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Week 2 of 52 to Indie Hacking

In case you missed it, here is what happened on my first week.
Week 2 of 52 to Indie Hacking
By Jim Zarkadas • Issue #2 • View online
In case you missed it, here is what happened on my first week.

The first e-mail
It was Monday. It was the time to write my first e-mail. I looked at my subscribers list and saw “32 subscribers in total”. 32 people waiting to read what happened during my first week. I was feeling uncomfortable. It was the first time I was writing some kind of newsletter. I started the day by doing random tasks pretending I am busy and procrastinating. Some hours passed and one of my favourite topics popped into my head. The power of vulnerability.
“In order for connection to happen we have to allow ourselves to be really seen. To have the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to be kind to ourselves first, and fully embrace our vulnerability to create connections. What makes us vulnerable, makes us beautiful. Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear, but it is also the birthplace of joy, happiness, creativity, belonging and love.”
“Remember?”, I said to myself. “That’s why you started this email. To allow yourself to be seen. To show the behind the scenes and share the idea that helping and connecting with each other is not about showing how perfect and successful we are.”
This thought gave me all the courage I needed. That’s my purpose. It doesn’t matter if people are going to like it or not. This is who I am and that’s all I can do. My goal is not to look awesome, but original.
I turned on my Mac, I put on my AirPods on and started writing. The more I write the better it feels. Once again, it’s a matter of practice. Everything is hard until you practice enough. Some hours later I was done. It was challenging. I read the email again and again. I was sure there were grammar mistakes in there. I knew my copywriting skills could be improved. I was close to fall into the trap of perfectionism. But I resisted. After a few revisions I decided to hit the “Send” button and let it go. This was all I could do at that point. I closed my Mac and the day was over. I was not going to work on any other tasks. I reserved the full day for this email. I made sure I had enough time to appreciate and experience the process of creating it.
Spreading the word
Trending topics on IH
Trending topics on IH
One day later I started feeling the need to share my excitement. I was proud of my first email and I wanted to spread the word. Three years ago I had joined a community called www.indiehackers.com. It’s a community of people who build products and pursue financial and creative freedom. Back then when I signed up I had no product or goal. Only a vision. A vision that someday I will be an active member of this community and I will have something valuable to share with them. So without overthinking it I decided to share my story and let fellow indie-hackers know about my initiative. I had many doubts before posting it. I was afraid that my story won’t matter for anybody in there. That people in this community are more experienced and have no need for reading what I am learning and trying every week. I was afraid that I will look like a noob. It turned out that I was wrong. In the next 24 hours I became one of the most trending topics of the day with 52 upvotes and 35 comments in total. I also got 59 new subscribers. Now 93 people are following my journey. My story matters and 93 people are willing to read it and learn from it.
Same happens for all of us. We are all born unique. All of us have a unique story, unique struggles and unique achievements. There are people out there with the same fears, looking for somebody to connect with and get inspiration from.
Seeing the whole day comments being posted I was feeling really excited and not in the mood of focusing on project-related tasks. So I started replying and jumped into conversations, focusing only on connecting with the indie-hackers community.
Start by giving
Screenshot of my daily to-do list
Screenshot of my daily to-do list
At some point I started thinking how I can become an active member of this community. How I can be more engaged, and support them. I spent some time reading posts on indiehackers.com and realized that there were many people asking for design feedback. “That’s it” I thought.
“I should spend 1 hour every day and give design feedback and advice to fellow indie-hackers. Product design is my strongest skill and this is the best way for me to support them.” I will make this, part of my everyday routine. I will slowly build a habit to support others with my skills. It’s the first time in the last 28 years that I will actively contribute into a community. It’s something I always admired but for some reason I never focused on. I was always telling myself that “I don’t have time for that”. So here I am. 7 years of product design and development experience will be used to help other people achieve their dreams. It felt satisfying.
I spent the whole day looking into websites and apps that others have built. I wrote as much feedback as I could and in the end of the day I added a new todo item for each day of the following weeks. “Contribute to indiehackers.com for 1 hour”. This year I will teach myself the value of giving.
Be original
Photo of me skating a bowl
Photo of me skating a bowl
“You were born original, don’t die a copy”. What a quote. The week was almost over and I knew that the next week I was going to focus on kickstarting my first product idea for surfers. I was looking for some inspiration and decided to re-watch a presentation of Pieter Levels on Bootstrapping Side Projects To Profit”. Pieter is one of the most popular and successful indie-hackers. His story was a big motivation for me to believe into the idea of indie-hacking. He is a living example that my dream can come true.
Two years ago when I first watched his presentation there was a point that really hit me. The point where he talked about being original. It was that moment when I realized that my lifestyle didn’t include any creative hobbies that could help me express myself. My life was mostly about work. From that time and after I started spending more time on things I love outside of work. I pushed my self to get into skateboarding, surfing and music.
Originality comes down to knowing who I am. It comes down to knowing and accepting what I truly love. I’ve made my life more interesting and fun. I now dream more, and have more creative ways to spend my time. In the same time I have developed a lifestyle that fosters new ideas and creative thinking. Same goes for business. By focusing on who I truly am, I slowly realize what’s the type of work I want to do. There are thousands of ways that I can build a business. I can work full time or part time, during the day or during the night, remotely or have an office, and so on. In the end it comes down to knowing what I want and experimenting until I figure it out.
Less is more
Screenshot of my calendar
Screenshot of my calendar
Three months before I quit my job from TicketSwap I switched to working only 4 days per week. I was feeling that I needed more time and energy for myself. However, I was afraid that if I switch to 4 working-days my productivity will suffer. I was afraid that there won’t be enough time and that I won’t have time to push for my ideas and complete all of my tasks. But I decided to give it a try and see what happens.
Three months later it turned out to be a good change for me. Working 4 days per week forced me think more as an essentialist. I got rid of “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out), and learned to focus on what really matters. Having less time, makes me think more pragmatic and pushes me to take decisions without overthinking. Even science has proven that humans tend to use all the available time to complete a task. We always “need” more time.
So I started thinking that maybe I should keep doing the 4 days per week even now that I quit and became self-employed. The reality is that in the startup world of hustling it sounds crazy to say that you won’t put all of your effort into your business. This made me feel uncomfortable but I’ve seen that having free time can help me de-stress and allows me to understand what are my real priorities in life. Finally, I decided to repeat this experiment and work for 4 days per week for the next 2 months. From now on my Thursdays will be reserved for learning music and surfing. I will have no todo items, and will focus on hanging out with communities I love. The communities that I want to support with my work.
Be in the moment
The week is almost over. Last Friday it was my girlfriend’s birthday. I took that day off. I was stressed again that I need to work and put more time into it, but didn’t do it. This year I am setting my priorities right. The people I love are the ones that bring happiness to my life, and spending quality time with them is one of my highest priorities. They won’t be here forever. And this is something I tend to forget. So I put all my thoughts aside and focused on celebrating together the fact that she came into this world.
I focused on the moment. Because in the end, all we need is love.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Jim Zarkadas

On the 1st of June 2020, I quit my job and started pursuing a career as a digital solo entrepreneur (aka indie-hacker).

For the next 12 months , every week I'll be sharing all of my learnings as well as the behind the scenes of coming up with an idea and making it happen. I've no clue what kind of products I am going to build, and figuring this out is also part of my journey.

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