I’ve been working for myself for nearly 12 years, and for the most part I love it. But there is one aspect of being an independent software developer that I could happily do without, the cycle of feast or famine.
I attended a video cast thingie today - I think the kids call it a webinar - hosted by Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman titled Kick Procrastination’s Ass. It was really good, especially the first hour. If you have some spare time, I highly recommend watching it.
Amy Hoy answers the question “How do you stay motivated when you’re not making any money”. The post is a couple of years old, but her answer is as relevant today as it was back then. It’s not about finding and having motivation. It’s about developing good habits.
Last month I briefly mentioned my plan to productize some of the services I offer through White Peak Software. The main idea is to take a consulting service that I already offer to my clients and turn it into a product that my clients and others will hopefully subscribe to thus creating a monthly recurring revenue stream for my company. My goal was to spend no more than 40 hours over the span of a few weeks setting up this new product. And now, after spending 38.75 hours over the last few weeks, I’m ready to share more details.
A few years back I was making the majority of my income from the products I sold. My apps, my book, they were all doing well. But that changed in 2013. Things came crashing down, and I found myself wondering how I was going to pay the bills.
Lately I’ve been struggling to release new things out to the public, things such as blog posts, open source code, a new website and service I want to offer, even updates to some of my apps. What’s worse is that a number of these things are done and are just sitting on my computer. For instance, I’ve been using an updated version of Cross Post for nearly two months that isn’t available in the App Store.
I tweeted the other day that “I have the problem of wanting to do too many things at once, which is distracting. It’s time for me to learn how to scale back and focus.”
Amy Hoy wrote the first version of her book Just Fucking Ship in 24 hours, which is awesome. Along those same lines, David Smith built an app from start to finish in about 6 hours - also awesome, and he posted this video that shows the entire process.
I came across one of the silliest benefits I’ve seen for a remote developer job: casual dress code. From the job posting:
As we flew home from Vancouver I asked Rowan if he thought it was neat that we were flying from a snowboarding vacation to home where we will go snowboarding again. He said he thought it was neat, but I don’t know if he really gets it. I know it blows my mind to think that we live in a place where people come for a vacation to do exactly what we did on our vacation. The difference though is that we get to continue doing what we did on vacation once we return home.
While writing my previous post on how working 80+ hours is not the answer, I was reminded of a Wall Street startup I interviewed for back in December 1999. The startup was staffed with many brilliant programmers, and I certainly would learn a lot from them. The startup was well funded, and they offered me more money than any other company had offer me. But in the end I turned down their offer.
A founder, or maybe the person is a manager type, asked on Quora, “How do you make programmers work 60-80 hours per week?” While the question is a pathetic one, the answers that follow, especially the first one, are worth a read. And you should certainly read the answers if you happen to be one of those sad founders/manager types who wants their of programmers to work long hours. In short, if you are trying to force your programmers to work 60, 80 or more hours per week, then you are doing it wrong.
There have been a number of recent blog posts about the doom and gloom of being an indie developer especially in the iOS world. The theme of these posts are basically the same. A developer spends some time building an app. The app is released into the wild, and sales are much lower than expected. Some developers give up while others will try again.
To some my life seems like a non-stop vacation. I’m a ski bum, a slacker, someone who rarely works. I’m always off on some adventure, snowboarding in the winter months, hiking and kayaking in the summer months. And from one point of view this is true. Over the last 12 months I have spent a great deal of my time snowboarding, hiking and kayaking. But I’ve also been focused on writing code and building apps.
Jeff Atwood has declared December 1 as “Support your favorite small software vendor day”. He is asking people to register those useful programs created by independent software vendors that are used on a regular basis. As a small software vendor trying to make a living off my own software, I find this show of love great.
Ever wonder how much money WinZip brings in per year, or how much money Jasc, makers of Paint Shop Pro, makes annually? Corel now owns these two and Corel is planning to go public, which means disclosure to this information.
Thomas Warfield over at A Shareware Life has posted the numbers and a link to the entire prospectus. Give it a quick read and see that shareware stars do make big money. At least these two do.
And the good stuff keeps coming from Bob. He just told me about a new web site for small software company that is going live today. Be sure to check it out.
2005 has come and gone, and man was it fast. 2005 was a very interesting year for me. I learned a lot about running a software business and I have a better idea of what it means to be a self employed computer geek turned aspiring entrepreneur. I have my success stories, made mistakes, changed directions, lost sleep, and spent more time with my wife. Here’s a brief recap of 2005:
- Release White Peak Software’s first product, SMTPdiagnostics.
- Released 4 custom software solutions for customers.
- Elected Chapter President of ICCA NYC Metro.
- Met target revenue goals.
- Became more focus on where I want to take White Peak Software.
- Over obligating myself and my time.
- Lacking focus for the first half of the year.
- Did not release Beta version of Vertigo.
- A poor job of networking and keep in touch with customer.
So what are my resolutions for 2006?
- Complete Vertigo version 1.0.
- Increase product revenue by at least 60%.
- Do a better job of staying in touch with customer.
- Do a better job of going to the gym.
- And find more ways to spend more time with my wife.