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My Spring Break Project

I recently spent my final Spring Break doing none of the crazy things you would expect from a college senior; I spent it building a website.

Over the last few months, I’ve developed a basic understanding of several programming languages, so I knew it was possible. I spent hours on everything from picking a starting point in WordPress and URL to designing a logo and finding data throughout the week. By the end of the break, I had a website that would make any ‘form follows function’ advocate proud.

After a few small tweaks, it was launch day. I reached out to several tech writers, but apparently journalists don’t like covering sites with a minimalist appearance and very basic functionality (who would have thought?).

I launched on my own by promoting it to every network I could think of, as well as submitting the link to Hacker News and Reddit. I didn’t get much action on Hacker News, but decent traffic on Reddit. At the end of the day where I had dreams of crashing servers from too many hits, I had around 500 visitors. I thought launch day was supposed to be a highlight, right?

So launch day wasn’t the huge success I hoped for and many would say my Spring Break would have been much better spent on a beach somewhere. However, even if I couldn’t drive one single visitor to StartupAlumn.us, it was worth it.

So what did my ‘wasted’ Spring Break teach me? Here are a few things I learned:

  • A “business guy” can work hard enough to overcome most technical deficiencies.
  • WordPress is one of the most beautiful, helpful tools to ever hit the web.
  • I learned to respect excellent designers; the difference between good design and great design is obvious.
  • The WordPress ‘White Screen of Death’ can make a grown man cry.
  • I can make PHP and CSS do about anything with enough work.
  • You should be embarrassed by your first release, or else you waited too long to launch (Reid Hoffman was right again).

More importantly than any skills, I learned that success never lies in uniques, shares, or articles produced, but the satisfaction in knowing I finished what I started. If nothing else, I hope this challenges you to stop talking about cool ideas and start building. There are very few guarantees when it comes to startups and side projects, but I can guarantee you will always be disappointed in the product never started.