Screencasts for Indie-Hackers

Semicolon&Sons screencasts show you exactly what you need to know to build, grow, and maintain your very own software business big enough to quit your job-day.

Each episode is a behind-the-scenes tour of my own one-man software business, Oxbridge Notes, which has supported me comfortably since 2010.

👉 Learn exactly how to build and grow your indie-hacker business into a passive-income machine.

Popular Episodes

We take a look at the main flows through a web application I've been running for over ten years, OxbridgeNotes. You'll see each side of this marketplace, along with its admin area. You'll visit Google Analytics to see the traffic figures, and afterwards we'll return to the command line and analyze the codebase size, showing off some handy tools in the process.

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I'll show you how I came up with the idea for my online business, show just how minimal the first version was, and show how I went about marketing it. Then I'll give two examples of where I failed to use minimal viable product reasoning and how it caused untold waste.

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The ease of running npm install x masks the long-term costs of including software dependencies. In this episode, I go through my personal worst-of situations with the Ruby and JavaScript dependencies of Oxbridge Notes over a 10-year timeframe. I talk about dependency hell, dependency deprecation/abandonment, how one dependency begets another, and how over-reliance of dependencies rob you of your ability to familiarize yourself with programming fundamentals, the stuff that doesn't change out from under your feet from year to year.

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This episode goes through some of the strategies I used to get north of 200k monthly organic page views to my website. I'll cover picking keywords through Google Keyword Planner (and why it's important to build your code naming conventions around these), structured data (which increase CTRs on Google), and scalable mass-content creation - what I believe to be the best strategy for SEO both when I began in 2010 and ten years later when I released this screencast in 2020.

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A key factor in reducing my coding time for Oxbridge Notes down to a few hours per month was adding comprehensive integration tests. Today I demonstrate how these tests work using the test-browser's NO HEADLESS mode, which lets you actually see the browser executing your tests. Next I show how to write such tests using tools like factories (touching on how I test tracking code). Following that, I show how to set up a continuous integration server (using docker containers), and how to run your CI tests locally to verify they work before pushing them to the cloud. Lastly, I finish with a discussion about what we should test, given limited testing budget.

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These screencasts are aimed at ambitious programmers who need to take full responsibility for their codebases - especially as owners of small software companies.

  • Programming from a business-owner perspective - how to monitor your systems, write tests that'll let you sleep at night, and solve common technical issues faced by indie-hackers (like bot attacks, accounting systems, or financial fraud.)
  • Online marketing - scalable SEO, taming Google Analytics, profitable paid ads, email marketing.
  • Going one level deeper in the stack - when ultimate responsibility for a codebase lies on your shoulders, you need to understand software at a more fundamental level. Therefore we emphasize deep and timeless technical topics - like SQL, unix, vim, etc.