Growth July 23, 2020

How I spent 1000$ in 3 months as Indie hacker

Anna Grigoryan @annadante

Hey,

I'm Anna founder of Community Finder (community-finder.co), and here I want to share how I spent 1000$ on my product.

I started working full time on Community Finder since May 1st. I quit my job on April, completed a few freelance tasks and dived in full time into content making and product development.

Before quitting my job I accumulated some funds to sustain myself and be able to spent some money on the project.

Community Finder started in March, and I created it completely free, it was 3 HTML/CSS pages with free Airtable base all deployed on Netlify.

I wanted to up my game and make it a profitable project. To do that I decided to launch a podcast (http://communityfinder.transistor.fm) where I'm taking interview from community builders, and also I decided to start a newsletter, as I already have experience with building audience.

Luckily my husband had a decent microphone so I didn't have to buy hardware equipment for my podcast. And so I started to invest in some software. L

  1. Podcast hosting - with this investment I pretty much knew what I'm gonna buy. I'm a happy user of Transistor.fm . I love buying software from other fellow indie makers, and at the end of their trial period I pretty much knew that their service is for me. The UI/UX is the best, I previously worked with Anchor, and in comparison Transistor is winning big time. Their documentation is amazing, so I managed to get my podcast to other platforms without much of a hustle, and analytics is just great. Let me just tell you they are also integrated with Fathom analytics - a match made in heaven. I bought yearly plan 190$.

  2. Craftwork design - while as a developer I can build beautiful application, I can't design a decently good UI, and the designer gene is completely absent in me. So projects like craftwork design are very helpful if you wanna get unique illustrations for your website or get inspiration for UI. I did it both and I'm pretty glad I discovered this service. I bought 3 set of illustrations in total for 94$.

  3. Memberspace (this was a stupid mistake) - so I wanna add a membership fee for my content, and there are a lot of handy tools for this, however unfortunately I can't use any of them as in my country Stripe is not available. I tried to use Memberspace, but it had integration only with stripe so they are not suitable for me. If you wonder why is this tool on my spending list it's because I forgot to remove my payment information and they charged me for 25$ #facepalm.

  4. Webflow - if you wanna have a UI for CSS than Webflow builder is for you. I love this tool. I love their clonable designs, I love their educational tutorials, I love their customer support. It's the place I'm gonna host everything, so I bought a yearly subscription for Community Finder website hosting 192$.

  5. Loom - recently I got into making videos about product analytics, and pricing and strategy for my subscribers, so I needed a place where I can host my videos and record them conveniently. Loom is just perfect for that. I'm using their basic yearly plan for 96$.

  6. Podcast editing - Let me tell you having a podcast is hard, and sometimes I needed help. Naya Moss an amazing person and owner of podcast editing and production studio (https://namosstudio.com/wiki) helped me to edit and prepare for production 3 episodes, and I think you can tell which are done by her and which ones are mine :D . That costed 167$.

  7. Squadcast - if you're doing interview type podcasts, than you absolutely need this, they are providing separate audio tracks they are easy to setup, and which Is very important guests don't have to create an account to join the session. I'm on their Dabbler plan and I love it - cost is 108$.

  8. Hey - yes I know, it's not like I needed a new emailing service, but for me when I tried Hey something changed. I don't have always full inbox anymore, I'm sure that I can I'm not gonna receive spam and the Focus section is just perfect for me, as I often forget to reply. 99$ yearly is a price for my calm mind and privacy that I'm willing to pay :D

  9. Airtable - now, this is the only service that I'm using monthly plan now - 24$. I upgraded to Pro for a month to see how different is the experience and how using Blocks can improve my workflow. Not sure if I'm gonna keep this one.

Here's my simple writeup. As you may have noticed I prefer to buy everything in yearly subscription plans, because if I'm sure that I like the service, I wanna forget about the money aspect of it for the upcoming year.

I made this purchases during 3 months and it's important to note, that not every and each one is mandatory.

  • You can record a podcast with Zoom, and host it by yourself on your custom website,
  • You can record videos with your phone, and upload them to your website,
  • You can have your simple website hosted on Netlify for free.

So those prices I paid to free my time from unnecessary hustle and to concentrate on the product development process and the quality of my newsletters.

Hope this helped you and if you have questions let me know - [email protected]

Good luck!

  1. 3

    At 1000$ so far (considering they are all annualized) + Airtable, you are at 100+$/month. Do you think you are strengthening your weaknesses? I think it is too easy to get carried away with products and services without stopping to measure the ROI.

    I understand your frustration with design, but what about hiring a designer or buying a template and customizing it? Even if you use Webflow, the fact that you don't need to code does not mean you don't need to design. What about hiring someone to write blog articles? Is loom really that valuable to you? Airtable, I don't see any use beyond the sign up form.

    I am not judging, but trying to understand and reflect together. 100$/month for a project that hasn't really started yet means that until you don't get 10 customers you are losing money. And this is without Ads and extra costs that you will incur while running a business. I trust you did a cash flow projection and are still within your expenditure limits.

    1. 1

      Those are really good questions, and some of them are things I'm struggling with.

      I think I'm currently in the sweet spot and I don't need to buy anything new. So yeah currently my monthly cost is 100$.

      When I'm buy-in a new hosting on Webflow, I'm usually doing it with a clonable project that reflects the design that I want, so all I need to do is write the copy, which I have prewritten in a separate file. So with getting custom illustrations I'm refreshing an existing template with some good view.

