Failing - February 2022 retro

As I sat down to write this month’s retrospective, I took a brief look at last year’s February retrospective. And it wasn’t a positive one. This year it’s a similar story. Is it a pattern or a coincidence? Who knows.

This is my February update.

Recap of the projects I’m talking about this month

Map of Strength - A gym finder for strength athletes.

Art by an AI - AI generated art

Breeze - A Django + TailwindCSS SaaS starterpack.

My full project list is here

February’s goals

Grow Map of Strength Instagram followers to at least 100 ❌

I did do some Instagram posts this month. But ended up falling off. I really dislike that the majority of ‘marketing’ is effectively posting on social media as much as possible - as stories, posts, comments, and so on. That’s really not what I’m good at or excited about doing.

Marketing sucks - or maybe I should say social media marketing sucks. It’s unfortunate that marketing on social media is one of the biggest sources for traffic and attention. Whether that’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. But the amount of stress it creates for me is a lot higher than I would like.

I need to figure out how much social media marketing I can realistically do, and find a way to make it sustainable - not just for Map of Strength, but for my other projects (and personal ‘brand’) too.

On a positive note, SEO seems to be starting to drive a tiny amount of traffic.

Grow Map of Strength’s gym numbers by 10 ✔

We went from 128 to 164 gyms this month.

But I had a wake up call. On the 1st of February I got a message on the Map of Strength Instagram page. The person asked about how I plan on growing the number of gyms to a number that ‘makes the site useful’.

What I read was ‘Map of Strength isn’t useful’. ~130 gyms isn’t useful.

And it’s true. The number of gyms isn’t enough to actually be useful to most people.

The USP of Map of Strength is that the listings are high quality, and manually curated - which is a tedious process. I’ve had complements on the quality of listings.

However, to make the site useful (and ultimately successful), I need to increase the number of listings drastically.

Submissions from gym owners and athletes is still going to be a great source. And growing the Instagram page will help a lot with that.

But it’s still not enough.

Automating data collection is the only realistic way to increase the number of gyms on the site in a reasonable timeframe.

I’ve already started working on this. Ingesting data is easy enough. But getting the data is a harder problem. And then we need to curate it.

I just hope that all of the time I’ve put into the project eventually pays off.

Sunset Art by an AI ✔

Early in the month I made my plan for sunsetting Art by an AI. I decided that I should shut down the art generation in the middle of the month in order to give people a final chance to submit some prompts.

Then I spent a day building a static site that I can host for free in place of the old setup. It’s built with Jekyll + Tailwind, and hosted on Netlify.

The last set of images was generated on the 13th of February. And then I replaced the old site with the new one.

The new static site is now a gallery of ~50 images that I particularly like out of the >1k images that were generated in total.

Like before, the images are still available to purchase as prints. But I’m not expecting any sales, and I don’t plan on doing any marketing for it.

Launch Breeze, and continue marketing ❌

Motivation has been so low for Breeze this month that I’ve put it on hold.

I was originally pretty excited about the idea. But there are a lot of things I need to think about (mostly marketing, positioning, audience) to make the idea more viable and competitive. I keep thinking about doing more and more and more to build the project up. But I really only need an MVP that people will pay for before getting into the weeds of the rest of the product.

I’m not sure what to do. For now it’s staying on hold.

Bonus

  • 1 sale of a PC Nameplate

The last few people asking about nameplates haven’t had images that would work, and I had to turn them down. But there was a sale earlier this month and the image made sense.

After the sale I increased the price of the plate by £2.50. Buying the transfer is now more expensive than before, and Etsy is upping their sales cut to 6%. Margins were already low anyway. It will be interesting to see if there is an effect on sales. It might be hard to tell because of how infrequent they are though.

  • liftingstones.org articles + newsletter

I ended up writing 3 articles this month, as well as a newsletter. Traffic has been growing steadily - though dropped slightly compared to Jan.

The three articles are more geared towards SEO, and are slightly different from the typical articles I have written before.

Although I did notice that Google has crawled a couple of the new articles and hasn’t indexed them. I’m not sure why. I’ll have to keep an eye on them and see if it changes.

The newsletter was sent out to more than twice as many people as the first one which was really cool, but slightly nerveracking. It’s addictive looking at subscriber number increase with no effort on my part - the newsletter sign up at the bottom of the page seems to work well enough.

March’s goals

Coming up with goals for March has been hard. I don’t want to set goals that I don’t plan on trying to hit. But I also need something to work towards. Right now I have no idea what to do. I’m lost. I need some time to figure out what the fuck I’m doing.

Here are my March goals:

  • Grow Map of Strength’s gym numbers to at least 200 (+36)
  • Flesh-out the Map of Strength automated data collection

February’s revenue from projects: $15

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