๐ŸŽ‰ It's a new decade!

14384
indie hackers are starting
profitable side projects in 2020.

Start Your Own

indie โ€ข 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

6,350
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. Akshay Deo

    Hello Everyone,

    I am Akshay Deo, a computer engineer from Pune, India ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ. I currently work at Slack as Staff engineer. Mainly focusing on platform backend. https://akshaydeo.com enlists everything I have done in my career. Really excited to be part of this community :).

  2. gianfa

    Hello everyone, I'm Gian from Italy. I am a Neuroengineer working as DS/AI developer. I love Python & ML tools, pizza, basketball and nice peopleโœŒ๐Ÿฝ.

  3. johnballard

    Hello, I'm John from Surrey, UK. I've developed a SaaS booking app for businesses who book out their services. It's called That Booking App, https://thatbooking.app. It launched in January and I'm looking for ideas on growth and future dev ideas.

  4. Lex Templeton

    Heya friends, I'm Lex!

    Cheat (@cheatdotdev) was inspired by a tweet. https://twitter.com/azideMakes/status/1264574835264491521

    Some tools and apps out there are just amazing. Notion, Airtable, Stripe; these are all transformative to integrate into your business. They feel like cheating. But there's a whole segment of small businesses not using them, and not getting the efficiency they provide.

    So, I'm building https://cheat.dev.

    The mission: Cheat provides an opinionated framework for non-(technical/startup-minded) people that know they want to start a business, but look into the steps and just see it as chaos. For offline small-businesses. For tradesmen, contractors, and other doers.

    The Vision: You have an idea but aren't sure if it'll work. Don't know if you have enough savings. Cheat guides you through the questions you need to ask, and gets you connected to apps and services we know will provide value for you today. Recommendations grow as you grow. If you and Cheat decide it's not a good fit, you can take a look at pivoting, or finding a more experienced and connected mentor, because now you have some numbers and data.

    Cheat is under active development, with MVP opening in about 3 weeks. Our mailing list is available today at cheat.dev where we pass along what we've learned.

    You can find me at https://twitter.com/azideMakes, and I'd love to hear from you there, or here!

    Be well! -Lex

2 Find a partner

1,125
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. Babilonczyk

    Do you need a Tech Co-Founder/MVP?

    Hi, Iโ€™m looking for some cool side project to train my frontend and Rails skills ^^ Is there anyone with an interesting idea and needs tech co-founder etc?

  2. hnine

    Looking for someone with ideas !!

    Hey ! I am looking for someone who has a great idea for a saas StartUp and is really motivated ! . I myself am a backend programmer and into ML and AI. I am also a very good at making strategies for the product in terms of business and marketing - and most importantly to execute them. . It does not really matter what your strenghts are , I can work with anybody - but it would be create if you are creative , cause i am currently not that creative.

    Thanks !

  3. Trista Taylor

    Ex-Google domain expert looking for fullstack engineer to join B2B HR-tech company as a tech co-founder.

    I recently left Google after building their team effectiveness programs and services, to found Regroup.co, a technology company focused on helping organizations develop more effective teams. We currently do this through a 360-degree team assessment, insights and recommendations, and self-service team activity guides. We are piloting our beta program with teams at prominent companies right now, and we're ready to build our initial MVP.

    I'm looking for a fullstack engineer (with front-end skills), to join me as a technical cofounder. Let's make all teams a great place to work!

  4. Shayan Javadi

    Product designer/Marketing co-founder wanted :)

    Hi,

    I'm currently the solo founder of a music theory education app called https://www.solfej.io/.

    I'm looking for a product design/marketing cofounder.

    https://apps.apple.com/us/app/solfej-ear-trainer-theory/id1487555711

    Let me know if this sounds interesting and we can talk further!

3 Brainstorm an idea

1,928
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. Axvi

    ๐Ÿš€ Do you use Google Sheets to run your business?

    Hello!

    I've spent the last 3 months building an analytics dashboard that is automatically populated from a shared Google Spreadsheet. The app doesn't store any data, and charts are made on the fly.

    However, I made the terrible mistake of start coding without understanding if the audience even exists. I guess it's never too late to do the right thing.

    Here we go:

    1. Do you use Google Sheets to track your business? (income, expenses, customers, etc.)
    2. Would you potentially pay for an analytical tool? (not mine in particular, it's just to understand the market)

    I plan to give the app for free for 1 year to early adopters. I believe this would help me to better refine the app, and in return, users would get free access (without any commitment to giving feedback of course!).

    Thanks for reading!

