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Cover image for Trying to become a profitable maker (or die trying)

Trying to become a profitable maker (or die trying)

nvio profile image Steven Yung ・5 min read

After months of reflection, I just started one of the biggest challenges in my career: I have decided to stop my freelance activity to fully focus on launching profitable products. It’s a big step for me; here is my thought process.

The downfall of freelancing

I’ve been a freelance on and off for 3 years now, I started very humbly with small missions at a very low rate to build up my reputation. Doing freelancing full-time was one of my career goals, I’ve always envied people having the freedom to work for themselves. I really thought that was my long term goal.

After all those years, I grew as a freelancer and as an entrepreneur. My main selling point and why I liked my position was the fact that I was a product-advisor first and a developer second. I really enjoy coding and everything around it, but my actual love is creating value with code more so than code itself.

I always try my best to point to the right direction for every project I work on, and focus on the business side of things. Notably how to create value at minimal cost. Every client I had listened to what I had to say but very few actually actively tried to apply that advice. It started to create frustration as my vision didn’t really align with how we were working together and it would affect my work and most importantly, my motivation.

I started realizing that being a freelancer wasn’t really what I was expecting. From my experience, no client would actually hire me to change the way things were done but more as a simple developer to do what I was told to do. I started questioning my situation and realized after all that freelancing is not the definition of freedom I had in mind. My new boss was basically my clients. The freedom I wanted was just a mere illusion as I found myself in the position I tried so hard to avoid.

It’s important to reflect that without freelancing being a bridge to entrepreneurship, I would be in a totally different place to where I am today. I managed to accomplish so much in the past couple of years and grow because of freelancing. I’m forever grateful to have had the opportunity to work with all my clients which shaped the idea of what I wanted and most importantly what I didn’t want to do with my career. It gave me the confidence to believe that work can take any shape or form as long as it's something I enjoy.

But now is the perfect time to invest in myself.
Side-hustle or full-time entrepreneur

I’ve been doing side-projects a lot since I started working as a developer professionally. At first, it was a way for me to learn new technologies by making software. Soon after, I started consuming a lot of entrepreneurship resources like podcasts, articles, books and documentaries, etc. I started to dream about having my own successful business which would allow me to live off of something I would have created. Side-project suddenly took on a totally new meaning.

From what I gathered, a lot of successful entrepreneurs would advise to have your side-hustle generate revenue before quitting your job. For a long time, that was how I planned on doing it, the “safe-way”. While it makes financial sense, I think it only set me up for failure in practice.
Doing this on the side has slow down my progress. Striving to create something meaningful on the side while keeping my “day job” has created exhaustion from doing multiple things at once. Moreover, motivation is really hard to maintain when you know that you have to fuel that fire over a 6-month period before getting any actual results.

As a point of comparison, I’ve been working full time on my project ClearMyFeed for one month now and I made huge progress in a month while it would have taken me a minimum of 6 months to achieve the same results when I juggled my side-hustle with my freelancing activity. After taking a step back, it’s fairly obvious that working on this full-time is the way to go and showed me what I’m capable of if I focus my undivided attention on my own projects.

Money

I did some research on different indie makers and entrepreneur being at the start of their journey with no or not enough revenue. I couldn’t really find any details plan on how to manage your finances; so I decided to stick to the way I managed my financial situation as a freelancer..

As I said in a previous article about my come back to freelancing 6 months ago (funny how things change so quickly), I already analyzed my spending and saved up for my rainy days.
I managed to secure even more savings in prevision of this new adventure. I don’t plan on making any revenues right after my first project so in order to keep me going regardless of revenue, I saved up around 32k.

My current monthly spending is comprised of four main categories:
1200€ of rent
620€ or 20€ per day for daily spending like groceries, night out, leisure.
230€ in bills and utilities
400€ for potential unexpected spending

For a total of 2500€ per month. If I keep up with this current spending trend, I would be able to last about 1 year without any revenues which I’m pretty happy about.

In case my money runs low, my plan is to freelance for a few months as a mean to save up again with the goal of returning to being a full-time maker. I would like to avoid doing freelancing in parallel to my side-projects again as I really think this is an inefficient way of trying to build a successful business.

I plan on publishing a monthly update of the money reserve on Twitter (follow me for those updates!).

ClearMyFeed, my first product launch

Abdoulaye and I are currently launching ClearMyFeed in a closed alpha, we are really proud of how things turned out and it will be our very first launch out of many more.

ClearMyFeed is a web app helping you Mario Kondo your twitter feed and get rid of those people you follow that don’t spark joy anymore. It’s a way to keep your feed in control and manageable. Long will be gone the days where you would scroll endlessly without any hope of catching up with everything that’s going on in the world !

The freedom to choose Angular and Nest.js as a tech stack was super refreshing for me to scratch my itch as a curious developer.

We are currently looking for alpha testers for the first version, if you are interested in keeping you twitter clean, please follow @clearmyfeed on Twitter, we are going to select a few people really soon!

Final thoughts

I’m really excited and scared at the same time which I consider to be a sign that I’m doing the right thing.
The more I work, talk and write about it, the more I realize this is exactly what I should be doing even with all the uncertainties on the way.

I’ve been happier than ever finishing up the final alpha version of ClearMyFeed as I’m learning much more than any mission will be able to teach me.
In the end, failure to create profitable projects will only help me grow for the better even if I choose to stop at any given moment.

This is a journey about learning, and I sure am learning a lot right now.

Follow me on Twitter in this journey

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