Working for myself

From today 15 March 2010 onwards, I will be working for myself. (Today’s article won’t have any math or programming stuff, so you might want to skip this if you’re not interested in entrepreneurship, online businesses, or personal journey kind of thing.)

It was a tough decision, but I realised that the decision was made a long time ago when I started writing this blog. Nearly 3 years ago, I started writing, in part because I needed an outlet to put my thoughts down, and in part to see what this “blogging” thing was all about. On the way, I learned what I could of online businesses; what they are and how to set them up.

Nearly 3 years later, I still don’t have something compelling to offer. I’ve looked at probably every way to earn something through this blog. Blog advertising, paid posts, affiliate products and the variants of each method. I don’t like them (or they don’t work), and they don’t fit with the blog. They “uglify” the site, and don’t add value to you.

So I took everything out and just continued to write. Once, I was asked why I continue to write when there’s clearly no benefit. I don’t get paid. My blog’s not popular. There are hardly any comments, let alone other bloggers linking to me.

That would be disheartening if not for the fact that I installed FeedBurner and Google Analytics. They tell me how many people subscribe to my blog RSS feed, and how many people visit my blog. The statistics aren’t even close to what a mid-range blog have. Yet they are consistently growing, albeit slowly.

So why do I continue to write? Because of you. Because you continue to read what I write, even if you choose to remain silent (which is totally ok). Which makes the few times where I get to hear from you all the more worthwhile.

Anyway, back to that working for myself thing. Since there’s little I could do to monetise this blog, I started Honeybeech where I write about games and RPGs and Dungeons and Dragons. That blog gave me a glimmer of chance to start an online business.

All this had been done part-time. I write software, design user interfaces, handle user queries, and generally solve problems in my day job. And I write about math and programming at night. And learn all those things about online businesses at night too. The goal had always been to set up a part-time business, and grow it enough so it can feed me and support my family. And then I’ll quit my day job, and be free to do whatever I want. Which is most probably that business, and write math and programming articles here.

I actually didn’t consider my (old) day job to be a “day job”. “Day job” has a negative connotation that it’s just a way to earn money. Mine wasn’t like that to me. At least it wasn’t when I started out. I got to learn new things and the people I worked with were great. Everyone worked hard, little (if any) office politics (backstabbing was unheard of), and they were professional in their work.

Now, consider job satisfaction. The key point of distinction between places to work is rarely the work you’ll be asking the employee to do. It’s the perceived connection between the employee and the people she works with. – Linchpin, Seth Godin

As time went by, my colleagues left one by one, either due to personal reasons or company rule (downsizing). What used to be a vibrant garden for me became a lonely graveyard. Sure, no one wanted to discuss C pointers with me, but at least I had company.

The work I was tasked to do wasn’t interesting any more. I started to stagnate. My programming skills plateaued. There weren’t any projects for me to apply new skills.

Think of all the reasons why you’re doing whatever it is you do during the day. Because the work is interesting? Because it’s challenging? Because you get to meet and talk to cool people? Because you get to impart knowledge? Because you get to learn? Because the work you do makes a difference in someone’s life? Because you get to make the world a little better? Because you get paid?

I won’t go into the reasons why I quit my job. Suffice to say, near the end, the only reason I continue to do that job was to earn a paycheck. And that’s a lousy reason to keep doing whatever I had to do.

I do not recommend this to you. I’ve decided to explore setting up an online business instead of looking for another programming job. Your mileage may vary.

I will continue to write math and programming articles here. Now that I’m freer (relatively speaking), some hobbyist math research and dabbling with programming techniques will be possible. First, I have to concentrate on feeding myself…

Oh yes, in case you’re interested, I’ll create some game products for sale, and offer writing services at Honeybeech. I haven’t had this planned out to the last detail. At this point, I’ve managed to sell a few copies of my Math Wizard (by being displayed at DriveThruRPG). Not quite be-able-to-eat-3-meals-a-day state, but better than nothing…

I’ll probably write on my adventures in how I manage to feed myself through whatever means here. Maybe tutoring. Let’s see if academic students are what I remember when I was their age…

  1. John

    I wish you all the best in your new adventure. I look forward to hearing how you combine math, programming, and entrepreneurship.

  2. Cees Meijer

    I look forward to your read about your adventures in entrepeurs-land. I also really hope you’ll have time to continue this blog in a the way you did the past three years.
    Good luck.

  3. Vincent

    @Anonymous – it’s not as bad as it sounds. I’m a fairly social person. Lunchtime was the only time I get to converse with other people. Let’s just say, if I didn’t leave, soon I’ll be lunching by myself.

    @John – Thanks John! I already have an inkling of a game/software product… let me see if I can flesh that out.

    @Carlos – Thanks!

    @DK – Now maybe I can join some of those, whachamacallit, social media events. 🙂 Maybe one of your Tech65 podcasts.

    @Cees – The blog content probably won’t change much. Maybe that I’ll write a bit on my entrepreneur adventures. I don’t write a lot on my work stuff anyway, so no loss there.

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