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Week 6 of 52 to Indie Hacking

Week 6 of 52 to Indie Hacking
By Jim Zarkadas • Issue #6 • View online
In case you missed it here is what happened on my previous weeks.

My first skatepark cleaning session
On Monday I only spent a few hours working in the morning. I had to join later the Utrecht skatepark team to clean and prepare the whole park for the re-opening. What a joy! My local skate hub is going to be open again. I missed it so much during the lockdown period. I missed the vibe and the people there. As I mentioned in the issue of Week 4, I started volunteering there almost 3 months ago. I started helping the team with managing the bar, issuing entrance tickets, and keeping everything in order so that skaters can have fun.
Volunteering is something I don’t have much experience with. I only tried it for a tech conference in the past and that was it. My main motivation to start volunteering to this skatepark was to get more integrated into the local skate community. To make new friends, try new things and have fun.
Once the cleaning session was over I noticed that I was feeling more connected to the park. I spent 4 hours cleaning and taking care of it and for some reason I was feeling closer to it. It was a great feeling. The park now feels more like a place of mine. A familiar place that I have impact on, take care, protect, and grow. That was a great observation. In order to develop an emotional connection with something I need to first put energy into taking care of it.
In the same time I started realizing how much positive energy I get by serving communities that I believe into. It brings more meaning into my life. I believe skateboarding can bring happiness into people’s lives. Skateboarding is beautiful. It push me to get into a flow and stop thinking. Because if I don’t, it will hurt 😅. It teaches me that if I want to achieve something I have to visualize it and make it real first in my mind. Do I want to do this super cool air-trick? Cool. First I have to deconstruct it, break it into small parts, and visualise myself doing it. After that, I need to put a great amount of effort until I succeed.
Skateboarding is a fun and creative way to learn how life works. It’s a lifestyle and a way of thinking, and it’s a blessing for me to be able to contribute to its community and keep it alive.
I found the book I was looking for
I had a todo item for this week to “Buy and read a book that will teach me how to do proper customer development”. After some research on indiehackers.com I found the book I was looking for. It’s called “The Mom Test”. It’s a book full of practical advice on how to interview people and validate business ideas.
The whole book is written around the concept that it’s my job to decide if my idea is good and I should never seek validation from people around me. Instead, I should discuss with them and observe how they work. I should talk more about their lives and not my ideas.
At some point I noticed that I’ve been following the wrong process with most of my ideas. I have been constantly asking people to tell me their problems, and have been seeking for their approval. I started asking myself “Why did I do it this way?”. A few minutes later the answer was clear. “Because I am afraid”. I want to hear from people that they want to buy my idea so that I can start working on it. I am afraid of failure and I am seeking immediately for approval. But entrepreneurship doesn’t work this way. What people say is not always the same as what they do.
I spent a few hours reading the first chapters of the book and everything started making more sense to me. I finally figured out what was wrong. I was just asking the wrong questions and had the wrong mindset. I set a goal for the week to read as many pages as I could. This way I would be able next week to do proper customer development and interview people in the right way.
Searching for micro-products to build
On the previous issue I wrote about the “The Stairstep Approach to Bootstrapping”. The first step in this approach is to build one-time sale products and sell them through a single marketing channel. This will allow me to keep things simple, gain experience and start making some money. Building a subscription-based product that will bring me a steady monthly income is the next step. I should think big but start small. Patience and discipline is the only way to get there.
On Wednesday I started thinking about what kind of products I could build. I couldn’t come up with any ideas for surfers or skaters so I started focusing on audiences that I know better. I saw that Webflow, a platform where people build websites without writting code, has launched a marketplace for developers where they can sell their templates. “That’s it” I thought. I have been building websites for many years now, so it should be easy to make some templates as well. Webflow is a platform I admire for many years now. Their design thinking, and their execution have been great. They understand the importance of building a community and even their CEO replies to messages in their forum.
At some point I emailed their partnerships team and asked for more insights about their marketplace. One day later they got back to me and explained how the whole process works. They told me that once I start selling templates I should expect from $100 to $10.000 in revenue per month, depending on the marketing strategy I will follow.
At some point everything was clear to me. The only question that was left to answer was if I really want to try this out. Selling templates looks easy but it’s pretty complex and will take me at least 2-3 months to get into the marketplace and start having some income. “Do I really want to spend time on that?”. The only way to answer was to write down the pros and cons. “What will I learn and earn if I do it? Is this outcome inspiring enough for me to put time and energy into it?” I wrote them down and realized that selling templates will only provide me some income and nothing more than that. No network of people I am interested into, and no additional skills.
Since my goal for these 12 months is not to just make money, I decided that this is not an idea I want to work on. Money is not my main priority at this moment. Networking and growing my business skills is where I should to focus on.
Mentoring makes me happy
Since I rejected the idea of Webflow templates, the next day I started thinking again about what micro products to build. I also had scheduled two remote design review sessions with fellow indiehackers for that day.
Once I was done with the sessions I started noticing that all indiehackers I have talked with so far, struggle with the same design issues. They do almost the same UX mistakes and they seek for some professional feedback and advice. “That’s interesting” I thought. I realized that I could use these sessions as a way for me to not only grow my network but to also get insights about products I want to build. For example I could write small e-books with UX best-practices for IndieHackers.
Another thing I also noticed is that somedays no matter if I am in the mood of working, I always enjoy the review sessions. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with other indiehackers, listening to their problems and finding creative ways to help them. After each session, people smile to me and I can see the positivity in their eyes. “How beautiful is that” I thought. I give courage to people and help them in my way to come closer to their dreams.
One-on-one education is very unique. I love it. It fuels me with positive energy and makes me happy. “Maybe I should do something with it” I thought. “It could be design coaching for indiehackers or design lessons for kids. Or maybe something else. I have no idea, for now I will just keep digging.”
Journalling is challenging
This is my 6th issue. 6 weeks ago, when I started this journal I believed that as time goes by, documenting my journey will become easier. Turns out that this is not the case.
Since I decided to commit to this journaling project, one day per week I have to only think about what happened the week before. I observe what I achieved, what I learned and what decisions I took. I observe all the small steps that sometimes I forget to celebrate about.
Observing myself is challenging. I see the naked truth of who I really am. My mistakes, my insecurities, my success, and my progress. Alongside with that, I have to write about all these observations and share them with you. Even if it’s challenging, there is something magical about it. It’s always scary but it’s powerful and reminds me constantly that I shouldn’t hesitate to stay authentic and true to myself.
My main fear at this moment is what I am going to write on weeks with no significant process. I am afraid that you will get bored of my emails because there is no excitement or lesson to read about. I know deep inside me that my fear is useless and I am constantly trying to throw it away.
I know that some weeks will be a complete mess, some others will be boring and some others full of success and excitement. The point is to share what’s happening. To show the behind the scenes, so that you, the people who follow my journey, will be able to see and understand how the journey really feels like. I didn’t start this journal to create excitement. I started it to share the truth. And sometimes the truth can be boring, sad or exciting. Like our everyday lives.
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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