268: Channing Allen — Myths and Realities of the Indie Hacking Scene

Download MP3

Arvid Kahl 0:00
Is indie hacking truly dead? Or is this just another conspiracy theory? Well, I went to the source, Channing Allen, co founder of Indie Hackers will help me today, debunk this myth. We explore the challenges of maintaining a still very vibrant indie hacker community where members both compete and collaborate simultaneously. We get into strategies of monetizing such a community, how maximalism and minimalism impact how the indie hacker founders navigate business decisions, and we explore how constraints inspire creative problem solving. You will learn a lot from someone who's been at the center of the indie entrepreneur world for many, many years. Just like our sponsor today, acquire.com, more on that later. Now, here is Channing.

Welcome to the show. A few weeks ago, I talked to Pieter Levels on this show, too. And he proclaimed that indie hacking is dead. Now, you're the co founder of indiehackers.com, a great community that I think is very much alive still. Right? So what's going on with indie hacking?

Channing Allen 1:07
What was the Mark Twain quote, the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. No, look, I love that because it's just it's the rumor mill. The rumor mill just gets people talking. Pieter Levels showed up in my replies on Twitter and was like, hey, you know, we're getting good at this UFC style, like pretending to fight just to get people talking. And it's great. I think that I still have yet to listen to the episode, shame on me. But yeah, I think that the idea is that indie hackers started, the indie hackers community started as this tight community of not that many people. And when you have a small community, it's a lot easier to kind of manage the constraints of how the community defines itself, right? It's easier to police the norms and make sure that you don't have a lot of bullshit. You know, like the things that might seem scammy or fake or inauthentic. And my read of his point, of Pieter's point was, it's grown so big, right? The tent has become so big that now you have a lot of people who are on the edges and just say, you know, it's very easy to show up, say on Twitter and say, hey, here's how I, you know, I'm 17 years old. And here's how I've grown this business without any code or any effort to $20,000 a month, right? Just to get eyeballs. And so some of the tactics to grow and some of the elements about of the community that sometimes might be considered unsavory. You get enough people in the tent and you can't really control.

Arvid Kahl 2:49

Channing Allen 2:49
You know, what the community is like, but I think it's a good problem to have, right? Like, the community has gotten so big. And so many people are calling themselves indie hackers that, you know, we can't orchestrate you know and curate exactly who uses a label and what they say. I mean, it's just a natural process.

Arvid Kahl 3:10
Does that create any problems for you like organizing and maintaining the community, the forums, I guess, of indiehackers.com?

Channing Allen 3:17
No, I mean, look, the forum on indiehackers.com since day one, is you just have it's a, I wish I had a good analogy of any feed on the internet from the first day of the internet until I'm sure the last day of the internet, unless the AI bots control spam is you know, it's damage control. Like if anyone can show up like it's going to, you know, if it's unfettered, if it's uncurated, it's going to either be a ghost town or it's going to be a bit of a cesspool. And so what what we do is we have algorithms that make sure that things that the community votes on are the things that typically get seen. There's a lot of stuff that's unsavory beneath the surface. We have human moderators. And still things slip through, right? Still people game the system because everyone in this community is, I think that the good thing about the indie hacker community is also the bad thing. The good thing and a bad thing are that the people that are involved in this tend to be extremely high in initiative. They seem to be, they tend to be extremely intelligent and interesting, but they're also kind of go getters. Right? And I don't know who the boxer was but I think some professional athletes says that if you're not cheating, you're not trying. And so you got a lot of really clever people who try to like, you know, get voting rings and

Arvid Kahl 4:43

Channing Allen 4:44
And get stuff to the top. So you just you manage it as well as you can.

Arvid Kahl 4:49
Yeah, I always found this so interesting about the indie hacker community both the forums and the wider community, that it's both extremely aligned. People all have the same goal. They all want to have a really good lifestyle business. They want to make it and then they want to live off that and have the life they always wanted. And they're all competing with each other on some level. What attention is that? That's so cool.

Channing Allen 5:09
Yeah, yeah. Well, it's funny that you mentioned Pieter Levels because he and Danny Postma both superficially were competing for the mantle of who's got the, you know, like, you know, right. They were kind of like some of the really early AI face recognition and AI like photo creation founders. And so again, ostensibly, they were in competition with each other. But then they really cleverly played up the idea of that competition. And then what happened, right? The tide rose, both boats rose with it, right? Especially when you're small enough, there's not really you know, there's never been and there never will be an indie hacker monopoly on anything, right? And so there are a lot of opportunities to work together.

Arvid Kahl 5:12
Collaboration has always been a big part of the community. And I kind of like that and I somewhat bemoan that too because it feels like people are getting hesitant to collaborate too much because there are a lot of copycats and there are a lot of clones in the community too, right? The more you share, the more you open this attack surface. But also, the more you share, the more you build a reputation and then you get like distribution. It seems to be a balance to strike all the time.

Channing Allen 6:24
Yeah, look, I say this all the time to people, privately. I try not to say this too much publicly because everyone is at a different phase. But every problem that you have as an indie hacker, except for the problem of getting started, is a problem that comes with growing pains. Right? Like if you get to the point where you're really afraid of a copycat, you've graduated to that point, right? Like someone who has an idea, right? You're an ideapreneur, you don't have to worry about copycats. Right? And like, you know, even with one of the community movement, you know, elements of the indie hacker culture that is sort of beyond our culture, which is the build in public community. Building in public even has its own physics, which I think a lot of people are beginning to speak about, which is look, what's the benefit of building in public, right? Well, you get eyeballs, you get attention, even if you don't have a lot of capital and other resources. That's cool. People get to see you, you need to be transparent. But then there's a certain point that I think, you know, Cory Zue and a few other people, maybe even Pieter Levels, but actually Pieter Levels is one of the few exceptions. But a lot of people talk about how Justin Jackson of Transistor talk about how and there's a sort of an early phase, where building in public, sharing everything is a really good idea. And then there comes a point and it's not well defined, you kind of get the feeling. Maybe you'll see the copycats. Maybe you'll see your competition speaking about you, where it makes a little bit more sense to dial back how transparent you're being. And that's just a growing phase, right? It's a dynamic thing. There's no good answer to whether or not for example, building in public is good. Or even take your example collaborating is good. You just say, where am I at right now? What are my challenges now? What are the tools that I'm going to reach for that makes sense now until they don't make sense anymore?

Arvid Kahl 8:19
That makes perfect sense. There's always kind of a stage of your journey for which certain tools have certain effects. And I think the tough part is that advice as it comes in, from the community, from people who share their advice comes either from a different stage than you're in or it's in the same stage but it's a different field with different dynamics. It's really hard to contextualize, right? Advice to begin with, which makes a community that is getting more diverse and growing like the indie hacker community is that I also think is not dead at all, right? It's getting bigger and bigger and people are trying it out. That makes it harder to figure out which people should I even listen to or which people are trying to cheat me because they want to make money off me with their course. And which of those courses are actually helpful? Like it becomes a minefield and trust is eroded as well. Right?

