What's New: Indie Hackers is now invite-only

(from the latest issue of the Indie Hackers newsletter)

Indie Hackers now requires an invite code for signup:

  • Fighting spam is the primary motivation behind this change. We'd love your thoughts!
  • Type 1 diabetes is on the rise, especially among young people. With few options in diabetes tech available, founders can help bridge the gap.
  • Founder David Perell hit $2 million in annual revenue with his online writing school, Write of Passage. Here's how he went from a (self-proclaimed) bad writer to a great one.

Want to share something with nearly 85,000 indie hackers? Submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter. —Channing

📨 Indie Hackers is Now Invite-Only


by Courtland Allen

I just configured Indie Hackers to require an invite code for signup.

My primary motivation is to fight spam. Hundreds of companies and individuals create dozens of accounts every day for the express purpose of posting spam. Playing whack-a-mole is annoying and feels un-winnable, but an invite system should stop new spammers from joining instantaneously (or allow us to track down the spammers who are inviting them).

There are secondary benefits, too. I'm only granting invite codes to product owners who are actively making useful posts to the community. Chances are, the people they'll invite to Indie Hackers will be more helpful than average.

(Note that earning invite codes is an automatic process that happens daily.)

I admit that it'll also be cool to see people asking for and sharing invite codes on other websites, like Twitter.

The downsides: Making IH more exclusive when I've always erred on the side of radical inclusivity, and of course, decreasing signup rates.

I'm not so worried about the signup rate. Growth is a function of both signups and retention, and I suspect this change may do more to boost retention (by improving site quality) in the long run than it does to hamper new signups.

As for timelines, I plan to keep things invite-only for at least a couple of weeks to see how things shake out and to give us time to discourage spammers. If it's a disaster, I can easily reopen signups. And if it's great, I can always keep the new system as long as I want, or even indefinitely.

Let me know your thoughts below!

Discuss this story.

📰 In the News

Photo: In the News

from the Volv newsletter by Priyanka Vazirani

🏦 Just 1.3% of Robinhood users participated in the trading app's IPO.

📹 The White House is teaming up with TikTok stars to get young people vaxxed.

💰 Square will acquire "buy now, pay later" firm Afterpay for $29B in stock.

📱 What does the "i" in iPhone stand for?

👓 Virtual reality could help jurors visit crime scenes and reach more consistent verdicts.

Check out Volv for more 9-second news digests.

💻 Diabetes Apps Are Due a Sugar High


from the Hustle Newsletter by Trends Team

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is on the rise, particularly among young people. According to 2018 CDC data, there are 1.6M Americans living with T1D. That number is projected to more than triple by 2050, growing to 5M patients (including 600K under the age of 20).

Diabetes tech

The background: Alarmingly, one London study saw roughly double the number of children diagnosed with T1D at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting a possible link between the diseases.

Technological interventions like apps have proven helpful in managing the condition, and the industry is trending toward technological rather than pharmaceutical solutions.

Diabetes Apps Are Due a Sugar High

The market: The diabetes management app market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of ~25% through 2026.

Among the most popular existing apps are carbohydrate-counting tools like Carb Manager (~8M users) and blood glucose monitoring apps like mySugr (~3M registered users).

The opportunities

Despite the vast range of successful apps catering to T1Ds, diabetes is a complex condition that affects everything from gum health to libido, and there are plenty of unaddressed pain points, including:

Disease management: Research suggests that communication between patients and their health care teams is an essential component of T1D management, but nonattendance of appointments is a major problem.

One idea is a T1D-specific patient portal that connects all the health care professionals in a diabetic's care team and catalogs everything from blood results to injection-site health.

There is also room for a messaging app that connects T1Ds directly to a nurse or diabetes educator for help with real-time care decisions such as dosing.

Mental health: Diabetics are twice as likely to develop depression and eating disorders (like diabulimia) compared with non-diabetics.

You could develop a Happify or Talkspace for diabetics: An app that focuses on the psychological burden of diabetes management by mentoring users toward personalized goals, and connecting them with mental health professionals and support groups.

