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63 Comments

What are you struggling with right now?

Hey fellow Indiehackers,

If you don't know me, I run Closet Tools.

Being able to spend my time how I want, be with my wife and kids, not worry about bills, and help my customers be successful is such an incredible turnaround from where I was just a few years ago (when I was lurking on IH).

I want more people to be able to experience that.

Is there anything I can help you with?

I don't have all of the answers, but I (or someone else in the comments) might be able to steer you in the right direction.

  1. 6

    loved your interview on the Indiehacker podcast. love your story.

    I'm currently dealing with the desperation of launching and monetizing my side project so I can leave my 9-5 job. This coupled with a severe case of Imposter Syndrome at my day job is burning me out. It's to the point where

    1. I no longer give anything more than the most minimal of efforts to my employer, and actually dream daily of resigning.
    2. I am burnt out every day with the thought of sitting down in front of my screen and coding at all, regardless of which project (side or 9-5) i'm working on.
    3. I feel like I am floating aimlessly in a sea of hopelessness (as far as getting my project finished and ever leaving my 9-5)

    I'm a web developer, and my 9-5 is remote within a great (non-FAANG) company, with a great manager. But I hate the thought of working for someone else, and always have. It makes me miserable and a terrible employee. I'm 42, and yes I should have left employment years ago for good, but I have a wife and 2 young kids, and although I have no real fear about going out on my own with no prospects, my wife is much more financially conservative and the thought of unknown income terrifies her.

    The primary side project I am working on is travel related, and although it may not be viable today due to COVID, i feel like if I don't finish it quickly, I am going to miss out on a HUGE wave of travellers when COVID restrictions get lifted. So there is this underlying 'YOU NEED TO HURRY UP AND FINISH THIS BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING TO MISS A HUGE OPPORTUNITY' voice in my head.

    So there is a combination of burnout, doubt, and desperation. It is hard to maintain any amount of focus at this point, and I'm not sure how to break out of this cycle.

    How did you push through the hard days and doubt in the beginning, before you made Closet Tools your primary income?

    Thanks for your time, story, and experience.

    1. 4

      One thing I would add to this: "I'm 42, and yes I should have left employment years ago for good".

      There is no should. We all have very different life circumstances, imagine if you would grow up in poverty in a developing country with family to feed - regardless of age, status etc. your chances of making it are even slimmer.

      Not to make an excuse out of it, but as long as you are working on something and trying - its admirable and the right thing to do.

      1. 1

        To clarify my comment, when i said '...and yes i should have left employment years ago...', I was talking about my specific situation AND because being an employee has made me miserable for 15+ years. It was definitely not meant as a blanket statement for everyone's situation. But hindsight being what it is, I feel for my self, that had I left being an employee 15 years ago I could have continued to struggle but on my own and if it had made me as miserable as being employed does, I could have found a job. Again, I understand not having an income is detrimental for many. But I was only referring to my situation and my hindsight.

        Thank you very much for pointing this out so I could clarify - I don't want people reading this to think they should quit lucrative jobs and be without income to live off hopes and dreams.

    2. 1

      Wow - this is a tough one for sure! It would be so hard to do this at 42. It's basically a rewiring of your brain.

      Actually, it turns out I have some advice on the topic. I wrote a 16000 word essay on the topic when I quit my job to go full-time with Closet Tools.

      Here's a link: https://jdnoc.com/guides/increasing-wealth-as-a-father

      It's definitely tough to overcome the doubt. Even when I quit my job I had doubts about the long-term success of Closet Tools (I still do).

      But at the end of the day, if you're providing value for people and they depend on you to provide the value you're giving them, then there will be demand for it going forward.

      I quit my job when Closet Tools was making twice as much as what I was making at work - so it at least was reasonable to explain to my wife.

      For me, focusing on the day-in day-out work is so much more important than worrying about the future. Are you showing up every day for an hour or two and checking off the todos? Then you're making progress, and eventually you'll reach the goals you set out to conquer.

      Good luck to you. It sounds like you're doing a great job. One foot in front of the other.

