Product Development November 20, 2020

What tools have been most helpful to you as an indie hacker?

Courtland Allen @csallen

What tools are you using? What platforms are you building on?

What's giving you the most leverage to get more done in less time and with fewer people?

P.S. If you're using something made by a fellow indie hacker, tag them and show some love. ❤️

  1. 12

    Stuff I use to ship fast on a tiny budget:

    • Piku for self-hosted PaaS & static sites.
    • ClojureScript + shadow-cljs for 10x'ing your dev.
    • Inkscape for making vector graphics on a $0 budget.
    • Joplin for your outboard brain (note taking app to track everything).
    • Unsplash for header images.
    • HTML5up for static site MVPs.
    • Cordova for shipping binaries for mobile from web based code.
    • Electron for shipping binaries for desktop from web based code.
    • Django for batteries included back end code.
    • Digital Ocean for low-cost reliable Linux VPSes.
    • Gvim for editing code.
    • git for version control.
    1. 1

      Hey @chr15m, Super! ... once again ...

      I found here some "free tools" really cool which I didn't know, thanks for sharing.

      1. 1

        Glad it was useful. :)

  2. 11

    Netlify. Slashed my hosting costs & sped up my website by 300%. In love with static hosting.

    1. 2

      Hey Zero,

      Found out about Netlify some time ago. Built up a site based off quick boilerplate for my podcast. You got e-commerce going through your site? Looking to start selling merch and looking for easy framework to utilize. Beginner level coder in website development.

      1. 2

        I'm building a static eCommerce site hosted on Netlify. I use Snipcart.
        Some other options: https://serverless.css-tricks.com/services/ecommerce

    2. 1

      I really love Netlify too, combined with an easy to use static site generator - it makes for an excellent workflow that's quick to deploy, easy to rollback and the biggest productivity boost I've had.

    3. 1

      Netlify was a game-changer for me!

  3. 11

    To create my landing pages with HTML, I think Tailwindcss and Tailwind UI are super useful.

    https://tailwindui.com/

    I create landing pages with that in minutes. And people ask me or say that my landing pages look amazing.

    Some say that all look the same, but for your clients or users, it doesn't matter, they probable won't notice.

    Give it a try! It's basically copy and paste! (some HTML knowledge necessary)

    1. 2

      Huge fan of tailwind :)

      1. 1

        It saves me hours of coding!

    2. 1

      Used both tailwind and vuetify. User gridsome as well on netlify and in fact all of this drive (linkdra.com). Page loading is fast on netlify with the CDN.

      My conclusion

      • Tailwind - great for landing pages, blogs, resources etc. Not so good for forms and navigations, modals etc.
      • Vuetify - Heavier but very productive especially if you are using Nuxt. Built app.linkdra.com on this and you can see it in action there.

      Finally, netlify is great for hosting static JAMStack stuff but no so much for dynamic sites. Functions are ok but soon can go out of hand.

      Alternative and great value with little hassle is Google Cloud Run. Firestore is almost same as mongo and so you can do a lot with Nuxt and get SSR advantage.

    3. 1

      Do you think it's worth it for someone who already has a good handle on HTML/CSS? The components are absolutely beautiful, it's true — but considering I'm making $0 revenue at the moment, I balk at the price...

      1. 1

        Depends. It saves me hours of HTML/CSS. So to me, it's worth every penny!

    4. 1

      Tailwind is great, what will be the plan to add CMS like blogging etc?

      1. 1

        Go for Gridsome + Tailwind + Netlify. Pick a starter that suites and build from there. You get all the fast loading stuff built in and so get the content right.

        Any if you are looking for backend logic, then nuxt is a good starting point. We built it and thinking of sharing an integrated open source stack for rapid shipping. Anyone interested?

      2. 1

        Use the marketing set of components!

        1. 1

          Nice what tech stack will you use for the blog?

          1. 1

            I don't know! That's something I haven't figure out yet. Any suggestions?

    5. 1

      are you buying there premium components or are you dealing with headless ui...???

  4. 9

    Email Octopus. Super simple email service provider.

    And gave me my first break starting Marketing Examples. Cheers @td_evans

  5. 8

    I'm a huge fan of Gatsby JS for getting static sites/blogs up and running in less than a day.

    1. 2

      Did you try Nextjs? :)

      1. 1

        I haven't yet. Why do you like it?

        1. 2

          I felt like i had to fight Gatsby all the time.

