Articles about product

Finding my Financial Balance as an Indie Maker

I've made more money in the first two months of 2020 than in the entirety of 2019, working the same amount of time. More importantly, my one-man business has become ramen profitable: for the first time since I started in January 2018, I can cover my living expenses without picking from my savings. 90% of my revenues in 2020 come from freelancing as a technical writer, and the remaining 10% originate from my patrons at The Co-Writers. That's not what I originally planned as a tech entrepreneur, but it turns out I actually love working with different companies. I think I reached a new crossroads...read more

Umbrella Brand

Each of my projects address a specific sub-problem of the writing market. The Co-Writers is about developing a writing habit. Bouquin is about publishing big bodies of work to make a living from writing. Sipreads was born from the fact that you can't be a great writer without being a great reader. I work as a freelance writer because it's a great way to get feedback about your writings to improve and it helps me being financially independent. I want to write books because my writings are useless without deep subject-matter expertise, flow, and structure. The problem is I'm having a hard time c...read more

Why I don't buy software tools

My business costs consist of servers and domains. Except for those, I never buy out-of-the-box tools for software development. As a programmer and indie maker, I have several reasons for that. Disclaimer: if you don't know how to code or if you're managing or working for a company, this post is not entirely applicable. First, it's never a good thing to outsource parts of your business you know nothing about. Outsourcing comes after you hit a maximum pain threshold preventing you from focusing on your core activity on a frequent basis. Before that, you don't know what the underlying problem is,...read more

Four Sub-Systems Most SaaS Apps Need

If you're a frugal indie maker whose time is extremely limited and spread thin by multiple projects, there are four core services you can automate. Most SaaS applications are built-upon those sub-systems. If you manage to build one micro-service for each and host them on a personal subdomain, you save yourself countless hours re-developing them for your next project and tons of money on recurring costs. Authentication/authorization system: Auth0 is nice, but spend three days learning about OAuth, JSON Web Tokens, and reading your back-end web framework's documentation and you'll be able to ro...read more

Introducing (my) Attic

As I explained in a previous post, I want to automate some programming work. Developing one digital product is already hard enough, but I can't help the need to have by-products. If I want to be a better writer, I need The Co-Writers. I have to push my limits, so I also need to write substantial work in the form of books. I need to write books, so I developed Bouquin. I need a bigger toolbox to make more features, at a faster pace, while freeing time to write. This is why I'm building Attic, an open-source full-stack code generator for my Symfony/PHP projects. An app is a set of smaller apps l...read more

Personal Web Design

One glance is enough to recognize a Picasso or a Van Gogh, but what about web designs? A website is a canvas full of possibilities. And yet, we often see the same boring landing pages everywhere. It's probably for the better, a standard website architecture makes it easier to navigate and understand. UX design is a domain where experiments and hypotheses have been formulated for decades: we could call it a science. Web design is at the frontier between art and science, just like cooking or photography. And in a world dominated by technology, the balance shifts toward the latter. What if it was...read more

Just Crossed 200,000 Public Words

If you were to google how many words there are in a book for it to be considered a novel, you'll find at least 40,000 words. With 200,000 words worth of public posts under my belt, I virtually wrote the equivalent of 5 novels in a bit more than a year, with an average of 400 words published every day. The problem is that nobody in his right mind will have the patience to go through all this content, even if I'm classifying each post with tags and collections. It's a good problem to have, in my opinion, and it happens I already have some solutions resting in the back of my mind. The first step ...read more

Introducing Bouquin

Three months ago, I realized the way we write and read ebooks lags behind what we can do with tech nowadays. Generating ebooks from graphical text editors is cumbersome. Managing large bibliographies, figures, and tables of content is painful. Latex sucks. Command line interfaces suck. I can't afford book writing software and I certainly don't need all the features they propose. I just want to spend all my time writing and be able to sell my ebooks in one click, because when I'm in writer mode, I don't want to deal with code. When I'm a reader, on the other hand, I read twice. Once on my Kindl...read more

Launching a Business in France

Starting a monetized activity as a one-person business (micro-enterprise) in France is dead simple: you fill up a form, wait a week or two, and receive your business identification number. It's free and relatively painless. If you make business with foreign countries within the European Union, you'll also need to obtain a cross-border VAT number through your Corporate Tax Service (Service des Impôts des Entreprises). Once you receive your business id, you can send payouts with your Stripe account and open a business bank account. I think it's ideal for indie makers because you don't have to de...read more

Startup Nightmares

Anyone can become a business owner nowadays, but few will because it takes discipline and you have to be willing to reinvent yourself. Creating a startup is about learning. You have to constantly acquire new non-trivial knowledge and transform it into concrete solutions. In other words, it's not just about having ideas. You can learn a lot about entrepreneurship from watching Kitchen Nightmares. We have to take it with a grain of salt since it remains a reality show, but it's great to learn what not to do. Escapism (denial of reality) and entitlement are the two reasons why business owners fai...read more

What Makes A Great Software Product?