      1. 2

        @jdnoc I just wanted to say how much a second read through of your 'Increasing Wealth as a Father' article resonated with me. I can't believe how much wisdom you impart in this, and I thank you again for directing me to read it. It's very much inline with the type of father I've wanted to be, but it highlights how much my focus on 'failure and procrastination' has derailed me from focusing on the foundations of being a good husband and father first and foremost.

        I'm going to take take the advice you give, and some time, to reset habits priorities, timeframes, and mindset so I can restart and refocus from a better place for not just myself, but for my family.

        Thanks for reminding me why I'm doing all of this in the first place!

        I highly recommend reading this article https://jdnoc.com/guides/increasing-wealth-as-a-father to any fathers/parents out there struggling trying to be a succesful indiehacker while juggling a day job, wife, and kids.

        1. 1

          Love this feedback - really glad it helped you!

      2. 1

        Thanks for the reply! I read this article (and most of your blog) after I listened to you on the Indie Hacker podcast. You share a lot of great advice throughout.

        I'll give the article another read, maybe it will strike a chord that pushes me back to a state of focus and motivation.

        Thanks again!

    3. 1

      That feeling that you are about to hit it big, we all know it as entrepreneurs. It's part of what drives us, and I have to say it, it's the same feeling that drives gamblers. Do not let it overwhelm your mind because it's not based on reality. Your chances of success are always going to be small, and that's why the rewards can be huge. If there was enough certainty we could all be running businesses like Tesla and SpaceX. Starting a business is challenging for the entrepreneurs, the families and the friends involved, so you have to make sure you have a good plan B, and a good plan C.

  2. 3

    Struggling to find beta users to figure out if I'm on the right track. App is ready and deployed into the app store. No users.

    I don't think a massive marketing campaign is the answer, but maybe it is? It feels too early for broad distribution.

    I'm trying to find a way to get a few targeted users. I've posted on some industry forums and Reddit, people seem to be annoyed with the idea of another app in the space, rather than excited to try out something that might help them. To be fair, there are plenty of other apps in the space. I think mine is better, how do I get them to try?

    1. 3

      Not op but try reddit ads. You can "purchase" app installs per 0.50 or clicks to your landing page for 0.10 with a $5 minimum budget.

      It's a good way to refine your USP, your messaging and get some feedback. You can also advertise with your username, open the ad for comments and use Reddit's messaging tool to gather feedback.

      Filter ads based on communities with subject related to your app.

    2. 2

      Like the @mauricio said, ads might be a way to get a few beta testers for the app.

      Unfortunately, with no audience and no way of reaching people it's going to go very slow at first.

      I got my first users on Reddit, but it seems like that bridge has already been burned.

      One great way to get people to come check out what you've made is to provide some free value for them. Write a guide, make a course, do some research, make something unique and valuable that would at least attract some attention. Then, carefully and honestly direct that traffic to potentially check out the app you've made. You don't want to spam them, just let them know you're trying something new and need help moving it forward.

      Hopefully this helps!

    3. 1

      People find it annoyed because you try to ask them to be your beta users. People just don't like hard selling. In general, they only care about themselves, how to solve their own problems.

      Find out who are searching for the problem you're trying to solve. Give them the real answer, whether it's related to your product. Focus on giving instead of asking and you will be able to find someone who cares about the problem

  3. 2

    I'm always confused on the tech to use and the side project to start . I'm good with .Net/C#. But I worry constantly if that's going to be good enough in the long run as most startups use python/js/java. So I try learning them for a few days, again get confused on what framework to use it how deep I should go, and get into this loop of checking out all the tech there is. By the time I decide on anything, my whole enthusiasm is gone. I keep telling myself to start with something, but hard to do with so much tech all around. Not sure how to break this loop and start and make some good progress !

    Also choosing a side project seems incredibly hard. I've tried going the route of solving your own problem, trying to implement something similar to an existing tech to help me learn, or try implementing some really complicated algorithm, but all of them fizzle out after some time. I start with lot of enthusiasm, but hardly take it beyond the initial two/three source files. I spend a lot of time in deciding the tech for it /writing class diagrams/architecture etc though.

    In short, most hobby projects I start never gets completed as I just get stuck in this awful loop of decision making ! Any inputs to get out of this rut is highly appreciated !

