timqian

My one year experience as an indie hacker

2020-05-18

About one year ago, I quit my job and started my career as an indie hacker. My goal was to reach $1000 monthly revenue in one year. The year soon passed, unfortunately, but not surprisingly, I failed. But as a summary of this journey, I would like to share some data and thoughts here with you.

Projects I made

Product Status Github Stars registered user Downloads
Feeds.Pub 🌱 haven’t open sourced yet 1534
Resumd 🌱 331
Chinese Independent Blogs 🌱 4.6k /
Repo Analytics 🌱 104 250
chart.xkcd 🌱 6.2k / 100k+
wewe 🌱 317 133
Help wanted 💀
Open Source Jobs 🌱 1.1k 153
Tomato Pie 🌱 198 1k
cloudquery 🌱 2.1k /
cloudfetch 💀
Star History 🌱 1.8k /

Monthly revenue

$14 per month from patreon

$57 per month from afdian (Thanks to immux.com)

About $18 per month from star-history

What I did wrong

  1. Not focusing enough: In 12 month, I built 11 different projects. I should focus on one project earlier.

  2. I am targeting global market, but wrote my blog only in Chinese.

What I did right

  1. I built a lot of different things: building is the best way to learn. Although I failed to build a product with enough MRR. The process made me a better builder. And it gave me some sense about products. Whether a product can attract people’s eye when it launches? Whether a product can “only” attract people when it launches, but people will not actually use it? Whether a product may not gain a successful launch but the search engine, network effect might make it worthwhile to try.

  2. Recording things down(in Chinese): so I can reuse what works and prevent mistakes happening twice. My blog brought me some readers and initial users. I made some amazing friends thanks to the blogs. One product might not live longer than some decades, but the experiences, and thoughts might have the opportunity to influence people for a longer time.

What’s next

  • I will focus mainly on Feeds.Pub to make it as good as I can. But continue building side projects (with less focus)
  • I started this English blog and will continue blogging
  • I am starting to look for freelance works and opportunities in startups, if you are looking for someone to build your APP, you are very welcomed to contact me

Should you consider being an indie hacker?

Building APPs is becoming more and more easy

nodejs, react, react-native, electron, flutter, bootstrap, tailwindcss… tools to help building APPs occur rapidly. Although some developer is complaining about too many things to learn and too many choices to choose. But it is important to note that these new tools are built to facilitate software engineering. You may have already noticed, there are lots of young people, even in primary school, got their own personal website and side projects. This is hard to imagine 10 years ago.

Building successful APPs is becoming more and more hard

Building APP becoming easier and easier. Hundreds of APPs are shipped every day. But the population on this globe is limited, so as their attention. It is predestined that most APPs get no tractions.

So, if you are not good enough on any aspect of luck/programming/creativity/patience/design, It might be hard to earn a living as an indie hacker.

It is the best of times: anyone can create thing with low cost It is the worst of times: anyone can create things with low cost

So, should you consider being an indie hacker?

If you got enough saving to sustain yourself for several years and are eager to try. It will be a fun journey. Being an indie hacker is a good practice in many aspects, it won’t be very hard for you to find a new job if you failed.

If you are just bored of “working for others”, you might be disappointed. As when you start building APPs yourself, you will soon find there isn’t much difference between indie hack or work for others. Most times, you will be doing the things “you must do”. A better choice is to join a good team, learn to build a successful product.

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