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Meet Brett Williams, a guy who’s super good at making designs. Now, this guy is raking in about $120,000 each month, which adds up to a hefty $1.3 million a year. Not bad at all.
But, check this, it wasn’t always about the big bucks.
Back in 2017, Brett thought he wanted more than just his 9-to-5 design job. But he didn’t want to join the hustle of freelancers scrapping for cheap clients. And he didn’t want to start a business where he had to boss people around and spend all his earnings on salaries. So, what was his third option?
He thought of a productized service business, which he called ‘Design-as-a-Subscription’.
Think about it like Netflix. You pay a subscription fee. But instead of endless movies, you get to ask for as many graphic designs as you want.
The special thing here is “unlimited.” Doesn’t matter if you ask for 5 designs a month or 50, the price stays the same. The catch: you can only ask for one design at a time.
Seems like a different way to run a service business, right?
Ready to test out his idea, Brett kicked off Designjoy in 2017. On a Saturday night, he put together a website for $29 and put it out there on Product Hunt the next day. After 40,000 unique visits, Designjoy was born.
Just like any other small business, getting started wasn’t a walk in the park for Brett. In the first four months, his agency was only making about $800 a month. And here’s the wild part, bro: Brett was grinding on his business while holding down a full-time 9-to-5 job. He even jokes about getting his side hustle work done during his day job’s Zoom meetings!
For the next three years, Brett kept hustling, doing everything he could to attract more clients. He was posting on social media, sharing his journey on communities like Indie Hackers. As Brett would tell ya, he’s a big fan of building his business out in the open.
Then, one small thing sparked a massive change. After hitting 80k a month in revenue, Brett posted about it on IndieHackers.com. The post started to gain some buzz, and a dude named Dan Rowden spotted it. Dan decided to give a shoutout to Brett’s one-man design agency on Twitter, and man, did that tweet take off! It went viral, and things started to go nuts.
In a blink of an eye, hundreds of people flocked to the Designjoy website, asking Brett about his design service and booking loads of calls. That one tweet shot his monthly revenue from 80k to a whopping 160k in just one month. Talk about the power of social media and shoutouts from big names
Brett was a master at playing the volume game. For four years, he designed like a machine, taking on more and more work. But when a tweet about him sent his monthly revenue from 80K to 160K in just a month, it was too much. He burned out, big time. He was working non-stop, doing all the tasks himself, and he hit a wall. It was the first time in his life he’d felt like this. He didn’t want to work anymore and began to dislike everything he did.
That’s when he realized he needed a change. He canceled all his calls, doubled his rate, and made it harder for folks to book a call with him. This cut down the number of people signing up and helped filter out the clients who were tough to work with or were draining him. By reshaping his client list and working only with those he enjoyed working with, Brett was able to reduce his workload significantly.
Increasing his prices didn’t deter clients, instead, it brought in better ones. He found that folks were willing to pay for quality design work, and they weren’t hassling him over every little thing because they had the budget. This move made his job easier and more enjoyable, and he was able to manage his work without getting burned out.
Many of you may be scratching your heads, wondering how Brett manages all these clients and heaps of work without losing his cool.
Well, Let’s say he has 20 clients. But don’t let that number freak you out. When Brett gets up each day, probably only half of his clients have needs that day. And out of those, half of them may just need small revisions to stuff he’s already done. Then, maybe five of them have new requests. So when you really dig into it, you can see how 20 clients might not be as big of a deal if you’re quick on your toes like Brett.
You might be scratching your head, thinking how Brett keeps everything running smoothly without actually chatting with his clients. Well, his secret weapon is as simple as it gets – Trello. Yup, you heard it right.
When clients sign up with Designjoy, they get their own Trello board where they can post their design requests. Brett checks out these requests and gets the job done in anywhere from 30 minutes to 48 hours – all without needing to chat back and forth.
Designjoy’s way of doing business is just perfect for clients who need graphic design.
Hiring employees is not only pricey, but it also takes loads of effort. You’ve got to search, interview, and train people. And this process is pretty expensive. What’s worse? Roughly half of new hires don’t turn out as expected.
On top of that, there’s the challenge of keeping a full-time employee busy. An in-house designer might go weeks without having any solid work to do. But hey, they still get their full pay at the end of the month.
When you consider all this, it’s obvious that hiring a service like Designjoy is easier and a lot cheaper.
No more recruiting, no more checking freelancers, no more unnecessary tasks, no need to worry about pay plans or taxes. All clients have to do is sign up for a subscription and forget about it.
One awesome thing about the business model is this: Brett lets clients pause their subscription if they don’t have enough work for a month. When they’re ready to start again, they just un-pause and pick up where they left off.
Throw in top-quality work, and you can see why clients think signing up for a productized service is a no-brainer.
Do you have a knack for something? It could be anything – design, video editing, web development, you name it. Or maybe you’re totally in love with something and you’re trying to learn it. Whatever it is, just pick a skill.
To help you get started, here’s a list of the most sought-after skills in 2023.
3 D Animation
Cartoons & Comics
Product & Industrial Design
2 D Animation
Social Media Marketing
Other Digital Marketing
Sales & Business Development
Search Engine Marketing
Email, Phone & Chat Support
Recruiting & Talent Sourcing
Financial Analysis &
Full Stack Development
Mobile App Development
Ecommerce Website Development
Manual Testing 10. Scripting & Automation
Once you’ve chosen your skill, it’s time to niche down. Focus on offering your skill to a specific group. Take Bret as an example, he mostly offers UI design to SaaS and B2B companies.
You could provide landing page design to health and fitness e-commerce brands.
Or maybe you want to do short video editing for cooking influencers.
Perhaps graphic design for real estate agents is more your speed.
Take some time to brainstorm about the market and make a decision. The key is to find your niche and rock it
The target here is to master your chosen skill – and not just be okay at it. You’ve got to aim for the stars, strive to be the best in the world! Remember, the champions in your field are also just humans like you. So, if they did it, so can you!
While you’re on this path to mastery, you need to share your journey publicly. Documenting your progress, achievements, and challenges helps you build a personal brand around your skill. Whether it’s on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, share your daily insights, frustrations, and victories with the world.
This is crucial – patience, dude, patience! At first, people might not pay much attention to you, and that’s completely normal. But as you keep getting better and consistently share your journey, people will start noticing. They’ll follow you, become your fans, and you’ll start building an audience. The only way to mess this up is by stopping. But I can guarantee, after a year and after 500 or 700 posts, there’s no way you won’t have a following of at least 10K. So Keep grinding!
As you refine your skills and grow your personal brand, you’ll find that people start inquiring about your work and asking if you can help them. That’s the time to launch your business as a productized service – and you’re well on your way.
Bret gets all his leads from Twitter. He admits to spending zero effort on marketing – he simply tweets a few times a week and that’s it.
This can be your reality too. If you’re genuinely good at what you do, even a modest following of 5k can yield excellent results. With just 10 clients paying you 1k a month, that’s 10k per month or 120k per year – congrats, you’re now among the top 1% of earners.
The secret ingredient is patience. You just need to keep going, keep improving, and keep sharing your journey. If you do that, I guarantee you, you’re on your path to success.