This week's newsletter is full of practical ideas that you can apply! I'm really happy with how this came out. Don't miss the call to action.
Before we start, I'm doing 2 React workshops in Bangalore this month. If you're interested, there's a crazy discount coupon at the end of this newsletter.
An idea comes to your mind, inspiration strikes! This is going to make you rich or famous or both! You're motivated and you jump on it and start making a list of features your idea should have.
Here's the thing about inspiration. When it strikes, it gives you a lot of momentum to get started and it's great. But eventually, when it fades away, you're just left with a bunch of work.
I have these moments at least once a month. I have a graveyard of projects I started but didn't finish (I'm sure you have some too!)
Now, I'm not saying never do anything. Pursue your ideas for sure, but be aware of how your mind works.
Side note: If you have a lot of ideas but don't know which one to work on, read my previous newsletter on How to chose what to work on. Here's a link.
I like to use that early inspiration to get something concrete out of it that will help me continue it later.
Here are 2 scenarios:
1. The project is small and can be completed in a day.
If the idea is to build something small or achieve something that can be done in a few hours, pounce on it!
Try to finish it on the same day/night. You'll feel exhilarated when you're done and take the next day to relax and celebrate your success.
Most of my open source work falls into this category. If I want something that doesn't exist yet, I jump on it before my brain convinces me to compromise and make do with the alternatives. Examples of these are: cost-of-modules, auto-install and from last week: twitter-timer
I'm making a big assumption here: You can make a few hours available for yourself on demand.
This isn't always possible. Some of us have bosses that like to micromanage, family members that want our attention, boyfriends/girlfriends that want to watch movies with us, you get it.
If you can relate to this, this just means that your idea needs more time to reach completion. No worries, read on.
2. The project is huge or will take at least a month to be ready for the world.
Most of my projects fall into this category now.
Use your initial momentum to your advantage. Build the tiniest thing you can to get your idea in front of people. I'm not talking about MVPs here, you need to go smaller!
Create a single page. It doesn't have to be fancy. In fact, the simpler the better.
Good old html + css (or use a visual tool like carrd.co to avoid writing any code at all)
At this point, you want to figure out if this project is worth spending time on. If it excites others the same way it excites you. Ask people to drop their email on the page.
Someone with a marketing degree will call this Product Validation.
While making this page, you need to answer 3 key questions:
- Who is this for?
- What problem does this solve?
- How do I get people to see this
These 3 questions bring some clarity into what the idea should become. Answer them while the idea is still fresh. If you can't answer them now, chances are you'll have trouble getting traction for your project when it's done.
Here are a few personal examples:
A bunch of people replied on the question from last week (You folks are awesome!)
And I noticed a problem statement there: There are developers who would love to learn a new framework like React, but can't invest hours and hours learning it right now.
That gave me the idea of building a React course that is split up into very small chunks that are emailed to you. You can spend just 15 mins a day for 3 weeks to get up to speed.
Sounds like a good idea, right? Sure did to me. But building a course is a lot of work, it would take me at least 2-3 weeks to get it right. I was curious to find if people would be really interested in this course.
So I created a small page asking how much money would they pay for a course like this.
No graphics, no copyrighters. Just some white text on black and a google form. I tweeted this page out and asked a few people to retweet it.
I got a few responses (~50) which gave me a fair idea of how much people would pay for it and how many people do I need to reach out to for making this worth the 2-3 weeks investment. Spoiler alert: I would need a lot of people, so I've decided to stick to my classroom workshops for now. 😅
(This doesn't mean you need thousands of signups to validate an idea. Samsung might conduct a research for 3 months with 15000 people. On the other hand, I'll build something if I know 25 people that need it 😋)
Sometimes you don't even need to build a page to validate the idea.
Here's the first step I took when I had the idea to start a sticker company. Inspiration struck, but I didn't have the time to build a website or find printers, so I wrote a tweet instead!
(I came back to this idea months later and am building this with my friend Nitish: stackstickers.shop)
There's another way of validating ideas that have a well defined target audience: Email!
I really like the idea of teaching a React course to a group of developers in a company at their office. Now, I don't know many CTOs that I can call up to pitch the idea. So where do you even start?
I can spend 3 months building polished course material and then try to score some meetings with CTOs. By now, you know that's not the right approach.
I decided to take a shot in the dark. I spent 10 minutes on an email that I sent to the software architect at a company asking him to forward it to his CTO 😅
(I don't personally know either of them, but I do know they are trying to hire a bunch of senior developers, so they might be interested in what I have to offer)
It wasn't a very professional mail either. I wrote that I can teach their junior developers some of the skills they might need. It took 3-4 email exchanges and a couple of phone calls to even get to a structure that made sense.
I can't tell you the name of the company yet, but fingers crossed?
Worst case scenario, it gave me the confidence to reach out to other companies, and now I have a structured course that is far better than the one I started with.
What's the message here?
Getting people to like your idea is far more difficult than building your it. Make that your starting point and you'll have the motivation to take your idea to completion for all the users that are waiting for it!
Important note: Not all projects are for other people! You can (and should) do projects for yourself. Where you are the target audience.
From time to time, I'll build something for the purpose of building something I'll enjoy and learn something from it.
When I wanted to learn about service workers, I built notella. I'm building polar right now to learn how to design interfaces.
Time for this week's call to action.
If you have an idea that you want to work on, reply to this email with your idea and I'll help you start. 😉
This workshop is available at 50% of the price thanks to HasGeek!
Here's are the 2 React workshops in Bangalore I mentioned at the start of this newsletter:
July 14: Advanced React Component Patterns: Details
Because you signed up for my newsletter, I'd like you to have a 60% discount on the tickets! Use this link to checkout.
July 21: Getting started with React: Details
Hope this was helpful for you on your journey!
You should follow me on twitter 🐦