Down the 2020 Rabbit Hole

The story of how this website came to exist

This is 2020

Most of the world hates 2020 and understandably so.

🦟 Locust swarms in Africa

πŸ”₯ Devastating wildfires in Australia and California

🐝 Murder hornets invading the US

😷 The Covid-19 virus crippling life as we know it

You would've thought it was the end of the world. All that aside, 2020 was actually a pretty good year for me.

Winter ❄️

New Marketing Job

I started 2020 off in a brand new job as a "marketing specialist".

Along side graphic and web design, I’m also a musician. I learned marketing out of necessity. Those CDs and tickets weren’t going to sell themselves.

Now I had an opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade and get paid for it. 2020 was off to a great start!

Spring 🌳

Pandemic Birthday Present

It was the beginning of March and the news broke. There was no toilet paper left in the world. The COVID-19 virus had hit the US.

Businesses shut down. Schools closed. It was a beautiful nightmare.

My boss informed me we were staying open but it would be strictly remote. It happened to be my birthday and what a perfect birthday present it was.

Legend of the SMMA

During one of my Googling "rabbit-holes", I came across something called SMMA.

I watched countless YouTube videos on how easy it was. These so-called SMMA "gurus" were making tens of thousands of dollars each month - most of them were barely out of high-school.

SMMA stands for Social Media Marketing Agency. It's a broad term, but most of the time it refers to someone who places and manages Facebook Ads for other businesses. The goal is to bring these businesses leads, which they can then convert to sales (if they're good salespeople).

Businesses actually pay people thousands of dollars to do this? I thought I had tapped into a new lucrative side hustle that only a select few knew about. All I needed was my laptop and WIFI and I'd be on my way!

The SMMA Guru

So I joined Facebook groups, listened to Podcasts, hung out on Reddit, watched videos, read blogs, and subscribed to newsletters (which I never read).

One guru in particular, raved about finally finding his "niche". His videos were always something to the effect of "Another $2k client closed!"

He was offering a course and I inquired just for the hell of it. It hadn't even been 5 minutes and I received a message back.

"I'm offering my course for only $2k. You'll learn everything you need to know to make tens of thousands of dollars a month just like me!"

If I followed his exact directions, I would make my money back in no time. The internet is littered with marketing tactics like this. The whole thing was a Ponzi scheme.

The Golden Niche

SMMA gurus are always talking about "finding the right niche".

Niche: a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.

It's true. Appeal to everyone and you'll appeal to no one. There's real value in finding specialized little pockets of communities. That's where the money is.

This guru's niche happened to be others, like me, wanting in on this mystical world of SMMA. Smart, but I wasn't taking the bait.

I'm not saying you can't make tens of thousands of dollars a month on social media marketing. The sky is the limit.

That said, it’s not a get rich quick scheme. It takes time, patience, and knowledge just like anything else.

Needless to say, my curiosity about SMMA started to fade into the background. On to the next.

Summer 🌞

My Morning Ritual

I was a little jaded from my broken SMMA dreams, but I still listened to marketing podcasts, read blogs, and lurked in the forums.

It became my morning ritual.

πŸƒ I'd go running.

🎧 Listen to an episode of My First Million podcast.

🍡 Drink a cup of matcha.

πŸ’» Start work in my home office.

The ideas started flowing and I felt inspired again. Plus, the sun was out. I was feeling good, feeling motivated.

Back to the Office

It was the end of Summer. The world had almost forgotten about Covid-19. Backyards were filled with cookouts and bonfires. Life was starting to feel somewhat normal again.

My boss calls.

"They want us back in the office now that Covid has calmed down."

I was dreading this moment. I had hoped businesses would've realized the error in their antiquated ways by not considering remote work.

I pleaded my case to continue working from home. We came to a compromise. Three days at home, two days in the office. I could live with that.

Fall 🍁

Becoming a Hacker

The days were getting colder and my morning runs became less appealing. Since I had to commute two days a week, I used that time to listen to my podcasts instead.

In my quest for more inspiration, I found a podcast called Indie Hackers. Indie Hackers also has a website, which is more or less a forum for aspiring "Indie Hackers".

I was falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole.

What's an Indie Hacker?

When you hear the word hacker you're probably thinking one of two things - a greasy-haired, basement-dweller stealing credit card info from your grandma or Penelope Garcia from the TV show Criminal Minds.

I suppose an Indie Hacker could be either, but by definition, is neither.

You're an indie hacker if you've set out to make money independently. That means you're generating revenue directly from your customers, not indirectly through an employer. Other than that, there are no requirements!
β€” Courtland Allen, founder of Indie Hackers

I finally found a community that not only shared in my wealth of ideas but one that was taking action. They were building out and launching their ideas to the public.

I stumbled upon a post where someone decided to launch one new start-up each month for a year. I was skeptical but intrigued.

12 Startups in 12 Months

Fundamentally, it makes no sense. Don’t startups take months, if not years, to develop? Yeah. Traditionally. But that’s not the point. The point is to obliterate perfectionism and procrastination.

The first person to do this was digital nomad, Pieter Levels, who never actually completed the challenge.

Why?

Because some of his startups like Nomad List and Remote OK started taking off. Rather than focus on more new startups he decided to focus on the growth of these two startups.

Remote OK and Nomad List combined now make over $600k a year.

Levels was actually living my dream - my jungle-living, laptop-working, taco-eating, surfing dream! Immediately I knew I was on the path to unlocking the lifestyle I only dreamed of.

A New Philosophy

The traditional route of starting a business involves a lot of planning and a lot of money. His method was to launch fast and launch many, without raising a penny. This is also know as "Bootstrapping" a business.

Bootstrap: get (oneself or something) into or out of a situation using existing resources.

Levels's approach was unorthodox. Basically, a throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see what sticks type of philosophy.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Many others have attempted the challenge as well. Jon Yongfook, also stopped midway through the year to focus on one of his startups that is now generating $100k ARR.

One Indie Hacker, Alex West, talks about quitting his full-time job, and living in different cities while applying a Levels style startup philosophy.

He writes monthly blogs on his startup journey and how much profit they were bringing in. There's something captivating about his writing style and transparency.

This was it! This is what I needed.

I am going to join the 12 startups in 12 months challenge - building in public, committing in public.

No time for perfectionism. No time for procrastination.

Like Levels, Yongfook, West, and others, I would also blog on my monthly progress.

Winter ❄️

New Year Goals

The year was coming to an end. Everyone, including myself, was ready for a fresh start.

A new year meant new goals. I started compiling a list of things I wanted to accomplish by the end of next year.

I admit it. Sometimes I get carried away with all my goals and ideas. I rarely finish any of them. I was starting to wonder if I was in over my head.

I needed a plan. I needed to do things differently this year.

So I've decided to publicly commit to my goals and pre-plan as much as possible. Even if I fail, at least I will have done something. That's the story of how this website came to be.

So here it goes. Here are my goals for 2021:

πŸš€ Launch a new startup/project every month

  • Build a simple website that houses links to my projects and blog posts

🎡 Rebuild my music career

  • Post weekly content to all social media channels
  • Redesign my music website
  • Develop a new live show and set-list

πŸ“±Learn to develop simple apps

🎨 Build Up My Design Portfolio

  • Redesign my portfolio website
  • Get some freelance web design work
  • Learn new design skills

✈️ Travel more (if Covid-19 allows)

  • Travel to one new state
  • Travel outside of the US

Like I said, I get a little carried away sometimes. I've got a plan though.

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