For more opportunities in this space, check out our Signal on the explosion in mental health startups.

The youth niche: More than 1 in 400 youth in the US suffer from T1D, while 85% of diabetes diagnoses are in people under 20 years of age. The average age at diagnosis? 13.

While young people have an especially hard time managing their diabetes, only a few existing apps target this niche.

Happy Bob offers blood glucose trend data in bright colors accompanied by a changing smiley face, while Invincible helps teachers care for T1Ds students during the school day.

Other ideas include apps for:

  • Providing guidance on managing glucose in relation to sleeping in late, hormonal changes, school or social stress, and drinking alcohol.
  • Gamifying glucose management.
  • Educating newly diagnosed diabetics on the biology of diabetes as well as "health numeracy" for the interpretation of glucose data.

You could also serve young adults from minority groups (the largest-growing T1D population) with apps that offer different language options and cuisine-specific carb-counting tools.

Founders could also cater to T1D travelers with carb-counting tools for popular foods abroad or apps to manage the effect of time zone changes on injection schedules.

Subscribe to the Hustle Newsletter for more.

📰 Title Tip: Use Timeframes


by Ivan Romanovich

Make your milestones more compelling by using timeframes.


Discuss this story.

📚 Founder David Perell's Write of Passage


from the Listen Up! IH newsletter by Ayush Chaturvedi

David Perell is the founder of online writing school Write of Passage, a five-week cohort-based course that hit $2M ARR. He teaches students how to write, build an audience, and attract like-minded people.

But writing wasn't David's strong suit in school; he was horrible at it. Here's how he went from hater to writer!

The background

David had a 2.9 GPA in school, and he wasn't a good writer. But he saw so much value in the ability to write well, and he was desperate to become better:

You only get better by writing. By talking about interesting ideas, putting your words down on paper, and receiving feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

Here's David's advice on how to write better:

  1. Use stories to illuminate your point: Talk about your personal stories and those of other people.

  2. Use metaphors and analogies: We take ideas from one domain and apply them to another domain. Try to think of new analogies that have never been used before.

  3. Use examples: Focus on things in the world that are concrete that people can see. You can make an abstract point, but then clarify it with a concrete idea.

David believes that everyone should be writing online:

Good writers are now rewarded like they've never been rewarded before...writing is an activity with really high returns right now. Writing on the internet is one of the most under-utilized, under-explored opportunities in the world!

The pseudonymous future

The Stoic Emperor is a Twitter account with more than 362K followers. It tweets out stoic wisdom for the modern world.

David knows the person behind the account, but likes how the pseudonym gives users the freedom to say controversial things without the fear of social repercussions.

David goes deep into this in his essay "Why You Should Write Pseudonymously." He believes that we are moving towards an age where there will be pseudonymous creators and indie hackers.

The biggest benefit of not revealing your real name is that there can be more than one person behind a pseudonym. Teaming up under a pseudonym also takes away some of the pressure of putting out content consistently solo.

Long-form goals

David's goal is to find a way to write two really good long-form essays every year. His essays take months to write, so it's a significant time commitment. He wants to find a way to be able to spend four months a year selling and teaching Write of Passage, and the other eight months writing short and long-form essays.

As far as Write of Passage, David hopes it will become the business school of the future, graduating a few companies every year. As David put it:

Words on a page, they have infinite patience. You write something once, you benefit from it forever. It's a hell of a trade.

Check out the full episode on the Indie Hackers Podcast here.

Discuss this story, or subscribe to Listen Up! IH for more.

🐦 The Tweetmaster's Pick

Cover image for Tweetmaster's Pick

by Tweetmaster Flex

I post the tweets indie hackers share the most. Here's today's pick:

🏁 Enjoy This Newsletter?

Forward it to a friend, and let them know they can subscribe here.

Also, you can submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter.

Special thanks to Jay Avery for editing this issue, to Nathalie Zwimpfer for the illustrations, and to Courtland Allen, Priyanka Vazirani, Steph Smith, Ivan Romanovich, and Ayush Chaturvedi for contributing posts. —Channing

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