Accessibility is one of the most overlooked aspects of being a creator, but it is an incredibly powerful tool to make long-term friends and, ultimately, more money.
As a software developer, I learned about accessibility while working for large companies. Often, we had to implement government-mandated guidelines to make our software products more usable by a wide variety of people. We implemented screen-reader friendly websites, high color contrast, tooltips, and flexible designs. It became part of my approach to writing software to think about edge cases not just in the logic, but also in the user interface that I built. Accessibility isn’t just for people with disabilities: a useful and easy-to-handle product helps everyone.
Later, as an indie hacker and solo founder, I realized its importance after attending a conference that featured a talk about accessibility. It made me think about the challenges people face when accessing and using software solutions. Now, as a creator and entrepreneur, I always consider accessibility in the work and the process beneath it. Here’s what I recommend.
Experience this article as a podcast, a YouTube show, or as a newsletter:
To make your work more accessible, try offering it in different formats that cater to various kinds of consumption. Long-form text, short form text. Video. Audio. All of these formats appeal to someone out there and are necessary for certain people to be able to enjoy your work. For example, when I started my media business, I focused on writing because I believed it to be generally accessible. However, some readers told me they struggled with my long articles due to dyslexia or other reading issues.
To help those highly valued readers, I started a podcast where I narrated my articles instead of using an automated tool. Might as well put my full effort into this. Having already written the article made it easier to create subtitles and transcripts since I was reading from a script. And when I added video, the same principle applied – the article served as the script and transcript.
Offering multiple formats ensures that at least one of them will be easy for any person to consume. Some people may prefer reading or listening over watching videos. Providing different options makes your content more inclusive and, at the same time, diversifies your platform risk. If you’re only on YouTube, you’re one account ban away from total bankruptcy. If you have a blog, a podcast, a newsletter, and a YouTube channel, you’re diversified and can recover from losing any one channel.
A Global Audience
Another way to increase accessibility is by translating your content into other languages. Though I haven’t done this yet, I’ve seen creators succeed a lot with this. AI-powered translation systems have become more reliable, making it possible to create subtitles or even synthesize your voice in another language for videos or podcasts. This can be quite some effort, but if you know that your audience struggles with English and would also like a few alternative languages, consider looking into tools that allow you to automate that translation step.
As a writer, accessibility also means simplifying complex ideas and avoiding jargon that only insiders understand. Instead of using complicated words and phrases, aim for clarity so that your work can reach a wider audience. This is true for essays just as much as it is for tweets.
To appeal to a wider audience, instead of using the term “indie hacker,” I try using “software entrepreneur.” When writing for people outside of the software entrepreneurship business, I don’t use abbreviations like “MRR.” At least not without defining it first. Defining jargon terms in your writing makes it more accessible to those who are new or come from different backgrounds, and it also prevents confusion among terms that might have different meanings in another context.
Translating complex concepts into simpler ideas helps make your writing and content easier to parse and absorb. As your audience grows, accessibility becomes more important. If you outgrow your initial niche or language framework, you may attract people from other languages and locations who are interested in what you have to say. Make it as easy as you can for people to jump into your work.
Remember that everyone has a different capacity for focusing their attention. If you create short and well-scoped content, you allow more people to pay their often limited attention to it effectively. We all get distracted, and some people incredibly fast, so give them a chance to learn before they are pulled somewhere else. The easiest way to do is is leading with the conclusion and presenting your arguments afterwards.
Let’s talk a bit about financial accessibility. This means allowing people from less financially strong economies to access your content. When considering financial accessibility, think about whether people can reliably access your content through the technology they own. Can they afford the necessary device, like a computer or phone? And is your content too large or difficult for them to download?
Remember that in some locations, downloading just one blog article could take minutes or even hours. It might also use up their monthly data cap on their phone plan. So, think about saving data and reducing the data footprint of your content platforms.
Also, some people might not be able to access the platforms you’re offering your content from. If you’re only on Apple Podcasts, people without iPhone or Macs might struggle with reliably accessing your valuable work. Diversification is important here, too.
Another aspect of financial accessibility is making sure your products are priced in a way that is affordable for people from places with lower purchasing power. I personally offer purchasing power parity pricing for almost all my products, which adjusts the prices based on the financial stability and purchasing power in a country compared to where it’s being sold.
This method helps people afford your product who otherwise couldn’t. Selling ebooks and PDF files, I’ve received many emails from people grateful for purchasing power parity pricing. Several readers told me that with PPPP, it’s the first time they could actually buy a product instead of pirating it. And if this isn’t a sign of value and respect, I don’t know what to say.
Even if you make less money per individual sale, allowing an entire geographic location to afford your product when they otherwise couldn’t is significant. As a content creator, this is a massively powerful and severely overlooked kind of accessibility you need to keep in mind.
Think about accessibility as part of your process. You can still write and record as much as you want, but providing a baseline of exchangeable media options gives people a choice in how they consume your content.
Turn accessibility into a process. Use free tools like Otter.ai to get a good-enough transcript of all your multimedia content. Get used to uploading every video to a transcription tool and not releasing content before you have subtitles and transcripts in place.
This might sound overwhelming. But it’s the right thing to do. It will make you stand out compared to other creators who assume everyone wants or can consume their content in one particular way.
Make your work accessible, and your audience will make sure it will be shared far and wide.