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What's New: Livestreaming drives spending on social apps

(from the latest issue of the Indie Hackers newsletter)

Consumers will spend $17.2 billion annually on social apps by 2025:

  • $3 out of every $4 spent comes from apps with a livestream feature. For founders, the livestreaming craze could be a major key to growth.
  • Renting high-end bats and other baseball gear to student players is big business, with one company seeing 1,425% growth in 3 years. Here's how you can knock it out of the park in this space.
  • Founder Mario Gabriele grew his newsletter from 5,000 to 41,000 subscribers in one year. From battling a $6 billion hedge fund over an article, to content strategy best practices, Mario shares his top learnings from the journey.

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

🎥 Livestreaming Drives Spending on Social Apps

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from the Growth & Acquisition Channels newsletter by Darko

Consumers will spend $17.2B annually on social apps by 2025, and livestreaming is driving that growth. For founders, jumping on the livestream wave could be a game-changer.

Livestreaming

What's new: Livestreams are behind the majority of spending on social apps in 2021. People want to tip their favorite creators while they're live, according to TechCrunch:

Apps that offer livestreaming as a prominent feature are also those that are driving the majority of today’s social app spending. In the first half of this year, $3 out of every $4 spent in the top 25 social apps came from apps that offered livestreams.

B2B platforms are experimenting with live streams as well:

  • LinkedIn has introduced "Live Events," a unified experience to help you get more exposure for your livestreams.
  • Twitter has started testing Ticketed Spaces, Twitter's version of Clubhouse, more widely. This might become the primary way for creators to make money on Twitter.

The opportunity: The livestreaming space is moving fast, and more people are making money from it. Come up with ways to utilize this for your own niche to attract new users.

Influencer expectations

Intellifluence, an influencer marketplace, polled over 1.2K influencers from the US, Canada, and the UK on how much they expect to be paid.

The results:

  • 70% of influencers expected a combination of free products and cash. 24.8% wanted cash only, and 5.7% wanted to be compensated with a product alone.
  • The more followers an influencer had, the more money they expected. Instagram influencers with up to 1K followers expected around $193 per post, while those with over 80K followers charged $1K+ per post.
  • Not all platforms were the same. Influencers on Instagram expected the most, followed by Facebook, then Twitter.

The opportunity: In my Zero to Users research on acquisition channels, I've discovered that founders have success with micro-influencers: Influencers with small, highly-engaged followings.

Given that many indie hackers have digital products, Twitter is a top acquisition channel. Fortunately, Twitter influencers typically have lower monetary expectations than Instagram or Facebook influencers. Find Twitter micro-influencers relevant to your niche so that you can spend less for a potentially high ROI.

Microsoft Ads

The problem: Most indie hackers don't have thousands of dollars to get started in advertising like funded companies. If you're on a tight budget, expensive ad networks like Google Ads may be out your reach.

The solution: Try less popular ad networks. For search-and-display traffic, Microsoft Ads is a great option. Yes, it has way less traffic than Google, but the cost-per-click can be up to 70% lower.

The news: Microsoft has just released two new ad formats, one being Video Ads for its Audience Network. In case you missed it, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, and is now using its data to improve ad targeting:

Microsoft is the only platform with access to Bing search intent data, as well as LinkedIn profile data on video assets. This means your video ads on the Microsoft Audience Network work harder to drive deeper connections and deliver performance across the funnel.

The opportunity: Costs are typically lower for new ad formats like these because few founders are aware of their existence. This is a great way for indie hackers to try ads on a limited budget.

Do you livestream? Share your experiences in the comments.

Discuss this story, or subscribe to Growth & Acquisition Channels for more.

📰 In the News

Photo: In the News

from the Volv newsletter by Priyanka Vazirani

💰 Discord is worth $15B after raising $500M in new funding.

🍿 The AMC cinema chain will allow customers to buy tickets using crypto.

📈 Saudi women's median pay exceeds men's pay for the first time.

🗑 Waste from a single Bitcoin transaction equals dumping two iPhones.

💨 This startup says its tech can kill a hurricane before it strengthens.

Check out Volv for more 9-second news digests.

⚾️ Bat Rentals Are Big Business

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from the Hustle Newsletter by Ethan Brooks

Love it or hate it, the Inc. 5000 has one undeniable benefit: Variety. Sifting through the list, you find businesses that you never thought could exist, let alone prosper ($25M water tower cleaning company, anyone?). This week, we're looking at some of our favorites, and showing you opportunities to build on their success.

