In the maker community one of the most inspirational builders is a mostly anonymous person known as aj. Aj has worked in the web design/development space for years designing and building HTML templates for sale. That work led to AJ creating a single page site builder called Carrd.
Yesterday (Jan 31,2022), Aj posted an update that Carrd is now hosting 4.1 million sites. That accomplishment as a nearly solo shop is remarkable. It got me wondering what I would feel like in that position.
I’ve built a lot of websites and apps but none that truly scaled past millions of users. I’ve worked on apps that have scaled to nearly a million users and when you put that into perspective compared to 4.1 million it’s really wild.
Putting myself in those shoes, I assume to get to that scale you’ve seen your fair share of shit. Server issues, site bugs, DDOS attacks, domain bugs, unreal customer support requests, you get the idea…
I mentioned to AJ on Twitter that there’s probably a book or two worth of knowledge he’s learned over the years. In response he said:
“If only I was coherent enough to articulate it all”
That response leads me to believe there is just so much to unpack on his journey so far that it would take forever to communicate accurately.
Makers and entrepreneurs go through this kind of stuff (often alone) and have to find their way through a very complex maze.
There are no predefined paths through so you’re stuck flying by the seat of your pants often. Those that get lucky enough to see it through probably wanted to quit so many times but I imagine seeing a thing you created make such an impact, lights a fire under your ass.
Is a solo maker the new “thing”?
It’s a big bet but I predict more makers will start to approach doing the work in a more individualized way. What used to take teams to do now can be done by a solo creator if they are pretty savvy. Sure there may be times where they need help but hiring a team is likely the last plan of attack for most. You can contract individuals temporarily and still yield great progress.
We also now have the technology and resources to spin up services that auto-scale, meet consumer demand, and have near zero down time. This is achievable with a few clicks where years ago it took actually provisioning your own servers in a garage somewhere.
I’m excited to see this trend as many things we use today are monopolized by bigger tech giants and corporations. Giving society more pieces of the pot is a great way to keep the economy booming and innovation at large.
With web3 on the forefront, more and more services will be come decentralized which benefits all parties. Not having a centralized source allows everyone involved to benefit and not just those at the top on board seats. It’s a new way to build that still needs to work its kinks out but I’m excited to see a new wave of tech enter the scene.
The maker community is inspiring to say the least. I’ve dabbled myself and failed many times so far but I’m determined to keep trying. So far I’ve built and sunset the following:
- Web-Crunch - A blog for devs and designers with an accompanying YouTube channel.
- Book - “pro tumblr theming”
- Book - “LUXD: Learn User Experience Design”
- Course - Hello Rails - Most success so far
- Course - Hello HTML & CSS - Never saw the light of day
- Affinity Designer, Photo, and Publisher screencasts as a service - Launched, got a couple customers, sunset due to lack of time/energy to keep creating content as a service.
- Asynchronous Team Communication app - Like an unbundled basecamp with messages, teams, and todos. Launched but never got enough traction. Marketing wasn’t a focus where it should have been from the start.
- Podcast hosting SaaS - A community driven podcast hosting service. Never saw the light of day but impressed myself building it.
- Freelance job board - A job board for freelance based jobs. No full-time roles. Had some decent traction but ultimately didn’t stick with it long enough/wanted to keep pursuing.
- Developer network for Ruby on Rails devs - I was building this in public on YouTube. I suffered from burn out and eventually sold the domain (railsdevs.com). Another developer picked it up and is doing something similar.
What a long journey it has been. Maybe I’ll make a product grave yard soon to show that building shit is hard. Seeing any bit of success is quite lucky and if you do be sure to count your blessings!