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Weeks 11-17 of 52 to Indie Hacking

Hello there! Long time no see. 🙃 As I mentioned on my last issue, this summer I took 6 weeks off for
Weeks 11-17 of 52 to Indie Hacking
By Jim Zarkadas • Issue #11 • View online
Hello there! Long time no see. 🙃 As I mentioned on my last issue, this summer I took 6 weeks off for holidays to calm down, have fun and think about the future. It was great and I am now back fully refreshed and full of positive energy to kickstart the winter season. 🙏

Slow down and smile
Photo by Asaf R on Unsplash
Photo by Asaf R on Unsplash
Just because you are happy it doesn’t mean that the day is perfect, but that you have looked beyond its imperfections.
- Bob Marley
I feel I am happy. I feel I enjoy my life. I feel blessed and I have the life I always dreamed of. I feel I am in balance with the universe and myself.
My holidays in Greece this year were great. I spent time with my family, I went on two surfing trips and took some time to think. Of course there were moments I was frustrated or not feeling well but I did my best to not let them have a big influence on me. Life is a game of focus. You can focus either on the positive or the negative side of things. Such a cliche, right? What nobody tells is that focus is a muscle. A muscle that takes years of effort to strengthen. Truth is that you can never fully focus on the positive side of things. What you can do is to just focus most of the times on the positive and build an environment that protects you from the negative ones. That’s what I am trying to do as well.
On my holidays I had two options. To focus on the fact that I don’t have an income yet, and get panicked because I am using my savings to chill at the beach, or to enjoy the unique opportunity I had to take so many weeks off. The last time I could do this, was when I was in high-school (10 years ago). I finally decided to go for the second option and I still don’t regret it.
This time, I focused on enjoying the journey I am into. The journey of creating my own products and my own future. It took me almost 10 years to learn how to not be strict with myself and give me time to really enjoy these moments without feeling guilty. To reconsider the importance of quick growth and money. I should and want to work hard but I also want to keep things balanced. Slowing down creates this feeling of balance. It helps me observe and enjoy the journey.
I am heading to a beautiful destination. The path to get there is exciting, unique and I see things I’ve never seen before in my life. What I am trying to do is to enjoy all these things by having the time and calmness to experience them, observe them and fit them into my life. If I just rush I’ll lose all the magic and all the moments that are there waiting for me.
That’s my strategy to happiness so far. To slow down, accept myself and smile.
My 12 months goal and strategy
Photo by Justin Kauffman on Unsplash
Photo by Justin Kauffman on Unsplash
I like to say that life is a journey. A journey consists of two things. A destination and a path to get there.
Same happens with IndieHacking. I set destinations I want to reach (goals) and then I try to find paths that will get me there (strategies). However all these paths I find, do not guarantee me that they will get me there. I have to try them out and see what happens along the way. They may take me where I want to but they may take too much time. Or they may end up to another destination that I don’t want to go. I can never be sure about them. The only thing I can do is to analyze them as much as I can, understand how risky they are, and give them a try. Experimentation is the only way to learn.
“So what’s my destination?” I asked myself. “To just do IndieHacking? This is already happening. Where do I want to be on June 2021?”. I realized that my destination or in business-terms my goal wasn’t well-defined. And because of this it was a bit hard for me to define which strategy (path) I should try out.
I took sometime to think about it and ended up with the following goal. In these 12 months I want to:
  • Grow my business-network and build meaningful long-lasting relationship with like-minded people in the tech industry. Why? Because the more like-minded people I interact with, the more knowledge I’ll gain and the more opportunities will pop up.
  • Disconnect my time from my income as much as possible. Stop selling my time and start selling products that will generate passive income. Products that can bring money while I sleep. Why? Because that’s the only way I can truly own my time and start generating wealth that is not connected to the amount of hours I work.
Since my goal was clear the only thing that was left, was to define the strategy that will get me there.
  • For networking: Some weeks ago I wrote about the idea of “Networking as a Project”. So far this has been a great strategy for me and my business network is growing almost every day. Every week I have video calls or meet offline more and more people and some new opportunities have already popped up. Therefore the progress towards my first goal has been great and I decided to stick to my current strategy.
