91% of US businesses expanded their plans for digitization in 2020:
The bad news is that digital skills proficiency is not keeping up with plans for digital transformation. Dru Riley shows how online courses can help bridge this divide.
Search interest in business coaching has risen by 142% in the past 5 years. This market is ripe with opportunity, particularly in the niche of gaming.
35% of cloud spending is wasted each year, adding up to nearly $95 billion. Founder Tony Chan hits six-figures annually by helping founders manage AWS more efficiently.
Want to share something with over 75,000 indie hackers? Submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter. —Channing
🖥 Online Courses Help Bridge Gaps in Skills Proficiency
from the Trends.vc newsletter by Dru Riley
91% of US businesses expanded their plans for digitization in 2020. But there are not enough trained workers to support this transformation, particularly in certain regions. Online courses can help bridge that gap.
Why it matters
Coursera’s latest Global Skills Report shows that the digital skills gap has widened during the pandemic. There are 77M students on the platform, and Coursera believes that this access will help stimulate recovery:
Access to a variety of job-relevant credentials, including a path to entry-level digital jobs, will be key to reskilling at scale and accelerating economic recovery.
This report helps governments and employers assess skill gaps in their workforce, identify roles that can be filled with diverse, non-traditional candidates, and details the specific skills that are needed for these roles.
Creators can stop trading time for money by helping students land their first software development jobs, get raises, launch businesses and more.
There's a gap between where you are and where you want to be.
Online courses are bridges that help you fill these gaps. You can find your way via trial and error, or learn from someone who's done it before.
Coursera: Courses, certificates, and degrees from universities and companies.
Egghead: Tutorials for intermediate and advanced developers.
Udemy: Marketplace for self-paced courses.
Lynda: Self-paced courses on software development, design, photography, and more.
General Assembly: Coding, data, and design training programs.
Podia: Sell courses, webinars, memberships, and other digital products.
Teachable: Offer online courses and coaching services.
Kajabi: Host courses, communities, coaching services, and more.
Thinkific: Create online courses and membership sites.
Gumroad: Sell digital products.
- More platforms will sponsor influential educators. Pat Flynn did a webinar for Copy.ai. Notion pays Ali Abdaal. Influencers give platforms documentation and distribution.
- We'll see more "edutainers." Famous teachers have always understood the power of storytelling. See Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, and Neil Degrasse Tyson. Barriers are falling and the best are rising to the top. There are new form factors like TikTok tutorials.
- There will be more interactive, adaptive platforms like Duolingo. They scale personalized, gamified, self-paced education with low marginal costs.
- Do it live the first time. Build fast feedback loops by consulting before making courses. Build the curriculum from questions, real-world struggles, and feedback. Tyler Gillespie built a few productized services and mentored founders. Now he's building a course.
Use presales to reduce market risk. Marie Poulin used presales to get early feedback on the beta version of her course. Trust wallets over words.
- Base your course on an outcome. Use capstone projects. This is a forcing function to make sure your content is actionable. Launch MBA is based on the 12 startups in 12 months concept. Each project serves as social proof.
- Combine courses and communities. Get benefits of cohorts (accountability, peer-to-peer learning) at scale without high marginal costs. See all-in-one platforms like Kajabi.
- Build a value ladder. Help people at different stages and diversify revenue. Flavio does this with his blog (free), books ($), courses ($$), and bootcamps ($$$).
- Version your course. Paula Pant earned over $1M from a "beta" course. She's done multiple versions. Use new versions as launch events.
These are fragmented, micro-monopolies. There are many options and many winners. Course creators have pricing power. Feature parity applies to SaaS not pros.
Markets are taking over. Colleges can't keep up with talent needs. Companies like Salesforce and Google take it upon themselves to train employees.
- Cohort-based courses are high-fidelity, boost accountability, and have higher completion rates than self-paced courses. But students are kept at the same pace. Like classrooms.