Channing Allen 9:12
There's like, you just stated that really beautifully. The difficulty, which is I mean, effectively, you're getting advice. You're getting advice from people who share your situation. But I think it gets even more complex than that because I think you'll have people who superficially are the same, same industry, same stage, right? So into the same market. And say, the founders themselves will just have different dispositions, right? You'll have an introvert and you'll have an extrovert. You'll have someone who knows how to build and someone who doesn't really feel that comfortable building things. Right? And so I think a lot about this actually because I'm fortunate enough to have like, tried to perform in enough different domains. So I was like a really competitive basketball player growing up. I really am into video games. I try to put those aside because I get too addicted to them. Here with the business and entrepreneurship and another life, I'm trying to write a novel. And I do a lot of thinking about story theory. And one of the things that you notice, if you see how people try to, like operate in these different fields, is that if you have a field that has some kind of clearly defined metrics for what right looks like, then it becomes a lot easier to say, oh, okay, you know, you're trying to become a martial artists here. You're a white belt. From a white belt to the yellow belt or whatever you need to do these types of things. And then when you get to this stage, you do that. Same thing with things like chess, right? They're sort of like, here's what you learn at first. Here's what you learn after that. But then when you have something that's open ended, anything artistic, anything business oriented, there's just this open field. And in a sense, you're the one who defines what direction up is. Right? And so I think that a general principle that I've seen that seems to work when you're in sort of an open ended field like this, is to look at advice through two possible lenses and the choose the best one. So the two lenses are, advice is a yellow brick road, right? People are telling me what the path should be, right? And wait, is it this yellow brick road or that yellow brick road? This person says you should be a minimalist, that person says you should not do any coding, right? That doesn't work for something like this. I think that what works for this is instead of yellow bricks, they're all Lego bricks. All advice is Lego bricks, right? If someone says, here's what I do, then look at them and be like, okay, well, you know, his castle is built out of these seven Legos. Let me see if there's one that I can plug into my, you know, sort of operations and see if it works. Oh, it doesn't work. Okay, cool. No problem, pop it out. You know, like, pick another one up, pick one up from there. But you have to be someone who is you've got your ear to the ground. You have to learn from other people because you don't know everything. But you have to be very like provisional, you have to be very, like experimental. And, you know, always take things with a certain grain of salt and with a certain like, playful attitude, if that makes sense.

Arvid Kahl 12:22
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It sounds like you need a lot of context, both for what you have going on, like, where does it fit for me? And what they have going on? Why and where does it fit for them? Right? That's often neglected in people giving advice. They kind of isolate the advice from the context in which either they came up with it or they understand it or even from where they look at it now. And that makes it unusable in many ways.

Channing Allen 12:48
In general, when I see and I see this all the time, when I see communities, like real like face to face, like you and me right now. Right? As opposed to Twitter or whatever. If I see a situation where you have multiple different entrepreneurs and they're sharing their issues, a really good sign of the conversation that's taking place is when one entrepreneur says hey, I've got this problem. When the other person, even if they maybe they let's suppose that they identify the problem. They're like, oh, I had that problem. I did you know, XY and Z. And I, you know, it was easy. Instead of jumping in and saying, here's what you should do, here's what I did or saying anything that's a statement or an assertion. They constrain themselves to first asking a question. Like some like, okay, you're having a problem, say, you know, what is it that you're trying to achieve? Why is that the problem? You know, what happens if you just let that problem be? Will, you know, will that be some, you know, would that be a failure mode for your higher level goals? And very often, it's what you just mentioned, we're all coming from different places. This is a situation where very frequently, you'll be like, ah, I thought I had the solution. But, you know, that was because, you know, that solution was a ladder that was leaning against a wall that I was climbing, but they're trying to climb it an entirely different wall. So yeah, I think being a lot more patient. And in a sense, inhibiting that impulse, right? To make a decision for people makes for much healthier, more useful conversations

Arvid Kahl 14:27
And relationships, honestly, I learned this, like how to communicate well and how to communicate kind of, I wouldn't even call it defensively but like cautiously and without pushing and just just allowing the other person to pull, that has been helping me in my personal relationship in life, non business, right? Just romantic or all other kinds. It's really useful to be a good listener. That is generally good advice, right?

Channing Allen 14:53

Arvid Kahl 14:54
Don't need to contextualize that much like listening and taking in, mirroring back and giving people the opportunity to find themselves in what you heard. That tends to create a better opportunities and better results than other things. It's funny because that exact thing is lacking so much in such a both context and size reduced kind of communication such as Twitter. Twitter is like, used to be 180 characters or 140. Now it's 280. That's a long threads or whatever. But people still try to condense as much as they can into a shorter tweet because they rank better, they perform better, right? You have that stuff that loses all context and it loses all just opportunity for reflection.

Channing Allen 15:36
Yeah, yeah. It's really unfortunate. It's one of the reasons why I don't follow anyone on Twitter. Like, I don't like Twitter. I don't like what it does to my brain. I am active on Twitter, especially these days. I mean it probably more over the last four or five weeks because that just is the place and our media company flywheel for indie hackers were like, that's the best decision for the business. But yeah no, it's a, it's hmm, I wrestle with questions like these, right? Because, look, there's a trade off. I think that the quality of conversation, the quality of information when it's bite size, fast and immediately delivered into your nervous system is much lower. At the same time, you have to balance that out with the fact that there are people who, in a previous era of only long form communication, just were inaccessible, right? I mean, I've got a shelf full of books behind me. And there are five of those humans that I've DM messages or I've gotten replies from them. I've like entered into conversations, again, bite sized, you know, like 180 character kind of conversations. But it's just, you know, one of those weird trade offs of technology.

Arvid Kahl 16:59
That's an interesting point. Accessibility has a cost. And that cost is some kind of reduction, right? Reduction of intensity. I was thinking a lot about this because you mentioned Cory Zue earlier. And he today, which is a couple of weeks in the past for people listening at this point and talked a lot about authenticity and being online, right? Being on Twitter, being authentic and what that means in a world of, you know, just outcry and polarization and the attention economy. That was the conversation that he wanted to instigate and did on Hacker News of all places. That was an interesting place to read the comments.

Channing Allen 17:36
He's number 16 on Hacker News, as we speak.

Arvid Kahl 17:38
He number one for a long while.

Channing Allen 17:40

Arvid Kahl 17:41
That funny enough, is exactly the attention economy in which this conversation takes place. There's a lot of meta layering happening here. And I was thinking about this too because like with a sizable audience that I personally have and that I see a lot of founders looking for, they want to build that audience for reach, for distribution, for sharing what they have, what they sell, what they know, right? With that comes a lot of parasocial relationships, I guess like ours before we actually got to talk

Channing Allen 18:10

Arvid Kahl 18:11
Both on this show and on your podcast, back in the day, a couple years ago at this point. And it reminded me of Dunbar's number and how this is a concept that is so intrinsically linked to the human psychology, but cannot deal with more than 120 or some meaningfully deep relationships. How can we even be authentic beyond that? Do you have any? Do you look at this, like for your own community that you're building? Do you have any kind of way that you push people to towards more authentic behavior? Or how do you do that?

