Each video game is its own universe:
The developer ecosystem around gaming is huge, and SaaS for video games is still a pretty untapped market. Below, we explore what's out there, and the massive potential for founders.
A surprising effect of the AI art surge? Rising demand for human creative outlets. These new opportunities can help you get in on the draw!
Founder David Bressler built Excelformulabot in 2 months, launched, and made $20,000 within 2 months after that. Here's how he leveraged the power of social listening and productivity hack influencers to go viral more than once.
Want to share something with over 100,000 indie hackers? Submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter. —Channing
🎮 SaaS Solutions for Video Games
from the Growth & Founder Opportunities newsletter by Darko
Several days ago, I really got into FIFA Mobile. In case you're not familiar, FIFA Mobile is a game where you can play soccer, and build your team by buying players.
How do you decide which player to choose? I accidentally discovered a site to help me with that. It's called FifaRenderz, and it allowed me to compare players, something I couldn't do with FIFA Mobile.
In doing a bit of research on this site, I discovered that it ranks in the top 25K websites in the world, with 2M+ monthly visitors:
The founder imported player stats to the app, probably by using some API, then added some basic comparisons.
This made me wonder whether there are sites like this for every popular game. I decided to do some digging!
FIFA, the desktop version of FIFA Mobile, has a pretty large community of third-party sites. One of those sites is called FUTBin, and it has 73M+ monthly visitors.
Another is FutHead, with 3M+ visitors. FifaFosters is yet another, with 700K visitors.
I also discovered a bunch of sites around other popular games.
If you go to any popular Dota forum, you'll inevitably see someone linking to a DotaBuff match stat. DotaBuff had 6.6M visitors in October:
This is a site that basically allows you to see detailed match stats for a DOTA game.
Another popular site in the DOTA ecosystem is Stratz, a website where you can run analytics on heroes and players. It has 1.2M visitors.
Again, these are mostly CRUD apps that any average web developer can build.
League of Legends
Want to find your matchmaking rating in League of Legends? Use WhatIsMyMMR, a seemingly simple site that allows you to enter a player's username and get their rating. This site gets 1M+ monthly visitors.
A smaller site is Replays, which allows you to save your game replays.
The granddaddy of all these third-party sites is OPGG, which has 60M+ monthly visitors. It allows you to see stats, compare champions, do reply management, and more:
Fortnite Tracker is a site that allows you to track your Fortnite game stats. It has 8.2M monthly visitors.
Another one is SeeBot, a Fortnite Discord bot with 1M+ members. These web tools are huge, and players are actively using them.
What about smaller games?
I found that almost every game with 1M+ players has a set of web or desktop tools around it:
People face challenges in gameplay.
In FIFA, users want to get the most bang for their buck, so they compare player stats on sites like FifaRenderz. In Battlefield, users want to make sure to get good players for their servers. League of Legends players want to compare their match ratings.
This is where you come in. These tools aren't that hard to make if you're a competent technical founder. Most of them are CRUD tools with stats, analytics, etc.
How do you find these opportunities? The simple answer is to play games. Each game is its own universe. I discovered FifaRenderz by playing FIFA Mobile, and finding a problem. I did some Googling, and FifaRenderz came up.
Reddit is your friend
I found most of the tools above from Reddit. I created a small script that scraped game communities and looked for links. Sure, many of those links led to generic game news sites, but many of them also led to game-specific tools that players found useful.
Using Reddit can be a good way to narrow down which games you want to focus on. For example, when looking for web tools for GTA 5, all I found were mod sites. This made me realize that gamers probably don't have goals that a web app can satisfy.
Compare this to League of Legends, which has an insanely rich ecosystem of apps that get millions of visitors each day.
If you find an interesting third-party tool being mentioned, you can then use Google to find even more mentions. For example, Battlefield has a site called Battlefield Tracker, which has 1K+ mentions on Reddit:
The developer ecosystem around gaming is huge. Hopefully, this article made you aware of the opportunities, and inspired you to create and build!
Have you built for the gaming market? Share your experience below!
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Growth & Founder Opportunities for more.
📰 In the News
from the Volv newsletter by Priyanka Vazirani
🏛 Ticketmaster's Taylor Swift chaos has triggered a US Senate antitrust hearing.
💰 Binance's industry recovery plan aims to help Web3 projects.
🚫 Amazon workers in the US and 30 other countries have planned protests from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.
🦟 AI-powered insect traps may help solve a $220B pest problem.
⚽️ Most of the world's soccer balls come from this place.
Check out Volv for more 9-second news digests.
💥 The Human Creativity Boom
from the Hustle Newsletter by Shân Osborn
The Signal: Sure, you can now whip up an exhibition-worthy image in seconds, but a potential surprising effect of the AI art surge? Rising demand for human creative outlets.
