I wrote an article that changed my life — Balance #1

...and paid my rent.

I was frustrated.

It was Sunday. None of my projects were working. I was tired. Sad. Lost.

I went for a long walk with my girlfriend. Walked for hours. Here in Wrocław, Poland, by the river and through the autumn leaves. I was thinking of how many beautiful days I was losing because I was working every single day.

I came back home from this long walk and sat down with the computer on the couch. I rarely work on the couch. I was tired after hours of walking. But my brain was oxygenated, and I had many hours to reflect.

Walking is like medicine. It reduces your stress levels and makes you more creative. It was clear to me that spending more time working wouldn't help me succeed.

Should I Quit? Should I stop working on my project? Is it worth it to spend Monday to Sunday working and lose my freedom to buy my future freedom?

And then, just there, I decided to stop. I needed to find another path to be an entrepreneur and find my freedom. I was doing it wrong. It felt wrong.

So I sat down and started writing an article about it. I wanted to say goodbye. I needed a reset. It took me fifteen minutes to write it. It felt like I wasn’t there.

What happened after was completely unexpected.

In this first edition of Balance, I want to share three stories with you.

  1. What is this newsletter about?

  2. Results from a Viral Article

  3. Downhill Product Making (??)

1. What's Balance?

Working more is not what you should do if you want to have success.

I ignored this lesson many times.

There is no direct correlation between how hard you work and the results you get.

It's counter-intuitive. You may think that if you work more, you will get there sooner. It doesn’t work that way.

When you share a product with the world, there is no difference between sharing something hard to create or sharing something easy to create.

People can’t tell the difference.

They will only care about how useful or interesting it is or how that helps their lives. It doesn't matter how hard you worked on it.

Imagine two different people. Both want to create a website.

The first one thinks that he needs to learn HTML before, and he starts from there. One month goes by. And he feels that he is not ready yet and needs to learn a new cool library that will help him create a better website. Another month. After that, he feels ready and spends another month creating it.

Imagine another person. She doesn’t want to spend her time learning about technology because that’s not the point, and she understands that. She decided to use carrd.co and her time is spent on the copy instead of the technology. Four hours later, the website is live.

Who worked harder? Who has more chances to succeed?

Balance is about this. About finding success with your projects while you maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I want to share lessons as I learn. Mistakes, failures, or success, whatever comes. So you can avoid doing the same or copy my steps if something works.

What's a Balanced Life?

There is no right answer to this because it depends on many things. Your preferences, your desires, your dreams, what you like or don't like.

But as a human being, some elements are the same for all.

I see Balance as multiple paths to one destination.

Movement. Health. Relationships. Work. Learning. Love. Exercise. Food. Travel. Coffee.

Those are mine, but you have to find yours.

If you decide only to walk the path of entrepreneurship and ignore the rest, that won’t work in the long run.

Why Paths?

Life is not static, and you are not a tree. So you need to keep walking, but you will never arrive at your destination. The goal is to walk these paths forever. Balance is a process.

This is a learning experience for me too. And I will share with you my journey as I go along these paths.

Topics to expect:

  • What projects I create and how I do it. Real examples with data, ideas I have, things I try.

  • How I promote my projects, what works, and what doesn’t. Channels I use, things to explore, ways to grow.

  • What diets I follow and recommend, with concrete examples. For example, I am doing a fully vegan month soon. I’ll share everything so you can do it too.

  • Coffee, what coffee I drink, how I make it, advice, and ideas to have better coffee at home. Health and benefits of drinking coffee.

  • Reads, books, articles that I found useful, mine or from other people.

  • Travels, where I go, how I work when I travel, stories, learnings, beautiful pictures of nature and destinations worldwide.

  • Movement, how I train, how much I walk, how I maintain my body active, and in good shape.

  • About writing, how to write, how to tell stories

  • Some personal things too, relationships, friendship, struggles.

I like to think of myself as a multitalented or multipotential person. I find it hard to just stick to one topic. And as I speak to more people, it is not uncommon, and there is nothing wrong with liking and exploring different topics.

Some of you may want to do only one thing, that’s completely fine. There are no rules. If you like programming and other topics, you don’t have to go 100% just with programming. Regular advice says to niche down. That may have sense, but it doesn’t if you don’t enjoy it. If you do something that you absolutely love, results will follow.

I don’t think entrepreneurship can be sustained for a long time if you ignored other areas of your life. So, that’s why this newsletter exists to increase your chances of success by sharing with you actionable advice to have a balanced lifestyle.

This newsletter is a collection of real and honest learnings from my own experiences. I won’t tell you to try anything if I didn’t do it before.


Balance is sponsored by:

Who The Deck Are You? Brand Personality Kit.

The ultimate brand development toolkit.

Looking for the perfect gift for that budding entrepreneur in your life? This toolkit is an essential part of developing a compelling brand voice.

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💸 Would you like to sponsor Balance? Send me a DM @jrleonr.

I guess you weren’t expecting to see a sponsor on the first newsletter. Me neither. This is thanks to @missrogue. We connected on Twitter, and she said something beautiful after reading my article: “I certainly hope he doesn't quit.”

Thanks, Tara.

