Proud to be Unicorn Free

Me (Amy Hoy) in stylish black and white.

Hi, I’m Amy. “Who” I am doesn’t matter so much as where I’ve been & what I’ve been doing, and why I’m doing this, right here, now, for you.

My backstory in a paragraph

In 1993, at the ripe ol’ age of 9, I taught myself HTML from a book. I made web pages. On Geocities. There were kitten pictures. Over the next 10 years, I taught myself web design, interface design, PHP, and MySQL. (And later, Rails, Ruby & JavaScript). I read, and wrote, and read, and wrote, and designed, and built, and redesigned, and freelanced, and had jobs, and then consulted (high dollar!) for many wealthy co’s you’ve never heard of and quite a few you have. I did this for a long time, got to come up with some neat stuff, then I quit to build software as a service apps, write ebooks, teach workshops, and help other people do the same. I quit consulting forever in January 2009 and voila! Here we are.

I hated the mechanics of being paid for my time.

I hated consulting. HATED it. Hated the futility of it, hated the bureaucracy between me and the end user, hated the futility and wastefulness of it. And the economic model, too, was a total drag.

When you get paid to produce, you get paid for your time, no matter how it is that you’re billing.

You’re burning your most precious asset in a bonfire and at the end, all you’ll have is ash. (And a little bit of cash which, let’s face it, never lasts. Yep, I’m a poet.)

Even the best value-based billing system in the world won’t save you from the Work, Get Paid, Start Over cycle.

But time doesn’t have to be your only asset

If you build actual assets — rather than burning what nature gave ya — those assets can keep generating returns well after the hours are spent. Each hour you spend can, retroactively, be worth more and more as time goes on.

If you’re rich, those assets might be a huge interest-generating pile of money, or maybe lots of real estate. If you’re not rich, though, you can create assets through sweat equity.

I’m talking products, people. Products!

You know, True Wealth.

I knew this for myself; by the day that we started working on Freckle, I had known this for years. For a decade, almost.

But I had never acted on that knowledge. Not until the pain got unbearable.

Thus began my “Year of Hustle”

I reached maximal Fed Up Ness with the hamster wheel of consulting in May, 2008. I convinced my soon-to-be husband, Thomas Fuchs, to build a product company with me. He was skeptical, but I overruled him! Ha!

We built Freckle Time Tracking that summer, wrote JavaScript Performance Rocks that fall, and I’ve never looked back.

I’ll be honest: It wasn’t hard for me.

I had long mastered the art of knowing what people wanted, & needed, and how to sell it to them. I was reading biz books as a teenager (such a nerd!) and I had always taken my job of selling my consulting services very seriously and done it very well.

But my friends kept failing.

As Thomas and I made thousands of dollars right off, with a very reasonable amount of effort, I watched friend after friend after friend struggle and fail.

All preventable, too! If only they’d known the right way to go about it.

Why did they all do it wrong?

That was what I asked myself: Why? Why is everybody failing in such obvious and predictable ways?

Well, as it turned out, a VC-backed consumer startup had all kinds of networks and information to rely on. But a bootstrapper, who made things to sell? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not books, or even blogs, much less communities to gather around.

So I started blogging about biz on my formerly code-and-design blog. I held a conference call and told stories of struggle and success, in December 2009, and the number one bit of feedback was: MOAR!!

And so, slowly, 30×500 (the how-to-not-fail-at-selling-your-first-product class) was born.

We started with Freckle & JSPR in 2008…

Since then we’ve added a bunch of products & workshops to our lineup:

Together, Alex, Thomas and I put on bootstrapping conferences:

Today our company is 4 full time people (me, Thomas, Devon, Thomas C.) and 1 part-time person in Philadelphia and 1 full time person in the Philippines.

Alex Hillman is my partner-in-crime on 30×500 and related ebooks, & events. (He’s a free agent & fearless leader of the amazing Indy Hall coworking community here in Philadelphia.)

That’s the history.

It’s also the story of WHY I do what I do:

  • to create the life I want for myself, and for our team
  • to work on things that last
  • to serve my customers directly, with no one who can force me to do anything but my very best
  • to teach the skills that I have to others so they can do the same

If I can help you make your life better by helping others and getting paid for it, that impacts your family, your friends, your neighborhood, and of course your customers… and that makes their lives better, too.

Trickle down rule-o-nomics, baby.

Here’s how to get started.

Don’t Fave This Post: How to REALLY Launch in 2014 is the post that brings together so much of what I teach into one kickass guide.

More reading: History As It Happened™

I’ve been writing on this site a long time, and so you don’t just have to listen to me say “Over 5 years, I did this!” You can also read what I wrote at the time. The history is interesting (and educational, if you’re wanting to try it yourself):

Aside: Other stuff we’ve made

…for funnies or out of rage (at shitty design/experiences) that you might have seen around on the internets: Twistori, Every Time Zone, Creative Scrape (RIP), Failcamp (the very first one, yes, really).