Marc Louvion’s unconventional approach to marketing that grew Ship Fast to $43k monthly revenue in 2 months

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Marc Louvion is a full-time indie hacker building a rapidly growing portfolio of indie-focused startups. His recent successes include selling Habits Tracker and growing Ship Fast to $43k in monthly revenue, attracting attention and competition from even the likes of Indie Hackers.

In this article, we will explore the unconventional marketing style he used to grow his portfolio of startups, why Ship Fast grew like a rocket ship and why I think he is a fascinating entrepreneur to learn from.

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What you will learn

  • How Marc creates fantastic video skits that grab attention
  • Why his landing page is designed differently from other SAAS
  • Why he thinks one of his profitable apps is a failure
  • How he leverages gamification mechanics in his products
  • A landing page tip to promote on Reddit and avoid getting banned

I first got to know Marc Louvion in Feb 2023 when I tried to buy him a virtual coffee as a surprise treat during a difficult week he had as an indie maker.

Sadly, although neither of us could work out why Starbucks wouldn’t let him redeem the actual coffee, I’ve continued to follow his journey on Twitter/X and am very pleased to see his recent winning streak with Ship Fast.

Writing this article gave me a chance to dig deeper into who he is as a person, his background that led him down the indie maker route, and why he is able to grow Ship Fast at such an exponential rate.

This is his story.

Who is Marc Louvion?

Contrary to popular belief, Marc’s first startup experience was a venture-capital-backed startup.

After gaining a Computer Science Masters in 2016, he moved from his home country in France to Korea to build a VC-funded gasoline prediction app startup that uses a lot of impressive buzzwords like “machine learning algorithms” and “price prediction models”.

Unfortunately, the startup flopped. After a period of soul searching he started experimenting with everything from building Web3 apps for Tai Lopez to selling knitted couple gloves in the streets of Korea.

Over the last two years alone, Marc launched over 17 different products.

Many of the startups failed to gain traction. But in August 2023, he launched Ship Fast, a NextJS boilerplate (basically a code template that speeds up the web development process) and that shot up to $43k monthly revenue within months.

Today we will dive into the tactics behind his recent successes and how you can use them for your own start-ups.


How did he grow Ship Fast to $60k in 60 days?

Ship Fast’s insane web traffic growth

It’s a bit of a disservice to say that Ship Fast made him $60k in 60 days. Yes, this boilerplate kit is incredibly successful. But by this point, he had already spent 7 years growing as an entrepreneur and built at least 2 other startups directly targeting the same indie niche (“Indie Page” and “Make Landing“).

Digging through his tweets, YouTube channel, and old Facebook posts, I found five interesting ideas you can steal from his indie hacking process:

  1. Video skits that grab attention – If audience growth is what you are after, be willing to do what people aren’t doing to stand out. For Marc, it’s his video skits and self-deprecating humor. I will show you some examples in this article.
  2. Selling your sawdust – You likely have processes or templates that you reuse over and over for your side project or at work. Brainstorm how you might turn this into a product like Ship Fast.
  3. Make paying for your product frictionless – Almost every app asks you to create an account before you can even try it. Ask yourself if this step is strictly necessary and whether you can convert traffic into paying customers without it.
  4. Leverage gamification mechanics – If you are building a product that requires users to change their behavior or habit, consider incorporating gamification to boost user retention.
  5. Promote without being banned on Reddit – It’s easy to get banned on Reddit. We will look at a very interesting strategy Marc uses to tweak his landing page URL before promoting it on Reddit.

At the end, I will also share why I think Marc’s Ship Fast community is a goldmine he can tap into to further grow his main product.

Let’s dive in:

1. Video skits that grab attention

I follow multiple indie makers on Twitter/X. Marc is by far the most hilarious and personable account to follow. One of his most distinctive features is his innate talent for creating fun, engaging marketing content – especially on Twitter and YouTube.

Let’s look at an example.

This self-deprecating video skit was made to promote the launch of IndiePage. The video clearly hit a nerve with his audience and ultimately got him featured in the Product Hunt newsletter that is read by 800k indie makers.

Marc’s Product Hunt launch video is nothing like the others

These skits have become his signature trait.

Here’s his Ship Fast launch video which also performed well.

What it takes to grow an audience in 2023

Many founders I speak to want to build an audience. But most stick with “safe” methods and avoid more vulnerable mediums like videos.

Well, not Marc.

As you can see in these videos, Marc isn’t afraid to put himself out there in videos and be judged for promoting himself.

He successfully combines humor, authenticity, and self-deprecation in all of his content while also working on interesting projects. I suspect this is why he was able to gain 47,500 subscribers within 2 short years on Twitter/X.

And of course, there is no short cut to audience growth. It’s good to know that the early stages are always a grind, even for him:

Marc Louvion build an audience

2. Selling your sawdust

Marc does a great job of identifying tools, code snippets, and templates from his existing projects that can be repackaged and monetized as standalone products for others.

For example, Ship Fast came from him constantly building the same backend tools and templates across different projects. He realized it would save other indie devs time to have these boilerplates readily available.

Marc Louvion How to find SAAS ideas

So he cleaned up the code, created some documentation, set up automated deployment, and shipped it out as the new boilerplate Ship Fast.

Look around your existing work or resources for anything that can be repurposed or packaged differently to help others.

Instead of monetizing your work once (via the main startup you are building), you can pick apart components of the build and sell them as standalone offerings. You already put in the work initially, so let’s get more leverage out of it.

(As someone who used to do a lot of financial modelling, writing this article got me thinking about how I could potentially convert some of the financial models into templates for startups!)