Channing Allen 18:45
I have like a, let's say, you know, society wide thought on this. And then I have an indie hacker specific way that I think about it. And there's like a fractal self similarity to them. So that it's just, you know, the big and the small, but the same thing, which is that I think when you have and this is all throughout the history of like economic history, the history of innovation, what you do is over time and with things like Twitter, you just have much bigger, you know, sort of tools for connectivity. It's you know, communication is easier, communication is faster, you can reach more people, but you do it in a more superficial way. And you can actually turn those lemons into lemonade if you are extremely highly intentional. And it just so happens that I think kind of a fraction of the overall population is really highly intentional. Right? I mean, if you have Facebook and Facebook is addictive. Most people are kind of get to sit in the seat and take what's given to them and they're like, okay, well this is how I use this. What's the I guess that would be the Apple versus Windows ecosystem or like the iPhone versus the Android ecosystem. So I think that you can turn this really negative situation basically just not having good superficial, having only superficial relationships, you can turn it into a good thing. If you're doing what we do and you're doing what, there are a lot of indie hackers, who I've reached out to. I have them in my DMs and then we try our best to get in touch with each other. And like, unfortunately or fortunately, like these are more or like, you know, sort of, I have better relationships with them. I connect with them better than I connect with a lot of people that are just naturally organically around me. Right? So I've taken the situation. And because I was highly intentional and they were highly intentional, we've turned it into something really good. To think Sahil Lavingia from Gumroad just moved kind of close to me, so I get to go hang out with him, which is awesome. But if you aren't intentional, then you don't get that benefit. You're kind of like caught up in this maelstrom. And so with indie hackers, you know, I think that the group self selects for high initiative. And we have some, we have a couple lines of revenue, the ads for the media company, we've got some like, I think I saw you bought one of the little cheap profile

Arvid Kahl 21:21
There you go

Channing Allen 21:22
Like profile page. But another one is we're doing meetups, we're doing masterminds. And we're trying to tap into exactly what you're talking about, like getting high resolution relationships as opposed to kind of the low resolution comment sections drive by shooting types of relationships that you can only have with like an online community.

Arvid Kahl 21:43
Intentionality, I love your focus on this. Like, it's a great way for people to self select into a thing. And to also kind of self select out of it, if it's not aligned with what they have. I kind of see it as a vector, right? You have a point where you are and you have like a directionality to it and also probably an intensity to the vector like a length. And then let's just do some math. But you know, like, there are other people who have similarly, like angled vectors and the closer you align, you do some vector multiplication and you know, this alignment between them and I think that that is one of the things that is a solution, or at least an attempt that we should be taking in terms of authenticity in a very scalable virtual world is just to accept that it can only scale along the aligned vectors that we have with each other. Like we cannot be the person for everybody. We can meet the right person for the people that are just have affinity for us the way we are. And I think you're doing this in a really cool way in the community. I also liked the idea that it's turned into a community powered media company. That to me, as somebody who is also trying to build a media company, not as much community powered, but community centric. There's a lot of alignment there as well. It's nice that you have found a phrase for this, that is something that I really, really like about what indie hackers is now because I think before the whole thing when you repurchased the company from Stripe, which is something that's probably also interesting to talk about, although you have talked about this at length, on your own podcast there. That to me was the day where you shifted gears. And you went into how can we determine who we are precisely and where our alignment is going to be in the future? How much of an intentional process was that? And are you done with it?

Channing Allen 23:40
No, first off, well, number one, it was very intentional and everything is intentional that we do, that doesn't mean that it's successful. Right? We try to design a lot of outcomes, just like you know, genetic mutations, most of those fail, some of them succeed. And then we get to celebrate the wins. But yeah, look, there is a new direction that we took when we became independent, this community powered media company direction. But again, with that point that I made before about like, self similarity and things being kind of fractal everything that we do, we run through a heuristic because it's just me and my brother, right? And we have a few really talented contractors. In fact, the person who does our newsletter, who's our editor of our newsletter is probably more talented than we are. She's written two books. She's, you know, a journalist for The New York Times. But we're still significantly, like under resourced to manage the kinds of communications and informational volume that goes through the indie hackers ecosystem, right? So look we're seven years old. I think for six years, every decision we make about features we ask ourselves, okay, like, what do we want to do? And can we do that in a way that where we crowdsource the content from the community itself? Eventually, in the beginning, we were text based interviews with founders, well, you can crowdsource that, right? You can create a questionnaire that's templatized. And you can send it to a lot of people, you can have very minimal overhead on that. We have product pages, right? And so this is quite easily the most valuable asset that we have in the entire and all of indie hackers. I think it's something like 42,000 founders have created products. They often share their revenue, that's like Stripe verified, they give a bunch of updates. And they have a lot of data in there. We're just we're choosing not to monetize it right now because we don't have to and it is useful to the community. But we had that switch to flip on. We don't touch it, right? We look at it every month and oh, now there's 41.5, you know, 1000 people who have these things. The form itself is crowdsourced so. And I could go on, we have a bit of a leader. We just have a job board, crowdsource right, two sided marketplace, we have a meetups widget. I don't mean to belabor the point, but eventually going okay, well, media is the thing that is really useful for a lot of our now business outcomes, were selling ads. It kind of went without saying, okay, well, how do we do this in a way where we don't have to hire a professional journalist and you know, have to constantly manage this really big editorial calendar, where every piece has to be touched and approved by us.

Arvid Kahl 26:36
So you tapped into the already pretty strongly existing capacity of indie hackers, founders, creators, of wanting to share their story and wanting to share what they do anyhow, that's pretty smart.

Channing Allen 26:48

Arvid Kahl 26:49
At the same time, you're also tapping into a market that is very scrappy, and very unwilling to pay money for anything. So I guess, no balance there.

Channing Allen 26:57

Arvid Kahl 26:58
How do you deal with this? Like, how do you deal with this innate inability to pay for things that you could build yourself or that you could do yourself in the acquisition and debts?

Channing Allen 27:08
Well, there's kind of two sides to that, which is that, I think that on the one hand if you are, say, I hear what you're saying if you're a developer and you're trying to build developer tools, good luck. On the, you know, the bottom line, right? Unless you're trying to sell it to a company and you know, you're trying to get like seats for the whole, you know, for all the developers there. You know, these people are very frugal and they can build it themselves. Everything looks like a ripoff to them. You want to build for people who can't build and then what you build seems like magic. But with us, we're fortunate enough that because we are a place where a lot of developers go. And specifically a lot of developers are trying to, are going to build businesses, there are people who sell to businesses, who want to sell to us to gain access to our group, right? So if you are to our community, so if you have we you know, we have our newsletter. The newsletter is a business newsletter with at this point, we've pruned it down to like 80,000 subscribers. And like, if you sell a developer tool, you probably have a lot of money and you're willing to spend that money. So on and so forth. And then I mean, if you take the, what I mentioned before the product directory, even if we're not talking about selling to the people who own these products, who are developers and founders. If you're just talking about access, which we could shut off at any point in time, right? As soon as we want to, like sell out, right? You know, there are, let's say well known venture capitalists and investors who have well known podcasts who are in our DMS that are like, shut this thing down and we'll pay you a lot of like, we have a lot of options because the business ecosystem writ large in the startup ecosystem writ large, has a lot of different parties to it, right?

