Freelancer's path to building a SaaS with $10K MRR 🏡| Agent Nest
"Tell yourself - I can do this and I WILL do this. Just focus on your business, focus on what you care about."
👆 That's Molly Wolchansky's advice to Indie Hackers who want to get to $10K MRR with their business.
Molly is the founder of the SaaS app called The Agent Nest.
It's an app that lets real estate agents access marketing content for their property listings.
The content is for digital media as well as printable hardware copies.
For a monthly subscription you can get access to more than 3000 pieces of marketing materials like social media posts, logos, flyers and postcards.
And you can even schedule the social media publishing of this content from within Agent Nest.
The Agent Nest is doing $8K MRR as of now according to Indie Hackers product page, and it's on track to reach $10K MRR in a couple of months.
Molly's path to success has been very different from a traditional indie hackers building a SaaS tool.
She started as a freelance marketer, then built her own agency and eventually turned her skills into a SaaS tool.
Agent Nest - The Product🏠
The Agent Nest targets real estate agents. They can use the content templates from the agent nest app to post to their social media channels.
The content pieces range from blog posts, videos, social media post templates with categories such as "holidays", "infographics", "recipes", "local love" etc.
Real estate agents can also directly use this content for running Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn ads.
Users get this material as Canva links that they edit and customize with their own name and listing details.
With more than 3000 pieces of content, and new ones added every day, the agent nest solves a very specific problem for real estate agents in the US.
Agents need marketing material to build a social media presence and target prospective buyers. And they aren't as good with content creation as professional digital marketers.
The Agent Nest allows them to have a robust digital marketing strategy without relying on a marketing agency or freelancers.
It automates marketing for them.
You can get the content subscription for $32 a month, and get automated posting and scheduling for $59 a month.
This is the kind of marketing content that Molly had been creating for over 6 years in her pervious career as a freelance marketer.
She started on this route when she was creating content for her mother.
Her mother is a real estate agent herself. So Molly knew the user persona pretty well.
She knew exactly what her mother needed. And she honed her content creation skills by working for her mother and then her mother's friends in the industry.
As Molly got better at her job, she started getting more clients from the industry.
That's when she started her marketing agency MoRealty Marketing.
Through the agency she was serving individual clients with their marketing content. As a freelancer, saying no was becoming a problems for her, and often she felt like she wasn't getting fairly compensated for the amount of work she was putting in
She felt overworked, overwhelmed and underpaid.
Eventually in January 2020 Molly started her own SaaS company The Agent Nest.
Her co-founder and boyfriend Shane White is a software engineer who runs a SaaS company of his own.
He was able to write the code for The Agent Nest.
And Molly started creating content for the tool.
They even got a white label social media scheduling tool to integrate with the agent nest. So they could offer a higher priced subscription with one click automated posting and scheduling.
Today Molly does the same thing she used to do before - create real estate marketing content, but by wrapping it into a SaaS tool, she gets 3 major benefits -
- Her income is not tied to the amount of time she puts in her business.
- She makes predictable recurring revenue instead of unpredictable client revenue.
- Her content library compounds with every new addition.
Over the years as a freelance marketer Molly had worked with many real estate agents. She had given classes and webinars, met with agents at conventions and events.
And worked with other agencies as well.
At every step she had collected emails of the real estate agents she was coming in touch with.
In her 6 year agency career she had built up an email list of a 1000 people, each of whom knew her personally in real life.
When she started Agent Nest, she sent out a blast to her email list, and launched a Facebook Ad targeting real estate agents.
Within the first month she had 7 paying customers and an MRR of $145.
She doubled down on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to create content and target real estate agents.
She even started a Facebook group for real estate agents.
Molly continues to do free webinars and podcast interviews to attract a wider audience.
Today most of Agent Nest's traffic comes from Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook ads.
Advice to Indie Hackers🤗
Molly's advice to Indie Hackers is that you're going to get frustrated in your journey, and that's okay. Don't be deterred by your failures or the success of competitors -
"...don't let other successful companies in the same field become a deterrent to your success."
