Podcast: Indie Hackers

Episode: Persisting Through Failures to Find a Winning Trend with Dru Riley of Trends.vc

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This article is part of a series of podcast reviews called ‘The Podcast Bar’, on my site The Notion Bar.

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‘Indie Hacking’ has become a source of escape for many and is a popular way for people to ‘stop trading time for money’ using the concept of build once, sell multiple times.

Time is our only truly limited resource. Many people are unsatisfied spending 8 hours a day at a day job where they are not reaching their full potential or doing something they love. Cue the era of ‘indie hacking’.

In this episode, Courtland Allen, co-founder of the ‘Indie Hacker’ community, interviews Dru Riley, founder of Trends.vc , a series of weekly reports on new markets and ideas, which helps its audience discover emerging opportunities. Here are my personal most-inspiring takeaways:

Art vs Business

Courtland and Dru talk about how the science between balancing art and business isn’t always perfect. After all, just like most of society, full-time Indie Hackers still need to pay their bills. Dru mentions his experiences with this, at the beginning of his journey, as he started running out of runway and realised he needed to make more products. Therefore, you need to balance making things people ‘want’, in addition to the things you ‘want to make’.

The best Indie Hackers , like Dru, predict and engineer trends (preferably that they’re interested in) to their advantage.

In Dru’s case, he nailed the product-market-founder fit by identifying that people don’t want to spend the “time” doing intensive market research. They would rather have someone do it for them — that’s where Trends.vc came in. Proof is in the pudding — at the time of the episode, he had turned over $24,000 of revenue in the previous month.

Dru Riley, Guest

Pivot Quickly

They both highlight it’s also not easy to predict what you enjoy working on until you do it. So honestly, just get started. A quick way to validate your ideas and to “fail quickly”, before you end up investing all your time in a dead-end, is to build in public.

While building, you’ll gain feedback about your idea, in addition to social accountability (important motivator 🔥). After many iterations, you’ll end up with something you 1) enjoy 2) you can see yourself doing for a long time 3) ideally compounds.

Be Weird

In addition to this, lean into your ‘weird’. There’s an audience out there that’s just as ‘weird’ as you are — you just have to find them! Dru personally didn’t enjoy fluffy long form content (that you often see) and purposefully built Trends.VC in a no-nonsense format. His gamble paid off and his growing reader base is proof of following his gut! In short, don’t be afraid to inject a piece of what may seem unique/strange about yourself into your work.

Courtland Allen, Host

Growth hacks mentioned in the episode include:

In an oversaturated digital world, we all crave a human connection, so whatever personal touch you can bring to the table is a bonus.

Audience First

At the end of the day, there will never be another you. People can copy stuff, but they can’t copy the trust you build with your audience.

Courtland and Dru both promote spending time getting to know your audience in your early stages. They’ll become your biggest fans and be willing to offer you feedback.

You’ll also have an easier time when you choose to launch on platforms like Product Hunt, where your existing audience will help promote you on launch day and grow an even larger audience.

Time = Money

Yes, a conversation that often gets left out in the ‘maker’ community is that there is a big upfront time commitment to building your product: research, building in public, getting early adopters, building the product, marketing the product…

However, once the process is complete, it’s absolutely worth it. Passive income (ideally that compounds or spikes through recurring events) is the best kind of income.

Extra income means extra freedom and less financial/mental burden. I’ve definitely learned this lesson as I continue to build Notion templates (check out my template gallery here). Similar to Dru, my motivation to start indie hacking was initially fuelled by financial need and I can’t wait to see where this path leads me! 🚀

Nervous about becoming an indie hacker and think maybe your idea isn’t ‘good enough’? Great! That’s the first sign of being a good indie hacker — start building in public, pivot and see where it takes you!


genz/millenial. notion ambassdor + founder of thenotionbar.com. cultural commentator and aesthetic digital product builder, using notion as my canvas.