Arvid Kahl 29:04
Yeah. And I think it's smart to go to where there's actually profit. You know, nothing against indie hackers, but most are onepreneurs. Most are starting out trying to make it happen. So going to the places that supply indiepreneurs that help them on their journey makes perfect sense. Same for me, that's kind of how I monetize my media empire as well. I have the newsletter. I have the podcast. And I'm also trying to build actual relationships with people, which is hard at scale. But people notice that, advertisers, sponsors notice that. I've long had a standing relationship with acquire.com for that reason, right? They want access to the fine people that are listening to this

Channing Allen 29:45
Like Gazdecki, right?

Arvid Kahl 29:47
Gazdecki, right.

Channing Allen 29:47
Yeah, yeah

Arvid Kahl 29:48
One day, these founders will want to sell their business. So you know, that's kind of a long play, which I quite enjoy as an advertising strategy. It's just to put yourself in there having a conversion, maybe at some later point, but you're already there. I don't want to talk too much about the find sponsor of this show, acquire.com. I wanted to give you

Channing Allen 30:11
It's very flattering thing to say about that sponsor, right? I mean, it's like the

Arvid Kahl 30:14
It's an actual relationship.

Channing Allen 30:15

Arvid Kahl 30:16
You know and you were talking about, like being in DMS with people. That's exactly how that sponsorship happened. It wasn't just, oh, yeah, we're gonna pay your money. No, no, I was talking to Andrew. I had him on the show. I was like, if we're gonna do this, I want to like what you do. And I want to like what you offer and want to be aligned, again, alignment, right? But let me just throw a compliment at you because you talked about your product pages. And I have to tell you this because I might not have told you this in the past. But the reason that I sold my SaaS business and I'm now sitting in my studio doing whatever I want to do is because we listed Feedback Panda on a product page with Stripe verified revenue and we were found by a private equity company there and that's where we started, that's when the sale started with this feature that you still have and still don't monetize. So just saying that, you're creating so much opportunity here for free, which is

Channing Allen 30:44
Yeah, we have, the amount of companies that scrape that thing, you know, I get DMS every like month or so who's like, you know, from someone that's like, hey there's this company over here that's like monetizing, like, their own database that just scrapes your database, like, do you want that to happen? And we're like, hey, listen, you know, we could try to stop them. But we really like we have to turn off the faucet.

Arvid Kahl 31:31

Channing Allen 31:31
And like, it's just, you know, Merry Christmas every day to everyone who for the time being is, you know, making a living off of that thing.

Arvid Kahl 31:40
But that's what I really enjoy because it shows you have like an abundance mindset that is still kind of constrained by, you know, the capitalist endeavor to monetize. But you see it as more at least that's what I think and correct me if I'm wrong, but as an opportunity surface and larger and not just a way to make like 20 bucks a month from somebody. Right?

Channing Allen 32:00
That's exactly it. I'm gonna steal a quote from Rupert Murdoch, I just read a biography of him and he's got like, you know, the sort of the family dynasty and they've been around for a long time. And with the benefit of kind of keeping it in the family, one of the things that can be assured about is that they don't have to go the way that a lot of corporations do from quarter to quarter, trying to like reach for earnings and make short term bad decisions that just, you know, juice their numbers. And the quote is, he's like, we're not in it for dollars, we're in it for decades. And I think that it's a, you know, it's a nice bumper sticker. And a lot of people would say that they could, but they can't, but we can, right? We aren't necessarily financially hurting. And so we get to say, okay, right? Let's just take for granted that we're going to be around for the next five years, let's take for granted that we're going to be around for the next 15 years. What are decisions that we want to make, that will a sort of serve the community the best? Again, I'm not saying that to kind of be a kiss up or whatever. It's literally we're like, we don't have to make money. Like we do not have to make money from the community. And anything that we do if even if I take the most selfish perspective on this, right? I like to say things, I like to think out loud in public through my writing about how things work and put them out into the atmosphere. What better thing to own than a platform that's thriving, that people have really goodwill toward it, right? We can always put things on this media machine. And so for us, the thought of like, what is it killing the golden goose? Right? Any version of killing the golden goose, it's like, hey, listen, that's our like, break glass in case of emergency thing that we can do. Unless we can figure out a way to have it be kind of win-win all around. But otherwise, yeah, I mean, we have the privilege of being able to be abundance mindset about it.

Arvid Kahl 34:05
Yeah. And I can feel this. I think it's very notable both from your work but also just from how the community approaches their work. It's kind of this infinite game thinking, right? The idea that that's a game you can only win by keeping playing that game and feels that you're of the same mind. You had a wonderful thing you just recently said and I kind of want to quote you on this because you said long term optimism for difficult projects is made out of short term pessimism. That I found very interesting because it's also like a long term vision, you know, that's bright and open and a very, is calculated look at the present. Can you explain to me first of why you think so? And also where does it come from? What's the actual thing that triggered this for you?

Channing Allen 34:51
Well, I think what triggered it is first off reality. I mean, look if you do a project, many people that do projects that are of a sufficient amount of difficulty know, what's that there's like some eponymous law that you know, time expands to fill the time that you

Arvid Kahl 35:11
Parkinson's Law

Channing Allen 35:12
Yeah, there's Parkinson's Law, then there's what's the one that's like, if something can go wrong, it will, right? And these are, I think it's Murphy's Law. These are all ideas. Like if you build things, you just realize what we said before, which is that you can design some outcome. You can lay out your mental yellow brick road in advance, like shits gonna hit the fan, something unexpected is gonna happen. Sometimes it's a happy windfall, sometimes good things happen. But if you do it enough, you just realize like, essentially, if you internalize that right up front and you're like, everything's gonna go wrong. And then you operate accordingly, you often are going to front load whatever work you have. And if you do that enough at the small scale, you're going to have compounding wins, like just a higher percentage of compounding wins and you'll be able to be successful in the long term. And so I mean, to be a little bit more concrete about this look, every single day, I have a plan. There's seven things that I want to do, right? And those are kind of cross discipline, right? There's some stuff I want to do for indie hackers, have a great conversation with Arvid today. You know, their stuff I want to work out, I want to work on my novel, I want to have a good date with my girlfriend tonight. There's a lot of stuff. With every new thing I add, there's complexity and there's a chance that things aren't gonna go right. And I've just learned that if I want to make those things happen, it's useful if I wake up and I'm like, everything's gonna go wrong, right? I need to front load, I need to be really pessimistic about the day and then the way that I kind of execute throughout the day, a little bit anxious, a little bit pessimistic seeming to someone on the outside, is going to mean that when something unexpected happens and a wrinkle gets thrown into my plan, I'm two hours ahead. Right? Well, I've already knocked the thing out that was hard or I've already eaten the frog, so to speak.

Arvid Kahl 37:12
You know, I'm trying to internally because that's how my mind works, rephrase it into something positive. I wonder if you could just say, while you're leaving room to be pleasantly surprised by almost everything?

Channing Allen 37:24

Arvid Kahl 37:25
It's kind of what that sounds like to me. I think a certain level of just realism that is like pessimism cautiously applied, in terms of these things makes makes a lot of sense to me, particularly as we both are in creative roles, right? Like entrepreneurship or media stuff, like all of that is essentially being a creator or creative. So there's the wrenches and stuff, there's sub O's that get thrown into the gears, right? All that stuff is present every single day. I kind of liked that. I liked that as a mindset because what it does in effect is to prepare you for micro failures, right? It prepares you for the little setbacks that you always get. And this is okay. Yeah, sure. I thought that might happen. And now with that, let's do something else.

