April 13, 2019

I feel like I don’t fit in with IH 😞

Perhaps it’s impostor syndrome or something like that, but… I’m seeing all those $2k/mo, $50k/mo, $300k/mo indie hackers, and I can’t help but feel that with my measly sub-$100/mo sales lately, I simply don’t fit in. I’m not in position to give any advice or contribute in any meaningful way. I have an IH Stories interview scheduled, but there’s this dreadful feeling that I don’t deserve it. It feels like by IH terms I should declare my project a failure and move on, but I can’t — people love it, people use it, people have bought the app, and I believe there’s huge potential there. I keep telling myself that maybe things will improve when I change the pricing and make it subscription-first and do more marketing too — I still have some runway for that. But at moments like this it feels like maybe I’m just wasting time.

UPD: this comment. Thank you for support everyone!

  1. 26

    I don't post often as I am usually a lurker. So this post is basically a rant.

    Man, it's not about the numbers. Anyone, please correct me if I am wrong, but it was never about the numbers.

    Yes, when we initially started looking at Allen's collection of interviews through Hacker news, numbers definitely intrigued us. But it was definitely more than that.

    They used to say coders don't know how to sell.

    They used to say it's pretty darn hard/ almost impossible to run an one man show.

    They used to say there is no nobility In having a ramen-profitable startup. Either go VC-Bloated-big or know your place and stick to 9-5.

    Well, Indie Hackers and similar others showed that they were wrong. We saw amazing stories from different people who bootstrapped and built something amazing and made money. They told their stories generously and authentically.

    These stories inspired many of us to start our own journey or help troubleshoot those who had already started.

    But building a product is hard, Man. Not everyone can do it .

    Harder still is building a product that people like and admire.

    Yet the hardest is building something that people like so much that they are willing to pay for it.

    And here you are.

    You created something from literally nothing and enough people love it enough to pay for it. And you think you don't fit in IH.

    Are you fking kidding me?

    Tell your journey.

    Has the experience been kind to you?

    What have you learnt?

    What could you have done better?

    Why you did something in a particular way?

    Tell it like some funny incident you tell to your close friends.

    Tell it like the adventure it has been.

    Tell it the way only you can tell.

    But tell your story because I will love to listen.

    In the times of doubt, I rarely remember the business advises or startup gurus advises, all I remember are stories.

    "Plenty of fish guy managed to do it. I might as well try."

    There might be someone out there in the world who is/will be stuck at a problem and stumbling upon your words might help him/her to walk the path.

    About the app, do what you feel best.

    You believe doubling down will help, double down on it.

    You believe it's time to move on to new adventure, new adventure it is.

    Don't write yourself off as failure.

    Own being Indie. Own being a hacker.

    In any case, it was never about the number, but the journey itself. :)

    1. 6

      @primelabs I love this answer and I've never wanted to drop the Meryl Streep "yes" gif on something so hard, so here it is:

      https://gph.is/1EeFOS9

      1. 1

        Thank you Lisa :) !

  2. 10

    If you are making any money on the internet, from something you created, you are in the 1% of successful Indiehackers. Most people just use the internet, they don't create and earn. You got this. ☘️

  3. 5

    Hey @primelabs, @joshdance, @genemachine, @LeFou, @JamesReilly, @msulcs, @rashid777, and everyone else.

    Thank you a lot for your support! And sorry for this whiny post — don’t know what got into me. One of those drops on the entrepreneurial emotional roller coaster, I guess. Need to get a better grip of myself.

    The project I’m making — it’s a productivity app, basically a to-do. As ridiculous as it sounds, it seems that after 5 previous failed projects I’ve finally made something worthy. In an incredibly oversaturated category of products I managed to come up with something innovative, get to 10k+ downloads, 200+ sales (one happy person paid the $300 "sponsor" tier for it!), and lots of stellar feedback on how my app helped people solve their current to-do mess. I believe it has a lot of potential and will once be a hit when I reach more people. And besides, it would be nothing but heartbreaking to give up on this project now.

    And yet, I’ve been reading some interviews on Failory lately, where founders were writing off their $2000/mo products as failures (gosh I wish I made $2k/mo from my app — that would be more than the payroll I’ve ever had). Then I engaged with this Courtland’s post, and my takeaway from it was that all this time I was doing the wrong kind of product. It made me realize that perhaps I should’ve rather invested my energy into chasing a higher value market. It seemed that I was failing the most important part of being an indie hacker: thinking business first. Yes, I may have been blessed with a good idea, packaged it into a good product, priced it on a higher end ($13 for a mobile app is quite high), managed to get some traction etc — but given the effort and the outcome so far, was it a good strategy to act on that idea in the first place?

    This perpetual self-doubt is further amplified by the following facts. I quit my unfulfilling job 4 years ago and haven’t had stable income since. Granted, I’ve wasted two of those doing bullshit apps no one needed, and one more year recovering from the burnout. Last year I was productive and it gave me hope — but hell, I’m fucking 26 now, and I still haven’t moved out! I feel extremely ashamed of this fact, but moving out now would mean getting back to workforce and giving up on the aspiration to build a personal lifestyle business, for a few years at least, but most likely this time for good. And I don’t think that I can ever do that again — I’m a software engineer, and because of local job market specifics (i.e., outsourcing sweatshops), almost all software engineering jobs here are absolutely soul sucking. Besides, and because of that, I’ve grown to really hate coding as a process — unless that’s for something I deeply care about like a personal project — and this fact doesn’t help either.

    Put shortly, my only hope for a fulfilling life is to make my IH hustle work. I want to move out, to travel more, to be able to afford things AND have time to actually enjoy them, not rot in the office and 24/7 think about algorithms. When I have a family and a child, I want to spend time with them and not in front of a computer screen. So far it looks like I’m nowhere near where I want to be. And at days like yesterday, this feels super depressing.

    1. 1

      Trust me my friend, I know your pain. Keep doing it, never give up!

    2. 1

      I'm 35 at at about the same stage as you so you have nearly 10 years advantage (mind you I work full time and spend my evenings and weekends crunching). Its not about the event though it's about the process. You may have failed apps but every time you learn something new and you learn what doesn't work. It sounds like you're on the right track and you're learning your lessons. I'd love to hear your interview personally.

    3. 1

      You should post about your story. We often times only hear about the success so it feels like everyone is a success. You got this! ☘️

    4. 1

      This comment was deleted 6 months ago.

  4. 4

    If it helps, I'm not earning anything from a product and still I share and hover around this site daily. What does that tell you? :) You're away ahead of the likes of me.

  5. 3

    Mate, you've got some initial success there. Customers are paying for your product. Keep improving your product with their feedback and you might reach numbers you have never dreamt of. Don't believe there is an overnight success story.

    I believe you have plenty to contribute. Share how you got those paying customers, share how you use their feedback, share your initial struggle and successful moments, share your vision. From the outside, you will never understand how much work, passion and motivation it took to achieve a milestone.

  6. 2

    Just because something's not making money doesn't mean you're not successful. How many daily active users do you have? It's important to get your product right first and then think about how to monetize and market.

    P.s. I'm in the same boat. I make apps that make next to nothing right now so I feel your pain :)

  7. 1

    Don't worry, I'm sure you'll make it. Keep grinding!

  8. 1

    I know how you feeling. I'm trying out a product with not very good signs (probably try something else). But if you are even making a $1, you are better than most people on the internet (including myself).