Every two weeks, I send a report how I'm building and marketing Ymir. You can read all the previous reports below.
Ymir Report #52 — Consulting break continued
This cycle was again predominantly consulting work. It's definitely nice to make money. Most of it is being squirrelled away into my runway fund! 🐿️
Work continues on the ARM runtimes. I was hoping to be done this cycle, but hit some snags. I'm also in the final editing process of my serverless for WordPress agency article I wrote with ChatGPT.
Business was good this month so far. Hope I don't jinx it! I also wrote a rare "Real Talk" section where I talk about how I'm feeling right now.
Ymir Report #51 — Consulting break
Heya! I'm now an old man as I turned 40 last week 👴🏻
I've spent most of this cycle doing consulting to give myself some financial headroom. I started working on a few small things and fixed some bugs. But overall, I didn't spend a ton of time on Ymir.
That said, there are still a few things to talk about!
Ymir Report #50 — Project deployment performance improvement
Greetings from Montreal! I'm back on the east coast for the past week. It's been nice to not deal with the crazy JST time zone. (Although I plan to go back to Tokyo in the fall 🙃)
This cycle has been slower with the move back. I also got some consulting work which I prioritized over doing Ymir work. I picked up a small retainer contract starting next month, which should help as well.
Like I mentioned in the previous email, I'm taking a break from larger features. I'm working on doing smaller changes and maintenance work. One of those small features is an improvement to the performance of project deployment.
Ymir Report #49 — Ymir PHP SDK
This is the final report from Tokyo! Although, I'm thinking of coming back this October. The partnership that I mentioned last report dominated my time during this cycle.
Unfortunately, I can't share much yet. But since the goal is to integrate Ymir to another platform, I've done work decoupling code from the Ymir CLI so that we can use it in other projects. The result is the first Ymir SDK!
Still doing meetings to get some more clients/partnerships. And no new Carl-as-a-Service customer, which is a bummer. I've held off trying to find consulting work for now and to pay myself a bit from the money I've made so far.
Ymir Report #48 — Tagging support 🏷️
Tagging support is finally done! It was the largest change to the Ymir application since I started working on it. There are still a few things left to wrap the whole thing up, but it's already functional.
Tagging was also the last feature I needed for a partnership with another WordPress product. We had an unofficial kickoff last week. I'm hoping we can announce something before WordCamp Europe. But that's probably a stretch.
I had a bunch of meetings and follow-ups from WordCamp Asia. The meetings were good! Some were to kick off my first partnership and I think one might lead to a second partnership.
Ymir Report #47 — WordCamp Asia recap
As mentioned in the previous report, I'm currently in Tokyo for the next five weeks. (It's my 40th birthday gift to myself.) I came here after going to Thailand for WordCamp Asia.
My talk at WordCamp Asia was probably the best talk I've ever given if I base myself on the feedback I got. It also got me talking to a lot of people from the WordPress ecosystem. I've had meetings with plugin company and agency CEOs, hosting companies and a core WordPress developers.
I want to hope it was a watershed moment. But I don't want to get my hopes up too much. Business isn't growing any faster. In fact, probably losing net subscribers this month.
Being in Tokyo has reminded me how much I've sacrificed financially trying to bring this to life. I started working on serverless WordPress in 2019, and still can't live off of it after four years. It's never fun to have these thoughts, but it happens from time to time.
Ymir Report #46 — Load testing
WordCamp Asia is coming up soon! (If you're attending, come say hi! 🙂) I spent a lot of this cycle preparing for it. I fly out in exactly a week and I wanted everything wrapped up by then.
February is going to be a busy month with a lot of travel. I'll be in Thailand until the early March. Then I'll be working from Tokyo until mid-April. I might not send another update until I settle down in Tokyo.
Work-life balance is in a good space currently. Hoping to continue the trend in Asia. But it's always a battle with my more workaholic side.
Ymir Report #45 — Aurora serverless support
Happy New Year!
I hope you had a wonderful holiday. My goal was to take some time off and disconnect. I'm happy to say I was quite successful at it.
In fact, I'm struggling a bit to get back into things. My time off has made me think a lot about how I need to fix my relationship with work. Also not helping is that I've been sick twice in the past month.
Otherwise, things have been going well. I've had some promising sales calls, shipped a feature and some bug fixes. I'm also getting ready for WordCamp Asia next month.
Ymir Report #44 — $1k MRR achieved! 🙌 🎉
Well, we did it, fam! I finally reached $1k MRR. Ymir can officially pay my rent. (That's in theory! I still don't pay myself any money from Ymir.)
