Nov 2022 updates: learning new skills
Indie updates, B2B vs B2C, Black Friday, surfing, skimboarding, hardware.
Hello everyone! Tony here 😄
Here’s a quick update about me in November 2022.
On the business side…
In November, I added two new features and improvements to Black Magic.
I also started to roll out a new “milestone” feature in Black Magic, here it is:
I’m hoping this new feature will create some more social viral loops to make more people aware of Black Magic. This is how I imagine the long term way to acquire new users (instead of paid ads, marketing posts, etc.)
Despite all that, I had a slow month.
MRR growth was always below the 10% month-to-month growth target.
Around 25th November, the Black Friday promotion helped increase the growth quite significantly.
However, at the same time, a huge big account churn event starts taking effect, which drops my MRR growth below target even further 😅
The big account was a business account. I shared how and why they churned in my tweet in September:
It took a few months (from September to November!) for the business to completely offboard Black Magic.
B2B or B2C?
Ever since the business customer left, I have wondered whether I should (or can) turn Black Magic into a B2B multi-social media analytics platform.
On the one hand, I have the advantage of doing it: Black Magic has a lot of users, so I imagine I have a good starting point to do marketing for the B2B product.
I also have exposure to the problem and experience building an analytics product at a small scale.
On the other hand, I find working on B2B products boring.
I like to build consumer products and have people as my end users, not companies.
All of my products so far are B2C products. I use all of my products almost every day. It’s the way I stay relevant, become attached to, and love my products.
That’s how I can continue working on it without feeling like a job.
I’m not sure if I can do that with a B2B product. It’s like I’m losing my best competitive advantage if I make the B2B → B2C switch.
But yes, B2B makes a lot of money!
So, I should probably go B2B if I optimize my life for money.
But I’m not, at least at the moment.
I’m only about one year into this indie journey, and I’m having so much fun. I’m enjoying my freedom and spending time learning so many new things (which I’ll share in a later part of this page).
Maybe I’ll switch to B2B at some point in the future, but not now.
As shared in my last year’s November issue, if you have a consumer product, you must offer a deal on Black Friday!
It’s an easy way to:
Earn some more revenue.
Access to a lower customer segment that you otherwise will never have access to (because they’ll never pay your regular price).
Have more users → More product awareness → More future word-of-mouth marketing.
Last year, I made ~$20K from all my products on Black Friday. This year, I made ~$50K across all products!
Things I did to prepare for Black Friday:
For DevUtils and Xnapper, it’s quite simple because they are one-time purchase products. I just created a coupon code on Paddle (my payment processor), and created a sticky banner on the website.
For Black Magic, I had to make a lot of changes:
Offer 50% off for the first year/month for new customers.
Allow any eligible existing customers to upgrade to the discounted plan.
For other existing customers, I just straight out give a $5 gift for their next bill, so people don’t feel so bad about buying before (or near) the holiday discount period.
Update the marketing website with the discount banner.
As a result of changing prices quite a lot in the past year and this discount, my pricing page is now a big mess 😅
On the promotion day (25th November), I made an announcement in the product update newsletters for all three products and tweeted about it.
I kept the promotion run from 25th November until 30th November (2 days after Cyber Monday).
Ngoc – the content marketer freelancer I’m working with – made this poster. Looks great, right?
Oh, I almost forget.
This year, I also started a GitHub repo to collect all the Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals.
It went trending on GitHub with 1,600 stars now!
Learning new things
I’ve been spending a lot of time on the beach lately! 🏄♂️
I’m currently learning surfing and skimboarding.
Surfing is fun, but you can’t surf every day because the waves are not always good.
So I discovered skimboarding, took a quick in-person lesson from a pro, and have been training on the beach every day.
This sport looks easy but is incredibly extreme and exhausting (at least for me 😅).
It’s like doing a leg day in the gym, but do it every day, except it’s fun.
Playing with hardware
Another thing I picked up recently is playing with hardware.
I’ve always been curious about hardware, robot, and IoT. But I have never had the time to play with it.
Last month, I hired a mentor to help me learn about hardware, IoT, electrical, etc. I found him via an old friend’s introduction.
Within a month or so, I learned a lot, and I learned so fast.
I have always been a self-learner for almost everything. So having a mentor is a totally different experience. I got to ask stupid questions without feeling bad.
I learned about electrical stuff like voltage, ampere, batteries, solar panel, etc. I’m not confident that I understood all things he explained, but I’m confident enough to put together some toys I want to play with.
For example, here’s a little screen that connect to my wifi and shows the live number of users of Black Magic and run on a battery
This is a solar battery chargar that I’m playing with (I’m trying to build a low power solar-powered toy camera).
I was introduced to so many cool stuff: Raspberry Pi, Arduino, micro controllers like ESP32, ESP8266, ATTiny AVR chips, etc.
I bought every single sensors I could get my hands on from a local hardware store. And before I know it, my house is now full of trash 😂
I even bought a 3D printer. Here’s a 3D printed Twitter logo and the “like button”:
Later in the month, I also hired a professional 3D artist (from Upwork) to teach me how to use Blender to build 3D model of stuff I want to design.
Overall, it’s fun!
I don’t have any plan to build a physical product. This is all just playing with toys 😂
I’ve spent a good chunk of this month on this, and find some of this are quite interesting. So I thought I would share this with you all in this newsletter issue.
How I work with my mentor:
I guess some of you may be interested in knowing this, so here it is:
When I was looking for a mentor, I posted on Facebook, where I keep connection with my IRL friends (so that I can find someone in my local area).
I was introduced to a few people. I got lucky and found an IoT professional who have coding/engineering background and even live near my house! We jumped on a quick video chat to get to know each other, then we agreed on a payment rate, then started right away.
I told him what I want to build and what I want to learn in the process, he suggested possible solutions, tradeoffs and guided me to the most efficient way of building it.
We don’t have a fixed schedule. We mostly communicate via chat, sometimes video/audio call. He answered every stupid questions I have, give me references for learn more.
Once every 1 or 2 weeks, he come to my house and bring me “toys” to play with (wires, batteries, modules, raspberry pi, etc…) and show me how to use them.
I also bought a tons of electrical stuff and learn on my own time.
I highly recommend paying a mentor if you can afford it. This is my preferred way to learn new thing now!
Hope this is helpful to you 😄
That’s all for this month!
I feel like I should split this long newsletter issue into multiple shorter posts like a blog, but that would requires me to write multiple times a month (which can be difficult because I’m lazy…).
For now, let’s stick with 1 issue per month, I find that to be the perfect balance for now 😄
Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter and see you all next month!