Building in public week 5 - 12 projects in 12 months

06-02-2022 | 11 min read
Building in public week 5 - 12 projects in 12 months

It felt like this week passed by in a heartbeat. It was the last couple of days in January in which I finalized my first project and the first couple of days of February in which I started working on my first SaaS project. If this is the first time you read my blog, I’ve challenged myself to start and finish 12 projects in 12 months. My personal website was my first project and I’ve now started on 

Day 30

As you probably already read in my previous blogs I spent most time during the weekend with my family. This Sunday was no exception and I think this might be the first time I didn’t do any work on the project. It was just one of those days where there were too many other things to do. 

Doing a side project next to your full time job can be exhausting. I’ve learned that I can’t spend every free minute on my side project, so sometimes you will have to take a break. It also helps me to clear my thoughts. I can recommend everyone to also plan in some free time, read a book, go for a walk or spend time with your family. In the long run, that’s worth more than dedicating every spare minute to your side project.

Day 31

The last day of January and the day that I would wrap up my first project. There was 1 feature that I did want to add to my website, the milestones for each project. I thought it would be cool to see milestones within projects. Although I decided to add this feature early on, it wasn’t really MVP so I didn’t add it before the launch. After adding this I decided my website was finished, at least for now. 

It was time to look ahead to next month, in which I want to build a SaaS. I've got a couple of ideas in mind, so I spent some time going through these ideas to see which idea I would start with. I decided on building a bookmark manager as this would probably touch a lot of features I wanted to learn more about. 

With the last week in mind and the problems I had with getting the website up and running I wanted to look for other options. A colleague of mine talked about React and Vercel, so I decided to give that a go and spent some time researching it, setting up a small in-browser todo list. I also set up a basic next.js app and deployed it to Vercel. I was surprised how easy it was, so I will be using this in my next project. 

It was a busy day today as I also wanted to send out my newsletter. I've never sent a newsletter before and to be honest I don't really know what I should include in the newsletter. As with a lot of things during the year, I will learn a lot about newsletters, do's and don'ts and other tips and tricks. I wasn't really prepared to send out a newsletter as I didn't expect to have any subscribers yet, but I managed to get 3 subscribers. I used MailChimp to create an email  and just before midnight I was able to send it out. That concluded a very busy last day of the month. 

Day 32

The first day of February meant I would start working on my new project. Like I said I have decided to build a bookmark manager, my first attempt at a SaaS. Instead of diving directly in coding the foundation I started with planning the month roughly. I put together a roadmap with 4 key parts.

  • The landing page
  • The Chrome extension
  • The app itself
  • The marketing website

The landing page would contain just some key features and a waiting list subscribe form. I wanted to focus on this first, as it would allow interested people to sign up. The Chrome extension is necessary because that will be the way of adding bookmarks while browsing the internet. The app itself obviously will contain all stored bookmarks and all functionality that comes with it. The marketing website will be the website where people can register, where they can view the pricing and learn more about the product.

But before I could start on all of this, I wanted to purchase a domain name. I was thinking about and, both sounds good, both had the .com domain available and branding-wise it could be either a bat or a bear in the logo, so I didn’t have to spend too much time on branding. I decided that I would use my Twitter audience to see what the preferred domain name would be and without a doubt was voted on most. So I purchased the domain name together with an email bundle to be able to create email addresses which end with

The rest of the time that I could spend on the project I spent on watching tutorials on Figma and React. I learned some awesome stuff about Figma, but as I’m no designer I figured it would be quite some work to get a good design done. Not too sure if I will be using Figma, but I might give it a go and see how it goes.

Day 33

More and more I see the advantage of using what you know instead of learning new tools or languages. I spent most of the day watching tutorials about Next.js, React, Material UI, Figma and chrome extensions. I created several test projects to get some things up and running but eventually I didn’t get the most out of the day. The actual work that needed to happen, like working on the landing page, was pretty much neglected but I did make a start with the landing page. I also had a first shot at creating a logo. I used Figma to do this but, although I’m quite happy with the result, I’m not sure if I will be using this logo. For now it is okay and it will give my landing page a better look.