    ๐ŸŽ‰ Update - Beta is live! https://www.sheetchart.com/ (1 year for free on beta accounts) I'd appreciate any kind of feedback and opinion :)

  2. Ben Paine

    The quickest way to start your Saas

    Hello hackers ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿผ

    Iโ€™ve decided to package up my boilerplate for some projects Iโ€™ve worked on. Not only do I use this boilerplate myself, but I know it could bring value to others. This boilerplate is comprehensive and easily adjustable because everything is component based.

    The stack is:

    • React (Next.js)
    • Typescript
    • Node.js
    • TailwindCSS
    • User Auth
    • Admin dashboard
    • SQL database (using Prisma so you can also use GraphQL)
    • Stripe integration

    I am curious what other features you feel are necessary or that you expect when you buy a boilerplate. Thanks for the support ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  3. Simon Wikstrand

    Importance of top-level domain

    I have an idea that targets a massive market, the brand needs to be short and recognizable. Sadly, the majority of good .com names in are taken by domain resellers which is frustrating.

    Now I'm considering to avoid .com in favor of obtaining a stronger brand.

    Do anyone have knowledge about branding and how important .com really is?

  4. Loรฏc Boset

    How about a startup framework web app?

    Hi guys!

    First post! Thanks for this awesome community!

    Quick background on me:

    • 26 yo, Belgian, been an accountant for 4+ years
    • started learning web dev on my own, next month starting Le Wagon bootcamp, passioned about entrepreneurship

    My problem: -

    • I often find difficult to clearly define my project ideas in a linear manner
    • this is the first time I ask for validation (because I never knew how/where to easily do that)

    My idea:

    • creating a web app that helps you build up your idea by answering question (e.g. what, why, how, push, pull, personas, MVP, ...).
    • it will also help by reminding you to validate your idea (and how to do that) and by giving you a list of assumptions and milestones.

    Then we could imagine that each idea is automatically posted somewhere for validation and that the project holder is given a list a freelancer able to help on it.

    Two more things:

    • Iโ€™d like this app to be focused on solving meaningful problems (inspired by Agenda 2030 for sustainable dev)
    • it would be free to use

    Questions:

    • do you also have (have had) the same problems?
    • what is your current process for developing an idea?
    • would you be using such web app?

    A great thanks in advance for your help/time/love!

4 Create an MVP

1,323
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. Csaba Kissi

    What domain extension do you use for your recent projects?

    What domain extension do you use for your recent projects? com, io, co, or something else?

    When I look for the new domain name it's almost unable to find the suitable domain with com extension.

    According to SEO advises and domain authorities the co seems to be slightly better than io but the difference is minimal.

    I had no problem with e.g. https://tablericons.com because the name is specific.

    But for more generic words like "generator", I continuously end up with non-com domain.

  2. Anthony

    I hear "talking to users" is the best way to validate and improve and yet, I struggle to find people to talk to to do this. Anyone else?

    Would love to hear how you guys manage to do this. I talk to my friends/family but they're not always the most relevant user. Its hard enough finding users to try your product and often times they're not interested in hopping on a call to give feedback.

  3. dqmonn

    Do you have advisors for your project?

    We probably all know these startups that have an advisory board as large as their founding team. Former professors, friends, giants in the industry.

    Have you been trying to find advisors like that? If so, what do they help with?

    If not, why not?

  4. Zencentric

    User management out of the box?

    What do you use for your user management?

    I need it for my next experimental project but I don't want to develop it from scratch. I'm talking about some dashboard solution that allows me doing some manipulations on users. For example, block them, or edit, or whatever I want.

    The context: I'm creating a new experimental project using my own old SaaS boilerplate but it doesn't have any user management (although there is user authentication, confirmation by email, login/register - all for users but nothing for admins).

5 Find your first customers

1,272
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. Jon Yongfook

    2 customers churned in the same week and now I feel like the world is ending ๐Ÿ˜ซ

    I've been posting my Bannerbear milestones to the IH product page and so far it's been mostly positive news, especially recently hitting $1000 MRR: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/mojosaas

    Just days after I reached that milestone however, I experienced my first churn. And not just one customer, but two!

    I'm in the process of finding out why and getting some feedback, also I'll probably add a little feedback form after the cancelation step so users can offer feedback directly after they cancel.

    I know that churn is a fact of doing business in the SaaS world. It's going to happen. You just need to ensure your growth rate is that much higher than your churn rate... I know all the ways to rationalise this to soften the blow... but it still sucks.

    It triggers an interesting cocktail of emotions. I think since as an indiehacker your life is so intertwined with your business, it feels much more like a personal rejection than it should. It almost feels like you've just been dumped by your girlfriend / boyfriend! You start thinking... why am I not good enough? Can I get them back?! Will I ever find love again???

