The Years I've Spent on Side Projects Have Not Been Wasted

In my 18 years online, I’ve spent large chunks of time exploring ideas that never came into fruition. I’ve gone years building out software I’ve never made into saleable products for a multitude of reasons. The standard indie hacker journey would have you believe that this is time wasted, pointless where iterating quickly and shipping products that sell would get you to that magic monthly recurring revenue you so desperately desire. I’m here to say that’s just not true.

A lot of these projects were created because I wanted to solve a problem of my own. Without creating them, I have a nagging pain that will eat away at me until the end of time until it’s resolved. In creating them, I can stop that pain - resolve the itch, speed up my workflow and can move on. It might not be released to the world, but my problem is resolved and I can move on. Problem solved.

Other products that I’ve felt may have some commercial value have been shelved for a variety of complex reasons. Changes with the UK coming out of the EU have made dealing with VAT increasingly something I don’t particularly want to touch for instance. This makes any SaaS complex to kickoff, but digital products may be simpler with services like gumroad. A lot of the time therefore I learn that the product I’d envisioned isn’t actually possible for some reason, or I learn that businesses wouldn’t actually step up and pay for it. But now I’ve learnt how to better identify potential business ideas.

All of this time spent helps me learn something new. It may be a technology, why a business idea sucks or just scratching my creative itch. But it should be considered time wasted only when the only goal was to make money.


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