There are but two basic principles we have to take into account while making a software solution: Humans are visual animals. Vision is often the first sense you use to interact with your environment, and it's especially true in a world of ideas. Humans are social animals. As Aristotle describes it, humans need to belong to a society to strive: "Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god." Fortunately, neither beasts nor gods care for software products. Principle n°1 ...read more

Writing 200 Words

In 2019, 200WaD helped more than a hundred members reach 30 days of continuous writing. Next Tuesday, however, everyone will be able to publish less than 200 words per post. Maintaining the streak is going to be easier. I believe lowering our barriers to entry to be a good thing in the long-term: it will help more people develop a writing muscle, find their voice, and keep going. The streak system is a great tool for that. But the streak has to remain a tool. We have to go past it if we are serious about writing better. Don't see the removal of the 200-word limit as a favor to keep your streak...read more

Habemus Nomine

Next Monday, January the 20th, 200 Words a Day becomes The Co-Writers. Choosing a name wasn't easy. It had to represent what we stand for as a writing community while remaining simple. Some propositions were considered: The Writing Club, The Writing Cafe, We Writers... but unfortunately they were all already taken by different websites, and so I decided to come up with something else. The choice of a startup name is restricted by the availability of the corresponding domain names, and after many trials, I settled on The Co-Writers. The .com domain was available. I bought cowriters.app as well ...read more

Designing a Logo 2

I previously wrote about why you shouldn't hire a designer to make your logo when your digital product is still at an early stage. But how do we proceed then? Here is a simple process I use. Note down the keywords associated with your activity. For 200WaD, that would be writing and community. Find symbols and expressions derived from the keywords. The act of writing can be symbolized by a pen or letters. A community is a circle. A given word always belongs to bigger semantic fields, and browsing through them can give you associative ideas. Play around with some logo concepts on a piece of pap...read more

Taking Care Of Your Community

The quality of a community is not measured by its size, but by the strength of the bonds tying each member to another. How can we foster this? If you're not familiar with the movie "Pay It Forward" released in 2000, it's the story of a kid doing good deeds for others according to a simple rule: the recipient of a favor does a favor for three others they cannot complete by themselves, rather than paying the favor back. His theory: if everyone does the same, the world will eventually become a better place. Paying things forward creates trust. It's not a calculated move or a transaction...read more

Important Changes to 200WaD in 2020

Some important changes are coming to 200 Words a Day to make 2020 a great writing year. First, I've spent the last three weeks working on a new writing product. It will be a great addition to our community. The MVP is 80% done and will be released in about two weeks. Patrons with more than 30 posts will receive a special gift from me for the occasion. Consider it a late Christmas present. Second, I'm dropping the 200 words limit. Yes, you read this right. I came to the realization that 200 words are still too much for most people to get started or keep the streak alive. I think that lowering t...read more

Fear of Unemployement

Starting out as an entrepreneur, my biggest fear was whether or not I could find a job if my company failed. My family instigated this fear: "The first years of your career are the most important. Find a job first, create a company later." The college I graduated from held the same belief. Those who work for a Big Four or a FAANG are part of the "elite", and these companies are known to welcome with open arms young suggestible students - not 30-something failed entrepreneurs. Most startups aren't different either: if you don't fit in the "company culture" (meaning...read more

Designing a Logo

I never understood people buying a logo before actually launching their digital product. What a waste of time and money. Your visual identity will never matter as much as your value proposition: a logo is secondary and you shouldn't spend more than a day to come up with one. My approach is straightforward: I keep it free and as simple as possible. I won't pretend my logos look great, but they are clean and meaningful. For example, my personal logo was made in 15 minutes using Gimp and a free font. I just took the first letter of my name and surname, superposed them, cut some parts, and added a...read more

Pricing and Impostor Syndrome

I was chatting with some makers yesterday in a private group we have. One of them was feeling guilty about raising his product's price, about asking for money even. I'm familiar with this emotion. In an ideal world, a rich patron would pay my expenses and I would be able to focus on making and writing entirely. The problem is that you can't grow a business without money. You have to feed yourself, you need a roof above your head, and there are operational costs to maintain your digital product. All work deserves to be rewarded, and it's not because you can't touch a product with your hands tha...read more

Make Products you Use Daily

I have a new rule when it comes to making tech products. Making things people want is not enough to keep me interested. Sure, some ideas can make you a lot of money, but is it very fulfilling? Any business takes a lot of time to grow, and I don't think I would be capable of marketing something I'm not excited about. Making things I want is necessary, but it's also too broad of a statement when you have too many ideas. Building more than a dozen of products over the last two years, I came to the conclusion I need to build things I'm personally using - eating my own dog food is a necessity. But ...read more

