to create a business, but I will ensure that my focus is not on selling (yet), but on learning. So while I will create the product, I will also write everything I learn in blog posts.

This will be mostly technical writing, about Rust and Elm, the two technologies I want to work with, and about how to code some functionalities, like authentication on which I broke my teeth so many times, or some libraries, and what I found easy or difficult about using them.

I want to make sure that I truly understand how it works, so that I can do it again faster and better the next time around, since the first product I will be creating probably won’t work. And since all this writing will be public, I also hope that I can bring value to some other people and gain some visibility this way. There may also be some other topics, like design, marketing, or sales, but I don’t think that will be the focus of the blog.

To make sure that I learn as much as possible, the product I will be developing will be open-source. While I will end up offering a paid, hosted version, this will allow people to try it out and reveal some applications I could not have thought about alone. It will also bring scrutiny to the code, giving me a harsh but useful feedback to get better with every line I write.

Better forms for engineers

I will start developing a better software for form creation. What I envision is to have forms for engineers that do not suck, are very quick to edit, and can output either raw data, templated output (for commands to run with a single copy-paste), or automate actions (like creating tickets or giving some accesses automatically). I also see a way to have forms as code for better collaboration and version control.

I still have a lot to learn about taking a project from start to release, and going the learning route like this can only be beneficial. I think it is an approach that suits my way of working, who I am, the life I live right now, and what I want to do. In the end, maybe not being able to sit on a single topic will end up being a strenght I can exploit.

Copyright Marin Gilles 2019-2021