On building two tiny projects in the past 4 months
For the past four months I've been experimenting with Tiny Projects. I didn't think to post about them until I read this excellent tinyprojects.dev blog post: I spent 2 years launching tiny projects.
So yeah! Tiny projects are fun! Here's how my two have gone:
The first project I launched is called Backpackplan. It's a nice little app for planning out your gear and itinerary.
I posted this to many backpacking Facebook groups and got a lot of very kind feedback on the app.
After a while, one key flaw came up time and time again. Google Sheets is what most people used for planning and coordinating backpacking trips. And it works quite well. Users felt no desire to switch.
What is more, I realized I wanted to use Google Sheets too. It handles this use case pretty well.
It would take quite a bit of work to make Backpackplan as good at planning backpacking trips as Google Sheets. Combine that with an uncertain path to monetization, and I decided the wise choice was to move on to the next project.
Lesson Learned: Users will tell you your app is awesome and it just needs X feature before they use it. They are often just being nice.
* This is an estimate. I created a Google Workspace account for Backpackplan thinking it was going to be a wild success. When this project fizzled out, I deleted the account and lost my analytics. Another lesson learned! There's plenty of time to open a Google Workspace account for a successful project later on 🙂
Game Update Notifier is the second tiny project I built.
It's a simple website with two parts:
I built it because I was annoyed by the fact that Steam won't send you notifications by email whenever a game you are interested in is updated.
One classic case of this is Cyberpunk 2077. The game as released had quite a few bugs. So many players opted to wait to buy the game until a certain number of patches had been released.
Another use case is for a game that is in early-access but isn't quite baked yet. You might not be ready to buy it yet, but you want to keep an eye on it and when the next update is released, check out the reviews and maybe buy it then.
This app is actually doing well. There are literally dozens of users. People receive emails notifying about games they care about. And come back to the app to tweak the list of games they care about.
Ultimately marketing this one has proved to be tough. I posted to a few forums and dabbled in some paid advertising and got the word out about it a little bit. But it's not really a project where paid advertising makes sense. It's always going to be free for the vast majority of users.
So I'm just going to let this one ride for now. I'll circle back to it if I get more ideas for it or it gains more traction.
I've been a software developer for a decade now. And I can count on one hand the number of times I've built a standalone product by myself for end users.
There's something really satisfying about building something top-to-bottom by yourself and launching it out to the world.
I'm excited for the next project! Not quite sure what it is yet. But hopefully I will launch it sometime in June!