Leaving a full-time head of growth role to be a full-time indie hacker - Corey Haines, Swipe Files and more

As of the week we recorded this, Corey Haines became a full-time Indie Hacker, working on his profitable side projects he'd built alongside his role as Head of Growth at Baremetrics. Corey builds things quickly and makes the most of his time, with a varie


Corey Haines is the founder of Swipe Files, he also runs refactoring growth, mental models for marketing, hey marketers and he was previously the head of growth at Baremetrics. I've been a follower of Corey for a while and impressed by the level and consistency of everything he produces.

In this episode we talked about:

  • What projects Corey is currently working on
  • Why he left Baremetrics
  • What it's like leaving a stable, full-time job to be an indie hacker
  • How he manages his time between projects
  • How much revenue he makes
  • How to build things quickly
  • Deciding on what ideas to focus on
  • Advice for indie hackers wanting to live the dream
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Full Transcript

James:
You've got a lot going on. Tell me a little bit more about your various side projects, where your main focus is right now.

Corey: Yeah. So I don't know, maybe I just caught the entrepreneurial bug or have an itch to create stuff. But, about two years ago I started just making stuff on the side. I started with a newsletter actually that ended up shutting down later, but it was called the TLDR on SaaS marketing. And that was like my first entry point into creating something and sharing it online and it's actually the reason why I created my Twitter account in the first place. and then, yeah, it's just been through a little bit of. serendipity and connection between projects.

um, you know,

 I was talking with a Baremetrics customer, actually. And he's like, Hey, where do I find someone like you?

 where would you post a job if you were hiring yourself? And I was like, actually, I don't know. There isn't really like a job board for marketers. So I went out and built it. Later on I was talking about different mental models and frameworks that I've found really helpful for my work at Baremetrics.

Other people were asking for the Notion doc and you know where to learn more about it. So I figured out why don't I just package this up into a course, same thing with B2B SaaS marketing, with what we've done at Baremetrics is figuring out how to create this new course too. Now Swipe Files, I would swipe something and I would write some notes, some bullet points about here's, what I think is great about it and then I noticed this is actually pretty useful because there's a few sites out there, like swipefile.com and Swipe Worthy, or I think it's swiped.co, which are fantastic sources of inspiration, but you still have to do the work to figure out what you want to glean from it.

So Swipe Files is my attempt to build a library of content where I will tell you and show you what it is you can take away from it instead of having to deduce it for yourself. And now I've got a bunch of other things I'll do in the future, but, yesterday went full time as a creator on my own stuff.

James: Yeah. Tell me a little bit more about that. So previously you head of growth at Baremetrics. How long were you there for and, what went into making decision that now is the right time to leave?

Corey: I was there for almost two years and had a fantastic time, experimented with a ton. We grew about 30% which was  great for a bootstrapped company. I really changed a lot and I was all over the place with, trying to find different channels and breakthroughs, and really what we came to was that company wasn't at the right spot to really support a growth role with the budget and the engineering time that was needed to really push the ball forward and so just decided to part ways. And I was already the place that I wanted to go full time and my own stuff anyways I think coincidentally, a little bit serendipitously was perfectly the timing for me to start working on my own stuff full time and, head on to this new chapter of my life.

James: So with your various side projects, or they're not side projects now that you're full time projects, How do they each look in terms of revenue what's making the most for you? 

Corey: Yeah  right now the breadwinner are the courses, refactoring growth and mental models for marketing and I've done about 36,000 in the last 10 months.

 I couldn't do what I'm doing today without that revenue on the side, to be able to, fund myself into going full time as a creator. The other one, now that I'm trying to build into becoming the breadwinner is Swipe Files. And to date I actually, I couldn't tell you the revenue that has done, I think it's probably done a couple thousand in revenue because it's split between monthly annual in lifetimes.

It's a little bit more difficult for me to... I didn't go through Stripe and do the math beforehand. but, um, it does about like the MRR today is about a thousand dollars.  and then, Hey Marketers, to be honest, I've started to neglected for the last year. I launched it and then I spent a good four or five months working really hard on it. And then figured I would outsource it to my nephew, who is a poor college student and, and needs some cheap, manual labor.

It still does $100 to $300 a month, maybe. And it's a pay what you want model too. So sometimes I'll get a job posting for one dollar and sometimes I'll get a job posting for a hundred bucks. But it depends. 

