Facebook is one of the most popular acquisition channels for indie hackers:
Updates include automatically expanding your audience targeting on the platform, and promoting better conversions for companies using Messenger. Here's how you can implement these new updates into your Facebook ad campaigns.
Facetune is about to get a lot bigger. Parent company, Lightricks, has hit a $1.8 billion valuation, joining many other creator-focused companies in the rise of the unicorns.
100 articles in 100 days. Founder Anne-Laure Le Cunff completed this challenge, and it helped her hit $100K in annual revenue. Here's why she believes in the power of "learning in public."
Want to share something with nearly 85,000 indie hackers? Submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter. —Channing
📢 Facebook's Major Marketing Updates
from the Growth & Acquisition Channels newsletter by Darko
Facebook has released several new marketing updates that are relevant for indie hackers. If you're looking to improve your conversion rates, read more below!
Facebook is a popular acquisition channel for indie hackers, so it's worth noting when the company releases major marketing updates. Last week, it released five of them.
Conversions: To start with, Facebook introduced version 12 of its Marketing and Graph APIs. There's one paragraph inside the article worth paying attention to:
To help advertisers find additional opportunities that weren’t originally available to them, when advertisers leverage Detailed Targeting and optimize for conversions, value, or app events using the conversions objective, they will be automatically included into Targeting Expansion.
What it means: Facebook will automatically expand your audience targeting if it determines that it could bring you higher conversions. To use this feature, you just need to create conversion or app install campaigns.
Messenger: Facebook now allows you to contact your users more often on Messenger (if they opt-in). Facebook has expanded its "Login to Connect with Messenger" feature to all businesses that have completed business verification.
Facebook also published a blog post last Thursday with a few more interesting updates. The most relevant for indie hackers is the fact that, when creating messaging ads, Facebook will now show users a dynamic call-to-action button that leads to the chat app (Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger) that they're most likely to engage with. So, make sure you have all three connected for your business; this could potentially increase your conversion rate!
The opportunities: There are several things you can do right now to improve your marketing, as noted above.
Notice a pattern among all of these updates. Facebook's goal is to keep users inside its ecosystem as much as possible. These moves make sense, especially in the wake of Apple's ATT announcement, which significantly hurt Facebook's targeting capabilities. If Facebook can keep users within its ecosystem as long as possible, it's able to collect more data. For founders, this can improve conversion rates.
How to adapt: Feed the Facebook AI machine as much data as possible. For example, instead of asking people to contact you via email on your Facebook Ads, ask them to contact you via Facebook messenger, Instagram, or WhatsApp. With this, you're feeding the algorithm data that will help Facebook find similar users who might also be interested in your business. You could always just ask people for their email through Messenger; the point is to make use of the chat.
Apple's new marketing tool
Apple is making it easier to market your app on social media.
The news: Apple has announced a handy marketing tool that allows you to easily create custom marketing assets (images and banners) to promote your apps on social media.
How to use: Go here to search for the app or game you own. After that, you'll be taken to a URL like this, where you can choose "what you're promoting" (a new app, app update, subscription offer, etc.), the background color, the language, and the image sizes you want to create.
After you complete the steps (this only takes a minute or two), you'll get a bunch of images sized for Facebook posts, Instagram stories, and so on.
The opportunity: You can really save a lot of time with this. How many times have you missed announcing an app update or a subscription offer because you didn't feel like firing up Canva and creating a simple banner? This handy tool cuts the time to do this down to a few minutes.
Reddit's ad updates
Reddit has made it easier to estimate how much it costs to advertise on the platform.
The update: Reddit recently announced a few updates for Reddit Ads. Bid Recommendations allow you to choose the subreddit(s) that you plan to target, and Reddit will show you an estimated cost-per-click if you want to appear there.
The opportunity: As indie hackers, most of us are on tight budgets; the last thing we want is to start advertising and not get our money's worth.
Tools like these make it helpful to predict if a particular channel will make sense for us financially. There's a big chance that there are at least 2-3 subreddits that are relevant to your industry, so use this tool to determine if it makes financial sense to advertise there.
Do you use Facebook Ads? Share your experience in the comments.
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Growth & Acquisition Channels for more.
📰 In the News
from the Volv newsletter by Priyanka Vazirani
📉 Bitcoin is plummeting after China's cryptocurrency crackdown.
