iPhone with 'Hello' onscreen and coffee cup lying on table
First Published: December 14, 2021Last Updated: December 14, 2021

Hello, world!

Well, I finally did it. I finally took the plunge into the personal blogging space. It’s…a little quiet so far…

Ok, jokes aside, “Welcome!” and thanks for stopping by! I want to introduce myself, share what I do, what plans and goals I have for this site, and hopefully convince you to stop by again sometime in the future 🤙🏾.

Who am I?

Without trying to regurgitate everything on my about page, let me share a little about myself.

I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York (home of the world’s best pizza and wings). I went to college a short drive away in Rochester, New York, where I attended Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). I earned my BS degree in New Media Interactive Development (a CS degree with more focus on UI/UX), as well as tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt.

After graduating, I freelanced for a bit after moving back home. Eventually, I got a job as a fulltime Software Engineer working at IGN.com. I ended up moving to the Bay Area for the job and completely fell in love with California (decent food AND no harsh winters?). I’ve worked on a few different things at IGN so far, from the website itself to various editors’ tools. Now though, I mostly focus on our mobile apps.

What do I do

As someone who likes to play with cool things in my spare time, I also work on side projects such as building MovieOtter, streaming on Twitch, podcasting with friends, and (now) writing here on this site. I have a couple of posts in the works that explore some tools I use (TypeScript, Firebase, React, etc.), as well as some posts that will hopefully teach you some cool tech-tips I’ve learned along the way.

Outside of programming, I’m also an avid budgeter. I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid that is You Need A Budget (YNAB), and I LOVE the tool and what it’s allowed me to do financially. I plan on writing about my budgeting process as well as tips and recommendations I think everyone should know, so if you’re interested in that, definitely keep an eye out for it!

Beyond financial organization, I’m also big into “general life” organization. Over the years, I’ve learned and bookmarked TONS of useful information. I have shortcuts, life hacks, rules of thumbs(?), and cool online tools that span all sorts of categories from technology to design, cleaning, home maintenance, and more. One goal I have for this site is to build a centrally located place to put all these tips and tools. But that takes time, so I’ll be writing posts about them bit by bit until then.

Why am I doing this?

This is a VERY good question! (And one I think more people should probably be asking more often…)

For me, if I’m trying to be completely honest with you, it’s like 30% personal & professional growth, 60% altruistic reasons, and 10% curiosity…

My mentality as of late

Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to reframe how I approach any projects I work on. I did this because, at the beginning of 2020, I decided that I want to quit my job one day. Now, I don’t want you to take that the wrong way. This isn’t to say I dislike my job or don’t want to do coding/programming or anything like that. It’s quite the opposite. I love what I do. I love creating things. I love talking to people. I love designing products and solving problems for users and everything else that goes into the creative process of making a…thing. When I say “I want to quit my job,” it’s me saying that I want to work for myself one day, so that I can have a more significant role throughout that whole creative process.

I also want more control over my financial future. Obviously, working in tech at a company based in San Fransico has its monetary benefits. I make “good” money at my job. I still have a fair amount of student loan payments in my future (🙃), so a steady income is a plus. With the state of the world due to Covid-19, it would be financially irresponsible for me to up and leave with no gameplan on how I would earn money. However, I also know that being an employee at a company generally gives you less freedom than owning something yourself.

Building something is harder than it looks… and it looks pretty hard

After settling on my new personal goal, I found it’s actually really challenging to build something on your own. And not just from a traditional “work” standpoint. There are far fewer resources available than I thought there would be that walk you through how to grow something from the ground up.

I did find some communities of like-minded people (one of my favorites being IndieHackers.com), and some Streamers and YouTubers who share their development online, but I still felt there was a gap with people sharing the whole creative process. I wanted to fill that gap. I wanted to become the resource I was looking for but couldn’t find. So I did just that.

At the time, streaming seemed easy enough to get started with, so I set up the software and jumped in. For the last few months, 3 days a week, I have live-streamed me working on building my product MovieOtter in the open. The idea planning, the designing, the tech stack exploration, the coding, the initial launch, and the following bugs and improvements have all been online for others to view.

And others HAVE viewed it!

On my Twitch Channel alone, I’ve grown to about 450 followers and about 2 dozen subscribers since I started. I’ve even hit the milestones needed to become a Twitch Affiliate. The community began to grow outside of Twitch. We created a Discord server, where people can chat about the things they’re doing or ask questions when they need help.

I honestly don’t think MovieOtter would be as far as it is now, if not for the community I’m growing, as well as the other resources I mentioned above.

Where do I go from here?

After seeing some of the questions being asked, on-stream, off-stream, and on Discord, I decided to improve my branding and better set up ways to help people. I wanted to create a place where I can dive deeper into the things I do, the issues & obstacles I face, and share more of my journey to becoming an Indie Hacker.

And as with my project MovieOtter, I wanna do this in the open as well. This site was also built live on-stream, and the code for it is public and open source. What that means is if you want to create a site like this yourself, or if you’re interested in helping contribute to this one, you can easily do that! I’ll have a post that walks through how to do that in the future.

I mentioned the breakdown of why I’m doing this earlier, and the last reason I said I want to do this is “curiosity.” I’m most fascinated by things I don’t understand. And I find that once I jump in and start learning new things, I’m at my happiest and feel the most fulfilled. Writing, building a product, growing a community. These things are all new to me. These things excite me. These are the things I hope to do and show people like myself from last year how to do it too. Hopefully, this also sounds interesting to you, and you’ll stick around for the ride.