    1. 1

      Don't learn frameworks! I do everything in vanilla JS. It's not hard, and it's way less confusing.

      Once you really learn a language, you can then appreciate some of the automations that some frameworks give you, and then you can justify trying one out. But at the end of the day, they make things more confusing, especially if you're not good in the programming language.

    2. 1

      Not OP, but here’s my two cents: Break the loop of not knowing which software stack to use by using what you know. I know a little Rails, so that’s what I’ll use when I try out something. You know .NET/C#, so use that. If you get to a point where you’re stack is the cause of scaling issues, consider that as having succeeded in making something people want (and, preferably, will pay for).

      As to your second point, finding a project worth pursuing isn’t always easy. I’m also still in the process of figuring that out. As part of that, I wrote this piece to help keep the fire burning when seemingly everything else is conspiring to have it die out.

      Another thing: Anxiety is alleviated through action. Action can lead to feedback. Our plans can be adjusted once we’ve gotten some feedback. Start small and lower your own expectations by seeing this as a little experiment, not a big unicorn startup. Nobody cares, and that’s a good thing! It gives us the permission to play, to fail, to learn, and to have fun while we’re at it. :)

      I’ve decided to start by doing something, as opposed to nothing. It’ll take a while, as I have a full-time job, but eventually it’ll get there. We’re not responsible for the results, only the work. Good luck!

  4. 2

    I'm struggling with leaving Indie Hackers. 😭

  5. 2

    Getting to $1000 MRR. been teetering on the brink for weeks now.

    1. 1

      If you're close, you'll get there! Is it just growing slowly, or is churn and growth roughly the same?

      It's funny, psychologically we get hung up on specific milestone numbers (like $1000, or $10000). But in reality they aren't barriers.

      1. 1

        It's growing pretty steadily (like 1000%+ YoY) but for the past few weeks churn and recruitment have been almost the same. recruitment just a little bit better than churn.

        1. 1

          Nice! Keep providing value, and keep building out your distribution channels. Focus more on that and you'll blow right past it eventually.

  6. 2

    Hey Jordan! How do you think we should make the Indie Hackers for them livelier and more interesting? Anything that you would want to read or discuss here more often?

    1. 4

      Stories.

      Kidding. It's interesting, when I was first getting started I found IH so valuable, but as my product has grown I find most of the content not very relevant to the position I'm in. It's a place I'd like to hang out more, but I do it now mostly to help others (not to learn things).

      There's gotta be a way you can get "alumni" more involved and educating others here. Not sure what the incentives would be.

      Honestly, I think I and a lot of other people would like to hear more about Stripe. I feel like they do so much right that there has to be some internal wisdom that can be spilled over to the community as an "opinionated IH blueprint for success" per se.

      I have to think more about this. I really would like to be more involved. Happy to chat anytime.

  7. 2

    Thanks for the help, @jdnoc ! And congrats on achieving the freedom to spend your time the way you choose! What's helped you the most with Marketing Closet Tools? We're trying to figure out the best channel to help with our growth.

      1. 1

        🙏🏼 Thanks man! I’ll give it a shot ☺️

  8. 1

    Helping others is admirable not helping yourself is a crime.

    We’re all in the same boat trying to paddle harder to sustain what we choose to do with our lives. I myself a mobile & web developer and designer all in one. Have myself a project I’m building from today, it will be the first of many designs lots of iterations using Uber ascetic and its flows.

    Age should never be a barrier to anything in life regardless if you’re starting out in this industry or coming to the end of your retirement the burning question is what will I get up to now. Your journey has already started that’s exciting part that the energy that you will use to fast forward your business. Good luck.

  9. 1

    I am currently struggling to find a new direction for Virtual Mojito, I am super happy to run this side project, good traction so far.

    But as new opportunity comes in, so other projects need more of my time as well. I still wanna maintain the momentum of Virtual Mojito. I think I know what I should do, which is talking to more people, especially my customers. So, I just need to start doing it :)

  10. 1

    I am working on a website widget based product and I just found out the script I want users to add to the head of their website is ~120kb in size. I’m struggling to figure out user sentiment as far as whether this number would turn away SEO minded individuals.

  11. 1

    Solo entrepreneur loneliness.

