Before I answer the question in the title. Let’s talk about Picasso.
In his later years, Picasso was sitting in a Cafe. A fan of his art enters the cafe and notices him. Excited, she approaches Picasso and asks a favor. “Picasso, I’m such a fan of your art, do you think you could draw something small for me on this napkin? I’ll pay you whatever you want for it.” Picasso gladly agrees.
He spends the next two minutes diligently drawing an original Picasso doodle right on her napkin. He gives it to her and says “That’ll be $10,000 please.” Taken aback, she exclaims: “$10,000!? But it only took you two minutes”. “No” Picasso explains. “That took me 40 years”.
Now I’m certainly no Picasso, I’m at the very beginning of my journey, and I’ve only made $20. But the point is that timing can be deceptive.
Whenever you see a post entitled “I made $X in Y days”, you should be skeptical about how long it actually took and what work was actually required. Often times in these posts (or with a little internet sleuthing) it’s made clear that the author already had a sizeable twitter following or another product with a large email list or some other asset they could leverage to get their magical, super human, insanely great $X in Y Days. Creating good things, great things, things of value, can take a lot of time and effort. If it was easy and fast we’d all be rich yesterday.
So let me tell the short story of how I made my first $20. Backwards.
I made $20 in 2 days. How?
Simple. I launched TweetSpacer on March 1st. On March 3rd, I posted this on IndieHackers and it went viral. The virality part was pure luck. It could have just as easily not happened. It had a link to TweetSpacer at the bottom, I didn’t even really emphasize it but it was there. It seems there were enough eyeballs on the post that a few people clicked the link and signed up.
Ok. But how long did it take me to build TweetSpacer? 6 weeks.
I spent January 16th - March 1st coding TweetSpacer. I didn’t code all day, I freelance part time, so I maybe spent a total of 120 hours coding TweetSpacer.
Ok. So it took me 6 weeks and 2 days to make $20? Well, Not really...
You see, I didn’t come up with the idea for TweetSpacer in a vacuum. Back in September 2020, I started focusing on newsletter creators as a target customer. I did a lot of interviews and just immersed myself in the world of newsletters. I found that a lot of them tweet and a lot of them seem to publish tweets at regular intervals.
So after learning about these behaviors for about 4 months, I decided to create TweetSpacer as a test. I think newsletter creators would get value out of it and I wanted it for myself.
So then TweetSpacer took me 4 months, 6 weeks and 2 days to make $20? Yes, but, if you think about it, there’s more....
I spent the past 2 years failing as an entrepreneur. Since September 2018, I’ve built a bunch of useless untargeted products. But, also I read a lot of books on business and continued to learn more and more. I didn’t know about interviewing target customers in 2018. I didn’t know how to do the research. I only knew how to code.
So it took me 2 years, 4 months, 6 weeks and 2 days to make $20? Yes, but actually…
I built a full production quality app in 120 hours. I couldn’t have done that 10 years ago. I’ve been coding for 17 years. Professionally for 12. And when I started learning about programming when I was 15 it was because I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
So when you think about it, it took me 19 years, 4 months, 6 weeks and 2 days to make $20 on the internet. Was it worth it? Yes. 100%
The point is. When I used to read these $X in Y days posts I would get discouraged. I would think. WHAT? How did they do that in such a short period of time?! It made me think that I just didn't have access to some secret or I was fundamentally ill-equipped to be an entrepreneur. It took me a while to both learn how this stuff works and also that those posts can exaggerate or hide information to better sensationalize the post.
Anyway, that’s my spiel. And here’s my shameless plug: If you wanna sign up for TweetSpacer, I’m doing $20 lifetime subscriptions for the first 20 customers. 16 spots are left. https://www.tweetspacer.com