3 min read

The Ultimate Side Project Story

Like everyone else in January, I've been hooked on Wordle, the daily word guessing puzzle game that rose to fame over Christmas. It was built by Josh Wardle (artist/product manager/engineer) for his partner who loves word games as a simple side project. In just over two months, it's gone from 90 to 300,000 people playing before being sold for a low seven figure sum earlier this month to the New York Times.

You may have noticed it if you happen to frequent twitter due to the grids of squares that show up daily. It's become a competition between myself, my wife and kids to who can solve it in as few guesses as possible.

It's also been a daily news story, with other developers trying to quickly cash in on its name within the app store or spoil other players fun on twitter. There's also a regular stream of related word games cropping up every day on Product Hunt. It's not often a small project from a single dev can stir up such a buzz and the sale will rightly earn it a place in the stuff of legend within the community.

Being able to produce a project and kick back and live off it forever is something us developers dream about - I've even blogged about this almost 9 years ago. The truth is stories like this are few, none of us are likely to knock it out of the park like Josh.

Back in the real world, theres a multitude of devs the world over like yourself working hard month after month, getting smaller pieces of pie. Hopefully some of the stories in todays issue serve to inspire how you could start earning a living building your software products.

Let me know if you're enjoying these emails by replying to this email. Have a lovely week.

Until next time, keep on shipping!


How I Got Pwned by My Cloud Costs

Troy Hunt runs the brilliant "Have I Been Pwned" - a tool to confirm if your password has been leaked. Here he writes about how the site got stung by cloud costs.

Year of The Grind (2021 Retrospective)

Monica Alent reflects on how pandemic’s fallout obliterated her two main revenue streams: a travel blog and SaaS product, Affilimate.

How I took my SaaS from idea to sold in 14 months

Not all solo stories have a seven figure exit. Joe Masilotti talks about how he built a MVP in one month and grew a product making modest MRR for a year before selling it.

A comprehensive list of failed projects

This post hist very close to home. Like Joshua Thijssen, I've started many projects that have failed. I love this breakdown of each of his failures.

A Five-Year Journey to Financial Freedom...and Beyond

Cory Zue is the founder of a number of projects including SaaS Pegasus, a boilerplate for Django apps. Here he reflects on his 2021 including his invention of a controversial persona.

Who wrote this shit?

When working within teams it's easy to lay blame with the previous developer. Philip Heltweg urges caution before pointing the finger.

From $0 To $2 Billion By Making The World Meditate

From $0 To $2 Billion By Making The World Meditate

I found this interview with Calm founder Michael Acton Smith inspiring. In it he reflects on his early businesses (firebox.io, Moshi Monsters) before focusing on the mindfulness app, Calm.


soheilpro/mailwind: Use Tailwind CSS to design HTML emails.

Use Tailwind CSS to design HTML emails.


A useful collection of saas boilerplates to build your next side project with.

Free Postgres Databases

Fly is a cloud provider that is gaining a following with devs in my circles for its easy to use offering. They recently announced free postgres db's or 3GB storage for side projects.

How to Create AWS Lambda Layers for Python Dependencies

A quick post from me on how I script lambda layer creation.

tiangolo/full-stack-fastapi-postgresql: Full stack, modern web application generator.

An easy to use cookiecutter template for building full stack FastAPI applications by its creator. Using FastAPI, PostgreSQL as database, Docker, automatic HTTPS and more.

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