Day 34

The disadvantage of learning new tools and languages is the temptation to switch back to the tools and languages you already know. I experience the same thing right now, as I really struggled to get some basic stuff done with Next.js and React. Where I would have the landing page done already if I would do it with .NET, I’m still far from being able to publish the landing page. To be honest, it’s disappointing that it takes more time than expected. But then again it is also a great learning point. I have said to myself multiple times to stick with what I know, but the grass always looks greener on the other side. I’m still not sure if I will continue using Next.js and React. Although I feel like learning more each day and getting better at it each day, there is also the styling aspect. I tried out Material UI and Chakra UI, both component libraries which would make it easier to come up with a great design. But I haven’t used this before at all, so all together is quite the learning curve. I’m not sure if I will switch back or not, I want to give myself until the weekend to figure that out.

Day 35

It was a productive day. I woke up still feeling unsure whether to continue using Next.js and React, but I didn’t want to give up on it yet. To solve the issues I had with styling, using Material UI or Chakra UI, I decided to use Bootstrap. I know Bootstrap better than any other library, so to fall back on this is a choice that will help me speed up the development.

Within an hour I had the first parts of my landing page done. I still need to get used to the way you can use React, the component based approach. Like with most languages there are a lot of ways to reach your goals and for now my goal is to get something functional working. Can the code be improved? I’m 100% sure it can be. But at the moment it is working, it is doing what I want it to do so for this MVP stage, it’s good enough. This is still a learning process, so to get something actually working is a great step in the right direction.

I even created a waiting list subscribe form that connects directly with MailChimp. I will use MailChimp to communicate with users that sign up as I have used MailChimp before. This saves me time looking for a tool that does this as well and maybe better, that I don’t know and I also need to learn.

Not only the technical side of the product got my attention today. I also had a nice chat with a colleague, a graphic designer, about which colors to use. So I came up with a color palette and learned a thing of two about color shades. She even offered to create a logo I could use for my product. 

Day 36

Another 7 days have passed already. I worked on the landing page more and it is almost ready to be launched. I added a list of features to the landing page that my bookmark manager will have. Although it was a rough start with React, I’m actually starting to like it. The combination of Next.js, React and Vercel is really powerful and I like how easy it is to deploy something to production. 

Besides working on my SaaS I also had to take another PCR test. I had a positive self test, just like last Monday, so another PCR test would point out whether I’ve got the coronavirus or not. The first PCR test after the positive self test on Monday was negative, but as I got more symptoms during the week I am pretty sure this PCR test will turn out to be positive.

Since it is the end of the week I started writing the blog post I usually post every Saturday. Because working on the landing page took more time than expected, or actually because I really started to see progress and I got excited, I didn’t have time to finish the blog post entirely.

As said in my day-to-day recap I will be building a bookmark manager, I wanted to start with this project as the first SaaS project I will be working on as it touches a lot of features I want to learn. It requires a Chrome Extension, it requires a Stripe integration, it requires an API and more.

As there are plenty of bookmark managers out there I will decide during this month if I want to niche down on the product. I’m not entirely sure which niche I would be building for, so that is definitely something to think about. What I do know already are some features I want the bookmark manager to have. People should be able to store their bookmarks privately, but they should have the possibility to share their bookmarks with others. As most bookmark managers I want the possibility to tag bookmarks, so they can easily be grouped together. Another thing I think would add something to the experience is creating a screenshot of the bookmarked URL and storing that as well. 

Some other features I’m thinking about to implement are:

  • Store selected texts. so you can have the most important information directly visible in each bookmark
  • Import bookmarks from other well-known bookmark managers, as this will make it easier for someone to start using my product.

As the month progresses, I will reflect on all features to see what I can implement. As I still consider this as a learning project, I also want this to be a good reference in the amount of work I can do in a month.

Online presence

Looking at the Twitter follower growth I come to this conclusion: tweeting about developing your own SaaS really helps. As of the 1st of February my follower count grew with about 45 new followers. Looking at the total follower count of 180 followers, this means a 33.3% increase in total followers.

I also noticed that my posts on IndieHackers and Medium are getting less attention than the previous posts. IndieHackers is a great community, but I notice it takes up quite some time to read, comment and interact heavily. I think by not only sharing my posts there, but also commenting on others I will be able to grow my online presence on IndieHackers as well. My plan for next week will be to start the day reading and commenting on some IndieHackers posts to be able to reflect at the end of the week on the progress I’m making on that website. As long as keeping up with others won’t affect the progress I’m making on my own product I really want to keep providing value where possible. 

That sums it up for this week. Next week will be an interesting one in which I launch my landing page, start working on the app functionality and start building the Chrome extension. Thank you all for reading this, make sure you subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Twitter to stay updated.


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