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1 year of being an Indie Founder

It's been a year since we got our first payment notification for MakerBox products. Since then, we launched 10 products, made over $67K, and sold 1 product. I want to share how it all started.

How it all started

That was a $9 customer from a waitlist for our first product - a collection of tools with great free plans for Indie Founders.

Not a SaaS, not revolutionary, and not solving humanity's greatest problems.

We built it with Airtable, made a no-code landing page with Typedream, accepted payments through Gumroad, and launched it on Product Hunt. What a tech stack 😄

But it was a product that the Indie Founders needed. Even though it was not a fancy tech solution, It saved time and money.

So, the biggest lesson — focus on solving real problems and save either time or money (or bring people joy).

Here're 4 simple tips that helped us build products people need:

1. There's a high chance your first product will fail (sorry!)

So, don't start with brainstorming problems and solutions. Instead, start with choosing your target audience. Perfect scenario — you're a part of this audience.

Even if your first product fails, your knowledge about this audience's problems will stay with you. And you'll already have some authority and connections.

2. Don't build SaaS before validating the idea.

Validating idea = getting $.

If you already have an audience, launch an early bird option.

If you don't have an audience, launch a coming soon page and collect emails. But don't expect high conversion to paying customers, it'll be around 10-20%.

3. Create a content product around the problem you want to solve.

If it's a successful launch, then start building SaaS. Here are a few ways to validate your SaaS idea with a content product:

🔹 Challenge
🔹 Checklist
🔹 Swipe File
🔹 Workbook
🔹 Curated list
🔹 Template
🔹 Newsletter
🔹 E-book
🔹 Email course
🔹 Closed community
🔹 1-person agency

4. Collect feedback and beta-test.

There's a high chance your product won't be perfect from the first iteration. And your landing page, too.

So, spend some time and find beta testers. They will help you fix the bugs and make your product better. Also, they will be the first testimonials for your product. Win-win, isn't it?

Here're some places where you can find beta testers:
🔹 Indie Hackers
🔹 Product Hunt discussions
🔹 Polywork
🔹 Yesramen
🔹 #buildinpublic on Twitter


Why am I sharing this?

Cause during 1 year of building Indie Products, I've seen a lot of people burning out. Most Founders I followed in the beginning abandoned building in public and gave up on their products.

Shiny idea -> building for 3-6 months -> zero paying customers -> the end.

I don't want it to be like that.

  1. 7

    Validating is a step many don't do up to this day. I'm still surprised. Always be validating indies!

    1. 6

      Can't agree more on this, that's the greatest time-saver

  2. 7

    Congratulations on completing one year as an indie founder! 🎉 It's inspiring to see your journey and the lessons you've learned along the way. Keep pushing forward, and here's to many more successful years ahead!

    1. 1

      Thank you for the support 😊

      1. 2

        Can you share your mentioned no-code landing page?

          1. 1

            Typedream looks so cool! Should I do a favor for you?

  3. 2

    More important than validating the idea is establishing in a high value territory. It is important that whether it works out or not, you can pivot and try new things because there is a high demand/sector is growing. Otherwise, agree entirely!

  4. 2

    Congratulations! Appreciated your experience sharing and wish you a bigger success!

  5. 2

    Can you explain swipe file and check list in the content session

  6. 2

    Great guide for people who are willing to start business

  7. 1

    Glad to see you succeed. Thanks for the advice.

  8. 1

    This is some valuable advice. Thank you.
    What a great idea to validate an idea with a piece of content (#3).
    Curious to know - would you offer this piece of content for free or would you charge for it?

  9. 1

    Congratulations!

    I came across many names for Indie Haker: Indie Maker, Soloprenuer. Indie Founder is a new and unique one! Are there any more names out there in the wild?

  10. 1

    Thanks so much for sharing these valuable tips!

  11. 1

    Thanks for sharing ur journey

  12. 1

    Thank you for sharing, love your journey
    Keep rocking

  13. 1

    Thanks for sharing these tips! Without a social media presence, can you speak about how to find the right audience to share a content product?

    1. 1

      Is it that you do not have a social presence or that you do not want to use social media? No judgment :) I ask because I also have some reservations about social media. Also, it helps to answer your question if we know which side of the coin it is. It can also be a little bit of both, which is my situation.

      1. 1

        It's a bit more nuanced than that, however, I will say that I do not want to focus on growing an audience as I attempt to actually build a product. Additionally, I'm aware making content is really not a strength of mine.

      2. 1

        I have the same doubts. We currently have a cool idea (well, at least we think it's cool hehe) we want to launch but have no audience and social media just seems like an uphill battle.

        I've read a couple of unorthodox approaches to getting the word out about what you're building. Things like:

        1. commenting on forums like this one
        2. borrowing audiences
        3. sticking to only email marketing / newsletters
        4. using websites like Medium
        5. sticking to 1 or 2 social media channels (youtube, tiktok)

        looking forward to hearing what others have to say about this.

        1. 2

          I really like the advice from the folks from Stacking The Bricks. https://stackingthebricks.com/

          1. 1

            Checking it out now! Thanks for sharing!

  14. 1

    Aw thanks for sharing this out. We really need this!.

  15. 1

    good! I released an app and currently have no paying users, probably like you said the first product will fail

  16. 1

    Is there a maximum time you should spend on building a MVP? I am now working on a Analytics Software for nearly one month and I am close to finished.

    Thank you very much for the insight!

    1. 2

      Do you have prospective customers or a list of beta users? They will drive how long you should dedicate to an MVP. Find potential users, talk to them about if your idea will solve their problem or what other problems they have. If you cannot find users, use @sveta_bay content product technique. Is there a content product related to your idea or MVP you could give away in exchange for leads? I would not spend too much time building a product without leads or a path to distribution. Keep moving forward :)

  17. 1

    Great article! Keep going :)

  18. 1

    Thanks for this insight Sveta and congratulations on your success!

  19. 1

    Thank you for sharing these insights and encouraging others to keep going, even when faced with obstacles. Your post is a reminder that building a product is a process, and it's essential to stay focused and persistent in order to achieve your goals.

  20. 1

    Truly inspiring! I wholeheartedly agree that validating the idea before fully committing is crucial. Founders should not be afraid to approach beta testers. I understand it can feel daunting, but you'll be amazed at how helpful people can be. In fact, people will go out of their way to help!

  21. 1

    Thank you for this…obvious tutorial.

  22. 1

    Thank you for sharing your amazing story!

  23. 1

    Great article, good luck to you!

  24. 1

    I love seeing these kinds of posts on here, thank you!

  25. 1

    Validation above all, for sure. Hardest to perform but can save a ton of efforts and time in advance. Congratulations!

  26. 1

    thanks for your sharing, It's very inspirational for me.

  27. 1

    Thanks for sharing the precise and valuable information

  28. 1

    Congratulations on your journey!

  29. 1

    Congrats on your journey. The number are promising though. How do you tackle a million dollar question: How did you market these effectively?

  30. 1

    Congratulations on your journey with MakerBox products! It's incredible to see how far you've come in just one year.

    Creating a content product around the problem you want to solve is a brilliant way to validate your SaaS idea further.

    Thank you for sharing these valuable tips for building products people need.

  31. 1

    I see you sold on gumroad. Does that mean all your legal problems are taken care of eg. having to get an LLC? That's always a thing that worries me same with generating the privacy policy/terms of service pages... Before I even have something to sell.

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