🎉 It's a new decade!

1959
indie hackers are starting
profitable side projects in 2020.

Start Your Own

indie • hacker

noun

  1. person building an online project that can generate revenue
  2. person seeking financial independence, creative freedom, and the ability to work on their own schedule

It's 2020, and the future is indie.

Whether it's $500/month on the side or $10,000/month to quit your job, it's easier than ever to draw an income from your own projects.

Follow the steps below to get started!

1 Commit to a goal

592
have set a goal for themselves.

Before you get started, chart a course. How do you want your life to look? What does success look like? And what would make the journey to get there enjoyable?

People Sharing Their Goals

  1. Dave Morse

    I'm an entrepreneur at heart!

    I'm a full-time digital marketer who has been itching to start and grow multiple income streams. Today, I have one income stream ... but tomorrow, I'd like many!

    Specifically, I'd like to find a viable niche to target who has a legit business problem, and leverage existing SaaS tools to solve for it.

    This article is a big inspiration behind this approach: https://thefoundation.com/blog/the-saas-cheat-code

  2. Akihiro

    Hi, my name is acqui, a nickname. I am in 40's and a father of two boys, residing Tokyo Japan. I am currently hired at this food photography production, and in charge of new business development. I am interested in creating e-learning contents to teach how to create e-learning content. My backgrounds are in marketing, branding, and business development in creative industries. My main strength is in "produce," that I manage and develop new business ideas, launch and keep the business going. I am now learning how to shoot video for e-learning. So in the 1 or 2 years, I am trying to have my side project to teach video creation and e-learning creations!

  3. Maxim Zubarev
  4. MDMBrook

    Hey 👋! I'm a doctor of medicine that also has worked as a full-stack JavaScript dev for the past 3 years. I'd love to meet people interested in connecting health and tech together to create products that bring real value to other people!

2 Find a partner

165
are looking to partner up.

Many people thrive when working alone, but sometimes it helps to find a partner to complement your skillset and keep you motivated. What's right for you?

People Looking for Partners

  1. Patrick Lorenzut

    Looking for partner(s) to address mental health in tech.

    Hey IH!

    I used to be a Machine Learning Engineer. Frankly, the immense capabilities in that field scare the crap out of me. And the future, if it remains in the hands of powerful people with chips on their shoulders who feel like they have things to prove and trophies to earn… the future is very, very scary IMO. I firmly believe that the most important thing that humanity needs to do right now is increase empathy and equity in tech. So that these immense capabilities are developed with good intentions.

    I'd like to indirectly touch the equity piece by donating all or most of the profits to places like Black Girls Code, Girls Who Code, and others (would have to do further research). And I want to directly touch the empathy piece by trying to connect people in tech with their inner heart strings. I know what it’s like to be a privileged white guy who feels slighted despite having every advantage. And I know the path out of that.

    My hypothesis, frankly, is that fulfilled people who feel heard and appreciated and important are way less likely to F up the world. And of course, what a wonderful treat it will be to help people individually as well!

    I have a lot of rough ideas for how I want to accomplish this, which I JUST started talking about today, but I'm still ironing out so many of the details. So I don't have an exact project to invite you to, but please, if you're interested in tackling things like mental health, loneliness, accountability, imperfection... and quite possible other "self help" categories as well, going all the way into diet and fitness, and relationships, etc.... please either respond here or send me an email. This might could morph into a "for everybody" thing down the line, but I think right now it's for techies.

    At this point I'm looking for personality fit more than a specific skillset. But FWIW I'm a full-stack dev (most recent stack being Vue, Nuxt, and Lumen, but I've written in a lot of lands), and, I think, a very good UI/UX designer.

  2. Daniel Sternlicht

    Do I need a partner?

    In the past 7 I've been working on commoninja.com by myself, and managed to get to nice achievements and numbers:

    • Up to 80k signed up users
    • 500+ active subscriptions
    • $2.5k monthly revenue

    I feel like this product could go much further, and thinking about finding a partner.