Channing Allen 38:07
Yeah, exactly. And what I would say is, we're talking about intentionality. I'm happy to share some details. But I find that getting into some of the weeds of like, how individual people operate often is harder to communicate verbally. But, I mean, I'm fairly, like systematic about this. So for me, it's not just saying like, oh, you know, short term pessimism, it's not like I sort of, I say it in the morning and it's like, kind of my little affirmation. And then I do, do that I just go off into my day and forget it immediately. Like, when I'm doing my plan at the beginning of the day, like I have a thing that's like, account for this, like I will say it and I need to like actually stop. It's like a speed bump and a bit of a reality check. And I'm like, how am I going concretely, what am I, you know, how, what's the hardest thing or the most uncomfortable thing in this list of like, seven tasks? And, like, sort of implementing that principle is like, okay, well, I'm gonna do this now. I don't really feel like it. Yeah, but I'm not gonna feel like it at noon either, right? And what I do is I try to do this in a way that scales up. So I will plan my day. The plan for my day is drawn from my plan for my week. My plan for my week is drawn from my plan for my month and my quarter. And then I don't go any higher than that because I can't see into the future. And for every layer of planning, of multiscale planning, I do the exact same thing. I say when everything goes exactly upside down from the way that I expect it to, you know, how am I going to have proceeded through this week in a way where I still get to the end and I'm like, I want that week.

Arvid Kahl 38:14
Does that ever like exhaust you? Like it sounds like a lot of internal mini fear setting exercises that you do all the time. Like I would assume that there are people who just couldn't handle this. So I wonder, does it drain you?

Channing Allen 40:05
This is exactly one of those things. Like, I wouldn't give that advice to anyone. I would just say, hey, look at my Lego tower. Like this is my Lego tower.

Arvid Kahl 40:15

Channing Allen 40:15
And my Lego tower is, like I said, it's kind of rigorous. It's nowhere near the far end of the sliding scale of the amount of like, you know, go listen to a My First Million podcast episode with what's his name? Rob Dyrdek. I mean, this guy will plan his, he plans his bathroom breaks, right? It's that level of slicing and dicing and analyzing his day. And then you have people who are like caution to the wind. I mean, look, Courtland, my co founder and my twin is the exact opposite, right? He wakes up and he goes, well, what I want to do today. I don't want to work today. Right? He doesn't, another day, he's like, I just want to, all I want to do is work. And I don't want to go to bed, right? For three days, I don't even want to eat. Right? And he just does it that way. And that's what works for him. And I think that there's a, you know, it's, we're all kind of self expanders, we all, it's very comforting to feel like the things that are difficult for me are difficult for other people and things that work for me, work for other people. And when you see, like, I've got a lot of computer monitors. If someone like me sees other people that have it, it feels really good. And we want to sort of expand that. But I think that when you see enough examples of successful people, one of the first things you'll learn is like, oh, there's no fucking playbook. There's just no playbook. There's an exception to every single rule. Just because everyone is different. Everyone comes in to something is, like I said, open ended as entrepreneurship. Everyone comes in with their talents and their insecurities. And it's just a different deck of cards, right?

Arvid Kahl 41:50
Oh, for sure. And it would be sad if it wasn't the case. What world would we live in if we didn't have that variety in the small just as much as we have it in the sizable? What I wonder, like, could you imagine working with Courtland if he wasn't your twin? You know, if you hadn't built like a lifetime of coping mechanisms to deal with each other's style?

Channing Allen 42:13
Well, you know, it's funny is, I don't feel that we really got too much of the benefit of the lifelong coping mechanisms because so for context, I mean, so we're brothers, we grew up together and all we did was bicker and fight. We're, like, you know, if competitiveness is a sliding scale, we're both falling off the edge. We're just extremely competitive people probably because of us, we probably self accelerate it towards the cliff. And when we went to college and we separated, he went to a different state. I went to a different state, we didn't talk too much. And it was actually the separation that enlightened us because now we're sort of operating in these different social environments, how similar we were in certain ways, right? How well we got along with different sort of ways of communicating or collaborating or standards or whatever it is. And then we kind of converged again, but then, you know, so we moved to San Francisco. I'll kind of go a breeze right through the story. But I mean, we lived together. I was doing something. He was doing something else. We still weren't all that close. It was specifically starting indie hackers, where he's like, here's what I'm looking for. You got what I'm looking for. Right? And we started working together, where I think the only thing we really knew was that I was not going to divorce him. And he was not going to divorce me. And that we both are willing to do what it takes to be successful. So like, those two things and we're both like relatively smart. We both are technical. We both know enough about business, like, you know, the soft stuff was there. But I think the hardest, the most convincing and useful stuff wasn't necessarily that we knew how to communicate because we didn't. Like, we've had wars and we've learned so much now. I think now we're great communicators. But that happened after we've chosen to jump out of the plane together.

Arvid Kahl 44:17
You're making a pretty good case for going into business with family something that people most of the time do not suggest. It sounds like you Yeah, I love this. The mutual non divorce agreement that you have going on, in many ways, yeah, you can't. Like there's this bond between you guys that is just irrevocable, right? You can't take it out, very interesting. And if you don't have this kind of threat of being pulled away from each other, you kind of have to make it work. So what I hear you say is that you develop your coping mechanism after the fact like as adults in the context of your business now.

Channing Allen 45:00
A thing knew you touched on that is a very big topic in the space that I'm obsessed with, complex systems, which is that very often when we think we have a challenge and we want to address that challenge, particularly in the West, we think about everything as like billiard balls. How will I knock into some other physical object to make it work? And one of the things that you don't see are constraints. So in other words, like, what are the possible options that are even available to me? And in a sense, what we had wasn't, you know, an ability to knock into each other, like, you know, me set him straight when he's sort of fucking up. Or if we're having an argument, we just know that we had the tactics or the tools. What we had was like, straight jackets, we're like, well, you know, here it is. It's you and me, like, we've got this. We've got this, you know, almost irresolvable conflict where I think we should go right with the company and you think we should go left. But I guess we're both sort of trapped in the car. And then we eventually work it out. And we learn things along the way. And it's like, again, it's a constraint where, almost certainly, I mean, I can say this. I feel pretty confident about it, especially kind of early on. If we didn't have this constraint, things would have gotten kind of hard. And it would have been really tasty to just be like, look, it's just this doesn't work, right? You do this, you'd like doing it this way. I like doing it that way. Neither of us wants to give in. And it's maybe easier to just be like, you know, you take this part and I'll take that part and we just walk away. But we just didn't have that option. And then we evolved. And then now we don't need the option.

Arvid Kahl 46:39
Do you still have constraints, though, in your current state of the business?

Channing Allen 46:47
I don't think that there is such a thing as not having constraints. I think that like, everyone has them even if you don't see them. You know, certain people, they're your friends, they are constraints that are invisible to you, so on and so forth. But I think that we don't have the same level of like intentionality about the constraints. I think that we just like when you try to create a new habit. At first, it's conscious and then increasingly, it becomes this thing that's a matter of automaticity. I think that with us, we kind of, you know, if there's a trigger of some kind of a problem, we both kind of know, like, what the protocol is.

