I hit on this the other day, but I wanted to revisit it. Developing software for other people can be profitable, but it's tricky. You'll need to get outside of your comfort zone and gasp do something else beside program all day and night. You're going to need to this until you find the pain in an activity that you can solve by yourself without outside funding and without outside help. You'll need to make real connections with people, not just social media followers, which means you're going to have to stop talking and start asking questions.
What's funny is that validation could really come from 10 - 100 people. You never worry about scale and you shouldn't, you should build relationships, whether that's over twitter DMs or a subreddit or even real life meetups (probably the best thing) you have to come in there without a solution. You have to be open and act like you're on the bottom, because you are. You need to get used to being on the bottom, asking questions and more importantly, not saying anything at all. This idea that being silent will get you your first customer isn't a new one, plenty of people have said exactly this, ask questions and sit back and listen for the complaints. If you ever feel like, what am I doing this for, does anyone care? The best thing you can do is to be the person who cares about someone else's problems. If someone asks me the right question, I open up like a book, I'll lay it all out there, all the problems, the possible solutions, everything. The trick is of course to find out what that person is passionate about in their career or even just in their life. If it's something you can help with and write software for, great! If not, hey at least you opened the door.
Increasing Your Luck Surface Area
This is a weird way to put it, the actual thing you'll be doing is maintaining your connections with people when you first went AFK. That's something I definitely struggle with. There are solutions out there, but it could be as easy as a reminder on your phone saying send that text that says "Hey, how's it going?". You don't even need to come up with some elaborate pitch or anything, just questions and keep the conversation going for a while. You can do this every day with different people, or if it's overwhelming, once a week. Just remember to keep doing it. Consistency is the key to success. Maintaining these relationships is also the key to your eventual success. The more people you talk to and the more people who have you in their minds (instead of their social media feeds), will think of you when someone has a problem you can solve.
A Concrete Example
I just moved into a new house and the counter tops have got me down. It's a first world problem, to be sure, but it's still a problem. My first question was, how much is it to get new counter tops? Wow, that's expensive, maybe I can do it myself? Maybe I can talk to someone who does it for a living and see what the process is like? This led to a profitable, niche software company for these people: https://www.moraware.com/company/. There are quite a few examples of this and it appears to work, this is something I'm very willing to try instead of sitting on twitter wondering why I can't make a living from my latest blogging platform 😅