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21 Comments

How I failed 5 side projects in 6 years, earning $0

Hi everyone 👋

It won't be about the record-breaking MRR or amazing milestones.
This time I would like to share my story that summarizes my journey as an indie hacker. A story about failed 5 side projects in 6 years and earned $0.

Here's the link to the blog post:
https://kwcodes.com/how-i-failed-5-side-projects-in-6-years-earning-0/

I hope you'll enjoy the read. If you got any comments or recommendations, I'm more than happy to hear them.

Have a great day!

  1. 6

    Thanks for sharing your story! You're so brave to share your failures with everyone. Fingers crossed for your next project.

    I made a similar mistake. I built a tool that no one needed. I tried hard to get this thing off the ground for 3 years but failed. The main lesson I learned is that you should sell your product first/get a big waitlist (for B2C) and only then build it.

    For example, instead of building the job board you could've tried to find 10 companies, help them find candidates and make them pay for your services. If you can do it, then you know how and where to find customers and you're sure they are ready to pay for your product.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the tip! You're totally right. Having paid clients before building the project is an ultimate business idea validation.

  2. 3

    I came across this article the other day and just wanted to say: you're not the only one going through this.

    I've been making active attempts at side projects since 2017 (before that too, but those were reallllllllllllly bad.)

    It sounds like you're on the right track in the post, and for what it's worth I think your previous projects have a great design to them, even if they weren't successful.

    1. 1

      It's so great you like the design! 😍

  3. 3

    Good stories, sometimes we may think that failure various projects are something rare, and that we eventually should succeed, but in the indie hacker world, it is the most common thing to happen, and we should be prepared for it.

    I'm currently building a job board (Spanish market), I don't know if it will succeed or not, it is true that are plenty of job boards and it is a difficult market for that reason, but has been a good learning experience, especially in different aspects of developing a product that I can't see or get involved in my day job.

    I hope you luck on your future products, and don't stop creating and learning.

    1. 1

      Thanks @frandevme! Good luck with your product! 💪

  4. 3

    Thanks for sharing!
    Some time ago I also posted a similar article https://cornerbit.tech/how-to-fail-a-project/
    All the best in your next side-project!

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing, great read!

  5. 2

    Oh man, this speaks to me. Kudos to you for this honest article, it's a great read. And a very realistic account.

    I have 3 failures under my belt so far. Every single time I neglected to do the needed market analysis. I just started developing without thinking about the who and the why.

    But you know what? I don't really view them as failures. It's cliche, but if you learn from the failures, the kind of lessons you learn can pay huge dividends down the line.

    There's a saying in the stock and investing world called "paying your market tuition". It basically means if you're an active investor or participate in trading (swing trading, day trading, etc).. at some point you're going to take a big loss. And it's gonna hurt. But as long as you can analyze it dispassionately, and learn from it, you will find your way.

  6. 2

    Thank you for the share. It's always inspiring to be able to look at others' stories. I have seen your post on hacker news before. Some commented that these projects are given up at a premature stage; they may lead to success if you keep on grinding. What's your take on that?

    And do you have the plan to take these projects and partner with someone? This may open up unrealized possibilities.

    1. 2

      I think it depends on the project:

      1. iOS game - the mobile games market is very difficult. If you're not featured on the App Store on the launch, you're in trouble. Selling a game for a few $ maybe could lead to covering the App Store fee, but it wouldn't pay my bills :)

      2. Real estate monitoring - I still believe this has potential. I'm sure that implementing this by one person might be too time-consuming though. Maybe it's possible to develop a similar web application but with no-code tools? I'll need to research it a bit more to check if that's feasible.

      3. Job board - If I got the energy to keep pushing the marketing forward, maybe it would help. But hard to say. The job board market is really crowded nowadays.

      And do you have the plan to take these projects and partner with someone?

      To be honest I prefer to become a solopreneur one day :) But maybe I'll change my mind one day.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the reply. You are right, multiple projects of yours actually got much potential. I have the fear of competition or crowded markets as well, but at least those are "validated" markets since they are crowded. I actually quite like your time tracker app, simple and "less friction". People may think that time tracker apps got to have a lot of functionality, but the time tracker apps I have used in the past didn't stick becaues they had too much friction and ended up discrouraging the time tracking "habit".

  7. 2

    Good on you for sharing! So many people who are successful had many failures beforehand. The reason they are successful is because they never gave up and learned their lessons.

    1. 1

      Thanks! That's the plan: learn from mistakes and don't give up 💪

  8. 1

    Sharing failure is just brave!

  9. 1

    Thank you for sharing your journey. This article reminds me of this tweet https://twitter.com/agazdecki/status/1453749945895321603?s=20 This will definitely motivate folks and give them an idea of all the possible outcomes when you get started.

  10. 1

    Hi, and thanks for honest sharing your story! It was an interesting read and I saw myself - failed much more than just 5 projects haha. Let me share the pattern I see in all the cases (except the game because I don't know this market at all). Please note, it's just my humble subjective opinion so it may be totally wrong... so:

    It seems to me you never tried to create a real business. Doing something for fun or because you needed something right now, but not from a big wish to learn how to make money.

    So, I watched the same pattern at my own case. Always wanted to do "interesting" projects or "scratching my own itch" without serious intention to sell (aka promote, market etc.) Never asked and never answered honestly the question - why I really started this project?

    Sorry if it sounds harsh. Hope it helps you and others to overcome this common problem. Good luck with your new projects!

  11. 1

    Inspiring me to write: how I failed 10 side projects in 10 years lol. For me, the thrill is in getting something up and running, then it quickly fades and I drop to something else.

  12. 1

    Thanks, Krzysztof. I appreciate your candor and wish you the best with your endeavors. It seems that you are motivated to build things that would help you buy a house, manage your time, etc. I am wondering if perhaps some market research could help inform your next projects: what products are already out there, what users are saying about them, how you can improve upon them, etc.

  13. 1

    Thanks for sharing. Great read

  14. 1

    Thanks for sharing. We don't always need success stories and big numbers. The biggest inspiration here is that you haven't given up. Keep going, success will come.

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