My plans for 2020 have drastically changed from where I was in February. Alongside consulting work and networking to build client work, I had been cruising along on a few projects. However, as we're all aware of the situation with COVID-19, my schedule of the first half of the year, and likely beyond, is now decimated.
Attending conferences and local networking events are out to grow client work and build a stronger network. So, I've spent the last week considering next steps on how to continue progress from home. A lot of people are in the same place, including some who may now be unemployed. I thought best to share how, as a new freelancer and small scale entrepreneur, I'm hoping to make it through this time.
Networking From Home
Through the year I already planned to build a stronger network online. Now, that needs to speed up quickly as I was relying heavily on local events and conferences to build new relationships and contacts. Luckily if there was a good time to switch over to heavily networking on the internet, now is the time.
In relation to events, a number of in-person events have quickly switched to online virtual events. The Open Hardware Summit switched an in-person event to a successful virtual event in the matter of days. You can read more on how the awesome team pulled it off in the article on OSHWA.org. It would be worth seeing if any events you planned to attend, or previously couldn't attend, are now being held virtually.
Comparative to higher frequency Meetup like groups, there is an existing network of public and private online groups already established. Often these groups have already been around for a while in existing communities and many are starting new online video group sessions. I’m focused on tech and business but you can likely find a few forums or chat channels relevant to your interests with a quick web search. A few I’ve joined in the last few months that have been great are:
- Indiehackers, large community of bootstrappers starting businesses.
- MegaMaker, bootstrapper focused forum and chat. Small but strong group as there is a one time cost to join that means strong buy-in from individuals.
- OSHWA Discord chat, the server was set up for the Open Hardware summit but is being left in place and continues to have ongoing discussions.
One advantage of being home more often is more time to make/hack/create. There are a few projects in my list that I’m looking forward to spending more time on. Getting hardware materials may be tougher than usual but many things are still available for shipment to your house. If anything, focusing more on software and digital projects allows less blockers and is going to be free or very low financial cost.
As an added networking and marketing vector I’m also considering streaming or capturing video of projects I’m working on. This can be an added benefit to your making that will lead to new connections and relationships that will help in your personal and professional life during and after the crises. There are a few places to quickly get setup streaming, with Twitch and Youtube being the most popular. You can go crazy on video and audio equipment but the reality is you can start with your mobile phone and see how it goes.
Unproductive distraction has been heavy with constant daily changes and continuous onslaught of news. There were a few days of zero productivity so this past week I’ve put limits on mainstream social media use. However, times are tough, don’t stress not being able to be the most productive you. What has been useful is scheduling on my calendar at least a few hours a day to work on making. This isn’t going to be the same for everyone, but it has kept me from completely turning into a puddle on the sofa the last two weeks.
Learn and Pivot
Much of the making I’m planning also aligns with learning new skills. If you’re not sure what to do, there is a seemingly endless amount of learning opportunities freely available on the internet. Maybe now is a good time for a career change or to upgrade your skills during down time. A few tech centric exercises and guides I’ve been working on are:
- 100days of Gatsby, an email guide on learning the ReactJS framework. It covers early web development skills to building a CMS.
- Make an action RPG video game in Godot Engine, a new ongoing video guide that teaches you game development in the open source Godot Engine.
- Learn CircuitPython, Python has been gaining significant adoption lately in the DIY electronics world with CircuitPython. You can find a list of CircuitPython compatible hardware on the CircuitPython website.
- Learn Data Science at DataQuest, there are a number of free data science courses available online but DataQuest appears to have a great offering of courses for data science with Python including a strong offering of statistics courses. The annual subscription is currently half-off as of the publication of this post so jump now if you’re interested in data science
I'm not a medical professional so it would be best to look elsewhere for in depth info. However, I’ve been most focussing on maintaining good sleeping habits. Getting 8+ hours of sleep can have a significant impact on your immune system and mental health during these times. If you want more detailed points on why adequate sleep is always important, and even more so right now, check out Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.
In the coming weeks I hope to share more, here and on twitter @Stabadie, of what I’m making. If you have something you’re working on it would be great to hear about what you’re making.