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Aditi Sharma for Peerlist

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Who are indie hackers, and what do they do?

When you are writing code, you are bound to hit a roadblock. Regardless of the years, you have been coding/programming, roadblocks come with the process. These continuous roadblocks become one of the reasons why it is a bit easier for coders to transition into indie hackers.

Before discussing this further, let’s understand who is an indie hacker.

Indie hackers generate income independently. They build their businesses online.

Rationally, you own 100% of your business, which means there is no involvement of Venture Capital and investors. You bootstrap your way forward by reinvesting your profits.

As an indie hacker, you play all the roles - marketing, software engineering, design, etc.

And no, you don’t have to be a software developer/coder per se. However, being a coder helps for two simple reasons -

You can try building a SaaS, PaaS, etc., meaning you need to know code to code that project yourself.

You know the process of facing roadblocks and finding your way to solve your problem.

That’s not it. As developers, you build side projects, and any of your side projects can turn you into an indie hacker.

Remember being a coder/developer is an advantage, not a necessity.

What’s indie hacking?

Indie hacking consists of being a software engineer, designer, marketer, digital creator, or community manager. You might be an expert in a few of them initially, but you will see yourself getting good at all of them a few months into it.

This is what indie hacking is about. Doing everything on your own. Finding ways to get your work done.

Most people start because they want complete freedom over whatever they do. But freedom is expensive - you work on weekends or holidays when your business needs you. That’s the harsh truth. There is little to no boundary between work and personal life.

From hating your product to loving it - it all can happen in a day.

There is a myth that indie hackers don't have day jobs, but most do. Most indie hackers start indie hacking as a side hustle and turn it into full-time after a few months into it.

Now, let’s see how you can become an indie hacker.

Depending on the domain, there are different ways to become an indie hacker. However, a few things are every day in all of those ways. Let’s learn how you can become one.

How can you become an indie hacker?

Decide on the project

You should commit to what you are building. To be honest, you should at least have a rough idea of what you will build. Make sure to collect as much information as you can get.

Most good projects start as a side project and have the potential to become the main project. Be it Facebook, Apple, or Peerlist. These are some ways to find side project ideas.

  • The digital annoyance you face - Solving your itch makes up for the best side project. You are the user of the product. You deliver the best result.

  • Solve others’ problems - Talk about the problems others deal with. Go into researching and find the origin of the problem. Ask them about the real issue a few times to understand it.

  • Find inspirations - Go to the Product Hunt and go through the products. Check Gumroad and see what services people are selling and if there is any way you can make it easy for them.

  • Twitter - Use Twitter's advanced search to find the ideas people are ready to pay for. Build and sell.

Finding a co-founder

It depends on individual choice. However, working with a co-founder makes your product or service better. Your work becomes fun even on difficult days. The journey of being an indie hacker can become lonely, so having a co-founder also helps there.

Hard times will come because starting a business is difficult, but maintaining it takes 100x more effort. So, when money is at stake and relationships suffer, remember to choose a co-founder who can deal with you, not against you.

Now that you have an idea, a co-founder (or not), let’s discuss the next step.

Create MVP

Regardless of what you are creating, you need to find an MVP (minimum viable product) as soon as possible. MVP helps you to validate your idea. It also allows you to test your product or service on real customers. You find the people who will choose your product or service in the future.

Your MVP shows how serious you are and becomes a first step in building your business - you see the real world of startups, communities, and how things work.

Build-in Public

Indie hacking becomes more fun when you talk to many community members. You get support from your peers. They provide you with feedback. You find your cheerleaders, mentors, and potential co-founders when you build in public.

Indie hacking feels a little less lonely when people check your progress. You become more accountable for your work.

One common difference between a businessman and an indie hacker is that indie hackers are open to sharing their business ideas even when they have only started.

Build. Show. Do Tell.

You can excite people by letting them know the news that not everyone knows. It’s a good marketing strategy as well.

And this takes us to the next important point - finding your first customer.

Find your first customer

Building in public helps more than anything. You have connections because of your online presence. Networking is your lifeline, and you should know how to take advantage. Make good use of social media and find your first customers.

Start marketing the moment you get the idea. Get connected to the people who are even remotely close to the problem you are solving. They are the ones who will connect you to your first customer.

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