Catching up with Safia Abdalla

We spoke to Safia all the way back in Episode 50, and it was time for an overdue catchup to see whats shes been working on.

What made you start the projects you’re working on at the moment?

My biggest project at the moment is a platform called Zarf. Zarf is a content marketplace where writers can sell a subscription or one-time access to their work. Before I “officially” started working on the project in June, I had been thinking about building a platform like Zarf for a while. I was partly inspired by observations on the negative influence of ad-based revenue models for content on the Internet, especially during the recent elections. I also wanted to develop a platform that specifically catered to helping writers from underrepresented groups gain financially from their work, something that is often difficult for them to do on other platforms.

In non-startup updates, I’ve started blogging again. Yes, I know, it’s something that I say every other month, but I’ve been quite dedicated to it now. I post a variety of topics related to entrepreneurship, JavaScript, and Node, and open source on Mondays and Fridays on my blog at I realize that I have a lot of thoughts going on in my head about different things and I wanted to store them in a space that was uniquely mine.

What have you learned since we last spoke?

Oh boy! It’s going to be tough to answer this one concisely. I’ve been fortunate and brave enough to pursue a wide variety of things. I’ve done some public speaking, I’ve done some blogging, I’ve done workshops, I’ve started my own business, and I’ve experimented with a few side projects. If I could synthesize the main lessons that I’ve learned across all of these different endeavors, I would probably say that I’ve learned to focus on consistency and good goal-setting. I’m quite an ambitious person, and I find that if I don’t invest time in setting reasonable goals, I can set myself up for disappointment.

I’ve also learned to get much better at consistently delivering towards my goals. I’ll admit that it’s an ongoing process for me, but I try to make sure that I am contributing towards my goals on a daily or weekly basis. This usually involves setting a weekly minimum time-requirement for each of the projects I work on.

In addition to learning more about how to manage all my side projects, working on Zarf has given me tremendous insights into the intricacies of running a business. Over the past half year, I’ve learned a ton about finance law, copyright law, application performance tuning, user experience design, and so much more. Being a solo founder has given me the ability to exercise my multidisciplinary nature, and it’s been very fulfilling. It’s also helped me become a more well-rounded and empathetic software engineer. I have a better understanding, and appreciation, of all that, is needed to build a successful software product.

Where can we find you and support your work?

I’m active on Twitter (@captainsafia) and my blog. I’m currently working on growing the publisher base on Zarf. If you know an independent writer or blogger who is interested in making money from their work on a platform that is focused exclusively on the written word, don’t hesitate to refer them to Zarf or me.

Michael Berhane

Co-founder and CEO of & Also the co-host of the #Techish podcast! Full Stack JavaScript developer by trade.

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