On Technology Writing

December 12, 2017

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been doing much technology writing lately.

I’m a startup employee, and startup employees wear many hats. My most familiar hat was “lead technologist”, and I handled the creation of a team and a product. However, A few weeks ago, we finished what we were working on (for the time being), and my role has shifted. Instead of technology work, I now mostly write well-being content for educators and parents.

I can feel the tech skill decay already – I was writing some CSS and have already forgotten my tricks!¬†So, what good is it for me to write about technology, a field I no longer keep up with? Contributing to an already overstuffed sea of blog posts isn’t doing anyone any good. I hope instead to turn this blog into a testing ground for my written content – maybe something like Seth Godin’s blog. He frequently makes short posts about self-development and positivity, which I think I can do.

So, that’s it – no more technology writing, lots of educational writing. I hope that if you know any parents or educators, you’ll send them my way! Our company a lot of good primary research on youth, so we’ll be able to produce valuable content.

One final note – I’ll also be dropping my series on building a startup without doing any work. The product has taken a little bit of a different shape than I thought, and I’d rather not spoil the details at this point. ūüėČ

Join the Conversation


What’s Your Action Story?

December 5, 2017

Let’s say you’re reading or watching an action story, maybe a movie or a novel. The¬†protagonist has to fight a villain, and maybe¬†they has a love interest.

Where does the suspense come from –¬†whether or not your hero is going to win?

Well, no! You know that your hero is going to win. The question is – how?

Unfortunately, in life, your success isn’t inevitable. Think about your vision for success – have you been writing¬†just the happy ending?

If so, maybe it’s time to shift your focus. It’s time to stop focussing on whether or not you’re going to win – but¬†on¬†how¬†you’re going to win.

And if you write a good story, the ending should write itself! ūüôā

Join the Conversation


“Treating” Friends Right

November 30, 2017

Treating people can be delicate – everyone wants to be treated differently.

Maybe a friend has gone through a painful breakup, or maybe a child had (or is having) a difficult day at school.

What do you do? How do you make them feel better?

A preoccupation with fixing things is a common problem. Not that it’s a bad preoccupation to have! Just make sure it doesn’t stop you from finding out¬†how¬†to fix the problem.

The¬†why¬†is there – your heart’s in the right place. Don’t let a lack of knowledge regarding the¬†how¬†stop you from trying.

It’s that easy. Next time someone you care about needs support, don’t just jump in or skirt around the subject. Try starting with – “how can I help?”

Join the Conversation


From Spark to Headlight

November 29, 2017

Do you live in a city with a big freeway?
One day, go there Рgo and observe the cars passing by at night

Hundreds of headlights stream in either direction, like a river. But each headlight is more than just illumination Рthey represent years and years of innovation.

One day, a tiny spark… one day, a harvested, focussed beam of light.

What sparks have you cultivated?

Join the Conversation


Big Changes

November 27, 2017

Hi all,

Writing has been something I’ve found myself doing more often.

Just not on my blog!

At work, I’ve been doing a lot of creative work – and less programming/technology.

In the coming days, I’ll be shifting my focus here to be more of a stomping grounds for the content I write at work.

I hope you enjoy it!

Join the Conversation


Cancelled Orders and other Youth Problems

October 17, 2017

This post is part of a series on building a business with no effort. Check out part one here

The question “What problems do people aged 18-25 face” is apparently a problem itself.

I contacted a freelancer on Fiverr who said she’d be able to look into my research assignment, which is the next piece of my business puzzle. We know that middle-class 18-25 year olds will be a good target demographic because of their phone habits. I would have thought that figuring out their problems would be easy; hell, I could riff a few off the top of my head. People face problems with loneliness, finances, and their relationships, and everything seems more important when you’re young. There’s a sense of immediacy.

Apparently, though, making good on research on the topic is a bit trickier than I thought. Out of 3 elancers I tried to connect with, all 3 cancelled the gig, saying they couldn’t complete it. Huh.

Always look for ways to improve your communication

Maybe the problem is what I wrote to start the gig:

I am creating a business for young people (age 18-25) in mostly middle-class wealth brackets. I would like some market research – what pains or troubles do they experience in their day-to-day lives? For instance, do they frequently find themselves lost? Do they have trouble waking up in the morning? Do they want to look at their smartphones for pictures of dogs to avoid bring bored? Anything goes!

To be honest, I think that what I wrote is clear enough. I think I’ll try one more seller before rewording – after all, fourth time’s the charm.

I’m¬†going to avoid naming and shaming sellers who didn’t deliver. In this case, all 3 were quick and respectful. We’ll see about freelancers we talk to in the future… but until then, let’s refocus on our goal.

We’re going to make a business. And we’re going to do it without doing any work. So let’s put this out of our brains for now and focus on more important things.


Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear what you think, give me a shout in the comments or on¬†twitter!

Join the Conversation


Finding a Demographic that will Pay for Your App – Part 2

October 8, 2017

This post is part of a series on building a business with no effort. Check out part one here!

Apologies for the delay – I was dealing with security issues, server migrations, and some other life craziness.¬†However, the project continued during the hiatus, and¬†there’s a lot to share

In the last post, we wondered: which demographic is most likely to pay for an app? Well, thanks to Fiverr seller wilddaniela88, we now know. And the answer is:

‚ÄúYoung, middle-class people are the most avid smartphone users, with 93% of them accessing their phone at least once a day to avoid being bored.‚Ä̬†

Next step: zeroing in on our target demographic

Now that we know who to build an app for, we need to know what the demographic would want to use a mobile app for. The best¬†technology companies are usually those that solve people’s real problems. For example, Uber exists to remedy transportation woes, Google helps people find what they’re looking for on the web, and Wikipedia brings free knowledge to the world. So, our new startup should be one that solves the problems of young people in the middle class!