Otherwise, it's been a quiet December so far. I took last weekend off completely for the first time in months. (Binge watched Andor and played some games!) That was both a good and bad thing.
It was good because I didn't have my usual guilt whenever I take any sort of break. (Not a healthy mindset btw!) It was bad because I really feel a dam broke and I think I need to slow down a bit.
I'm also planning to take (or try to 😅) some time completely off for the holidays. (More gaming and resting.) I don't know if I'll pull it off, but I'll try! I'm going to set an out of office message and everything.
Ymir Report #43 — A list box adventure
So I'm still not feeling 100%. Actually struggled to remember what I did during this cycle. 😅
I’m definitely worried about a burn out. I’m trying to take it easy. During this cycle, I worked on things that I felt motivated to work on as well as consulting work. (Also helps it's Thanksgiving in the USA so everything has been slower! 🦃)
Besides that, business is going well. I might actually hit 1k MRR this month. (For realsies!) So that'll be a good milestone even if it might go back under next month.
Ymir Report #42 — First Carl-as-a-Service customer
Another quick update. Back from Longhorn PHP and the talk went great! Really thankful for the opportunity PHP people I've only seen through their Twitter posts. 😅
I had a lot of travel issues on this trip on top of getting sick. (Negative for COVID. Probably an old fashion cold.) So I'm running pretty low on energy. Getting a bit more worried that I'm heading for a burnout based on my previous experiences with burnout.
Needless to say, there hasn't been too much product development or marketing. That said, business is doing well. I might regain all the customers I lost last month, and I got my first "Carl-as-a-Service" client!
Ymir Report #41 — Spooky October 🎃
This is going to be a quick update. Just been too busy with consulting and preparing for LonghornPHP this cycle. I'll be in Austin from Wednesday night to Sunday morning.
Rough month, as I alluded in the previous report. From anecdotal evidence, it seems October was pretty brutal for a lot of SaaS businesses. We'll see how November gears up.
Overall, I'm not really bummed up by the situation. I'm a bit frustrated with how much time it took to prepare the LonghornPHP talk. But it's an investment as I'll be able to reuse it in the future.
Ymir Report #40 — GitHub Sponsorship
The major story of the past two weeks has been the GitHub Sponsorship I talked about in the last report. Thank you to whoever sent a few dollars my way. It really helps. 💖
I spent much of my product week working on a large Twitter thread that I'd started last cycle. I rewrote most of it with the help of Lesley. (Thank you! 🙏) She really helped me clarify my thoughts and message.
It took a lot of time to edit and polish the thread. The response from the community was really good as well. But all that took a lot of time and that means I didn't do that much work on product development.
Meanwhile, marketing week was mostly consulting work. Whatever free time I could carve out, I spent on preparing for my talk at LonghornPHP next month. So nothing much to show publicly, but I've been thinking about some positioning and marketing changes I need to do. I'll talk more about this in the marketing section.
Business continues to be rough. I'm on track to churn four customers with no new ones. This would set me back to February this year in terms of revenue.
Ymir Report #39 — Back from WordCamp 🇺🇸
Hello again! I'm back from my month long travel to the USA for WordCamp US. It's been a really busy time trying to catch up on everything.
Being able to connect in person always energizes me. I spoke to so many people about Ymir, but I also I pitched other's product a lot. In fact, the joke was I was a better salesman for other products than my own. 🤣
A lot of hosting executives were at WordCamp US. I think I managed to speak to all of them. I'm more convinced than ever that serverless is something that the whole hosting industry will need over the next decade. But it made me also think that certain plugin businesses need it as well.
That said, business is still hard. Still hovering just below $1k MRR. I'm feeling very overextended trying to juggle Ymir and consulting work. I've been trying to find ways to bridge the income gap between now and when Ymir can pay me.
I'll expand more on this in the business section.
Ymir Report #38 — Dashboard 🚧 continues
I'm currently travelling around the USA for WordCamp US. I probably won't send a report until I get back mid-September.
I'm continuing to work on the dashboard. You can now create some AWS resources from there! Marketing isn't going well still.
Business continues to be hard. I did almost break through 1k MRR, but alas it'll elude me for a while longer. More below!
Ymir Report #37 — Dashboard design refresh 💅
Still not feeling especially great. It varies from day to day. I've been very productive overall, but a good amount of it has been consulting work and not Ymir work.
In fact, marketing week was largely a write off. That said, I managed to finish the dashboard design refresh! So there is some movement. It's just not as much as I'd like. (I think this is just going to be a regular feeling from now on 🥲)
Ymir Report #36 — Trying to take it easy
I ended last cycle feeling very overwhelmed. This continued into the first week of this cycle. I took a conscious decision to try to take it easier since I felt I was walking into a burnout.