*The art of bookbinding is going wild on TikTok (370M+ views). Source: Subreddit Stats
We first wrote about opportunities here in January, after the pandemic spurred demand for arts and crafts. The space has continued to balloon, with activities from watercolor to leatherwork exploding on Reddit.
Here are two niches you can capitalize on:
1. The art of bookbinding:
There's a huge untapped SEO opportunity here. Bookbinding gets 51K global Google searches per month, but Ahrefs ranks it as a zero on the keyword difficulty scale. Leverage this by directing traffic to your site that contains how-to guides, products, YouTube tutorials, and affiliate links.
You could release limited edition, one-of-a-kind bookbinding kits each month or quarter. Kit assembly requires minimal work; it's just a collection of papers, glue, threads, and clamps, and the math looks great:
- Harness just a smidge (0.5%) of the ~48K+ quarterly US Google searches for bookbinding (~240 kits).
- Sell 240 kits per quarter for ~$105 each.
- Annual revenue: ~$100K+.
It's not just bookbinding that's turning
pages heads. Focus on any of these related growing niches:
*A map of the subreddits related to r/bookbinding. Source: Related Subreddits
Beyond DIY, you could also sell end products or services. Trendster Vicki Kunkel recently wrote about someone making six figures a year handwriting calligraphy, and Aaryn Anderson's business uses a professional handwriting service.
*Source: Trends Facebook group
2. All things woodworking:
Money just may grow on trees. Woodworking activities, including pyrography (the art of burning illustrations into wood), are going wild. Subreddit subscribers have doubled since March this year:
*Source: Subreddit Stats
Rare, unusual woods are big talking points on Reddit. They're difficult to source, so leverage the scarcity and release limited edition batches. This two person team is selling tallow, and making $220K+ per drop.
Unsure of which wood to work with? Hundreds of Redditors are, too. Informative sites like The Wood Database get 330K+ visits per month, per Similarweb. You could create one specifically for carving and pyrography.
Capitalize on the trend via shortform videos (#woodcarving and #pyrography have 2B+ TikTok views), or host wood carving or pyrography craft nights.
DIY kits could also be lucrative. Ahrefs shows that "wood carving kit" gets 5.2K searches per month, but the term is ranked just 9/100 on the difficulty scale.
Other monthly Google search volumes:
- Wood carving tools: 57K.
- Woodworking classes near me: 18K.
- DIY wood projects: 10K.
- Whittling knife: 9.8K.
- Pyrography kit: 6.6K.
Would you enter the bookbinding or woodworking space? Share below!
Subscribe to the Hustle Newsletter for more.
🌐 Best Around the Web: Posts Submitted to Indie Hackers This Week
🎁 Black Friday deals from indie hackers! Posted by Channing Allen.
⌚️ My cofounder misses meetings without notice. What do I do? Posted by Belal Amin.
🥾 How we built a successful bootstrapped startup. Posted by Londoner.
📈 Growing your SaaS via Twitter. Posted by Satvik Pendem.
📝 Four essential growth marketing practices to prepare for a successful exit. Posted by Dan Siepen.
🧐 Are you using product analytics? Posted by Caspar von Wrede.
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.
👂 David Bressler Used Social Listening to go Viral
by James Fleischmann
Founder David Bressler built Excelformulabot in two months, launched, and made $20K within another two months. He's currently at $3K MRR. He's also got a full-time job and a family.
Indie Hackers caught up with him to see how he did it, and learn more about his take on growth!
On quitting your job
A lot of people on social media talk about how they risked everything to go all-in on their startup. That's easier to do when you're 20 years old with no kids or a full-time job. You have to be realistic about your situation.
There are 24 hours in the day. You sleep a third of them, and work for another third. There's still a third of the day remaining. You can make it work with a side project. Small changes every day can have a big impact. Because you're limited to a reduced amount of hours in the day, you're forced to focus only on what's important. I can't make drastic changes in my life like I may have been able to years ago.
On going viral
I built an MVP in July just to see if people would use it. I posted the site on Reddit to get a few testers, and it eventually turned into several hundred thousand after going viral. Over the course of the next couple of months, I made an actual site with a paywall and subscriptions, and I officially launched in September.
It went viral in different phases. The day I made the MVP, I shared it in the Excel subreddit looking for a few testers. That post blew up, followed by it being shared in the Internet is Beautiful subreddit, where it garnered 10K upvotes.
The next day, I got a message from a colleague saying that they saw my website on TikTok. That was the major viral post! It was a post by Matty McTech, a TikToker who shares videos on cool websites that people don't know about. He has 4.5M followers, and as of today, the video has generated 285K likes. My API costs skyrocketed for a couple of weeks, but it was worth it.
As far as going viral, the only tip I have is to offer a good product that people are willing to share. Also, offer a free version!
Making the most of your time
I'm married with two kids, and I have a senior role at my full-time job. I genuinely enjoy what I do and who I do it with, but when I'm working, it's time away from building.
