This content agency founder started her business at age 19 with $75 in the bank.
Julia McCoy launched Express Writers in 2011 in Austin, Texas, after leaving college. To scale, she hired remote contractors to write blog posts, landing page copy, product descriptions and more, eventually growing a pool of about 100 freelance writers.
A decade later, with $5 million in lifetime revenue and zero employees, she sold for a 7-figure sum.
Growing Express Writers as McCoy’s first business
McCoy leaned on just two full-time contractors to serve as the agency’s leadership team. She continually searched for quality freelance writers to scale Express Writers, she said.
“The capacity of a human writer was always our bottleneck, along with finding quality people that had a great work ethic and the skill of online writing,” she told They Got Acquired. “I eventually even launched courses to help solve the problem.”
McCoy credits her commitment to Express Writers as the reason the business flourished. She said she believes success is just 5% talent, and 95% commitment to the goal and the hard work to see it through.
“We did whatever it took when situations or opportunities arose for us to grow the company and launch new services, offerings or levels to match the market,” she added.
Over the next 10 years after its launch, Express Writers completed more than 40,000 projects for 5,000 clients, with 25% actively ordering. In 2020, McCoy also launched a WordPress e-commerce content shop.
By 2021, she was ready for more family time.
Deciding to sell her agency and move on
“I’d been running the agency for 10 years and I was ready for a change,” she said. “Ultimately, being responsible for 100 people and 6-figure income months is a stressor. As a young mum of little children (and one a baby), I wanted to enjoy life more and have less heavyweight responsibility.”
Express Writers found a buyer within a week of listing with Quiet Light, selling for a 7-figure sum in September 2021. That buyer was a husband-and-wife team, Adam Oakley and Alicia Oakley, according to a blog post by McCoy.
For founders looking to sell in the coming years, she recommends staying with the long game and thinking about what it would mean to continue growing your company. McCoy said she wanted to sell back in 2017 but needed a few extra years of solid income to achieve a 7-figure listing price.
“It was worth the wait,” she said. “Consider the implications for the market and trending software and tools. Will you be replaced? Will your work be considered a commodity and devalue as emerging technology comes on the scene? Do a deep dive and consider all angles.”
McCoy is now President at Content at Scale, an AI writing company. She also teaches and consults at content strategy business The Content Hacker, and is working on an epic fiction trilogy called Earth Begins.
“Sometimes selling and exiting is best,” McCoy observed. “I’m very glad I did!”
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