    1. 1

      It's tough for sure. If it weren't for all the local relationships I have in life there's no way I could do it.

      There are typically meetups for entrepreneurs in most cities, and also you can work in co-working spaces (or just at coffee shops where other people are).

      But in truth, having family/friends that are close and that you can depend on is key. Out of all of my relationships (wife, kids, in-laws, church friends, childhood friends, previous co-workers, etc.) I'm the only one that is an entrepreneur. I don't have any other business owners in my circle, and it's great.

      It's great because what matters is the people, not the money or business success. Having those relationships keeps you grounded and stable (mentally).

      I'm not sure if that's the advice you needed to hear, but that's what came to mind. Good luck with everything!

  12. 1

    I'm writing an ebook named "Instagram Entrepreneur". This is my first e-book. I wonder how many sales I will make. My goal is 10 sales. :) I will establish my company with the money I earn from the sale.

    In short, the book will show you ways to become a long-term and short-term entrepreneur on Instagram. In addition, there is information on Instagram marketing, algorithms, brand awareness and content marketing.

    What would you suggest me? Thanks. :)

    1. 1

      Where did you publish it? Do you have an audience to promote it to? I would assume if you're talking about Instagram entrepreneurship, you must have an audience there?

      1. 1

        I haven't posted it yet. I am writing. I have an Instagram account with 10.000 followers.

        1. 1

          Cool! If it's relevant and your audience is organic (not forced via follow/unfollow, but grown via engagement) then you should be able to make some sales there!

  13. 1

    Everybody is struggling at some point of their life. Struggle is the golden period of anybody's life. During these times we learn alot from life ,we gain many valuable experiences which helps us for the entire life 1. such as reading people , for example any person who really cares about that we could achieve anything we want in life and who are just showing being a well wisher for us , that is to know about who is our true friend. 2. Learn to fight with difficulties by standing on our feet . By not giving up until we won and get what we want. When we stand like a rock in front of our problems , keep fighting and then success comes. Its taste is incredible and it gives us a motivation for himself and others also to live out the whole life as a winner. Now you will be ready to win any fight of your life. 3. The people who say that they haven't done any struggle , they are thinking that they are the real winners, special and strong enough to lead their life. They have no struggle , no experience, no mean of happiness because life is same for them as they are happy , they are winning that's it . But one caution is there ,”any stormy wind can blow them away”. After struggle you get anything being strong or happiness has its mean like the sun appears after a dark night and bring its sunshine and it's only one ray is enough to bring the light to the whole world…

  14. 1

    Hey Jordan,

    I have a 92% bounce rate out of my https://API.chat landing right now.
    50% of traffic coming from a couple of google ads

    And advice on how can I find the reason?

    1. 1

      So, by definition a "bounce" means they just didn't visit any other pages on the site. It looks like most of the stuff that's linked in the nav-bar is on the homepage, so that's probably why they don't leave the homepage.

      I don't technically think getting them to other pages should be the goal, but I'm assuming you want people to sign-up. But it looks like your sign-up page is also on a subdomain, which (I'm guessing) would be seen as a "different website" so that also explains why users only visited "one page" on your website.

      For the ads, I would just make sure you're running them on relevant keywords.

  15. 1

    Any advice on asking bloggers to write about your product?

    1. 1

      Blog about your own product! Build out your own distribution.

      But I would say either an affiliate program of some kind, or paying them.

  16. 1

    Hey Jordan.

    SEO! :O

    SEO is definitely new to me but so far I've been learning a bit more every day.

    1. Do you have any good resources for learning this
    2. Do you have any suggestions for tools to monitor SEO (I sort of just do a google search which isn't particularly accurate all the time)
    1. 1

      I can help you!

      1. I wrote this blog post that has helped a lot of other people get started with SEO (it references a lot of other material as well): https://jdnoc.com/quick-seo/

      2. I use Ahrefs for keyword research etc. - best in class (but it's expensive). As for monitoring, I just use the Google Search Console.

  17. 1

    Hi Jordan,

    Not sure if you can help with this, I am looking for places to syndicate my content. Tried reddit, with some success, here as well. But any others.