Bat rentals are knocking it out of the park

Bat Club USA (number 326 on the Inc. 5000) generates $3.1M ARR renting high-end bats and other baseball gear to parents. Revenue has grown 1,425% over the last three years.

*Source: Inc.

Serious youth athletes (or more often, their parents) face constant pressure to buy new equipment as they outgrow gear, or as new technologies emerge offering them an edge.

These aren't cheap. A discounted Louisville Slugger from 2020 will still run you $110, while newer limited-edition bats go for ~$500.

*Source: State of Play 2020

Apply this model to other sports, like tennis, lacrosse, and field hockey, all of which are seeing increased participation, and all of which require expensive rackets and sticks.

Or beat Bat Club at its own game: We don't usually suggest taking a swing at incumbents, but Bat Club's website has some serious UX issues.

The sales copy and membership plans are confusing, key features (like, er, purchasing) sometimes don't work, and inventory is sparse.

Those with the experience and know-how to build clean, functional subscription sites, or those with better supply chain logistics and inventory control may have an opportunity to steal home.

*Source: Bat Club USA

Fashion for cancer patients

Care+Wear is a fashion brand with a niche audience: Cancer patients. Its 11-member team generated $34M selling a line of adaptive clothing and accessories specifically for people undergoing long-term treatments.

Flares: Fashion for Cancer Patients, Car Wash Rollups, and Baseball Bat Rentals

Chemotherapy often requires patients to have a port-a-cath implanted beneath their skin. This "port" makes it easier to receive medicine, but is hard to access beneath typical clothes. This is a hassle for patients, considering that treatment can take 3-6 hours at a time.

Care+Wear's port-accessible shirts and hoodies have zippers on the chest to allow for easy, comfortable use. At $95, the margins on these clothes are likely high.

*Source: Care+Wear

People with medical needs are often overlooked by the fashion industry, and brands like Care+Wear are making a name by offering adaptive clothes that actually look good. Some opportunities you can explore:

  • Adaptive undergarments with front or side closures make it easier for the world's 75M wheelchair users to dress. Slick Chicks is innovating in this space, but men still have no stylish option.

  • Care+Wear recommends this generic pregnancy pillow (which hits $1.2M MRR on Amazon, according to Jungle Scout) to patients who experience pain trying to sleep. Why not rebrand it and cater specifically to this niche?

*Source: Care+Wear and Amazon

Car washes

Coldwater Capital nabbed number 27 on this year's Inc. 5000, generating $12.7M with a portfolio of 14 local car washes and an app called Coinless, which helps car washes switch to contactless payments. 77% of US drivers prefer professional car washes.

*Source: International Carwash Association

Turns out the boring business of car cleanliness may just get your wallet in a lather.

One of the biggest players, Mister Car Wash, IPO'd in June and has a market cap of $5.5B as of this writing. In March, it had 344 locations and $595M in net revenue over the previous year, with $76M in net income.

Still, the company represents just 0.6% of the 63K car washes in the US, and the rest of the industry is incredibly fragmented. For example, there are 17.5K conveyor-style car washes, and 85% of them are owned by companies with less than five locations. California and Texas have the most car washes, but Florida is growing the fastest.

*Source: Davidson Capital Advisors

Here are two opportunities to consider:

  1. Buy one or more existing car washes: An analysis of recent M&A deals shows that the median revenue was $788K ARR per location.

  2. Start your own service: Pay particular attention to the mobile car wash space. Search interest is up YoY, and Washé recently raised $3M to connect car owners with local roving sudsters.

Would you consider any of these opportunities? Please share in the comments!

Discuss this story, or subscribe to the Hustle Newsletter for more.

🌐 Best Around the Web: Posts Submitted to Indie Hackers This Week

Cover image for Best Links of the Week

📝 Convert Notion docs into a professionally-hosted knowledge base. Posted by Dominik Sobe.

😫 Has everything already been made? Posted by Bryan Lee.

💻 In-depth SEO audits for indie hackers. Posted by Jaume Ros.

🥺 No success on Twitter. Posted by Nick Freiling.

📱 Bought an Instagram page for $1.4K, made $2.5K in 72 hours. Posted by Brett Williams.

Somebody already implemented my idea. Posted by Chang Dawson.

Want a shout-out in next week's Best of Indie Hackers? Submit an article or link post on Indie Hackers whenever you come across something you think other indie hackers will enjoy.

📥 Mario Gabriele Hit 41K Newsletter Subscribers in One Year

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from the Deep Dive newsletter by Seth King

Mario Gabriele, former Venture Investor at Charge Ventures, launched The Generalist newsletter last year; it now has over 41K subscribers. The Generalist dives deep into one technology-related topic a week, and features original reporting from world-renowned experts.

