I don’t really need a status report, as nothing has happened yet. But I want a post to remember where I’m at now, and where I see things going over this year. I’ll start with some failed projects, and a quick analysis on what went wrong (you may note a common thread……). In no particular order:
Some failed projects from the last 5 years
game.dj – I was writing Flash games at the time, and a friend and I created some games for a Flash gaming site. We had no idea how to monetise it (I think the plan extended to…. ads?….) Did no marketing, and went nowhere.
mailboy – a Rails app which allowed people to submit a PDF and generate a physical mailing. Designed for small businesses, such as real estate agents, restaurants, hair dressers, dentists. The app was fully functional, and I was ready to roll, but did zero marketing so had zero customers… Shut it down after a few months.
wedisagr.ee – Functional Rails app for users to have a debate around their chosen issues. Both people would present their arguments, and an ongoing discussion could continue with audience members below the debate. Never did any marketing, but I basically pulled the plug when I realised there was no monetisation strategy, and it would require a fair bit of ongoing work.
yamuthas – Was to be a skating T-Shirt brand, got some good designs, but did no customer research or marketing. Now I’ve got a cupboard of blank T-Shirts…
chermarket – A celebrity stock market Facebook app. Allowed you to ‘buy’ shares in Celebrities which would change value according to their status on IMDB. Was fully functional, but had no monetisation strategy, or marketing put into it.
madelucky – A Facebook slots app. Was fully functional and live for a while. Got a few hundred users by coincidence, zero sales or marketing.
There are others, but you get the idea. No marketing for anything, no audience building, usually no monetisation plan. It’s a very common dilemma among a heap of developers, the belief of ‘build it and they will come’, which hides a strong desire of not wanting to speak to people.
I still have that desire to not speak to people, but I have realised that the only way a side project is going to turn into anything is if I do some marketing. Ideally, building projects where some marketing is built into the product.
Where I am now
I work full time as a HTML5 Game developer making kids games, and it’s a great job. I work with super smart people, in a great team, and being surrounded by like minds is incredible. It’s also decent money, and with a mortgage and 2 kids going to an expensive school, I need stable income.
Longer term I want the time and location independence that my own businesses would give me. So I’m setting up some side projects, and plan on building traction over the next year or so. I’m doing three projects, which is a little crazy, but I’ll give my reasoning for each of them.
slotstowin – Facebook social slots app. I have no passion for this at all, but I worked making slots years ago, have previously build something similar, and was approached by some fairly established people to go into partnership and build this. I’ve now built the base, the MVP is live, and I’m going to start some minimal (paid) marketing over the next week or so. The bigger plan here is a different marketing plan, but that can wait until later.
endual – WordPress plugin development. I’ve heard quite a few people, who should know, mention that a WP plugin is a good starter project. I’ve written a couple, which I basically exrtacted from slotstowin, and am almost ready to push free versions to the WP repo. My belief here is that a lot of the marketing can be done with the free plugin, and encorage people to update to the paid. I don’t think this will be a major thing at all, I’m doing it more as a new start.
japaneasey – This is the one that I do have passion for. My plan is to create a series of games to teach Japanese. Japanese,education, making games, what’s not to love? But it’s a huge project. It requires teachers, artists, animators, actors, coders, marketing…. I was planning on leaving this as a ‘one day’ project, but I think about it every day, so I thought I’d start to slowly build an audience. I’m writing a game engine, and doing a bit of blogging. Marketing here will all be SEO and content marketing at the moment, but I really enjoy the project and what I it eventually become.
It’s too many projects, but I still can’t decide on the avenue to follow.
- The project most likely to make decent money
- The project which is the best first step in building a group of small money makers
- The passion project
My thoughts are, I’ll stick with all three for now, and see if I can start to build momentum for any of them.