Smithrandir, the Virtual Lab

I've been releasing a lot of products over the last two years. About a dozen. Most have been abandoned. Five are still alive, all need love and attention. How can I prevent myself from reinventing the wheel each time I'm making a new digital product? I came to the conclusion I should view my products as atomic parts of a bigger entity. Each product I made so far is a monolithic LAMP application: PHP/Symfony with React DOM and MySQL. What I need to make things more modular and performant is to shift toward a micro-service architecture and leverage platforms like Netlify to decrease my hosting a...read more

Mindful Pomodoro

Time flies. You make New Year's resolutions, and the next moment it's November. I'm not particularly mindful during the day. I didn't reach peak productivity either. I thought a lot about how to become more mindful of my time over the last five years. I tried RescueTime for a month and it opened my eyes. I waste a lot of time browsing Youtube and social media websites - up to 2 hours a day, sometimes more. Then I tried using a Pomodoro technique but I was not very consistent with it. Last year I stumbled upon the concept of bell of mindfulness, used in the famous Plum Village near my hometown ...read more

Weekly Review

I want to focus more on the public accountability aspect of my journey as a maker, which is why I recently had the idea to create a newsletter where I would review my tasks, goals, and objectives on a weekly basis. I am still thinking about the content and how I could make it interesting for my readers. One section should describe my progress toward my business goals with key metrics like the MRR or the number of new customers. Something similar to the Open page of this website but from my perspective. Another section should review what's been done: number of tasks completed on Makerlog, habit...read more

Thoughts on the 12 Products in 12 Months Challenge

How to launch a successful tech product? Talking about ideas remains a guess, you never know until you launch. Pieter Levels proposed to throw pasta against a wall to see which idea sticks, and that's pretty much the motive behind his now-mainstream 12 Products in 12 Months challenge. I had a go at it as well when I started out my indie maker career. I called it Road to Ramen and launched it on Product Hunt. I launched two failed products - Pyrohabit, a budgeting app, and Ymappr, a todo app using mind-maps. I started working on a third - Findependents, a community of people in search of financ...read more

Brainstorming a Newsletter

October will be the newsletter month. Three newsletters launching. Sipreads was the first one earlier this month. We already gathered 500 emails. It's a simple email sent with Buttondown containing the new monthly content. 200 Words a Day used to have a daily and a weekly newsletter. But due to the growth of the community I hit the Mailchimp quota and fell out of habit. The new blog featuring writers of the community and practical tips for writing is launching soon, so I think it's time to re-introduce the weekly newsletter to deepen the community aspect. Suggestions are welcome. Last but not ...read more

Why Reading and How

Sipreads has been featured on Product Hunt yesterday. We managed to become #2 Product of the Day and get our first 200 newsletter subscribers. We also had our first affiliate sale. How can we go further? For smart consumption, text will always prevail over video or audio. Text has an alchemical potential no other format has. It's also much harder to be proactive when you listen to a podcast or watch a video. Reading is still the most efficient way to acquire knowledge. More than 2,000,000 books are published each year, but our lifetime is not expanding proportionally. It's primordial to be rad...read more

Once Upon a Time

The lands of Ntipu were rich and bountiful. Every Ntiputian had plenty to eat and drink, and very little work to do. Most of their free time was spent in the pursuit of either pleasure or knowledge. Sometimes both. There was only one problem: Ntiputian couldn't live more than ten years. They would reach teenagehood at 3. By age 5, a Ntiputian had already graduated from Ntipu's National University, and it was time to build a family. Needless to say, there wasn't much time to beat around the bush. Knowledge was power, and Ntiput's National Library, a force to be reckoned with. Ntiputian weren't ...read more

Introducing Sip Reads

I've been working on something new with fellow maker Ali Salah for the past two months. It's called Sipreads, and it's a website where we publish our key takeaways from non-fiction books we read. We are officially launching soon but you can already subscribe to our mailing list. It's the first time I'm co-making an indie product. I've just been contributing to the content so far. It was Ali's idea, and he also implemented the website and set up the social accounts (Twitter + Instagram). Our business model is entirely focused on Amazon affiliate marketing: if people are interested in reading th...read more

Thought on 200WaD's Approach to Become a Better Human

To be successful, you have to work harder and smarter than everyone else. That's what I used to think. I couldn't be more wrong. I came to realize the most successful people, in terms of impact, are the ones who can work harder and smarter with everyone. It's always about team play, there is no such thing as a self-made man/woman. A corollary of this statement is the need to be engaged in communities to find people you can learn with and make progress. Similarly, a great tech product helps you work harder and smarter with everyone: community is both the pillar and the vector of growth (cf @jas...read more