Back to the Newsletter…


2. Results from a Viral Article

I already explained the story about how I wrote it, so let’s talk about the results.

Indie Hackers

Where I originally published it (link). It’s my favorite community. People are very supportive. So when I was writing the article, I did it directly there.

I read somewhere that you sometimes get some hate. I don’t know where this comes from. I always felt supported.

The article had almost 40K reads and 200+ comments. And it is one of the most popular articles on the platform.

Hacker News

But those numbers are partially thanks to Hacker News (link). Channing Allen (@ChanningAllen), the co-founder of Indie Hackers, sent it, and it got to the front page.

I tried to publish articles in the past, and I had 1 vote and 7 votes. This one has 232 points and 144 comments. I am not an expert on Hacker News, but it seems an excellent result.

Twitter

My own tweet (link) was popular, probably because of a combination of the two previous channels. It got more than 40K impressions and 7K engagements. That translated to 220 new followers.

That number may look small for some people, but I personally think that it is huge—220 people, highly talented from the tech industry, startup founders, etc.

Newsletter

People told me, “you should write a newsletter,” but I had a link to a “buy me a coffee” at the end of the article, so I started the newsletter almost a day after. Who knows what would have happened if I’d had the link to the newsletter instead of the coffee link? But 100 people joined, and I still think that is an outstanding number considering that I didn’t have time to prepare any appealing offer.

Buy Me A Coffee

I added the link to buy me a coffee (link) before knowing that the article would be viral. It felt a bit weird. I thought to check if anyone would get me one. I was expecting one or two people, or zero. Yes. Zero was what I expected.

But I had 54 supporters, 2814 views to my profile, and I made $690. That blew my mind. That’s around how much I pay for my rent.

This result will be challenging to replicate. But considering that I made around $50 after working almost for a year on my project, this makes you realized how real is what I was telling you about.

Hard work is not related to results—this a proof of that.

Reddit

The same article went to Reddit (link) on r/startups. It got 620 upvotes and around 300 comments. It’s one of the most popular articles in the subreddit now.

I didn’t have a plan or a goal for publishing the article. I wanted to check what was going on and why it was so popular on Indie Hackers or Hacker News. The same happened on Reddit.

Reddit is a tough place to promote yourself, but it is possible. This article didn’t have any links, so I didn’t get any direct benefits from it.

I still think it is important to try these things, even though you can not share links (in some subreddits, you can). It had some side-results. Some people wrote to me, asked me questions, offered me jobs, followed me on Twitter, etc.

You never know what can happen, so don’t get discouraged if you can’t post a link.

Linkedin

I published the article also on Linkedin (link). And it had 75 views, 3 reactions, and 2 comments. Considering that I have 4,700 connections there, it’s low.

Imagine that I only had published my article on Linkedin. I would have thought that people don’t like my writing or that my story is not worth sharing.

That’s why I started to think that there is a thin line between success and failure: the same article, the same person, the same story.

Why this article didn’t work on Linkedin is another story, but use this as a push to you.

If you shared your articles, your product, or your ideas and you felt ignored. Maybe it was the wrong medium, the wrong time of the day, the title you used, the people who followed you.

Don’t get discouraged because you didn’t get the attention you were looking for. Keep sharing.

3. Downhill Product Making

I learned the difference this week for the first time.

If you had any success in the past, you learned it too. This is something that it’s hard to put into words, but it’s there.

When you start something and share it, there are three options.

  1. You need to push your idea and constantly keep pushing to avoid it going back.

  2. You need to push your idea, and if you stop, the results stay, but it won’t grow.

  3. You give it a little push, and without doing much, it goes downhill.

If you are starting today, you should choose the third option. You’ll know it immediately when you see it.

I will tell you all about this in the next edition of Balance.


☕ This Newsletter comes with coffee!

With every new edition of Balance, I will give Coffee away. I can’t imagine my life without coffee. I started drinking coffee when I was around 14. But I really fell in love with coffee when I discovered specialty coffee and left sugar forever.

I am talking with a very well-known online coffee store here in Poland, CoffeeDesk. I hope that they help me with logistics and we can give away lots of coffee and other coffee-related things.

This is not a random choice. I get coffee from them every month.

How to participate?

You just have to go to Twitter and retweet my last tweet with the link to this edition of Balance. It will probably be my last tweet.

You can retweet and add something like this:

Please, @CoffeeDeskPl, help @jrleonr to send coffee around the world.

I don’t know if they will join me on this adventure, but I will randomly select one or two people who retweet and send them coffee beans, probably from a local coffee roster of fresh coffee here in Poland.


📖 I’m writing a book.

I can’t be a writer without a book. So I decided to write one and pre-sell it for those who want to early support my journey as a writer.

I don’t yet know when it will be released, but you can expect it around March next year. Pre-order now full price or discounted.


We will talk next Sunday again!

I hope you enjoyed the first edition of Balance.

I never expected to start this last week. I always wanted to be a writer, but I thought I had to be successful to talk about entrepreneurship, lifestyle, travel, or health.

I tried in the past, and I didn’t feel right. This time is different. I’ve spoken from the bottom of my heart and not pretending to be someone else.

Many of you asked me for more, pushed me, encouraged me.

I guess I am a writer now.

Thank you,

José León.