"An idea is just that, it's all in the execution."

Adam Collins
Adam Collins
Indie Maker

Adam is an indie maker and freelancer with lots of projects under his belt.

His latest one, Find That Actor is a fun project that uses GPT-3.5 to find an actor from a movie or TV show based on a few input parameters (character name, role, etc).

Tweet: I gave in to the AI FOMO

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What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?

When I was 13 years old, I spent a chunk of my lifetime savings buying a MacBook, and then I learnt how to code on it.

Up until then I shared a computer with my three siblings so I didn't have enough time on it to really learn how to code.

I don't think I saw the outside much in that first year, but I learnt so much. By the time I was 15, I had worked on my first freelance project, so it was definitely a worthwhile money and time investment!

What does a productive day in your life look like, and how often do you have days like that?

I have to start early in order for the day to be productive. My motivation definitely declines after lunch, although often picks back up again in the evening!

I try to have at least a few days per week where I’m up and working by 7 am. I know the day is going to be productive when I look up and it's only 10 am, and I already got most of my work done!

There are less distractions in those earlier hours. Because I do freelance work, emails usually start coming in around 9-10 am so getting a few hours of work in before that makes me super happy.

How do you keep learning and improving your craft?

I only learn by doing. If I want to learn something new, I build something with it. No amount of watching videos or reading documentation actually helps me learn. I only learn by doing.

How many failed projects do you have, and how have they set you up for success? Or what is a failure you are grateful for?

Most of the projects I've worked on so far have been a failure but I've learnt a few really important things:

  • Ship early, ship often.
  • User feedback is everything.
  • Building in the dark will always fail.
  • An idea is just that, it's all in the execution.

Most of those lessons center around taking too long to launch something. I would either find out no one wanted what I was building or I'd become demotivated because the end was never in sight (the MVP was far too complex).

Future projects that I work on will be built in public, launch within a month (ideally much less) and push for user feedback as early as possible (jumping on calls, asking for feedback, etc).

The ‘it's all in the execution’ lesson came recently. This came to me when I saw someone building a product which was not unique in any way, but it was simplified, targeted and refined, and they've done well from it. You don't need a million dollar idea in a totally new market, in fact I'd avoid that idea now, the market is unproven and educating users is extremely expensive and time consuming.

What is your tech stack and why?

I'm using a mix of Next.js and Remix for projects. I use JavaScript for everything because it's what I know best. That means I can move fast, which is extremely important as an indie maker.

Likewise because of speed, I use TailwindCSS instead of regular CSS styles or SCSS. The speed at which I can move with Tailwind is unparalleled.

Unlike a lot of other indie makers, I also like Windows. I have a Windows desktop (custom built) and a Mac laptop. I couldn't live without my ultrawide monitor also!

How and when did you get your first user/subscriber/follower/customer? Your first 1000? And how are you getting people in the door today?

I started taking Twitter seriously at the start of this year and I've recently crossed 1,000 followers! I started the year on about 300 and I'm just shy of 1,200 now!

I've been spending a lot of time figuring out what content and strategies work on Twitter and have started to notice results! I'm going to double down on that for the next few months.

I'm still yet to make my first official $1 on the Internet. I work on the web all the time in a freelance capacity, and have launched a few projects but they've always been free.

I'm looking to transition into SaaS in 2023/24 so I'm looking forward to that first $1!

What advice would you give to a smart, driven builder yet to experience any “success”? What advice should they ignore?

Definitely ignore advice from anyone who hasn't already had success, because they're probably still making the same mistakes I have for so long!

The only advice I would listen to, and that I would also give, is keep going! Something will be successful if you keep pushing and learning from mistakes, it could take time!

What are bad recommendations you hear about building?

To never give up on a specific project, sometimes you've just gotta call it and move on.


In this section, I (Mat) share a few comments and links I found especially interesting about today's guest.