Product Ideation and Mastery

The common approach to build tech products is to solve your own problems. I agree. But what if I have 99 problems? We all have tons of problems, and I certainly can't afford to build a solution for everything: how do I go about prioritizing my side-projects? I believe my never-ending goal in life is to pursue mastery: to be great at what I love doing - not just great at a craft, but at my own craft, at the crossroad of my widely varying interests, to the point of pushing the boundaries of what I am capable of. Building products becomes a way to solve problems I have in my daily life to support...read more

Plateau

There are always moments in life where we feel like no progress is being made. Things are stagnating, our actions feel sluggish, as if our entire body was stuck in moving sands: we hit a plateau. A growth plateau is not a bad thing, it's just our brain telling us we need to reinvent ourselves. It happens all the time to sports practitioners. They just have to get back to the basics and proceed again from there to the top. When a weightlifter hits a plateau for example, the training program is slightly changed and the weights are lowered to a minimum. Similarly, we have to learn to regularly re...read more

Become a Patron - copywriting

I'm currently re-designing the Patronage and Open Startup pages to align them with my business goals (to reach ramen profitability). The following quote is what I came up with to improve the copy of the Patronage page. Don't hesitate to send me your feedback for improvement. Also, I'm working on a Wall of Love to encourage visitors to become members, so feel free to write 200WaD a nice message right here :) My name is Basile Samel *and I'm the founder of 200 Words a Day. 200 Words a Day is a one-person independent business entirely sustained by its community, which means no accelerator, no ...read more

Finding Meaningful Work

What do I want to do later when you grow up? That's a question that obsessed me early on, from primary school at the very least. Children go through phases: they want to be a firefighter one day, then a police officer or a youtuber the next one. I'm lucky to have parents who raised me without trying to prompt me into a career path. I was free to make my own choices, which triggered my will to be proactive in my search for a vocation. I made a pact with myself: whatever the job I end up doing, I will love it. I already developed the intuition that you can make up your own meaning. What you do i...read more

Everyday Marketing

Marketing is not an activity I do once a week. Everything I do is an opportunity to market my brand. There is nothing dirty about doing marketing. It's simply about communicating what you offer to others. My product is only the tip of the iceberg. My work ethics and my knowledge - the Why and the How - are as important as What I'm trying to sell. Here is a concrete example from my daily life. I'm a maker. My job is to make products. I do it a certain way, for certain reasons. Making tech products implies programming, writing, interacting with others, and constantly learning new things. Program...read more

Introducing: TestimonialsWall.com

I took a break from developing 200WaD last week to build something new. It's a small Software-as-a-Service called Testimonials Wall. Inspiration hit me last week when I saw several people reaching out to help me become ramen profitable. I have something like 10 months of runway left before having to take on paid work, so I asked my network about the best resources I could find on selling my skills as a freelancer. Some people answered me with useful resources, some others went a bit further and proposed me their help to grow my already-existing products. Overwhelmed by this wave of good vibes,...read more

Creational Chemistry

I wonder how I can teach people to get startup ideas. I'm convinced that, in a near future, entrepreneurial skills will be in high demand to stay ahead of the competition, but how do you evaluate people with such skills based on a degree? I assume it's not possible because entrepreneurship is not a straightforward career, it's something you have to figure out for yourself by getting your hands dirty. Having a project idea is the first step. When you think about it, everything is a chemical transformation. Or in Lavoisier's words: nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed. ...read more

On Distributing your Content - SEO

Once you stop hiding you can finally start sharing your words with the world. That's when your writings begin to affect reality, and when a new problem arises: you need to effectively distribute your content so that people are willing to hear you out. Marketing content is never simple. I'm not an expert, but I can tell you what I learned along the way. I started writing because it's fun and I love it, but I kept doing it because I want to connect with people to build things together. To connect with more people, you need to share your content where it's relevant. The most efficient and sustain...read more

Something is gonna go wrong

I released new code yesterday and as usual stuff breaks. Something is always going to go wrong: broken features, change-averse users, unhandled edge cases... danger is everywhere. A launch is not just one moment in time, it's a cycle. And the more you go through the cycle, the harder it gets to overcome Launch Resistance - the fear of breaking stuff that used to work. Move fast and break things. Developers hear it a lot, and yet, there is always a lingering fear that things won't work out the way you want them to. They rarely do. I broke a core feature of the website: the writing editor. You c...read more

Reviving ymappr.com (?)

ymappr is the second product I build as an indie maker. A to-do app using mind-maps. It got some traction on Hacker News and I ended up with 150 registered users in two days. Then I moved on, the technical challenge was too time-consuming: too many new technologies to master in a short amount of time. My front-end development skills are too limited to build something usable and beautiful. The biggest issue I had while building this product was how to represent mind maps in an efficient and manageable way. This post is an attempt at describing how I might have finally found a solution to this p...read more

