Hey, Everyone! This week I want to give you a mix of 3 short stories and also 3 questions that I believe will help you think about how to improve your next steps.
Let’s get into it!
1. How does a modern day agency work?
Brett Williams' agency, Designjoy, is getting so much attention these days on Twitter. What’s happening?
Until a couple of years ago, Brett was freelancing for some tech companies. He was looking for a way to make an online brand and move away from freelancing.
His big idea? Running a one-man design agency based on a subscription plan. Yes! In the same way that you buy music and movies from your streaming platforms, companies can buy a monthly subscription from the studio. Everything is automated and there are zero meetings.
This new approach to charging clients, as well as the smooth automated workflow, got the attention of especially busy software companies.
The great thing about this story is that Brett didn’t invent anything. Before him, some companies like Design Pickle were doing the same. He just repackaged what they were doing and found some new angles for marketing it in tech spaces.
Here is a question for you: What are new trends happening right now in your industry that you can adopt?
If you want to dive deeper into Brett’s story, you can listen to his interview at the Indie Hackers podcast.
2. How to be patient when making your own luck
This is the story of Jerry Selbee who hacked the Lottery system in Michigan state for $26 Million.
From a young age he was always fascinated by solving difficult math problems that others struggled with. Although Jerry was a nerdy genius, he never achieved anything major in his career. He and his wife had to work hard to raise six kids. They never drank, smoked, or gambled. Jerry was a simple employee in sales and factories.
After he stopped working for others, they opened a convenience store in Michigan. Since he was able to see hidden patterns of his customers, he made the store very successful.
But everything changed when he bought a lottery machine because of his bond with numbers.
Jerry made very good money off of the machine. All the while he was studying how the lottery works. In 2003, he retired. But he couldn’t stop thinking about the lottery. At the same time, a new special lottery game, Windfall, was released. In this new game, if nobody won after 6 weeks, or when the jackpot hit the $5M dollar cap, they did a “Roll Down”.
This simply means the money spread downward to lower tier winners. Jerry studied those winning odds, and the timing of the Roll Down. He realized that in those final weeks, a one dollar ticket was worth more than one dollar. He had found a hole in the system!
He convinced his wife and they started buying a big chunk of tickets to prove the theory. Jerry was right!
Next, he created an investment company, and brought in some friends with funds in. Then Jerry started buying thousands of tickets in every Roll Down.
Although what they were doing wasn’t illegal, after a couple of years the government stopped them! Up until that point, he made about 26 million dollars with his simple technique! There are so many angles to this story, but what really moves me is how sometimes your big shot comes very late in life. Jerry found this idea when he was 68 years old!
Here is a question for you: If you love what you are doing, your big shot will come someday. But… are you patient enough to not give up until then?
3.How to quit after burning out
Building a long-term sustainable career as a digital creator is damn hard. You have to put out so many values upfront until you get to the point when you can monetize your audience. This is the main reason why so many blogs and YouTube channels no longer continue.
The worst part is once you stop publishing content, your traffic will drop drastically and you might end up losing so many fans. But what if you get burned out? Would you be willing to continue with poor content only to stay in the game?
In February 2022, Emily Atkin, an environmental journalist and the writer behind the well-known premium newsletter, Heated, stopped her Substack with thousands of paid subscribers. She wrote on her last post:
When I started HEATED in the summer of 2019, I was an incredibly resilient person. I had routines, activities, and communities outside of work that kept me energetic and strong, no matter what. Two years into this pandemic, I have lost a great deal of those things, and embarrassingly have not found a way to rebuild them.
That’s why the newsletter has, frankly, sucked lately—even despite my attempt to make its system more resilient. When I switched HEATED from a daily publication to a weekly last year, I thought it was the smartest way to fix the problem, because the new schedule could withstand the inevitable days when I didn’t feel like myself. But a new system can’t fix the core problem, which is me.
Later she tweeted:
This is obviously not what I wanted to happen, but I do have lots of hope it'll work. I fully intend for HEATED to return -- I just need to take some time for Emily to return.
I strongly recommend that you read her full post and the comments if you are in the game of building an audience or want to start.
This post is brutally honest and brave. It makes a very strong human touch that we are seeking in companies and publications that are run by creators.
Opposite of what creators think, this is a strategy that encourages the audience to stay even longer.
One of the comments on this post reads:
Good for you to take care of yourself--you're very needed for the long haul.
Here is a question for you: Can I be transparent with my audience through all of my journey? Could I share my real self with them?
That's all for now, folks.
Talk to you next week,
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Good questions! Thanks for these thought provoking stories.