Wading through the morass of do-gooding with the help of 80,000 hours

In a recent post I described a feeling of uselessness associated with not working on things that felt “important” for the world-a sense that I should be working on saving the world instead of a building Django boilerplate or place card website.

A big part of the problem I was facing was a simple, yet seemingly impossible question: how to pick a cause worth working on?

Well, thankfully there’s a website for that. It’s called 80,000 Hours.

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How did this website know the exact question I was asking myself?

80,000 Hours is dedicated to helping people like me figure out how to make a difference with their careers. …

March 2019 Retrospective

Happy April!

The theme of March — much like February — was continuing to work on my Django SaaS Starter Kit.

Major Milestones

Not surprisingly, Twitter hated pretty much every name I came up with.

What went well?

February 2019 Retrospective

I blinked and February was over.

What went well?

  • Development continues to progress well on the demo of my Django SaaS Starter Kit.
  • My first round of potential customer interviews / onboardings on the project was incredibly insightful, and everyone I talked to was super nice and supportive of the project.
  • For the first time since having a child in October it felt like I achieved a steady, predictable work-life rhythm, and it feels good.

What went poorly?

  • Every single customer onboarding I did for the Django project ended with a very confused person not understanding what I had built. …

My 2018 year in Review

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was the year of personal growth, and it was the year of personal stagnation.

It was a great year for personal projects. Place Card Me—my SaaS product for making place cards online — grew steadily, and made revenue that meaningfully contributed to my annual income and earned me a solid hourly wage. And it was a terrible year for personal projects. I built nothing new, learned very little, and my one big new product idea barely got off the ground.

It was a year of abundance. I…

Week 89: adapting to parenthood 👶, breaking new revenue milestones 📈, shipping passion projects 🚢, and planning for the end of year. 🎊


We are now five and a half weeks into parenthood and slowly settling into the new normal.

I gotta say, it’s quite the change!

Both Ro and I are still trying to figure out the shape of our new lives, work schedules, and all that. I’m slowly ramping up my work — currently working one day a week for Dimagi and targeting one day a week for my own stuff.

It feels surprisingly full already — despite the fact that most “normal” dads have to go back to work full-time by now. As always, I’m incredibly grateful for the…

Thoughts and observations on being a new dad, two-weeks in

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You know that stuff all parents say, about it being hard but life-changing and rewarding in ways that are incomprehensible to non-parents?

And you kind of nod your head thinking they’re silly and cliche and what they’re saying doesn’t really make sense…

Well it’s all true.

This is my attempt to articulate how that experience has been for me.

Let’s start with the “hard” stuff. Like dealing with a fussy baby. Whenever I saw people doing this I would think: why stress? Who cares if your baby is a little sad? It’ll get over it. …

Why I take shortcuts all the time and you probably should too

A couple weeks ago I saw this little diagram on Twitter and it immediately resonated. Anyone who has ever built a product will immediately recognize the two axes and four quadrants.

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The four ways someone can use your product.

Often developers — and, to a lesser extent, product creators — are trained as to anticipate all possible ways someone could use our product; cases which include all four quadrants on this diagram.

However, if your goal is to ship products, you can often get away with ignoring everything except the upper right. Yep, that’s right. Ignore your edge cases. This will often greatly simplify your life and save…

Week 80 Retrospective

Well, I blinked and September is over. Still — it was a good month!

Let’s dive in.


Starting with the fun stuff, Place Card Me had another record-setting month in September, generating $1,530 with about 12 hours left in the month. This is almost 50% growth from last month!

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I do really love the shape of this graph.

So what accounts for this increase in revenue?

Interestingly, it is not traffic. Traffic actually took a small dip in September, as you can see in the graph below:

August Retrospective

It’s September! 2018 is officially more than 2/3 over.

Despite my best efforts to believe otherwise, time relentlessly progresses forwards faster than I expect.

Monthly transitions are always a good opportunity to take a step back and re-orient, so have decided to do that now.

The month past

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August 2018 Time

August was busy! Almost 170 hours of sponsored work meant very little time for anything else. But it’s been fun and good. …

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” — Robert Burns

This is part 3 in my series about trying to build a revenue-generating web application that provides sustainable passive income. If you haven’t read them already, here are part 1 and part 2.

So in part 2 of “the long road to passive income” — published in December of last year — I laid out a plan for growing my web application for making place cards from $100 to $1000 monthly revenue. …

Cory Zue

I'm a developer writing openly about my self-education in entrepreneurship through launching software products. Caveat: I usually have no idea what I'm doing.

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