The Rise of Maker Communities

Spinning up a simple web app used to require months of development, a team of people, and tons of capital for (physical!) servers. Today a single person can build more than a team of ten in a weekend. We see it every day on Product Hunt.

It’s never been easier to turn an idea into a product. Making has become far more accessible thanks in part to the rise of “no code” tools and advancements made over the last few decades. In turn, we’re seeing an explosion of people use technology to build something and express themselves the same way a musician dabbles on the drums. This is a good thing, but it introduces another problem: Difficulty in getting feedback and breaking out from the noise.

Thankfully, we’re seeing a movement to support this growing audience: Maker Communities.

There seems to be increasing demand to connect, learn, and collaborate with other makers as new spaces emerge. So, in attempt to map the maker ecosystem, I asked Twitter:

Criteria

Your suggestions and further research resulted in the list below. Communities listed match the following criteria:

  • The primary interaction on the platform is user-to-user or UGC, where its users are sharing, connecting, or collaborating with other users.
  • Their focus is on making something tangible in tech — an app, logo, DIY project, podcast, etc. — directly or indirectly.
  • While broad social platforms like Twitter and reddit service the maker community, it isn’t their primary purpose. They are left off this list.
  • Many small communities — e.g. there are hundreds of maker Slack teams and Facebook groups — to focus on larger communities.

Additionally, each maker community is categorized into four areas of focus:

  1. Vertical: A specific industry or craft (e.g. crypto, DIY hardware, bootstrappers)
  2. Role: A job function or skill (e.g. design, engineering, writing)
  3. Demographic: A gender, location, age or identifying trait (e.g. women, POC, high school students)
  4. General: Broadly serving makers of all kinds, not limited to a specific vertical, role, or demographic

This categorization may not be perfect as some communities span across multiple dimensions.

Observations

After reflecting on this list, a few observations emerged:

  • There are many underserved audiences. Engineering-focused communities are relatively abundant which makes sense considering the evolution of the internet. This leaves opportunities for others to fill today’s gaps that can support different types of makers.
  • Most communities are young, illustrating a growing desire to build community for every niche.
  • Most communities are focused on the web and desktop experience. This makes sense for this audience — people working at their desk — but maybe there’s a bigger opportunity for mobile.

The List

Of course I’ve likely missed some important — obvious to some — maker communities. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments here or with me on Twitter.

General Focus

Vertical Focus

Demographic Focus

Role Focus

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