Your Corner of the Internet
Several times I've been asked why I created Forward Cat. It's an interesting question, given that I don't monetize it and that there are similar alternatives. Quite simply, I started it because I thought it would be fun and it could give me an edge when applying for jobs. But the reasons why I still work on it have changed.
The first reason is that thanks to it I've learned many skills that I wouldn't have gained otherwise. Just consider what a simple website like Forward Cat uses:
- Website Backend: Play Framework, Redis and PostgreSQL
- Email: Apache James, SMTP, SPF, DKIM and other anti-spam techniques
- Development: Git, SSH and Vagrant
- Analytics: Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, basic SEO and techniques for multilingual sites
- Other: Nginx, SSL certificates, Puppet, DNS management, monitoring and server administration skills
Apart from the technical skills, I had to improve my product design skills. And my UX, UI, copywriting and marketing skills too. So many things I had no idea I was bad at.
Of course, I didn't know much about these topics when I started. You're forced to learn when you bump into problems. In many cases you learn just enough to get by, but in others you have to dive deep. For example, I couldn't have imagined how difficult is to land an email to someone's inbox. Or to avoid spammers to use your site.
The other reason why I still work on Forward Cat is that people use it... and like it! Traffic keeps growing month by month without any kind of marketing. Some users send nice emails asking questions and explaining how they use it. Some others even create step by step tutorials in other languages.
I am still amazed that people is using, coming back and sharing Forward Cat. I never thought it would go that far. But there is people out there that find it valuable, and that motivates me to keep working on it.
Creating a project from the ground up requires a lot of effort. Much more than what you imagine when you're getting started. And to be honest, a few times I felt like closing Forward Cat. It's hard not to when things break on weekends. Or when people gets angry because they think you're sending them spam. But if you keep pushing you're guaranteed to learn a lot. And at some point people will start noticing and valuing what you do.
So go ahead and go build something. It surely takes effort, but you have a lot to gain and very little to lose.