    Ok I'm going to stop being melodramatic. I just want to try and paint a balanced picture - although I've been making progress with my product, there are inevitably stumbling blocks along the way and you just have to deal with it and move forward!

  2. Mattias Geniar

    How do we find users for our SaaS?

    After more than 2 years of building Oh Dear, I still struggle with the most fundamental question: how are users finding our application and where should we focus our marketing efforts to maximize that?

    For the last few months, I've been contacting every new signup with a simple e-mail, asking them just one thing: how did they hear about us?

    In this post, I want to summarize those findings.

    Building a SaaS is no rocket science, but getting clients is a work of art. I hope these answers can help other bootstrapped indie developers as well.

    Setting the scene: who are we?

    The 1 paragraph summary of Oh Dear is:

    Oh Dear was founded by Freek & Mattias, two passionate developers from Belgium. Oh Dear sends notifications when your site is down, when the SSL certificate is about to expire, when it finds broken links or when the site just generally slows down.

    It's an uptime monitor, basically. But with a couple of extras.

    So, where do we get our users from?

    "Mostly from Twitter, yeah"

    Both Freek (@freekmurze) and me (@mattiasgeniar) are pretty active on Twitter. We've spent the last few years building an audience, and it seems that is now paying off.

    Roughly ~30% of our leads & trial users come to us because they follow either of us on Twitter.

    Conclusion: start by building a presence on Twitter, it's priceless.

    "I saw your open revenue on Hacker News, thought it was interesting"

    For a few months now, I've been sharing our revenue numbers publicly. A bit scary at first, but quite rewarding now that it's all out in the open.

    It was also a deliberate tactic.

    How do you stand out in a world where most founders are all so similar? You do unconventional things. In our case, we share our revenue numbers.

    While more & more founders are doing this, it's still the minority.

    Don't be afraid to open up, you will attract readers and a new audience.

    "I'm subscribed to your newsletter"

    I run the cron.weekly newsletter (~11k subscribers), Freek runs his his own newsletter (~7k subscribers). Whenever we have good news to share, we'll generally do so in our newsletters.

    Normally, we talk tech (PHP, open-source, Linux etc.), but our readers have come to appreciate some personal stories from time to time.

    We've both been writing newsletters for well over 2 years now and have been able to grow our audience nicely.

    Invest the time to start a newsletter and build a personal brand. Consistently delivering good value via your newsletter will let people come back for more.

    "Heard about you via ProductHunt"

    When we first launched, we added Oh Dear to Product Hunt. It made Product of the Day!

    Even Ryan Hoover, who founded Product Hunt, commented on our clever name.

    That post gained us a handful of subscribers on launch day, but more importantly still gets people talking. Product Hunt works!

    Submit your idea to Product Hunt!

    "Read about it on your blog"

    Both Freek and I regularly blog. You're reading the blog right now. #inception

    We both put ads at the top of our posts, we can blog/write about the technical underpinnings of Oh Dear, we can share snippets of code, ...

    Over the years, we've also grown a following with RSS readers that mostly come for the technical articles we write, but they'll tolerate the personal articles. And that also helps us get the word out!

    Your (personal) brand matters. If you have a blog, write regularly, share your thoughts, start building that audience.

    "Heard about it on the Full Stack Europe Conference"

    It's been a bit quiet on the conference from for me (irregardless of COVID-19), but I did speak regularly at conferences up until a few months ago. Freek still regularly does public speaking.

    Every time you have a chance to speak, you have the opportunity to show your expertise and - subtly - mention any product you're working on. Either directly in the talk or afterwards, on social media, when sharing your slides/summary.

    I'll grant that public speaking isn't for everyone, but it's a great way to help you build that audience and grow a loyal fanbase.

    Public speaking works. Deliver value in your talk and you'll have enough credit to (subtly) mention your SaaS.

    "Saw it mentioned in the Laravel News newsletter"

    We tried a paid advertising in a popular Laravel/PHP newsletter called Laravel News.

    The results were mixed, and I think it's mostly because we already are active in the Laravel space. What good would it do to reach the same users over & over again? We should probably sponsor other newsletters, outside our little bubble.

    But, it did work! We got signups through it, even several months later, because a reader remembered it.

    Consider sponsored content in newsletters. You can use the author's credibility to help promote your product.

    "We previous worked together at company $X"

    Professional networks are powerful. When I was working as the support lead of a hosting provider, I came into contact with a lot of our clients. Both happy and unhappy. The way those conversations ended has largely shaped my professional network.