James: so you've got all of these projects so much going on now.  How do you squeeze it all in? And how did you manage your time before? I guess this week?

Corey: The answer is I didn't, and I'm going to figure it out now. When I was with Baremetrics full time, I was very much working in these sprints. With Hey Marketers; I created the job for within three weekends and then I would just work here and there nights and weekends, especially, it wasn't very much work, to be honest. With the courses I created Mental Models for Marketing within the span of a month, about a week of that was spent on vacation with a Thanksgiving break. Same thing with Refactoring Growth; it took me about 45 days to create that course. About two weeks of that was spent on vacation, just heads down, creating a lot of the content.

 With Swipe Files now that's really been kinda my nights and weekends project, where Monday nights is like my night or I'll sit down and I'll write the tear down schedule the email, schedule the tweet thread. Now, what I'm wanting to do is, really go all in on Swipe Files, and trying to get into a cadence.

I heard some advice from, from my friend, Michael Taylor, but I'd also been thinking this beforehand, but getting into a cadence where Mondays are going to be my podcasting day. Tuesday are going to be my tear down's day. Wednesday is going to be my meetings day, maybe with friends and or consulting or whatever. Thursday is going to be my, articles and guides day.

And then Friday, it's going to be my newsletter, something like that, Where I kind of time blocks specific parts of that I can really get into deep work and focus. 

James:  How do you decide which ideas to pursue, and then how do you stay focused on it and not get distracted by new ideas or, or pursuing something until it gets to a point where it's growing nicely?

Corey: Yeah, I probably skew towards spending too much time on something. So that's something I'm trying to work against. Like for example, when I was doing the newsletter, my very first project, I did it a full year and only got 200 subscribers and just didn't feel like it was going anywhere, I think that what's helped with the courses and it Swipe Files is that they're very much, you get the content work done once and then you can just market it afterwards.

And so that's really helped me and my own weaknesses and my own personality. Just being able to jump between projects. I was like, alright, great, I've created one course now let's create another course. Now let's create a membership site. Like they all just, allowed me to be all over the place.

But what's helped me cause I have a bazillion other ideas that I could pursue. And all of these came from that same kind of idea bucket. And what I found helps is just writing every single thing down. I used to use Evernote, then I used Notion now use Roam and I've ported everything over there and had been using that for several months now.

But literally every single thought that enters my brain gets put somewhere, especially business ideas and I'll flush it out. All right. Type up all the things that I have that way I can just get it out of my mind, not thinking about it again. And usually what I like to do is if I think about it again over and over again, and it keeps coming up and I keep revisiting and I keep writing more ideas, then I know that there's something here . 

James: Yeah, I think what you're able to do as well is build things quite quickly. 

Corey: Yeah, I think speed is vastly underrated and underappreciated for aspiring entrepreneurs, indie hackers, anyone who's building something.

The point is to create something quickly and fast and to get it out and get it in front of people. 

Each of the courses I did under 45 days, Swipe Files took me about 60 days, about two months to get from first breaking ground in Webflow to launching and feeling done with it. 

 And that's really allowed me to 1/ be able to do it and finish it cause the longer something goes on, the less likely you are to finish it. but 2/  be able to grow and see significant progress.

James: yeah. What, what what's been your biggest struggle with building your various projects?

Corey: Time, I think just lack of time. Not wanting any of the time to bleed into time at Baremetrics, I'm working full time at a job where I have an obligation. And so that was, so many nights and weekends where I was just like half falling asleep, writing, creating something, trying to plan something. 

And so that's been the biggest struggle for me has just been; feeling a little bit like, kinda caged up, like I'm wanting to get out. I working in a straight jacket. Like I can't do all the things that I want to do because I don't have the physical time.

James: And I'd ask you what your advice is. For indie hackers who are sort of in the position you're in before working a full time job, got various different projects on the go and they want the dream of leaving their job and working full time on their projects.

What advice would you give to them?

Corey: I would say just make a lot of stuff and get it out of your system, and test things out because there's no safer time to do that when you have a paycheck. I think the mistake that. This isn't a knock on them, but I was just listening to the Dru Riley podcast with Courtland and on the indie hackers podcast.

