April 30, 2019

How do you find your indie hacking inspiration?

Rosie Sherry @rosiesherry

I often see indie hackers get stuck, either on a day to day basis, or generally coming up with ideas for a business or product.

I thought it would be useful to have a discussion around this.

For me, I've mostly stolen ideas, don't we all?

  • I love communities, so I go searching how other communities function. What they talk about, how they engage. IH is a great example of this. However, I also look for gaps in where communities could exist.
  • Every website I visit, I question their business model and I have a nosey about to see how they do things. I also ask myself if the things they do would apply to my business.
  • I don't really pay attention to my competition, rather I seek other places to borrow ideas from to help us stand out more
  • I often browse websites that sell websites/businesses (like Flippa or 1kProjects) and apply my curiosity to how they make money (or not).
  • blog posts and newsletters - I pay attention to what people write about and how they are doing it. Often it can help inspire me in my own marketing/writing efforts.

How or where do you find inspiration?


  1. 2

    I usually start with a problem I am having, or something I am trying to do that can't be easily done. Usually it's a recurring thought, I try to screen out ideas that pop up, though I might take some notes or voice notes. When it's come back to me a few times over a week or two, sometimes months, it comes on my radar.

    Then I dig into it a little and see if there are solutions I haven't known about before. If still looks good, I will ask some peers and pop a survey out to some folks on FB and get some quick feedback. Then I make a decision if my assumptions are still good enough to move on!

  2. 1

    Communities are a great way. To get inspired I usually go on Dribbble.

  3. 1

    Day to day: there's no way but forward.


    • Existing products (how big are they, are they doing too much? What can I strip them from and improve that last bit?)
    • Cold email for interviews (has not gone well at all)
    • Search for common problems on Upwork (found a few, considering one, but this is competing with my new obsession with a community to learn programming)
    • Looking at my own pain points - not being able to stick to learning to code. For some reason I just get bored / distracted / lose track of where I was and forget everything (inconsistent). Thinking of gamifying my own experience in hopes of getting motivated to stick to a schedule.
    • Talking to other founders and developers (spoke to 2 people from IH, another tomorrow, and one from HN who is also an IHer, cool guy, we've been exchanging thoughts and had a chat).

    IH is basically my church. Side note: it would be nice to talk to more founders .. maybe in a conference call of sorts, but informal and relaxed, successful and struggling founders. I can never make the office hours chat :(

    1. 1

      Note on the side note: There have been some online events like this Worldwide meetup I'll ponder some ideas, what did you have in mind?

  4. 1

    I like workflows, so I have a whole process for that:

    1. Every week I go on social media (IH, reddit...) and trend websites (Medium trends, google trends) and I look what people are speaking about. I contribute as well (like now). I do around 3 to 4 pomodoros per week (1H15) depending on my task prioritized for the week.

    2. I write every idea I can have / see into a mindmap (which is part of my "idea generation system", I wrote about it on my blog. See "A real life example of an idea system".

    3. I write pain points which create debates or "big" discussions. I look at the number of upvotes as well to see if the subject is interesting for a lot of people. I have another "pain point" mindmap where I put the URL of the discussion, the number of upvotes and some notes.

    4. I try to listen to people and note problems / pain points in real life.

    5. I'm interested in a lot of things so, sometimes, I try to link some knowledge from a specific domain to another one, to create original (or totally stupid) ideas.

    The big advantage to use mindmaps is: you can link things to each other. It works very well for me. Of course it's very quickly a mess but I don't hesitate to delete / re-organise things.

    More and more these ideas and pain points create big "balls" of ideas all linked together. I create often a project (problems with possible solution) out of it and I prioritize it. I might never do anything with it, but it's there.

    I really enjoy the whole process a lot! That's the most important to me.

  5. 1

    you might want to check the projects at https://projectilo.com/ for some inspiration, we are a community of makers

  6. 1

    Awesome question!

    If by inspiration, you mean "inspiration for a product" then I do the following...

    • find a group of potential customers I'm interested in or have expertise in. Either I've been in their shoes before (eg marketing teams at a startup), or I really find the field interesting (eg gyms).
    • Spend time really understanding their pain points, priorities and business model. On a very basic level, what are the moving pieces and levers that are the difference between success and failure for them?
    • Here's where I differ from a lot of common startup advice... I actively look for pain-points/areas where the potential customer doesn't have access to good information. A black hole in their work, if you will. That's the kind of place you can solve a really big pain-point really quickly with little competition, because it isn't somewhere your customers think solutions might exist
    • Then I learn all about that area of the business. How can I save the customer time or increase their profits by solving that pain point? Often, it begins with improving visibility into that area for the customer.
    • Spend some time selling around that pain-point to my group of potential customers, and I'll normal stumble across a product they want to pay for...
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