    • How can I make sure this is the right step for me and for the product?
    • What kind of partner do I need? (I'm a developer)
    • How do I start a partnership with someone after I invested 7 years of hard work?
  3. BorrowNYC

    Seeking technical co-founder/mentor in NYC for FinTech app

    Hi Coders,

    I'm a solo team looking to pair with a technical co-founder.

    You can view the project @ borrow.nyc

    I look forward to hearing from prospects, or anyone with any input.

  4. Zach Swinehart

    Designer + developer looking for a marketer with an audience and an idea.

    I'm looking to partner with a marketer who already has an audience and has an idea for a great product that will serve their needs, and is looking for a technical co-founder who can help them execute on it.

    Feel free to have a look at my profile for more info about me and contact info.

    Thanks,

    Zach

3 Brainstorm an idea

256
are discussing their new ideas.

Coming up with an idea is easier than you might think! Check out the resources below for some inspiration and top-notch guidance.

People Discussing Their Ideas

  1. Benjamin

    Oh, what I wish some of you hardcore coders would do!

    Do any of you remember years ago when Upwork was oDesk? Do you remember how much better that service was? oDesk helped me build out my first portfolio when I was starting out.

    This seems painfully obvious, but there needs to be an Upwork replacement. I know there is competition out there, but oDesk was pretty top-notch back then. The workflow was good, the vetting of clients/freelancers was good and so the projects were (generally) good.

    I do think there is a need for this.

    Thoughts?

  2. Andy Rose

    Excel/Google sheet users, what do you use to visualize your data?

    Do you use the built in chart stuff in that software, or something else, if so, what? And, whatever you use, are you happy with it?

  3. Joshua Beretta

    Ask IH: What criteria do you use to rank your ideas against each other? 👍👎

    I've got a long list of potential ideas and a basic ranking system going - I'm curious how you organise your ideas and decide what's worth working on and in what order 🤷‍♂️

  4. moniak40

    Meet like-minded people

    Hey guys, some time ago I had an idea for a platform where people like us, passionate about something, can organize events and meet like-minded people.

    The idea was for the events not to be like the traditional lectures or talks, but more like going out with a small group of people (up to 12) to your favourite cafe or pizza place and just babble about what have you been through, about your experiences, struggles, victories, etc.

    The problem is that I've built the MVP without clearly validate the idea. I've just asked friends, which of course said that the idea is awesome. And now it's live, but just live.

    So do you think you don't have enough like-minded people to go out with and talk about things you love? If yes, how you've tried to find some? Have you actually tried? Have you used any similar platforms and are they good enough to solve the problem?

    Here is a link to the app if you are curious - babblewith.me Thank you in advance!

4 Create an MVP

181
are building new products and services.

No matter what you're creating, it's best to start small. What's the minimum viable product (MVP) you can get out the door and start testing on real customers?

People Sharing Their MVPs

  1. Boris Kuznetsov

    We've finished our MVP after 1.5 years of development

    The idea started from scratching my own itch: I'm a software developer and I want to communicate with overseas clients across the globe. Also, most of the worthy content I like produced on English language.

    I already got to the level when I can speak and read quite comfortably. It's not so easy to improve your vocabulary from that level because most of the words you don't know are quite rare and I can read such words once in a year of using language. In other words, you can't remember it with such a low repetition.

    According to research, you need to have at least 10k words in your vocabulary to be comfortable with the language, so the number is behind the project name: vocab10k.com.

    There are many solutions to the vocabulary acquisition problem but it was really a challenge to find what I wanted:

    • a tool which can help you learn words with original definitions from a dictionary
    • a tool which allows you to work on your accent and pronunciation
    • a tool which also will motivate you to speak more.

    As a two co-founders, me and Alexandra, we've worked on two different parts of the application part-time. Alexandra worked on frontend (react) and design, I was writing a backend (elixir), marketing and doing devops (system maintaining, docker, docker swarm).

    We made couple of mistakes which delayed our MVP:

    • it was couple of redesigns which we could make right from the first time
    • and we take an additional month to develop our own audio player because of some glitches from available open source version (we wanted to make our project meet our own quality standards instead of "moving fast and breaking things")
    • browser extensions are quite time consuming as well.

