This is a follow up story for letsworkremotely. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hey there! It’s Steven and Ciaran from letsworkremotely - the largest remote community with >135k members in our two Facebook Groups. We provide a place for remote job seekers and employers to connect, ask questions, and get hired.
We also have a website that’s in the top 1% of sites in the world based on traffic and engagement. However, it has slowed down a bit compared to our Facebook Groups which have been growing steadily average of 10% between the two.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Some big life changes have happened to both Ciaran and me. Moved to new places and started new jobs etc - so we haven’t really put as much effort as we have liked into growing letsworkremotely. However, we have always let it grow at its own self-sustainable pace without much interference.
Go learn a tangible skill and do as much as you can to prove your idea.
Despite not pouring money into advertising/marketing, we have been growing at about the same pace. We have lost and also established a few partnerships. So while our group numbers seemed flat based on our initial story - those numbers included metrics from other groups where we were affiliated, but not fully own. The numbers we have now are solely from the two groups we have full ownership of.
We established some partnerships and have been able to automate much of our remote job backfilling process through the system. This allows us to be a lot more hands-off as we assume the major responsibilities of our lives. To keep the site and community running we’ve been running ads to make some extra income on the side as the market for freemium job posts (even for remote) is pretty saturated and our main competitors are 20-30x larger than we are.
However, despite not having put any money into marketing, I’d say we’re in a pretty good spot given our metrics from Google Analytics, Search Console, and Facebook Insights.
Group 1: Growth Metrics (last 60 days)
Group 1: Engagement Metrics (last 60 days)
Group 2: Growth Metrics (last 60 days)
Groups 2: Engagement Metrics (last 60 days)
Google Search Console (last 3 months)
Google Analytics (since original story published)
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Being busy with other major events in our lives wasn’t the only reason we haven’t put in an incredible amount of effort into marketing activities. As most of you know, COVID also happened and affected many of our lives. It really should have helped accelerate our growth since remote work became the new normal. However, we were not set up to scale to the demand that the pandemic required. Our large competitors just ended up being able to capitalize on it much better than us. I believe we could have made it work, but neither of us was in any position to expand the capital and effort necessary to make it work without major risks.
I think the biggest lesson learned here for both of us is that even if you’re extremely passionate about something - life still happens. We worked extremely hard the past 3 years to grow this community to the best of our ability and try to differentiate our value proposition from our main competitors who’ve been around for much longer. At the core of it, we believe it is our engaging community (we know because we’ve been asked multiple times to be acquired, but mainly for our Facebook Groups). However, the competitor’s numbers don’t lie and it’s just way more enticing an offer to employers wanting to post their remote jobs.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
For the upcoming year, Ciaran and I still have a lot of discussions to do based on where we are in our lives and what are realistic goals for letworkremotely. Right now it is growing stably without much intervention on our part. But we know that with the right attention and resources it has the potential to be so much more.
Short term, I believe we both have to figure out what we can/should do for letsworkremotely. Long term, we’re looking to really accelerate its growth to its full potential, or get it ready to be sold to an investor/group that can give it the resources the community needs to grow.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
Grit by Angela Duckwork + any Planet Money podcasts.
Grit is a phenomenal book showing us how we should look at natural-born talent and work ethic/grit. Planet Money is a great all-around podcast to understand the macro world of business.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
My best advice is to stop dreaming and start doing. I think many entrepreneurs get stuck with closely guarding their “billion-dollar ideas” which are no more than a napkin sketch and requiring everyone they interact with to sign an NDA. Unless you already have a track record, I guarantee you 9/10 times no one cares. Go learn a tangible skill and do as much as you can to prove your idea. Whether that’s learning how to prototype with a visual tool (InVision, Adobe XD) or building a WordPress site (essential skill), just do it. You learn so much more by doing and failing instead of waiting for that million-dollar investment you believe you need to start.
The other piece of advice I want to give to aspiring entrepreneurs is to be comfortable growing at your own pace and what you want to define as success. I know it can be difficult to do by reading all these stories of phenomenal people doing insane numbers in terms of revenue and growth. At 19 (when I started this), my main goal was to learn more about digital marketing from this personal project. That goal has been met over and over again and has led to me where I am today as a tech consultant for multiple Fortune 500 companies. So for what it’s worth, - letsworkremotely has been a success by my own definition. And I recommend any new (or enduring) entrepreneur to really have a good grasp at defining their OWN meaning of success for whatever you do.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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