The Slog

Some thoughts on motivational misalignment.

On the run-up to launching the Thought Detox app, everything was exciting. I was thinking about how to price pre-orders! I was wrapping up public beta testing! I was creating a press kit and reaching out to journalists! I built1 a marketing site!

And it was great. I also committed to posting about how things are going with the business on the company blog (also available in newsletter format). Initially, that was a weekly update — now it's twice a month.

It's been interesting to contemplate how this correlates with my mood. I've been watching monthly sales fall off a cliff since launch week—entirely expected to anyone that's launched stuff on the App Store, though a bit more drastic than I imagined. Interestingly, it's created this weird fork in my mood: on the one hand, it's hard to feel motivated when it feels like no one really wants what you're building; on the other hand, it's motivating to think about how to adapt it to what would be more useful for people.

This month has felt especially tough. Despite dropping the price of the app, sales continue to be pretty dismal. I'd started working on a sync solution to (eventually) also get this app in the hands of iPad and Mac users —thinking this might boost sales— but it's been less than interesting work.

It's a slog.

When what used to be fun starts to become a chore, it's time to re-evaluate. Is it actually worth continuing? If so, do you need to reset your expectations on the thing? Matt put it nicely in a post:

I started seeing how even this pure thing can eventually feel like work — not in the invigorating, satisfyingly-exhausted sense of the word, but in the futile, misaligned-with-my-life sense.

Rem acu tetigisti.

On Sunday, I gave it a think. I was looking at sales numbers as a means of validation, when the reason I publish these every month is to share with the indie developer community. I was looking at the product roadmap as a way to improve sales, when it's a way to share what I'm working on with customers. I started thinking about the app as a means for reaching profitability, rather than an end for helping people.

I set aside the syncing work this week, and instead started adding some haptic feedback to the app. It's closer to the goal of making the experience delightful. I'll also add a bit of additional VoiceOver feedback when a thought is released for the same reason.

I was originally planning on writing this week's post on the cool apps and services I use to run my bootstrapped app business. That, again, is misaligned with the purpose of building Thought Detox. So I scrapped that, and instead this morning I wrote about the ways people use the app.

It felt better.

I feel better.


[1] The site was designed by Christina, who's available for projects!