Ondrej Markus

Entrepreneur in ed-tech, building the future of education as a founder and CEO at Playful.

I write about the future of education, designing learning games, and running a startup.

I'm a generalist, introvert, gamer, and optimizing to be useful.

stickman sitting at a desk

#9: Build a profitable side project, ignoring Twitter, and daily notes

Build a profitable side project

Happy Publish Monday!

I’m into my second week of doing weekly reflections. (If you missed the first one, it’s here.)

Now, let’s get into it.

Build a profitable side project in 4 weeks

This week, I thought again about what I’m trying to help people accomplish. And, on Monday, I figured my work is the most useful to people like me – people who value freedom at work above all else.

I want to help people learn everything they need to work as solopreneurs – someone who can build and run their own business. Because once you have the skills to build and sell things, you’re forever free from having to have a job you don’t want.

Sweet sweet freedom

Sweet sweet freedom

Of course, you still might want a job, and that’s fine. It just feels different when you know you have a choice because you can always go and do your own thing. Or, you do both – you have a job while working on a side project you enjoy which might one day make a living for you.

This is what I want to help people do – build profitable side projects without having to leave their job. It’s not as difficult as people think. You can start a side project that makes money in a few weeks, and I will show people how.

That’s why most of my time and energy this week went into designing a landing page for my new learning-by-doing program. Its working name is “Solopreneur Bootcamp.”

I designed a website prototype on Tuesday and Wednesday, showed it to 3 people on Thursday for feedback, and made changes based on their reactions on Friday and Sunday.

That’s a standard feedback loop I work with at the beginning of any project. It works well because it’s fast and effective.

Build–Show–Learn feedback loop for building new products

Build–Show–Learn feedback loop for building new products

Today and tomorrow, I’m going to test the site again with different people. It usually takes 2-3 rounds of feedback until the product speaks to its customers in the right way. It just requires me to not get too emotionally attached to anything I design for it because it often gets butchered by my good friends giving me feedback.

Feedback gets bloody… but it helps.

Feedback gets bloody… but it helps.

But I’m super excited about this project.

After months of experiments, this finally feels like something true to what I’m trying to do. I want to help people find freedom at work. And the best way to do that is to show them how to turn their interests into products people will buy.

The result of that is: People doing what they enjoy from anywhere they want while making more than enough money. Their work is meaningful to them and valuable to the people they’re trying to help. It doesn’t get better than that.

Now I just need to find a way to say it right (on the website) and then keep improving the program. I’m on it.

Ignoring Twitter

What surprised me this week was that I completely ignored Twitter as I was working on the program.

It seems that when I’m building something, I’m never in the mood for socializing online. My mind is focused on the problem, and I want to keep it there.

Twitter felt like a distraction at this stage. So I haven’t shared anything there this week.

I have mixed feelings about it, but I’m going with my intuition here. When something feels like a distraction, it probably is.

Once the site is ready for action, I will come back to Twitter and make some noise.

Talk about it when you have something worth showing.

Talk about it when you have something worth showing.

Daily Notes for the win

I like to try new apps for taking notes. It’s probably not a very good use of my time, but I can’t help myself. Playing with new note-taking apps is my hobby. :D

Anyway, I moved my work notes into Roam last week – an app that treats your notes as a network. This means you don’t put notes into folders but connect them through links.

My very experimental network of notes in Roam Research

My very experimental network of notes in Roam Research

It’s similar to how Wikipedia works. Every page (note) links to other pages. You can do other cool shit there, but this is its core feature.

The coolest little thing about Roam is the Daily Notes feature. It automatically creates a note with today’s date, which you can link with whatever you’re working on that day, and/or write down everything you’re thinking about or doing that day.

Today’s and yesterday’s daily notes. Nothing fancy but useful.

Today’s and yesterday’s daily notes. Nothing fancy but useful.

It’s so simple yet so powerful.

It made my reflection on this week very easy because I just went over my daily notes, and everything was there: what I worked on, what I was thinking about, who I met. Everything.

It fits my work style so well I can’t imagine working without it now.

Of course, you don’t need any fancy app to do this. You could simulate daily notes on paper, Apple Notes, or whatever Windows has. It’s just that when your tool of choice is built around networked notes, it’s easier to take advantage of this feature.

If you want to try an app like this, you can try Roam (free trial, then $15/month). But there is a free open-source alternative called Logseq. (I’ll probably migrate there once my Roam trial ends anyway. :D)

Okay, I’m gonna stop myself here because I could talk about note-taking all day.

So if you are curious about this, just email me and ask. I’m happy to chat about note apps anytime.

Reading, Watching, Listening

Book: The Almanach of Naval Ravikant – This is gold. I’m reading this as research for the new program I’m building. There are two parts: Wealth and Happiness. I just finished the Wealth part, and it’s excellent. If you care about gaining financial freedom, this is the book to read. (Plus it’s free.)

Stand-up special: Sincerely Louis CK – He is my favorite stand-up comedian. I missed this special when it came out, so now I bought it on his website and watched it. Very good. There’s a free 5-min cut on Youtube. The complete 60-min show is on his website.

New album: Mercury - Act 1 by Imagine Dragons – It became a theme for my work sessions on the “Solopreneur Bootcamp” because I had it on repeat all the time. Fave songs: #1, It’s Okay, My Life.

Okay. This is it.

If you have a minute – What would you like to get more of (and less of) next time?

Please, hit reply and let me know.

Thanks, have a great week, and see you Monday.