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36 Comments

How did you make your first $1000?

I have a theory that if you can make $1000, you can make $10k, $100k, and $1 million!

So, if we can get more indie hackers to $1000 then hopefully we'll see more people making much more later on.

With Ministry of Testing I sold small advertising slots. The next level after that was doing events (training courses and conferences). It went on to reach 7 figures in annual revenue.

If you've reached this milestone, how did you make your first $1000?

  1. 7

    I built a small product that teaches developers vim (https://www.vim.so) and launched it on twitter. Made my first $1k within the first week. Hit $10k within the first 30 days.

    I guess I got to prove you right now @rosiesherry and get to $100k next

    1. 1

      How about purchasing power parity for countries still developing?

  2. 4

    Love your post! Make me more confident. 🚀

    I got my first 1K pretty fast (3 days after launch) with kingdom.so. Thanks to Flickr (The CEO bought for $600 of lands on the launch day 🤯).

    1. 1

      So interesting! Something's up with the URL I get 404 but if I put https:// before then it opens 🤔

      1. 2

        Hello @ArtistMichi, yes I break the https redirection this weekend! I will fix it now

    2. 1

      Ooooh, wow, great achievement on Flickr CEO! Jealous!

      How did he find it?

      1. 2

        The story is pretty fun, I sent DM to Eric Willis on Twitter, find the name in a list of PH influencers... The person that I finally contacted was an another Eric Willis (Tech director at Flickr). He loved the project so he built a little Kingdom then he gave the link to the CEO of Flickr and BOOOM! 🎉

        1. 1

          That is so cool. Just signed up and started my kingdom. I'm very interested to see how this evolves!

          1. 1

            Thanks! You can join our Discord, we are 6 at the moment haha but I will mostly share about the project on Discord, you probably got an invitation after your subscription :-)

  3. 4

    I pre-sold a mini ebook on Elixir programming to Twitter.

    Full price was $30. I discounted it to $5 for the first 24 hours and to $7.50 for the next week.

    With under 1k Twitter followers at the time, the new product made it to $1k in under 36 hours.

    It also ended up gaining me over 50 new followers and connecting me with two published tech authors.

    Here's the tweet that did it: https://mobile.twitter.com/AlchemistCamp/status/1330741496228679682

    1. 2

      Epic! Thanks for sharing the initial tweet. Liked!

    2. 2

      This is great, @alchemist!

      If you were doing another book launch, would you use the same approach of steeply discounting initially and then incrementally increasing the price over time? If so, would you make any adjustments?

      Asking for a friend 😉

      1. 2

        I think I would.

        My next one-off sale product will probably be to a larger, but overlapping audience with Elixir devs, so I'm more than happy to sacrifice a bit of money on the sale of that product to get more reach and grow my audience.

    3. 1

      I was very impressed. I am currently writing an ebook called "Instagram Entrepreneurship". I learned marketing tactics thanks to you. :)

  4. 4

    I have a theory that if you can make $1000, you can make $10k, $100k, and $1 million!

    I absolutely believe this. Although my personal... goal? is that the right word? Was

    "If I can get one paying customer I can get 10, and if I can get 10 I can get 1000"

    SongBox's lifetime revenue is $6500+ and the vast majority of that has been in the past 12 months.

    I managed that by 100% organic growth / SEO on relevant search terms.

    I've posted before that although this might seem good, it's actually super frustrating because i don't know how to turn the dial on it.

    Eg if it was advertising on [insert your ad platform here] then i could just throw more money at it. However, it's not.

    How do you make more people search for "share music privately" or some variation of that 😬

    1. 3

      First off, great work! Secondly...

      How do you make more people search for "share music privately" or some variation of that

      While that's a good question, I don't think it's the only one. Another question to ask is... how can you take related searches, provide value outside of your SaaS for those searches directly, that in-turn gets them onto an email list, which allows you to then start sharing your SaaS to.

      1. 2

        Yeah this is actually a good way of looking at it.

        Thanks.

        1. 4

          I found @jdnoc's writing on "long tail keywords" very useful:

          https://jdnoc.com/quick-seo/

          A good way to discover stuff that people in your target market want to read about is to hang out on forums and subreddits taking notes. I think the watmm subreddit would be a good fit for your product. If you spend 30 to 40 hours documenting the questions that are frequently asked you will get a ton of ideas for content to help those people find your site with search.

  5. 3

    The first money I made without getting paid by the hour was a few years ago when I spent a few days between Christmas and New Year tinkering with a bootstrap theme.
    I am not a designer so it didn’t look amazing, but it did look clean and simple with a lot of the normal integration you find in such a theme.
    I put it on WrapBootstrap and over a period of 2 years it brought me about $3000.
    I loved the idea of investing my time in a product that could earn me some income over time.
    The highest gain per time spent was during the hacksummit hackathon, where I just wrote a document explaining how to use a blockchain project to build something that would help the world. Made $10000 in 6 hours with that... felt amazing!
    Still tinkering to get to $1000 MRR with a product though.

  6. 3

    I made Mumu (https://getmumu.com) to scratch my own itch. Back then, it's hard to find emoji instantly because the built-in emoji picker doesn't support synonyms. Not again with Mumu.