  • For passive income: On Week 5 I wrote about the “Stairstep approach to Bootstrapping”. It’s a simple process where I start small, by selling micro-products like books and courses until I can provide myself a full salary to survive. Once I achieve that, I can go to the next step and start building more complex products like SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses that can take my income to the next level and open the doors to more financial and creative wealth. This strategy still felt great to me. It’s balanced, low risk and not too ambitious. That’s why I decided to go for it.
  • For surviving: When I defined my passive income goal above I wrote that I want to disconnect my time from my income “as much as possible”. This means that even if I reach 20% of my total income, it will be a success. I intentionally kept that flexible in order to keep the risk low and give myself space to experiment. So the question here is “What happens if my products don’t finally provide me 100% of my salary and I can’t survive in the end of these 12 months?”. For this scenario I decided to start doing some side-freelance and work for 1-2 days max per week on other projects, starting from October. This way I can buy me more time until I reach the level where my products can provide my full salary. For freelancing my “grow business-network” goal will bring the opportunities I am looking for. “That’s cool” I thought. My goals are somehow complementary to each other which makes it way easier for me to grow and move forward.
That was it. My goals were clear. My strategy was clear. The only thing that was left was to start executing.
I started creating my first audio course
Daniel Vassallo
If you want to promote an idea, live it.
The last week I had a video call with Marco one of my journal subscribers and ex-colleague at TicketSwap. We discussed about our progress, what we are working on and how life feels like as an IndieHacker. At some point during our call he told me:
Your article Networking as a Project helped me a lot. It changed the way I think and I am now meeting more and more people.
His comment got me thinking. I had received the exact same comment some weeks ago from Toon, another subscriber and fellow IndieHacker. He told me he liked a lot how I treat networking and the idea of measuring my progress and having goals for it. A few minutes later I realized that Networking, could be a great topic to build a product for. Every week I experiment with new ideas and grow my network constantly. I learn a lot of things and a course like that is the perfect way for me to share these learnings and make some money in the same time.
However on my previous issue I mentioned that I was about to start an audio lesson for UX design. I finally decided to pause this idea for now and focus on the Networking course since it’s more essential for IndieHackers. It’s also something I practice on a daily basis and this makes it easier for me to bring this course into life.
“Ok that’s it. This idea came from the feedback of my audience and my approach has already been proven to work. It feels like a safe bet to take.” I spent 2 hours writting the first outline in my Notion workspace. This was the proof for me that I really had something to teach about on this topic and that it also feels inspiring enough. It was a quick and sudden progress. A few hours later I messaged Charlotte from AvidFM and updated her as well. I explained her that I want to release this lesson until end of October and we made a quick plan together.
“So that’s it. It’s now official.” I said to myself. “It’s happening! I am creating my first product.” I had no idea how to to call it but I came up with a temporary name for now.
Networking as a Project - A practical guide for IndieHackers on how to meet new people and build meaningful relationships.“
Note: If you are interested into this course, feel free to reply to this email and I can send you the full lesson for free. The only thing I will ask in return is some feedback in order to form a better understanding of your struggles. This way I’ll be able to create more value for you in the future. 🙂
Who I met this week
Photo by John Forson on Unsplash
Photo by John Forson on Unsplash
The last week, like the previous ones, I spent a lot of time meeting new people and discussing about our journeys, learnings and current projects. All of them helped me move forward and shaped my future in their own way. They are now part of my story. That’s why I decided to include them in my journal.
  • Dimitrios Mytilinaios - Dimitris followed me on Twitter and I dropped him a DM to get to know him and see what he is working on. He is one of the first employees kenhub.com a great platform that helps people learn human anatomy. He is a doctor based in Greece that decided to work on modern education. Kenhub is great platform and makes a 6-figures revenue every month. Meeting with Dimitris gave me a lot of positive energy. He also reminded me that quality-oriented education always works and that you can make plenty of money if you do it right.
