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November 24, 2020
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Help! What should I do?

So I’d like to earn a few extra reoccurring dollars for my habit using one of my skills. But I’m having a bit of an internal dilemma as to what that should be given that I have such a limited amount of time between my day job and my volunteering.

Here are a few ideas I have rattling around in my head currently.

  • Sell prints – I have many photos that I could prep to either print digitally, or hand-print in my darkroom and sell through my web site. My expectations for the interest in this idea are low since I’ve never put any effort into building an audience for my photography.
  • Sell code – I’ve been a programmer my entire life and a huge ton of my code has been useful to literally hundreds of thousands of web sites over the years. I think I can write bits of code that could be useful enough to sell through my site (think plugins, scripts, automations, etc.). All licensed as open source of course.
  • Market Unmark – This app is used by thousands of people daily (from what I can tell with our stats). The number of paying subscribers is astonishingly low. Very likely due to our very liberal free tier. We’ve paid for zero marketing. We (meaning Kyle and I) could tweak the hosted-version’s plans a bit and market it. Maybe we’d start to earn more there.
  • Offer 1-on-1s – On the business side I’ve had the privilege of mentoring founders, offering consultation to startups, etc. I’ve also helped development teams solve larger scaling issues. And, of course, with so many people getting interested in film I could offer a lot of insight in both film photography and darkroom printing that may be useful.

The main need is to be able to use my skills to offer some type of scalable value that will have a halfway decent monthly return. I’ve written this post in hopes that I get my ideas out of my head and can let them stew until I pick one (or maybe two?) and tackle them.

But if you’ve read this far I’d love your personal opinion. You can comment publicly on my site or you can email me colin@cdevroe.com if you’d rather keep it private.

    All of the above. They’re not mutually exclusive!

    Well you didn’t make this much easier Jim! 🙂

    I agree with Jim (almost). Prints are a recurring, low involvement business in one way – you should be able to setup a web shop and forget it. There will be overhead dealing with people’s emails, returns, etc. But I’d say it’s worth doing it.

    Sell code is something I’d stay away from, for the time you have is not enough to cater to customers’ varied asks.

    Market Unmark – Yes please! Go for it! Marketing it is the least of what you should do. Even if it’s word-of-the-mouth, lowfi virality, go for it! I’m interested in seeing too, how many people pick up Unmark Premium. I have installed Unmark for myself, but my interest is less in bookmarking and more in read-later, so it wasn’t a tool suited to my needs. But I’m sure you’ll find a good market in the Creatives/ToDo space.

    If nothing else, send a one-time email to your paying customers asking them why they use it and what they like about Unmark. A survey would take you miles ahead in understanding how to market it.

    Oh, and market it without changing much to it at first. See what customers do with it. Invite paying members to a private Discourse or slack forum. See what they like to complain about and chirp happily about. Only then think about tweaks.

    About offering 1-1 help – maybe consider building an online course for darkroom printing? Else do go for 1-1 coaching for people who need it. Use your micro.blog contacts to find people who would need your help.

    So, I guess I’m saying – do most of the above.

    I appreciate the feedback. It seems like your answer is the same as Jim’s!! 🙂

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