October was a very different month. I explored new ideas, Fantasy Congress finally got some press, and I was a guest on not one but two podcasts! Can’t say I made a lot of progress, but it was busy nonetheless.
- $561 total revenue
- 10 new customers
- 7 churns
- $545.33 MRR
I spent the first week of October debuting news mentions for Fantasy Congress. This allows members of congress to earn points for how often they are mentioned in the news. I felt obligated to release this feature before Congress left for their break so October could be somewhat playable. Because I didn’t have time to iterate and collect feedback, the current version was released in beta and players have the option to opt out if they wish.
The rest of October was great for publicity, but none of it was intentional on my part. Fantasy Congress was featured in Roll Call by a reporter I had previously tried to get in touch with in July. He messaged me entirely on his own accord and was actually surprised to learn I had previously DMed him. This piece got me a decent chunk of traffic, but only a handful of sign ups. I was thrilled to get press, but underwhelmed by the response considering this publication writes for my target audience.
I was also featured as a guest on two podcasts. These also came about by happenstance. First was the JustDjango podcast run by Matthew Freire, and the second was with Rob Walling for MicroConf On Air. This was my first time ever podcasting or going live and it was really fun! We mostly discussed topics concerning my journey building Fantasy Congress and indie hacking. While this wasn’t a huge boon for Fantasy Congress, it was cool to put myself in front of an audience of other founders and increase my luck surface area, so to speak. Would love to do it again if the opportunity presented itself!
After releasing the news mentions, I gave myself a break from Fantasy Congress to explore different entrepreneurial pursuits. My goal was to earn some cash to live off of so I could continue pursuing Fantasy Congress without being hindered by a job. I set my sights on trying to start a service based business. This would allow me to start making cash immediately and possibly productize so I could still devote a significant amount of time to Fantasy Congress.
I was adamant about taking the "audience first” approach. This squashed most of my ideas right out the gate. I also developed a rubric for evaluating my ideas which allowed me to "score" them. The score represents how confident I feel the idea is worth pursuing and I found it really helpful. After evaluating an idea, I had a single number that made it clear if I had thought things through, or if I was just enamored by a new shiny distraction. And if I ever thought “Why didn’t I like that idea? I can’t remember what the problem was with it,” I could quickly discern what parts of the rubric it failed, uncovering the red flags past Allison was trying to warn about.
Anything that scored 50% or below I considered hobby projects and immediately threw out. My heart decided 70% or above was what I should aim for given my current circumstances. Good ideas are hard to come by, and no surprise, I only came up with one idea that made the cut: managed web hosting for service based businesses. Think people like lawyers, salons, landscapers, etc. This idea has been validated hundreds of times and I had an easy time finding people who could use the service. But when I thought about what it would take to reach this audience (basically a lot of cold emailing or calling), I realized it wasn’t the right business for me personally.
Outside of this, I suffered from a serious lack of inspiration. My only other high scoring idea was a project I started in 2018 but quickly shut down because I thought it was distracting me from Fantasy Congress. However, when put through the rubric it scored a 61%. With October coming to a close, and no other ideas up my sleeve, I decided to revive it.
In late summer of 2018, when I thought Fantasy Congress was a complete flop, I read Tim Ferris’s The Four Hour Work Week and was inspired to create an info product. I decided to target people transitioning from a non-technical background into a role as a developer, something I had a great deal of personal experience with. In line with Tim’s “automate everything” attitude, I created a curated list of stories and tips to help career switchers land a job. Then, I automated the list with MailChimp. When I shut the site down in 2019, I made sure to save everything in case the project was worth revisiting in the future. Thus, setting everything up again was a snap. Ironically the only thing I didn’t save was the domain, which had originally been getadevjob.com. Yes, I committed a cardinal sin of indie hacking and let a domain expire even though I had intentions of revisiting it. Your fears are valid! Heed my warning! Never let a domain expire!
GetADevJob resonates with me for a few reasons. First, I know this audience very well because I’ve been there. Second, I’ve had some practice in this space after spending a couple years mentoring with a local non-profit. And third, there’s a lot of people working on this problem, which tells me it’s likely one worth solving. At first this was off putting because I thought the market was over saturated. But time again, I continue to see tweets and posts where people lament about interviews, resumes, portfolio projects and the like.
My main focus in 2018 was building the list so I could sell an info product. Given my experience over the past couple of years, I’m very hesitant to put time and effort into anything before it’s validated, even an info product. So this time around, I’m offering resume and portfolio critiques as a service. I already have this down to a science from my years as a mentor. My process should be pretty easy to transition into an info product if it’s something subscribers really want. I think this will also be a great opportunity to build my sales and marketing skills. But, we’ll see. The hiring space is so big and has so many problems, part of me thinks there has to be a viable SaaS idea hiding in there somewhere. For now though, I’m content to think small and just listen to my audience.
Hmmm…what to say, what to say. I did not meet my goal in October of “make money”. Though this month I do plan to pay myself a few hundred bucks. My first time ever paying myself (happy dance)! I also think it’s very unlikely GetADevJob could get more than a handful of sales. It appears that despite my best efforts I don’t have anything substantial enough to support myself. So, I’m looking into freelance or potentially getting a full time job.
Because of this, I’m putting my normal goals on hold until I get a little more situated. It’s a huge bummer. I have so many plans for Fantasy Congress as well as GetADevJob. But I don’t see any way around it. Hopefully I can find the balance between supporting myself and pursuing larger ambitions in the coming year.
I had a lot of fun in October but couldn't find a reliable method for supporting myself. Learning how to balance making an income with building Fantasy Congress is the key to my future in indie hacking.