Still felt guilty if I didn't work on Ymir a bit. 🤣 So I started work on the refresh of the dashboard. I also edited another course video.
Ymir Report #35 — CLI performance improvements 🚀
Not a big cycle overall. Been busy with some new consulting work. This gave me a bit less time for Ymir.
I also took a few days off both weeks. Feeling a bit overwhelmed with everything so decided to work a bit less than usual. This is going to be a shorter email for that reason as well.
Ymir Report #34 — New video course!
It's been a busy two weeks, but also a lot of holidays here in Canada. (Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day and Canada Day!) Summer weather is here finally! Feels great!
While I was pretty busy with Ymir, I'm going to keep this update shorter. Nothing has drastically changed with the product or business. Most of what I have to share has to do with marketing (thus the email title!) where I was really productive this cycle.
Ymir Report #33 — Back from WordCamp Europe
Been a little while! I was in Portugal in semi-vacation leading up to WordCamp Europe. WordCamp Europe was very cathartic after not seeing a lot of friends since 2019.
I connected with a lot of people who are rooting for Ymir to succeed, which is nice to hear! Not that it helps me in the short term getting to ramen profitable! 🤣 But it energized me to know people wanted this to exist. 🙏
Came back right after WordCamp ended and started this cycle. Felt pretty productive and got a decent amount of things done. Less than I'd wanted during marketing week, which is always a bit more challenging.
Part of it is I'm stressing out a bit about the current economic climate. I'll discuss it further in the business section.
Ymir Report #32 — Image CDN phase #2 complete
Nothing too special with this cycle. As the title suggests, I finished the next phase of the image CDN feature. I also did marketing for it.
The next month is going to be touch and go. I'm going to Portugal for WordCamp Europe. (Come say hi if you're going!) But I'm also going to take some time off around it.
I think it'll do me good. While I'm not burning out, I've been working on Ymir pretty much every day since the year started. Just hoping I can disconnect 😅
Ymir Report #31
This is going to be a short update because it was my birthday this weekend. I decided I should probably take a weekend off for a change. 🙃 So I'm keeping the update somewhat brief. (Also there might be typos lol)
Ymir Report #30 — Rethinking my image CDN strategy
I went into this cycle with the goal of wrapping up the work on the image CDN. This is one of those times where I clearly underestimated the complexity and amount of work required. It's going to take a bit of time to wrap up the image CDN work on the WordPress side.
I'm also noticing a significant slowdown in sign-ups. I think it's because I've slacked off on marketing for too long. It's hard to know for sure because things are never the same from month to month.
But with all of this in mind, I decided mid-marketing week to readjust my overall strategy. I'm going to go back to being diligent about doing one week product and one week marketing. To do so, I'm going to release the image CDN feature in two separate phases.
I'll discuss it more in the product and marketing sections.
Ymir Report #29 — Ymir-configured image CDN in early access
Work continues on the image CDN feature. It's now in early access. (Ask me about it if you want to start using it!) There's still work left to do. I'll discuss it in the product section.
I'm still slacking on marketing. I'm hoping this is the last report I'll say this 🤞. I plan on doing write up(s) on the image CDN, how it works, and how you can build your own with CloudFront.
Ymir Report #28 — Ymir-configured image CDN is coming 🚀
Been feeling better since the last update. I decided to go ahead and start working on a new major feature. It's allowing Ymir to configure CloudFront as an image CDN. I'll talk more about it in the product section below.
But this means I've mostly done no marketing. It's not great, but I really wanted to start working on these larger features. I have to balance my time with doing support, consulting work, and managing my video game addiction 🙃
I might start back marketing consistently this next cycle if I do solid progress on the image CDN. Otherwise, it'll be in April.
Ymir Report #27 — Overwhelmed with the war in Europe
I've been feeling overwhelmed by what's happening in Europe.
I'm a news addict. The past few years have been difficult for me to manage it. But the current situation in Ukraine really kicked this in overdrive.
Right now, I'm struggling with concentration. It's hard to focus and motivate myself. So I've just focused on fixing smaller issues in Ymir and consulting work. I haven't done any marketing work.
Ymir Report #26 — Small changes continued
Quiet cycle. Just been continuing to do small changes across various parts of the platform. So nothing major to announce on that front.
For marketing week, I published the article I'd been working on. I also did a bunch more videos.
I'm debating doing a larger development cycle. I'll talk about it a bit more throughout the report.