Arvid Kahl 47:27
That's an interesting one. To me, constraints from my personal experience as a developer, reminds me very much of design systems that are adaptive to the view that you take on it. That's where the constraint defines and the content of the thing you do forms itself into the constraints that you define. So I guess the question would be, if you are not consciously aware of your constraints, how can you become more aware of them? What is your approach for that?

Channing Allen 47:59
Well, I think the only real approach is to, it's almost like I would take a step back and I would use like a meta constraint in that sense of, like, you know, have a meta design, which is that when you run into problems, I mean, what I literally do is, I have a way of thinking about the world that is based on, I think, the best design thinking. Have you read The Design of Everyday Things by Don? So this guy is like one of my heroes. He's in, by the way, he's like, 90, he's like in his 90s. And he's still writing up eds and thinking about design. But in any case, one of the big points of emphasis on his book, which was like, you know, smash hit. And by the way, before it was called The Design of Everyday Things about design. It was called the Psychology of Everyday Things because what he's talking about is he is talking about designing human systems for people to operate amongst themselves. And what I took away from him that I applied to situations like what you're referring to, is trying to get outside of your own head with your solutions. And so with me, I largely took this from him. I think about every problem that I want to solve as having what I call the five T's and there's like, this is like sort of extra mental resources that I tap into. One of them is like, well, you know, what are the techniques that I might be able to like implement in this situation? Again, that's like a billiard ball knocking into another one that doesn't work. What are the tools? What are the tools outside of myself? Right? And even a book might be a tool so like, if we're having a relationship issue, my brother and I and my girlfriend and I, a friend and myself, I have in my head ideas, but like maybe I should like consult something outside of my head. The other T is territory like constraints, like what changes can I make to my surroundings, my environment? Teams and teachers, so those three things. I mean, typically if I have a problem and I don't know how to march around it, I'll just kind of go down, right? Again, techniques, tools, territorial constraints, teams and teachers. And there's usually this is like a creative constraint and itself, right? To think like, what am I missing? What am I not picking up?

Arvid Kahl 50:30
That sounds like you're just externalizing or not just, you are externalizing the perspective from which you then try to look back at what you're doing in many different ways, through people, through ideas, through teachings, through tools. I like this. I'm a big fan of that because like zooming out zooming back in, probably the best thing you can do in many ways.

Channing Allen 50:51

Arvid Kahl 50:51
But you need the space, right? You need the space to be comfortable zooming out. And reminds me of something you said when we talked about maximalism, to me that is allowing space for multiple things and not just minimalism, like a very pointy perspective that is just in one particular kind of specific space. So I really enjoyed when you share, like that picture of your desk, in front of which is sitting right now because it reminds me very much of what I'm sitting in front of. Like, you don't want to see the other side of this. That's what I'm trying to say, right? And I found myself in your description of this, like in maximizing opportunity, maximizing, I guess that's the word,. Maximizing just the potential of things, instead of limiting yourself to certain things that sounds like your five T's belong into that category.

Channing Allen 51:42
Exactly. Yeah, yeah, well, the five T, you know, look, everyone has a different approach to life. And I think that your approach is like the input. And then the only thing you can, anyone else can really measure or even you can measure is like, what is your corn? What does that grow? What is the yield of that thing? And I think that that with me. So I said this thing that I'm a maximalist. And I'm kind of countering what I think is the fad is the culture now, which is being a minimalist. But, you know, like secret, I'm neither what I am is I just look at again, I'm a Lego brick builder, right? I just, I take the Lego and plug it in. And I see what works. And what I think I've seen specifically when it comes to this is when it comes to like, you know how. So in my case, for anyone who hasn't seen and I don't recommend that you go and try to find it. But I have like three different screens. I have two computers and a big display. And then I have often like an iPad. I have a lot of different screens that I use at my normal desk that I sit at every day because this has worked for me. And so in that sense, I'm a maximalist. I also use a lot of different software. I'm really big fan of Notion. Notion is a bit controversial because people who like simple things don't like Notion. It's got all these building blocks and it's got databases and it's got all these things that people can be overwhelmed by. And so in these senses, I'm a maximalist. But then there are other senses, where I'm a total minimalist. I mean, I very rarely will post on social media, that's a deliberate decision. I'm fairly disciplined and fairly strict. So I mean, my and this is true, my favorite app of all of the apps that are out there is one called Freedom. And Freedom is just a website blocker. And it's like, operating system wide. And at like a regular schedule throughout the day, this thing is shutting off my access from the internet and I have no choice but to like, get off my ass and go to my gym and workout, go walk outside, right? Go talk to a person, go touch grass, or whatever it is. And so if, you know, it would be hard for someone to come in and like archetype me, right? To reduce me to a thing. And it's like, well, what's the decision rule that I go by? And the answer is I just I try it. If it works, it works. If I try something, if I add a new screen and then I get overwhelmed, I take the screen away. If I try like kind of going with something that's kind of simple and I feel bored or I feel under stimulated, I try adding something else. And I think that what you end up with, if you were authentic, that word that Cory Zue is, I think rightly touches on is every single person will look different than every other person. Right? And that's like, you know what works for you.

Arvid Kahl 51:43
Yeah, it sounds like you're really just setting your own constraints. Like you take them, you set them and you change them over time as well.

Channing Allen 54:45

Arvid Kahl 54:45
The social media thing is a great example of this. Like, you're active, you're inactive depending on what you want to do and what do you want to use it for? And that brings me to the thing that I've been wanting to ask you for days at this point because there was a thing that you used to do for a long time that has stopped in June. And that's the podcast, right? It's the anchors podcast, which to me, I looked at the last couple episodes that I listened to and I thought, oh, yeah, they had stuff going on. Who else are they going to get? Like you got the best one. So you know, that's over. But I wouldn't be interested in what caused you to kind of first off not continue the podcast until today, or at least, as we record this, there hasn't been a new episode for a couple months. And if there maybe is a constraint that changed for you or a priority or perspective?

