(from the latest issue of the Indie Hackers newsletter)
Channing here. The tech world has finally begun to innovate again in the social networking space.
To wrap your mind around the new state of the art, first imagine putting on some virtual reality goggles. Next, imagine stepping into a three-dimensional chat room to meet and interact with other users. And finally, imagine going from three dimensions to two… and doing away with the whole "virtual reality" thing altogether.
Voice. That's what you're left with. An audio-only chat room:
Yep: Twitter's clone of Clubhouse, the voice-based chat app, is now live. Sort of.
Which makes spoiled nerds like me wonder: Why is the newest tech so low tech? And what ever happened to VR? But more on that below.
Here's what you'll find in this issue:
As always, you can submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter.
from The Chatter newsletter
Here's Earnest Capital founder Tyler Tringas:
Tyler might be right.
Each category had a standout winner or two. Then people predicted the dawn of a new age. But the followups were disappointing.
Not all trends are like this. PCs, the intergalactic computer network (or "internet" for short), e-commerce, and smartphones all took off immediately and never looked back.
What's like that now?
👏 An indie hacker identified 10 types of tweets that go viral. See some examples that you can copy.
💀 Twitter is shutting down Periscope. The mobile video streaming app will be removed from app stores by March 2021. But also…
👼 Twitter just acquired Squad, a Y Combinator-funded screen-sharing app. Should we expect more social network experiments from Twitter next year?
👮♀️ 10 states filed a new antitrust lawsuit against Google. Read the full complaint here.
📈 Bitcoin hits $20k. Is it time to start accepting payment in crypto?
💡 10 marketing tips from an indie hacker who's worked in the field for 10 years.
I'll explore each of these developments below.
In my Zero to Users research on acquisition channels, I've yet to find a founder who had success with LinkedIn ads. Most founders describe them as very expensive to begin with. Take Baby Growth Chart, a mobile app for new parents:
LinkedIn ads sounded like a good idea, targeting pediatricians, but wow are they expensive! In two days, I've already spent most of that money. The average CPC is over $7.00.
This is why I find this news exciting. LinkedIn has announced they're launching a closed beta of "Stories Ads" with plans to launch more broadly in 2021.
What this means to you: If you've ever wanted to try advertising on LinkedIn but found it too expensive, this may be your opportunity. If Instagram and Facebook are any indication, story ads are usually much cheaper than feed ads.
My prediction is LinkedIn Story Ads will be cheap for a while. Then as more advertisers figure out how they work, the ads will get more and more expensive over time — but never as expensive as existing feed ads. This might not be such bad news for you if you figure stories out early, get a good ROI, and then re-invest your money as this ad format becomes more competitive.
The new format will make it easier to advertise on major news publications.
What are Web Stories Ads? Take a look at this image:
They're basically a new format that Google introduced back in October.
The way they work is: You type in a search from a mobile device (like "Forbes"), which opens a Google AMP page containing these stories.
And as of this week, you can now buy ads that display in Web Story format.
What this means for you: Again, heed the law of shitty clickthroughs. This is a new format that Google introduced two months ago, which means not many people are aware of it. You can test it and see if you get good ROI before banner blindness sets in.
Google has been working with a number of major publishers to make web stories available on their pages:
App stores are a major acquisition channel for SaaS businesses. Just look at the number of successful Shopify stores, Slack apps, and Chrome Extensions.
What this means for you: This API is a big deal. And for two reasons:
a) Notion has a massive audience, and they'll probably do a lot to promote their API's early adopters.
b) The API is a stepping stone for them to open an app store, just as it was for Slack and Shopify. If you've read my report, Zero to Users, you know that app marketplaces are an acquisition channel that has worked successfully for hundreds of founders.
They just added shopping tags to Reels, their TikTok clone. This basically enables Reels creators to "tag" — or publicly display — a product listing in their clips:
What this means for you: I view this as an opportunity for founders to cheaply partner with influencers for two reasons:
a) These are new but promising influencers. Many of them are bringing some of their TikTok audiences to Instagram as well.
b) The competition is low. This is a new feature that's just been released, and it will take time before advertisers flood it with offers.
If you've been doing influencer marketing in the past and know what works for you, giving this a try is a no-brainer.
I post the tweets indie hackers share the most. Here's the latest top pick:
Here's how having a solid co-founder saved him:
So we had just finished running a pilot program to validate the product, when my son was suddenly born six weeks premature. I sent my co-founder, Melody, an email from the hospital while my wife was in labor, telling her that I thought we'd need to cancel the launch and close the company entirely. I knew we were on to something — I just could not see how I would handle a global pandemic, my daughter, my newborn son, and starting a new company.
But instead of quitting, Melody just put her head down and started building. Her background is as a preschool director. When we started working together she was entirely non-technical. So this experience forced her to level up her technical and business skills overnight.
I didn't even really surface until mid-July when my son came home from the NICU. We launched in August. Since then it has been a whirlwind. Our team has doubled every month. We went from zero to $19,000 per month.
Neither of us has ever been so excited to get to our desk each day. It is stressful, terrifying, unreal, and motivating all at the same time. I feel like I'm in a spinning clothes dryer, with emotions tumbling around instead of socks. And I absolutely could not have done this alone.
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Special thanks to Pete Codes, Darko G., James Fleischmann, and Phil Plante for contributing to this issue. —Channing