My first $100k

April 2021 Retrospective

Milestone alert: after more than four years of indie hacking I’ve finally managed to earn $100k from my projects!

Here’s the detailed summary, from my side-project dashboard:


My first $100,000. From my open side-project dashboard.

Is this a big deal?

I don’t know.

On the one hand, $100,000 is still well below my market rate for a salaried job, and the hourly rate of $65 is way less than I charge for my time.

On the other hand, I fought and clawed for these dollars, and if you told me four years ago that I’d eventually earn $100,000 by—among other things—selling digital wedding place cards on the internet, I probably would have thought you were crazy.

At the end of the day it is—like most major milestones—both. Another normal day. And also, a good excuse to pause for a moment and be happy about something you can only see when you zoom out far enough.

So I thought I’d take a small moment to celebrate before getting back to the grind. $100,000! That’s like almost 2 Bitcoins!

I suspect my choice of celebration meme heavily dates me. Oh well.

Alright, now back to your regularly scheduled retro. And onwards to $200k!

Last Month’s Profit

Project Profit Monthly Change
SaaS Pegasus $2920.98 -27.51%
Place Card Me $1248.35 33.55%
Chat Stats $122.33 -18.70%
Total $4291.66 -16.09%

Pegasus took a dip after a strong March, but continues to do well.

To me, the more interesting story is Place Card Me.

For the very first time since the pandemic started, Place Card Me—a product that was devastated by the shutting down of in-person events—earned more than it did in pre-pandemic days ($18 more than the $1,230 it earned in April, 2019).

Given that things haven’t fully returned to normal—even in places like the US where case and death counts are low and vaccination rates are climbing—I’m optimistic that Place Card Me just might bounce back from the pandemic stronger than ever.

Maybe I’ll even work on it again this year!

Last Month’s Goals

# Goal Grade
1 Wrap up the Pegasus contracting gig—with everyone involved happy Incomplete
2 Create the Pegasus roadmap for Q2 (April-June) C-

Wrapping up the consulting gig

Last month I wrote about how a Pegasus accelerator project had gone a little off the rails in terms of scope and ended up taking more time than I expected. I was hoping to wrap up in April and resume work on Pegasus and my independent projects.

However once again—as these things go—-it didn’t work out that way. This time it was because the project ended up blocked on someone else on the team, so I basically had nothing to do for much of the month.

Bad news: I’m still not wrapped up. Good news: I had much more time than I expected this month for my own stuff! Hence a big Pegasus release I was able to get out—much of which, I should add, was inspired by finding problems while working on this project.

So I’m feeling good about the state of things even if it’s not fully wrapped.

Create the Pegasus roadmap for April - June

I made a half-hearted attempt at this which was basically:

  • April: Overhaul Teams
  • May: A React-free version of Pegasus
  • June: Create a guide to doing multitenancy in Django

The idea behind the overall 3 months was to improve, harden, and then promote the Teams feature in Pegasus.

My thinking was that Teams—that is, the ability to set up a company account, invite other people into it with different roles, and have centralized billing and permissions—is one of the biggest value-adds that Pegasus provides. And, similar to the Django Stripe Guide, Django React Guide, and Django Celery guide—there seemed to be an opportunity to create the canonical “how to do this” piece of content on the Internet that could double as a lead magnet/content marketing for Pegasus.

The problem with that plan was I wasn’t yet proud of how Teams was implemented in Pegasus. So I started by improving a whole bunch of stuff for the last release.

However, now that the release is out, I’ve started reconsidering my May and June plans and may not stick to the above.

One thing I’ve come to realize about myself is that my North Star in terms of what I work on is not really tied to the most strategic thing. I often pick tasks, not because they’re the most important thing for growing the business, but because I find them interesting or fun.

In fact, the freedom to self-select into work I want to be doing every day is probably my favorite thing about working for myself. “Journey over destination” and such. So if I grow a bit slower, but continue to love the journey, that’s fine. Great, actually. That’s kind of the whole point of working for myself.

Anyway—this made me realize that roadmaps make sense when I want to be disciplined and strategic—but since I like letting my instincts and whims drive what I work on—they don’t always work for me.

So maybe I’ll write a longer article about earning my first $100,000. Or maybe I’ll work on multi-factor authentication because a couple customers asked about it today. Or maybe I’ll revisit chat stats, because it’s been on my todo list for ages.

Or maybe I’ll stick to the roadmap. Who knows…



April 2021 Time

Time breakdown for April 2021

It was another very similar month to my last few, with Pegasus coming in right around 50 hours / 30% of my time.

The main curveball of the month was experiencing a hard drive failure on my laptop. Thankfully, I was able to quickly replace the drive and recover everything—but I did lose almost a week of productive time in the process, mostly just setting things up and waiting for the new drive to arrive in the mail.

I’m actually not sure if I’ve ever upgraded my OS without setting up a new computer.

This Month’s Goals

I genuinely don’t know what I’m going to work on this month. And—while acknowledging that I’m kind of sidestepping the whole point of this retro process–I’ve decided that’s fine!

Thus, my goals are comically vague:

  1. Ship something in Pegasus.
  2. Do something novel and/or whimsical.

See you in a month!