Entrepreneurship Journal, 3/24/2016

A few weeks ago I started listening to the Stacking the Bricks podcast with Amy Hoy and Alex Hillman, the people who run 30×500. I was so fascinated by the first episode that I binge listened to the whole podcast.

A large portion of the episodes were interviews with 30×500 alumni. One guy was a Ruby developer who created something called Ruby Steps. There was another Ruby developer who wrote some Ruby book. I also learned that Brennan Dunn was a 30×500 alumnus, and that the first edition of Double Your Freelancing Rate was only 30 pages.

One particular snippet of one particular episode really stuck with me. Amy said something like, “We don’t allow our students to be ‘creative’. If you’re a Ruby developer, then congratulations, your audience is Ruby developers.” To me that was a real breath of fresh air. When I was trying to sell scheduling software to hair salons I was frustrated by how much I was clearly not cut from the same cloth as the people in my target market. I wasn’t like them and there was no way I could ever be like them. It’s nice to know that it’s okay to choose an audience of peers, and that it’s apparently possible to make a living (or at least make a meaningful amount of extra money) selling something to that audience of peers.

When I heard this, I asked myself, “What am I?” I am, of course, a Ruby developer, although I don’t have much faith that I could come up with a Ruby book or course or anything like that. I could come up with something like that, some course on how to learn Ruby or something like that, but I don’t think I’d be able to believe in it. Why should someone choose my book or course over all the other programming books/courses out there? I can’t think of any good reason. (Maybe Amy and Alex could help me think of something. I do plan to take 30×500 when I can. Enrollment for it has only opened up once since I killed Snip, and at that point I had just bought a house AND quit my job, so I was kinda financially wiped out for a little bit and couldn’t justify spending the $2500 or whatever on 30×500. I hope/plan to be able to afford 30×500 next time enrollment opens up, or at least one of the next times enrollment opens up.)

In addition to a Ruby developer I’m also a freelancer. That’s an area where I can more readily connect the dots as far as how to help people. I’m certainly not the greatest freelancer to ever live but I have had a certain amount of what you might call success. I’ve had a couple six-figure years as a freelancer. I’ve been the main breadwinner for a family of four and never missed a rent/mortgage payment due to not having money. I also know the answer to a number of very basic questions, for example, “How do I get my first freelancing client?”

So I decided to write a book for freelance programmers. A friend of mine suggested that instead of thinking of the book first, I should focus on the audience first. I can decide on the book’s topic after I learn what the audience wants to learn. This approach makes sense to me and so that’s how I started.

As part of my audience-building and research I’ve been spending time on /r/freelance. A good portion of the questions there are things I happen to know something about. For example, what should you do if your client doesn’t pay? Just anecdotally it seems to me like most of the questions are centered around the early stage of a freelancing career.

Based on that input I thought it would be a good idea to write a book for programmers who are either employed right now and thinking about going freelance or in the early stages of their freelancing career. The working title of that book is Freelance Launch Kit.

A concern that I have is that I’m just being a poor man’s Brennan Dunn. The answer that I have to that concern is that Brennan is (as far as I can tell) targeting all freelancers while I’m targeting only programmers, plus I’m only targeting beginners whereas Brennan’s focus is not limited in that way.

Final, unrelated note: MicroConf 2016 is happening week after next and I’m going. I expect that like Double Your Freelancing Conference, MicroConf will be a huge leap forward for my entrepreneurial development.

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