    2. 1

      If you like Gatsby then checkout Gridsome as well. My favorite over Gatsby since you don't have to learn React JSX. I don't like that kind of formating. Vue is a lot cleaner and so Gridsome is the Gatsby for Vue.

    3. 1

      I use Gatsby for my personal site and blog, it's been really great but it certainly takes some getting used to.

      1. 2

        I've been fiddling around with React for the past couple years, but always found the initial set-up process to be a huge drag. Usually I'd get so frustrated with set-up that I'd give up using React entirely for the project. With Gatsby, all the set up is done for you. And with a starter theme, it's even EASIER.

        But you're right — unless you are familiar with React, Gatsby has a pretty big learning curve. But for people who already have an idea of React, but are overwhelmed with all the configuration steps for React, Gatsby is a dream!

        1. 2

          I used create react app before Gatsby and that was so easy. Everything just worked.

  6. 6

    I've been loving SparkToro, which is a paid platform founded by Rand Fishkin of Moz fame. You can get up to 10 free searches per month, and it gives you great insight into where your target audience hangs out, what they talk about, and who is influential.

    1. 3

      Thanks for mentioning SparkToro.

      I spent most of yesterday speccing out an audience targeting product (for a very specific niche) but lo and behold, such a thing already exist ... I guess I’ll channel my research findings into something else.

    2. 2

      Love SparkToro. ❤️

    3. 1

      using SparkToro, too! Works fine :)

    4. 1

      This looks excellent, thanks for sharing!

  7. 6

    I'd say Gumroad, super easy integration, fees are OK, and they fight the chargeback for you!

  8. 4

    Python-Flask + Firebase/Firestore on PyCharm

  9. 3

    I'm collecting a huge well-organized list of tools for indie hackers at https://dsgn.link

    1. 1

      Great links. Do you see value in adding (linkdra.com) to your list? Solves the problem of finding early buyers. Search out profiles based on buyer persona, make a warm connection request. 3-5 will likely accept and you get talking. Call it the $0 way to find early customers.

  10. 3

    Just finished a refresh on my site OwlOCR.com. Went from Gatsby to Next.js + Tailwind.

    What's even better, I utilised a template from wickedtemplates.com, that site is built by fellow indie hacker @Michael_Andreuzza!

    1. 1

      Thanks for the mention Tommi!

    2. 1

      As someone who loves GatsbyJS, what compelled you to make the switch from Gatsby to Next.js + Tailwind? Are you using the free Tailwind components or the paid?

      Thanks!

      1. 1

        Hey, in my day job some of colleagues haven as high praise for Next.js. So I think more than any particular feature it was to learn new tools.

        I’ve grown fast to be quite fond of tailwind, it does make things quite fast change and iterate.

        The big benefit my buddies noticed was shorter compile times for large projects with next.js vs gatsby.

        If with components you’re referring to the wickedtemplates: I got started with the app landing page template, Michael’s a great guy and should be happy to help you find the right ones for you.

  11. 3

    Loom for support has been amazing
    Whereby for video calls
    Discord
    Lots of love for Tailwind here but Boostrap is still very good with their default components.

  12. 3

    Tailwindcss + Nextjs + Vercel/Netlify . Is so easy do everything.

  13. 3

    Bubble.io is unbelievable for building decent MVPs quickly. 🙌

    1. 1

      Hi! What MVPs have you built with Bubble?

      1. 1

        Most recently, Loxo. Before that, a tool that enabled me to share my old law school applications and raise money for charity.

  14. 3

    https://buttondown.email built by Justin in his spare time from his full time job at Stripe.

    Simple, has all the features I need to focus on delivering content & value.

  15. 3

    My most helpful tools are:

    • Revue for publishing and managing my newsletter
    • Leanpub for formatting, publishing, and updating my ebook

    They both help me get more done in less time. Revue has a Chrome extension for saving links to the editor, from which I can easily drag&drop them into the issue I'm working on. Leanpub supports the full workflow for publishing works in progress like my ebook.

  16. 2

    Webflow! I switched from Gatsby to Webflow and I love it.

  17. 2

    Osiris. Awesome for anyone wanting to create a serverless backend on AWS and the JVM!

  18. 2

    Landen (now Umso) for generating landing pages without coding!

  19. 2

    Sketch - for most of what I do.
    IA Writer - for planning.

  20. 2

    Descript absolutely revolutionized (no hyperbole) my podcast production workflow.