      For this step actually I'm looking for a co-founder who has design skills, which takes much more time than finding and hiring a freelancers. I hope that soon I'll find someone who'll like to work with me on this and we will have a good productivity and creativity fit together.

      I like Loom because it's pretty easy to setup and get going, and unfortunately I run off their free plan pretty fast.

      Writing blog posts I really like, however I agree that when I'll need to scale up I'm gonna hire someone to do that for me, and I'm completely open to that idea.

      Overall, the fact that I'm not making revenue yet is because I'm not sure how I want to monetize the project. I'm don't wanna have advertisements, or sell place on my website or newsletter (maybe I'll end up doing it, I really don't know). I'd love to build more of partnerships rather than advertisements, and eventually get to membership model.

      I'm really struggling with coming up pricing and monetization models, because I'm pretty used to do stuff for other people, and now I'm kinda my own boss, so I think it's a mindset I still need to get into.

  2. 3

    Great! Nice breakdown!
    I think you should definitely spend some more $$$ on a better landing page! Lots of good free and affordable themes out there or get a custom landing page done using Draftss.com (Shameless self plug 😜)

    1. 1

      Im not trying to be rude, but dude - you need to fix your landing page. It's really slow, buggy and that red subscription modal gives error/alert feeling. (Mobile; Android; Firefox)

      1. 2

        Yes! Yes! With constant additions and removal of sections & images, our website is lagged with a huge load time (Unused CSS, JS). We also have huge portfolio on the website which is increasing the load time by a lot.
        We had been procrastinating a lot on creating an altogether new landing page. So Instead of combating & addressing a lot of load time bugs and issue, we have finally worked on a new landing page (which was procrastinated so much 🤪). Should be live by next week or so 🚀

        Totally agree with the red-hurt-my-eye exit popup (trust me, I totally hate it). We had been experimenting with a lot of different popups, styles, and colors to see which gets us the most amount of conversions. The current red has been outperforming every other style and color we tried. Thanks for the brutally honest feedback. We are still experimenting and would definitely keep changing the style, copy & color to see if something outperforms this one.

  3. 2

    There are many ways to decrease this cost. I'm running at $40/month with 2 podcasts and 2 communities.

    1. 3

      I'm curious to hear your experience.

      1. 1

        Also let me know if you need more guests on your community podcast.

        1. 2

          I was just thinking about this! Let's chat about it my email is [email protected]

          1. 1

            Awesome! Will do :)

      2. 1

        I absolutely love Transistor, but you can cut down the costs on podcast hosting by hosting it with Wordpress for $10/month on DigitalOcean that can easily support around 10000 views per month or so. For the communities, I'm using Discourse hosted on DigitalOcean for $10/month too. Discourse has a great ecosystem of plugins and even has a membership plugin for free. This is how I'm currently running 4 awsome projects all for $40/month. For landing pages I'm using GatsbyJS. Check out my blog on the stack I'm using. https://blog.yarobagriy.com/landing-page-fast-free/

        Also here is an example of on of my projects. https://indiestack.co/
        The podcast is hosted on https://podcast.indiestack.co/ and the community on https://community.indiestack.co/. As a bootstrapper I need to minimize monthly costs since these projects aren't yet making money.

        Here is another example of my other podcast https://newslettercrew.com/

        1. 2

          That's always my dilemma, what would be easier to code my way into it, or buy something. I'm more back-end developer, and I really don't like doing front-end that's why I'm always opting for buying a CMS.

          1. 1

            I just checked my pricing because I was curious. It's actually only $5 per podcast using Wordpress. So it's only $30/month.

            1. 1

              I'm resenting Wordpress sooo much :D I never liked it, I know it's cheap but still I can't get over myself and use it.

          2. 1

            In terms of development for the podcasts and communities, I've done zero. It's mostly confirming the DNS to point to the right subdomains and configuring the plugins. Overall more technical than say Memberspace or Transistor, but I think the benefits outweigh the time over the long haul.

  4. 1

    Wow! Great to see that you don't hesitate to pay for necessary tools. Developers (including me) are often expecting to use free tools or built them themselves, but we don't take into account how much our time is worth. I think it's wise to spend $1000 a year for necessary tools instead of spending hours or even weeks trying to reduce cost.

  5. 1

    Thank you for sharing all this!

    Do I understand correctly that http://community-finder.co/ is all Webflow hosted on Netlify (supported by the Airtable, I understand)?

    1. 2

      yup!

  6. 1

    Awesome post.

    If you want you can reduce the cost by using $500 to $2000 Airtable credits for startups and indi hackers like you.

    I got my credit on main account, its awesome what can be done with Airtable with premium plan.

  7. 1

    Congratulations for you Anna, for taking the great decision to start your startup.

    1. 1

      thanks!

  8. 1

    This is a great informative post @annadante. Community Finder looks like a great initiative. Best of luck with the rest of the journey!

    1. 2

      Thanks!

  9. 1

    Cool. It's always interesting to me to read this kind of posts. Good luck!

    1. 1

      I'm happy that it helped!

  10. 1

    Very informative. Thank you for sharing.

    I know your post is brand new, but are there any products you are currently looking into using? Or even a gap you couldn't fill?

    In other words, looking back would you change anything?

    1. 2

      Yes! I'd love to see a Descript + Squadcast combo, will use that platform in a heartbeat.

      1. 1

        Noted. Thanks again for sharing :)