#8: Bleeding money, weekly emails, and becoming a solopreneur
Happy Publish Monday!
First, I have an announcement:
Until now, I’ve shared a reflection every month for the last 7 months. And I polished the shit out of them. Most have 2500+ words, 5 or more original illustrations, silly jokes, everything.
But they took too long to finish, 3 to 5 days of writing and drawing. Plus I had to cut a lot of things to keep them relatively short.
Now, I want to try something different.
One email every Monday
I’ll write one email every Monday where I share my fuck-ups, wins, and real numbers behind becoming a solopreneur.
(Solopreneur = Someone who builds and runs a business on their own.)
What’s going to be inside?
- What works and doesn’t work in building an online business.
- Reflection on my work that week: writing articles, growing Twitter, developing products.
- Links to the best of what I read, watched or listened to. (Articles, books, tweets, videos, podcasts.)
- Insides of my system for getting work done – tools I use, routines that work for me, how I organize my projects, etc.
- And lot’s of stickmen.
I’ll do my best to keep these emails as succinct, interesting, and useful as I can.
(You’re reading the first one right now.)
2 months bleeding -$800 on savings
I skipped my financial review last month and did July + August in one sweep this week. I knew why I was avoiding it – I’m losing money. 😅
I knew this was coming, but it’s unpleasant nonetheless.
The upside is, nothing gets you as focused as bleeding money every month.
My primary intention is to make a living as a solopreneur in the next 12 months.
- I love the lifestyle that comes with being a free agent working on his own stuff. I can control my calendar, I don’t have to talk to people unless I want to, I can wear a T-shirt and shorts seven weeks a day. Heaven.
- I learn faster as a solopreneur because I have “intellectual freedom." Nobody directs what I’m supposed to learn. I pick my own topics, and I leave them when I’m done, not when it’s my job to move on.
Why 12 months?
- Savings. When I calculate my financial situation, I get about a year to make a living out of what I build as a solopreneur. (I’ll deconstruct the real numbers in a minute.)
- Moving to London or Vancouver. My girlfriend and I are planning to move to one of these cities in about a year. She is going to study there, and I always wanted to try living in an English-speaking country. However both of these cities are +100% in monthly living costs, and I would prefer to cover them by having a thriving online business instead of having to get a local job.
Okay, let’s deconstruct these two angles: work and money. I’m sharing here exactly what I have and exactly what I do.
Money: My plan to get rich by going broke
Right now, my savings are $8,479.
My monthly income from teaching a few hours a week is $400, and it will be $800 starting October.
My monthly expenses are $1,200 on average.
This means I’ll bleed $800 again this month (September) and $400 in October and further.
So if I cut 800 from September and then divide my savings by 400:
(7,679 / 400 = 19)
I get 19 months = ~570 days
I have 570 days before I run out of savings.
But I don’t want to get close to that. I want a reserve. So I’ll place the end of my comfort zone in half (285 days). Which would cut my savings to ~$3,840.
285 days is close to 10 months. I can work with that. A little extra bleeding or income will make it 12 months with an okay-ish reserve.
The income I want to reach is $2,000/month solely from what I build as a solopreneur (on average over 3+ months). That should be enough to make a basic living as a solopreneur even in London or Vancouver.
I’m not really optimizing on getting rich here. I just want to do this work because I enjoy it so much and making money is a necessary ingredient to balance this lifestyle’s equation.
Work: My plan to build things to solve my own problems
Now, what exactly am I going to do to make this money as a solopreneur?
- Write articles about topics I’m interested in to learn quickly and pull like-minded people to my work. (In progress: OndrejMarkus.com)
- Create products to solve problems for these people and me. (In progress: MetaSprint.net)
- Build a network of ideas, people, and products. (In progress: twitter.com/ondrej_markus.)
Let’s look at what’s happening in each of them right now.
Writing a blog
I’m writing articles about topics related to being a solopreneur/writer/creator. It’s for people who want to pursue a similar lifestyle or just want to be more productive and creative in their work.
Last week, I wrote a big article about a new approach to work called the Full-Stack Freelancer. It describes how I manage my work as a generalist learning junkie.
I’m developing a course for solopreneurs/creators to help them design a system for optimizing their life and work.
On 1st August, I made a quick landing page prototype for the course on WordPress. I wrote/drew it before I even knew what it’s going to be. I guessed. 😅
There was no price, no date. Not a product, really. Just a broad description of what the course is going to be + a signup form for people to leave their email if they’re interested.
The page wasn’t very good, but it worked.
I started mentioning the course on Twitter, and out of 138 people who came to the website, 20 signed up to get notified when the course is ready. That’s 14%, nice.
This week I took a day to upgrade the site.
Now it’s more targeted at creators who want to systematize how their creative output. I need to wait a week or two to see the results. (So far it seems to be worse than the previous shitty version. Ups. 😅)
Building a network
I’m connecting with other solopreneurs, writers, and creators on Twitter. It works well as a way to meet like-minded people, test product ideas, and not lose your mind while working mostly alone.
My Twitter routine is:
- Reply to comments and messages every day (more like every other day, and nothing on weekends)
- Reach out to people who follow me and seem legit and interesting (I write them a direct message on Twitter)
- Publish a high-quality thread once a week (a bundle of several tweets)
- Tweet every sometimes (I don’t focus on tweeting single tweets)
What seems to work well for me is writing a good thread once a week.
I wrote one about how I got from 0 to 100 followers as an introvert who doesn’t like social media. 22 retweets in 3 days, 20,000 people saw it, 400 clicked on my profile, and 80 followed me.
Then I repeated the formula with a tweet about what I learned from bankrupting my first business 10 years ago.
Not as successful, but it got me to ~250 followers. That’s + 150% compared to the beginning of the month.
I’m still finding my balance for using Twitter.
For example, I know I’d probably grow faster if I spent more time on Twitter every day, but it would also make my life less enjoyable.
I tried being more active there and it makes me anxious. Going on Twitter for 20-30 minutes a day (on average) feels about right. (In reality, it’s more like an hour every 2 or 3 days.)
Reading, watching, listening
- Book: Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans – I’m re-reading it and making better notes for the course I’m making. Get my notes here.
- Video: Immune system by Kurzgesagt (10 min) – This is unrelated to solopreneurship, but it’s just so well done. If you watch things while you eat, watch this next.
- Essay: Project of one’s own by Paul Graham – Beautiful piece of writing about the joy of working on your own project.
Quick favor: I’m trying to get these emails to more people who want to start an online business, write more, or just create anything on their own that might one day make a living for them.
If you enjoyed this, please, share it with a friend who might like it too.
Thank you for being here, have a great week, and see you Monday.