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22 Comments

4 months of indiehacking and I am having regrets

I've been building a web app that i hope will be 'NomadList + Indiehackers' specifically for European travels: Eurotripr.com.

I quit my job 4 months ago to work on it (have a year's worth of savings to survive on), and have been trying to build out this site with curated data on European destinations and itineraries.

I took stock over the weekend and realized a few things:

  1. I should have finished a usable MVP 2+ months ago
  2. I don't have an end in sight
  3. I haven't even started the hard part of promoting it

Now I'm beginning to doubt myself and wondering whether or not to continue, pivot, scrap.

I have believed in this site as an idea and half-hearted project for over 10 years. But now that I have finally taken the leap to focus solely on it, I find myself floundering still.

I'm starting to let the all too familiar doubts and regrets creep into my mind. I'm sure the problem of finding and planning a trip to Europe exists (especially with COVID restrictions still lingering) and my solution can help solve a small piece of it, but I am starting to doubt that I am the one to solve it. These thoughts usually creep in just before I shelf or scrap a project - I've done that with this one MANY times over the years. It's compounded because of family obligations and the need to bring in income as I see my savings get smaller each month.

I fear going back to a 9-5 or even taking side jobs that will take my focus off Eurotripr and push back an already delayed launch.

I've found myself procrasti-working on other projects, household and web.

I'm going to keep pushing through, but when and how do I decide 'enough is enough' and scrap this if I can't even get a usable MVP out the door in four months? I originally thought I could do the 12 months 12 projects challenge or at least 1 project per month until one gained traction, but I can't even get a single one out the door in 4.

Any tips on reevalutaing a project that is taking longer than you anticipated and deciding what features to eliminate or whether to pivot or scrap your baby?

Thanks for the read - sometimes it feels good just to talk to someone about these feeling of fear and worry.

  1. 3

    I checked your project and saw you put a lot of effort into it. But there are my 2 cents:

    • I'm not 100% sure you know what it is for: there is A LOT of information for tourists that could be found on the Internet so I'm not sure why to create one more
    • you need to distinguish from them. I'd remove most of the countries and focus only on some of them (say, northern countries like Norvegian and Sweden - may be less popular but the same interesting)
    • instead of giving the information for the whole country, divide them into regions (or cities) and provide the info for them - data can't be the same for the whole country
    • try to think who are the end users and what they want to know and give them the information (it's better to talk to them instead of guessing).

    Hope it helps and I wish you good luck!

    1. 1

      Great advice. Thanks for reviewing the site. I definitely did take on way too much. I originally envisioned something quite a bit more narrowly focused, but the deeper down the rabbit hole i went, the more i bit off, to the point I've realized I've wasted a lot of time over 4 months and need to re-prioritize the basics and niche-ing down to a specific segment of EUrope to begin possibly.

      Re: costs per countries/regions/city's: i 100% agree and I have been slowly entering data for countries AND cities AND individual Points of Interest (ie museums, etc) so I could aggregate and get accurate costs....yes i realize WAY too much and that is why i have been feeling defeated.

      Thanks again for the advice. I'm going to take a step back and try to simplify what I've built so far and pare things away that are too vague / unnecessary.

      1. 1

        No problem, I was really glad to help!
        I always find such services pretty useful and appealing but for me, the roadblock is always data! So much data to enter :( Pieter succeeded because he asked people to help him and they did. Maybe you can think about something like that?

        1. 1

          My big goal was to have SOME data input and then have it open to Crowdsourced data for costs and scores, but the initial data input still seems insurmountable...but i'm chipping away at it. Probably decided to do too much. thanks again

  2. 2

    If I were you, this is what I would do.

    1. Have an outline plan of what needs to be done for each location.
      • Instead of having all the locations ready before promoting, focus on finishing and publishing 1 at the time. Leave all the rest with a "coming soon" and "sign up to the newsletter to be notified" something like that.
    2. For each location, plan an outline of what you would say, and make a blog, and also a video about it. Make sure to not overcomplicate them. That way you are also gaining traction and collecting some emails while you are building the different locations.

    I have 1 question, how are you planning on monetizing it?

    I saw a video of this couple making like 10k a month doing something similar to what I have outlined and they have been doing it for 8 months. I think they do videos on different hikes and such in the RockyMountains. I can't remember the name right now, but I will try to find them again and link it.

    1. 1

      THis is great advice. Very similar to my long term gal for the site. But i was trying to 'do it all at once' and it's taking forever. Maybe '1 at a time' is feasible. I will look into pivoting to this. Thank you very much for the suggestion.

      1. 1

        Definitely! Is your plan to monetize the Newsletter or how are you going to do it?

        1. 1

          My goal for monetization is a combination of Advertising and Membership subscriptions. I have some other ideas longer term, but I'm hoping I can build out the content soon-ish and drive traffic to get advertisers. I'd like to start a podcast where i interview travelers. I just sent out my 1st 100 interview invitations/requests to a number of bloggers/youtubers and i had 2 people from Reddit complete an intervew from each of their Euro travel experiences.

          The goals are there, the time just seems to be slipping away too quickly.

          1. 1

            Have you written it down? I think it could be a good thing to get a whiteboard and write down the roadmap. And a way to check if you've made at least 1% progress every day.

            1. 1

              I use Workflowy to keep a running TODO List, and check items off as I go. But I seem to add more than I check off each day. And instead of adding the news one s to 'Later' i jump on whichever ones seem 'urgent' in my mind.

