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Why I Decided That Being an Indie App Maker > Having a $300K Job 💰

Why I Decided That Being an Indie App Maker > Having a $300K Job 💰
(~6 min read)
I recently decided that I would stop freelancing as a blockchain developer. I’ll be honest, I’ve never made 300K in a year - that’s too much work. Despite getting paid $155 an hour and having more demand than I can plow through, I can’t find one ounce of motivation in me to continue on this path.

Maxime Dupré 🚀
I recently rejected a big job offer in the web3 space 💰

Accepting it would have meant less time to work on my shit. I'm not making that tradeoff anymore. I'm always choosing freedom, growth, passion and excitement vs security

Say no if it means you gotta do less of what you 💜
During my time working as a blockchain developer, which honestly was a really short time, I never worked more than 40h per week. Much less if I chose to. And I chose to often. I had a good work-life balance.
I was learning about a lot of new fascinating technologies (and even some basic notions about economics) and as a result, I got the satisfaction of growing as a developer. I also had the sense that I was equipping myself with the skills that will be the most in-demand for the next decades.
I was working in probably the most interesting tech space with interesting people and I was fulfilling my curiosity.
I was making more money than ever before. I could finally start buying all the cool material stuff that I have wanted for so long and still invest a massive portion into my future.
Things were going well by all external measures of success, yet deep down I wasn’t fulfilled. I wasn’t getting any closer to the life I want to live.
I want to live life on my own terms and a job can’t give me that.
On jobs
It’s really not about the blockchain job. It’s about a job. I don’t want one. Being a blockchain developer is as good a job (and probably better) as any other.
In some cases, being employed can feel like a wonderful gift from the universe. I understand that a lot of people would be more than satisfied with a $300K job. However, that’s not my path. In fact, I’d be happy with much less as an indie app maker.
But surely I derived some value from being employed for more than a decade, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been doing it for so long. I believe that, just like binge-eating relieves you from short-term stress, I have only ever taken a job to escape from the fear of working for myself. It’s like I took the red pill a long time ago, but living as though I took the blue one. I realize now, that every full-time job I have ever taken in my entire 30 years of existence has been a treasonous choice to who I am. Every time, I got lured by money and comfort. Instead, I should have aimed for freedom and growth.
The upsides of being an employee are plentiful, and each person is different, but to me, they pale in comparison to the downsides.
There are inherent tradeoffs of a job that I am tired of making:
  • The exchange of my most precious asset, time, for a less valuable one, money
  • The exchange of unlimited financial upsides (and limited downsides) for financial security
  • The exchange of passion, excitement, growth, and personal development for comfort
Each of those tradeoffs could easily make for a separate blog post. For now, I’ll just say that life is too short to make any of them.
Life is too short
“Every man has two lives, and the second starts when he realizes he has just one” — Confucius
Life can leave you at any moment. You could die right after reading this blog post, or tomorrow, or in 50 years. You simply don’t know. Every single day is truly a precious gift. Are you excited about what you do every single day? At the very least, are you taking daily steps to make that exciting future a reality? Life is too short to spend time doing shit you don’t want to do. You’ll be 75 years old in an instant - a blink of an eye - if you even get that far. You have no time to waste.
You certainly don’t have to start a business, but you do have to be damn sure that you’re very deliberate about how much time you spend doing unfulfilling activities.
I just don’t believe in the standard path of working at a job, saving most of your income, and having a safe retirement. That sounds like a plan for a miserable life. A life void of any adventures, risks, unknowns, and possibilities.
I want to enjoy my life right now. LIFE IS TOO SHORT. Not enjoy it in the hedonistic kind of way. This is not about YOLO and short-term thinking. It’s about breaking out of the mold and living up to your potential. It necessitates working hard, smart and consistently - there are no shortcuts.
David Perell
What is a startup?