💻 Apple is unhappy with this EU-proposed mandatory USB-C for all devices.
💸 Millionaires are asking US Congress to tax them more.
👵 Life expectancy is falling at a scale not seen since World War II.
🤔 How much does social media chatter affect stock price?
Check out Volv for more 9-second news digests.
🦄 Lightricks Hits Unicorn Status With $1.8B Valuation
from the Indie Economy newsletter by Bobby Burch
Lightricks, a company that develops mobile apps (including popular photo editor, Facetune), raised $130M to expand its suite of tools that target the creator economy.
An editing giant
The background: Based in Jerusalem and New York City, Lightricks offers more than a dozen popular subscription-based photo and video editing apps, including Facetune, Facetune Video, and Videoleap.
The news: Lightricks' $130M Series D round further solidified it as the creator economy’s newest unicorn, bringing the company’s total raised funding to $335M. This sets Lightricks at a $1.8B valuation. The round was co-led by New York-based venture capital firm Insight Partners and Tel Aviv-based Hanaco Venture Capital. Lightricks says that it plans to use the new capital to boost its creator apps, create new tools for professional creators, and kickoff strategic mergers and acquisitions:
Our mission has always been to continuously strive to bring creators the most advanced technology and help them find new ways to express themselves. The rise of the creator economy has only exacerbated the need of mobile users to streamline the content creation and monetization processes.
With this latest funding, we’re able to help elevate our users' creativity and capabilities with continued advancements to our technology and offering.
Why it matters: The creator economy is red hot, and companies in the space are on track to receive more than $3B in venture capital in 2021 alone. This is nearly triple the venture capital raised in all of 2020. Investments in creator economy startups top the previous six years combined. While VC dollars represent just one metric, the massive volume of investment further validates trends that are fueling the creator economy.
The numbers: Lightricks’ suite of apps has over 500M downloads worldwide. The company is is tracking toward $200M in revenue in 2021, and plans to grow that figure by 40% in 2022, according to TechCrunch. Lightricks users generate more than a billion creations per year on its creativity apps.
Strategic plan: Lightricks’ ultimate goal is to become the leading one-stop shop for creators, offering them creative tools such as Facetune2, Facetune Video, and Filtertune, and photo and video editing tools like Videoleap, Motionleap, Photoleap, Artleap, Lightleap, and Boosted (Lightricks’ social media toolkit for small businesses).
Rise of the unicorns
Pandemic and TikTok bumps: The pandemic, and the concurrent growth of the creator economy (now worth more than $50B, with over 50M creators), have been key drivers for Lightricks. The company reported a 90% increase in usage across its tools in the US. Downloads for Videoleap, its most popular video editing app for creators, increased 70% since the start of the pandemic. More than half of Videoleap users are exporting media for TikTok.
Global footprint: Lightricks has five international offices and 460 employees. With the new funding round, the company plans to hire 60 new employees. Check out its gigs here.
Creator economy unicorns: There’s a growing list of creator-focused companies valued at more than $1B. Here’s a non-comprehensive list of creator economy unicorns:
NFT marketplace OpenSea raised $100M at a $1.5B valuation.
MasterClass is valued at $2.75B after raising a total of $475M.
Online course platform Kajabi raised $550M at a $2B valuation.
Personalized video shout-out app Cameo raised $100M at a $1B valuation.
Patreon raised $155M at a $4B valuation.
Audio-conversation app Clubhouse has raised $300M in 2021, and has a valuation of $4B.
Impact Tech is worth $1.5B after raising $275M for its influencer marketing services.
What do you think of tech's newest unicorn? Share below!
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Indie Economy for more.
🌐 Best Around the Web: Posts Submitted to Indie Hackers This Week
📝 Here's how to market your product. Posted by Anthony Castrio.
📱 Drop your Twitter handle! Posted by Jason Miller.
🤖 Unpopular opinion: I don't like AI content generator tools. Posted by Gustavo Garcia.
⚠️ Every no-code tool failed me. Posted by Linda Zhang.
🥸 Lurkers are not lurkers. Posted by Rosie Sherry.
💰 Indie hackers are making $60M in Stripe-verified ARR. Posted by Drew Bredvick.
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.