And, he was talking about how he had an amazing job saved up 250 grand and then quit. And then basically has just been burning through savings for the last three years because he was comfortable. and I was like

"that's amazing, that's great, I'm glad he found something that worked for him "

but you don't have to do it that way. If he hadn't been experimenting while he was still at his job. And then he found something, that worked or that was viable, or that was promising and then left his job, he would have had the savings to work on that thing full time, instead of doing the opposite of, let me burn through my savings to find something that works and then race against the clock to replace that income.

So I would say experiment, get yourself in a good financial position. The more savings, the better, but also the more traction initially, the better as well. You need the cushion traction. So try to find as much of both of those as you can while you're still working full time.

James: Corey, I wanted to talk just quickly, very quickly about Twitter because you're super active on Twitter. What's your strategy or goal with Twitter?

Corey: I didn't have a Twitter strategy I think up until I started with Swipe Files, to be honest. Because, one, it was just me sharing, interesting, relevant things, working at Baremetrics, sharing about marketing, commenting with people . I shared basically nothing about my personal life on Twitter. It's all business, marketing, SaaS, entrepreneurship. So that gives people a reason to follow me. yeah, I think the main three things are. Being an interesting person with interesting things to say, making a lot of friends who can amplify you and then having a consistent schedule of, I mean,  I think threads are a fantastic way of delivering content.

they're more interesting. People are more likely to retweet it just cause it's more valuable than a single tweet. and I keep it very focused on again, SaaS, marketing, entrepreneurship, and business in general.

James: Yeah, without a doubt, that's a really cool way to do it.  we'll sort of round off with a final question about. the tools you use, because we haven't really discussed that at all,

what are the marketing tools and growth tools would you recommend for indie hackers?

Corey: Yeah. So I build most of my sites in Webflow. I have one site, on Carrd, I'm a huge fan of Webflow and I love the flexibility. I still don't really don't know how to use Carrd that much, to be honest. So I might eventually move off of it. It's just crazy cheap and it's amazing deal and AJ is a great creator so I like supporting him. I use right message for all my kind of email capture and that connects with Convert Kit, which is what I use for all email marketing newsletter related things. I use Member Stack on top of Webflow to create the membership site for Swipe Files.

I've also been using Sparkloop for my newsletter, a referral program, which needs some tweaking and some massaging, but has also worked really, I've gotten a couple of big wins from it, which has already justified the cost for where, the vast majority of people do not refer anyone, but a couple people do and they bring in 50 subscribers each and I'm like, all right.

Wow. This is, you know, glad we had that in place 

 James: All right then final, quick fire questions. What's your favorite book, Corey?

Corey: Oh man. I'm looking at my book sack back here. You know, I don't know if I have a favorite book.  how about this? I'll give you my favorite books from the last three years. So I've like a favorite book of the year. 2018 for me was Atomic Habits. 2019 for me was Ultra Learning.  2020 for me has been a book called the Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by a guy named John Mark Homer and, it's just about essentially the way you're supposed to live life as a Christian, you know, religious, but I think there's a lot of really practical implications for kind of this culture of Busy-ness in America that we've gotten ourselves into and try to reverse that a bit.

James:  and you say you're a podcast binger, what's your favorite? 

Corey: Akimbo - Seth Godin.  

James: Which indie hacker do you admire slash who should people Follow?

Corey: Oh man. You know what? David Perrel is...  dude, the guy's just, I don't think people even understand what he's done, with his Twitter following where he's come from his podcasts, his course. the guy is just a machine he's super smart, but also his success already is amazing, you just look at the success of them and you can, you can't ignore, the guy does a million plus course sales a year.

He has the podcast, he does the angel investing. Many other things we probably don't even know about yet that he has his hands in, and it's just, sky's the limit for that guy.

James: Very impressive. And then finally, what are you most excited for the future? Both personally and business or both?

Corey: I'm really stoked to start working on a SaaS business, to be honest. It's a long journey. It's a long road, but that's my end goal. 

James: Absolutely Corey, you've been an immense guest we've recorded for 50 minutes and  it's going to go all into a 15 minute podcast. 

Corey: Cool. Amazing, man. Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Indy bites. I hope you feel inspired by listening to this conversation between me and Corey. 

if you did enjoy this episode, I'd love you to share the episode with just one in the hacker that will find it useful. It does help the podcast grow. 

As always you'll find links for everything discussed in the episode, in the show notes. That's all from me enjoy the rest of your day