3.  Make paying for your product frictionless

Most products require users to sign up for an account. But this process is tedious and can drastically reduce your conversion rate.

In a past tweet where Marc shared some of his biggest lessons from building startups, this one stood out for me.

Frictionless sign up SAAS

So I went on Ship Fast to see how he implemented this for his own project.

As you can see, there is no sign-up on the landing page. As a matter of fact, the first Call to Action button on his landing page leads directly to a Stripe checkout, with a discount code automatically applied without users having to go back and find it.

Landing page design SAAS Marc Louvion

4.  Leverage gamification mechanics

As an avid World of Warcraft gamer, Marc also understands gamification mechanics like rewards and progression well.

You can see that on Ship Fast but this is most evident in another app he sold recently for $10k, Habits Garden where the homepage is designed like a game. You get the satisfaction of checking off tasks, with hits of dopamine when you complete them.

You would never have thought of gamification as a monetizable skill but it is. In fact…

He is so good at gamification he monetized Gamification as a Service

One of his earliest startups was VirallyBot, a microSAAS that creates fun embeddable games for Escape Rooms hosts to convert website traffic into customers.

VirallyBot Marc Louvion

If your product is one that requires users to change habits or form new ones, gamification can be incredibly useful. Think productivity apps, fitness trackers, or savings tools.

When applied appropriately, it can boost user retention and increase your customer lifetime value.

5. How to promote on Reddit (without getting banned)

As you know, Reddit is a goldmine for uncovering new business ideas and promoting your startup organically without spending money on expensive ads.

It’s probably fair to say that Reddit is possibly one of Marc’s most effective distribution channels, behind Twitter/X where the majority of his audience hangs out.

Ship Fast traffic Reddit social

But many new Reddit users find themselves kicked out of various subreddits for blatant self-promotion.

In a recent newsletter post, Marc shared a couple of useful ideas to get around this. Aside from sharing valuable educational posts, Marc shared this interesting trick I’ve not seen elsewhere:

Ship Fast Reddit Strategy

How it works

Reddit users have a notoriously high bar when it comes to self-promotion. They don’t like seeing you profit from your posts in ANY WAY. So when promoting your product or a free tool you built that links to your landing page, make sure:

  • Your landing page is free of ads
  • Your landing page only shows your free tier

It’s worth reading his newsletter post to learn how to do it.

Dealing with failures & challenges

Marc has been quite transparent about the many failures and challenges he faced over the years before gaining traction. He shared how he changed his mind about building venture-capital-funded startups and why he thinks Habits Garden is a failure.

Remember the fuel prediction app he spent a year building that ultimately folded? Ever since that experience, Marc has learned to build more and ship faster.

But not for the reason you’d think.

In an interview with Indie Bites, he said that he now sees Habits Garden as a failure even though many indie makers disagree. After all, within months of launching, it was already generating $800 monthly revenue. So why did he say it’s a failure?

He calls this a trap of mediocre success.

A project that generates just enough revenue to make you think success is around the corner, but you just can’t seem to get there.

For Marc, the years of experimenting have led him to spot what this trap looks and feel like, and gave him enough courage to let it go and move on.

So go wide before going deep.

A note on communities

Most communities fail because the founder treats it like a marketing channel for their product. I noticed Ship Fast’s Discord community at the footer of the website and found this raving review about it:

Marc Louvion Ship Fast Community

Googling successful communities like Bubble, Rosie Land, and The Generalist, I start see the following trend:

A successful community

  • Revolves around a common goal (Ship Fast: build multiple projects fast)
  • Is a place for troubleshooting (Ship Fast: problems integrating or building)
  • Is something people need every day (Ship Fast: members work all day building)
  • Has an inspirational figurehead (Ship Fast: this is Marc)

This makes Ship Fast a perfect candidate to build a thriving community.

So it looks like perhaps unintentionally, Marc is building a valuable side asset.

He currently only charges a one-time fee for access to his boilerplate and community. But an active Discord community could be his ticket to convert Ship Fast into a paid subscription product.

Ideas to replicate success

Let’s round up some concrete lessons and tips from Marc’s journey so far that you can take action on:

  • Don’t be afraid to stand out and do things differently – You can use video skits like Marc, or develop your own style. The point here is to do things different if you want to build an audience.
  • Sell your sawdust – Repackage existing code, writing, and templates into new products that can help others to uncover new ways of monetization.
  • Cut out unnecessary friction to your customers’ wallets – Do you really need your users to log in before they try or buy your product? Think about how you can get straight to your customers wallet.
  • Use gamification to extend your user retention  – Find ways to delight your users and inject some dopamine to keep them around.
  • Use a dedicated landing page for Reddit – Drive Reddit users to a unique landing page to reduce your chances of getting banned.

Conclusion

Marc Louvion provides an inspirational model for indie makers.

He shows personality and humor can resonate just as much as perfection. By shipping constantly, success comes from sticking around long enough.

Focus on providing value to your niche through shipping useful products consistently. Pay your dues before growth comes.

And don’t be afraid to try widely different ideas until you gain traction.

Let me know what you thought of this deep dive on Marc’s journey so far! What lessons resonated most with you?`

What’s next

Check out our last issue about Danny Postma who built and sold Headlime for $1,000,000 within 8 months. In future issues, we will look at other interesting ways indie makers leverage socials to grow their products.

If you haven’t already, sign up to get notified when a new issue of Juicy Ideas drop!

Growth Strategies of Top Indie Makers Delivered to Your Inbox

Each week, we will reverse engineer the growth and distribution strategies used by top indie makers to grow their startups past $100k annual revenue. Subscribe so you don’t miss the latest issues!