Channing Allen 55:45
Yeah, I think all of everything stayed the same. And then this was sort of a natural outcropping of following these rules, just like creating a community powered media company was the outcropping of the rule of constraining things to crowdsourcing. And then now we have a new one tweak, we have a new business objective. And so that's, you know, sort of the emergent feature that we build. Look, we have a constraint that, again, we're trying to do this for decades, like we want this community to be here for decades. And so if there is any element of just what our daily lives look like, that creates what the rationalist community is called OG Fields. Ever heard of this before? An OG Field where step into and just like, right? If you soldier through that thing on a regular basis, anything like that, it could be, you don't like answering emails, it could be you don't like, you know, it doesn't fill in the blank. And there's no reason why it's going to, you know, that feeling is going to get reduced over time, then it's just you're just setting a recipe for not liking your job or resenting what you do. And so, I may be oversold that because the podcast wasn't that for us. It wasn't, it was just, it's a lot of work. We are, like I said, we're very ambitious. And I think the easiest way to put this is that everything that we touch, we want to make it increasingly higher quality no matter what. We don't like stasis, we don't like, you know, kind of keeping on the same path. And that was the case with the podcast. And when we became a business, we decided early on, like, hey, we don't want to sell ads on this podcast, for reasons that may be worth getting into. We sell ads against the newsletter. We might do website ads. But number one, even long term, we don't want this to be an ad sponsored, like an ad funded company, even the newsletter right now, like we see it as we're doing ads. We'd like to transition over time to having high enough quality content that we have subscribers, then we have a little bit more creative control and other benefits that come with not basically ad sponsorship. And we didn't want to do that for the podcast. And so therefore, a huge amount of the growth to say the media company, what like we're pouring resources into this podcast because we really care about it. I mean, every podcast was more than a day of our seven days a week, a lot of energy. If we have any kind of creative differences, that's even more energy. We bring on Seth Godin, we got to go bigger, right? Because we don't have we're just not chill, we're not chill about that kind of stuff. And so we had a decision to make, like, can we like we looked at the mirror, which is really just to say we looked at ourselves as twins. And we asked ourselves like, can we put this damn podcast completely on autopilot effort wise? And we're like, no, the answer is no. And so we didn't stop it. And like an official, it's officially dead kind of a way. We're just like, it doesn't make sense now. It doesn't feel good to pour resources into it when we don't think it's justified from a business perspective. And life has been absolutely amazing. The site is growing, the newsletter is growing. I mean, all the things that we care about are growing. But the downside is people that enjoy the podcast, which is humbling. I mean, like there's a huge reaction. There are a lot of people who really liked that podcast, but it's like, you know, we got bills to pay, we got contractors to pay.

Arvid Kahl 59:50
You describe this pretty well, like you talked about like lifestyle creep and how you don't have that but you have productivity creep.

Channing Allen 59:56

Arvid Kahl 59:57
That feels like that is part of productivity creep.

Channing Allen 1:00:00
Absolutely, yeah, yeah.

Arvid Kahl 1:00:02
Yeah, you can just overextend yourself into these things. But if there are other things that you need to do and I think that is the lesson for indie hackers. I think, even though it is, I guess for many people regrettable because it's a routine for them to listen to the podcast, which is why podcasts are so popular, right? There's this constant retention because consistency is there. But hey, if the absence of the podcast means that you guys get to be a glowing example for how indie hackers are allowed to pivot within their business, then all for the better, right? I feel that's absolutely worth it.

Channing Allen 1:00:37
Yeah. Well, and then, you know, so much for Channing as a maximalist thing, right? This is another example of minimalism. But like, again, it's not this and you know, so this is you're exactly right. One of the huge benefits of being an indie hacker is you get to make decisions that are right for you. But like, even on top of that, part of the decision is like, we want to do things that feel good, because we run the business, the business doesn't run us. But it's also like, we also were responding. I mean, it's a business. So you know, we have people that work for the business and that care if it does well. We have a strategy. So I posted a, we have a flywheel. Right? For the media company, we've got a few other revenue streams as well. And like those have their own sort of self contained strategy. There's a sort of an overarching strategy. There's a dynamic element where like, we see where this is going and we kind of want to constrain things to move them in that direction. So there's a lot of this stuff and like when pieces don't fit, I think that just being a good business owner, this isn't indie hacker specific, this isn't even startup specific, is saying what is the business need? And then doing that thing, even when it doesn't feel good. I mean, let's be really clear. The podcast from a business perspective didn't make sense for a couple of months before Seth Godin, believe it or not. Maybe he's the one that got us going, getting him on the calendar extended the life of that podcast little bit longer than it should have been extended. But you just like, I think that being a good founder is saying, well, I really love coding. But right now coding isn't needed. So I'm going to take a left and I'm going to go talk to people or it's all you want to do is talk to people but it's like, hey, this, you know, the faucet is leaking. You gotta go screw in, you know, you got to fix the components of the actual business, you got to like, do what is required. And I think that that's ultimately like the thing that, that's the North Star that led to us, temporarily for the time being, not having a podcast that's active.

Arvid Kahl 1:02:52
Yeah, do the things you need to do. So what does the business require? What does indiehackers.com need in the next couple months or years?

Channing Allen 1:03:00
Need is a strong word. Indie hackers is going to be fine. How would we like to have it grow? And what are some of the challenges? Look we're a media company. And it's funny, I mean, this is a moment in history and the history of like, you know, the modern internet, where, like there's kind of a media bloodbath, right? People don't trust media. A lot of companies that have gotten that have a lot of funding are going under. It's not easy to run a media company. And so, I mean, for us, it's relatively simple. I mean, we have community contributors, people like you. You've contributed. One of the things that you mentioned is true, which is that the people who read, say the indie hackers newsletter, the people who come and try to learn from the indie hackers homepage are all highly intelligent, highly self motivated people who are building things. And the people who want to contribute also happen to be people who like have a good advice, right? Cory Zue, what he was talking about, which is that in a sense, Twitter seems to be devolving into a cesspool of people who are sort of just professionally just trying to get content out there. Indie hackers is, you know, our community is filled with people who have like real things to say because they have scar tissue and they can talk about it. So getting the word out that we are a platform that will give those people that kind of win-win like eyeballs and people who are following them and learning from them. And for us, obviously, that's more content, right? That's us being able to provide that value to the whole community. That's a piece of the puzzle. We have a lot of technical things to do on the site that are a little bit more boring. We have advertisers, many of who for you know for the newsletter and other situations to build. I mean, it's all just I mean, it's just like building software. I mean, I could just name the very specific things that we need to do that are highly well defined. And it's just about like stacking bricks.

Arvid Kahl 1:05:12
Yeah. Lego bricks. Right? Always more Lego. Well, thanks for sharing this. And thank you for also sharing many of these things in public. I think you do a lot on Twitter now, which is really cool for somebody who doesn't use Twitter, using Twitter pretty well and sharing the flywheel, for example, to just get the insight as a founder, as a media business person myself. Let me just selfishly say this into your thinking and your planning, which compared to mine, I'm kind of more like Courtland in that way. I wake up and whatever, right? So

Channing Allen 1:05:40

Arvid Kahl 1:05:40
It's nice to see somebody who actually has thought about stuff and crystallized it into a shape to then share it. I really appreciate that. And what I feel and what you just said about the future of indie hackers is that you're striving to go for alignment over everything else, right? You're not looking for the shortcuts, you're not looking for the massive scam based sponsor revenue kind of thing. That's not where you're at. You want to build the place where people can trust other people. I really appreciate that.

Channing Allen 1:05:40
Yeah, no, thank you. When I think about I mean, this is again, going back to Cory Zue, but I've thought a lot about this. I've had conversations with a lot of people that are kind of like private rant conversations right about I mean, it's kind of no secret that it's sort of easy these days, for example, on Twitter to have a bit of a formula to the way that you craft a tweet, right? We have this term of thread boys, right? Like there seems to be a sort of a path that you can take and a way that this sort of just hit me, I think I was taking a shower. And I was like looking at the water going down the drain. And I thought to myself that almost like the shape of a lot of people who are only say on Twitter to gain more Twitter followers to get more engagements on Twitter. They start to sound a lot like each other. And they don't produce new things or new styles. And it almost like the collective shape of their content on the internet is like a drain, it's like a whirlpool and it goes into itself. And what I think you want is you want the opposite shape. You want people to go out into the world away from this body of water and learn things, get scar tissue and then come back and then drop that wisdom into the poll. And then it will be a ripple that goes outward, right? It'll be new to everyone. And then it will sort of what we say about indie hackers being dead, right? Indie hackers, if it goes sufficiently mainstream, it's no longer this isolated, unique thing. It kind of just dissipates and becomes part of the texture of things in a sense. I love the idea of Twitter posting there. But if I write stuff, like I feel this urge to try to make it ripple content as opposed to whirlpool content.

