May 2021: Retrospective & Income Report
Things I got done, the amount I spent and earned during May.
Table of Contents
I finally decided to get into the habit of writing a monthly retrospective at the end of every month. The goal of these blog posts are mainly to see the things I have achieved in a month, and also the things that I was not able to complete. I think it would be a good way to reflect on what I am doing, where I am at. I also wanted to openly share the income report (my expenses, my income etc). I really think sharing thing like this will give context to everything I am doing. Also, it's a way for me to track my income and expenses. I saw this type of monthly retrospective first in Monica Lent's blog. I really like reading those blog posts. These blog posts are mainly for me, but if it helps or inspires somebody else along the way, that would be great too.
I was a software engineer by trade. I have quit my job as a Software Engineer in Jan 2020. Since then, I have been working on my own. From Jan 2020 to Mar 2021, I and my friend have worked on a startup called Coderplex. But it didn't work out well, so we decided it's time to part ways with it. I have no real income during this entire span of 14 months. In the last month(Apr of 2021), after parting ways with Coderplex, I decided to give freelancing a try, and I ended up earning around $15K during that month. So, I was able to get enough runway to work on things that I like for some time now. This is where I'm at currently.
Right now, I am working on a project called MDX.one. It's a blogging platform that converts your Notion page to a blog, and I started working on this in the first week of May.
This is my background. Now, let's get to the actual blog post.
- Income: $2000
- Expenses: -$390
- Net Profit: $1610
My only source of income in May is through freelancing. I have been working part-time in two of the early-stage companies, and this income is the income I earned with both of these combined.
I do not yet have my own product or business that generates some revenue. But I am really hopeful that MDX.one is going to be the one.
Float.so Lifetime membership – $139
The biggest expense this month is buying the lifetime membership for Float.so. If you don't know what Float.so is, it's a Notion-based course platform. You will be able to create and publish courses right from Notion. The main reason I bought this is that I myself am building a Notion-based product(MDX.one), publishing blogs directly from Notion, and Float.so resonates with what I am building. I am betting big on Notion. It has become my go-to tool for doing almost everything in my life. Even right now, this blog post is being written in Notion.
BrandBird.App Yearly Subscription – $49
I discovered last month that I have been sharing a lot of images on Twitter. But they don't always look nice and readable. So I bought this to make them look good and also automatically brand those images with MDX.one. Jim, the founder of Magic Pattern and the creator of this app, has been adding new interesting features almost every day. I am pretty confident that this is a very good investment for me, especially at the price that I was able to get it at.
Consumer To Creator Lab – $49
This is by far the best value for money this month. This is a combination of a Mini-workshop and a Notion template. I have been aimlessly bookmarking the links to the articles, videos, and other things. But I have never opened any of these links/bookmarks ever in my life. The creator of this workshop talks about how to consume content with intent, and also about how to create content from the content that you consume. This has streamlined my content consumption and creation workflow a lot.
This is a private community for indie hackers, content creators, and solopreneurs, who have been building in public. I joined this community mainly to build relationships with other like-minded people who have been doing the same things as me. I have already made some very good connections with some of the people of the community, and have been part of some very interesting conversations. I am really glad to have joined this community.
Slip.so Monthly Subscription – $19
I wanted to create an interactive course with slip.so for so long. But have been procrastinating it. Hopefully, I will be able to start working on it this month.
The main reason I bought this subscription is because of one of its offerings – Tails. It's a Tailwind CSS Page creator. You will have a set of predefined blocks that you can just Drag and Drop to create a Tailwind-based website. It has been very helpful for me to create landing pages for MDX.one and also the blog.
Blog Demo Preview
Beta Landing Page of MDX.one (WIP)
I haven't shared this landing page anywhere yet. This is the first place you are seeing the preview of this page.
Even though these look simple, it saved me a lot of time coding these myself. I already have a license to Tailwind UI. But this has even more blocks and more flexibility. You can literally build the entire page in the editor itself, by combining different blocks and see if you like it, before downloading the template.
Domain Renewals – $14 + $14
It's time for the renewal of my personal website domain. I also bought a new domain this month. It's called NotionToBlog.com. I am still evaluating whether to rename MDX.one to NotionToBlog.com or not. I did a quick Twitter poll. The result is very close. But some people raised some very good points in the replies. Based on that, I ultimately decided to keep using MDX.one, at least for now.
This is another community of makers that I enjoy being on, with a special focus on marketing. The interesting thing about this community is that it is on top of Yac. So, the only way you will be able to communicate in this community is through voice messages.
Mugshot Bot Monthly Subscription - $9
This again is a low-cost and high value tool. This generates beautiful social preview images automatically. I no longer spend time on Canva making the social images. I am using this for generating images for my blog and also all the blogs that are going to be created with MDX.one.
GSuite Monthly Subscription – $3.5
G-Suite subscription for MDX.one.
The main focus during May has been MDX.one. I am happy to say that I have made a lot of progress this month. In fact, I am very near to launching the product to a wider audience really soon.
I initially started with just a Typeform for collecting emails for the waitlist, but quickly realised that it's not working out and created an actual landing page. It's very minimal at that time, since I didn't even start building yet.
MDX.one Landing page
I used one of the templates from Wicked Templates as a starting point while making this page.
Figured out how to implement Custom Domains feature.
Automated generating of Social Preview Images using Mugshot Bot
Created logo for MDX.one
Someone tweeted about MDX.one on their own for the first time
Wall of Love for MDX.one
It's pretty cool to see people talking about MDX.one even before the product is laiunched.
Decided to use Paddle instead of Stripe.
The main reason being I don't want to deal with the hassle of taxes, and Paddle handles everything for me. On top of that, Paddle also has localized pricing. So, users in India will see the pricing in Rupees, while the users in US will see the pricing in $. This is something that I think will help people to make more informed decision.
Setup a product page for MDX.one on Indie Hackers
Added a page to MDX.one showing the journey of building MDX.one in public.
Made all the blogs to be generated Statically (Result: Blazing Fast Page Speeds)
This was possible because of the recent feature that is introduced in Next.js – Rewrites. Going to write a blog post on this soon.
Started inviting people to try out beta of MDX.one
Simplified the onboarding flow based on the feedback of beta users
Sent my first newsletter ever to my personal mailing list of 55 subscribers. I mostly talked about MDX.one
Made the updates to the Notion blog page to reflect instantly on the blog.
We no longer need to refresh the page to see the changes. They will be reflected automatically.
Improved the look of default blog page based on a template from Tails
Now, the blog looks a lot better than before. I also want to give the option of choosing different themes in the future, may be even build a marketplace for themes. This way, even the users will be able to earn money by selling their themes.
Resolved issues that are affecting the performance of the blogs.
For some reason, this tweet has got so much traction than other ones.
Number of people on the waitlist of MDX.one increased to 215
If I was not writing this blog post, I would not have known all the things that I got done this month. It really feels good to see the progress that I have made this month.
I am taking a break from freelancing now. So, no direct income next month. The main focus of June is going to be launching MDX.one. If I can get atleast one paying customer in this month, then I would consider it as a success for this month.
See you again after a month 👋
July 2021: Retrospective & Income Report