#30: Tony Dinh (chap 2)

Tony Dinh

Chap 2: Indie Hacker - The story from passion

To be honest, most indie hackers’ dream is to make a living out of side projects and get to work on them full time, unless they buy in their employing company’s direction or participate as shareholders. In that case, the company becomes their product, a product they have great care for. Personally, I’ve come to realize that I do have a threshold to how much I can learn in terms of tech expertise. Like, no matter how much I put effort into it, it’s still not much compared to some others. It’s only natural; everyone has their own limits. Realizing our limits and deciding what actions to take are so important. I think if I start my own thing and focus on it, there are more opportunities and space for me to thrive.

Apart from coding, designing, and product shipment, an indie hacker has countless other things to learn if he wants his products to take off. Marketing, customer service, law, finance, payment, business partners… you name it. It requires an open mindset and the will to sweat to pursue them. There’s that one time a user asked me to export an invoice. I had no clue what the heck that was. Lol, I can’t even distinguish between an invoice and a receipt. So really, you gotta learn to cover all those areas.

Personal branding is a significant skill to take into account. It’s not a must, but it’s great to have. Invest in your branding is a long-term strategy. I can build 10 apps, yet none of them come out as a success. But what I have left is the audience that was a part of my journey building those 10 apps. They are going to be there when I build my 11th. People follow me for who I am, not just for the products that I put out. That “me” over time becomes my branding. For any indie hacker who has just started their game, building personal branding is highly recommended.

I don’t get too strict and disciplined with myself. When I get bored, I take a break for a while. There was a time when I loved games, and I spent a whole month playing. After I got bored with games, I get back to working on my products. Part of it is because I do it cuz I enjoy it. I don’t stress too much about how successful or how much money the product has to make. The great thing is, when users send me emails saying how they love what I built, or request new features, I have the motivation and inspiration to continue working again.

But sometimes, people don’t have that enjoyment with side projects; they have given up full-time jobs to go all in the “indie hacker” lifestyle. So they have to stay disciplined, set goals, and do everything. While that could be stressful, it could also be a force to keep them moving. A formula high risk - high return 🦸🏼

Peer pressure happens all the time. Especially when you’re on Twitter a lot and hearing from your friends. But that’s life. There are always better people out there. I usually tell myself this: Look back if you feel inferior, but look forward when you feel invincible. Look back to see how far you’ve gone. Look forward to know there’s more greatness to achieve up next.

I keep rotating the perspectives like that. It gives me a sense of much-needed balance. Like some people tell me, they feel frustrated because traders make far more than their 9-5 jobs. I say, it’s that’s stressing them that much, maybe quit their 9 to 5 and start trading if they want to also make as traders. We can’t just look on the surface and compare, while we don’t have any idea of the underlying risks. We can’t just do what we do and wish to have someone else’s achievement. That’s not a fair game. That’s really unhealthy.

For software beginners, I think it’d be great if they can work where they can improve their tech expertise as much as they can. After that, it depends on what you want. Want to build something on your own? Start thinking of your side projects soon. It will give you the time to research, experiment, maintain and gain a relevant grasp needed to build something bigger in the future. Want to stay growth along with a company? That works too. But staying too long in a place might put you in a comfort zone that might be hard to get out. Just be ready for the first steps.

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