One year of solopreneurship

Build In Public

A little bit more than a year ago, I quit my job due to burnout. I, then, embarked on a voyage in Central America with a simple goal in mind:

  1. Focus on my mental health
  2. Focus on my physical health
  3. Build an online business

Little I knew that starting an online business is not as easy as it seems.

A quick recap

I did a 6-month overview here, so you can go read it as well, but here is a quick recap. I built 6 different products while nomading for 6 months in Central America. By the end of 2023, I moved permanently to The Netherlands and got a full time job. Few weeks ago, I started to get domain expiration emails from Namecheap. The same domains that I bought about a year ago for my first projects.

Out of the 6 products that I’ve built, 3 died. The two books are still selling, however the sale volume went down significantly. I attribute it to the tech recession. Remote or Not is kinda cool, I’ll admit it, but I don’t really know what to do with it. And I’m still exploring growth opportunities for JustFax Online.

The struggle is real

I went a long way. From a software engineer with “build it, and they will come” mentality, all the way to “I don’t care about tech that much anymore, how do I make money?” I started my journey with “let’s build a cheaper alternative to LaunchDarkly.” And so I did. But nothing happened.

”Oh. There is this thing called marketing”—I thought to myself. And so I started to delve deeper into SEO, marketing, and audience building (drop a follow by the way: Twitter/Mastodon). I’ll talk more about the pros and cons of indie-hacking, and #buildinpublic communities in a different post, but I have witnessed a lot.

I have witnessed how dreams shatter. How people disappear. I would follow someone on Twitter, see all the progress they’d make, and then, one day, poof—they are gone. Some, simply stop posting. Who knows, maybe they went silent. Others, just shifted their focus to a new job, and are no longer interested in indie-hacking. And I started to hate this term, indie-hacker. But that’s a topic for a different post.

And so yeah, the struggle is real. I often see newcomers on various online communities that post something along the lines of “It’s not a serious project, I just want to make $1-2k/mo from it”. My friend! $1-2k/mo is a lot of money. And it’s damn hard to get there. Sure, luck plays a major role, although many will disagree with me.

Should you start? I don’t know. I’m not your dad. You can, but chances are you will quit. I’ve been doing it on-and-off for 14 years, and I’m far from being Ramen profitable.

I’m not gonna lie, but it was way easier during the first 6 months. Sure, I was burning cash reserves, but I was working all day, (almost) every day. I wrote 2 books, launched 5 products. Success comes from trying and failing (and a bunch of luck), so the more you build, the closer you get to success.

I would definitely not recommend you quitting your job if you don’t have a good amount of savings to sustain your unemployment. Some people do it, and I think the chances for success are higher, simply because psychologically you don’t have a choice. With a full-time job, your brain is kind-of “well, maybe it’s Ok if you quit, you still have your job that makes money”. Shut up, brain!

But it’s possible to do it as a full-time employee, and even have a life. I’ve built a routine where I train 5 times a week, spend time with my wife, work a full-time job, and able to work on multiple side-projects. Sure, I’ve sacrificed a lot. My social life is practically non-existent, partly because I’ve migrated to a new country, far away from my family and friends. I don’t play video games, or watch TV-series.

Many people online ask how is it possible to juggle all of these things. Well, it’s not possible if you are not willing to make sacrifices. But everyone wants everything. This is why many quit. They realize that making $1k/mo is not as easy as they make it sound, and they are not willing to sacrifice things, or make changes to their lifestyles. I don’t blame them, to each their own. Being an entrepreneur is not the holy grail for everyone.

But it is for me. Although deep inside I have a feeling that once I’ll achieve my goals, there will just be something else to strive for. And then, the once unattainable goal of becoming an entrepreneur, will just become a routine.

Until then, see you on this blog.

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