The last 7 months & what next?

The last 7 months have been really tough and unfortunately I’m close to the point where I will have to find a job again due to my financial situation. I have about 2 months left before I am eating into my emergency savings.

Even though I didn’t successfully create a venture that was “Ramen Profitable” (cover all of my living costs - ~£600/month) - I did make some progress.

As of writing this my Stripe MRR for Langchats, my AI language partner, sits at £328.69 or approximately $402.32 for 49 subscriptions. Minus about £40 for various services I pay for and some failed subscriptions, I’m making £250+/month passively.

Langchats MRR

This is pretty damn cool. Most indie developers completely fail and never get any paying customers for their products. So even though I didn’t make the £2-3k MRR that I wanted (I only got 1/10 of the way there) it wasn’t a complete failure either.

However, I would have had none of this success without my YouTube channel, German With Jay which has over 20k subscribers. I have several high traffic videos that I have used to advertise Langchats and this is essentially the only source of traffic for the site.

I’ve learned a lot along the way and I know what I am capable off. I’ve got the hang of two stacks and very basic knowledge of Figma which means I can develop pretty much any (not insanely complex) full stack application given enough time.

For those who are interested my tools of choice are:

Lessons learned

Double down & finish what you start

I think the main thing I would have done differently is double down on something that is actually working. However, this is easier said then done. If I knew what I know how I would have said go all out on making videos for German With Jay and work solely on Langhchats and eventually make a German course.

I spent a lot of time hopping around from one idea to another never completing anything other than Langchats. Mainly because I wasn’t 100% passionate about anything that I was doing. I probably wasted up to 3 months, half of my time, jumping around. This got me nowhere and I never finished what I started. If I just stuck to German With Jay and built a German course and made more content I’m almost certain my outcome would be very different now.

I’ve learned trying to find and follow your passions doesn’t always work. And work will always be work. There will always be bits that a more boring to do than others but need doing. That’s just the way it is. However, I still fully believe there’s no point starting something if there isn’t a slight chance you’ll be interested in it. Otherwise after a few weeks you simply won’t care anymore and you’ll lose motivation. This is exactly what happened to me.

What Now?

I have no idea how long it is going to take me to find a new job. The job application and interview process is a slog. I naively thought that I would be able to walk into another software developer job after having successfully created a full stack application serving 50 paying customers. Oh how wrong I was. Recruiters simply don’t care. They look for the numbers, 4+ years of experience here, 2+ years of experience there. Having Langchats on my CV means nothing to them. The only way I stand a chance is if it’s actually a senior developer who is sifting through the CV’s, as they know how impressive it is to have created an application like this.

I have a few options right now.

The first is that I go all in on German with Jay. It’s working. I’ve recently diverted all traffic from my channel to my marketing funnel starting with my “Master German Starter Pack”. A free email sequence that gives a German learner all of the info they need to get going. E.g. the best German language YT channels, films, tv shows, books, songs etc. I put a lot of work into compiling all of this information and the email sequence is working well. I get between 20-30 people signing up every day to receive the pack. 20-30 high value emails.

The only language product I have right now is Langchats. However, the highest value item that I can create and something that has a far higher chance of converting traffic to customers is a course. The thing is though I have absolutely no desire to make one. Which is annoying because I’m potentially leaving a lot of money on the table. Especially with such a highly niche audience. A course will also take several months minimum to make. So there is a lot of opportunity cost there and no guarantee it will work.

My other option is to put German with Jay and Langchats etc on the back burner and treat them as a side project and go all out on something else.

My other love is cycling and in particular long distance cycling or “ultra cycling” as it is commonly called. My other idea is that I create products or services for this niche set of people. I’ve been having a look into Komoot and Strava. I think that I could make a similar full stack web app for cycling route planning.

My thinking is that I could make a route planner, primarily for long distance cycling, bike-packing and cycle touring. Create an MVP for this as fast as possible then try to get hired by Komoot, Strava or RideGPS by showing them what I have been able to create.

Alternatively if the product actually ends up working quite well and I have some actual users then I could try to make work as an real product.

I like this option as it allows me to work on something new that is within my skillset. At the end of the project I’ll at least have something that I can personally use.

I can also record the entire journey of making the product on this blog and on YouTube. So any future company has a clear path of my progress for this application.

Final notes

My current plan is to apply to jobs that look interesting. In the meantime I’m going to maintain German with Jay as a side project and work on building a ultra distance cycling route planning app with the hope of getting employed at Komoot or Strava as a Software Developer.