"I think it is so important to tell yourself, I can. I can do this and I will do this. Just focus on your business, focus on what you care about. If you do become discouraged, don't stay in that discouragement. Use that discouragement as fuel to grow and to get better."
Lessons from The Agent Nest story 👇
- Freelancer to Agency to SaaS is a legit approach to building wealth. Nathan Barry speaks about a similar path in his phenomenal blog post - Ladders of wealth creation.
- Paid ads can work well if your users hang out on FB, IG or Pinterest.
- It helps if you know your target user persona from up close. For Molly, her mom is a real estate agent. (for Arvid Kahl, his partner was an English teacher to Chinese students)
- Serving the target users as a freelancer first, gives you unique insights into their problems.
- An ever increasing mailing list is invaluable, Molly kept collecting emails through her agency days. (Andrey Azimov kept doing it through all his projects in the hard core year)
- Build marketing, scheduling, accounting tools for non-tech businesses like real estate agents, dentists, chiropractors etc.
- Build tools on top of other widely useful products. Molly built a SaaS on top of Canva, Jordan O'Connor built a chrome plugin on top of Poshmark, James Traf built icons for iOS 14)
- White-label your SaaS for agencies and freelancers. They already have users, help them beef up their offering, take a cut from their profit.
- If you're a freelancer, figure out ways to automate and codify parts of your work into a SaaS.
- Do things that don't scale, Molly follows hashtags in her niche on Instagram, and posts meaningful comments on posts of her target users. Everyday. Gets a follow back and a possible lead.
- Coder + Marketer is the ideal co-founders combination. Molly and David built The Agent Nest. (Samy and Yannick built hypefury, Nadav and Gideon built Riverside) - Find a cofounder with complementary skills.
- As an Indie Hacker your product doesn't have to be cutting edge, it just has to solve a specific problem for a specific user. The Agent Nest is essentially a library of Canva templates connected to a scheduling system.(Makerpad is a library of No-Code tutorials and a community, NomadList is a list of cities for nomads and a Slack community.)
- Your product's growth will hit a plateau, don't lose hope, you will find new ways to grow!
- Pinterest - The Agent Nest gets 90K page views a month from Pinterest Ads!
- Facebook - Results from FB ads are volatile hard to predict. But when they started, Agent Nest spent $400 in the first month with a cost per click of 2 cents. It boosted get initial growth.
- Organic - Most of the organic traffic is for The Agent Nest home page. Which means they are existing users logging in just to use the product everyday.
- The r/realtors subreddit is small but growing -
- The 2nd most popular post of all time on this subreddit is about how a newbie realtor used lead generation ads on Facebook to make $250K in a year. - 25 years old, made $250k this year. Here's how I did it.
- The line that stands out the most from this post - "Think of yourself as a lead generator and marketer first, and real estate agent second."
- More real estate agents would want to become lead generators and marketers, what tools can help them?
Indie hacker startups you can acquire from microacquire.com or get inspired by to build your own -
- Value Prop - Micro-SaaS that helps real estate agents stand out and generate more leads by giving them tools to create stunning property sites in minutes.
- Profit Last month - $400
- ARR - $10.3K
- Asking Price - "Open to Offers"
- Value Prop - B2B eCommerce site that provides print marketing materials and digital designs to real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and other small businesses.
- Profit Last month - $2700
- ARR - $65K
- Asking Price - $60K
- Value Prop - A virtual house hunting platform that allows real estate agents the ability to give their buyers a way to view homes without actually them having to go there. Virtual tours for homes.
- Revenue Last month - $2.33K
- ARR - $20K
- Asking Price - $180K
- An Indie Hacker's Process to Reach $10K MRR | IH Podcast
- $145/MRR to $7.5k/MRR in 15 Months | Molly's post on Indie Hackers
- Reaching $8k MRR in a Year Selling Software to Real Estate Agents | Failory
Thank you for reading🙏
ICYMI : Last week I wrote about the No-Code startup Makerpad
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Thanks to Seth King for editing this post
Google trends chart courtesy UnderTheRadar.io
Featured image courtesy Molly's YouTube channel.