Artists must live in one of 13 zip codes hardest hit during the pandemic:
A San Francisco-based pilot program is providing artists with a guaranteed income of $1,000 per month. Jack's donation funded the enrollment of 50 additional artists, with a focus on BIPOC, disabled, and LGBTQ applicants.
There were up to 66,000 monthly searches for "rent a laptop near me" last year. Opportunities in electronic rentals are on the rise for founders, as consumers search for the Netflix of gadgets.
Founder Janel Loi hit $35,000 helping creators grow and monetize their newsletters. She quickly found that paid ads weren't very helpful for her in growing newsletters, and encourages founders to focus on live sessions and other avenues to show their product's value.
Want to share something with over 75,000 indie hackers? Submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter. —Channing
💰 Jack Dorsey Donates $3.5M to Guarantee Income for Creators
from the Indie Economy newsletter by Bobby Burch
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has donated $3.46M to a pilot program designed to provide San Francisco artists with a guaranteed income. For those in the creator economy, guaranteed income could become a mainstay in the future.
The program: Jack donated through his #StartSmall charity, and the money will support the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in its Guaranteed Income Pilot for the City and County of San Francisco. With the addition of Jack's donation, the program will boost its enrollment from 130 people to 180. The program provides enrolled San Francisco-area artists with a guaranteed income of $1K per month.
The impact: Jack's donation will fund a new collaboration between YBCA and five historically underfunded San Francisco arts organizations to select an additional 50 artists to receive the monthly payments. The organizations will focus on Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and Pacific Islander, disabled, immigrant, and LGBTQ applicants, according to YBCA CEO Deborah Cullinan:
The ability to extend and expand this program means we can provide guaranteed income to more artists, and we can work with leading arts and culture organizations to build our collective capacity. The learnings from this expanded pilot will ensure that we can pave the way for local, state and national policies and models that are equitable and resilient.
The artists: Artist applicants must live in one of 13 zip codes identified as being the hardest hit during the pandemic, and must earn less than $60,900 a year. ArtNet reports that recipients were chosen at random.
Guaranteed income proposal
Survey says: 54% of US adults opposed the idea of the federal government providing a universal income of $1K per month for all adult citizens, according to a Pew Research Center study. 45% favored the proposal.
Biden tries UBI: The $1.9T COVID-19 relief bill signed into law by President Biden in March is providing US parents with grants akin to universal basic income (UBI). Beginning in July, parents of children ages 17 and younger will get monthly payments of up to $300 per child without any strings attached.
Jack’s altruism: Jack, whose net worth is around $12.5B, announced in April 2020 that he’d be investing $1B of his fortune into #StartSmall to fund global relief of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also created a publicly available spreadsheet to track #StartSmall’s gifts. The program has already donated more than $403M to organizations working in the arenas of girl's health and education, social justice, public health, and COVID-19 relief around the world.
Benevolent billionaires: Jack's $1B+ in charitable donations place him among the most generous humans in modern history. However, he still has a long way to go before catching up with the likes of Warren Buffett (who’s donated $42.8B) and Bill and Melinda Gates ($29.8B).
What are your thoughts on guaranteed income for artists and other creators? Please share in the comments!
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Indie Economy for more.
📰 In the News
🏛 The Biden Administration is considering cryptocurrency regulations designed to protect investors.
😶 Instagram is changing its algorithm following allegations of censorship of pro-Palestine posts.
🏝 These millennials save up to 85% of their annual income in pursuit of early retirement.
💻 European privacy group noyb is kicking off a campaign to clean up cookie non-compliance.
👃 This startup is incorporating smell into the virtual reality experience.
📸 Electronics Rentals Present New Opportunities For Founders
from the Hustle Newsletter by Julia Janks
There were ~66k monthly Google searches for "rent a laptop near me" in August last year, according to Keywords Everywhere. For founders, opportunities in electronics rentals are on the rise.
The Signal: Grover is a Berlin-based startup that just raised ~$70M to grow its electronics rental business in Europe and expand to the US.
The company, which rents out consumer electronics for a set monthly fee, has increased its subscriber base by 50% in the last six months from 100K to 150K active subscribers. The company also grew its ARR by 2.2x to ~$60.3M in 2020.
Opportunities: Although companies like Lumoid failed to make the electronics rental model work in the US years ago, the pandemic has inspired a new appreciation for financial flexibility.
For consumers who can't, or don't want to, commit to expensive tech, the rental model is a perfect solution. It also works well for fickle consumers who want to upgrade to the newest iPhone as soon as it comes out.
It's a nifty option for those who want to try before they buy. London-based startup Wonder will let you rent new tech from startups. For $49 you can rent the Elvie wearable breast pump (worth ~$345 new) for a week, plus $3 per day thereafter. You could also rent the Muse 2 meditation device (worth ~$330 new) for a week also for $49, plus $5 per day afterward.
The trend toward electronic rentals also ties in nicely with massive opportunities in e-waste and the circular economy, which we reported on earlier this year. Electronic goods recycling is a $16B industry growing 8.7% YoY.
Specialize: In the first nine months of 2020, Grover had rented out thousands of electronics across Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands, including 18K+ smartphones and 6K pairs of AirPods.