    If you can turn an angry client into a happy one, by understanding their needs and providing a proper solution, you've made a professional relationship that lasts for a long time.

    Now, whenever I share updates for Oh Dear on LinkedIn, I get to reach hundreds of former clients, colleagues and suppliers that I've spent years building a relationship with. This trust is earned and often well-received on the other end.

    Networking works!

    Every time you interact with a client or a supplier, you're building your professional network. Think of every interaction like a job interview for your product in the future.

    "I found a blogpost when searching for $X"

    Oh Dear also has a blog, where I write as many blogposts as my little hands allow. The following posts have directly contributed to new signups and conversions.

    • Resolving the AddTrust External CA Root certificate expiration
    • How we used Caddy and Laravel's subdomain routing to serve our status pages
    • Using Oh Dear! to keep your Varnish cache warm
    • Our Gitlab CI pipeline for Laravel applications
    • Transitioning from laravel-echo-server to laravel-websockets
    • How to size & scale your Laravel Queues

    What I'm not showing are the 50+ other posts that didn't convert anything. They are shorter, more product-focussed (ie: "we launched feature $Y, it's great!").

    It's hard to say what posts will attract and convert users. In our case, it's the more technical ones that help users, even if they're not a customer of ours. That's what gets noticed.

    Write helpful posts, both for your customers and your potential customers. Don't be afraid to share some of the internals of your organisation. Opening up might seem scary, but that's what a reader wants to know.

    Conclusion

    I wish I could say "spend all your energy on Twitter" or "only sponsor newsletters".

    For us, what works is a very wide approach to marketing: be in as many places as you can afford to be.

    It's the combination of our Twitter audience, newsletters & blog posts that have consistently brought along the most value for us.

    Paid acquisitions have been meh, mostly. Lots of money spent, very little value gained.

    Compare that to writing proper blogposts, and that return is always greater for us.

    Your mileage may vary, but for us the content marketing strategy will be our main focus going forward. Write quality blogposts, newsletters & tweets. ๐Ÿ”ฅ

  3. John Saddington

    Personal Branding for Indie Projects

    One of the things that I recommend to everyone who's building a new project, regardless of size (and shape and color!) is to consider the power and importance of your own, personal brand.

    What I mean by this is that, especially in the beginning, your startup is best reflected and represented by you, the founder and creator! This means that your project will "draft" on your personal brand (i.e. your own personal network) for a while until the project, itself, gains enough steam on its own.

    The most obvious example of this is when you see a new project Twitter account, for instance, have < 10 followers but the founder's personal Twitter account has thousands! This is how most projects start, by the way!

    With all that being said, if the money is available, I counsel spending a little bit of time curating your network and landing pages (and/or creating new ones) that can help give your new project a bit more "lift" and "surface area" upon which new visitors and new community members can learn about you and your project.

    For instance, I own a few proper name URLs like http://johnsaddington.com that redirect to my personal blog that is 100% managed by me. This means that I get to control the messaging as well as the positioning of my new project!

    The next step is actually filling up that personal branding page with content! One idea is to use Indie Hackers as a blog which is simple, fast, and free! You could even redirect a URL to go directly to your personal profile or project page!

    For instance, I use http://yensquad.com as a short (and memorable!) URL that goes directly to my product page on IH:

    Personal branding, especially in the beginning, is essentially the same thing as beginning to seed and establish the foundation for the project's brand, short and long-term.

    Eventually, bifurcating the two may make more sense as the project's followership and brand takes off. But, until then, don't dilute your time trying to manage too many social channels or communication tools โ€” keep things simple as you walk through the product-market fit process!

  4. Hakan Aktas

    I am about to throw in the towel. Help?

    I cannot get people to open up to me.

    We decided that targeting primarily businesses instead of freelancers would bring in more revenue and more feedback. Tried to talk to some people who own or work at such businesses. It's painful.

    I have been trying for about 3 weeks now. Tried Facebook groups, Reddit posts, and some unsolicited messages. I'm still at point zero. Nothing. Nada.

    Most Facebook groups and subreddits denied my posts right away. They were literally just discussion posts. I did not mention that I have a product, I did not try to advertise. I guess admins/moderators still picked up a smell.

    One reddit post got attention from a single person. And they thought I posted at the wrong subreddit. After I explained myself, they provided some of their experience about the topic. It was nice but wasn't exactly what I was looking for.

    I got zero valuable feedback in 3 weeks. What am I doing wrong? Are the people that I'm targeting generally hard to reach? Do I look for them in wrong places?