    Topic: productivity and planning

    Thanks

    Terry

  18. 1

    Hi Jordan,

    Happy to see your product being successful.

    I am trying to build a simple SaaS Directory - https://www.saasdirectory.co/

    I am also passionate about Product Startups. So I am trying to create a resource for SaaS Founders, Marketers and Designers. - https://www.productstartups.com/

    I work late at night and also during weekends.

    Since my Mom isn't well, sometimes, I am not able to focus but hopefully, I will make it successful someday

    Venkat

    1. 1

      Hey Venkat,

      Looks interesting. I can tell a lot of work is going into these websites.

      Who are your target customers, and how will you earn money from them? Is it just advertising? They seem very generic, and not specifically built for an audience.

  19. 1

    Mostly mental health. I'm feeling pressure to get the service I'm developing saleable in the next few months in advance of my employment insurance running out. While at the same time, most of my friends have moved away and COVID fatigue is setting in. I try to workout and take breaks, but there are some days I accomplish nothing.

    Going it alone is very much my style, but in years past when I freelanced I at least had a healthy social life surrounding it. Very thankful I at least have my girlfriend and siblings.

    From the perspective of my business, lacking time to properly learn how to build a marketing campaign. At this point I figure I'm just going to build it (somewhat pre-validated over the last few years as I worked) and then figure out how to get it in front of people. Can't do it all at the same time.

    1. 2

      Hey, I just wanted to say please know that you are not alone when it comes to experiencing this struggle!

      In December my 2-year relationship ended and then my dad passed away in January. So I'm going through multiple levels of grief and it's a daily struggle to stay motivated and keep a healthy mind. Not being able to have a social life is really tough right now especially when we are building businesses by ourselves.

      I'm also having difficulties with the marketing campaigns. If you'd like to chat and put two minds together on our campaigns or simply to vent I'm here.

    2. 2

      Hey! I'm not a mental health expert in the slightest - but I 100% think things like relationships, exercise, and habits/routines are essential to feeling good and making progress. If you don't have healthy relationships and a healthy body, it doesn't matter if you have any amount of business success.

      Have you read any books on the topic, such as Atomic Habits? It helps you build a framework for making progress in every area of your life (not just business).

      Yeah, if you know it's valuable and people will buy it definitely build it. But it's worth figuring out where your customers hang out online and then trying to get involved there.

      What marketing channels are you exploring? My bread and butter is SEO.

      1. 1

        Oh, and with regards to your suggestions on mental / physical health yes I've read atomic habits and absolutely take it to heart. I just need to be a bit more disciplined about making the time for it in place of continuing to work more :P

      2. 1

        Honestly right now I'm not exploring marketing channels much beyond collecting bookmarks of where potential buyers might be hanging out online and doing an occasional post to LinkedIn.

        My primary target audience is split into two camps:

        1. Indie game developers & animator teams - I have a good grasp of where they hang out online but I don't want to bother anyone until I have something of value to show them and engage in discussions.

        2. Apparel - They're relatively "new" to creating clothing/shoes/etc. in 3D and doing it at scale. From my last job I know this is a huge market for me to target, but all of the communities I'm finding are behind paywalls (conferences, forums, publications, etc.). The exception here is individual creatives are sharing their work heavily on Instagram and other art platforms.

        While the individuals aren't the decision makers at companies who will result in a sale, I'm thinking it might be a good strategy to engage them since they could be evangelists if my tool genuinely helps them focus on art. Possibly even do some extended trail periods (months) in exchange for showcasing as examples of success stories. Basically try to steal their audience.

        Simultaneously, I'm going to write blog articles aimed at business decision makers that give them value in terms of how to improve workflows and scale their 3D business (my area of expertise).

        Any thoughts on what I've shared?

        1. 1

          Indie game developers & animator teams...

          Immediately I'm thinking YouTube & reddit would be a great place to get involved. Obviously that would take some time, but even publishing videos of your game / systems you've built could get some attention.

          Have you explored either?

          Blog articles are great, have you done some keyword research to see what people are searching for the most?

  20. 1

    Hi Jordan - I really enjoyed the IndieHackers podcast episode you featured in.

    I'm curious to get a little advice from you on choosing a super search engine friendly cms for my new product website.

