Lessons learned in a year of indie-hacking

Last year, I started my journey on indie-hacking. After hundreds of hours side hustling, I do a retrospective on the basic lessons I learned during this 12-month period.
indie-hacking
Written on July 10, 2020 ·
5 min read
Jim Raptis

Jim Raptis

Sharing actionable tips about design, software engineering & indie-hacking.

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Table Of Contents

Last year, I started my journey on indie-hacking. After hundreds of hours side hustling, I do a retrospective on the basic lessons I learned during this 12-month period.

To put you into context, I co-founded and work full-time for VisualEyes, a startup about AI design analytics.

So I work on all of the side projects in my free time. Most of them were made for fun or to automate annoying daily tasks. Even though monetizing them was not my No1 priority, I managed to make some profit by selling a couple of them. You can check more about the projects and their status here.

Although I’m not an indie-hacker for a long time, I want to share 10 valuable lessons I wish I knew earlier.

If you want a quick overview, check the Twitter thread.

Love what you do

I’m sure, you hear that a lot. It’s a cliché but it’s a strong and helpful one.

You cannot succeed in your job, life, or hobbies if you don’t love what you do every day. The same goes for indie-hacking too.

Bootstrapping a product can be stressful, exhausting, and full of surprises experience. The only road to success is by loving what you do and the process itself.

Solve your own problem

Lack of inspiration is a common problem. Many people struggle to come up with an idea and are being stuck.

The way to find new ideas is easier than you think.

Look at your process, focus on possible flaws, and annoying repetitive stuff. If you face a major problem, it’s 100% guaranteed that other people have the same issue too.

Then, it’s up to you to structure the solution and solve it in your unique way!

Admit your weaknesses

Coming from an engineering background, getting my hands dirty with code and design was super easy for me.

Marketing my products was just meh for me. You can imagine how wrong I was.

Only by understanding and admitting your weaknesses, you can really evolve!

Another powerful cliché is to get out of your comfort zone!

Share your progress

Sharing to your audience is sometimes overlooked but it’s the most direct way to give value to the people that believe in you.

It can help you build an engaged audience and build up your authority on the field.

At the same time, it’s the perfect way to inspire the next generation of makers and give back to your own community.

Document & share your resources

Documenting your resources and your knowledge can be your secret weapon.

Not only it supercharges your workflow by organizing and centralizing your asset but it can become a great product someday.

Many people (me too) love to discover curated collections for tools, resources, or guides.

Personally, building DesignValley was based on this principle. It started as a personal depository for documenting design resources. When it gained popularity, I built the web app to make the tool discovery process accessible to everyone.

Keep up with the trends

Do you want to succeed as an indie-hacker? You have to be aware of the trending topics in your niche.

Your product is nothing without its users. Set as your ultimate goal to please them and understand their daily workflow.

Closely monitoring your niche and your users in their “natural habitat” can give you these valuable pieces of information.

Focus on Monetization

You can build for fun and forget everything about revenue and money. But if you want to turn your side project into a profitable business one day, monetization is the key.

Adding a paywall is not the only option. Affiliate links, sponsorships, locking features and many more options exist.

Keep in mind that building a great product and the hype around it can attract possible buyers/partners too.

Build a network

The making process is not an alone journey!

Always be open and communicate with like-minded people. You always have something to learn from exceptional people in your field.

People want to help you more frequently than you think.

Use the tools that fit you

No-code is the new buzzword after AI, ML, and blockchain. But there is no obligation to use any of them.

Never use tools that don’t fit with your skills. If code is your strength and you can create a prototype in a day, go for it.

In the end, the only thing that matters is to get sh*t done!

Prioritize your projects

You must focus on your full-time job first and then find some time to your side hustle.

Remember! It’s a side project unless you pay your rent from it.

In the last few months, I had to pause my side project due to my university studies. It was an exhausting period but I'm thrilled that it's done.

I did that because I couldn't focus 100% on them and I wasn’t satisfied with the results! Now I’m back and ready to hack again!

If you liked this post, you can follow me on Twitter where I share daily tips about coding, design and bootstrapping micro-startups.

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