Looking back at the last 6-ish months of projects, happenings, thoughts, and life changes, I wanted to collect all that together into one post.
What has happened over the first half of 2023 and a few months before then is actually a fallout event caused by the release of Warzone 2. Yes, a video game has changed how I work on side projects and organize my free time. Last November, when the game came out, the hype had overblown my expectations and my friends' expectations as well. What was going to be a time sink for our group ended up being a dud and we hardly spent time playing it. This freed up so much of my time that I started to work on side projects a pretty often. It also led to me planning out a ton of projects for 2023 which I have started or rejected.
Another thing I want to cover before diving into the projects is the concept of pet vs bet, this is something I've just sort of started asking myself whenever I think of a project. "Is this a pet project or a small bet?" With this question in mind, I've gone down the path of considering existing projects and new ones I want to work on. A pet project is one where I'm not hoping to gain a large user base, generate any or much revenue, or just something to solely itch my own scratch. Small bets on the other hand are low-risk projects I want to try to see if they'd be sticky enough to spend more time working on, mainly in hopes of generating some revenue. An example of a pet project is Bookends and an example of a small bet is BoardSearch.
- Bookends: I'm working on this as a pet project, it's slowly improving, changing, and I'm making it more suitable to my own needs. I might end up spending more time on it when it has more users, if that ever happens. Currently it has 12 users.
- BoardSearch: I've stopped working on this project mainly due to my incorrect assumptions about what a keyboard community should look like. Over the next few days, all the project related content will be unavailable. At the time of quitting this project, it had 9 users. This was a small bet.
- Treat Samples for Pets: this is a new project I'm trying out. Another small bet I'm considering spending a few months on while I figure out if my assumptions are correct or if this is a bad idea. Unlike the other projects, this one is an online store that sells things which is new for me. So far, no sales, a few page views.
All canceled projects for 2023
I had a decent list of projects I wanted to try in 2023 but I decided to cancel a handful of them as they were not meeting my criteria for what a project should be for me.
- Frond, a Wordpress theme I was planning on working but never got it started and moving to Ghost has made this irrelevant.
- A photos app for organizing between Photos.app, Lightroom, and Google Photos. After some initial brainstorming, digging around, I decided to not do this for now. Maybe in the future once I am more familiar with macOS apps, I'd try it.
- An all-in-one platform for social media creators for analytics and content scheduling. Each platform has its own rules and annoyances so it was not as feasible as I had hoped for this to be. I am not too familiar with actual posting strategies and workflows for content creators so I felt way too unqualified to work on this.
- AI-powered documentation tool. This was I did not have clear thoughts on and with the advent of Github Co-Pilot Labs and GPT-4, this might not even be relevant.
- GAT: gaming attention token or maybe Gamer's Attention Token. I was thinking of a way to fuse Twitch streaming and the attention economy into one where both streamers and viewers benefit but it sounded way too shady and unhelpful.
Out of almost 20 projects on my list, these 5 never saw any investment into them except a few walks and bored afternoons where I thought through them and realized maybe they're not worth spending the effort on.
Considering future projects
I have been thinking over my strategy of how I decide to work on a project or not. These sort of rough guidelines will change or improve over time but for now this is what I ask myself:
- Would I use this? If someone else built this, would I try it out or even pay for it?
- Is this something that has a market? If so, how saturated or price-sensitive is the market?
- Can I build it myself or will I need others to help?
- Will it be a SaaS product or a free to use tool/product?
- Is it a small bet or a pet project?
- Will this require an ecosystem of producers and consumers? (The chicken and egg problem)
With these few questions, I get enough of a signal to throw away projects. I opt for not working on a project over working on a project because time and mental energy are limited.
Tracking project costs and revenue
I want to build and share my progress on projects in public as much as I can. If there's a time to make the source code public, I'll do that. But in all cases, I do want to share my earnings and costs associated with all my projects and for this reason, I've created a spreadsheet that tracks this pretty accurately and in as much detail as I can go into.
Moving on, I want to talk about other things I've been up to recently.
I posted about getting sourdough starter from my neighbor awhile ago and from that I've been learning about making bread. My first loaf was not good, the few after have been better, but there's tons of room to improve.
This all has led me to realize that I should spend more time doing things with my hands that's not sitting at a computer typing away.
The 3rd loaf was edible and I am happy with the level of salt but not happy with the rise and shape. The second loaf was not good.
Rekindling my love of photography
A friend of mine reached out to me to get help deciding on a new camera and after spending a whole weekend of texting back and forth, he was able to find a camera. He decided to get the Canon R8.
While chatting with him, I realized I have cameras sitting around my house that I hardly use so part of showing him examples of some of my favorite photos I've shot, I realized there's a gold mine of great photos I have and would love to take some more.
Recently it's been fun to go inside Lightroom and just edit a few photos. Cleaning up my library is still something that will require months of slow and consistent effort but I will eventually get there. Over the last two weeks, I've deleted over 1200 photos. Here's some photos I've edited:
I also set up a cheap little light box that I use to shoot things around my house. Here are some post-edited photos from that:
Blog stats and updates
I'm happily chugging along posting and editing my thoughts here on Ghost (I'm using their hosted version, not my own instance). I wanted to start sharing my blog stats as a way to share yet another metric publicly.
Currently, I have 5 subscribers and I'm getting about 20 views per day on my posts. Last week, I did have a spike of viewers from Hacker News brought in by the comparing AI post, that peaked at about 2.1k views for that day.
I'll be tracking this in the projects money spreadsheet as well.