With AI becoming more advanced, many traditional things have gone digital. A single example of that is getting a professional photoshoot. Why go to a photographer if you could get pictures made in a few minutes from your laptop?
Danny Postma, one of the best indie hackers in recent years, is behind the idea of “building the photo studio of the future” that revolutionizes the contemporary world of photography through AI. (among a lot of other things)
You might’ve already used at least one of his startups' state-of-the-art products and services, which we’ll get into soon. You might’ve also heard about him becoming an instant millionaire within just one year as a solo technopreneur.
As of today, he has over 101,000 followers on Twitter. From 500 in January 2019, he's come a long way in just a few years.
Danny doesn't embody a typical success story about “pure hard work”; his story is quite different. Postma is a man of resources and a true epitome of smart decision-making. Here’s his story.
Before Becoming a Solopreneur
Postma was an ordinary guy from a fairly small city in the Netherlands. After college and before his full-time indie hacking journey, he took on part-time and freelance roles at several companies.
Danny’s first professional experience was becoming a product manager at DOE Groningen in 2013. His role comprised hands-on collaboration with cross-functional teams and stakeholders, which seems somewhat dissimilar from his current work setup, right?
Maybe that’s where he got most of his leadership skills from.
While working as a product manager at DOE Groningen, he also worked at Custom Website, where he focused on conversion rate optimization as a CRO specialist, web designer, and did work in front-end development.
In 2014, he continued his web design and CRO career at Conversion Heroes and dove further into online marketing at *bliep. The following year, still specializing in CRO and product development, Danny started working at FIT.
FIT is the Netherlands’ leading fitness and health platform, one of the last companies including Mediahuis he worked for with other people in a team.
Danny quitting his former jobs for a more individualistic career doesn’t necessarily mean he isolated himself though. He just found a way to create a business of his own.
Leaving The Rat Race
Through years of accumulating and stacking relevant skills, Danny built a solid foundation for his own quest—something bigger than his previous works combined.
He wrote an eBook titled Headline Formulas with his friend Gijs Wierda to help marketers spend less time crafting headlines and achieve higher conversion rates and a photographer too! These further bolstered Danny’s odds of building an empire he can call his own.
In 2018, while still working for his clients and other companies, he founded a personal holding company called Postcrafts, which featured his AI-powered startups.
He began collecting and curating the web’s best landing page designs and posting them on Landingfolio, a Postcrcafts startup, for LP design templates and inspo. He was only 21 at this point.
After deciding he was ready to venture alone, Danny stepped out of the rat race and worked on becoming a digital nomad. So how did it start?
It went like this:
When he was 25, he bid farewell to the city of Groningen after booking a flight to Bali, Indonesia, drunk. As someone who also likes backpacking and traveling back and forth, Danny spontaneously booked travels, eventually leading him to the place to spark the next chapter in his life.
When he got to Bali, he discovered a co-working space that fostered the indie hacking culture. Since then, he began embracing the journey toward bootstrapping his startup and the freedom of taking the business thing into his own hands.
Wasn’t that a play of destiny? Who would’ve thought that an alcohol-driven decision would be the game-changer for this now highly acclaimed indie hacker?
Postma has managed and mastered the art of becoming a single-person team. Coding, design, optimization, marketing, and photography—all essential skills that made him thrive and excel at what he does.
It was only recently when he started to delegate and expand, which he claims was super helpful when the due time came.
His SEO Strategy
Playing by that rule that he made his own, Danny approaches his SEO tasks cleverly. Through programmatic SEO, he generated hundreds of web pages for different countries and cities, for instance, referring domains, which massively helped his ranking go up in searches.
In addition to this approach, according to the Indie Hackers newsletter, Danny targets one keyword in his blog posts. An example is mentioning the word “Headshot” across multiple blog titles. Backlinks also came into play quite large. A majority of his site growth came from SEO & the community he built while creating in public (aka Twitter).
Making and Selling Headlime
Headlime is an AI-powered copywriting tool he developed in 2020. Although it wasn’t the very first startup he founded, it was the first one that boomed.
