Standing on the roof, peering into the pink, set sky, with rosy grins across our faces and a cold Modelo in our hand, we talked about our future success as if it was a given, a matter of belief.
It was 2012, and G and I were in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Swayed by the promise of The 4-Hour Workweek, we had quit our jobs earlier that year to chase freedom and passive incomes.
Our projects never took off. Both of us underestimated what it would take to set up a lucrative business from scratch in domains neither of us was an expert nor particularly cared for.
Also, we were falling in love, anything but frugal, and living our best lives. We never had a chance of succeeding, most certainly, because we didn’t put in the hours, let alone the persistence.
Nonetheless, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. It gave me a lot of calm. Never since have I considered quitting a job to pursue a side project. On the contrary, I’ve kept my jobs to do just that.
After the first season of The Knitting Club, which ended with Silvia, Devon, and I (and our guest Mandy), creating a mood board around our creative dream, for the second season, I wanted us to focus on taking the first steps towards those wishes. Each chapter lasted three weeks, during which all three of us pulled in to help the person whose turn it was.
❤️ Special shoutout to Julius (Devon’s boyfriend), who pretty much crashed every session of this season.
Chapter I: Neo’s Tree – Mirha
As you consider building your own minimum viable product, let this simple rule suffice: remove any feature, process, or effort that does not contribute directly to the learning you seek. –Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
We kicked off the season working on Neo’s Tree, a recipe app that I started coding in the summer of 2020.
During this chapter, Devon created a launch campaign, Silvia added six recipes, and I focused on doing user interviews and implementing feedback.
🔧 Features I implemented:
- Add featured section on the landing page
- Expand user profile with a user image and bio
- Add error pages
- Add flash messages
- Add metadata
- Add icons
- Pick a name and setup domain
- Add logo (gifted to me by Laura)
🎓 Lessons learned:
- When assigning a task, providing a certain level of detail and structure is helpful and doesn’t need to come across as control.
- Having interim check-ins helps to catch and iron out misunderstandings about the task at hand.
- Committing to weekly goals helps keep perfectionism at bay.
Chapter II: Digital Product – Silvia
Self-motivation is and always will be the most important form of motivation. Driving with your eyes on the rearview mirror is exhausting. It’s easier than ever to measure your performance against others, but if it’s not helping you with your mission, stop. –Seth Godin, Run Your Own Race
Silvia plans to diversify her work as a photographer with a digital product. For her chapter, which was an exploratory one, we researched the products and courses other photographers offer, looked into the best course and digital product platforms, and thought of articles and social media posts Silvia could write to introduce her new venture.
🎓 Lessons learned:
- Researching your competitors and inspirations can become overwhelming since we tend to compare people’s current successes with our beginnings.
- If you aren’t excited about your plans, others won’t be either.
Chapter III: Portfolio – Devon
A person with a flexible schedule and average resources will be happier than a rich person who has everything except a flexible schedule. –Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
Devon became a freelance content writer recently. To seal her new career step, she wanted a portfolio, which was the focus of her chapter.
For the first week, we looked into how Devon could best promote her work, researched portfolio platforms, and found examples of copywriting portfolios and social media profiles.
The second week was about getting a feel for what Devon’s portfolio was going to look like. Devon chose Squarespace as her portfolio platform and started writing the copy for her site. Silvia created a mood board for Devon, and I showed her how to customize the design of her website.
In week three, everything came together, and Devon’s portfolio went live. Silvia and I offered our feedback on the site and reached out to our network to promote Devon’s work.
🎓 Lesson learned: Procrastination has a funny way of coming around when you finally commit to one project, like in the form of other creative dreams that you’ve neglected for years and now suddenly feel compelled to follow.
For chapter four, each of us is focusing on her own project. We’ve set personal goals and are meeting up once a week to discuss what’s going well, what isn’t, etc.
Lady Luck favors the one who tries. –Barbara Oakley, A Mind for Numbers
Devon will be working on her food blog, Café Birk. Silvia will start writing SEO-optimized blog posts for her site. And I’m going to continue coding Neo’s Tree. Also, for this chapter, Laura is joining us, and she’ll be working on her and her friends’ yoga & wellness platform.
🧶 The first season of The Knitting Club was quite different from the second. We watched documentaries, made family recipes, followed MasterClasses, discussed Wait But Why articles, honed habits, and went on artist dates.