- Self-paced courses let you move fast or slow. They are more financially accessible than cohort-based courses, but completion rates are lower. Communities can ebb some of these downsides.
- Interactive platforms adapt to you. They have high engagement and low marginal costs. You may need one-on-one support to fill in gaps.
"I don't know enough to teach a course."
What do you wish you knew three years ago? Teach that. You may be better than an expert because you don't suffer from the expert's curse. Or, teach as you learn. This is what Tim Ferriss and Shane Parrish are doing, along with yours truly.
"Most people don't finish courses."
The same goes for books and other form factors. Cohorts and interactive, adaptive platforms can help with this.
"Education should be free."
It is. Quality and cost aren't always correlated. You'll still have to pay attention.
"Course revenue is spiky."
This applies to most digital products. There are ways around it, like memberships, value ladders, and evergreen funnels. Or you can embrace the spikiness through open and closed enrollment.
"Courses are just money grabs."
You can find bad intentions in any market. Time is smarter than we are. Be a late adopter and let the chicken come home to roost. Ask how the person's reputation performs over time, or look for reviews in unmoderated environments.
Who has a course? The tweet behind this report.
Create Your Online Course Template: A step-by-step process for creating courses.
Interactive Course Platforms: A tweetstorm on new platforms.
Go here to get the Trends Pro report. It contains 200% more insights. You also get access to the entire back catalog and the next 52 Pro Reports.
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📰 In the News
from the Volv newsletter by Priyanka Vazirani
❓ Instagram head clarifies "misconceptions" about the algorithm.
🤭 One customer caused the widespread internet outage on Tuesday.
💰 Crypto startup Solana raised $314M to develop faster blockchain.
🏛 President Biden reversed Trump's order to ban TikTok and WeChat.
🤑 Facebook revealed new ways for creators to make "extra cash."
Check out Volv for more 9-second news digests.
🤓 The Business Coaching Market is on the Rise
from the Exploding Topics newsletter by Josh Howarth
Search interest in business coaching is up 142% in the past five years. There are many opportunities for founders to explore in this emerging field, as particular niches continue to rise.
The trend: IBISWorld estimates that the US business coaching market is worth $11.6B. Aside from a dip caused by the coronavirus, this field has been growing consistently since 2013.
The examples: Interview Kickstart coaches programmers to ace technical interviews. This platform has helped engineers get jobs at Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Netflix.
To help maintain scalability, the bootstrapped company teaches in small-group cohorts. The startup reports that approximately 500 students per month “graduate” from their programs.
Interview Kickstart is part of the “knowledge coaching” meta trend.
What’s next: We’re seeing increased interest in many other knowledge-based types of coaches as well.
We’re also seeing a rise in professional coaching platforms like BetterUp, CoachHub and HireClub.
The opportunity: Founders can take advantage of the increased interest in coaching in a variety of ways. With the intermittent lockdowns during the pandemic, gaming platforms like Twitch saw increased engagement. Gaming tutorials, guides, and other related products are in demand.
Searches related to negotiating and closing major deals have increased with the growth of the creator economy. Creators consistently seek help with navigating brand deals and sponsorships, as well as contract services for their growing brands. Founders with experience can create products around coaching for creators in various niches.
Finally, health and wellness coaching is on the rise. Personal training, yoga, breathwork, and the like are popular searches. Opportunities exist in creating products such as apps, communities, and physical equipment, as well as targeted newsletters.
What do you think of this trend? Share in the comments!
Check out the full post to see this week's other two exploding topics.
And join Exploding Topics Pro to see trends 6+ months before they take off.
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🧠 Harry's Growth Tip
from the Marketing Examples newsletter by Harry Dry
Don't think about capturing emails. Think about creating something worth subscribing to.
Go here for more short, sweet, practical marketing tips.
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Marketing Examples for more.
