April 14, 2019

Anyone think they should stop doing side projects and weekend startups and defer to later when they have deeper knowledge?


I have a full-time software job and it's pleasant. The people are great, flexible schedule, solid 40-45 hours, close to getting promoted.

Over the past few years, I've been chasing the indie hacker lifestyle on the weekends. Sometime low effort ideas, a saas product that never got off the ground, art work that I made $5 from (which is the only profit I've made from my endevors).

Fortunately for me, I enjoy working on software teams. For now as an individual contributor. Maybe a people/team manager in the future. There's a stable ladder for me to climb and relative stability for now (compared to a few years ago which sparked my interest in running my own software business).

I'm also interested in the time being with machine learning and how it can be applied in healthcare. I'm in a unique position where my partner is doing a PhD and I think it would be fun to build something together in the future.

Maybe my weeknight and weekend indie hacker project should take a pause. Maybe now is the time for me to build more expertise for something grander in the future. I also just want to be a damn better software engineer.

How is your Saturday evening?

  1. 4

    Building side-projects is not an end-goal, it's part of the process to build more expertise.

    You can hide behind excuses - lack of experience, golden handcuffs, lack of cofounder. Or start more meaningful side projects.

    How is confronting yourself to a market not making you a better software engineer?
    Isn't education a side-project we all go through?

    There is no grander something waiting for you in the future, it all happens right now, so take your responsibilities.

    Anyways, I'm done with the pep talk. This path can't be planned, you have to try new things while keeping your work/life alignment in check. Best of luck :)

    1. 2

      It's not about whether you learn things doing side projects/startups, it's about the opportunity costs of the side projects you are doing.

      A software engineer who wants to become a better software engineer is going to do entirely different projects than someone who is doing projects as a business. I think it's best to decide what you want to do/be and work towards that deliberately.

    2. 1

      Not wanting to work on side projects at the moment is perfectly acceptable. You don't need to explain yourself to anyone. Maybe right now what would bring him more joy is working on other things or just hanging out with their partner. Do whatever you want with your free time. This is your time.
      Sometimes IH makes it seem we all have to achieve this lofty goal that maybe the 1% of 1% ever achieve and if we aren't grinding away at it then we are lesser than others.

  2. 1

    I did a startup at 22. We made a few thousand dollars in revenue but lost a ton of money. At the time there was no other option in front of me that would have led to as much growth as a developer and that experience set me up to start taking "real jobs".

    Working a day job I would only try and ship something every once in a while when I got bored (in hindsight it usually meant I was about to change jobs) but I spent many weekends doing work I thought was cool and no one would ever see. It was my intepretation of what Jeff Atwood calls sharpening the saw. https://blog.codinghorror.com/sharpening-the-saw/

    Now nearly 10 years later I think I have something worth the hustle and, wouldn't you know it, the idea is at the intersection of my weekend interests and the work I've done as a devops engineer.

    My Saturday (and my Sunday) evening were both productive but hectic and not the best way to prepare to return to the office tomorrow. I'm glad I haven't been doing this flat out for a decade and feel well rested for constantly uphill battle I have in front of me.