Ymir Report #25 — 20 subscriber milestone!
So small milestone this week, Ymir hit 20 subscribers! It took about a year to get to this point. I wish I'd hit faster, but I'm growing, and I'm grateful for that!
Overall, this was a really productive cycle. I had a lot of energy and wasn't feeling too worn out. I got a lot done on the product side as well as marketing side, which isn't always the case.
We'll discuss that in the sections below.
Ymir Report #24 — Back at it
Happy New Year!
I hope you had a wonderful holiday. COVID is wrecking through Canada. Quebec has been lockdown, and we also had a curfew for two weeks.
I didn't end up being able to take two weeks. Only the first week of January. This isn't ideal as I still feel overstretched, but it'll do for now.
Outside of that, it's back to work as usual. I ramped things back up pretty quickly.
Ymir Report #23 — Off for the holidays
This is going to be a pretty short report. I'm taking some time off for the holidays. I might work a bit on Ymir, but it'll be by choice or to do support.
I plan on starting back on the second week of January. So it might be a month before the next report.
Otherwise, it's been a quiet cycle.
Ymir Report #22 — AWS outage
The big story this cycle is the major outage that AWS suffered last Tuesday. This was the first test of how the architecture would behave if an event like this happened.
The good news was that every customer's site stayed up during the outage. I was really happy and tweeted a bunch about it! I'll talk more about it in the marketing section.
Otherwise, this cycle felt more normal after the rough last two cycles. Still struggling to balance everything. But the migration is over for now, so it feels more manageable.
Ymir Report #21 — Off the wagon
This is going to be a different report than usual. The reality is that I'm completely off the two week cycle wagon at the moment. I'm struggling to balance consulting engagements (to pay my bills), professional services (paid migrations), product development and marketing.
The good news is the migration is largely done. It's been a really useful experience to help prioritize things and find rough spots to smooth out. But it adds to how overwhelmed I'm feeling because I can't find time to work on anything.
Ymir Report #20 — Migrations and travel
This has been another less than ideal cycle in terms of progress on the Ymir product itself. I spent all of product week working with a customer who hired me to do a migration. It's good because it's money for me, but not so great because I haven't touched the Ymir product itself.
It hasn't been all in vain because it's helped me figure out what features my current customers really need. So I've adjusted my backlog to reflect that. But I think product development will be slow for a bit longer. I have another migration that will kick off next month.
This week I've been traveling for the first time since the pandemic started. It's been a lot less productive because of that. But I still managed to do a bit on the marketing front, which is really more important than product development at this point.
Ymir Report #19 — Meetings galore
Thank you to everyone who reached out after the report. Talking to a few people about doing a bit of consulting. I spent some time during the cycle on talking to people about that.
I've continued to have a decent amount of meetings during product week. So this kinda put a damper on product development this cycle. I'm starting to be a bit wary about meeting overload. I might have to start thinking more seriously about when people can schedule meetings with me if this continues.
Marketing week was better. I got a decent amount of things done. Wrote an article and did a Q&A video. I also had an idea of a marketing channel to try out. More on that in the marketing section.
Ymir Report #18 — Feeling better
Building a business is definitely a roller coaster of emotion and self-worth assessment. Last cycle, I felt like a failure and a fraud. Now, I feel better this cycle because I started getting a handle on these performance issues, their causes and solutions.
The business itself is still stalled. I'll talk about it more in the business section. But the thing is, it's a lot easier to weather this plateau if you believe in your product.
And that was the larger issue with the performance problems. It made me doubt my own product. If that happens, I feel it's game over. So that's why figuring out these performance issues was paramount.
I also did a lot during marketing. Wrote an article, did some Q&A videos, lots of calls and cold outreach on Twitter. Just tried to bring up my sleeves and push through this stalled growth. More on that in the marketing section.
Ymir Report #17 — Rough times
I wrote my previous report thinking this cycle would just feel more or less the same. I'd continue working on the product and trying to market it. It really didn't play out that way.
As I was doing work with customers helping with performance issues, I stumbled on a significant scaling problem. One so serious I thought I thought it might make Ymir unviable as a product. This, combined with the continuing growth struggles, really bummed me out during the whole cycle.
I spent marketing week working on the pricing changes I'd talked about in the last report. They went live at the end of the week. I'll get more into it in the business section.
Ymir Report #16 — PHP 8 support and more!
Overall, this cycle has felt fantastic! I got a lot done on the product side. Marketing week also went well.
On the business side, it's not going as well. Growth feels like it's slowed down a lot. There's still 10 days left to September so not all is lost! But it's been a lot more stressful the last month or so.