This copywriting tool uses artificial intelligence to write marketing copies for businesses automatically. Due to its customer-centric value that makes it a big time saver for busy companies, it instantly took off.
Even so, Headlime didn’t totally start from absolute zero. Remember that eBook I mentioned earlier? Well, that became Danny’s inspiration for this big-hit platform. If you ever wonder, that headline generator eBook he listed on Gumroad in 2018 was only 19 dollars, which soon grew into million-dollar revenue after a few years in just eight months.
How did that happen? Through pivoting.
Danny stepped up his game by turning his eBook with promising growth potential into a micro-SaaS business. This micro-SaaS business, Headlime, caught the immediate interest and garnered support from his target market with over 80 waitlist signups within just one day after announcing it and over $400 in sales the same day after launching it on Product Hunt.
One of the things he did was implement a pricing strategy with a lifetime offer of 49 dollars, which was a pretty good deal. He made some increments in his pricing for his monthly subscription plans, which panned out quite well for the tool.
The stream of ongoing revenue went on. Yet another big break happened when TechCrunch featured Headlime in 2021, doubling its monthly recurring revenue (MRR).
Despite Headlime’s success, Danny had no plans to expand it to a corporation or any sort of big company. So when two companies showed interest in acquiring Headlime, Danny considered selling it.
In March 2021, a year after he started, Danny sold Headlime to Conversion.ai for over one million dollars. The acquisition process only took two weeks from the beginning to signing. Now that's an achievement.
AI and Photography
Apart from AI, Danny has been fond of photography. He’s actually done lots of stock photography for Unsplash.
The fusion of his techy and artistic sides paved the way for his next giant startup under Postcrafts with a central focus on AI image processing, including his most acclaimed AI photographer, HeadshotPro.
Before HeadshotPro, Danny Postma founded ProfilePicture.AI, a profile picture maker that generates photos mainly through paid packages offering premium artsy effects in over 350 styles that users can choose from. It currently has over 20k users.
Fast forwarding to 2023, HeadshotPro became his newest and biggest project, a digital photo studio utilizing AI technology. It’s a stand-alone startup but also more like an extension of ProfilePicture.AI.
What sets it apart from ProfilePicture.AI is that it creates corporate headshots for professional uses, producing super realistic headshots with a strong and almost indistinguishable resemblance to actual photography.
HeadshotPro gained traction worldwide and currently has over 40k active users across the globe, boasting over 7 million AI headshots created. It earned recognition from big companies such as CNN, Bloomberg, Fashionista, New York Post, and Vice.
When it comes to the price, HeadshotPro—fair to say—isn’t so expensive. It starts at $29, making it more affordable than a $200 shoot with a professional photographer.
HeadshotPro has switched the landscape for professionals wanting to look professional while barely having to do anything. Postma was just the guy behind the trend.
Here are more of Danny’s similar startups since he’s an AI photography guru:
- HairstyleAI - lets users see how they’d look on certain hairstyles virtually before getting their hair cut for real.
- PhotoShed - lets users create an avatar of themselves that’s 100% identical to their actual looks.
- Deep Agency - creates images of people that do not exist—no real people or any physical location.
- TattoosAI - creates tattoo designs based on users' ideas and preferences.
A Trailblazer for the Future Photo Studio
AI has really transformed the world. With endless innovations, many traditional things have become obsolete, or should I say, upgraded?
Danny Postma is truthfully one of the groundbreakers who disrupted the industry from the very beginning. Being at the forefront of advanced technology, he constantly creates a new demand for something that benefits those across the world.
Impressive Track Record, Right?
What makes Danny Postma an incredible indie hacker?
I think it’s that he has the courage of an extremely calculated risk-taker. He believes in himself and trusts the process; he doesn’t stop learning and discovering regardless of how long or how many jobs it took him to get to where he is today.
I’m sure every single experience he’s had over the years has culminated into the beast of a developer and business owner he currently is today. Never get complacent.
Danny Postma is a jack of all trades and still a master of what he does. He's a self-motivated indie-hacker and I don’t think his contributions end here. 100% someone to look up to!