The Tech of Magic
I read a lot of business books. The kind that help you go from an idea to a fully functioning business, with all the steps along the way.
The problem for me though, is that for the first time in a long time, I haven't really had an idea.
Part of it is probably because I'm actually happy at my day job. I like the work I'm doing, I have the level of freedom I am always looking for, and it pays enough. My normal way of dealing with a job I'm not happy in is to start looking for a way to go out on my own again. Which usually means thinking about app ideas but when push comes to shove, going back to consulting.
None of that this time though. I've got the freedom to do what I really want to, and nothing comes to mind. Until this last week, when things suddenly started clearing up.
Apps have always been a business for me. Since 2008, my entire professional career has been about trading mobile apps for money. But here's where things changed: I realized that since I'm content in my day job, since I'm not lashing out looking for an app that could free me from it, I can consider things I haven't before.
I habitually turn hobbies into businesses. I think it's either my generation, my upbringing, or just the nature of entrepreneurs to do so.
I started collecting Magic cards several years ago. A pack here and there, from Target maybe. I liked the art, and I liked having the cards for some reason. It was like that for a while, then it increased in scale. I started getting more packs, bundles, whole boxes. My friends off-handedly mentioned that I should stream when I open the boxes so they can watch, which I did. Then that got out of hand; I was streaming multiple box openings every Friday for months. I started selling cards; I had so many and nothing to do with them. They began taking up more space than I ever thought they could.
Unexpectedly, I found I enjoyed the online “card shop” business. After a lifetime of building things that only exist digitally, I was selling something physical, packing it up in envelopes and mailing it out to people. But the scale became a problem, and I kept looking for a solution that would help me track and list and sell and ship all these cards, and never really found anything that worked perfectly.
Of course, being a developer, my thoughts turned to writing one for myself. Several times. I told myself not to jump the gun, to try to find a solution that was already there. But when I couldn't find anything that worked the way I do, what really stopped me was the fact that I couldn't imagine selling this to anyone else. Because all apps have to be a business, right?
Part of the card business became the stream. I got very interested in live streaming, twitch and YouTube. And, being a tech person with a new interest, I bought all the gear I wanted rapidly, and dove into making the stream look as good as possible. What I did not have, however, was a compelling reason for very many people to actually watch what I was doing.
I tried various things to grow the stream, but I wasn't doing anything exceptional really, and I wasn't standing out. In retrospect, I think twitch was probably the wrong choice of platform. Plenty of people are doing fine on twitch with Magic, but they're mostly playing, not cracking packs. Amongst other reasons (my skill level, schedule, that kind of thing.)
So where does all that leave me? A desire to write apps, a desire to play with Magic cards, and a desire to make video content. And a realization that I don't actually need to make money doing any of it.
So I think I found my direction: The Tech of Magic. Apps meant to improve your Magic life: card details, collection management, sales and so on. Video (and written) content about technology in the Magic world: gear for playing online, information about new advances, that sort of thing. And my expectation is for everything to be as free (or inexpensive) as I can possibly make it.