2018 has been a very prolific year for indie makers. Thousands of products launched, new events and challenges bringing the community togethers, new ways to communicate such as live streaming and Telegram groups. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
One big change in 2018 has been the proactive work initiated by indie makers to be more inclusive and foster a diverse community, where every voice is welcome.
Some initiatives launched in 2018 include Women Make, a group for female makers to connect; #diversity30, a collection of portraits of diverse makers; Twiverse, a tool to discover diverse Twitter users; Diversify Tech, offering resources for underrepresented people in tech; and finally Femake, the home of data on female makers. At Product Hunt, Abadesi Osunsade has been a big driving force behind their diversity efforts.
To further celebrate women before the end of the year, Maker Mag partnered with Femake to announce the top 10 female indie makers of 2018.
As an illustration of the vibrance of the female maker community, Femake just released new data showing the increase in products made by members of Women Make. December, is not even over, so things are looking bright!
There is of course no perfect methodology, and many indie makers will have not launched on Product Hunt. In the interest of objectivity, the ranking is based on the number of upvotes for products launched as a solo maker. We asked each of these female makers what indie making meant to them and what were their plans for 2019.
1. Toni Codina
Toni may only be 18 years old but she has done a lot already, including launching five products in 2018, for a total of more than 2800 upvotes. Her products range from a simple to-do list manager, to complex platforms to discover new products, such as Exposure Cards and Random Hunt.
“Indie making, to me, is building products while being self-funded and without companies getting involved, usually within small, reduced groups. The ability to create almost anything I could think of is something I have always fancied, which is exactly what building products allows me to do, while combining my love for design. In 2019, I will be working on fewer, bigger products. My main focus will be on improving my design skills and broadening my programming knowledge.”
2. Amie Chen
A talented UI designer and developer, Amie has helped may startups and companies to design and build their applications over the years. A curious mind, she is always building new things at the intersection of design and productivity. Her products include Stitches, an HTML template generator with functional CSS which speeds up the process of making web applications; Pretzel, a smart desktop app that shows keyboard shortcuts based on your currently focused app; and Dribble Color Generator, which lets you download any color palette from Dribbble into Sketch.
“I love observing people and analyzing the glitches they encountered when using physical or digital products. For example, how do they turn on the lights in a meeting room? What action do they take when encountered a link in an article? Did it distract the readers? Under what circumstances do people open tabs versus open new windows? Thoughts about these problems and their possible solutions occupy my mind. Making products is a byproduct of getting to a good solution, and getting closer to a good solution is what gets me out of bed every day.”
3. Steph Smith
It is hard to believe that Steph only started learning how to code this year. Her products have offered the perfect sandbox to learn and grow her skills. She has already shipped four products, all very popular with the indie maker community with a total of more than 1600 upvotes. Her most popular product, Make Yourself Great Again, a tool to track and visualize weekly activities, was #1 Product of the Day on Product Hunt, and Eunoia, a searchable directory of words in other languages that don’t translate she built in 24 hours, was #5 of the 24-hour Startup Challenge.
“I think indie making means creating without boundaries. There is no VC telling you that you need to hit X users by Y date, no corporate politics, no unnecessarily long dev cycles, and ultimately no need for fancy tech. It’s all about making something tangible and putting it out there; validating or invalidating your ideas, and then moving onto the next logical step. The act of making teaches you to stay agile, humble, and to learn on the fly. I also love that in many ways, the products you create are a reflection of you as a maker; what you care enough about to spend time building. Ultimately, making has become something that allows me to not only be creative but support thing that I care about, like women in tech.”
4. Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Relatively new to indie making, Anne-Laure* was a winner for both the 24-Hour Startup Challenge and the Product Hunt Makers Festival with Teeny Breaks, a Chrome extension offering tips for mindful breaks she built live on Twitch. Her most popular product is Make & Shine, an ebook about personal branding for indie makers.
“Indie making is about reclaiming your freedom. As an indie maker, you can define and create your own products, interact directly with your users, and do what is best for them and your business. It’s also rare to find a space where people support each other rather than compete with each other. It really is all about growing the pie rather than fighting for the crumbs. In 2019, I want to keep on building more useful and sustainable products, and put my skills to use to help indie makers better connect and share their stories.”
