The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.
Wesley Haddon is up.
Who are you and what do you do? I’m an ex-digital nomad (more on that later) and growth marketer loosely based between NYC and a few European cities these days. I work with a few startup brands up in New York but also run a marketing collective called Bigfoot on the side - designed to connect freelancers and boutique agencies to take on larger projects.
I’m able to find personal consulting projects through connections made through the collective (that’s my bread and butter) and pass tangential work over to other tribe members - but the cool thing is, we’re all self-vetted and able to bill/execute projects as a cohesive agency rather than a ragtag bunch of freelancers.
What did it take and how did you get started? I graduated from NCSU with an entrepreneurship degree. During my last 2 years, I’d been working full-time as well in a few marketing roles, but most notably doing growth marketing remotely for an L.A.-based corporate startup team (David also worked there!). By the time I graduated, I was pretty convinced that I had enough marketing know-how to take my skills on the road and consult on launch strategy for really small startups - so I found a couple of clients and went for it.
I left the country a couple of days after graduating and starting working my way south and then east from Slovenia, Skyping in for growth marketing consultations regularly and running paid social ads for clients as I went. I quickly got bored with the idea of working freelance gigs though, so Bigfoot was born. It was convenient because it could start really small - I just changed how I approached clients - rather than an individual, I could actually help them build a team. As I went, I started working other people onto projects - a designer here, someone to help run ads there, etc., all billing under the same shell and with the shared vision/internal communication of a team.
What does the future look like for you and your hustle? Finding ways to grow our team and find more projects is going to continue to be a big goal, and I’d like to decentralize things a little further and take myself out of the middle of the network where possible.
Additionally, we’ve grown a bit of an ‘inner tribe’ that works on projects, but now I’m interested in growing a community around location-flexible creators & entrepreneurs beyond just who we directly work with. It’d be cool to offer some programming/opportunities for ‘outer’ tribe members who don’t necessarily work on projects to meet up, co-work together, and share their unique lifestyle with other similar people. If you want in or have thoughts, shoot me a message over at email@example.com.
What drives / motivates you? I’ve been motivated for a while by the idea of challenging the way we work. Work style isn’t one-size-fits-all, so a 9-5 might not work for some just like an independent/gig-based career isn’t ideal for everyone. So I’m hoping to build something that offers some of the flexibility/autonomy of a remote agency or freelance career, but with the structure/mission focus of a community. I think there are a lot of cool places to go from there.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do? Just do it. I left the country and kicked things off without many marketable skills and started to build the airplane on the way down. Spending time in relatively cheap areas and living on a shoestring budget afforded me the ability to make next to nothing while I figured it all out (read: I made about $13,000 in the first year which wouldn’t go far in the U.S.).
What has been the hardest part of the hustle? As with most marketplace-style concepts, one of the hardest parts is lining up demand (projects) at the same time as supply. We don’t keep employees on retainer, so it’s sometimes a challenge to connect with the right team at the right times. We’ve had some good luck with this model and of course a few failures, but we’re learning big lessons and finding the right type of team members/clients to make it work.
What are a few resources (could be books, podcasts, websites etc) that you'd recommend? If you’re interested in anything in the world of nomad-ism/lifestyle design/this style of entrepreneurship I’d of course recommend starting with Tim Ferris. I don’t necessarily aspire to be just like him but he’s done a lot of things right and serves as a great pushing off point for this stuff.
You’ll also catch me listening to podcasts:
Re-Root - vanlife (if that’s what you’re into) and location-independent entrepreneurship
Whoop - at the intersection of lifestyle optimization and athletics. Really cool stuff.
Side Hustle School / How I Built This - Business ideas, inspiring stories, and inspiration to keep working at it.
WSJ Future of Everything - futurism, etc.
A few other assorted book recommendation (in no particular order or relevance):
Let My People Go Surfing - Yvon Chouinard
Thrive - Ariana Huffington
Everything that Remains - Joshua Fields Milburn
Zero to One - Peter Thiel
Side or full-time hustle? Definitely a side hustle. I work on similar projects independently but this isn’t going to keep me afloat just yet.
List the founders Just me - but it’s more of a community than anything else. So we wouldn’t be much without the other nomads/collective members who are part of the group.
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle? I really only put a couple of hours a week into keeping the group organized these days. The rest of the time is spent developing strategies/executing on projects, and often playing a bit of ‘project manager’.
# of Employees (part-time and full-time) Our inner tribe is loosely comprised of ~10 right now and aiming for 2-3 members on a typical project.
When did you start? I made it Facebook (/LinkedIn) official in Jan 2017.
How much did it cost to launch? It cost nothing to launch, but this business will also never have much going for it as far as assets go.
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised? N/A - but an interesting note (and trick that I pulled from the Tim Ferris readings to a degree) was my ability to minimize costs by living on a shoestring budget in areas far cheaper than the United States. If you can convince that first client or two to let you work from Croatia (or Vietnam) your money will go a lot further, which means more time to build your business. It’s worth noting, though, that it’s a lot harder to build a network from afar - hence why I hang in NYC a lot these days.