Daniel Vassallo Profile picture
Making a living via a portfolio of small bets.
Jeremy Pinnix Profile picture 🇦🇺 techvedi™ 🇺🇸 Profile picture Apoorv Singh Profile picture Patrick Henriksson Profile picture Jan Stevenson Profile picture 25 added to My Authors
7 Apr
For #GumroadDay, my info products are 'Pay What You Want', $1 minimum. Today only.

- Everyone Can Build a Twitter Audience, $40
- The Good Parts of AWS, $25

These 2 products made $332,667 in sales so far. Go see what they look like!

👉 dvassallo.gumroad.com
An average of 1 sale every 12 seconds in the first hour. 301 sales in 60 minutes. Thank you! — 23 hours to go.
Almost 2,000 sales in the first 12 hours of #GumroadDay. Thank you!

12 hours left.
Read 4 tweets
8 Mar
Everyone wants to decouple time from money.

The problem? It's an extremely unpredictable way to make a living. For every successful creator, there are thousands who make nothing or almost nothing.

So, how do you make the unpredictable, predictable? Here's what I learned:
See, there are two very distinct worlds of how to make a living in our universe.

The first world is the one we're mostly familiar with, where you follow a predictable career path.
Say you want to make a living as a programmer, a doctor, a plumber, an English teacher, etc. If you do certain things (learn to code, get a specific degree, etc.) you can increase the odds of getting what you want to very close to 100%.
Read 32 tweets
18 Feb
Why I find @joinClubhouse interesting:
1. Unlike Twitter, I almost never open the Clubhouse app. Occasionally I get a notification that someone I follow is speaking, and I get the option to drop in. The push system adds random pleasant surprises to my life.
2. I hate parties. The crowds, the small talk, the dressing up, the inability to avoid certain people... ugh.

But I like the idea of parties: An almost free opportunity for chance encounters that could lead to many things.

Clubhouse is my party substitute without the downsides.
Read 6 tweets
18 Dec 20
Which's the most important skill you should learn if you want to work for yourself? ...

I don't think you learn this by reading about it, but by becoming determined to figure out what motivates people to take out their wallet and pay for things.
I started by observing my own behavior when I came to make purchasing decisions. Whenever I found myself choosing to pay for something (or choosing not to), I would try to reflect on why I was making that decision.
Read 6 tweets
18 Nov 20
Some of my favorite books and my main takeaway:
Punished by Rewards — People hate being controlled with carrots & sticks, and only intrinsic motivation lasts.

Man's Search for Meaning — A good life is a story you're proud of.

4 Hour Work Week — Design your lifestyle based on your preferences, not on preferences of others.
Unconditional Parenting — Be on your child's side, unconditionally, all the time.

Blue Ocean Strategy — Find uncontested markets.

Alchemy — Rational is what works, not what makes sense.

Rework — Constraints are advantages in disguise.

Hell Yeah or No — Do almost nothing.
Read 4 tweets
13 Oct 20
How to build a portfolio of small bets (without hating your life):
Remember that to thrive, you must first survive. The order matters.

Instead of trying to succeed, try not to fail. Make sure your self-employment arrangement becomes sustainable quickly by going for the low hanging fruit.
Low hanging fruit are opportunities that require very little cost, time, and effort — even if it means they're not the most enjoyable and have limited upside.

Try as many of these "small bets" as you can, and run them in parallel — no need to wait for a failure to do the next.
Read 5 tweets
31 Aug 20
How to be happy (without getting lucky):
Learn your true preferences. Knowing what you dislike tends to be more reliable than what you think you'll like.
Try new things, but always keep a realistic option to quit. If you're on the wrong train, every stop is the wrong stop.
Read 15 tweets
14 Aug 20
How to get your first 1000 followers 👇
Start by taking notice of what people in real life ask you about. Chances are that if your friends are interested in something you're doing, the internet will help you find thousands more like them.
"But what if I'm not doing anything interesting?!"

