June 4, 2020

I gave my notice, I'm going full-time

Karl Hughes @karlhughes

I talked to my boss today and told her that I'll be leaving to work on Draft full-time. 🎉

I've spent the last two years preparing to start a business, but I wasn't able to commit to something until Coronavirus hit. My employer had to cut my hours in half, so I started picking up freelance technical writing jobs.

I've dabbled with side projects for years, but I've never offered a service where customers lined up to pay me real money immediately...until now. In the first month, I got 6 clients and booked enough revenue to offset my salary reduction.

I know I have a lot to learn, but for me, the next step wasn't more learning. It was finally committing.

  1. 3

    Congratulations! Your site looks great.

    How did you decide on your initial price points?

    1. 1

      Before I created the landing page, I applied to be a freelance tech writer. I found that companies were paying new contributors between $300 and $500. I wrote a few articles like that to learn what they expect.

      Next, I started talking to blog managers about those rates. They all said they were negotiable, and most will up to double the rate if you're a good writer. So, I started asking for a rate increase.

      Now that I know I can make $600 per post doing one-off freelance writing, I will gladly take new clients who pay $700 per post.

      Finally, I do have some competitors who are charging upwards of $1000 per post, so I'm probably still charging too little, but I'll get there eventually.

  2. 2

    Congrats and good luck, Karl!

    1. 2

      Thanks, Logan. Conversations with you have been part of my inspiration. Here's hoping I can make it work 🤞

  3. 2

    Like a boss... or maybe just 'the boss' now.

    We're pulling for you Karl!

  4. 2

    Nice one Karl, interesting to see the pricing on it too. I love seeing how productized services are popping up.

    How long do you find it takes you to write something?

    I'll also put a tweet our via IH :)

    1. 3

      A couple points:

      1. I'm already finding more demand than I can supply, so prices are likely to go ⬆️ soon.
      2. It takes between 2 and 10 hours for me to write a technical blog post. Right now I'm learning what types of posts are the best for me and the clients so I can guide them in a direction that makes it profitable for me and valuable for them.
      3. Productized services are an awesome blend of immediate revenue and potential scalability.

      I know there are already several competitors who do technical blogging like this, so I know it's a viable business. Now I just gotta hustle and figure out how to do it myself. Thanks for the encouragement!

      1. 1

        That's pretty amazing, I wouldn't have said that the writing could go for that much.

        Anyway, do you just write the content, or do you also deal with pushing it out, advertising the said blog etc?

        1. 1

          Only planning and writing the content at this point. I leave distribution up to the client.

  5. 1

    Nice design. And of course, congrats on pulling the plug! Must be exiting.

  6. 1

    I really like what you did, and I congratulate you. I was even interested myself - until I saw the price of a post. Already you are securing customers, so thats great. But for me I would not find that price point viable.

    1. 1

      I totally understand.

      To be honest, Indie Hackers are not my target market, haha.

      The companies that pay for this are usually mid-sized startups with some funding behind them. For them, taking an engineer off critical work to write a blog post is much more expensive than paying me $700.

      1. 1

        Yep, fair enough. I was thinking it must be something like that. I do agree people will always pay for quality. And the fact you specialise in something is also appealing. I guess some of the bigger players have that sort of budget so it's really not an issue.

        1. 1

          Exactly.

          I've been working for early stage startups (< 10 people) for a decade now, and I can say they are generally terrible customers.

          They are price sensitive and have outsized expectations and little idea how content will be used strategically. In short, most of them are not a great fit for this service.

  7. 1

    @karlhughes this is awesome. Where did you get your initial clients from?

    1. 2

      My personal network (I'm a big believer in maintaining a strong network), subscribers to my newsletter, and cold outreach.

      It helped that I have been writing for 10+ years on my personal blog and have been managing engineers for 5 years so I have some reputation and credentials to back me up.

  8. 1

    Let us (IH community) know if we can help you!

  9. 1

    Love it, congrats Karl!

    Did you think about negotiating a severance package since it seems like they were willing to let you walk (hence cutting hours).

    or did you decide to not waste time and just get after it?

    How long pre-CV were you contemplating making the jump?
    How many months of runway do you have aside from the jobs revenue?

    All questions I think could benefit other Indiehackers. Interested to hear your thought process

    1. 2

      It's complicated, haha, but I'll share:

      1. I was hired as the first engineer at this small startup 4 years ago and now I run the engineering team. We already have a working product and I'm the most expensive salary, so it made sense to cut my hours for a bit to save money. When I talked to my CEO about leaving, I offered to stay half-time for the next couple months to help transition, but I won't have a traditional "severance." This is just as good because I'll keep getting some steady money as I get the business going.

      2. I started saving cash and thinking of ideas about a year ago. I played around with a couple things that didn't really work, then in May I started discovering this idea/market.

      3. I put aside enough that family would be fine without any income from me for 12 months, but because this is a service-based business, I'm on track to make about 1/3 my old salary in month 2. I may invest more of it back into the business while I still have a part-time job, but having cashflow makes me feel pretty confident.

      1. 1

        Thanks for sharing, 12 months is a good amount of time! Hope you triple your income in that time

        1. 1

          Thanks!

          I tend to believe the 1000-day rule, which estimates it'll take 3 years to get back to your previous salary: https://www.tropicalmba.com/living-the-dream/

  10. 1

    That's really exciting Karl! Congrats. Keep everyone posted on how it goes!

  11. 1

    Congrats! Look forward to following your journey.

  12. 1

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