              As I re-prioritize Ithink this will get fixed. The key is just to remain focused on the smallest number of tasks to get to MVP as possible, and let all the other BS fall to the sire until i actually circle back AFTER i launch a MVP and prove the concept.

              Thanks!

              1. 1

                Have you tried having a notebook?

                I try to write down every week on the things I want to get done, that way it adds an extra level of "physicality" to it, and I feel that it might give a bit more dopamine to scratch a thing on the notebook than to just click checked on an app.

                Yea, I used to do the same, I tried keepeing everything in my mind, and I feel like (I think I read about this) having all the things in your mind actually might prevent you from being able to focus completely on the task you need to get done. Since the mind is always running and can be distracted with other things that need to be done(I still find myself jumping around things but I try to be aware of when that happens)

  3. 2

    #2 is a probably your biggest problem – you need to brutally pare back features until you have a clear picture of what your MVP looks like.

    Some people think "MVP" means an "early-stage product" – but it really stands for minimum viable product – the absolute bare minimum that you need to launch your site and start testing whether people want to use it. This is really hard to do. We always want to build more and we're scared and ashamed of launching a bare-bones project. But especially if you're running out of runway, you just have to do this. Remember that the launch is just the start. You can make everything better later.

    Last, there's nothing wrong with going back to a 9-5 and working on this a side project. You have to take care of your basic finances and family first – if that's at risk, then at least for me the stress is unbearable and it's impossible for me to function. Personally, I think a 12 month runway is too short. It's possible, but I think for most people 18-24 is what's required.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

    1. 1

      Thank you for the advice. And yes, the stress is becoming more unbearable, and I am preparing myself for the thought of needing to go back to a 9-5. I am hoping to find a way to push this live and monetize before i have to though - i feel i'll never finish this if i go back, but i need to earn a living before my runway dries up

  4. 1

    Took a look at the site. You're doing a lot mate. The first version of Nomadlist was a Google sheets. And because it solved a problem people were excited about it. You're trying to build something that looks like Nomadlist today straight off the bat.

    I would follow the advice other people have already given about focusing on just a small amount of location to start (1-5) and sharing something that works with users so you can verify if people even want this.

    If they do, great you iterate on feedback. If they don't then you solve a problem they actually have with their travel (thoughts: the CovId, can I fly and what do I need is actually a super useful but temporary solution. All other types of travel info people can usually get elsewhere but there's not a good source for CovId related info right now.) This is super important because you're time is limited and you don't want to be the guy who builds the wrong thing for many many months. Best way to build the right thing is to speak to people, no matter how scary it is.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the advice!! I totally agree with what you are saying, and its funny (not rally) but the inital iteration for this was supposed to be a list of countries with basic daily costs and COVID restrictions and a curated list of itineraries. THat was it. I have gone down a rabbit hole and have found myself "lifting" heavily from NomadList in terms of design and what data to display. With the comments in this post, I am forcing myself to take a step back and re-prioritize the basics.

      Re; talking to people, I actually just completed sending 100 emails to Euro travelers to interview them for the site and get feedback on problems they faced when planning their trips. Hoping a few respond positively.

      Thanks again for the advice.

  5. 1

    Last December I shipped my first project Legendsverse.com. Developed it in 2 months, working about 3 hours before work. I only had the strength to work on it because I was already marketing it in a reddit sub. People were excited and that made me excited for it. When I shipped it it was so incomplete. There were a lot of stuff missing. But I shipped it anyways, first week got two customers and that helped me keep working on it. Right now it sits at 87 users. All of them paid.

    Before that I tried to tackle several projects, several times, that never were published, shared, marketed or anything.

    My point is, share it with the people who could be interested in it before continuing development. See if people is interested. If they are, you will have a boost of confidence and will enjoy the work way more. And also, ship it ASAP as possible.

    It doesn't have to be complete. It just has to work.

    EDIT: Before shipping I was bailing out, but one morning I just sent a Newsletter announcing the release date, and after that there was no turning back.

    1. 1

      I've heard this advice many times. I always intend to follow it and never do. I think having some of the advice elsewhere in the comments here + this + the boost in motivation I received listening to some of @csallen interviews/talks have given me the push I was in need of to take a step back, re-prioritize a minimal feature set, and commit to launching SOMETHING as quickly as possible.

      Thank you so much for the advice and sharing your experience.

  6. 1

    I've been in such stages before and now Im building a product to help see progress where it's hard to see progress. Keep talking to potential users and sell the mockup of your product to validate it.

  7. 1

    DM on Twitter, let's chat.

  8. 1

    Hey! I see where you are coming from! It will pass. DM me or e-mail me and let's get on a quick call, so that I could maybe help you get your motivation back!

  9. 1

    Hey, I've been there recently something that's been helping me produce results faster when developing has been writing out all the features instead of typing them in the notion that needs to get done and putting dates next to when I think it should be completed by and sticking to the timeline. Not gonna lie I could've sworn when first looking at the site there were some really 😈 photos but looks clean now.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the words. I will give that a try - I've never been good with sticking t a schedule, but I really need to.

      And sadly, yes there was some inappropriate imagery there moments ago. I put a 'could you provide early feedback' request to /startups on reddit and someone pointed out my security breaches (which i hadn't even thought of b/c i was only looking for highlevel feedback). Then someone must have jumped on that and went wild deleteing my data and adding these images. Luckily I had a recent DB back up so all is back to normal and I locked down some of the CRUD features to avoid malicious activity - hopefully.

      Again, thanks for the advice.

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