Almost everyone is. It doesn't have to be anything spectacular. You might be:

- Learning a new skill
- Doing a side hustle
- Going for a road trip
- Remodeling your home
- Studying something obscure
- Losing weight
Read 11 tweets
28 Jul 20
In a normal economy, almost everyone is able to make a living trading their time for money. But you definitely can’t say the same thing about product owners.

Everyone wants to decouple their income from their time — the problem is there’s no predictable way to achieve that.

You can’t ignore the odds.

If you want to take shots at the product business, you can stack the odds in your favor with the barbell strategy.

On one side do something predictable that pays the bills, and on the other side something speculative. Nothing in between.

You can do the barbell in parallel:

1. Find a low-stress job/gig that pays the bills and leaves you with some spare time & energy.

2. Use your spare time & energy to do whatever you want, without being beholden to anyone, and without risking anything consequential.

Read 4 tweets
22 Jun 20
1/ "What's the best career advice you've ever received?"

The best advice I received was paradoxically the worst advice! But it made me realize something important.

It was my 4th year at Amazon, when a career mentor told me that everyone wants just two things from their job:
2/ Making a lot of money, and making a big impact in the world.
3/ My mentor assured me that if I kept it up, I will almost certainly achieve both, and if I worked really hard I will likely contribute to something that might even be remembered forever — maybe even have my own Wikipedia page!
Read 6 tweets
14 May 20
The idea that you can only tweet about one topic is a myth.

I don't just imagine some topic I want to cover, and then tweet about it.

No, I tweet about the things that I happen to be dealing with at the moment. Examples: 👇
Feb-Apr 2019: I had just left full-time employment to work for myself, so I tweeted about how I prepared myself for the plunge, how I managed my personal finances while living off my savings, how I set myself up for business, and so on.
May-Sep 2019: I settled on the idea to build Userbase, so I tweeted about how I came up with the idea, development costs, trademark issues, trying to buy the .com domain (and eventually succeeding), and also a lot about AWS because I was using it for Userbase.
Read 9 tweets
12 May 20
You get a huge advantage when you have an audience.

Instead of buying people's attention, they give it to you.

I can show you everything I did when building my Twitter audience from 0 to 30K followers:

👉 gumroad.com/l/twitter-audi…

$49 for the next 25 orders (usually $79). 🙏
I’ve added 25 more, because the original 25 were taken in just 25 minutes!

Thank you!

👉 gumroad.com/l/twitter-audi…
I posted this tweet 4 hours ago, and it made $5,210 from 98 sales!

Wasn’t expecting it. Thank you! 🙏

I’m keeping the discount up for the next 24hrs in case you missed it.

👉 gumroad.com/l/twitter-audi…

Today became my 2nd best day on Gumroad 🤯
Read 5 tweets
3 May 20
I've been in the info product business for 4 months now, and I averaged $27K/mo in profit so far.

I still can't pretend I'm an expert in this profession, but here are a few things I learned so far.

A thread. 👇
1. Competition

If you make yourself part of the product, you create an uncontested market space, thereby making the competition irrelevant.

Amazon lists 2000+ books on AWS, but none are about my perspective. Think about what people might want to learn from you specifically.
2. Promotion

When you're part of the product, promoting yourself will also promote your product. And you can promote yourself by teaching what you already know. Make others interested in learning from you, and you'd be promoting your products before you even create them!
Read 6 tweets
1 May 20
If you feel you’re about to lose your job soon (involuntarily or voluntarily), here are some things I did just before I left mine.

(US examples, but likely applicable everywhere.)
1. Disability insurance

The best type is one that pays in case you can’t do your job anymore, for any health reason. For them to verify what “your job is”, it’s easier if you’re employed full-time. Also, lack of steady income is more risk for insurance abuse, so premiums go up.
Highly recommended you get disability insurance while you still have a full-time job.

My disability insurance pays $10K/mo until 65 if I can’t program anymore, and there’s a 1 year period from disability to first payment. Premium is fixed at $2K/yr, and I started it at 35.
Read 9 tweets
15 Apr 20
Before you start thinking about building an audience, you need to build some credibility. People will only listen if you've demonstrated some credibility on the topic.

A few examples that worked for me: 👇
When I had 0 followers, I wrote about why I abandoned a cushy career in big tech. I had automatic authority on this story, since I was the subject.

