Recently I was going through some invoices that we paid this year and realised that most of them are paid not to big companies but individuals. The Indie Hackers!
These are the hustlers and builders who are building some amazing products and making their living. I think traditionally they are called solopreneurs or bootstrappers. But recently the term that got popular is Indie Hackers. And I thought I must write about them. You never know, someone might get inspired and become an indie hacker instead of a traditional job or building a startup. This is not a guide on “how to become an indie hacker”, but more of knowing who are these amazing people.
Who are Indie Hackers?
Indie hackers are independent entrepreneurs, self-starters who build their online businesses, almost always without big money or teams. They fund their projects themselves and aim to make steady money from the start. Think of them as DIY tech entrepreneurs, working to craft something unique while keeping things lean and flexible.
What is Indie Hacking?
I think from above you must have got a fair idea of what indie hacking means. It may sound a little monotonous, but I will write it anyway.
"Indie hacking" is a term that encapsulates the ethos and actions of independent entrepreneurs, developers, and creators who build, grow, and make money from online businesses or products. The term "indie" signifies independence, indicating a preference or necessity to bootstrap, or self-fund, one's ventures.
Key traits and habits of indie hacking and hackers:
- Bootstrapping: Many indie hackers start with little to mostly no external funding, using their savings, or reinvesting revenue back into the business. It’s very very unlikely they will raise funding from VCs.
- Digital Products and Services: Common businesses in the indie hacking space include software as a service (SaaS), digital products, online courses, e-commerce, or content creation (like blogging or podcasting).
- Iterative Approach: Indie hackers frequently launch products or services quickly, then iterate based on customer feedback. This approach, often dubbed "build, ship, iterate, repeat" contrasts with waiting for a "perfect" product before launching.
- Direct Monetization: Unlike some startups that focus on user acquisition with plans to monetize later, indie hackers often aim for profitability from the beginning, using straightforward business models like subscriptions or affiliate marketing.
- Community Engagement: Indie hackers often engage in online communities, such as Twitter/X, to share insights, collect feedback, and collaborate with others. I think they are crazy marketers. There is so much to learn from them while they build in public!
- Lifestyle Design: For many indie hackers, the objective isn't necessarily to build the next billion-dollar company. Instead, they aim for a sustainable income that affords them a desired lifestyle, be it the flexibility to travel, work fewer hours, or simply achieve financial independence. This doesn’t mean they make less money. Many of them make millions in annual recurring revenue (ARR).
"Indie hacking" is not just about building a business but also a broader mindset of self-reliance, creativity, and a desire to carve out a unique path in the entrepreneurial world.
Here are a few of my favorite indie hackers, some of whom have created products we use at Peerlist, while others have been invaluable sources of learning how to build in public, marketing, and much more.
I learned about Adam through Rishi (another indie hacker mentioned later). We were discussing tools for improved screen recording when he recommended Screen Studio to me. What an impressive product! We use Screen Studio for all our fancy product demo videos.
I don’t exactly remember how I got to know about Rishi, but he was quite active on Twitter and was building Pika. A tool to beautify your mediocre screenshots. This was the first tool we purchased after securing the funding. Thanks to Pika, all screenshots in our emails and socials look aesthetically pleasant.
I stumbled upon Steven’s Dub.co from a random tweet talking about link-shortening tools. Dub stands out to me for its simplicity, consistent iterations and improvements to the product, and most importantly, it’s open source!
Dub.co made it easy for us to track our marketing campaigns with branded short links. We actually purchased
peerli.st domain after subscribing to a premium plan of Dub.
There are so many other amazing indie hackers out there who are building and shipping amazing products. I have tremendous respect for their perseverance and grit! This write-up is my tiny effort to say Thank you to these amazing builders!