  21. 2

    Aws amplify for the simple website stuff, eventbridge/lambda/dynamodb for the backend. There's just so much a non-tech person can do given the time. These all help

  22. 2

    DesignModo's bootstrap page builder for landing pages and their Postcards builder for newsletters has been a lifesaver - https://designmodo.com/startup/

    A little drag here, a little drop there and I'm exporting some nice clean HTML and on my merry way 🤓

  23. 2
    1. My physical calendar whiteboard where I do all my big planning
    2. Sketch where I do really ugly mockups before passing onto a designer
    3. Excel, where I take all my notes for my user interviews
    4. Firebase because I'm a noob developer and it's amazingly fast to setup dev environments and backends + auth
  24. 2

    My entire existence right now is relying on Loom.com
    It's scary. I can communicate long form video asynchronously with anyone anywhere.
    It's made cut my video calls down to ZERO. It's given me a way to productize my google sheets knowledge in BetterSheets

  25. 2

    I used to find creating promotional social media images a very tedious task. Therefore, I built a tool around it (Designtack) to create social media content in bulk and cure my laziness for marketing 😅.

    1. 2

      I agree, I was creating an ebook cover image yesterday for Facebook and it was very tedious. I like the idea of desgntack, but it seems it is mostly for posts and quotes. Does it do ebook covers as well?

      1. 1

        @Beverly21 Yes, it is made mainly for promotional social media posts but i would recommend you to try experimenting with the "Editor Mode" in designtack for your ebook cover!

        Let me know how it goes :)

    2. 2

      Designtack looks interesting. Is there also a way to schedule the content or is it just download the assets and feed into our usual social media tool?

      1. 2

        @geetfun I am working on a zapier integration but until then, you would have to do it manually 😅.

  26. 1

    Django, HTML5up and Inkscape for me, cheers!!

  27. 1

    Using TrueRev to manage our customer subscriptions! Billing, B2B contract management, revenue, tracking MRR/ARR. Contact me if you want to learn more.

  28. 1

    This is an awesome post. I can't wait to check out all these resources.

    Oco is a no code passion project with an opex of $5/month (minus credit card processing). This is thanks to Carrd @ajlkn, Zapier, Mailerlite, Stripe, and Shape.so. I am so lucky for these projects and ppl.

    Currently exploring Shopify and Bubble to help scale.

  29. 1

    Blot.Im - static site built on top of Dropbox.

  30. 1

    No one’s mentioned Dorik.io here yet! Great landing page tool - I tried it recently and found it to be super easy to use, generous free version but need paid to get subscription form (paid is a great deal tho! $5/month for up to 5 sites). Used it for the landing for linksavr.com!

  31. 1

    Plotly Dash has been an absolute miracle for my project.

  32. 1

    I don't understand why Wix.com is not appreciated enough... I find Wix the perfect nocode tool for newbies: it covers webdesign, SEO, CRM & marketing, payments, blog, invoices, traffic tracking and many others... nothing in the most spectacular way as done by the many different, optimized tools, but I think that having everything in one place and with a single payment is...simply great!
    Too simple of me?

  33. 1

    Basecamp (free edition) is great for organizing notes, files, and to-do lists.

  34. 0

    I am building a free talent (volunteers) market place for tech startups at https://skilledup.life. We now have over 70 volunteers from aspiring data scientists to marketers who have built SaaS companies. Most of tech startups are from the UK, but we do have one company from the USA. We charge a small fee from tech startups (£25/month) and able to provide a concierge service to match volunteers to tech company needs.

    Do check us out.

    1. 1

      Hey, looks we have some interests in common! I am building a tech freelancers marketplace, too: https://techlend.co .
      It's free to join and we have data science, ML and AI in our services, maybe we can crosslink the sites or even discuss about a collaboration?
      Looking forward it!

      1. 1

        Thanks for responding. Feel free to send me an email [email protected] How do you see us collaborate?

        Looks like you are competing with UpWork and others. Tough market to be in.

        1. 1

          Sure, I'll get in touch, thank you.
          Something different from Upwork and others though, and for some reasons:

          i) Techlend is not an horizontal plaform but it's 100% focused on top tech gigs (so, no graphics, marketing, web design, etc.);
          ii) our freelancers are verified, so skills are real, no scammers
          iii) our process is no-bidding: there is no quality-vs-price trade-off

          We may have complementary markets!

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