September 11, 2017

Tools for Indie Hackers

25

I've been putting some thought into how we can work together as a community to build tools and resources that are helpful to us all.

For example, we could crowdsource a list of the best content (blog posts, podcast episodes, talks, etc.) each month. Or leave reviews on books from an "indie hacker" perspective. Or maintain a list of some of the most useful tools for various things, like setting up a landing page. Etc.

What would you guys like to see?

If you could get a community of founders to collaborate on something, what would you find most helpful?


  1. 12

    a list of common mental blocks. examples:

    • spending way too much time thinking about the aspect of the business you have experience with, like a programmer fixating on "which tech stack to use?" instead of promotion, design, everything else.

    • keeping your idea a secret

    • overvaluing your idea

    • being too ambitious given your available resources

    • thinking your business has to be original

    • working too long in secret without validating

    1. 3

      So true. I've been trying to develop in the open more now, posting on Twitter and gauging feedback to in-progress work etc. Not only does it help motivate you but you get that early feedback!

    2. 0

      Interesting. What would you use this list for? Would you ever come back to reference it after reading through it the first time?

      1. 1

        We could use it in forum threads with newcomers. Just say "lots of first-time indie hackers make this mistake, in fact it is on our list" and link to it.

      2. 0

        As a handbook perhaps? Maybe, in the long run, something like http://www.thebookoflife.org/ but for business

    3. 0

      all great points!

  2. 8

    I'm sure a lot of people in the community have early stage products they'd like to validate or MVPs they'd love people to run through.

    I'd love a place to post early stage products that are ready for some feedback. Personally, I always share new applications I find online with people I think fit the target market and I'm guessing I'm not alone in that.

    Easy way to post, simple ways to quickly share/offer feedback. I realize I'm essentially describing Product Hunt or Betalist (I love both) but PH are generally products ready for market and Betalist, while great for beta signups, doesn't have the community conversation I see on here nor the exposure of IH (no offense BL - love ya, launched 2 projects on the platform and its been great). I'm sure there is some hook to differentiate from BL - smarter, more creative types chime in!

    ______

    Some form of cofounder matchmaking would also be cool. I've seen it tried before elsewhere but once again, not with this community.

    1. 3

      I think you're onto something with the first point.

      A collective effort focused on alpha testing, able to offer constructive feedback without too much sugar coating or excess negativity would be invaluable for a lot of people.

      This would allow small teams that are unsure how their early stage product will be received to get some user testing done without worrying about scaring off early adopters.

      1. 0

        +1 for idea validation

    2. 0

      +1 for co-founder matchmaking

  3. 4

    Everybody is talking about their tech "stack" which I find semi-interesting (just use whatever language or database you know to just ship it...)

    -> What about a (visual) presentation of the business (tools) stack for each of our businesses? Like how is a customer finding, paying and how is he beeing served.

    I imagine having some kind of whiteboard area to drag around my lead-sources like (Google, FB Ads, SEO, Cold-Calling, etc.) and my content (running on Wordpress/Medium/...) where the traffic is flowing into my funnel (Leadpages/WP Plugins/...) trough a drip-campaign (FB-Bots from ManyChat/Mails via Mailchimp/...) onto some shopping cart/signup/sales page with a payment processor (Stripe/PayPal/...) into a customers CRM (...) or my own SaaS, or my Personal inbox... where Zapier is adding report data do some spreadsheet and XYZ-Dashboard is displaying the $$ coming into my bank account.

    ---

    Personal experience and "usage" stories on common tactics / tools / processes. Imagine the sales topic "cold mailing" and everybody sharing his experience, best practices and workarounds. Or "idea validation", or "SEO" ... whatever is of interest. And everybody can just chime in, share his opinion / experience and knowledge. I see a quora-like thing where everybody can participate exactly one time on each topic and any interested person can browse trough dozends of insights at once. Kind of a knowledge-base?

    ---

    A "marketplace" [ argh, yet again! ;-) ] to exchange and find opportunities for cross-promotion within all the indie-businesses. Think of two SaaS companies serving "Restaurants" which can come together and cross promote on each others customer list, or come up with a bundle-deal. Or think about guest posting opportunities on a company blog. One could just define what customer segment they are targeting, if they run a blog, on which topic, if they are open to guest posting, etc.

    1. 0

      All of these ideas are great! Super creative, too. Really like the idea of building a knowledge base around common entrepreneur problems and challenges. And the third one — a platform for people to help each other with marketing — so useful. Thanks, Patric!

  4. 3

    Think this could be useful if given some context, like why a certain tool was chosen for a certain problem. Or how it is used in someone's workflow. Like I know that a lot of folks who are indie/solo hackers praise automation. Would love to know what tools they use but more importantly how it is used.

    Perhaps a how I work or how I use it type post could be useful. Like how Life Hacker does it but more from the perspective of an indie hacker.

    1. 1

      I like the context idea, especially knowing why/how something was used to handle a specific problem. In fact, it may be worth organizing every based on the problem at the highest level.

      So categories would be things like "staying motivated," "finding the time to work," "coming up with an idea" or "automating processes," etc., followed by useful community-generated recommendations and reviews. 🤔 Hmm… I'll put some thought into it.