  • Wiz - I found Wiz through a retweet of somebody I follow on Twitter (can’t remember their name). Wiz is a super energetic guy with solid marketing background. He is investing into new startups and is pretty open to people that want to get in touch with him. That’s why I dropped him a DM. The last week we had our first call. He explained me a project he is working on where he tries to connect IndieHackers and help them collaborate on their projects. I gave him some insights from my experience and then we discussed about my course idea on Networking. He liked my course idea a lot and he sent me after the call an email full of insights he came up with. That was super useful. Just a DM on twitter brought me validation from an industry expert, helped move forward with new tips and made me more optimist.
  • Jelle Stolwijk - At some point during my holidays I opened indiehackers.com and scrolled to check if there is anything new. I saw there was an IndieHackers meetup in the Netherlands, organised by Jelle. Once I saw that I searched him on LinkedIn. Looking at his bio I realized he is an experienced marketeer so I decided to drop him a message to get to know each other. We finally met the last week in Amsterdam and did a small brainstorming session on ideas we have and products we could collaborate on. We saw that we had complementary skills and that we share the same way of thinking and the same goals. Maybe a collaboration on a small project would be a nice way to experiment with and move forward. That’s what we decided to do and made a plan for the next week.
  • Joost van Hoof - Joost is another dutch IndieHacker I found on twitter. I actually found his product Freddy Feedback first, on a twitter thread, and then I found his profile. I saw he is based in Amsterdam and has worked on some great companies so I immediately sent him a DM. Building an offline network here in The Netherlands is really important for me both professionally and personally. We had a quick audio call the last week where we discussed about the industry of feedback tools and the vision that he has for his product. While I was working at TicketSwap I had done an extensive research on the feedback tools so I had plenty of useful insights to share with him. That’s one of the reasons he also decided to hope on a call with me and get to know me. I first made sure I had something valuable to bring to the table and then I asked him for a call. That’s how professional networking works from my experience. It’s a bi-directional relationship focused on exchanging value.
Invest in yourself not your ideas
On Friday I had a call with Toon. I’ve been helping him a bit the last months with his product UX strategy and we had a call to catch up. At some point we were discussing about how tough it can be to follow an unconventional path during the Covid19 times. To quit your stable job to pursue your dreams and use savings for that.
During my holidays I heard the same thing. I met some friends and I got asked the same question over and over again. “How did you decide to quit your job without having an idea to work on and make money? How can you use savings to survive and not invest your savings into an idea?”
My answer was always the same and that’s what I also said to myself back on June when I decided to quit my job.
“My goal is to go the next level as an entrepreneur. I want to invest into myself and my education and not just into my ideas. To invest into learning and figure out my next steps. Ideas come and go but knowledge stays there. I find it sometimes stupid to just wait for that one big idea that will make me feel safe to quit me job. If I can quit now and pursue the IndieHacking path why not do it? I have most of the skills I need. I just need to go for it and build a strategy around it. Before I quit I didn’t know about the stair step approach nor about micro-products. I wasn’t sure that networking can bring me a tone of opportunities. I figured out all of these along the way. The only thing I did back then was to trust myself that I will find the right path to follow. And that’s how I decided to quit my job. I wanted provide me 8+ of free hours per day that can be invested into research, experimentation and networking. And it has actually worked pretty well so far! Of course it’s painful when I watch my savings being decreased every month but I need to invest in order to get something in return. That’s how assets and investments work. My knowledge, and my time are the most important assets I have. Their ROI is always outstanding.”
On top of that I was always mentioning the following metaphor.
“Why are people so comfortable into investing thousands of dollars into bachelors and masters? For some reason it makes more sense for most people to spend 50.000€ to get a master degree than spending €30.000 to buy their time and get into entrepreneurship. You could say that, what I am doing at this moment is an MBA or a master degree. Or something like that. I just teach myself in a different (and harder) way and I don’t follow the traditional path. I’ve done it again in the past when I co-founded Befoolish and it works. I decided to drop-out and never got a bachelor degree. Instead I focused on learning by doing. That’s how my brain works and this is what bring me more happiness. The result in the end is the same and even better in my case. I end up with more knowledge, more education and a bigger business network.”
Most of the times they agreed with me and liked that metaphor. Nobody can debate the importance of education. That’s why this mental model also convinced me to go for it. I am investing into one of my most important assets, my education. I just do it in an unconventional way. 🙃
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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