Road to Passive - "Started from the bottom now we're... still at the bottom"

I have this idea (and have had for a long time) that what I want to be able to do with my life is to get myself into a place financially where I don't have to work to survive, so that I can focus my time into making an impact on the world on my terms, not on an employers terms.

I've been reading a lot about this, and have come to realise that to achieve this I'm going to need to build assets, and accrue multiple streams of income to the point where that totalled income catches up to or eclipses the income I make from my normal salaried, day-to-day job.

This is going to be tough, because right now my income outside of my salary is zero. That is, if I got laid off tomorrow, there would be no money coming in next month. I have a few months of salary saved, and software developer jobs are plentiful right now, but I couldn't hope to ditch my job and survive long-term with the way things are at the moment. This needs to change.

My problem right now is that I’m not sure how to change this. I know that as a software developer in 2018 I have this unique opportunity to create value for people without breaking my own bank account to do it, and I know there are probably millions of unsolved problems out there that people would pay money to have solutions for, but for the life of me I can’t see any solvable, billable problems to apply my skills to. 

While I work this out, the first thing I thought I’d do in the mean time was to grab all my bank account data and write something to analyse my spending, so although not exactly the same as increasing my income, at least I could start work on reducing my expenses. Unfortunately, my card was recently cloned and used to attempt to withdraw cash somewhere in India, so my bank put a lock on my account until they can get me a new card. This means I can’t actually get at my account data to analyse it until that new card arrives. 

So, as a project for over the weekend, in a throwaway attempt to produce something that might end up being of value, and for lack of any better ideas or real-life problems to solve, I’m going to build a service to combat a problem I saw at work recently.  

We have a bunch of tooling and services at my work that occasionally need to notify people in the organisation about events that occur. It could be that some smoke testing has failed, or that a server has gone down, or whatever, but the way these services notify the people that need to know is that they post to Slack.  

The problem is that whenever business process changes and new people have to be notified about something, or we want to change the format of the message, or whatever, we have to go in to the code for that service and modify the part that sends the message to slack, and then redeploy. Want to post the message in a new channel? Redeploy. Want to make the message red instead of yellow? Redeploy. This costs developer time and therefore money. It means increased risk inherent every time you have to redeploy, and opens up the possibility of human error. not to mention that if you have multiple apps posting to slack, you might have to change multiple code bases to accommodate your process change. 

What I intend to build this weekend is a service with a single endpoint that applications and services can post to, that can then forward on templated messages to user-configurable channels and users. Definable through a shiny front end. It would mean instead of a redeploy, you could simple log in and change the config. 

Im going to start building this tomorrow (Saturday) morning and blog about my progress. Further, going forward I’m going to blog about my progress on the road to passive income more generally. Hopefully you’ll join me as I do that.