5. Tracy Osborn
Most makers have heard of Tracy through her series of self-published Hello Web books, teaching readers how to build a web app, how to make better designs, or both. Sharing everything about the writing, design, and production process behind the publication of her books, Tracy has gathered a community of fans who love her simple writing style and actionable approach to web design and development. Together, her books have amassed more than 1500 upvotes on Product Hunt.
“Indie publishing means to me creating outside the typical publishing workflow. I have the flexibility to create free zines, or raise money via Kickstarter or other non-traditional pre-order campaigns, or create my website in a way that’s different than the norms. It’s a lot of work but a lot of flexibility. In 2019, I’m hoping to experiment releasing a new idea, but just as an eBook, as well as work with someone else on a book of their idea, and I would just be the designer/publisher. In general, I want to work on more content.”
6. Jenny Talavera
Jenny is a graphic designer and developer who loves building products to solve her loved ones’ problems. As a computer science and graphic design student, making apps came naturally to her. Her first product was an early-learning kids app which she built as a side project, inspired by her six-month child. She then made a habit tracker for her husband, who was trying to quit smoking at the time. Her latest product, Done, got almost a thousand upvotes on Product Hunt.
“To me indie making means being able to build products and sustain yourself, independently. It had always been a dream of mine to work and sustain myself with my own products. In 2019, my goals are to make our apps even better, and, if time permits, to build even more!”
7. Michelle Chan
Passionate about graphic design, photography and education, Michelle is a self-taught UX designer by trade and the founder of Weava, a tool for users to highlight and organise their research in one place, currently used by thousands of students from top universities. The desktop version of Weava she launched this year got upvoted almost a thousand time, with amazing feedback from the community.
8. Sara Vieira
Sara is a front-end developer, speaker and maker from Portugal, known for her sometimes quirky, sometimes practical tools, and for her mental health advocacy work. This year, she has released three popular products: There, which helps teams collaborate across time zones; Awesome Talks, an interactive collection of tech talks curated by the community, and Is There Uber In, which helps users find ride-sharing cities.
9. Manasvini Krishna
Indie makers often lived several lives. Manasvini started out as a lawyer. Along the way, she learned to code and made the jump into tech. Her main project is a bot which automates the review of legal contracts, and her widely popular side project are Why do I Prorastinate? and Boss as a Service, which addresses her other interest – productivity.
“ Indie making is, to me, a mindset. It’s about bootstrapping, and learning to make up for limitations with creativity. Indie making may be to startups what startups are to big companies. Most of the products I’ve built have been about solving my own problems. When I get frustrated with some issue I’m facing and think, hmm, something like this really should exist, then I think, well, let me make it myself. But aside from that, I love building and making things. Creating something new is a huge thrill for me. Seeing real people use and get value from something I made is even better.”
10. Jess Eddy
Jess is a Sydney-based digital product designer with many awesome side projects, such as Get A Room, a simple conference room booking tool, and Podstack, an innovative search engine that suggests podcasts based on natural language processing. Her most popular one this year was UI Goodies, a massive directory of useful resources for UI designers and developers.
“I just love building things. There’s great satisfaction in solving a problem with something you create that makes life easier or better for someone. Building products is a great way to learn, and the process is usually more rewarding than the outcome, which makes it an addictive activity to repeat! To me, indie making is about empowerment. It’s not about waiting for someone else to bring a solution or asking for permission. It’s observing your environment and looking for areas to improve upon or innovate it. I think indie makers have a burning desire to create and are good at using their skills or learning new skills to make something usually with minimal resources. Indie makers excel at not giving up and iterating and responding to signals and feedback from users and the market. My goals for 2019 are to continue to improve my problem-hunting skills, and fine tune the methodologies I use to uncover opportunities and build initial versions of products.”
We at Maker Mag are very excited to see more women at the forefront of the indie makers community. May 2019 be even more prolific and inclusive!
*Editorial disclosure: please note that Anne-Laure is the founder of Maker Mag. The launch of Maker Mag has not been included in this ranking.