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Running A Paid Community & Making $5,000 Monthly

How this digital nomad travels the world & created a community of indie founders

Hello! Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your business?

Hello and nice to meet you. I'm Anthony Castrio: community builder, software engineer, and indie hacker.

I've been traveling the world and working from my laptop for the last five years. First as a freelance webdev, and now sustained through my two indie businesses.

Four years ago I started building Indie Worldwide, a community for bootstrapped startup founders to meet other founders with similarly sized companies.

Indie Worldwide currently has over 100 active founders in the community and monthly revenue of between $2k and $5k.

How did you start this business? Take us through the process.

Indie Worldwide started from my own need for community. If you don't live in a major startup city like San Francisco or New York it can be really hard to find other founders going through similar problems as you. Doubly hard if you're a bootstrapped founder.

As a nomad, I would start up local meetups every time I got to a new city, but it was really tough to keep those connections once I left and most of those groups dissolved as soon I was no longer around to organize them.

I wanted a community I could be a part of no matter where I was living.

That's when I started Indie Worldwide.

At first, we were just a free monthly zoom call for any founders who wanted to join, but we quickly evolved from there. We added a Slack group for conversations between calls. Then I created a 1-1 matching system to introduce founders to each other directly based on how much money their startups were making.

It cost me $0 to get started, but I didn't make any money at it for over a year.

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What are your marketing strategies and channels to get customers?

All our initial members were free. I found them by posting on Twitter, Product Hunt, and Indie Hackers.

Really I had no plans to monetize Indie Worldwide, it was a place for me to learn from smarter founders while searching for my "real" idea.

Indie Worldwide went from free community to indie business almost by accident.

After we launched the 1-1 introduction service, a couple of my members told me they liked it so much that they wanted to pay for it to make sure it stayed around. I was hesitant at first, but eventually decided to take the money!

It took me another whole year to decide to add a paywall to join the community. I wish I'd done it much earlier!

As soon as the community went paid, spam dropped to 0, and the quality of members increased too.

That's when I decided to quit freelancing and try to build Indie Worldwide full-time. A year later it's just about paying the bills.

Twitter, Product Hunt, and word of mouth have been the biggest channels for us.

I also talked to my users constantly, figure out what they need (which might not be what they say they need), then build it for them. The ideas that work are the ones that start with people and solving their problems.

How does your business make money?

We make money through membership dues and ads in our weekly newsletter. It costs $290 per year to be a member of Indie Worldwide.

The business is currently making about $2-5,000 per month and spending about $1k of that on software and help to run the business.

My top priority this month is reducing expenses, followed by increasing revenue.

Most communities fizzle out when the founder gets bored. You have to have some way to keep things moving and interesting.

For Indie Worldwide that’s been our monthly events and challenges. There’s always something new and interesting to keep people engaged. We have lulls and peaks, but we keep moving forward.

Where can we go to lean more about you and your business?

I'm the most active on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnthonyCastrio

Learn more about Indie Worldwide here: https://indieworldwide.com/