While Grover has a wide range of electronics, there's an opportunity to provide a more specialized offering in other categories like wearables, gaming, and cameras.
Source: Grover Growth Report 2020
Camera equipment in particular is an interesting niche. The Instagram and TikTok age is ushering in a new wave of semiprofessional (we're being generous) photographers and videographers who'll want access to affordable equipment on an ad hoc basis.
UK-based startup MPB is meeting this need with its used-camera marketplace. The company raised ~$69M last month.
Another niche worth exploring is fitness equipment, which increasingly falls into the electronics category with the likes of Fitbit, Peloton, and Mirror.
Google searches for gym equipment are still high after coming down from a peak at the start of the pandemic, according to Keywords Everywhere:
- "Rent a treadmill" - 14.8K searches per month
- "Rent gym equipment" - 8.1K
- "Rent exercise bike" - 2.9K
There's an opportunity to provide expensive fitness tech to people who aren't ready to commit, or who want a more flexible option than the gym.
B2B: Grover enjoyed a 103% increase in assets rented by business customers from September 2019-September 2020. This was the result of a 2,000% increase in traffic to its B2B store in the first half of 2020.
There's clearly demand from businesses and freelancers for leased office equipment (e.g., laptops, monitors, headphones), as well as speakers, lighting, tablets, and VR gear for events and company retreats.
You could also partner with Airbnb hosts to provide their guests with add-on options like a drone, e-bike, or Xbox.
What do you think of the electronics rental trend? Share in the comments!
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🧠 Harry's Growth Tip
from the Marketing Examples newsletter by Harry Dry
An example of great copy.
Go here for more short, sweet, practical marketing tips.
Subscribe to Marketing Examples for more.
📩 This Founder Hit $35K by Helping Creators Grow Their Newsletters
by Janel Loi
Hi! I’m Janel Loi, a maker, marketer, writer, and founder who loves exploring my curiosity. I'm obsessed with newsletters, and I love optimizing operational workflows using no-code tools. I created Newsletter Operating System, a comprehensive tool that has helped over 900 newsletter writers start, grow, organize, and earn from their newsletters. I've bootstrapped the company to over $35K in revenue.
I met my co-creator for my second product, Podcast Operating System via a cold DM he sent me on Twitter, and we've earned more than $10K in revenue with our product. When I'm not making my own stuff, I work full-time in tech, helping builders to bring their ideas to life at On Deck's No-Code Fellowship. I also write a weekly newsletter for the curious called BrainPint.
How have you grown Newsletter Operating System?
My largest sales spikes were on pre-sale day (Twitter), launch day (Twitter), and Product Hunt launch day. I'm trying to drop it into places where the conversations veer towards people who are interested in starting, growing, and monetizing a newsletter. I was very busy in Marc, and my sales suffered because of that.
My customers seriously have been doing an amazing job at promoting my product. I get one sale on average a day, even when I don't talk about it.
Active ways I've promoted it:
- Writing threads about newsletters
- Doing AMAs in different paid communities (mostly to give back to them or share about my journey, not so much for self-promotion)
- Including it on my newsletter's landing page
- Taking out ads in other newsletters
Paid ads haven't really performed as well as I'd liked, so I'm cutting down on that and focusing on just delivering value in live sessions (for free!). That way, I help share my love for newsletters while growing my audience. Plus, it gives my product extra exposure. Even if people don't buy, at least they learn something and hopefully get inspired.
How did you get your first 100 newsletter subscribers?
Here's what I did:
- Shared my product with my friends
- Had a tweet go viral and attached my product on the back of that tweet
- Shared on Indie Hackers
What were your top challenges in obtaining subscribers?
When I first started out, I had three major challenges:
Being too scared to actively promote my newsletter. I seriously wrote to 25-ish people for 13 weeks before I exploded.
Not knowing how to leverage Twitter and other communities to promote my newsletter.
Sticking with my first email marketing platform for too long, and not wanting to promote my newsletter because I wanted to change platforms. I was afraid I'd lose people when I switched! After going through the switch, I would say it's really not a big deal if you're under 1K subscribers. Don't worry too much about which platform to use at that point.
That's why I built Newsletter Operating System: It's a blueprint to helping others grow. It includes the information that I wish I'd had when I first started out, and provides an understanding of where founders can go to promote their newsletters (including growing a Twitter account).
What are your top insights for indie hackers?
I used to think that my product was tailored more towards beginner-intermediate level writers, and that advanced newsletter writers, with huge audiences or advanced writing expertise, would not find value in it. I was wrong. Products created by "the little creator" can be useful for bigger creators too. In Newsletter OS' case, it was the "getting organized" aspect that was a huge draw for the more advanced newsletter writers.
You don't need to be an expert in a niche in order to be able to create products to support other creators. You do need some level of credibility, and you have to exhibit a lot of passion, but you really don't have to be an expert if you have the correct partners. This was the case for me when I co-created Podcast OS with Josh.
Creators want community. There are many brilliant minds who are amazing at creating things, but they can truly accelerate their journeys when they make connections with others who are doing the same in a positive-sum way.
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 Nathalie Zwimpfer for the illustrations, and to Bobby Burch, Julia Janks, Harry Dry, and Janel Loi for contributing posts. —Channing