I have some changes planned for the business next cycle. More on that in the business section!
Ymir Report #15 — Customer driven development
Slightly delayed report since it was a holiday in Canada and the USA yesterday. I decided to push it to Tuesday. The end of August was quite busy!
Most of the product development this cycle was dictated by customer requests and support tickets. This isn't a bad place to be! It's pretty exciting to see more and more people using Ymir.
Ymir Report #14 — Small changes
August continues being August. Not going crazy on the development front. Just continuing to do small changes here and there.
I'm starting to plan for larger features again. Might start on those next cycle.
Ymir Report #13 — Return to work and firewall support
Slow return to work last week. August is a generally slow month, so kinda going along with it. I remind myself that this is a marathon and not a race.
I think how you frame things is really important when starting a business. Psychology is as much your enemy as market forces.
And speaking of framing, there's been a lot of small milestones since we last spoke! They're little things, but they make me optimistic about the product. I'll talk about them in business section.
Ymir Report #12 — Time off
This is going to be a quick report! I mentioned I might need some time off, but it was hard for me to disconnect.
Well, I managed to disconnect this last week because I had to bring in my laptop to get repaired. I was 4 days without it.
Ymir Report #11 — Taking it easy
This was another weird cycle. I tweeted about it. I decided to take things a bit easier and not pressure myself as much.
I'm starting to think I might need a bit of time off. Realistically, I have trouble disconnecting unless I travel somewhere. And that's complicated with COVID.
So we'll see how things keep going.
Ymir Report #10 — Container image deployment
I'm not sure if it's because of summer. I kinda just feel like I'm going through the motions for the past month. This isn't necessarily bad, but it feels kinda slow. Especially after that huge cycle a month ago.
That said, I'm happy with product development and marketing. I managed to finish container image deployment. I also published an article that did really well on Reddit.
Ymir Report #9 — Redis wrapped up. Next up, Docker!
I lost a lot of time fighting xcode during the product development week. But otherwise, Just a kind of business as usual for this cycle. Some product development and trying to figure out my next move for marketing.
Ymir Report #8 — Redis, 3000 concurrent WooCommerce load test, CloudFront Functions and more!
This has had to be the cycle where I got the most things done since I started doing these reports. I got a lot done on the product side and marketing side. Business has been stable.
Ymir Report #7 — Bastion hosts / Q&A video
Thank you to everyone who replied to the last report. It was really encouraging. I'll be working on some of the suggestions over time.
This cycle has felt a bit more normal. Good product development progress. Was hoping to get an article done during marketing week, but it kinda grew massive so it'll probably be out next cycle. Still managed to get some other stuff done!
Ymir Report #6 — Roller coaster
This cycle has been a bit of a roller coaster for various reasons. The cycle started off quite well. I got a lot of stuff done during the product development part of the cycle.
Marketing week also started pretty well, but the end of the week wasn't so great. Sometimes I get episodes where I can't concentrate at all for days. This happened later in the week so it limited a bit what I accomplished.
At the same time, my last 3 customers cancelled. That's half my customers. Then I got 2 more customers during marketing week. So that was the real roller coaster!
Ymir Report #5
Another two-week cycle done. I'm pretty happy with the system so far. I think that it lets me feel like I'm progressing in the two important areas at this stage of building a business.
I managed to get a 6th customer which is great! It's definitely heartening to see this happen, even if I'm filled with a lot of doubts still.
Ymir Report #4 — WooCommerce load testing
Happy Easter Monday! Hope you're enjoying your long weekend if it's a holiday for you. I took it a bit easier myself, but I felt pretty good because I accomplished quite a bit this cycle!
Ymir Report #3 — DynamoDB object cache
So far, I’m doing ok with the two-week cycle. The only change is you might have noticed the email came on Monday instead of Friday. I realized it made little sense to send the email Friday since I work weekends so marketing week actually ends Sunday.
Ymir Report #2 — First cycle
I managed to do one cycle of coding and marketing. Didn't accomplish as much as I'd like, but I think it might end up being a good system until further notice.
Ymir Report #1 — Open startup
Trying to get back in the beat of things. I mixed coding and marketing this week, but I plan on trying to do a more regular coding/marketing cycle. We'll see how it works out in practice!
Jon's journey with Bannerbear really inspired me, so I'm emulating a bit of what he did with this newsletter.
Follow my journey
Heya, I’m Carl! I'm the solo founder of Ymir. Every two weeks I send a report on how I'm building and marketing Ymir and the business side of bootstrapping it.