Why I stopped bookmarkbear and the lessons I learned

09-03-2022 | 6 min read
Why I stopped bookmarkbear and the lessons I learned

The decision to quit the development of bookmarkbear wasn’t easy and it took me a bit of time to actually make this decision. I originally planned to start and finish 12 projects in 12 months, so quitting this project early feels like a failure. Of course it isn’t a complete failure as I’ve learned a lot during this project. Looking at the bigger picture I believe I have made the right decision. Continuing with bookmarkbear would probably have drained my energy and motivation, things I certainly need to continue this challenge the rest of the year.

Reasons I stopped

So let’s start off with the reasons why I stopped the development of bookmarkbear. These reasons are in no particular order, they all contributed to the fact I didn’t want to continue this project.

Technical difficulties

First of all there have been technical difficulties throughout the process. After my first project, my personal website, I decided to look at other tech stacks. I had experienced issues with hosting .net core websites, so I wanted to find something that looked easier to deploy. I ended up using Next.js deployed on Vercel. By choosing this option I needed to invest time in learning React and Next.js. For someone who has done mainly backend development this was quite a turnaround so progress was slow in the beginning. Where I know my way around .net core pretty well, every little piece of code in React took more time than probably needed. Since this whole challenge is a learning process as well I went with it and tried to combine development and learning all at a pace that would make it possible to create everything within 1 month.

Apart from the app, I also wanted to create a Chrome extension. Having just a little bit of experience with Chrome extensions (with manifest v2) I found it very difficult to get things working. With the great help of a Twitter follower I got the information that I needed to keep going and actually build a Chrome extension, but at the end it still wasn’t working correctly and I spent a lot of time on the bugs that the code contained. 

Loss of interest

The second reason why I stopped was the loss of interest in the product. A bookmark manager isn’t the most exciting project there is but for me the main reason I chose this was the learning experience and all the elements it contained. As the month progressed and the technical challenges made it difficult to make some progress from time to time it was difficult to stay focused. 

During the times that I experienced technical difficulties I often found myself thinking about other projects and ideas, going through Twitter to keep up with other people who are building in public and watching tutorial videos. With new ideas and projects in my head, it was becoming more and more difficult to focus on bookmarkbear. Other projects seemed more worthwhile which caused me to lose my interest in bookmarkbear.


The third and final reason is the fact my product didn’t have a Unique Selling Point (USP). I thought about implementing screenshots for each bookmark that was saved, but hit some technical difficulties in trying to get past those cookie banners and popups websites are filled with nowadays. I spent quite some time researching ways to get around it, but it seemed pretty difficult to do this as well as all the other development I needed to do. So I dropped the idea of screenshots, but that left me with so little functionality that the MVP is not much more than something a user could do in any native browser based bookmark manager. It was just a URL, a title and a tag / folder. 

Gradually I started to doubt whether this product could be a SaaS project users are willing to use. I tried to convince myself that although the MVP might not be attracting users, the possibility of adding screenshots or another USP might attract users eventually. As I’m trying to build 12 projects in 12 months, I figured the MVP should be at least useful to some users and with bookmarkbear it just wasn’t the case.

Lessons I’ve learned

As I said before, this project isn’t a complete failure. Although I didn’t finish the project there are still some great lessons I’ve learned along the way. I have learned more SaaS “rules” since I’ve started this challenge but from time to time I find it difficult to follow these rules as my starting point is different from others that are building their SaaS. For me it is mostly a learning experience and I have given myself a month for each project. For instance: validating your idea before you start is a good idea, but almost impossible for me to do as I’ve only got 1 month to actually build the MVP. But there are some lessons I will take with me during the remainder of the year.

Keep it simple

With bookmarkbear I simply bit of more than I could chew. All the various aspects took too long to finish within 1 month. The way to go is to keep it simple. Smaller, simpler projects with just a bit of functionality which could be useful for others than myself as well is the way to go from now on. At least, until I learned more and more. With each project my experience will grow and I might be able to reuse some parts that I already developed, which will make it possible to work on larger projects. But the next few projects will need to be simple,

Use the tools you know

I really want to learn how to use TailwindCSS, how to set up a Next.js project properly and many more things, but realistically it will be quicker to use the tools I know. I know how to use Bootstrap, so that will do for the next projects. I know the basics of Next.js, but am also very experienced in .net, so for each project I will determine which tools I will use. I’m not writing off Next.js as I fell in love with the simplicity of deploying a Next.js application through Vercel, but the applications that I will build with Next.js won’t be of any technical superiority. 

Learning new tools and languages takes time, time I don’t really have developing a new project each month. The only way to learn is by doing just a little bit more each time. If I manage to keep things simple I should be able to take some time during each project to dive deeper in new technologies.

Don’t be afraid to fail

It took a long time before I could force myself to quit the development of bookmarkbear. It felt like a failure if I would give up. The truth is, if I look deep down inside of me, I probably knew after 2 weeks that this project wouldn’t make it till the end. There were just too many doubts about the feasibility of the project. The lesson I learned from this is that I shouldn’t be afraid to fail. As long as you take lessons from each failed project, the project isn’t a real failure. 

Of course, by building in public everyone out there can see my mistakes, my failures, my doubts and struggles. But I’m not doing this challenge for them, I’m doing this challenge for myself to push myself to be able to finish projects. So there is no wrong decision as long as I stand behind my decision. You fail 1 project, you get up and go again. I throw in a quote which sums up the above text quite nicely: “The only real failure is the failure to try”.


Thank you for reading. Connect with me on Twitter to share your thoughts about this post.

Next post

Project #3 - building 12 projects in 12 months

13-03-2022 | 3 min read

If you have followed my journey to build 12 projects in 12 months, you’ve already read that project #2 was not completed. I quit the development after realizing I didn’t want to continue for a number ...

Previous post

Last week of February building bookmarkbear.com in public

02-03-2022 | 8 min read

After ending the last week with some doubts about whether I would continue the bookmarkbear.com project, I decided to still go for it. With some help from Jacob, through Twitter, I spent time on the C ...

Back to blog