1. Find a problem you are familiar with, ideally your own problem. It also has to be something you can work with for at least for 2-3 years (there are rarely quick wins). Don't worry, you will succeed eventually if you are consistent and keep iterating and exploring.
2. Spend equal amount of time for building and marketing. 50/50. Don't assume If You Build it They will Come. But also don't just sell something that has little to no value. Keep adding value to your offering.
3. Don't spend too much time perfecting the details. This was especially a curse for me as a designer perfectionist coming out of working for a company as employee... At Best Writing now we have the core principle:
"Do it first, then do it better, then do it right."
Build a lot and build fast to select the winners.
Solve your problem, very very niche problem, the just share it to the world, people will pay and you can always iterate into something bigger later, don't ever start big.
— I think the most difficult thing is to get started. Don't treat it as a new startup and you would overthink a lot of things. Treat it as a weekend project you build for fun—then share it on Twitter/Reddit/IndieHacker.
— Ask questions. People love to give suggestions on things you're working on, but only if you ask for it.
— If you're struggling with marketing like myself, try building in public on Twitter. The BIP community there is really supportive.
I would recommend them to start with their niche audience first, before even building the product. It's worth spending some time talking and doing research first. Knowing what to build will definitely reap rewards in the long run.
Get your product in the hands of potential customers as early as possible. Do not hide from the world. Share your progress on Twitter, talk to your cats, ask for feedback from Reddit or IndieHackers, and listen closely to the feedback.
Ask for harsh and honest feedback. Sharing my journey on building HelpKit opened up so many amazing opportunities. I encourage you to try out a bunch of things. Throw a lot of ideas on the wall and focus on what sticks. Sounds weird but you will feel if your product has traction. If you have to fight for attention and customers it might be a chance to utilize your flexibility as a Indiehacker to move to a new project.
Validate your idea before building.
This has been said a thousand times, but I keep seeing people ignore that advice.
Don't just ask questions like: 'do you like this idea?' Read 'The Mom Test' to get an idea of what questions are good and not.
My route was definitely different to someone building from scratch. Because I was still working full time, my capacity was limited and I could not spend a long time building something that may not work.
Acquiring a micro-SaaS had a few advantages that saved me a lot of time. The business already had the core product implemented, already found product-market-fit, and already had an established customer base.
If going the micro-SaaS acquisition route is an option for you, I'd highly recommend it.
Mistakes are good, learn to make them. Nathan Barry built 10 products before $84M revenue ConvertKit. Pieter Levels built 7 products, and then went back to #4 nomadlist.com.
Start, but start small and preferably centered around something you'd find useful yourself. You don't know what you don't know — and there's only one way to find out: by trying things out, experiencing everything first hand.
The way to win is to think longterm. It's easy to focus on current growth or instant results. But that's where many products fail, because it's hard to have instant success. However, check out this math. What if it took you a month to launch a digital product that got one $30 sale a week. That's $1560 a year. Not too exciting. But what if you did that every month for a year. Those twelve products would be earning $18,720 per year. Now what if you could double the traffic or double the conversion rate. You'd nearly be earning the average American salary. And the thing is, as you build and launch more products, you're naturally bringing attention to your entire product line.
Any given Tweet you make could bring in sales. Not by mentioning your product, but by getting your name out there. When someone curious checks out your profile, that could convert to sales. That's thinking long-term.
Build something today!
* It's okay to say no. You can not satisfy everyone when you have a small bootstrapped team, but that's okay.
* The art of persisting. Every day, I'm replying to emails, answering questions, writing help docs and Filip is coding and helping users out non-stop. Life as a bootstrapped founder sounds more glamorous than it is, but every dollar you make will make you insanely happy.
* Don't be afraid to ask. Every problem you encounter has been solved by someone else before you. There's a great community supportive of Indie Hackers out there that wants to see you succeed and will help you out. So, just ask!
Keep at it and focus on your core featues. Don't spend too much time building something before hitting the market. But try to nail down whatever problem you're trying to solve and listen to your customers to improve it.
I think the hardest thing is just to start. Personally, I decided to go full time even before I had a project in mind. It was a very stressing decision, and even though my close ones were supportive I did feel some kind of peer pressure.
Leaving one of the Big Tech to go solo can easily make you sound crazy. I think what really made me do it (aside from the amazing support from my girlfriend) was to think about the risks I was taking. I realized that:
- I didn’t need a lot of money to live (no children, I just need to worry about my own survival)
- I had some savings from a previous exit. Nothing huge to be honest.
- I could easily make more money than I need by freelancing
- I could easily find another job if I needed to
- By doing it I could potentially be 1000x happier than I was as an employee. It turned out I am a lot happier now.
Take the risks you can take!
For one they can read my new guide I'm working on when it comes out on April 4th! 😉 This will have all my learnings/advice/tips for new makers in there.
But in short--if you don't have a technical background, I'd recommend joining a maker community like On Deck No Code or 100 Days of No Code which will accelerate your learning curve and help you get off the ground.
If you do have a technical background, I'd recommend building stuff that interests you or solves your own problems and then share that publicly on Twitter, Reddit, or wherever you hang out online.
Most important thing is to have fun and know there aren't any true overnight successes. You gotta start somewhere and enjoy the process every step of the way.
Link to the guide: https://bagelsandgranola.gumroad.com/l/honest-guide-to-indie-making
This was assuming we're talking about Saas/tech founders. If you're not looking to build software products, I'd recommend just finding a community with other people who want to do the same thing. For example, On Deck also has a podcasting program if that's what you're trying to do. Or there are a bunch of writing programs and communities too if thats what you're looking to do. Whatever it is--try to find a community for it
1. Know your niche. Have an idea of who you want to help + focus on them at the beginning, once you've got a hang of everything you can widen your net.
2. Define your skills. Pick a few skills you're confident in and focus on them.
3. Patience is key! This is a struggle. I just want to see results straight away and unfortunately it doesn't work like that!
4. Support where you can. Even if it's just offering your thoughts to someone's tweet. Show that you're willing to help!
1. Just go ahead and do it. Launch your MVP first.
Reid Hoffman famously said that if you are not embarrassed by your first version, you launch too late.
2. Don't overthink/overengineering your product before seeing any tractions.
There is no need to think about scaling up your offerings to thousands of people before landing your first 10 paid customers. Those issues didn't exist yet.
3. Talking to customers and understanding their problems are important but don't listen to every customer, especially those who never paid for your service.
As a solo/micro founder, you have to prioritize your daily task and product features ruthlessly, so you must focus on things that help you sell and create value for your customers.
Feedback from free tier users is usually not very helpful. Even if you agree to add features they ask for, they always come up with other excuses not to pay for your product.
Instead, I launched a private slack channel for my paid customers.
They can ask me any SQL questions, and in return, I often get great feedback from them.
When prioritizing product features, I'd often prioritize ones that came from customers directly rather than something that came up from myself.
4. It may take a long time to find the first paid customer, so if you believe your idea and have faith, be patient and spend more time marketing your product as soon as possible.
I was afraid of bugs, like releasing a new version and breaking everything and having people come to my house and burn it. Happily that has never been the case, even with important bugs! You can always fix them and contact the users to let them know what happened. Just build and release, build and release, don’t spend weeks and week's writing code without releasing it into the wild. Start small and then grow from there.