    We've defined couple of steps across our journey when we decided to advertise our project to get signups to motivate us and see does someone interested in such idea. For now we have 141 registered users.

    English learning is quite a competitive niche but we really want to make a great product where you can improve and develop your language.

    We're planing to charge $5 per month and working on adding it.

    Looking for a feedback on the idea and product and how clearly it was described on the landing page: vocab10k.com.

    Thank you, indiehackers, for such an amazing community and ability to explore many interesting projects.

  2. Sakun Acharige

    How do you get people to use features on your website + maximize engagement?

    Hey!

    Bit of a dilemma here: I've been running an online community for the past 5 months and it's been growing steadily, and we should be hitting 1000 users in the next month or so, which is great. We've been adding new features to the site as well which some people seem to use.

    People on our site come to post their side projects, but hardly anyone actually interacts with each other and I'm feeling that the site is underutilized and people are just using it to advertise their projects/products and have no intention of using the site for what is for.

    So I guess the real question is: how should I go about maximizing engagement on the site?

    Cheers!

  3. Jayber Tan

    Is this marketing tactic too aggressive?

    So my app is Zlappo, a Twitter scheduling app. Whenever my app posts a tweet, it includes a signature/boilerplate where I can advertise my app (see attached image).

    I have full control over what goes into the footer.

    I've toyed around with 3 options:

    1. "Zlappo" Short and sweet. But meaningless ultimately to the uninitiated.

    2. "Zlappo.com" Still short and sweet. Better, as it actually is a URL so people know it's a 3rd-party service.

    3. "Zlappo.com - Tweet Smarter™ 🔄" Very descriptive, but might be overly aggressive and also discourage people from scheduling tweets to avoid the ugly advertising.

    I'm currently using 3. Do you think it's too aggressive and off-putting? Would you be hesitant to use my app if every tweet you scheduled from it has blatant advertising at the bottom?

    Edit: just to be clear, I can't remove the footer for paid users even if I wanted to. Twitter's rules. shrug

  4. hobonumber3

    What tools do you use for feature requests?

    I am building an app and would like to use some tool to let customers upvote what features to build. What are you guys using? I was thinking about Trello.

5 Find your first customers

132
are finding their first customers.

Just because you've created something doesn't mean people know about it. It's time to get the word out, build an audience, and grow your customer base.

People Discussing Growth and Marketing

  1. Growth Bites

    Increase traffic by improving on others' link-worthy content

    Improve upon a competitor's link-worthy content and get people to link to your content instead, increasing your organic traffic.

    Brian Dean of BackLinko did this and increased his organic search traffic by 110% in just 14 days — that single post drove more than 300,000 referrals to his site. To do this yourself, find link-worthy content and create something even better by making it longer, more thorough, and/or more up-to-date. Then reach out to people who are linking back to the original article and let them know what's better about your version so that they'll link to you instead. To get started, head to Ahrefs or SEMrush and export all the links pointing to your competitor's content. Then reach out with the email template at the bottom of this article.

    More 30-second growth tips?

    Every day we share a tiny, bite-sized tip for growing your business. Click here to get Growth Bites in your inbox 👌

  2. ngninja

    What do you use to schedule, auto-publish on Instagram?

    Is later or buffer worth it?

  3. Team Indie Hackers

    How would you build an audience from scratch?

    It's 2020. Let's pretend you are starting indie hacking from scratch and you decide to build an audience.

    • How would you go about it?
    • Any tools you would use?
    • What wouldn't you do?
    • What's your reasoning about the things you will and won't do?
  4. Hans

    Your take on cold emailing?

    For those in the B2B space, what is your take on cold emailing? If you have tried it how did you find it? And if you haven't, what's holding you back?

6 Build in public

1,119
started building in public.

Being an indie hacker is a lot more fun when you're talking to others. Get support and feedback from your peers by sharing your journey in public.

