Top photo by Luke Pamer on Unsplash

Reading and writing and coding (oh my): A summer update

July 19, 2019

It's been a great summer for life, not awesome for business :D

It’s been an excellent summer for life!

California! 🗺️

We went to California for three weeks in May. It was lovely.

  • Flew from Richmond, VA to Chicago, took the train from there to San Francisco. An excellent choice. 🚋
  • Yosemite Valley is incredible. Amble off the paved roads to avoid humans. Once away, just incredible natural beauty on every side. Kids did great hiking for miles. ⛰
  • San Diego has lovely weather and amazing tacos. 🌮

I love traveling. The kids are 6 and 8, and it feels like the right age — they don’t tire too easily, so we can spend a day hiking, they can recognize how beautiful things are… I want to travel as much as possible.

And that’s why we live in a 1000sqft basement apartment and homeschool, right? :)

ProjectPoll 👨‍💻


I was bogged down for a month adding a major feature (Roles!) that required some refactoring, paying back of tech debt 💸. I’m happy it’s released, and the codebase is in a much better state.

I also changed pricing to a per-project model, which also needed some code changes.

I’m now working on a better UX to add more site admins — it feels like development moves somewhat slowly, which I think is some combination of difficulty prioritizing and growing despair at not making sales (see below!).


I don’t have any paying users from organic or direct sales, and I haven’t gotten much feedback from beta users. I’ve talked to a couple people in-person who’ve been encouraging, given good feedback, but overall this is not an encouraging state of affairs :D.

I’ve sent a few batches of LinkedIn messages (~40?) to targeted companies, but gotten only one response (“no thanks”). I’m pretty sure I need to follow up, but it’s a bit nerve-wracking to hear nothing.

Things I need to do (see, writing things down is helping already):

  • Follow up with previous cold contacts (I’ve heard followup is critical)
  • Work with my current company to expand our use beyond the pilot project we’re using it for


I’m certainly going through ups-and-downs: I really feel like it could be a useful product for companies, but not seeing traction is difficult. I wrote it during last years YC Startup School, which was great, but now this year’s Startup School is about to begin, which is a strange feeling.

I’ve considered working on another idea, at least as a break during Startup School. I’d consider this more strongly if I could find someone to “cofound” something with me, cuz that sounds fun.

Mentally, I feel better when I’m not putting so much pressure on this thing to be a business — its been successful by metrics of learning, launching something, trying some new stuff, all that sort of thing. If it’s “just” a side-project that goes on my portfolio, I’m happy with that. All that could be a way to convince myself to avoid sales, though, which may just be a different method of self-sabotage. :D

Reading 📚

I’ve read more this summer, which has been awesome.

Most recently:

  • My Struggle, vol 1, by Karl Ove Knausgård: Part 1 of a 6-volume autobiography. Sounds awful, is actually amazing. Goodreads
  • The Dragonbone Chair, by Tad Williams: Sometimes I want some epic fantasy in the sort of classic, Tolkien-ish style, but so much of it is terribly written. This was great! Bit of a slow start, but well-written. Epic fantasy, so the first book is certainly not a standalone work :).
  • More stuff! I read an Iain M. Banks Culture book (all are amazing), was pleasantly surprised by an Alastair Reynolds book after thinking I didn’t like him, enjoyed Sapiens a lot, and more. I’m trying to post [tiny, unhelpful] personal reviews of most of what I read, so feel free to check out my Goodreads page.

Mindfulness 🧠

I’ve been using Sam Harris’ Waking Up app for guided mindfulness meditation, along with Calm. Mindfulness has helped me direct my attention better, I think — that’s why I’m reading more, doing some painting, on my phone less. All good things.

Painting 🖌️

I like painting (portraits). But traditionally, I’ll spend a Saturday afternoon, really enjoy it, then forget about it for a couple years. I’ve been trying to be more regular about this recently, and it’s been great. My son’s been really enjoying painting with me as well. 😍

That’s all!

I want to blog more, but generally put too pressure on these to be useful for marketing or personal branding or some such nonsense. I’ma try to do more (shorter) posts. Writing is excellent and therapeutic.

Thanks for reading!

Taylor Campbell lives in the woods of Virginia, travels with his family, and builds things with Rails and Javascript. (Check out ProjectPoll!)