Our next step will be finding a researcher to determine these problems. After some thinking, I’ve decided to¬†specify an¬†age range of 18-25. This is because there are many laws in different companies limiting the data that companies can store of minors, such as COPPA in the United States and PIPEDA in Canada.¬†Enforcing a¬†user age of 18+ means we don’t have to worry about those restrictions.¬†Youth online privacy isn’t something to take lightly, both for ethical and business reasons. Even Disney is¬†in the crosshairs for violations of such codes!

So, our next step is to contact a research to ask them what problems are faced by people in the middle class between the ages of 18-25. I’m looking forward to seeing what they say!

PS: Wilddaniela88’s work was impressive and thorough. Her turnaround time was quick, and she included a large report on mobile phone usage. Hopefully we have as much luck with every seller!


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think, give me a shout in the comments or on¬†twitter!

Join the Conversation


Finding a Demographic that will Pay for Your App

June 22, 2017

This blog entry is part of a series I’m doing on building a profitable business without doing any work. If you missed part 1, check it out¬†here!

It should go without saying that every product needs a target demographic. This is especially true for young products, without an established fan base. So, for this new business, I decided that the first step would be to find a demographic it would be easy to target. Finally, after some careful planning, I’ve started contacting my first freelancer!

For those unaware, a target demographic means “a segment of the population”. A sample demographic might be teenaged Canadians who like hockey, or senior-aged¬†Indians who like going on long walks. For this project, I think I need to find out demographics that are likely to buy paid apps for their phones.

My freelancer is a business development specialist who works off of the website Fiverr. She offers web research on any topic, promising a 24-hour turnaround time. I’ve messaged her the following:

I am creating a new app. To be successful, I would like to know which market I should sell an app to. This market should be based on the quantity of people in specific demographics that actively use many smartphone apps. For example, teenagers in America might use apps more frequently than people in other demographics, or perhaps the demographic is 25-30 year olds in Canada.

After a little back and forth, she agreed to do the order!

Need for increased clarity based on Fiverr seller demographic

One interesting thing to monitor¬†will be how specific and clear I need to be with some of the sellers on Fiverr. Many are clearly not native English speakers. I think that in the end, this will actually make this project better – after all, the point is just to¬†see where this goes and have some fun with the process, right? If a seller interprets something incorrectly, that just means we’ll have to have a little ad-hoc pivot!

I look forward to reporting back on what my first seller comes back with!


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think, give me a shout in the comments or on¬†twitter!

Join the Conversation


Making a Business Without Doing Any Work – Part 2

June 15, 2017

I recently begun to formulate a plan to build a profitable business and be not doing any work. To do so, I plan to break down the things needed, then outsource absolutely all of it. If you missed it, check out part 1 here!

As I thought, I read over the steps I had formulated and quickly realized I’d need to break them down further. So, here’s the updated list of steps I’ll need to outsource:

  1. Find a market I could sell an app to, including specific demographics
  2. Find what pain points they have
  3. Collect information on players in the field (competitors)
  4. Formulate an idea that addresses that point
  5. Make a name for the app that uses that idea
  6. Create a logo for the app
  7. Decide on the service’s features – probably a scaled back version to start
  8. Create designs for the service, providing the logo for colour information
  9. Create a layout for the service
  10. Build a rudimentary app
  11. Research how similar apps are advertised
  12. Advertise the app
  13. Sit back and let things play out

That’s what I’m thinking at the moment. It’s a lot of steps, but I look at it like this – if I’m paying $5 per step and not doing any work, it’ll barely cost me anything!

What does it mean to be not doing any work?

On that note, I should mention an important caveat that I decided on. Unless the work I receive is incomplete or obviously terrible, I’ll accept it.¬†For instance, if I ask someone to come up with a name and it’s only “okay”, I’ll take the path of least resistance and accept it.

Will this mean I get the best work possible? Probably not. But I think it’s more about the spirit of the project – the idea that someone could create a business with the bare minimum amount of effort – only contacting the freelancers.

I’ll contact the first seller soon. Keep tuned!



Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what you think, give me a shout in the comments or on¬†twitter!

Join the Conversation


Can You Make a Business Without Doing Any Work?

June 8, 2017

What’s the only thing better than making a profitable side-business?¬†Making a profitable side-business without doing any work.

First, a little background knowledge. I, like many programmers, enjoy working on the occasional side project. Bringing a program from idea to execution can be extremely satisfying. Although I’ve never made anything that I could monetize, there’s no real reason why I couldn’t. Except, perhaps, for time. Customer service alone is a big task – bigger than I have the bandwidth for when added to my workload.

That’s where outsourcers come in. We live in a world where people who can help with a multitude of bizarre jobs are just a click away. See sites like Fiverr, or Mechanical Turk (AKA MTurk), where these things are quite cheap. Both offer a huge array of services, and Fiverr in particular offers a few that interest me. After all, what do you need for a business?

  1. A target market – one with some cash to burn
  2. A problem that that target market needs solved
  3. An understanding of the organizations trying to solve that problem
  4. A point of differentiation from the competition
  5. A product
  6. Advertising for the product

And… you’re done, right? Of course, in real life, things are a bit more nuanced – but this should be a good starting¬†point. I’m sure that a few of these will break down further – for instance, a product needs a name, branding (colours, icon, design), UI/UX, programming, etcetera. But for most of these points, I’m sure I can find someone on Fiverr who will help.

Starting a profitable side project without doing any work might sound¬†a little far-fetched, but I think that it should be possible. For now, it’s¬†time to break these steps down further.¬†Stay tuned to hear what comes next!


Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your inspirations and ideas, give me a shout on¬†twitter!

Join the Conversation