Around a year ago, I discovered “Indie Making” when the term was in its relative infancy. I read about amazing people like Pieter Levels who would embark on crazy yet wonderful challenges that changed the status quo and revolutionized the way we approach products and startups. I also discovered sites like Product Hunt and Indie Hackers, that shared the amazing work makers were doing and promoted the image that anyone could be an indie maker.
Since then, I have been becoming increasingly active in makers communities, from Makers Kitchen to Product Hunt, and have witnessed some amazing people build truly exceptional products. Every day I see people collaborating on projects, discussing the latest in tech, and helping each other achieve their goals. I think now is the time to chronicle exactly what drives my interest in this area, and how it has changed my life.
What it means to be a maker
The term “maker” is thrown around a lot. I have seen many people claim that you need to be an engineer to be a maker, but they couldn’t be more wrong. I have been programming since the age of 9, but develop projects without code. In my opinion, a maker is anyone, whether you are a designer, developer, non-coder, illustrator, or someone who is working on something awesome, and showcases their ideas to the world.
Being a maker is all about building something that solves a problem, or brings happiness to other people, even if it is only a small group of people. Inclusivity is at the heart of everything we do. Being an indie maker is really simple, all you need is a laptop, and some free time and you can make something groundbreaking. The bar has never been lower to make a difference.
In our hearts, we are all makers, working on the latest products in tech.
Indie making is not just about the products. It has given me the opportunity to build communities around the topics I am passionate about. When I launched Venture Perspectives last month, I instantly started to see more people who were involved in startups and investing enter my network, and send over appreciation for the work I had done. There is something really special about launching a product and seeing someone else use your product — you feel like you have made a difference.
I have also been able to connect with like-minded people who are passionate about coding, and community, as well as other areas I am not so well versed in. Over the last month, I have spoken to people who are developing apps on the blockchain network, people developing amazing mental health tech, and makers who have just reached $2K MRR from what started as a side-project. Through these conversations I have acquired a significant amount of knowledge in topics I was not even aware of, and reinforced the knowledge I currently have. It is crazy to think I am surrounded by such smart people!
One recurring theme which powers the makers community is #payitforward. Paying it forward allows us all to grow both personally and professionally, and yield better work. Due to the immense amount of support that makers have given to me over the last few months, covering everything from engineering to sales.
Building Cool Products and Limitations
Indie making has given me the opportunity to build new products in a variety of different areas, and explore new markets that are being disrupted by fellow indie makers. As an indie maker, whenever you experience an issue or notice a problem you are interested in solving, you can get to work and develop a solution the next day. Having this freedom creates an environment where you can explore a variety of different project opportunities — before fully committing to a product — and cultivate a great network of connections in the process.
There are also no boundaries or limitations in terms of how you create your product, and what tools you use. There are also no constraints on age, ability, or interests. It doesn’t matter if you are in the arts, sciences, or technologies, you can still make something that helps people and makes a difference. Another great thing about being a maker is that you do not need to spend weeks planning out your tech stack and environment, but instead can pick your tools and make a plan in a few hours.
Freedom and Creativity
I have also been able to fully express myself, and have had full creative freedom over the work I have been doing. These skills have transferred over to every aspect of my life, and have made me a better person, as well as allowed me to provide better advice to other people. In addition, indie making has developed my organizational and leadership skills through my work in developing communities (both formally and informally), which has been invaluable to my growth as a professional.
I also love how low the barrier for being an indie maker is — it has never been easier (and cheaper) to make a difference. Gone are the days where you needed a college degree or another similar qualification to make a cool project in tech. All you need is some free time and a laptop in order to get started with indie making, with no technical knowledge required. The indie maker movement also removes the requirement to quit your job to build something profitable so you can work full-time, and helps erase the mantra in Silicon Valley that you need to raise money quickly if you want to stay in business.
This section actually warrants its own blog post, but I will try to keep things short. All I can say is that Product Hunt has had a profound and incomprehensible impact on my life. Every day I am immersed in an environment where makers are building and collaborating on cool products that solve major problems. I am also surrounded by a landscape where a group of globally distributed people are achieving their goals, supported by members of the warmest community I have ever been part of.
I joined Product Hunt Makers around three months ago, and it has been one of the most supportive groups of people I have ever had the pleasure of joining. When you need an idea, you can count on another indie maker to reach out and guide you on your way. When you are experiencing an issue, there will always be an indie maker there to help you. Everywhere I look I can see awesome makers achieving their goals, no matter how small, and there is something so satisfying about that.
My Next Steps
I have already made a commitment to the indie makers community, and every day I offer my assistance to anyone who needs my help. Whether you want me to review a blog post, help you solve an engineering problem, or provide advice on how to scale up your community, I am available to help.
Over the next few weeks, I will be participating in Pat Walls’ 24 Hour Startup challenge alongside over 300 makers, where I will livestream the creation of a new product from scratch.
I will also be helping out with the Product Hunt Makers Festival and building another product from scratch for the event. The Product Hunt Makers Festival presents a great opportunity for people to come together and build something cool, so even if you are not a maker, you can join in, or just provide some help to people who are involved in the festival.
Every day, I celebrate the amazing efforts of indie makers across the globe who have inspired me to work harder and defy expectations when building products. To indie makers everywhere, I thank you.
Special shout out to Ryan Hoover, Abadesi Osunsade, Amrith Shanbhag, Pieter Levels, Ben Tossell, Pat Walls, Product Hunt, Makers Kitchen, and others for your inspiring contributions to indie makers. ✌️
Want to chat about communities, tech, indie making, or anything else? Reach out to me @jamesg_oca on Twitter.