A way to compress your working life. Instead of working at low intensity for forty years, you work as hard as you possibly can for ten.
I’ve always wanted to build software and live off of it. I was afraid to do it. I’m still afraid, but somehow I’ve reached a breaking point. Either one of those two things will happen: I’ll be a struggling indie app maker or I’ll make it, both of which are infinitely more gratifying to me than being an employee.
Tom J
The word "intensity" is key here.

I'm not sure I work that much more hours than when I had a job.

But every hour is filled with energy and passion.
Making it: generate enough revenue to cover my expenses and a little bit more. That’s it. If I can just do that, mission accomplished. I’m not stopping there, but the rest is extra.
However, sometimes, love it or hate it, a job is a temporary necessity - to pay the bills or to support your family. We also vary widely with how much or how little privileges we have, but most of us can at least choose to do no more than what’s necessary - the MED.
The real power of a job for an indie maker comes from limiting the time you spend on it to the MED (minimum effective dose). The objective is to have the most amount of time and mental energy to dedicate to your business.
1. Reducing recurring expenses
For this to work, you need to do a prerequisite step, which fortunately for me, I had been working on for the last couple of years: limiting your recurring expenses. For me, that meant downgrading my car and not upgrading my lifestyle. I’m not advocating being frugal and reducing your quality of life. If I wanted to be frugal I’d sell my car and use public transportation. There are luxuries in your life that cost 10x for a mere 1.5x increase in quality of life. Get rid of those. You can easily find many other creative ways of reducing your expenses, such as moving abroad where the cost of living is much cheaper.
2. Calculate your Job MED
Once your monthly expenses are under control, calculate how many hours you need to work at your job (monthly expenses / hourly rate) and decide to work no more than that.
3. Optimize for mental energy
I could keep freelancing as a blockchain dev and make $155 per hour. But I won’t. Why? It might seem like I’m contradicting myself because I’d be working less if I did. See, I’ve been a web developer for more than a decade before I even knew what blockchain was. Web development is easy for me. I don’t need to have massive bouts of learning. It takes no effort. I don’t have to worry about my performance. I already have all the clients I need. I can get in, do my job and do it well so that I can get out and focus on my business without expending too much mental energy.
4. Build
My favorite part of the day is when I get to build. This is when I express my creativity and passion for life. It’s when I get to taste the exciting future that I’m building. What a gift you are making to yourself by doing what you truly want to be doing, instead of deferring that moment into the future.
It’s also when the doubts start creeping in, and when I begin to question myself.
“Am I really doing this to live the life I want, or am I just being lazy?”
“Am I using ‘being an Indie App Maker’ as an excuse to escape the real world?”
The entrepreneurial journey is definitely hard. The rollercoaster of emotions you experience is like no other.
“When is the easy route ever the route to take?” - Dana White
It’s all worth it.
What's next?
I’m not suggesting that anyone else should follow the same path (unless they feel inspired to). One of my goals with this blog post was to lay out my thought process to the best of my abilities and hopefully help or inspire someone. We all think differently and have unique lives, therefore, this blog post may not resonate with you and that’s just fine.
So you’ll see me building in public - web apps, macOS apps, iOS apps, or any other kind of apps that tickle my pickle. From now on, every decision I make will take me closer to maximum agency and to living life on my own terms. My humble goal: make a living by writing code that is useful to myself and others, and enjoy every step of the journey - the ups and the downs.
Before this post comes to an end, let me tell you a very short story about a tiger named Mohini that was in captivity in a zoo, who was rescued from an animal sanctuary.
Mohini had been confined to a 10-by-10-foot cage with a concrete floor for 5 or 10 years. They finally released her into this big pasture: With excitement and anticipation, they released Mohini into her new and expensive environment, but it was too late. The tiger immediately sought refuge in a corner of the compound, where she lived for the remainder of her life. She paced and paced in that corner until an area 10-by-10 feet was worn bare of grass… Perhaps the biggest tragedy in our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns. - Tara Brach
Now that I’ve fallen in love with and become addicted to Twitter, you can follow me there as I continue to document my journey daily.
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