People Sharing Their Milestones

  1. Shaomeng Zhang

    Featured in App Store "Apps We Love Right Now"

    Was browsing through App Store Connect trying to publish a new version about 10 days ago, and noticed this new section called "Promotional Artwork". Confused. Went to the inbox searching for emails from App Store, and saw this email with subject "Your app, ZenJournal: Minimalist Diary, may be featured on the App Store." filtered with the Unimportant emails from 5 days ago. 😂 And I have two days until the deadline to submit some artwork for a possible feature on the App Store. Frantically downloaded Photoshop trial and submitted something before the day and got an approval email during the day. And then waited for a week with nothing....

    Until two days ago, saw a spike of impressions of 35k per day since 4 days ago. Couldn't figure out why cos the app is still not featured with artwork... Thought it is my keyword change with last release. Until last night, when scrolling through the "Apps We Love Right Now" section and found my app...

    Anyway, it's not prominently featured in Today or top of the page, it's not even the first scroll of the section, but can't argue with 100+ per day of downloads over the last 4 days. Thankful for that one editor who discovered ZenJournal and fight for it with their editorial group. Hopefully it will eventually come back with a feature that will actually use the submitted artworks.

  2. M. Cetin

    Explicitly ask the user, do you want to buy?

    I put the ad removal feature to Simple Budget Planner in the form of in-app purchases.

    Even though I seen good number of installs in one week it was not converting. So, I released a new version and started to explicitly ask to the user "Do you want to buy?" after some usage with some frequency. If the answer is yes, I redirected them to the sales page.

    I got my first sales after that. 🥳

    The lesson here is I guess, explicitly ask your potential customer whatever you want him to do for you. Don't wait for her to find things herself. Explicitly ask.

  3. Dawid Cedrych

    Sent my first newsletter! 46% open rate

    Yesterday I sent my first newsletter to 68 email recipients.

    Here is a bunch of stats after 18 hours:

    • Open rate: 46%
    • Unsubscribed: 1

    I imported almost 80% of the email list from my other Mailchimp account. If only 20% opted in for Alta Bits, I think only one unsub given the open rate is surprising, I expected at least around 5-10 people unsubscribing :)

    What do you think of these stats?


    Update after 24 hours:

    • Open rate: 47%
    • Unsubscribed: 2
    • Click rate: 3%
  4. Jen

    Mentioned in TechCrunch and MacRumors!

    This morning, my friend sent me an article by MacRumors about how Apple is now allowing exports of transactions from Apple Card.

    "Cool', I thought. That means Apple Card users on Lunch Money will be able to use our CSV import feature to get their transactions in! That's a nice thing to wake up to.

    Well, I opened the article to read more about it, and holy crap.

    The first sentence reads:

    "When Apple Card launched last year, it didn't support importing transactions into various budgeting apps, which was a major negative for customers who use Quicken, YNAB, Lunch Money, Mint, and more."

    WHAT?!?! How the heck did Lunch Money, my tiny bootstrapped start-up with less than 200 users get squished in between big names like Quicken, YNAB and Mint?! I was flabbergasted.

    I followed the thread and found a TechCrunch article that also mentions Lunch Money!

    Things were starting to piece together. What happened was the editor of TechCrunch tweeted a week or so ago asking for alternatives to Mint. Two of our users responded and mentioned Lunch Money. That probably put us on the author's radar and he gave us a shoutout (and a juicy backlink to boot!). MacRumors likely picked up on the TechCrunch article and out of sheer luck chose Lunch Money as an example budgeting app. Loving this combination word-of-mouth marketing!

    It was surreal to see Lunch Money mentioned alongside much bigger players in the game! I was in disbelief for much of this morning. 😅

    Learnings:

    • Even though our Twitter account only has ~70 followers, so many of our users are on Twitter and are mentioning us! (Surprisingly, most of our traffic comes from Twitter according to GA.) Furthermore, by jumping in to these conversations when you're being mentioned to offer a free trial or just to show that you're responsive is always well-received!
    • Word of mouth marketing is so effective but hard to plan for. I think the best thing you can do is treat your users very well, especially your first few hundred. They will be your champions!