#35/111: Start Small, Stay Small

What is it about?

You want an independent lifestyle? If you are creative, you should consider being a micropreneur. Rob Walling defines a micropreneur as a one person company which sells products (software, ebooks, designs) online with a minimum of effort.

Key points?

Go niche: Why? You don’t have so much competition, i.e. your advertising budget is smaller (ads are cheaper, your customers are on the same place) and you can increase your profit margin. Furthermore, your product don’t have to be extraordinary.

Marketing first, product last: Founders often make the mistake to build a product for 9 months to three years and then try to market it. Go the other way around. If you found some possible niches, build a small squeeze page where people can subscribe to a mailing list for further information and market the page with Adwords. After some weeks you can see how many people are interested in your product. If there aren’t enough, go to your next idea.

Outsource: Your time is expensive. Instead of trying to do everything, do just the things that matter, i.e. marketing and building your product. For other things consider using a virtual personal assistant which costs around $6 to $15 per hour.

Automate: If you tested enough marketing tools and done enough SEO, you won’t have to do so much. Try to automate most of the other stuff, i.e. use auto responder for new prospects or build a list with answers for most problems, so you can trim down your support time. After some time, you will have a steady income stream with a little effort.


Terrific book, even for bootstrappers who want to grow. It shows you how to test your ideas and how to do most of the online marketing. It’s extremely actionable and hands-on. No platitudes and fillings. Recommendation for writers, software developers and designers who want to start their own business!

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. user interfaces.

GUI/UIs are important. It’s often crucial.
People use Kate instead of emacs or vim although vim and emacs are more powerful. But using emacs/vim is not that intuitive as using Kate.
There are many other comparisons. So, why do (open-source) developers neglect the UI?
From my point of view, making UIs is kind of boring. Mostly, it’s redundant, time-consuming and not decently abstracted.

Redundancy: Sometimes you’ve made a proper simple CLI. It works really fine but not for your users.

Time-consuming: Some clever frameworks generate parts of the UI for you. That’s pretty nice. Though, if you don’t have a suitable framework and your data isn’t modeled correctly you have to do it manually.

No decent abstraction: I think that’s a deciding point. Which UI is right? Which UI is wrong? If you are working on a DBMS you know which output is right or wrong. If SELECT user_id FROM user returns nothing although there are thousand entries, you know that is wrong. Its behavior is bad. But you don’t know if it’s bad if you put the calculate button on the left or on the right. There aren’t really metrics for UIs.

So, what can we do? Delegate the work. Look for someone who loves creating UIs. If you are working in a large (software) company there are probably UI-Designers. In open source projects UI-Designers are rare. Maybe because most open source projects don’t attract designers. Many websites are simple and pragmatic and designers aren’t attracted. It’s a vicious circle.

Time for intervention. Looking for someone on a flashy graphics board and maybe introducing him into the basics of a graphic framework.
They will love it because they are working on a great project and you will love it because you can concentrate on the code.

Update Here’s an article and some great comments about visual artists in open source: Pin Stack.