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🗓 February 11 2020: First issue for Trends launched!
Two key lessons:
- The first issue was relatively simple- while there is the standard format of problem, players, predictions, opportunities, haters and links, there was no extensive analysis presented. For example, here is what predictions looked like:
- Casual dining will become harder to find.
- Most restaurants will focus on efficiency or experience.
- We will cook for the experience instead of cost savings.
- More apartments will be built without full kitchens.
- Delivery-only restaurants will evolve faster as setup costs drop.
It always helps to see the first iteration of a product, because we know that we all start somewhere. Instead of striving for perfection, why not strive for more iterations and growth during those iterations?
2. Dru did not launch this newsletter in isolation. He tagged prominent members of the no-code community (who he has been in mastermind groups with) who can then help to share the product. Launching is hard. Launching in isolation is even harder. Find a community that suits your vision, and create win-win relationships with people on there. Example: Indie Hackers, Be On Deck, Launch MBA, and of course, Dru himself now has a community for founders on Trends.
🗓 February 26 2020: This is the first issue whereby Dru tags the companies mentioned in his newsletter. As mentioned on the Indie Hackers podcast with Courtland Allen, you want to tag people you mention as much as possible. Even as Sam Parr has noted on the recent My First Million episode with Shaan and Jason Calacanis, people love to read about themselves. Writing about other people is a very good 'weapon'.
🗓 March 19 2020: Dru has also been posting issues of Trends onto Indie Hackers. Platforms like Indie Hackers and Hacker News can really help you to reach your target audience. It really pays to put in the time to think about how your product can benefit each platform's audience, and write your title in a way that attracts them. Of course, this involves copywriting and is beyond the scope of this issue, but perhaps we may do a deep dive on reaching the top of Hacker News in future issues. 😁
🗓 March 26 2020: The seventh issue of Trends. While the thread is getting a lot longer, it is also important to note that this post got only around 3 likes- it definitely took awhile for Trends to take off!
💰 May 10 2020: $3 for a single issue. Dru managed to make his first sales pretty quickly (approximately 3 months since launching Trends).
But Dru has gone through 13 prior iterations, and his 14th iteration has 12 pages. A mind boggling increase from the first issue, which was a rather simple page.
Instead of going for your first million internet dollars, go for your first internet dollar- there is no shame is setting a low(er) price and seeing if there is demand for it.
💰 May 12 2020: First subscription for $9 a month. Dru moved quickly from the single issue sales model to a subscription model. A subscription helps to offload the consumer's decision making to once, instead of having to decide every issue if the content covered is interesting.
💰 May 13 2020: Dru launched annual subscription model for Trends. It's impressive how fast the iteration cycle is for him- upon verifying that there is demand for his newsletter, he went from single issue sales → monthly subscription model → annual subscription model.
🗓 May 18 2020: 14 subscribers in about a week of launching paid versions. A fair approximation is that around 5-10% of subscribers will become paid members- if you have ≥ 100 subscribers for your media, perhaps it is now time to think about whether you can launch a paid tier.
🗓 May 19 2020: Dru mentioned on the Indie Hackers podcast that he used to alternate between free and paid issues, until he realised that very few people are incentivised to pay that way. Instead, having half an issue (and a very good one!) freely available, then telling people what's available in the paid version is a much better way. You don't want to cold start your audience into paying for your product, but if they are already consuming the content, they have momentum in wanting to purchase the issue.
💰 May 19 2020: Trends crossed $1k in sales! While this took 9 days after launching the paid version, note that it took 15 issues for Dru to reach here. Assuming that he spent an average of at least 30 hours each week preparing for each issue (by his own estimation), he has spent 450 hours on Trends. This meant that he 'only' earned $2.85 per hour thus far- so please don't be disheartened if you are building a 'leverage tool' and not earning much at the start. Focus on building for leverage and validating demand, and the money will come later.
(cont) Dru also broke down his sales numbers- single reports make up the bulk of number of sales at this stage. The goal is to shift towards recurring revenue, i.e. subscriptions.
This concludes today's time capsule on Dru Riley's Trends.vc. In future installments, we will further examine how Dru moved to his current pricing of $297 a year (more than tripled from his initial price) and got onto Product Hunt as the #1 Product of the Month.
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Keep building! 🔨