While some newsletters focus on brevity, The Generalist is as it sounds: General. Pieces routinely clock in at 10K words, and last year, the business hit $300K through sponsorships, subscriptions, and NFTs.

Indie Hackers sat down with Mario to chat about about "compounder-gate," quitting his job to work on The Generalist full-time, and his writing process. Read on for more!

Life before The Generalist

My first job after college was at a law firm. It was incredibly boring. Once I realized this, I decided to attend fiction writing night classes at NYU, and fell into a workshop with senior writers. It ended up being the best experience of my life.

Each week, we’d bring in seven pages from our novel. This got me into a routine of waking up an hour early before work to focus on my writing. That's still how I start a lot of my days, working on fiction.

At a certain point, my colleagues encouraged me to write about technology. It quickly turned into an obsession; since then, I've written a post for The Generalist every week. In August 2020, I went full-time, and I’ve been properly working on the business for a year.

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Growing pains

I made an announcement about going full-time last year, and put out a deck that outlined where I hoped to take The Generalist. That gave me a little bump. Then, I launched on Product Hunt. That was another little bump. I also wrote a piece on Red Bull, and the corresponding Twitter thread went viral, which drove a bunch of signups.

The final spike was when this hedge fund threatened to sue me last October. I had written a piece about compounders, which are just companies that grow steadily year after year.

For some reason, this hedge fund got it in their head that the notion of compounders, and descriptive phrases like “good to great,” was proprietary information. It was very strange and confusing, but also pretty scary.

There was a $6B hedge fund coming at me, and I was earning zero money at that point. I tried to resolve it amicably several times with them, all to no avail. Eventually, I was lucky enough to secure pro bono help from a media law attorney, who favorably resolved the situation. It was super stressful, but it ended up having a happy ending.

Moving off Substack

The Generalist started on Substack. In January, I moved over to a site built on Webflow. It was more work to build, but it’s nice to no longer lose 10% to Substack.

I’m also using ConvertKit, which allows me to cast a slightly different vision of my brand than Substack permits. While Substack is great for starting out, it's still pretty narrow in regards to the way that you can present your work.

Differentiation

If you go back through the archive of The Generalist on Substack, there's a format where I was rounding out the top tweets of the week. The first Generalist was really a link round up, but it didn't lean heavily on my main strength: Writing.

Back then, The Generalist was less compelling to sign up for because there were lots of similar products. I was able to separate myself by going deep in a way that few were doing. Ultimately, I'm telling a story in a narratively compelling way. That is different from most business writing, which is more perfunctory.

The process

A post will usually take between 50-60 hours to complete. Monday and Tuesday are often research heavy. The week before, we'll set up calls with experts so I'm not having to frantically email people or DM people last minute.

On Wednesday, I'll start outlining the piece. Then, I just work progressively until I publish on Sunday. I don't take days off at this point.

I default to anonymity with my sources, and this aspect of my reporting has helped me earn their trust, convincing them to share information that they might not otherwise.

My content is more similar to equity research; it's about granularly diving into the financials of certain companies. I care more about writing something that is definitive on a subject.

The turning point

The first year of doing this as a side hustle, I got about 5K subscribers. Then, in the last year, it went from 5K to 41K subscribers. Being able to put out increasingly better pieces every week made a huge, huge difference, thanks to working on it full-time. I didn't monetize The Generalist until January of this year.

It was like a leap across the Rubicon, and so far 2.3% of the free audience has converted to paid. I've heard of newsletters being able to get to 8-10%, but The Generalist is fighting against best practices. Usually, niche products tend to do well on the subscription side for media and my work is...general. I think it's less of a direct sell.

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Content strategy

One thing that has been valuable for me is keeping the content extremely relevant. If anything has been super hot this summer, it's crypto. People have more of an appetite to learn about that right now than for a piece on a traditional tech company, so I’ve reflected that in my subject choices.

Also, the deeper I go into a topic, the better response I get. I did a trilogy on one company called FTX, and got the CEO to open up their data room and bring out a ton of information that had not been shared publicly. Unsurprisingly, that was one of my best performing pieces in the last six months. However, the thing that I have not done is shift away from direct and social traffic. If I had a better SEO game, it would help during quieter months.

Discuss this story, or subscribe to Deep Dive 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 Darko, Priyanka Vazirani, Ethan Brooks, and Seth King for contributing posts. —Channing

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