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How I went from 500€ to 5300€ MRR in one month as a UX coach and indie founder

Before March 😰

I was scared af that on May I'll run out of money (500€ MRR).

Runway before march

After March 🤩

Life proved me wrong. I jumped to €5300 MRR and expect to have €15.000 on the side until the end of 2021.

Runway after march

What changed?

I made the small-bets strategy of @dvassallo work. I made freelancing work in a way that doesn't take my whole week and provides enough $$$ to survive.

My services:

I capped freelancing to max 20h per week.

I was lucky and persistent enough and a client (restocks.net) found me on LinkedIn in March. They bought the 12h per week for €4300pm option. On top of this I got a 2nd UX coaching client (€500 x 2 = €1000)

Total freelance income: €5300 per month for 14 hours per week.

Now I have 26 hours left to work on other projects, and also a steady revenue to stay calm and enjoy the process!

I'll be honest. It still feels unreal to me.

Life is random and unexpected. On April I was literally stressed and afraid that I'll have to get a full-time job again.

But new clients showed up!

Why? Because I focused on showing up and sharing my work and my mission.

As you can see I can do it, which means that YOU can do it as well. Building something is a combination of patience, persistence, strategy and luck.

Biggest learnings so far:

  1. Have faith into the process and yourself. I was very close sometimes to quit. Thank god I didn't.

  2. Accept that randomness is something I have to live with. Focus on things I can control and hope for the best.

That's all! 🙌

If you found this article useful, feel free to share and drop a comment. I am more than happy to meet new people and discuss! ❤️


If you are new to my journey, on June 2020 I quit my job with a year of savings (32.000€) to chase my dream of becoming a full-time IndieHacker. I had no specific plans or project ideas to work on. Only a goal, some savings and my skills. Since then I share every week what happens behind the scenes.

Feel free to join me on my journey, and to check all the updates I 've published so far!

  1. 2

    Always so inspiring to see your progress! Keep it up!

  2. 1

    Keep it up!

    thinkoutloud.io is awesome! I guess now it works only with desktop testing, correct?

    1. 1

      Thank you! Yeap it's desktop only at the moment and mobile is in our plans for the future :)

  3. 1

    Happy for you Jim. Keep up the great work

    1. 1

      thanks a lot Foti :)

  4. 1

    Thank you! I am working ~60 hrs/ week as a freelancer as I have 3 big projects to handle and still can't figure out how to reduce my hours. The issue is that the projects require my full involvement and I cant really sell time blocks like you do with UX coaching.. No idea how to get back to normal hours.

    1. 2

      That's literally me a few years ago. I almost burned out, dropped all of my projects and switched to full-time employment to find some peace of mind and take some time to relax.

      Once I took the break and had the chance to observe what I could do better and I realized that my main mistake was that my services were not scoped. Both in terms of time and deliverables as well.

      From my experience that's the only way to create some peace of mind and relax while doing freelance work. For me working with 3 clients as week, feels like the max effort I can put into freelancing. Otherwise I lose the balance between building products and doing freelance work.

      Here is another example of scoped services you can take some inspiration from https://verybadwizards.io/

      Finally saying no to clients and revenue is another thing I have to deal with. I can jump to 8.3k per month if I sell two more slots of 4h but then my week won't be calm anymore and indiehacking won't be fun as well.

      1. 1

        Thank you! I really need to figure out how to do this. My main scope of work is copywriting for high-end websites (SaaS mainly), then I also do marketing strategy and SEO for these clients.

        1. 1

          https://gaps.com/six-figure-audits/ This is an interesting article to check :-)

          I ll experiment with a new UX service in the next months called "UX audits" and I am curious to see how it will go. I think it would be great idea for you to try out with UX copywriting as well :)

          1. 1

            The issue is that I also do community management, marketing strategy consulting, etc. Maybe I could package things like:

            • Get 1 month content calendar ready with keyword and topic research
            • Get 1 year actionable marketing strategy outline...

            Etc..

  5. 1

    Nice update! thinkoutloud.io looks cool. I'm a developer, but discovered this technique during my studies. It's such a great method.

