Since 2010, independent creators, freelancers and coders have embraced a full remote working model that offers the possibility of making a living from their own projects, outside the traditional framework of a company. The mantra of the indie hacker could be summarized as follows: developing one's own product ideas by self-financing digital services at a low cost. To achieve this, they fast ship digital tools that generate quick sales and revenues.
However, many of these projects have a short lifespan, and the underlying product becomes unsustainable as a business. Coding copycats and gimmicks often lead to failure in making a living out of it. This is unfortunate because indie hackers are creative, community-driven, and hardworking. So, there's a whole untapped market they're missing: monetizing their services inside their community. It's not just about creating - it's about connecting.
By launching an Indie Hacker Web3 entity, each member can contribute and monetize their work while benefiting from the collective value of the community. They can use cryptographic proof to ensure they own their work. More importantly, they can open up to a collaborative market where everyone using each other's products or services can pay within the community. Consider this: all the value they create can be monetized effectively.
1. A boiling entrepreneurial community
To attract and engage their community, indie hackers initially validates their ideas and progress with their peers. Essential to this process is their presence on platforms like X, forums, or project launch sites such as Product Hunt, where they can present their project to qualified communities. In the case of Product Hunt, the platform even allows them to submit their project for votes. Furthermore, this exchange enables them to share their doubts with other 'solopreneurs' who are also developing their projects, fostering a rich exchange of experiences. With 30,000 active members just on the Indiehackers.com forum, there is a plethora of advice, best practices, and insights.
Indie hackers are very vocal and form a dynamic community that encourages transparency and freedom of exchange among creators regarding their projects. Within the community, everything is deliberately made public: from ideas to conception, technical developments, no-code tools, marketing, promotion, and even income received. The objective is for each member to become autonomous, based on the principle that diligent work and proper execution are sufficient to generate income if the right users are targeted. Even if this sometimes leads to exaggerations and lies, the assertion of oneself involves promoting one's independent project in all directions to be socially recognized by the community.
In successful projects like Pallyy, a content manager for social media targeting brands and web agencies, one can find guides such as 'Here's how I developed Pallyy solo with a monthly income of $74,000'1. There are also a series of tutorials for self-learning, tactics for finding the first hundred customers, features to integrate based on user feedback, and free tools to use. Things are narrated in a way that showcases both failures and successes. Implicitly, the idea is that anyone can achieve it, progressing from level to level, as if participating in entrepreneurial training. It feels like being in a video game of entrepreneurship.
2. Living the solopreneur life can feel very lonely
This promise of quick profitability is undeniably appealing: it boils down to creating a product, developing it individually without going through the hiring process or having to manage a team. Let's review the categories of projects most representative of what these Indie Hackers deploy online.
- Graphic libraries and reusable user interfaces: UntitledUI or ShadcnUI
- Automatically generate website pages by AI: MakeLanding or Uncody
- NextJS directory to deploy a digital service in 5 minutes: ShipFast or Shipixen
- Transform a Notion page into a website in less than a minute: Simple.ink or Super
- SEO tool for software-service editors: SaaSpad or SaaS Pages
- Online courses to create and launch a service without coding: Punks du Web or Readmake
- An interior design companion that generates your decoration through generative AI: Interior AI ou Reimagine Home
Exploring products from #BuildInPublic, #NoCode , and #IndieHacker, it is evident that many boil down to attempts, gadgets, or pale copies of existing features. Despite the ease of online deployment, generating profits proves challenging. Out of 937 products analyzed with verified revenue data, more than half generate no income, the average is only €2,000 per month, and only 5% exceed €8,000 monthly2. Living as a solopreneur in Bali with €2,000 is possible, and the promise of a liberated lifestyle and fulfilling work relationship can, under these conditions, be fulfilled.
Inevitably, there are star entrepreneurs who go so far as to publish real-time financial data for their services and monthly revenues generated in their X (Twitter) bio: Levelsio, Pierre de Wulf, or Sahil Lavingia. The community itself is vibrant, and the latter, founder of Gumroad, originally an ultra-simplified e-commerce project, explains how things went wrong with the investment fund that had invested in his project. In his own way, without altering his image as a spokesperson for the movement, he contributes to demystifying the difficulties that solopreneurs may encounter on this type of journey. This is very encouraging and provides insights for what's coming after launching his own product solo.
3. So, what's this untapped market they're missing ?
If we delve into the details of transactions and real payements for services, we notice that it's mainly indie hackers selling services to other indie hackers. Many products could be interconnecte if dveloped collectively. Only a handful of them manage to go beyond simple tools for independents and market to brands and professionals in other sectors. Also, successful founders end up structuring the project into a real company if they want to continue their growth, despite their initial dream of complete autonomy. For example, Gumroad, which started as an independent project, is now a company that employs over a hundred people globally, with the specificity of offering only part-time work.
The untapped market potential for Indie hackers is to tokenize their work and collaborate more effectively within their community. By creating an decentralized organization where members can contribute, tokenize their work, and receive payment within the community through tokens, indie hackers could establish a more streamlined and efficient way to collaborate and compensate each other. This approach could foster a stronger sense of community, encourage collaboration, and create a self-sustaining ecosystem where value is exchanged seamlessly among members. This collaborative approach will create a more diverse and sustainable revenue stream for indie hackers.
In essence, this proposed marketplace presents an opportunity for Indie Hackers to not only overcome existing challenges in monetizing their work, but also to establish a novel and efficient way of collaborating, compensating, and growing together. The numbers suggest that there is a genuine need for such a transformation, and the community's strength provides a solid foundation for building a thriving marketplace for Indie Hackers in the era of distributed ownership. Ownership share in the orgnization will align with the level of engagement. Increased activity, measured by the number of projects contributed to the network, directly translates to a higher equity stake.