JAMES LONG

I'm Bringing My Blog Back

June 10, 2019

The last couple of years I've been building Actual. It's taken a lot out of me. Building, marketing, and trying to bootstrap a product yourself is ridiculously hard.

I've wanted to quit. I seriously almost quit last summer and left it alone for about 2 months. Last year, almost every week I asked myself why was I putting myself through this. The spark of an idea that I believe in always drew me back, and until I feel like I've expressed the idea well enough, I don't think I can stop.

I will talk more about the history of Actual in another post, but it's been a lot better this year since I launched in January and have paying users (even if it's only ~35 users). Having even just a few people give you cash monthly takes most of sting away. It feels a lot better when any work you do can potentially convert more customers.

I've learned so much. I keep wanting to write about things as I'm learning, but my blog was dead and I didn't have time to focus on it. Finally, I'm bringing my blog back.

I will write about my experience building Actual, from interesting technical challenges to how to figure out stuff like pricing, and how to make it profitable. I don't know that part yet, I haven't gotten there. Most of this blog will be about my attempts to grow and get closer to profitability.

Here's where I'm at now:

  • 10 daily active users
  • 35 paid subscribers
  • $140 MRR.

I don't track a whole lot of metrics, but daily users and MRR are the most important ones. There are so many things I'm failing at, and I want to work on them. Join me as I learn about running a business.

As a developer slowly learning business, here are a few final thoughts from my last few years of experience building a product:

  • It's a long-term commitment. It's easy to throw up a prototype in a week and see people excited. It takes a lot longer to really learn what you're building and find focus, probably somewhere around 1-2 years.
  • You will want to quit. There's no way around it: it's a grind. Working on something for years with little payoff, while it's effecting everything around you (your social life, free time, etc) is grueling. Any sane person wants to quit, but if you still believe in your idea and its potential, persist.
  • People want to pay you. If you haven't charged people money directly before, it's scary to ask for money. Once you do, you realize it's not an evil thing to do. In fact, many people will happily pay you money for something useful you build. The hard part is wading through everyone else who thinks you're wrong to find those people. (related: charge more)

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