What I learned after building my first product in 15 days as Self Taught Developer

by Ilias Haddad

Two weeks ago, I started my journey as an indie maker and #12SideProjectsIn3Months challenge which I’ll build 12 projects in public I was inspired by #12StartupsIn12Months challenge created by @pieter levels also by AndreyAzimov. Today, I launch my first product HabitScript.

Who I Am?

I’m Ilias Haddad self-taught developer from Morocco. I do some part-time freelancing gigs, I love being my own boss and I’ve dreamed of making my own startup and that what motivated to learn how to code

Before Starting My Indie Makers Journey

I start learning to code in October 2018 from courses in Udemy but after I that I figure out that I learn in the wrong way because at the end of the course I can’t write a simple app so, In December, I decide to retake the same course but I deep dive and knowing how it’s work behind the scenes and after that I feel comfortable on writing web apps.

After I watched a Moroccan web show about startups called Bizness bnab (Talking about business ) I get excited to make my dream came to life again and after that, I search for some indie makers and developers who made successful startups. I came with a talk from @pieter levels and rewatch it so many time, I learn the framework of building successful products online which was used in building nomadList

  • Finding your own problems
  • Build a product to solve your problems
  • Grow it Organically
  • Monetize It
  • Automate it

and also I read an article on indie hackers which have common steps in the framework and which are finding your own problems and build a product to solve it

Finding Ideas

When I have a problem I write down on Trello Board and after that, I choose a problem I have on a daily basis and which was procrastination and feeling unproductive. I decided to solve this problem first and then solve other problems. I came with the solution for this problem from different sources like Ted Talks, Medium Articles about gamification and productivity tips and tricks. The product was a vs code extension track your coding time, you can visualize data in the web app, earn points from your coding time, share your goals in public to stay accountable and you have a leaderboard which you can know which developer was more productive in weekly basis


I start designing the app after I have an overview of how the app should work but I start building it after a month from design. I face a lot of challenges while building the web app and vs code.

  • Choosing the tech stack: I post the problem on indie hackers and others indie makers I discuss with recommended to choose what you know but the problem I don’t know back end framework needed for this product. In the end, I choose MERN Stack (MongoDB, Express, React, Node Js)
  • I never build a Vs code extension: Another challenge I faced is I have no experience in building a vs code extension, so I need to read the documentation and search in StackOverflow so many times but it’s was great opportunity to learn how to build it

What I learned after building my first product

  • Developing a full stack web: I learn how to build my first JS full stack web app using MERN Stack and it’s great opportunity to learn new things by building a real-world and useful web app and not another todo app or a chat app
  • Ship Faster: I was inspired by a lot of indie makers who launch their successful product in less than a month or even a week
  • Spend your coding time on things that aren’t available to use on GitHub: Github is a powerful place for developers to use an existing solution to speed up your development workflow.
  • Your coding skills is your superpower: if you know how to code you have great opportunity to build a successful startup with less investment because we don’t hire anyone to build your own ideas.
  • Share what your building in public: I share my daily progress in building this product in twitter and indie hackers and get some feedback about the idea and also keep me accountable.
  • Stop Building another todo or chat app: Many newbie developers after they finish a course, build todo, chat or food app which is a good way to practice but when you’ll start building a useful app that will solve your own problems, you’ll deal with problems that you’ll not find in a todo app

My favorite Links:

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If you want to know what I’m currently working on, you can follow my #12SideProjectsIn3Months on Twitter

Be sure to send a message on Twitter with any questions you have, I’m always happy to help

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