GitHub stars won’t pay your rent

Solve your own problem, everything else will follow

The tweet I wrote after getting the idea in 2017

Hopefully, people will donate, right?

I started an Open Collective for it but it made 93$ in 2.5 years. After I tweeted about this, a couple of people said: “well maybe people aren’t using it”. I knew that they were just trying to bring me down, but the analytics were saying something else. 7 to 10 thousand people were using the app every month. The donation link was visible everywhere, so it wasn’t possible to miss it.

I made a huge mistake

It didn’t take long for me to realize that launching Sizzy as a web app was a big mistake. There were tons of limitations that prevented me from realizing the app’s full potential. I had too many ideas but it wasn’t possible to realize all of them in a web app. I wanted to make a real browser. So I dived into Electron. Shortly after getting the first 0.0.0.0.0.1 (not really semver) Electron version working, I published an article so other people don’t have to go through what I went to make React and Electron work together. I was making progress.

  • Closing an open-source project just to make it paid seemed like a dick move.
  • Having an open-source version and a paid version seemed very complicated to pull off.
Our favorite drawer in the world

Shifting focus

Shortly after the initial launch I stopped freelancing, I launched React Academy and I was too busy doing workshops, so I didn’t have the need to use Sizzy at all. I completely neglected the app and stopped caring about issues etc. The usage wall still high though, and the usage was even going up. The app was useful to people, even in its most basic form. I got a couple of offers from companies which wanted to buy it from me, but I didn’t want to sell it. I knew that one day I’ll be in the right mindset and go back to it.

If it doesn’t work for me, I don’t want to sell it

Last summer I tried using the app again and my first reaction was “omfg why do people even use this thing, it can be so much better”. But people didn’t see it that way. When you tune your brain to this problem-solving mindset you start seeing problems in everything. When I was using the app, I didn’t like it because I had this other potential version of the app in my head. So I decided that I want to work on it again. I decided to launch it when it’s gonna look like something that I would use every day. That was the goal.

A second chance

I was so busy doing workshops and conferences that I barely had the time to concentrate and work on any other project. I was traveling every week and from the excuses drawer I grabbed this one:

The final chance

I went back to my trips, conferences, and workshops. I started filming vlogs. I had a lot of fun, and I was using travel as an excuse that I don’t have time to work on my apps.

Oh boy, the payment part

Even though Stripe was available in Poland, where I’m currently based, I still chose Paddle as a payment provider only because it automatically handles VAT for EU customers. I could’ve totally used Paddle back in the Netherlands but my hand was kinda stuck in the excuses drawer.

Deleting the GitHub repository

Honestly, it felt kind of shitty to delete the repository and unpin the project from my profile. I hated the feeling but I had to shrug it off. I had to convince myself that I’m not doing anything wrong. The app was serving a lot of people for 2.5 years, and I rarely got any contributions. It was time to get real and think about what matters.

A factory lector — a person who was reading the newspaper to factory workers

The big launch

Haters are always louder

I believe that paying a few dollars per month for something that’s going to save you and your team hundreds of hours per month is a no-brainer. In retrospect, I should’ve priced it way higher. It was selling like crazy. If you look at the list of companies on the landing page you will find Samsung, Bentley, Comcast, Toyota, Sketch, Hallmark, Basecamp, Algolia, etc.

  • I want to pay only once!!!111!11!
  • This shouldn’t be a subscription
  • HEY, THIS SHOULD BE FREE!!111!1
  • I’m gonna make my own version and distribute it for free because screw these greedy companies that are charging users for something like this (actual comment, W T F )
  • Well, isn’t this the same as Google Chrome?
  • Well, isn’t this the same as that one Chrome extension that came out in 2007? I can just use that.

Focus on the customers

Thankfully, I learned to ignore negative comments and I didn’t waste too much time on pointless internet discussions.

Here’s how you would look like if Sizzy threw up on you

Next steps

Currently, Sizzy has around 1600 users, which is crazy because the only marketing I’ve done so far is sponsoring one newsletter, and that was last week. Most of the marketing is just a word of mouth from people who enjoy the product. I want to improve the stability of the app even more before I start properly investing in marketing. It’s still far away from my final goal. I have so many ideas about shaping Sizzy to be a tool that every developer and designer will rely on during their daily work. I want to reach a million users. It may sound crazy, but I know I’ll get there. The only thing standing between me and that goal is just … me. But I won’t let myself lose track again. Sizzy is my primary focus now, and everything else comes secondary. It’s really hard to sleep properly when you know you have a lot of customers who depend on you. It’s a weird feeling, but I love it!

  1. Solve your own problem
  2. Show your solution to other people as soon as possible
  3. Package it and distribute it as soon as possible (note to self)
  4. Don’t be scared, ashamed, or discouraged to make it paid
  5. Don’t let anyone tell you how much you should charge for your work

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