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I turned my Twitter banner into a SaaS, gained 9k followers, 5k users, and $300 MRR in 4 months. AMA!

👋 Hello everyone,

I’m Tony, and I’m a long-time indie hacker.

Around 4 months ago, I created a small little tool to celebrate my 1k Twitter followers milestone. It’s a script that continuously updates a progress bar around my profile picture. I thought it’s pretty fun to wait for the ring to load to 100% as my follower count reaches 1,000 😄

Many people liked the idea, so I turned it into a SaaS: https://blackmagic.so. I charge $4/mo for the membership, where you can select unlimited colors for your profile ring. The app went popular, and I had ~1,000 users at that point, mostly free users.

I continue adding more and more features. I noticed if I can update the profile picture continuously, I can do the same for the Twitter banner! So I built the Real-time Banner feature.

I made my banner update in real-time interactively with my followers. When someone follows me, their profile pic shows up on my banner. The tweet went viral, and I had 4,000+ new followers in less than 48 hours. It was wild! 😱

I launched the Real-time banner on Product Hunt in July, and it became the #1 product of the day. 🥳 Most recently, I made something for the crypto community: showing real-time crypto prices on their banner.

Finally, here are some numbers so far:

❤️ Went from 1k → 10k followers
👥 5,433 registered users
🗣️ 2,850 active users
💰 $314 MRR

It’s not doing so well on the revenue front, but I had a lot of fun building and playing with it. I have received so many cool ideas to add to the banner. So stay tuned! I’ll post updates regularly on my IH product page: https://www.indiehackers.com/product/blackmagic-so

Follow my journey on Twitter or subscribe to my monthly newsletter: https://newsletter.tdinh.me 💌

Thank you for reading, and AMA! 😊

  1. 6

    No questions buddy but just congratulations.

    Stick with it. There is something in this clearly.

    If you still have a free plan I would experiment with killing it and see how many folk start to pay.

    1. 1

      Thank you, Primer! 😄

  2. 5

    Please keep digging at this and let me throw a few ideas onto it in line with some of the comments below. Please don't take this as harsh but the addition of crypto is very niche and someone probably asked for it so you built it to mine a small niche, its a typical feature request fulfillment action that now alters the way the market looks at it, now it looks like cool for Twitter but with a tilt towards crypto when you likely never intended it to head in that one narrow direction. You wrote "I continue adding more and more features" - this might actually kill it. The silver lining of it is that people are seeing a repurposing potential here and in my humble opinion where you are now reveals a much wider potential so here are just a few suggestions that will take a bit of work but could open up 10x more potential:

    What if you built it as originally intended with this funky FOMO of showing user profiles, having a goal, etc. and it's heavily b2c and you expanded out or forked into a whole other b2b version to display and track almost anything via an API - break this version into two pieces, presentation look/feel/brandable and then content display of nearly any type - instead of fulfilling a niche by hard coding, make it an open platform for all niche uses. Let me show my stock price, the amount of money my charity raised today, the weather at my ski resort, the menu special for the day, the Shakespeare quote of the day, the number of downloads of my ebook, etc., etc. WIDE F*&%ING OPEN.

    Right now you are here: using Twitter for display/output and also using Twitter for data sourcing/input. Move to: using Twitter for display/output and anything for input.

    Come up (in stages) with canned options, then no-code options, then Zapier hooks, then open API hooks, etc. From the simplest to the most complex. Make it a "style plus data" PLATFORM as best you can, announce that as your roadmap and you will get: The steady off the shelf customers you get now, the quick hotwire builders, the longer haul customizers, plus loads of buzz and followers who want to track how it's progressing - use your progress bar to show your development and you will be again eating your own dog food.

    Make all instances that are free have your branding in the corner, all branded or complex ones are white label but also charged monthly. Whenever a cool use case goes live you will know it and be able to tweet about it yourself - "look what people are doing with this!" Adding a bit of your branding on the free ones, recruiting a dev army, inspiring people with the open potential of it - all of that will drive viral growth. don't even worry about the revenue, it will follow.

    Whether you make a b2b clone, do a hard pivot, or just extend from where you are the money is going to be on the b2b side, the b2c is only good for stats and bragging rights.

    1. 1

      Wow, thank you for the insight and the feedback! This is very valuable, I will take note of this! 🙏

  3. 2

    So, you quit your job, but only have $314 MRR? Your living off your savings in Singapore? Any thoughts about this?

    I understand that you don't have kids or family, but it seemsmlikr a very serious leap of fate.

    1. 2

      I have income from other apps as well, Black Magic is just one of my apps. I'm also moving to Vietnam soon for a cheaper living cost 😄

      1. 1

        Congrats!! And thanks for answering.