Build by-products

Two weeks ago I wrote about how makers should build their own "product country" - to focus on one core product while still working on satellite products. Following a 12 Products in 12 Months challenge without any intention to focus on the ones that get traction is counterproductive. Jumping around from one product idea to another will get you nowhere. Worse, it will hurt your reputation. You will appear as a volatile founder no customer can trust. Today Sergio Mattei launched yet another product in his own Makerlog country: Cowork. His attitude is another great example of this "...read more

Ecovillage List

Habemus nomen eius. It didn't take long. It's best to use the simplest name we could find to describe our project. We are litteraly building an interactive list of ecovillages from all around the world. We even have a logo, and we gathered in an online conference room to get to know each other (we are a team of 4: Patricia from Portugal, Miguel from Spain, Alina from Romania, and me from France). The registration for the hackathon starts on July the 10th, this post is an attempt at pitching this project to figure out what we want to build. Why are we doing this? Climate change is not going to ...read more

The Maker Way

We do everything for a reason, and quite often this reason is someone else. Creating tech products is no different: making is inherently social. That's precisely what makes the Maker culture so appalling to me: makers not only acknowledge the fact we build for others, but also with others. Companies are just people who were led to build things together - goods, products, experiences, emotions. Why are we making a distinction between support, strategic, and operational positions then? It feels counterproductive. If we want to design better products and better services, employees must become mak...read more

Product Country

We can think of a tech product as a sum of smaller products with a common core product. Github is a graphical interface for Git, embellished by a social network of developers, a static web hosting service, tools for Continuous Integration... A tech product is not atomic, it's a molecule of features. A country with a capital city, secondary cities, towns, and inhabitants. Building a successful product is probably a lot like building a successful country, except you don't dwell on petty politics. You want people to love your country so that they can settle down and help you grow it. That's user ...read more

Found a Team for the Climate Fixathon

Two days ago I announced I was looking for two teammates to join the Climate Fixathon. I received a dozen of proposals. It was a tough choice to make so I settled it by picking three persons with complementary skills to mine. We are going to build a Nomad List for Ecovillages together for a month. Alina Sava will be our lead designer. She is a web designer and product maker based in Berlin, Germany. You might know her from Makerlog, she works on amazing minimalist designs. From Spain, Miguel Piedrafita is only 17 years old but he already made a name for himself in the maker community. His ship...read more

New Project in Progress

Today I announced on Twitter I'm looking for two teammates to join The Climate Fixathon, a one-month hackathon to help fix climate change. It's my first new project in three months and I am excited to share my contribution to the biggest problem our species ever had to face. Technology is not going to get us out of this mess, we must redesign our lifestyles to consume much less and much better. However, the Internet is good at one thing: bringing us closer together. The World Wide Web is the ultimate community builder, a community of communities, and that's precisely how it's going to help us ...read more

Moving off Slack

As some of you might know I'm currently developing an integrated chat within 200WaD. I want members to write more together, so a chat gathering everyone is a must-have. Slack is a bit cumbersome to use: you have to install it, configure your account, and actually write/check messages. Not everyone has used Slack before, and I can't expect everyone here to sign up. However, we all subscribed to 200 Words a Day. That's where the magic should happen. At first I wanted to integrate Slack within 200WaD using their Application Programming Interface, but it turns out I made a mistake: I didn't read t...read more

Community-First

One thing all wannapreneurs need to understand first and foremost: you need a community. You can't do anything alone, success is team work. You need to join communities and start new ones. That's how you can build your first products. That's how you gather your first 1000 true fans. That's how you make your first dollar online. The reason is quite simple: growing a business is about addressing people's needs - talking with them and execute on what they say to you till you reach what is known as product/market fit. A community is simply a group of people sharing common interests. You already be...read more

Make Veggies, Not War

War is a recurring metaphor in entrepreneurship. It's not only a ridiculous idea, but also a dangerous school of thought. Real entrepreneurship success is not about how much money you make, it's about how many lives you impact positively. It should be a creative force driven by collaboration, not a destructive one. War is for losers. No party involved will ever get something good out of it. Picturing entrepreneurs as warriors is just plain dumb, encouraging it is madness: that's how you drive people to burn themselves out. There is no war to win, no enemies to vanquish. The war narrative is co...read more

Entrepreneurship and the Roller Coaster Life

It's one thing to know building a company is hard, it's another to actually go through the process. What's so hard about entrepreneurship is the lack of stability, and it's not trivial to understand if you never built a business before. Building a tech startup is taking a ride on a roller coaster. You go up, then down, then up, constantly, for a long stretch of time, and you never know when your stomach is going to return your meal. The entropy tires you to the bone. It starts with your mind: one day you go through a dopamine high, then you spend another one fire-fighting. The fatigue accumula...read more

