From €0.01 to €10,000 MRR: My Indie Maker Journey

Reasons, Strategy, and the Path to €10k Monthly Recurring Revenue

Gianmarco Ebeling
The Indie Maker

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Code with a view: Portugal’s Atlantic coast

You know that feeling when you’re standing on the edge of a cliff, staring at the ocean below? Your heart races, and you’re caught between “This is crazy!” and “How cool it would be to jump!”.

I thought about writing this article for a while, but I never did it.

Until now.

It is time to Just Do It!’.

So, what’s the big deal? Why am I so pumped?

Simple: I’m committing to becoming an Indie Maker. No more daydreaming. No more “one day I’ll…” It’s happening, and I’m inviting you along for the ride.

This isn’t just another Medium article, but it will be the first chapter of a series of posts about this journey. It will be a sort of diary, documenting the steps towards a life where I can work on what I love, from wherever I want, without financial constraints.

This sounds like a dream… But we are going to make it happen!

I will write those articles as a way for me to keep track of this adventure, but hopefully, they will be helpful and inspirational for other people who want to start this adventure as well.

I also created this Medium publication called The Indie Maker, with the intention of giving space to other indie makers to share their stories and experiences on Medium.

Feel free to contact me if you want to be added as a writer and share your story.

Introduction

First of all, “What’s an indie maker?”.

An indie maker is an independent creator, basically a one-person company, doing the job of a whole team: developer, designer, marketer, sales, and so on.

An indie maker creates products and services that people want to use, and tries to make a living out of it.

There are some similar words for it, like indie hacker, solo founder, or bootstrapper.

I personally prefer the term “indie maker”, because for people who are not familiar with this world, it is easier to understand what it means (at least in my opinion).

I told a friend I wanted to become an indie hacker, and his reaction was “What? You want to hack computers?”. So yeah, I prefer indie maker.

You can read this if you want to get more familiar with this concept.

The reasons

Let’s start from the beginning.

In September 2020, I published my very first article on Medium: “JavaScript: how does it work?”.

Looking for support, I spammed it to some friends (as you can see from the amount of external views).

Stats of my very first story on Medium, between Sep 1, 2020 and Sep 30, 2020

To be honest, when I signed up on Medium, I was just looking for a platform to primarily learn and share. But then, something unexpected happened: I earned my first cent online.

When I saw that $0.01 on the dashboard, I was excited.

Despite the ridiculous amount, that was the first cents I ever made online, and I was so proud of it.

Magic internet money! 😁🤑

This moment made me realize that I wanted to learn more about Internet businesses and their potential. As I explored, I encountered numerous online scams, such as dubious “make money online” courses, but filtering through the noise, I found genuine insights about SaaS creators and bootstrappers, finally leading me to the world of indie makers.

X (Twitter) had a big role in this discovery, and I started following some great indie makers, like Pieter Levels (levels.io), one of the most famous out there.

@levelsio’s impressive portfolio of projects and their respective Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

Not only Pieter, but others like Tony, Luca, Dan, Danielle, and many others, inspired me to start this journey.

The desire to create startups

Ever since I was a student, I’ve been fascinated by the idea of creating my own startup.
I studied business, spent two years in Italy and two in Mexico, and always knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial.

In 2021, I made a major career change. I taught myself to code, focusing on JavaScript, which opened up a whole new world.

The ability to create something from scratch, to see an idea turn into a tangible product on the screen, was exciting. After months of self-study, I landed an internship as a front-end developer in Milan.
That internship turned into a full-time job and I’ve been working in the field ever since, now in Germany.

Later that year, I decided to give the startup world a try, and with two friends, I co-founded Flate, a long-term rental platform that wants to eliminate real-estate agencies, digitalize the entire process of renting, and simplify the search and management of the ideal home.

https://flate.com/

I plan to write a separate article detailing my journey with Flate, but for now, let’s just say it’s been a stepping stone towards my ultimate goal.

The Strategy

For this indie maker journey, I plan to adopt an agile approach, dividing my work into two-week sprints. One sprint will focus on development, building features, and improving the product. The next sprint will be dedicated to marketing and sales, where I’ll apply SEO and social media strategies to get the word out.