      1. 4

        Can we have a project section for each user on indie-hackers, which would contain previous and ongoing projects.

        Projects can have multiple stages in its lifecycle:

        • Ideation: Post idea, get feedback, reiterate, brainstorm.

        • Planning: Think about what needs to be coded and what can be reused. What stack / architecture to use.

        • Coding: Code to build an MVP.

        • Releases

        And some way to track the progress like status (in-progress, on-hold, dead) and age/history (git commits, acquiring new users, important milestones, streaks).

        This would help with "staying motivated", "getting feedback", "coming up with an idea". These are lots of features, having a few of them (or similar) would also be good.

        1. 1

          Yes! This is most likely where I'll take things. I'd like to have a timeline for each product, where you can fill in details to tell the story from beginning to present. And you could associate your forum posts with your product, too, which would make it easier for people who respond to you to have context.

        2. 1

          The idea you’ve put forth, is in a similar vein to something I’ve actually spent years exploring. I’ve built 4 prototypes of a SaaS product focused on building communities around bootstrapped projects… specifically to foster creativity, and create accountability.

          The idea was always well received, but the questions I got over and over again were:

          • Why would people pay to participate in other people’s projects?

          • Bootstrapping is long and arduous... would there be enough activity to facilitate regular engagement?

          I suppose in this case, it would be subsidized by Stripe, and bet on the collaborative spirit of developers.

          Whipping the idea further, what features would provide value to users, that isn’t offered by a forum and chat room?

          1. 2

            One valuable thing IH provides is feedback from fellow founders. It would be great if, when facing any particular challenge with a product, you could easily get advice from a community of your peers.

            Additionally, I think something like this could help remind you to share what you're working on, and even prompt you to write blog posts about relevant topics. All of this would be connected to your business, and thus help drive traffic to your site.

            Making the entire collection of products searchable and browsable would be useful. You could find products similar to yours, learn from what they're doing, connect with their founders, and go from there: organize meetups, start mastermind groups, find mentors, form business partnerships, swap tips, sell to each other, etc.

        3. 1

          There are only three important things: project name, time since inception, and money earned.

          All the other stuff is distraction. If anyone wanted to give context they can write an article or a forum topic and "embed" the widget. Of course it would be nice to have something "Kickstarter like" where there's a goal and a meter that fills up but still ... I think most people would be driven by the ego boost that turning a profit would be and the ability to get likes for it.

          1. 1

            I think it would be valuable to connect your articles and forum threads to your product. It would provide some context for readers who want to learn more.

            1. 0

              Yeah, maybe it'd prove to be the same by just being able to attach one project. Then get a project timeline on your profile?

      2. 0

        Categories/Topics for each stage of company building would be useful.

        Example

        I just posted… How do you actively identify problems.

        I’m sure there are multiple discussions on this. Maybe each post becomes part of a broader topic or category.

    2. 0

      This comment was deleted 7 days ago.

  5. 2

    I live in a third world sh*thole, which means, even buying 1 year of hosting is expensive for me so I had to learn lots of things and get creative to build my website.

    So first I found a way of building the actual website (Mobirise) then host it (Github pages) then find tools which will make my website functional: gather data with Google Forms, a Chatbot to guide clients through pricing as I will not be using a product with variations tool such as Woocomerce, a payment gateway that lets me embed a product in HTML (Gumroad), study how to get a free SSL. The only thing I paid for was the domain, and that was an ok price.

    So we could gather a bunch of resources to people who want to start with nothing, be it knowledge or money.

  6. 2

    This would be pretty cool, I was thinking about something like site builder report but for saas services/open source software for indie hackers/small teams.

    So reviews for

    stripe/braintree/paypal (payments)

    exceptionless/raygun/airbrake (exceptions/errors)

    there could be a ton more here, logging, data stores, js frameworks, full stack frameworks... that kind of thing.

    Similar to https://elements.heroku.com/addons

    1. 0

      See if you can make it like founderkit but for indie hackers. :)

  7. 1

    It would be cool to build a list of basic legal advice (with no liability attached of course).

    I just imagine a lot of us are going through the same process of consulting a lawyer ($350+) for very basic legal questions that can be applied to most early stage startups.

    e.g. Can you hire a consultant solely on equity? Does the board divvy shares when a grant is signed or when it first vests?

    1. 1

      I think this is a great idea, and coincidentally just started speaking with a lawyer about it this week! Ideally what would be interesting to build is a body of advice that's kept up-to-date. Something similar to what Patio11 did for Delaware C-Corps, but for people who are prioritizing generating revenue over an acquisition or an IPO.

      1. 0

        Yes, that would be awesome and extremely useful!

  8. 1

    Love sharing things like this. Founderkit (https://founderkit.com/reviews) is trying to do something similar in the tools space specifically.

    I also agree with the other posts about putting together a dedicated area for early launch/traction. One of the things I find is most powerful about a community like Indie Hackers is the willingness for everyone to take time to provide feedback and tips to other founders. Sometimes we all need help but don't want to feel like we're shilling our MVPs all over the place. A dedicated space for that could be useful.