Releasing a Markdown editor tomorrow

I've been thinking a lot about how to improve my writing process and using a markdown editor definitely helps with that. I used markdown to take notes in college, to present projects on Github, and more lately to write an ebook. Markdown is a plain text language, so it's easier to focus on the substance over the form while writing. It's also simpler to import/export and share across many platforms. The second advantage of Markdown is how it goes well with versioning. You can store all your different writing drafts in a Github/Gitlab/[...] account and never lose anything ever again. It's obviou...read more

200WaD is 6 months old

200 Words a Day is half a year old today, a good moment to acknowledge the road walked so far with some stats. Traffic More than 900 unique users are visiting the website on a daily basis, which amounts to one thousand page views per day in average according to Google Analytics. According to Cloudflare, 200WaD serves 27k HTTP requests per day in average. Finance 200 Words a Day generates a Monthly Recurring Revenue of $115, thanks to the 55 wonderful patrons keeping us afloat. Thank you so much for helping me to create a sustainable platform for everyone. The total gross revenues acquired so f...read more

My first startup attempt

I was about to start an internship in Geneva when a friend of mine contacted me to join his team on a new exciting startup project: Justinien, a conversational bot aiming at easing the access to justice. It was not my first entrepreneurial project, but this time it was the real deal: we wanted to reach and raise millions, our idea was too good to fail. We made all the classic mistakes. We were four co-founders, which was too many. We didn't distribute the shares equally between each co-founder, which resulted in one co-founder feeling left out, not putting in the work, and ending up forced to ...read more

Self-Describing

I'm redesigning my personal website and I have to convince people to join me in a short text. It's incredibly hard because it implies I must be crystal clear about where I am heading and what I am all about, and be able to put it into inspiring words. Here is my attempt: First day of kindergarten, I go through the gates running, without a tear, without a cry: diving into the unknown makes me feel alive. I wanted to grow up to be an inventor. At 13 I write my first computer program. I graduate from software engineering, aged 23. A love for knowledge is deeply ingrained in me. Knowledge, but als...read more

Redesigning my Personal Website

My personal website is not well-kept, its potential is untapped. My motives changed a lot in one year, my online domain should reflect those. My current goal is to reach ramen profitability. At $1000 per month, I need 500 people to buy a $2 product from me. I have three income sources at the moment: my 200 Words a Day patrons (90% of my total revenues), the revenues from my ebook (10%), and my new Patreon account (0%, not launched). The objective is to design the flow of the website to convince people to help me help them. You need three things to persuade someone online: added value, utmost t...read more

Phases of the Entrepreneur Career

These days I noticed most bootstrapped tech entrepreneurs go through four phases to make a living from their craft. It starts with an apprenticeship where the entrepreneur develops a making habit. Challenges similar to "12 startups in 12 months" are typical of this stage, that's when you learn what it takes to launch your own product and to market it. The apprentice must learn to execute fast without a consequent budget and kill ideas even faster. Apprentices can benefit from online and local communities gathering indie entrepreneurs. The apprenticeship phase is also the moment when ...read more

A 200 Words a Day's manifesto?

There is no way to tell how 200WaD will evolve over the next year but we can think about what we want to build. 200WaD was started to solve a problem: most people do not write enough. We feel too busy juggling between work, routine, and relatives to spend time thinking by ourselves. Some of us might want to change this aspect, for a variety of reasons: to share your thoughts, to materialize your existence into this very world, to leave a legacy, or maybe simply for the feeling of fulfillment scribbling brings. Writing impacts all areas of life. From business communication to art and mental hea...read more

Brainstorming a freelance business

I want to start a freelance business next month to keep myself afloat while I'm developing 200 Words a Day. I am brainstorming some ideas for services I could offer. Getting a full-time job or a long-term freelance project is out of the question as I want to focus on this website, so I need to think of short-term gigs I can do well and fast. Fast prototyping: create minimum viable products for individuals and companies Landing page or website development Product / Entrepreneurship Consulting: advise and strategize indie businesses via video call for an hourly fee Writing gigs: copywriting, ar...read more

How I Started my Solo Business Online

Back in January 2018, I launched my first startup with two lawyers. Two product iterations later, we got our first revenues. I enjoy frugality. Money is but a tool to attain greater freedom. In the end, money is not what I am looking for. My twenties are dedicated to one purpose: becoming a great software craftsman - reach mastery in my craft. I can only do it by practicing a lot so that, one day, I am finally able to craft a masterpiece. I just want money to be a side effect of excellence in what I am passionate about: making great tech products, meaning, writing truly helpful software. How d...read more

