Living "The Life"

I’ve toyed with this idea for years – the idea that someday I’ll write some software that I’ll be able to sell and quit my job and live life as an independent developer. 

I’ve written and sold software before, and made a few dollars at it, but never enough to live on, and even with as far as I got, I was starting to see the effects that Mike Zornek talks about in his article, “The State of Bliss: 491 Days In“.

Working for yourself is not for everyone.  The main problem with working for yourself is that if “business” isn’t fairly high up in your interests, you’re going to wind up moving away from what you enjoy doing and spending more time on administration and support and business stuff than on whatever it is you dreamed of quitting your job to do.

The nice thing about web site development (which has been my hobby for the last few years) is that with AdSense, this can become a nice revenue stream  – but it also comes with challenges.  The reason I sold The Restaurant Thing is that it was starting to involve more unenjoyable work than enjoyable work.

The users weren’t the problem at the Restaurant Thing at all.  Users pretty much ran that site, and still do – but it was dealing with restaurants and other people in the business that were never happy with the reviews they were getting that took the fun out of it.

When I started thinking about a new site to build, I went looking for something that would run on user-generated content, would serve a real need, and wouldn’t have the potential to make anyone mad.  That’s where the Ottawa Events site came from.

But that site won’t scale, even though it seems like it should.  I took the same code base and made an Edmonton Events version, but because I don’t live in Edmonton and don’t really know what’s going on there, I can’t seed it with the same kinds of events I found for the Ottawa site. 

Maybe it will take off, maybe it won’t, I don’t know, but there’s a big difference between Ottawa Events and, say, upcoming.org:  Me. 

This site is only as good as the data that’s there, and right now, it’s up to me to create that data.  That’s where the scaling problem comes from.  I don’t have the time to figure out what’s going on in Edmonton every week, and while finding a partner in Edmonton might help, I don’t have time to do that either – and more importantly, that’s not what’s fun about the project.

There’s a lot I want to do with that site, but I know it’s never going to let me quit my day job.  It’s just a fun site to work on and keep my feet in the web development waters.

A better place to be than independent is to be in a research position in a big company. Think about it.  You get funding, you’re surrounded by smart people, all the administrative stuff is taken care of by others, and you get to focus on what you want to do.

The only part of “The Life” that I miss is working from home full-time.