☁️ Founder Tony Chan Cleans Up Wasted Cloud Costs
from the Indie Economy newsletter by Bobby Burch
35% of cloud spending is wasted every year thanks to mistakes, poor visibility, and infrequent monitoring. That equates to nearly $95B thrown in the garbage in 2020. For founders short on time, managing AWS is often put on the back burner in favor of building and marketing the best product possible.
Founder Tony Chan built CloudForecast, a monitoring and forecasting tool that helps engineers identify AWS cost anomalies in 30 seconds or less. Tony sat down with Indie Hackers to share tips for founders about managing cloud costs.
Why did you start CloudForecast?
There are a few main reasons why we started CloudForecast. Our team members worked on distributing systems throughout their whole careers, and managing AWS costs in an accessible way was a problem at each of their previous companies.
They found that the majority of the tools available to high-growth startups and mid-market size companies overcomplicate solving this problem by implementing complex features and dashboards. They do this to justify their extremely high costs and require traditional enterprise software contracts.
When you’re an engineer, your time is best spent focused on technical priorities that move the company forward, not financial modeling or reporting. With that in mind, this seemed to be the right problem to try to scratch the startup itch we had at the time.
Misunderstandings of cloud costs
AWS cost management is a very complex problem that is both technical and non-technical in nature. It’s not only finding the areas of optimization with potentially wasted resources, but also managing and monitoring for cost anomalies amongst your teams.
With the non-technical side, making sure your organization across the board are on the same page (finance, engineering, C-level, accounting) in terms of governance, ownership, and expectations is as important as the technical part with reducing cloud costs.
We’ve been on sales calls where the person has said “I can build this over the weekend." The problem is not that simple where someone can just do this overnight. The best companies we’ve seen do this well, and solve the problem thoughtfully, see this as a journey for their whole organization.
How do you stand out in a crowded market?
We make our features easy to understand so that engineers can understand and answer potential AWS cost issues in less than 30 seconds. We also proactively push all our reports via email and Slack so it's not another app or dashboards the engineers need to log into daily. We know how busy engineers are, and the last thing they should be focused on is financial reporting.
Business model-wise, we are open and transparent with our pricing and how we work with our customers. The traditional model offered by our competitors includes a 1-2 year contract and a percentage of your AWS cost. Is that really looking out for your best interest? Our subscription plans, on the other hand, include flat-pricing with month-to-month options available. Our customers have really appreciated this about us since we’re focused on earning their business.
Lastly, we work with our customers directly because we’ve been in their shoes. We relate directly to their problems with AWS costs. If there are any issues or problems, even if we don’t have features to solve them, we’re always willing to try to help or find the resources to do so.
Marketing advice for SaaS founders
My biggest marketing advice early on is to do things that don’t scale, nail down your buyer persona, and have conversations with your target audiences. You want to learn how they make decisions in buying products that solve their problem.
You’re essentially working your way backward to figure out what channels to possibly leverage, and how to reach users.
What’s driven your success?
We’ve done a good job of being able to have tough and productive conversations about our business, which is often the point of failure for other early-stage startups.
Another reason we’ve been successful is our customer-focused approach. We’re customer-centric with everything we do, and we try to extract insights from our customers directly. After all, they were our first investors as a bootstrapped startup. Through those conversations, we’ve been able to learn more about their problems. We can then iterate on our product and build new features to ensure product-market fit.
We passed six-figures ARR in 2020. We’re a profitable, mostly bootstrapped SaaS startup that is looking to hire our next full-time engineer to contribute with product and feature development.
Advice for founders
Engineering teams are moving towards adopting container orchestration systems like Kubernetes, EKS, and ECS to help manage, deploy, and scale their applications. It’s important to continue to stay updated with the latest trends and developments as adoption increases.
You really need to stick with it through the highs and lows. The low points are the toughest to get through, but those are also the biggest learning opportunities for you as a founder.
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🐦 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 Dru Riley, Priyanka Vazirani, Josh Howarth, Harry Dry, and Bobby Burch for contributing posts. —Channing