I’ll use the agile “system” as a guiding framework to organize my tasks, prioritize my to-dos, and maintain momentum.
However, it’s essential to note that traditional agile ceremonies like grooming, retrospectives, and daily stand-ups could be overkill (and no sense) for a solo journey or for a small team of two to three people.

Yes, I mentioned a small team because my indie maker journey will be a combination of solo projects and collaborative start-ups. For some projects, I’ll be one of multiple founders, working with a small team of two to three people (like in Flate for example).

Some of the tasks I created on Jira related to marketing and sales

Now, another question might come to your mind:

Are you going to quit your job?

Hell no! :D

Tim Ferris once said, “The best time to start a company is when you have a job.” I couldn’t agree more.
I currently work as a software engineer in Germany, and while it’s a fulfilling job, I don't see it as my endgame. I plan to use my evenings and weekends to work on my indie projects. The stability of a 9-to-5 job provides the financial cushion and mental peace to take calculated risks as an indie maker.

About the tech stack

When it comes to building, I learned that the best way is to use a tech stack that allows you to move quickly, iterate, and pivot if necessary.

As a frontend developer, I’ve often felt the weight of backend complexities slowing down my progress. That’s why choosing the right tech stack is crucial.

Those are going to be my weapons:

Next.js: This is a React framework that offers a lot of out-of-the-box features, such as server-side rendering and static site generation.

Tailwind or Chakra UI: Both of these are CSS frameworks. They allow for rapid UI development. This speeds up the development process and ensures a consistent design system.

Clerk: Handling authentication can be a nightmare and Clerk provides a great solution for user management and authentication and it is so easy to integrate.

PlanetScale and Prisma: Prisma offers an easy-to-use ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) for the database, making it simpler to manage data. PlanetScale, on the other hand, ensures that the database scales smoothly. It’s like having a scalable MySQL database without the operational overhead.

This stack, combined with some third-party tools and APIs, will be my toolkit for bringing ideas to life.

I believe in the “build fast, ship faster” philosophy. I don't want to wait for a product to be immediately perfect. I want to get my ideas out there, gather feedback, and iterate. It’s all about validating an idea quickly, learning from real users, and making improvements on the go.

Said that… let me introduce Deutsch Mentor, my first solo project.

After moving to Germany, I realized how difficult it is to learn German. I already knew it would be tough, but starting it felt like a cold shower.

As I looked around for tools and platforms to help, I only found either expensive classes or impersonal platforms.
It felt like there was a gap, a need for something more tailored, more personal.

This realization was the birth of Deutsch Mentor.

It’s not just another language-learning tool. It’s a reflection of my own struggles and learnings. It’s an AI German tutor that offers a conversational approach rather than rote memorization. Imagine being able to chat about German grammar or just practice casual dialogue, all with an AI that understands and guides you.

https://deutsch-mentor.com

My vision for Deutsch Mentor is big. I envision a platform where users can:

  • Choose the tone of their conversation, making it as casual or formal as they like.
  • Listen to conversations, aiding auditory learning.
  • Revisit past dialogues, ensuring continuous learning.
  • Customize their chat experience, from the length of the conversation to the personality they converse with.
  • Dive deep into grammar with tools like a dedicated conjugator for German verbs.
  • Build their vocabulary by saving unfamiliar words and practicing them with flashcards.

As we all know, it is important to know what your users think from the beginning, and this is why I’ve set up a Google form for users to vote on the next feature they’d like to see.

This is just the first of the platforms I intend to build… (btw, if you have feedback for Deutsch Mentor, please leave a comment!).

My vision is clear: I want to build a portfolio of SaaS products that generate €10,000 in monthly recurring revenue. This will not only allow me to become financially independent but also give me the freedom to live and work from anywhere — ideally, somewhere warm and close to the sea 😁.

Conclusion

Being an indie maker is about freedom, flexibility, and shaping my own future. This is the first in a series where I’ll share the genuine details of my journey — both the highs and the lows.

Ready for more? Follow me and the Indie Maker publication to get firsthand insights, tips, and the real stories behind the projects.

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Gianmarco Ebeling
The Indie Maker

Founder of Deutsch Mentor. Indie Maker. Building a portfolio of SaaS to achieve financial freedom. Just ship it!