March 05, 2021

Get past the introductions — Or how I built a minimum viable community for indie women

Rosie Sherry

Or how I built a minimum viable community for indie women.


Sometimes I just have to write on the spur of the moment. I’ve just come off an amazing indie women meetup, so here goes. ❤️

A few months back I set out on a journey of figuring out how to get more indie women involved in the Indie Hackers community. As a woman in tech and business, it’s personally been a struggle to get where I am, and representation is something that I imperfectly strive for.

First I experimented with mixed success


I created an Indie Women group on Indie Hackers. It was a struggle to think of things to share. So I had mixed successes there I guess.

I did some ad-hoc meetups, which were nice, but they lacked consistency and commitment, mostly from me as I was still thinking about what to commit to. These did lead me to connect a bit closer to a few people and ultimately led me to where we are today.

I believe it’s important to experiment and start conversations to help get a feel for what is the right strategy.

Making the commitment


I realised that to make impact, I needed to commit to something longer term so I made a promise:

  • Accountability groups every two weeks: a morning and an evening session (to cater for timezones), each is a one 1 hour session to talk about what we are up to.
  • Once a month ‘party’ using icebreaker.video: this was originally designed for 1-on-1 chats, but it’s turned into small group meets and also getting up on stage. The music part of it is so much fun too.

Of course, when one commits to this, it’s not as simple as that. But committing to something small and specific makes it easier to get the ball rolling.

The focus was the events, but in reality, to make events happen well and over time communication is core. Since October this has evolved into a one page website, a Slack, a newsletter, and a Twitter account. There has been talk of TikTok too. Halp. 🙈

I even had to create a logo, which I did myself, inspired by Indie Hackers design combined with star ala Wonder Woman. 💪


The tools we used for the job


  • Calendly: For hosting both of these events, I’ve set up a Calendly link for people to RSVP. This is more to remind people to show up over me managing the numbers, but I do keep an eye on who has RSVP’d to give me an idea of what to expect.
  • Whereby: For the accountability sessions we get 4-10 people showing up right. We use Whereby, mostly I like to avoid Zoom, but they also have a nice clean URL that I just keep re-using and people can bookmark.
  • Google Doc: for accountability sessions we use a Google Doc, kind of like a blog. We re-use the same doc and just add a new date at the top and take notes. I looked and stressed about a specific tool for the job, but Google Docs does just fine and I can share it easily on the Whereby screen.
  • Slack: as a place to gather, to talk about what we are up to and to remind people of events.
  • Carrd: I have a paid account, so I set up a one-page website, it’s so nice and easy.
  • Newsletter: at Indie Hackers they have ‘Series’ which is basically the option to create a newsletter through the community. It’s a great feature that they are slowly testing and rolling out.
  • Group on Indie Hackers: this is really how we started.
  • Twitter: I only set this up this month.

I think that’s all the tools! 😅

Has it been worth it?


Definitely.

I personally feel the positive impact of building stronger these meaningful relationships.

With the meetups we are getting to the stage of not needing to do introductions. This is a simple yet powerful idea.

To build real long lasting community we need to get past the introductions and superficial engagements. So we can start talking about what really matters.

This felt really apparent to me today. There were four of us on a call, no introductions were needed and the floor just opened, with laughter, and vulnerability. It was the first time I had laughed with tears in so long.


In addition to that, my goal was also to get women participating in the ‘original’ Indie Hackers community.

I took a few tactics for this:

  • encouraging sharing where relevant on our calls, indie women achieve stuff and just don’t talk about it
  • encouraged people to post stuff
  • (sometimes) when I see women post on IH, I post a link in the Slack to encourage people to upvote
  • when I see something an indie women has done, I share it
  • I talk about them: I write a monthly newsletter where the focus is to showcase what indie women have achieved, here’s the latest one. If they are mentioned they have almost no choice but to comment with a thanks! 😇

Here is an example of something I shared. I wrote this then I pinged the Slack to encourage indie women to upvote. I want to help women rock it and feel the high of getting seen. 🤘🏽


But what about the metrics?


Getting data on the actual Indie Hackers community is harder, which I haven’t yet dived into, but this is what I have so far:

  • Slack: 145 members
  • Newsletter: 200 subscribers
  • Twitter: 144 followers
  • Website: 207 visitors
  • Good vibes: priceless ❤️

I hope you will drop by or share: www.indiewomen.club

Massive thanks to all the indie women, but particularly Namwa who has stepped in to support things without me.

—Rosie Sherry