📥 Founder Anne-Laure Le Cunff Hit $100K ARR
by Teela Hammell
Welcome to Indie Hackers Stories! Here are the deets:
- The indie hacker: Anne-Laure Le Cunff.
- Founder of: Ness Labs. This tiny newsletter was born in 2019, and has now grown to a community of thousands.
- ARR: $100K.
- Zone of Genius: Neuroscience, productivity, marketing, and consumer psychology.
Indie hacking origins
When I got the job at Google, it was almost as if my mom did too. As an immigrant who started very, very poor, it meant her daughter had made it in life. So, it was really hard for her when I left.
I was doing really well. I had a great team, and I worked decent hours. I had nothing to complain about. But I got to a point where I could see the path in front of me very clearly, step-by-step. And that made me feel super depressed.
The year I left Google to start my own thing was so stressful. I felt like I needed to succeed so that my mom would see that it was fine. But...my startup failed.
I could have gone back to work for some other company, but I wouldn't have been happy. The more confident I became with my decision, the more chill my mom was. And since I’m still not homeless, I think she’s definitely come around.
Crossing $100K ARR
Ness Labs started as a tiny newsletter in summer 2019. The community launched at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. I wanted to offer a space where people could connect, learn together, and hopefully make friends who like to geek out about the same topics.
100 articles in 100 days
In 2019, I decided to write 100 articles in 100 days (minus the weekends, because I care about my mental health). I wanted to challenge myself to write more and practice writing in English.
I’ve been a big believer in “learning in public” for a while now, but I noticed most people actually learn quite a bit on their own before publicly sharing their process. I wanted to actually start at zero and really be vulnerable about my journey.
I shared my goal on social media, and people started following my journey because they thought it was crazy. If I’d committed to an article a week, no one would have cared. But one a day for a hundred days was worth following.
Once I announced it, there was no going back.
I blocked out two hours every morning to write. At the end of that two hours, even if I knew it wasn’t perfect, I had to hit publish. The average length of my articles was around 880 words.
At the time, I was also doing freelance consulting so I had clients waiting on me. The tight deadline that I made for myself acted as a forcing mechanism. Sometimes those kinds of constraints can breed creativity, and that’s what happened for me.
I had no idea what I was doing, but I realized through this practice that consistency beats strategy. I kept going. Learning in public in this way changed who I was as a person. Now, I’m comfortable making mistakes, and trying to improve, in public.
Ness Labs absolutely would not be what it is today without those articles. They laid the foundation by generating hundreds of thousands of views, a dozen consulting contracts, and many coaching sessions. I have also been invited to several podcasts, and some articles were featured in the press.
Dealing with time anxiety
I’m going to start a Ph.D program next month. There was a time in my life where I would have definitely thought it was already too late for that. But now, I know that there’s literally nothing preventing me from pursuing this thing I’m curious and passionate about. If it’s going to drive me forward and feed my curiosity, there is no reason I shouldn’t go for it.
It’s actually really sad when I look back at things I didn't do when I was younger because I thought I was “too late." In my early twenties, I wanted to start a YouTube channel, but I thought I was too late. This year, at 31, I’ve started a channel. It’s a lot of fun!
I manage my time anxiety a couple of ways. First, I just let myself feel it. Secondly, I stopped focusing on output (like getting a certain number of subscribers) and started focusing on input (like writing my first blog post or learning the first few words of a language).
It may seem paradoxical, but by trying to over-optimize our lives and only spending time on things that are sure to give us a certain amount of value, we actually end up reducing the value and meaning in our lives.
- What I’m reading: I just finished reading Galileo's Error by Philip Goff, which has a great philosophical take on the science of consciousness. I’m now reading Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. It’s a weird, fun science-fiction novel.
- What I’m watching: I’m rewatching The Midnight Gospel, and mentally preparing myself to ball my eyes out during the last episode.
- What I’m listening to: There’s a wonderful corner of Spotify where you can listen to Alan Watts’ speeches over soothing background music. I absolutely love those.
- Advice for beginner indie hackers: Don't fall prey to the end-of-history illusion. You still have many lives to live, and you don’t owe anything to your past self.
- Quote I’m pondering: This quote by Aldous Huxley has guided many of my decisions this year:
Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead.
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Indie Hackers Stories for more.
🐦 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 Darko, Priyanka Vazirani, Bobby Burch, and Teela Hammell for contributing posts. —Channing