Documenting why I left all that behind earned me some credibility on how to reason about lifestyle design. medium.com/@dvassallo/onl…
A few days later, I described how I organized my finances as I was preparing to transition to self-employment. I received 200 questions over email/DMs from people thinking about doing the same thing, and that earned me some credibility in personal finance. medium.com/@dvassallo/fro…
Read 6 tweets
6 Mar 20
I reviewed 50 profiles over the last 3 days. Here's some of the common things I saw, and my feedback.
Thread. 👇
1. Weak bio & pinned tweet

Gaining followers is a funnel. Almost everyone who chooses to follow you will do so after visiting your profile. In your bio and/or pinned tweet, tell me something interesting about you, and what I'd get by following you.
Following someone is free (and unfollowing is easy), so you don't need a superpower in persuasion skills. But at least ask yourself if you'd follow yourself from just reading your bio and pinned tweet. If not, work on it until you do.
Read 14 tweets
26 Feb 20
If you've been a programmer for a few years, there's probably stuff on your computer that you can immediately convert to money or attention.

Examples: 👇
1. Before I left my job, I created a very simple spreadsheet to calculate how long I could live off my savings.

I put the sheet on GitHub and posted it to HN: news.ycombinator.com/item?id=192941…

15 minutes of work (the sheet already existed) got me hundreds of new followers here.
2. When I was researching product ideas for my business, I had one idea that required precise understanding of EC2's network performance. I open sourced my testing tool along with all the data I collected: github.com/dvassallo/s3-b…

Today this still gets >600 visits a week.
Read 6 tweets
17 Feb 20
The Good Parts of AWS is currently the #2 top grossing book on @gumroad. 🙏

It’s 42 copies away from 2000 sold, so the next 42 copies are on sale:

👉 gum.co/aws-good-parts…

Thank you!
28 remaining. Thank you!

And ICYMI, I shared my experience writing and promoting this book on @HassanO's Writer on the Side podcast a couple of weeks ago. Full episode: writerontheside.com/40k-in-16-days…
@HassanO 17 left.

In 7.5 weeks, almost 2K copies sold, and almost $60K. Thank you!
Read 4 tweets
7 Feb 20
Learn how to host an app on EC2 the right way, step by step:

From The Good Parts of AWS:

- Infrastructure as Code
- Automatic Deployments
- Load Balancing
- Scaling
- Production
- Custom Domains
- Network Security

👉 $28 for the next 50 copies. gum.co/aws-good-parts…
6 copies gone in 33 minutes. Thank you! 44 remaining.
28 copies sold. 22 remaining. Thank you!

All the source code for this is on GitHub. This is a prod-ready template for setting up a new AWS environment from scratch, and the book explains what every line does, and why it’s done like that. github.com/good-parts/aws…
Read 4 tweets
30 Jan 20
It’s been a year since I left full-time employment to work for myself.

Here are some important things I realized since then.

Thread 👇
1. Uncertainty is very uncomfortable.

Even though I knew I was going to live off my savings for a while, I underestimated how tough it is to see losses accumulate month after month, and not knowing exactly when & how the losses will stop.
2. Redundancy makes uncertainty a lot less uncomfortable.

At first I thought it would be more efficient to focus on one thing at a time.

Now I prefer doing a few things in parallel. It’s less efficient, but there’s a lot of comfort in having multiple things going on.
Read 6 tweets
25 Jan 20
Userbase is Ready!

After almost 9 months of preparation, Userbase is ready for use, and I would be honored to have you try it.

👉 userbase.com

It's the easiest way to add user accounts & persistence to your static site.
Special features:

- User data is end-to-end encrypted.

- Super-simple JavaScript SDK.

- Predictable pricing. You won't need a cost calculator.

- 100% open source, MIT licensed. You can self-host it, fork it, modify it, resell it, etc. It's yours!
You can see a full (but ugly) demo here. Take a look at "View Source". That's a stateful web-app in a single HTML file. And just 182 lines of code, including markup, comments, and whitespace:
Read 4 tweets