    1. 0

      That's a great insight — I hadn't thought about the fact that it feels a bit spammy to post your MVPs and ask for feedback, even though that's the #1 use-case for the forum at this point. A dedicated area would go a long way toward helping people okay about sharing.

  9. 1

    One thing I really wanted, was some kind of community built around the idea of giving indie/bootstrappers discounts.

    You always see startups getting discounts via AWS credits among other things. It's a little ridiculous since they have all the money to begin with haha.

    I think if you could partner with SaaS companies and say they provide 15-25% off to independent devs that would be an awesome win-win.

    1. 0

      AWS will make some exceptions if they like what you're building. Email me if you're interested in learning more rborn[at]cloudcampaign.io

      We are fully bootstrapped and got 5k from AWS. They also introduced AWS Builders intended for bootstrappers that offers 1k in credits

  10. 1

    Worth noting www.madewithoutcode.com which shows ways to make sites without coding knowledge (not my website)

  11. 1

    Indie hackers events

    I'm mainly envisioning local events, but could also be an online Meetup.

    I don't believe Meetup groups listed is good because they go stale so easily. Events are things that actually happen.

    Allow indie hackers users to attend with yes/no/maybe.

  12. 1

    I imagine a Tools tab such as when you click on it there's sections for each types of content. So like podcasts, blog posts, and books.

    The other day I was thinking about a meetup section where people in the same cities can arrange to work together.

    1. 3

      Definitely planning on making it easier for indie hackers who are near each other to organize meetups. Might start with something as simple as asking everyone where they live as part of the signup process, and having a map that shows locations.

      1. 0

        I'd go another step further and maybe do mastermind matchmaking? I'm in Australia which means gmt+10 Timezone which is relatively unfriendly to the rest of the world. Exposure to other indie hackers in Australia or in a similar market to my own would be ace.

      2. 0

        That's a good idea!!

  13. 1

    On the profile page, have a section where I can see the posts I have liked? :)

  14. 0

    I wrote a pretty comprehensive post called the $9 Marketing Stack for Bootstrappers.

    It's a step-by-step guide that details not only which products I use for analytics, A/B testing, funnels, email marketing, etc., but exactly how I implemented them all for my SaaS. All the code, everything.

    Hope this helps!

    https://robsobers.com/9-dollar-marketing-stack-step-by-step-setup-guide/

  15. 0

    I would like to see lists like this:

    https://theplugineconomy.com/wordpress-sites/

    Fair warning, that's a link to my own site but it's the first example I could think of.

    I like the idea of collecting resources that, while just a list on the surface, actually contain researched information right at your fingertips to save you time. In my example, I'm collecting sites about WordPress that offer paid promotional options and I've done all of the digging to find what it costs, how often they post, etc.

    You can go anywhere online to find lists (hell, that's like the #1 executing plan for content marketers anymore) but it's rare when those lists are concise and useful without a lot of reading or follow up browsing.

  16. 0

    hey Courtland, no need to say I find this a great idea.

    Actually, I gave it some real thought a couple months back. My idea was to make a http://startupstash.com/ for indie hackers, but trying to keep it very specific. You know, all this kind of sites tend to become too generic in the end with tools like "Dropbox" appearing everywhere. I think it's very very very important to keep it to the resources/tools really specific to indie hackers.

    I discarded the idea because I already had everydayCheck in the oven, but you may remember about the result of that work: https://github.com/mezod/awesome-indie .

    I think having a set of categories, where everyone can add links to and upvote/downvote + comment, would make it certainly valuable.

    I'd be super happy to help you out with that if you need/want a hand :)

    1. 1

      Awesome Indie was, indeed, awesome :-D

      I think the big challenge with community-driven projects like that one is keeping them maintained over the long-run. They can only really be on Product Hunt once. My hope is that by building some into IH, I can resurface them to the community on a regular basis and keep them up-to-date indefinitely.

      Startup Stash for Indie Hackers sounds great. I wonder if it would be more useful to have a broad tool like Startup Stash, or to go deeper and build specific tools for subcategories. For example, something where indie hackers can submit and vote on their favorite podcast episodes (across all podcasts) for the week, so other people know what to listen to.

      Also, I have some thoughts on improving the voting so that common tools like Dropbox don't always win. Will mull over them for a bit before sharing.

  17. 0

    I've been putting together some lists like this in an open source project. I really like gathering feedback from the crowd and then turning them into blog posts.

    I also like the Awesome Lists project on Github that attempts to unify many of these crowd-maintained lists.

    If you do start making lists, feel free to use any of these that I came up with from suggestions in the side project marketing community:

    1. 0

      If you like the awesome lists you'll surely enjoy https://github.com/mezod/awesome-indie :-)

  18. 0

    Recognizing that every founder's story is different, it would be interesting to develop a standardized way to present the story of each enterprise. Once (somewhat) standardized, it would be possible to compare several such stories together and discern common threads (funding types? solo/co-founders? pivots? one-time/recurring purchases? viability of competition? etc.)

  19. 0

    having a overview of the most used marketing tools would be really useful.

    1. 0

      Agreed. Along with some reviews, too.