It was a fluke. I just fell into the spreadsheet business.
My main products currently, both in writing and in code, revolve around spreadsheets. Specifically around Excel workbooks or spreadsheets or files or whatever you call them.
I like programming and writing code. I’m great at it. I just didn’t specifically choose making spreadsheet libraries.
There’s a say out there about following your passion and “then the money will follow”. The problem is that you might just wait for that passion of yours to appear.
People pay for skill. They pay for convenience, pain relief, time saving, effort saving, money saving, revenue generation. They pay for what’s important to them. They don’t pay for your passion.
When it all started, I was working in the billing support department. Lots of financial numbers flying around. Lots of spreadsheets needed.
So I was forced to figure out a way to create Excel files with a minimum of fuss. I started with just XML files which Excel accepted.
Then more complexity was needed. Slowly I honed my skills at deciphering what users want, what Excel does behind the scenes and how to create Excel files.
By making my spreadsheet library as easy to use as using Excel, I am now an expert at using Excel.
A user unchecks a checkbox. I do the same thing and see what changes in the spreadsheet.
I may not be one of those Excel gurus who write 500 page Excel user guides, but I’m close enough. My spreadsheet library may not have all the features of commercial libraries that cost thousands of dollars, but it bloody well does the job in the most accessible manner possible.
This is skill honed over hours of study and practice and experimentation.
The funny thing is, I kinda have a passion for it developed over time. Oh I still hate Excel sometimes for being weird or incomprehensible in behaviour, but it’s mostly in jest. Ok I have an unseemly hatred for how Excel calculates column widths…
Develop a skill worth paying for. You may have a passion for playing video games but only a few people manage to be paid doing so. (if you’re interested, check out the gameplay videos on YouTube. That’s one way of being paid. Advertising or even sponsorship)
What are your marketable skills? How can you become so good that people have to pay attention to you, and thus pay you to help them?