        How do you feel about having twitter as a third party that you heavily depend on? Facebook & Instagram & Amazon Marketplace API's (and a multitude of others) have turned out to be a huge pain to maintain. A lot of functionality from those API's got a cut.

        • Do you feel confident building on top of Twitter as a platform?
        • Do you anticipate official "twitter marketplace" for apps? Is there anything similar already?
        1. 2

          "How do you feel about having twitter as a third party that you heavily depend on?" – great question! 😄

          I do understand there is a platform risk, and I have mentally prepared myself to see my app vanish in 1 night because Twitter change their policy or whatever 😂

          So, to answer: I'm not very confident building on top of Twitter. But it's fun and I have some revenue as of now, so I'm happy with the progress.

          Twitter marketplace sounds amazing, I don't know if there is already something like that, but I would love to see it!

      2. 1

        Congratulations!! , i guess the product is built on twitter apis, how hard it was to get it or what was your experience if you are okay in sharing, as i had requested for api permission a year back for a project, which i didn't get any response for, so that didn't well for me.

        1. 1

          It depends on what kind of application you build. The more specific you described your app, the easier it gets approved.

          If they don't get back to you after 1 week, you should apply again (maybe with a different account).

  4. 2

    very inspirational! Thank you for sharing!

  5. 2

    Tony, you're on to something here I think! Wishing you good luck and hope to see this become a standard Twitter extension in the future :D

  6. 2

    WOW! Great job! I am inspired every time I read something like this! Keep up the good work :)

  7. 2

    I keep seeing your BlackMagic profile picture percent rings everywhere! Great job with that. So simple, but so helpful.

    Arvid Kahl says to make 'painkillers' and not 'vitamins'; make the 'need to haves' and not the 'want to haves'.

    Do you have any ideas or plans on how to do this?

    1. 4

      Never liked that analogy. TitTok is not a necessity yet it's the most downloaded app. Same goes for video-games.

      1. 1

        I suppose they're a different category of "addictive substances", and come with their analogues of peer pressure and withdrawal symptoms.

    2. 1

      I think the "vitamins" nature of Black Magic is the reason why it isn't doing very well in terms of revenue, and that's ok (for now) 😄

      I have a few ideas that are actually "painkillers", hopefully, it can attract more paying users in the future!

      1. 2

        I think BlackMagic has HUUGGEEE potential if you can position yourself correctly.

        Maybe as a B2C SaaS. Something like an all in one tool for when a business is running a new marketing promotion. They set it once and the rest handles itself type of thing.

        Just an idea! Keep at it! You're onto something good!

  8. 1

    I shared your story in the community tab of my YouTube channel. :)
    https://www.youtube.com/post/Ugx-pJNxyy45zDW5Hd54AaABCQ

    Language: Turkish

  9. 1

    I'm in love with your product. 😍 It was an attempt to set an example.

  10. 1

    Congrats Tony. What are your plan for black magic going ahead?

    1. 1

      Thanks, @onmyway133!

      I'll add more templates to the Real-time banner, and add some brand new Twitter tools too! 😊

  11. 1

    Very interesting idea and the execution looks nice!

  12. 1

    Haha, seeing the ring quite everywhere on Twitter now. Well done! 🎉

  13. 1

    This is a super creative idea. Impressed.

    • I am surprised by low MRR, what do you think is the reason for this?
    • Have you considered trying a different subscription model instead of a flat fee?
    1. 1

      I think most people find Black Magic fun to use, but not enough to pay as it's not solving any critical problem. I hope this will change in the future as I have more tools in it.

      I'm also considering adding some premium banner templates for businesses, let's see how it goes 😄

      1. 1

        I think it's a good product, just that you are targeting general users. Businesses can pay much more for things like this. Maybe an integration with zapier will reveal what businesses want.

        All the best. Would love to see this idea going big. :)

  14. 1

    I've been seeing your Twitter followers grow and admire how do you it.

    What's your advice for others to grow their Twitter audience? (something people should try)

    1. 2

      Thanks, Hieu!

      The easiest and rewarding thing I see to grow on Twitter is to show up every day with meaningful tweets. Maybe work on something small and show your progress, interact with people, etc.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the advice a. I'll try it

  15. 1

    Excellent idea and execution, congratulations!

  16. 1

    First up, well done and I really like the design of your site.

    questions...

    1. How does it work, I presume it's updating the image via the Twitter API?
    2. Are there no rate limits you run into?
    3. What's the tech stack?
    4. Any tips for moving fast?
    1. 1

      Thanks 😄

      1. Yes, it's done via Twitter API
      2. There are rate limit, the maximum refresh rate on average is 1 image per minute, with some optimization I can push the average to 2 images per minute but that's all 😄
      3. NodeJS, NextJS, ExpressJS, MySQL
      4. Ship small, ship early, ship frequently.
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