Maybe not - May 2021 retro

May started off with the launch of my AI-created book Grim Tales. I posted to Hacker News and Indie Hackers with little success. There were a couple of positive comments on the project, with a few hundred visits to the site. But no sales, and a quick decline in traffic.

I found it pretty demotivating - particularly when I had a couple of articles planned out that I was going to write after the launch. I did end up writing them in the end, but I don’t think they’re my best work.

A few weeks after launching, I set the PDF version to $0+ on Gumroad since I’d rather people read it than not. But by the time I did that interest had disappeared.

I’m not sure what’s next for Grim Tales. The project is over. But it feels wrong to simply leave it and move on. I don’t feel like I managed to promote the book nearly enough or in the right places. I’m going to use free time to continue to promote it in one way or another.

In terms of new projects, May was a bit of a weird month. I had a few ideas going into May that had potential, but I ended the month without launching anything.

My first idea was a SaaS business. I spent some time at the start of the month researching and trying to validate the idea before I started work on it. I only found 1 other similar service, so it seemed perfect. Part of my research was emailing people in the industry that might be interested in a service like the one I had planned. After a couple of replies (and some really useful feedback and info) I decided to shelve the idea for now. It seems like a pretty difficult problem to solve for a variety of reasons, and I don’t think I’m the one to solve them right now. I might come back to this idea in the future though.

May’s second idea was a physical product. One of the major bottlenecks here was emailing potential suppliers and service providers to find out whether what I wanted was possible, and if it was, how much it would cost. Many would take days to respond, so it’s been slow. I still haven’t completed a prototype just yet. But the ball has started to roll now. Early June is when I expect to ‘launch’ this one.

Aside from my projects, I had my first freelance opportunity this month too. It was pretty unexpected because I haven’t been actively looking for freelance work. The job is slightly different to the work I normally do, but I liked the idea (writing technical tutorials) and applied. Interviewing was a pretty pleasant process, and I’m excited to be working on it. At the time of writing this, I’m in the middle of working on the first piece which will decide whether it becomes regular work.

This site felt like it was missing something - a projects page! It’s a list of all of my public projects, their current status (💀 or ✅), and a little info about them. I’ll be adding to this when new projects launch.

Overall, May was mostly positive, but there were some downsides too. I didn’t launch anything. Emails to manufacturers were a big bottleneck for making progress. And I saw a larger company launch a product nearly identical to an idea I’ve been fleshing out…

Let’s check May’s goals:

May’s goals

Continue Grim Tales writing and promotion ✔️

I finished the articles for Grim Tales, and I shared the book in a few communities. Unfortunately, nothing came of any of it. I feel like I could’ve done a better job of promoting the book. If there’s one thing that will be my downfall in any project it’s likely my inability to get the word out and promote them.

The checkmark on this goal feels a bit weak. I know I could’ve done more to promote the project, but I’m too timid on the promotion side of things still, so I need to work on that.

Figure out what we’re going to work on this month ✔️

I didn’t expect this one to be so difficult. I shelved one project, and started work on another. But I also had a freelance opportunity, and worked on a way to create and deploy my project sites quicker.

Work on the new project ✔️

The physical product project (say that 3 times fast) took some time to coordinate materials, suppliers, and other stuff. But I should be able to validate and start looking for sales in early June without effecting June’s project too much (I hope 🤞).

“Work on” isn’t a very challenging goal for projects that I’m actually aiming to start and launch an MVP of in a month. It’s too easy to say “Yep, worked on that” even if not a lot was achieved. For June’s goals I’m going to use “launch” instead.

Write the May retrospective ✔️

That’s this. How many retrospectives do I need to write before I don’t have this as a goal?

June goals

June’s goals are really goals for 3 different things: the physical product, June’s new software project, and the freelancing work. I think the goals this month are a bit more concrete and measurable.

  • Complete our first freelance writing piece
  • Turn the freelance writing into a regular thing
  • Complete the prototype of the physical product
  • Launch the physical product
  • Get 1 sale of the physical product
  • Start and launch June’s project (MVP)
  • Write June retrospective

Current revenue from projects: $0

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