6 Build in public

7,504
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. ๐™ˆ๐™„๐˜พ๐™ƒ๐˜ผ๐™€๐™‡ ๐˜ผ๐™‰๐˜ฟ๐™๐™€๐™๐™•๐™•๐˜ผ

    I friggin did it. I made 20 dollars.

    It felt amazing getting that email, after 10 days of implementing a subscription method, a client saw the potential and benefits from it.

    • [ This is how it works [(https://www.colorsandfonts.com/submit)

    You can see it here under the typography tab.

    This is really motivating,

    Thank you.

  2. John Saddington

    Learning is the Goal, Not Revenue

    I'm reminding myself this time and time again these days! I feel as if I have to repeat this to myself just so that I don't go crazy!

    I shared this tweet yesterday because I was deep in thought around this topic!

    I also shared this with the #yeniverse:

    Here's the text:

    ALL: Quick but important update!

    As you all know, we're currently reworking / rebuilding our core software from the ground-up... so happy that Agata has decided to help me with it! Consequently, we won't have a working version for your own projects / communities as quickly as I had hoped.

    This got me to thinking about the value that I'm delivering and the cost that many of you are paying, each month.... so, here's the TRUTH: it's just not worth that much money, especially at the $199/mo price-tag.

    As such, I want to have a chat with each of you about continuing to pay that, each month because... @ $199... I don't think it makes sense.

    So, here's what I'm proposing:

    1. Since we're rewriting the platform, I'm going to make access to the platform effectively free until we migrate users to the new platform.

    2. Please DM me and let's have a chat this week about it! I'm not at all worried about the revenue...

    When the new platform launches (and we migrate), I'll have a much more clear pricing and that'll be an opportunity for folks to opt back in.

    @gordon and I, for example, just got done chatting through this and we've canceled his subscription but not his access to our chat!

    As many of you know, early-stage sales isn't about revenue... it's about learning. And I'm still learning (and building) the product! I'm so grateful for "paid validation"!

    Agata and I need more time to bring something online for real, live testers.

    I will say though... that, i will continue to do bespoke coaching for any folks that do continue... for as long as they are subscribers. But, just for those folks.

    (I won't be offering this anymore). And some super-special treats, gifts, promos.... etc... for the early folks. should be fun.

    I'm so grateful for the few folks that we have so far and the validation and support that I've received from them! I'm so committed to making the very few customers that I have super-happy that I'm willing to forgo all of my revenue at this stage, especially if I'm not delivering what I believe is top-shelf value.

    Onwards and upwards!

  3. Aurelien Amacker

    systeme.io has passed $2M in ARR!

    The COVD crisis gave us a huge boost as many people were looking to start an online business or sell online courses (we grew by 50% in the last 3 months) You know what the funny things are?

    • we went from 0 to number 1 in the French market in 2 years, when the influencers don't promote or even mention us (they see us as a competitor as we also sell online courses and coaching programs)
    • our homepage sucks (we are working on improving it)
    • we don't have a catchy name or a cool logo I think it says a lot about the quality of our product and our offer Today we are getting more and more customers from English speaking countries. Let's keep rocking!
  4. Marko Saric

    We've just hit 200 paying subscribers!

    It took us over 1 year to go from 0 to 100 and now in just 1 month, we went from 100 to 200 paying customers! Our recent growth has been amazing! Thank you to all who support and trust us!

    Why did we grow so fast recently?

    Affordable pricing, open source and a lightweight script (679 byte) are important aspects that make us stand out in this market but our fast growth can also be contributed to a change in the communication approach.

    Starting in April, we positioned Plausible Analytics directly against the market leader (Google Analytics). We made it clear what we do better than Google Analytics. We were upfront by saying we don't try to replace Google Analytics for everyone but that we cater to these use cases instead:

    • Those who care about the privacy of their visitors and users
    • Those who care about fast loading times
    • Those who want a simple dashboard that they can quickly review and understand
    • Those who don't want to worry about cookie consent and GDPR consent
    • Those who don't want to support Google in their control over the web

    Many website owners have some or all of these issues with Google Analytics. For them, Plausible Analytics is a much better solution. That's not all Google Analytics users (many are more than happy to use Google Analytics) but a decent percentage of them. This is our market and it helps communicate to that market when we are clear and upfront about our positioning.

    Marketing activities that work for us

    We will continue doing the marketing activities that are working so far:

    • Writing blog content about topics that are of interest to our target audience. Here's our content marketing approach
    • Not just write but also spread the word and promote our content to different channels. If we don't promote the content that we publish, chances are it won't be seen by many
    • Communicate and engage with the relevant communities including Indie Hackers and on our new Twitter account