Arvid Kahl 1:07:59
I love that. And I'm glad you took the whirlpool like the shower drain and not the toilet drain for this particular visual, it is very, but in many ways it immediately brings to mind and yeah, that the water that goes down that drain is dirty. Right?

Channing Allen 1:08:15

Arvid Kahl 1:08:16
Like a spring is fresh and clean and cold and interesting. So I like that visual. I really appreciate it. And I do like what you do on Twitter. You're just authentically yourself and you're not like leaning into these games quite like this. So if anybody were to want to follow you on Twitter, even though you probably won't follow them back.

Channing Allen 1:08:39
So by the way, I got a it wasn't a nasty DM. But it was like a kind of a hurt DM from someone whose starpower is much bigger than mine. They're like, hey, I follow you. What the fuck? Yeah, he seems kind of arrogant. And I'm like, no, no, no, you're on my list. So I have Twitter lists of people that I follow. And I almost like want to like publish this list and be like, hey, look, I'm following tons of people. But again, it's for me, it's 100% goes back to intentionality. Like, I don't want to open Twitter and then for Twitter to tell me who I need to like see. I'm very easily distracted. And it's hard for me to like to choose not to see it. So I like to have those situations where I'm like, okay, I'm now going to look at the list. Now, and you're on that list, I should say. I feel obligated to say it's true.

Arvid Kahl 1:09:28
I really didn't mean to put you on the spot with this. Of course, you have a list like otherwise, how would you interact with people on Twitter? Right? And that's the thing. That's one of the big problems that Twitter has, just a new UI, even. If they could show how many people you follow through lists, then you would you would see probably 1000s of people in your account and Pieter Levels too, right? He follows a couple and he used to follow zero same deal like he was still interacting with the community. So you might unfollow them. But even better on a list at least you're going to be read so

Channing Allen 1:09:35

Arvid Kahl 1:09:36
That makes a difference. So if people want to get onto this list, where should they go?

Channing Allen 1:10:07
Just @channingallen

Arvid Kahl 1:10:14
Sounds about right.

Channing Allen 1:10:15
And I'll try to be a little bit more active. Like I said, my job dictates it, but also the freedoms of my job dictate that I get to lean a lot more into ripple content than into toilet flush content, well, I'll call it. And I'll say one extra thing about it. And this is a thing. I also, I mentioned this to a friend who saw the way that I was doing Twitter and specifically was like how they mentioned like the authenticity and like the bravery. And I feel like this is more apt to people who are entrepreneurs and indie hackers than anyone, which is you have to keep in mind that you can either stand out or you can fit in. And all of us want to do both of those things. And, you know, with me, I don't go onto my page and do like clickbait stuff. I don't say contrarian things to get attention. But I do a lot of things that are highly unique to me. And with those things, like I am super trigger happy. And like, I do think that if I do something that is me and I feel secure about and it's like weird, for example, like the bullets going to be out of the barrel immediately, sorry I used a gun analogy. But I mean, it's like, that's gold, right? Like, that's me. That's a way that I can sort of be me on blast. And I think that I know through direct experience, like I've helped people write copy for tweet and I've seen them write copy for like headlines on blog posts and stuff. And people will often significantly neuter and make things safe because they're kind of afraid. And it's like, dude, no, like, if there's an interesting, unique thing that's a little bit edgy. Like, you know, your post is going into a feed filled with other interesting things like, don't be afraid to stand out.

Arvid Kahl 1:12:08
That is definitely worthwhile advice. Let's just say that, coming from a person who has and that's the thing I really enjoy about you and your presence not just on Twitter, generally. It's actually very reflected. And you found ways that work for you. I think a lot of people have not come to this point yet. And they choose like the safe path. But in choosing the safe path, they choose no path at all. Because

Channing Allen 1:12:33

Arvid Kahl 1:12:34
They just don't show up, right. So I'm really, I feel grateful to be part of your universe, right? To see things that you share to be part of the conversations that you participate in. And I'm extremely grateful that you were here on the show today and shared all of these wonderful things with me. That was awesome. I really, really appreciate it.

Channing Allen 1:12:54
I think, as I said it before we started recording, I think, but it feels really good to be on this side, right? I don't have to worry about like, the editing and I don't really like you know, I don't have bad hair days. I still have hair. But I don't have to worry about it almost anything. So I just get to show up and give opinions.

Arvid Kahl 1:13:09
And I would not trade the extra effort of having to do a little editing for getting this wonderful conversation with you today. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Channing Allen 1:13:18
Yeah, yeah, thank you.

Arvid Kahl 1:13:19
And that's it for today. I will now briefly thank my sponsor acquire.com. Imagine this: you're a founder who's built a solid indie hacker SaaS product, you acquired customers and everything is generating really consistent monthly recurring revenue. That's the indie hacker dream, right? The problem is, you're not growing anymore for whatever reason, maybe it's a lack of focus, lack of skill, lack of insight into the market really or lack of interest, maybe you don't care anymore. You feel stuck in your business and with your business. The story that everybody wants to hear what you do now at this point is that you buckled down, you reignite the fire, you start doing marketing and sales, and outreach and working on the business, not just working in the business and six months down the road, you made all the money. You tripled your revenue and you have this hyper successful indie SaaS business. Reality, unfortunately, is not as simple as this and your situation, the situation you might be in right now is looking different depending on who you ask and who you look at. Too many times, the story here ends up being one of inaction and stagnation until the business itself becomes less and less valuable over time, or worse, completely worthless. So if you find yourself here already or you think that your personal story is likely headed down a similar road, I would consider a third option and that's selling your business on acquire.com. Because capitalizing on the value of your time today is a very smart move if you're a founder with limited time. Acquire.com is free to list. They've helped hundreds of founders already. So go to try.acquire.com/arvid and see for yourself if this is the right option for you.

Thank you so much for listening to The Bootstrapped Founder today. You can find me on Twitter @arvidkahl and you'll find my books and my twitter course there too. If you want to support me and the show and I would really appreciate that, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, get this podcast in your podcast player of choice and leave a rating and a review by going to (http://ratethispodcast.com/founder). It really makes a massive difference if you show up there because then the podcast will show up in other people's feeds. And that matters if we want to teach each other how to be better indie hackers. Any of this will help the show. Thank you so much for listening. Have a wonderful day and bye bye.

Creators and Guests

Arvid Kahl
Arvid Kahl
Empowering founders with kindness. Building in Public. Sold my SaaS FeedbackPanda for life-changing $ in 2019, now sharing my journey & what I learned.
Channing Allen
Channing Allen
Co-founder @IndieHackersI tweet lessons from my 50+ weekly chats with founders. Mostly how stuff works and how to make it work for you.
268: Channing Allen — Myths and Realities of the Indie Hacking Scene
Broadcast by