Road to Ramen: Conclusion

Today is my last day in Asia, before next time. I'm moving back to Europe for a while. I have to attend my graduation ceremony, and I need to see my family and friends. I set out to become a full-time indie maker 6 months ago. My goal was to build my own tech products and make a living out of it, just enough to cover my living expenses - also known as ramen profitability - while traveling. I called this adventure Road to Ramen: 6 months to reach ramen profitability as a maker in South-East Asia. Today is my last day in the Road to Ramen journey, and it is time to sum it up. Finance I need $700...read more

Sick Baby

Today 200WaD is down. It's an issue on the server side. There is nothing I can do but wait. I guess this is how it feels to have a sick baby. It's extremely frustrating. You try your best to make it grow, but sometimes life gets in the way. I was angry. Angry at the hosting company for letting it happen. Truth is, I was mostly angry at myself for being powerless. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA 🤬 I'm glad I had no one to empty my frustration on today. I guess it's one of the benefits of solo travel. If I were at home, I would have been triggered by a single word. Instead, I took a long hot shower and dres...read more

200 Words a Day is 2 months old! 🎉

Born on November the 22nd last year, 200 Words a Day turned 2 months old yesterday. I waited till today to write about it as I wanted to generate some stats. Here we go: 💎 Fellowship We are now 1915 members (+1484 subscribers/+325%) 99 members joined our Slack workspace 394 members wrote at least one post (21%) 250 wrote at least 2 posts (13%) 195 wrote at least 3 posts (10%) 162 wrote at least 4 posts (8.5%) 142 wrote at least 5 posts (7.4%) 124 wrote at least 6 posts (6.5%) 113 wrote at least 7 posts (5.9%) 📚 Content We wrote 2289 posts over the month (+240.6%) for a total of 2961 posts. ...read more

Craftsmanship as a Tech Business Model

In a near future, tech companies will be divided between Google-like megacorporations and small tech businesses. IT is getting increasingly distributed. With the rise of micro-services, some products that would have taken a whole team to make 10 years ago now takes one developer to implement. Sometimes you don't even need to code anymore. Code and domain expertise are becoming a commodity. Businesses will have to grow big or keep getting leaner. On the other hand, people are getting tired of huge companies. There is a need for ethical entities that can be trusted. This is where small businesse...read more

Common Misconceptions about Tech Startups

1) Building a startup is risky Learning new marketable skills is not risky. Building a company will teach you many things that are highly valuable in the job market. It won't be easy, but you can overcome any issue if you are eager to learn. 2) You need investments Time can replace money. You can build a tech startup for 2$ a month (price of a domain name) and learn all the necessary skills on the road. 3) Starting a startup is hard A startup doesn't have to make money right from the start. You don't even need a product. You certainly don't need to register a business. What you need first is m...read more

200WaD Post-PH launch

It's been almost two weeks since the launch on Product Hunt. The community reached 1600 members. We grew a monthly-recurring revenue of 65$, which is enough to cover the business's costs (but not enough to make a living). We peaked at 150+ posts published in one day. We are now reaching a growth plateau at 200 daily active users and around 70 posts per day. It's time to ship again. I'm arriving in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow after a week at a friend's house near Georgetown. I will be locking myself up in an Airbnb condo near the Petronas Towers to grow 200WaD even further and keep on adding value at...read more

Adventure in Time

Over the last few days, I have been implementing the new custom timezone feature to allow anyone to publish in their own 24-hour cycle. Before that, the countdown was based on Zurich's time where the server is located. 200WaD is now a global website with people from all around the world, so it's now making sense to add a timezone support. Adding a timezone information to each user is not hard. What is hard is transitioning from a single timezone architecture to a truly global website without breaking anything. Of course, I shipped fast but broke the website several times over the last few days...read more

Entrepreneurship and Mastery

I have a personal statement I live by: Mastery is the goal. Tech, travel and writing are the tools. Entrepreneurship is one of the hardest things you can do nowadays. Many try, few succeed. But I love a good challenge, and this is one of the reasons why I decided to go at it full-time straight out of college. Entrepreneurship is the best way to confront your craft to reality. I'm graduating as a software engineer in March this year. I can't say the perspective of having a stable job where I get to work regular hours for a great wage is not attracting. I would be glad to get my hands on any g...read more

Launch Feelings

When you create, it is your duty to put it out there for the world to see. Painters, movie makers, programmers, writers, sculptors... all creators have to go through a launch day at some point. I want to describe how it feels with my own words. It's a bag of mixed feelings. Light comes with darkness. A launch takes an extended period of time to prepare. During this phase you build up apprehension: will my readers/spectators/users like it? It's both exciting and frightening. Launching is like giving birth. You wonder if your baby is going to be ok. You wonder what the future holds for him or he...read more

Featured on Product Hunt

Today is a special day. We are launching on Product Hunt. The platform where 200 Words a Day is born 41 days ago. The platform where 200 Words a Day won the Makers Festival 2018 and made its first steps. We are now more than 500 members and a solid family of daily users. I have been using 200WaD myself for 41 days straight now, and it's been 60 days since I started writing at least 200 words daily. We are growing fast: 500 members in 41 days, close to 1000 posts released over this time period. Some members have been writing there for several weeks already without any break or excuse for stoppi...read more

