April 23, 2019

I created a profitable community, conference, and podcast for people learning to code, ask me anything!

Hello indie hackers! Saron here from CodeNewbies. I was on the Indie Hackers podcast not too long ago, and Courtland convinced me to come back and do an #AMA!

I've bootstrapped my community from scratch, helped thousands of people learn to code, optimized a sales strategy to book deals from companies like Linode and Flatiron School, run a successful conference of my own, given dozens of talks at other conferences, and I host several podcasts where I interview guests like Ryan Hoover and Anil Dash.

Feel free to ask me questions about any of the above, and I'll be back to answer them on 10am Pacific Time Thursday 2nd of May!

  1. 3

    How did you find your first customers in a crowded space like coding education?

    1. 1

      Community members aren't my customers, we run off of sponsorships. Most of the companies who sponsor me I had a previous relationship with, knew someone at the company, or I met through speaking

    2. 1

      also very interested in this.

  2. 1

    What has been the most surprising thing you've learned in building this community from scratch?

  3. 1

    When you started did you know what you were going to build? Origin story?

    1. 1

      Nope! It was very reactive. I knew people wanted community so I started doing twitter chats. I wanted a place to dig deeper into coding stories, so I started a podcast. I saw there wasn't a conference designed for new developers, so I created Codeland.

  4. 1

    How do you raise sponsorship for the conferences? Any templates, any strategies?

    1. 2

      A lot reaching out to folks at companies that I already had relationships and a lot of cold emails. I reached out to over 100 companies to get to 11 that closed.

  5. 1

    Hi Saron, I run a local meetup focused on helping the local community (https://www.temieta.com) in the Temecula/Murrieta area of SoCal. We mentor junior developers, give workshops, and host networking events for entrepreneurs.

    A good number of our local members are "CodeNewbies", they've gone through some sort of training program and trying to land their first gigs but potential employers don't take them seriously. Some of our members have gone through years of building side projects on GitHub but haven't made any career progress.

    What are some things we can do to make them more attractive to employers?

    1. 1

      Blogging and speaking are great ways to build an online profile and share what you're learning. It's a chance to show your expertise and look more appealing to employers. It takes awhile for those things to pay off, but it's worth investing in. I'd recommend your community members spend time on those two activities.

  6. 1

    How exactly do you monetize CodeNewbies? (Love it by the way!)

    1. 2

      Sponsorships! Ads on the podcasts and Codeland conference sponsorships.

  7. 1

    Why start a community? How many members do you have?

    1. 1

      Because it's hard to learn how to code, and having a supportive community is really helpful. It's hard to say how many members, but definitely in the ten thousands.

  8. 1

    Is it better to charge for access to a community, like NomadList, or make it free like IndieHackers?

    1. 2

      That's tough, and it depends on the community. A lot of my community can't afford a lot of the learn-to-code resources, so I wasn't comfortable charging for what I do, but a different community has different needs/constraints. Charging for something like NomadList makes a lot of sense to me because I assume folks who are traveling all over the world are in a financial situation where they can afford it. I'm not so sure that's the case for our community.

  9. 1

    Do you still find yourself coding on the weekends or do you have other hobbies?

    1. 2

      I play ping pong with my husband, but that's mostly it. My hobbies are trying to take the weekend off to watch tv and socialize. I don't code much anymore, but I try to find excuses to do it.

  10. 1

    You're a great interviewer, Saron. What are some things you do before and after your interviews to make sure they turn out great? How much do you change up your approach based on the personality and experiences of your guest?

    1. 1

      Thanks! I've started writing out questions and I do a fair bit of adjusting as the interview progresses. I usually have to adjust for the way people respond. Some folks tell stories, others are a bit more verbose, and the quicker I can identify their style, the better the interview.

  11. 1

    What did you do to find and keep your first community members?

    1. 1

      I reached out to everyone I knew who had any type of following and asked them to retweet what I was doing. I was also a panelist on another show that helped me spread the word.

  12. 0

    ola quero aprender com voce!!!!!!!!!!!