Before we dive in, a recommendation (not an ad).
Community Validated is an amazing newsletter by my German friends Moritz and Matthias. Each week they spend hours in all kinds of communities and then share the best real-life problems they found that can be turned into businesses. If you liked my pain points report, you'll love their newsletter.
Now on to today's framework.
"There are only two ways to make money in business: bundling and unbundling." - Jim Barksdale
- When an online business grows horizontally and starts to get big, it becomes ripe for unbundling into vertical niche businesses.
- We have all heard about the great unbundling of Craigslist and also the Unbundling of Reddit.
- Today we take a look at three more online businesses that are ripe for unbundling right now. And of course, we talk about the signals and opportunities around them.
- Web development and data science are two of the hottest niche topics to make a living as a developer.
- Lambda School' which runs on the model of Income Share Agreements runs 3 courses right now exactly on these topics - Full Stack Web Development, Data Science, and Backend Development (which includes Java among other topics)
- According to Lambda School's H2 2019 report - the median annualized salary of its placed students is $65K.
- This data checks out on Payscale.com as well - Web Dev, Data Scientist
- Clearly there's benefits to learning these skills, and they can be learned online easily. But completion rates for online courses are terrible.
- The average completion rate for a Udemy course is 10%. For MOOCs in general it's 5-15%
- There is a massive underserved need for quality online education.
- That also explains the rise of Cohort Based Courses
- Kenneth Cassel built Slip.so specifically for running interactive programming courses.
- He saw success with his standalone course vim.so which taught students how to use Vim (a text editing tool for unix based computers)
- With Slip, any developer can host a niche programming course based on their expertise.
- Last month Slip got accepted at Y Combinator.
- Study the most-popular categories and courses on Udemy. Then brainstorm how it might be possible to unbundle them by building niche course websites.
- Optimize for credibility over credentials. No one cares about made-up online certificates.
- Let instructors showcase their credibility in non-traditional ways. For example, let entrepreneurs and developers plug in their Makerlog updates, Indie Hackers posts or Twitter posts into the platform.
- "Design" is a popular course category on Udemy. Figma is the modern design tool that's web based, preferred over legacy desktop based design tools.
- Build a platform for design courses which integrates Figma into the course structure.
Unbundling Indie Hackers
Indie Hackers is a website for bootstrapped founders to come together and learn to build profitable internet businesses from the community.
- According to SimilarWeb , the Indie Hackers website received 990K+ hits in the last 6 months.
- They do no paid advertising, all of their traffic is organic. Their sources are primarily direct referrals, social and SEO.
- They have more than 85,000 people on their email list.
- The Indie Hackers audience is primarily developers building bootstrapped SaaS products.
- Indie Hackers has groups (like subreddits) to talk about specific topics.
- Their top 3 groups are "Developers" (29K members), "Ideas and Validation" (28K members) and "Growth" (25k members)
- The Indie Hackers audience comes together to seek help and support, find new ideas to work on and to validate the ideas they are building.
- "Looking to Partner Up" group has 16,000 members - Indie Hackers try to find co-founders and collaborators to work with.
- It mostly has tech founders looking for marketing partners or Marketing founders are looking for tech partners.
- Opportunities to unbundle Indie Hackers include niche communities, content sites and productized services.
- Groups that are growing like crazy right now include Community Building, Ideas and Validation and Landing Page Feedback.
- Opportunities.so is in a sense unbundling the ideas and validation part of Indie Hackers.
- Oliver Meakings bootstrapped his Roast My Landing Page productized service to almost $20k in revenue during good months by posting in the Landing Page Feedback group on Indie Hackers.
- What similar productized services could be created around "Community Building" or "Ideas and Validation"?
- "Growth" is another huge group on Indie Hackers.
- Example 1: Marketing Examples is content site that talks about the different growth channels that indie hackers can use.
- Example 2: Swipe Files is a content site + course + community to master marketing and growth for your business.
- "Looking to Partner Up" can be turned into a niche job-board where founders enlist their skills and the projects they are working on. And find other partners with complementary skills to collaborate with.
h/t Shaan Puri for talking about this idea last month on the "My First Million" podcast.
Etsy has more than doubled it's gross merchandise sales in 2020.
- Out of the top 10 Etsy sellers 7 are in the craft and and handmade items. (Source)
- The number 1 Etsy seller PlannerKate sells niche productivity tools like holiday planners, custom weekly planners, stickers, binders and albums. She has sold more than 1.7M items as of date.
- The number 2 Etsy seller CaitlynMinimalist makes custom Jewelry and has sold more than 1.2M items as of date.
- The most competitive keywords on Etsy search are variations of "custom gifts" , which means sellers are trying hard to rank for these keywords.
- Etsy is a marketplace to buy and sell unique items - often hand crafted by individuals instead of large corporations.
- More and more people will indulge in arts and crafts. They will discover their unique talents and would want to monetize them.
- They will discover custom gifts as a lucrative way to monetize their creations
- Etsy is the best platform for them to sell their unique products online right now.
- But it's hard to rank high on Etsy if you're new - like most online marketplaces Etsy can become a winner-take-all game.
- Build a niche marketplace for custom gifts.
- With the holiday season around the corner, "custom Christmas gifts" will be crucial category.
- Promote the marketplace in subreddits like r/Crafts r/EtsySellers and r/somethingimade.
- Curate the best posts from r/Gifts to give product ideas to creators. For example, this year's top post in the r/Gifts subreddit is a custom pet pillow with an image of someone's cat.
- Build a marketplace for custom planners and physical productivity tools.
- Get people building planners as a hobby in r/planners to sell their creations.
- Integrate "Print on Demand" solutions like Printful and Printify in the platform - so creators just have to focus on creating the templates of the planners.
Further Reading 🔗
I hope you enjoyed this report. Actually this one is special because it was the first report by Ayush, a new contributor here at Opportunities.so. So if you have a minute, please respond and let me know what you think.