The title is one of my favorite quotes of all time from one of my favorite authors. One that continues to remind me that if I want to accomplish something, I need to have a plan for it. Just having a goal is not enough.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

As I look back at what I was able to accomplish as well as the things that did not work out in 2017, I’m also looking forward to the possibilities in 2018. Even though this is not a year-in-review post, I can’t help but to briefly reflect on the past to look ahead into the future.

For many years I had been a web developer working in the dark, isolated, not sharing anything, and not interacting. One of my goals in 2017 was to begin to change all that. I set out to increase my visibility online by blogging, working on side projects, and helping new devs in any area that I could such as mentoring and answering technical questions. Another goal of mine was to begin learning about marketing my side projects so I can eventually quit my job and work for myself, making a living from the products I create.

I made significant progress in all those areas, except for the blogging part (I only wrote one article the entire year, the 2017 year in review). Also my Conferify project idea was not validated successfully. But I did have some tiny wins in 2017, I joined an awesome online community for makers which has been very helpful to not work in isolation, I created and launched a free online video course: Level Up with Markdown, and I launched a barcode API SaaS application: BarcodeThis.io. I also shared a few web development tips on Twitter and increased my Twitter following by about 100 users. But I still haven’t achieved my ultimate goal of making a living from the products I create.

So what’s the plan for 2018?

I started the year by taking a concrete step towards putting more emphasis on creating rather than consuming. This is what I did:

  • Deleted all social media from my phone to reduce consumption and distraction. It feels good! You should try it sometime.
  • Unsubscribed from non-essential newsletters and other email subscriptions.
  • Created this Medium publication to share my plans and share the process as I work on my projects.
  • Shifted my daily schedule to allow at least 10 hours/week for working on my side projects.

I’d like to continue my quest to become an indie entrepreneur by focusing on the following areas:

  • Freelancing
  • Product Development
  • Writing/Sharing
  • Helping
  • Learning

Freelancing

I’ve decided to actively pursue freelancing as a way to gradually detach my self from being an employee. The first project of the year will be redesigning my website to reflect this change. As part of that, I plan to possibly move my site from mariorodriguez.co to mariorodriguez.me. I think it might be better to have a .me domain for my personal site.

Product Development

I have several product ideas on my list, and I will attempt to validate at least three of them by creating a landing page and pursuing different ways to drive traffic to them. I will not write a single line of code until I’m able to determine that it is a viable product, which has attracted enough interest to make it worth working on it. It’s one of the time-saving lessons I learned the hard way in years past.

Writing/Sharing

I plan to write more frequently and cross post articles on my site and other platforms. One of the obstacles to writing I’ve observed, is that my blog is a static site (currently Jekyll). It discourages me from writing because every time I want to blog, I have to launch the project in my local dev environment and then deploy the site.

To encourage myself to do more writing on my blog, I will convert my site from a static site to a dynamic site. I could go the WordPress route but I don’t like how bloated WordPress has become and I'd like to have full control of what I can do with the site in terms of design and functionality. I need to do some research to figure out what platform to build it on. In the end, the goal is to be able to simply log in to my site whenever I want to write, save drafts and just publish whenever I’m ready.

Helping

I really enjoy helping others. There are a lot of folks out there just getting started in their journey to becoming web developers. Some people have zero background in web development, others are junior devs, and others know a little bit here and there but need guidance for next steps. It’s been very rewarding to be able to help/mentor a few of them and I’d like to continue doing more of that.

Unfortunately, up until now helping others has consisted of answering questions via Twitter, which is not the most ideal environment to do that. It’s time consuming and sometimes I’m not able to respond in a timely manner. To alleviate that, one of the ideas I need to explore, is to create a community for new devs where they can interact, help each other, and grow together as developers. This would allow me to better scale my efforts to help more people in less time.

Learning

I will continue to learn as much as I can on marketing my products. However, at this point I feel that I’ve learned a lot and I don’t want to continue to listen to the same advice over and over. At some point, it’s time to act more, create more, and learn by doing. That time for me is now.

I will also expand my learning by going back to reading for pleasure. It’s been a while since I’ve read a good book. I’m a fan of both, fiction and non-fiction. I have a strong feeling that reducing my social media consumption will certainly help with this.

Of course, I will share updates on everything I’m working on.

That’s the plan.