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot man! Yes, think aloud user testing is really cool and fun indeed! I also wrote a free playbook on this topic and have a list of existing tools you can use as well in there, in case you want to get into user testing :-) https://jimzarkadas.com/fake-it-test-it-make-it

  6. 1

    My man Jim out here puttin up well deserved numbers.
    I can't wait for you to take over the world!

    1. 1

      Got peer-to-peer support from the best ❤️

  7. 1

    That's a great result, and for a client to invest a solid chunk of cash like that is a vote of confidence in the value of your services. Keep us posted.

    1. 1

      Yes that's very true! I feel excited, humbled and stressed in the same time to make sure I'll keep meeting the expectations on this 😅

  8. 1

    That's how you do it. Congrats Jim!

    "I was scared af that on May I'll run out of money." — I believe this is an interesting phenomenon that paradoxically makes things a lot clearer. Having a good amount of savings is certainly nice, but my perspective changed when I realized I might use them all up soon. Sometimes you can almost have too much runway, and you don't benefit from this stressor.

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot Daniel - and most of all thanks a lot for the knowledge you've shared all these months and for the faith you've helped me develop into the process.

      IndieHacking is intense and faith in the process and ourselves is by far the most important thing :)

      Regarding the savings I totally agree - I had the same as well. Stress is finally a creative power and I've learned to love it and treat it as a feature instead of a bug :D

  9. 1

    Congratulations, Jim!!! This is very inspiring and encouraging :)

  10. 1

    This is awesome and motivating!. I also left my job in June 2020.

  11. 1

    Congrats Jim! After seeing all the work you've done, I'm so happy for you that it's paying off. I look forward to seeing all the things you will make in the future!

    1. 1

      Thanks so much for saying that man! It means a lot :)

      And yes! We are just getting started, the best are yet to come :)

  12. 1

    Congrats!
    I wanted to check out your micro-SaaS page, but the link is broken for me.

    1. 1

      Thank you a lot!

      Damn we updated the name-servers today and it broke - it should be working now :)

  13. 1

    Awesome, congratulations!

  14. 1

    Why are your monthly expenses so high? Mortgage in the Netherlands I assume?

    1. 1

      Hehe actually no - my house-related expenses cost around €1300 per month (all included) 😬

      My recurring expenses are in total 3.400€ per month and the rest are additional expenses, like buying a MacBook Pro recently and an iPhone.

      Also the 10k you see there is just because I paid myself two salaries in March instead of paying one in February.

      1. 1

        Those are some high expenses! Even more motivation to get the revenue up then I guess :-P

  15. 1

    Congrats Jim! I know exactly how it feels like not knowing whether you're going to survive the next several months.

    Btw OOT question if you don't mind. I'm also an IH series author. How do you put an opt-in box at the end of the post? Thanks!

    1. 2

      Hey Welly, thanks a lot man!

      {{subscribe}} will do the trick ;-)

  16. 1

    Seeing different success stories excites me. I started my new side project today. I think I have found a way to make websites more intimate. :)

    1. 1

      Awesome all the best and good luck man! And glad that my story keeps you motivated :)

  17. 1

    How do you promote your services?

    1. 2

      1-1 networking (online and offline) and being active on LinkedIn and Twitter by sharing my knowledge around UX and product strategy

      I don't do any active "cold sales" like emailing companies to work with me. Instead I try to meet founders and other key persons (like associates in VC funds) and build a trust-based relationship with them. This way I either work with them in the future or get an intro for another company through them.

      Also I did free 1-1 UX coaching sessions in the past as a way to meet new people and that's how I met one of my coaching clients.

      1. 1

        how does your linkedin content creation process look like?

      2. 1

        Cool stuff. I always thought I should do some type of cold email outreach to get projects.

        1. 2

          When it comes to freelancing you are the product so building relationships and trust is the key imho and this is a "slow" method but works great from my experience. Cold emails could maybe work if you have a productized service of social media graphic design services or smth like that

  18. 1

    Dude... I am so happy for you man!

    If anyone deserves it, it's you brother.

    RJY

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