    I know you've had a lot of success with seo. I believe you use Github pages and Jekyll for your Closet Tools.

    Could you share why you chose that combo? I'm a techie so I'm comfortable with most options but I'd like to make a good choice and not just settle for Wordpress. But maybe I should just settle for Wordpress?!

    Thanks in advance. Nick

    1. 2

      I'm a techie and I've always done my websites from HTML templates. For my new app, I have a marketing cofounder and he went straight to WordPress.

      It scares me, but I'm happy he did it. The SEO is built-in and started getting us a bit of traffic in a couple months.

      I don't think you should worry too much about what CMS you use. SEO requires a lot of focus on writing content consistently, then a million other things. As long as the CMS isn't harming your SEO, just go with something that lets you focus on the things that matter :)

  21. 1

    I just discovered your product. Really impressive! I intend to apply to the affiliates program and add it to my product, boostlane.com, in the next couple of weeks. One of my struggles is to get more user feedback and more honest criticism.

    1. 1

      Hey!

      An affiliate program can be good, but in my case it hardly moves the needle. It's mostly an SEO tactic (to get backlinks from affiliates).

      What is boostlane? Who is your target customer? Where does your target customer hang out online?

      "Boostlane Helps You Discover, Collect and Buy The Things You Love" sounds really generic. It's a discovery engine? What value does it provide that they can't already get on social media / Google search?

      1. 1

        Maybe you have not found a good affiliates partner yet...

        Boostlane is a curation platform that connects people, interests, information and offers. The basic principle is to create funnels to products and services by giving people information about topics of interest and linking that information to what they would want to purchase.

        The target customer is someone who likes to shop on Amazon for instance but does not get all the information they need about the product they are interested in when they go to Amazon.com. They google for more info and have to visit many websites that may not be relevant. On Pinterest for instance, people get a lot of related pictures with very little information about what they are looking at.

        On Boostlane we explore new ways of presenting information with a focus on finding the best for a specific need. Also, content is collected into the user's favorites section so it can be used later to learn more or buy something.

        The value proposition is information discovery, creating lists of favorites and quick access to curated lists —with a lot more information than Pinterest.

        This is work in progress, I'm still looking for the best format.

        1. 1

          Every social media site has something good to offer and lacks many things. Videos can be time consuming—a lot of blah blah blah to give very little information. Tweets are short and don't group related information well, unless it is a search result, which can't be saved. Pinterest Pins don't provide enough information—like time specific and contextual information. There're still opportunities...

  22. 1

    Hey, @jdnoc. Good to know that you are enjoying the journey being an indie. When I started my journey, I built my first Saas product called Designtack which is a tool to create bulk social media content in minutes.

    I have loads of free users who sign up and try it but don't provide enough feedback. If you can spare a minute and give it a go and provide brutally honest feedback about it, It would be very helpful. You might find the tool useful as well.

    Thank you for helping us all!

    1. 2

      Hey!

      If you want to make money (and retain your sanity) you'll probably want to get rid of the free tier in exchange for a free trial. Freemium is really hard, it's usually only successful for large companies that want to create a moat around their business.

      You don't need more feedback, you need to provide real value for people. What's your edge? What value do you provide? Why would I use Designtrack over Canva?

      1. 1

        @jdnoc you are probably right. Indeed, having a freemium is taking a load on me considering that almost everyone seems to take it for granted. The key feature of Designtack which is the speed at which it creates content seems to be getting foreshadowed. I can certainly reassess some things. Thanks!

        @technopreneur, As a developer first person, I am not fully well-versed with design and I admit, the templates are not that good in comparison. It started as an experiment to reduce the friction for the users but they didn't do well much. I might end up removing that or consult a designer for detailed review.

    2. 2

      Hey, I had a look at your product. It sounds like something many people would want but the look and feel does not work for me. The style of the templates doesn't look like what's popular nowadays. White on a light blue background looks a bit weak to me. I think your product would really benefit from the help of of a better designer. You can also look at sites like dribbble.com to find examples of social media templates people are paying for.

  23. 1

    Don't have anything I'm struggling with (I think 🤔) just wanted to thank you for offering this 🎉

    1. 1

      Keep up the good work!

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