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Skills that you should add to your Indie Toolkit

Just posted a company update over here which is probably a little bit more inspirational than practical. Now comes the practical part.

I started this Indie Hacking thing with a pretty good ability to code. I was able to build a platform that works, bills people etc., but I don't think the rest of my skillset was really aligned with what I needed.

The crazy thing about solo-founding something is that you start out with wearing every single hat in the company. Coding is fine, but there are a lot more things that make for a good product, and I wanted to show you a few skills that you should learn and apply right now.

Product Building
Product Building is not all about coding or making a frontend look nice, there are a lot more skills that come with that. If you want to build a product that sticks and people love, you should read about customer journeys, UX and things like the Hooked model as well.

What I see often with coders like me is that they go for the most straightforward solution. You browse the landing page, need to register with your email and password, get thrown into the product, maybe a billing window pops up.

Building a good onboarding process, easier sign up options (creating an account on the fly), implementing viral loops and a tiny bit of gamification has helped my product immensely.

Sales & Cold Emailing
I am really happy that I added writing cold emails that are not completely horrible to my skillset this year. It is really hard to reach the people you want to reach through marketing. Plus, marketing doesn't always attract the best people possible. It attracts the curios, the adventurous, but often not the businesses you want to have as customers.

If you sell to a specific audience or need specific users, honestly even if you don't, it's probably better to go to them, rather than to wait until they come to you. But cold emails are super annoying, I get them every day too, and I just have enough of them, so why would I do that?

The magic sauce lies in making sure your cold email doesn't feel cold. I probably put more effort into the cold emails I send to people I don't know than to the people close to me. It starts with stopping sending emails that begin with "Dear Sir or Madam, I really like your work..." and continues with providing a ton of value upfront. Good cold emails provide value, bad cold emails sell something.

SEO & Content

Bringing in Google traffic systematically has been another favourite of mine. Today, about 10,000 users per month find MentorCruise.com through Google. Isn't that insane?

What if I told you, that there are search terms that over 1,000 people search for every month, and they would just need a blog post and a few backlinks to place your website on the first page of that?

If you are still struggling to find your growth channel, invest a little bit into SEO and Content. It has a somewhat steep learning curve, but it's a must in your tool belt.

Metric Optimization

So you bring in all this traffic, send all those emails, and only convert 1% of them? What a waste?

Amplitude and Fullstory have been my two favourite discoveries of the past year. Not only that – they helped me to turn 3x more of my website visitors into paying customers, and keep the customers for almost twice as long.

Sounds like magic? It is, but it also isn't at all. You just look at where people find your site, which paths they take, and where they leave. Then you optimize that position, and start again from the beginning.

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    Social - being able to build a following is a great way to drive usage.

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