From Idea to Revenue in 48 Days

-48 days: I want to be a better writer, so I will scribble at least 200 words every day and share the result on Twitter and Medium. -42 days: I can't find the right product to help me improve my writings. There are nice writing communities in subreddits and in forums. There are nice writing tools to develop a writing habit. But not both at the same time. -42 days: My co-founders and I decided to dissolve our startup after working on it for 1 year. We attained profitability, but we cannot reach an agreement on how to scale from there. -39 days: The invites for the Product Hunt Makers Festival 2...read more

Writing is the root of branding

If we take a really cold outlook at our economy today, we observe that everything is productized. Especially people. People are offered to a market to fulfill a need or a want -- to solve a problem in exchange for a wage, your perceived value. It is indeed a dehumanizing view, but this is the essence of liberalism. Similarly, everything you need to strive for in order to succeed in society could be linked to a sales process: you want a job? You have to sell yourself. You want a partner? Seducing is selling yourself. Jean-Luc Godard famously said that "making movies and doing the hustler a...read more

200 Words a Day will not be the next Medium

Since I launched 200wordsaday.com two weeks ago, people who use the product are not afraid to go ahead and say that this website will become the "Idea Twitter", an "Anti-Twitter", or the "next Medium". I understand what they mean by that. 200' has the potential to help many people in getting into a writing habit, be read and act upon their life by doing so. A publishing platform that could become as big, if not bigger, than Medium in size. Truth is, 200' is, and will be, something entirely original. We will represent something much different than Medium. Medium's ...read more

So, we won something apparently

Yesterday night, as I was celebrating the arrival of the 100th member of our community, I noticed a little notification pop up reading "And the Makers Festival winners are...". My heart skipped a beat. I couldn't resist the clickbait and proceeded to the website. Two weeks ago the Product Hunt Makers Festival 2018 happened, and it was an amazing experience: origin story of 200 Words a Day. It started with solving a personal problem, and ended with a product users like - dare I say - a product that users love (or will hopefully love after further refinements). Two weeks forward, we ar...read more

How artisans do marketing

Craftsmanship is old. Artisans are tied to their craft. When a craftsman reach mastery, he can own a business. How do craftsmen market themselves? They use their craft. Indeed, ancient artisans never resorted to facebook or google ads. Instead, their knowledge and experience were their best marketing tools. Word-of-mouth is the oldest marketing strategy. If your product is great, and you get some people to buy it and be happy about it, chances are, your customers will become your greatest advocates. On the contrary, a bad product, or a bad customer, might end up ruining your chances. As Ben Ho...read more

The maker who had too many ideas

I have a problem. I have too many product ideas. Most of them are bad, but I will never know which ones unless I try them out. My personal Trello board contains 100+ product idea cards. Some others are logged in Evernote, in an ideas.txt file, or on Twitter. Many complain that they cannot manage to generate ideas. I trained myself to become an idea machine. It is now a curse. Picture this. You have many ideas that you are excited about and cannot wait to make and share for the world to see. The problem is, time is limited. You will never have enough time in the world to grow all of them into b...read more

Online trust

Online trust is hard to get. Yet, it is mandatory for most things you set out to create. Making is collaborating. You cannot do this alone. Trust is the heart of collaboration, so how do we grow trust ? Performing tasks in public is a great enabler. Writing down what you are doing, for everyone else to see, creates transparency. A tangible display of honesty. Any goal worth pursuing usually takes time. Persistence is another trait to prove to others. Cheer determination inspires people. Show up everyday and keep at it. Stick to become a reliable person: keep your word. Stay consistent once you...read more

There is no worthless app

Oscar Wilde famously said that all art is quite useless. Similarly, one could argue that all apps are useless, meaning, they are not needed to live. And this is a peculiar argument which I think is the reason why so many makers never launch or never go through with their ideas. A fear of uselessness. But being useless is not the same thing as being worthless. Making an app can only benefit you in the long term. Your market value is all about your capacity for learning hard materials fast and creating at an elite level, in both speed and quality. Making is about both. Apps are either tools or w...read more

Why I built 200 Words a Day

When you are growing a tech company, it is tempting to spend all your time making and leave your voice aside. But this voice matters. It tells you why you got started in the first place. It tells others what you stand for. More importantly, it keeps you sane. It is not my first attempt at getting into a habit of writing: I bought writing books, I started a blog ... to no effect. On November the 4th, I decided it could not keep going that way, and I commited to writing 200 words every day in public. Published on Medium, shared on Twitter and Facebook. Today, I am not only on a 18-day streak, bu...read more