As of today, both share a coveted spot at the top of the Indie Hackers product directory.
Pieter is considered by many as one of the most inspirational Indie Hackers in the scene and the IH website itself is partly inspired by NomadList.
Back in January 2018 he came on the IH podcast hosted by Courtland Allen and they talked about the 12 startups challenge, his breakout startup NomadList, and the playbook every solopreneur can follow to build companies like Product Hunt, Nomadlist and Indie Hackers.
Pieter’s thesis was that most startups fail anyway, so might as well build many of them and see what sticks.
He wanted to build and ship one project every month for the whole year.
And he was actively blogging at the time as well, trying to get the most eyeballs on each of his projects.
This is a list of his startup launch posts.
Play my inbox – a tool to collect music recommendations from your inbox and add them to a playlist.
Go Fucking Do it – a tool where you pledge money to achieve your goals. If you fail, the money goes to Pieter 🙃 – it even made the front page of Hacker News. It got plenty of press back then and makes some money for Pieter even today.
Tubelytics – a dashboard for YouTube channel analytics. He relaunched it as part of the challenge, but couldn’t monetize it.
NomadList – a live index of over 1000 cities to live and work remotely. With information such as internet speeds, cost of living, weather, etc.
Automattic (the company behind WordPress) bought sponsorship slots for $5K a month on the site and Pieter was in business.
He realized that to make the site sticky, he needed to have social features.
This is how he describes his next step –
“I knew I needed social features because I read something: If you wanna keep people coming to your website, you need to make the site sticky. so you need to either ask them for their email or you need to have social features”
But he did not know how to code a login form or maintain a user database.
So he started a slack group!
He connected a Typeform to his site to invite people to the slack group and within a month he had more than 1000 people in the group.
Soon, however, he started getting spammers.
To avoid spam he charged a $5 entry fee, and the spam was reduced.
But spammers rose again, so he raised the fee to $10.
And then gradually to $100.
Right now the price to be a part of the NomadList Slack group is $159.99.
Pieter’s advice for Indie Hackers is to not just talk about building stuff but actually build stuff.
Build, fail, learn and keep building.
This is how he explains it with a cycling example –
“If you want to learn to bicycle you don’t have to be Lance Armstrong, you don’t have to be the best, just don’t fall. That’s good enough. I’m not a very good designer, I’m very average. I’m not a very good programmer, I can do everything a little bit. I think being a generalist is great, but yeah, be inspired and then do. Don’t just get caught up in this whole vicious cycle of inspiration and talking about stuff. We all need to do more things and be less scared, just do.“
Insights + Ideas + Inspiration from Pieter Levels’ story 😇
You don’t need a fancy tech stack for a profitable business.
There is value in curating niche information.
FB and Google serve the masses, Indie Hackers can serve the niches.
As communities become large, spam becomes an issue, Pieter tackles it by charging money, Courtland tackles it by going invite-only. Spam management can be a good problem to solve in the “community economy”.
You can build NomadList for X. Find your X
There can be NoCode templates for“NomadList for X” that people can sell as info products.
Openly share controversial opinions on Twitter, you will get some hate, but will build a more loyal audience that can help you achieve virality.
Making money online is hard, being prolific gives you more shots at it. Have grit and do something crazy like 12 startups in 12 months, you will only grow from it.
Failure is fine, most of Pieter’s projects didn’t make much money, but the ones that did, made a ton. Stay in the game after failing.
You don’t need to be an ace developer to be a successful entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurship can change you, as you go viral and see success, there is a price you will pay, this is how Pieter described the change in himself within just 2 years of NomadList –
happy naive boy -> arrogant bitter entrepreneur— (@levelsio) June 14, 2016
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