    And I remember I couldn't stop refreshing the Paddle dashboard. There were new sales for every few minutes.

    At the end Mumu had generated $1000 around 2 days. What a nostalgic moment! Onwards to the next $10k 🙏🏼

  7. 2

    I made a simple Android music app in 2010 just after the Play store opened. It made just a touch over $1k over 9 years. I didn't have any idea what I was doing and just left it up there and watched sales slowly dropped off to zero over that time (meanwhile consulting & freelancing).

    Recently I re-launched the app using everything I've learned from Indie Hackers (PH launch, SEO, targeting niche) and it has made $115 in 3 months so far - a big boost compared to recent years.

    I've also built another Android music app and that is making between $100 and $50 per month. I'm working on a couple more music apps and tuning some different channels, trying to get a layered approach to sustainable business working. If these new apps do as well at launch as the others, I should hit my second $1k before the end of this year.

  8. 2

    I made my first $1000 and then hit about $150K total through teaching to do interviews for product managers.

  9. 2

    Explored how to make SVG Backgrounds, launching a site to manipulate them. The first iteration provided 30 free backgrounds and after it went semi-viral (40K visits in a week), I decided to monetize and while traffic went down, over the next 6-8 months sales trickled in to reach my first $1000.

    1. 3

      And you helped me with some good advice on Twitter 👏

  10. 1

    Through my Udemy course. This course was since unpublished, as 1) Courses get outdated pretty fast 2) I was pretty ashamed of it, and it didn't make a lot of money anyway (I published more courses since then). Took me almost 4 months to get to the first 1000$.

  11. 1

    the first time i did was after selling a wordpress theme a few times. mind. blown.

  12. 1

    I made my first $1,000 writing articles on the Medium Partner Program.

    It's not for everybody, but if you enjoy writing and do it consistently somewhere else already (e.g. on a personal or side-project blog), it's definitely possible to get to the $1,000/mo by reposting or repurposing your existing content for Medium.

    The great thing is that, in addition to an income stream, it's also a great way to build a newsletter audience. You can include a small CTA and link to your newsletter at the bottom of each article, which means if an article does well you will make money and build your audience at the same time!

    Pretty rare to find an income stream that's also an acquisition channel :)

  13. 1

    I started a paid membership on INF Club, at the time on Substack. After my email list grew following a free online Summit I hosted, I re(launched) and a handful of annual memberships ($99) helped me break the $1000 mark.

  14. 1

    I made my first 1000 selling HARO links on Fiverr. HARO is a platform where sources can pitch reporters and get quoted in high authority sites with valuable backlinks to their site.

    1. 1

      What do you mean by selling HARO links? You write something and charge for the links?

      1. 1

        Well... not that simple :) I pitch reporters on behalf of a client to get him quoted on various sites. Its a process that requires time, precision and research. As a result, the client gets awesome PR + DR 50+ backlinks. And yes, I charge for this. I think people on Indie Hackers are smart enough to Google what HARO is :)

  15. 1

    The first time I made my $1000 was through a project for my product design agency. It was one of those first few projects that really recognized and appreciated my abilities for designing products.

  16. 1

    I downloaded a list of about 1000 potential customers, created a spreadsheet to track activity (before I knew the power of even a free CRM) and started calling them from my Skype number.

    IMHO hard to beat picking up the phone and talking to real customers

  17. 1

    I made my first $1k off Slack. There's a closed community that I've been really active in and that kinda helped a lot–both in initial feedback and first sales.

  18. 1

    I created an interactive course for teaching developers how to use Vim inside VSCode (https://vimforvscode.com). I launched on Twitter and made $1k the first weekend I launched it. Now it's made around $5k total.

    Onto the next milestone! $10k

  19. 0

    I have a product that I've discontinued, but 2-3 new beta requests per week for the Android version.

    Side-note: 1500+ leads, let me know if you want to buy the list and build the Android app. I'll throw in source code for iOS (Swift, Objective-C) and React Native rewrite and competitor landscape.

    1. I had a problem I understood (I wanted a cheap camera monitor).
    2. The existing solutions were not great (Panasonic app did not do full-screen well).
    3. I knew how to solve the problem (other people had figured out how to interpret the UDP image stream from the Panasonic camera)
    4. 🔥I found a place where people were talking about the problem (a forum where people asked "how do I do fullscreen on panasonic app?")
    5. 🔥I started engaging with the forum and shared my progress in building the app prototype.
    6. 🔥I invited people to be alpha testers (linked to a signup in Typeform and found other forums where people were talking about Panasonic cameras).
    7. Released the app as paid app.
    8. $$$ (~$5000 for the lifetime of the app, 18 months, zero marketing and a pretty shitty app).

    The most valuable steps, apart from building a working solution, were steps (5) and (6).

    🔥🎉 Number (5) helped validate that people were interested and willing to engage. I also found out there were users with a pain point (people using anamorphic lenses) that needed a budget friendly solution to be able to de-squeeze their camera image.

    🔥🎉 Number (6) gave the excited early adopters a way to test and give me feedback. This resulted in a few reviews on other forums and on YouTube. That content still brings beta-users to this day. There still isn't a good solution for Android users.

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