I was really struggling the first month. Competitors saw the success of my MVP, and I knew I had to move quickly. I decided to make some time sacrifices, and the first thing I cut was working out. I later realized that this was a big mistake, since so much of how I feel mentally is based on how I feel physically. Not working out resulted in me having less energy, making it harder to stay up late to work on the site.
Feeling energized from working out, and enjoying a midday coffee, gives me the energy to go from 7AM to 11PM daily:
- 7-8 AM: Work out.
- 9 AM-6 PM: Full-time job.
- 6:30-8:30 PM: Dinner and family time.
- 8:30-11 PM: Work on the site.
I still have enough time to get a good night's rest. As far as family time, I spend two hours daily with them during the week. Then, we take full advantage of the weekends, not wasting any time playing on our phones or watching TV.
This schedule isn't sustainable at all, to be honest. I'm actively exploring some options, and I recently hired a couple of developers to help me while I'm working my full-time job. Every morning before I head to work, I message them the deliverables for the day to ensure that we're all on the same page.
No-code and outsourcing
I have experience building websites in Webflow and WordPress, but even with those, coding isn't required. I do not know how to code a website, but learning how to build a web app via tools like Bubble is much easier today than it was years ago. Times have changed, as have the way people learn.
There's so much written documentation out there, but I learned Bubble by watching YouTube videos. There are so many talented no-code builders out there that show you how to build, and there are videos for nearly every obstacle that you'll face.
I recommend people reach out to fellow builders on the forums, Twitter, etc. for help if you are stuck. So many people are willing to help for free. If you can't get anyone to help, find a contractor on Upwork. Don't let one roadblock get in your way of building what's in your head, because truly anything is possible to build these days.
Even non-technical founders can build. If you're able, you can also invest some revenue into getting a little help.
Every dollar I've generated, I've put back into the product. I've spent revenue on development work in Bubble, and to build add-ons for Google Sheets and Excel. I recommend not cutting corners; I've learned the hard way that you get what you pay for. Check the contractor's portfolio and testimonials. Start with a small project where you understand how to grade the output.
I have a great relationship with my developers, and reward them with bonuses when they go above and beyond to find efficiencies, or just simply work well. It helps to know the tool your website is built in, so you can learn how long it takes to do certain things. This will remind you of how valuable your developers are!
Free influencer endorsements
I spent 99% of my time building, and 1% on marketing. This wouldn't be the case had I not had the help of other people promoting it on social channels or sharing it with their colleagues. 99% of the traffic is direct or organic search, meaning that it's from all brand awareness.
I was very fortunate to gain a tremendous amount of awareness through productivity hacks influencers who were just looking for good content to share to help people be more productive. Influencers love promoting free tools to their audiences, and my website has been shared by several hundred of them.
I didn't do any cold outreach. In fact, it was the opposite. I had influencers reach out to me asking for an affiliate partnership, as they'd seen other influencers promoting it, so they thought I was paying them. But I was not. I've found that social influencing is a lot of monkey see, monkey do. They see one post go viral with a "cool website that feels illegal to know," and they think that they'll get that kind of traction by reposting it with their own video.
A big part of this is being a free tool. Here's my conversion flow: Every user receives five free formula requests per month. They get an email on the first of the month reminding them that their requests have been reset. Two days after they reach their fifth request, they receive a triggered email offering a free trial for unlimited formula requests. A credit card is required to receive the unlimited formula requests. Once they go unlimited, they understand the value of the product, as the formulas become a part of their typical workflow. Free users tend to use the site only for very complicated formulas.
Advice for founders on social listening
Social listening has been instrumental to the site's success. If someone tweets about Excel formulas, I'm there. Whether it's sending a funny GIF, or even solving a problem for them with a screenshot of the dashboard that shows the formula, I comment. Same goes for when people are talking about the site. Leaving a comment only increases engagement and reach, resulting in more eyeballs seeing the post!
I don't use a specific tool for social listening, although there are some good ones out there. It's not worth it right now, as I still work a full-time job and cannot respond to everything immediately, anyway. I just search social channels for "Excel formula bot" or "Excel formulas," and respond where applicable.
It's also helpful to be the first to comment on big accounts that reach your target audience. I set up tweet notifications so that, when popular accounts that reach my audience post, I'm notified. When I'm notified, I quickly comment to be the first commenter, hoping that my response will become a top comment. Some of my comments have garnered several hundred profile clicks, and clicks to the website.
Discuss this story.
🐦 The Tweetmaster's Pick
by Tweetmaster Flex
I post the tweets indie hackers share the most. Here's today's pick:
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Special thanks to Jay Avery for editing this issue, to Gabriella Federico for the illustrations, and to Darko, Priyanka Vazirani, Shân Osborn, and James Fleischmann for contributing posts. —Channing