7 min 47 sec

MFA Student Trades Pen for Keyboard

Can a creative writer compete with Google? This one does, and he goes on to earn $12,500 in recurring monthly income.
App High Profit Service Writing

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What It's About

A Google Suite alternative that lets you work anywhere without worrying about your data.

Business Model
Skills Required
Writing & Communication
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Justin says that no one is going to come to you and tell you that it's ok to build the thing you want to build. If you don't know how to do it, use your motivation to build it as the thing that drives you to learn. But no matter what, the first step is starting.

Fun Fact

Blockstack runs an App Mining program that aims to distribute 100K monthly to the best apps that use Blockstack integration, with the stated aim of helping to fund the pioneers of the decentralized internet. Makes you wonder—are there any programs in your niche that rewards you for being good at what you do?

Notes from Chris

Episode 775
Justin Hunter didn’t plan on becoming a coder. An account manager by day and writer by night, he was also enrolled in a Master of Fine Arts program pursuing creative writing. As the program was winding down, Justin noticed that he had built up quite a body of work. This made him nervous as he had stored his creative work on Google Docs, and he was worried that he could be locked out one day.

Justin considered going back to Microsoft Office and storing files locally on his computer but decided that wasn’t a great option either.

Like many of us, he’d grown accustomed to the convenience that cloud-based storage offered. He looked around for alternatives to G Suite that would allow him to own his own data but realized that no such software existed. That was when he decided that he would build an app for his own personal use.

Most creative writers don’t set out to do such things, but Justin had been honing his programming skills for a while. Twenty years earlier, he had taken a computer class in middle school. Although he was amazed by the wonders of programming, he never seriously pursued it. Much later, when he decided to build an in-browser game for his son, coding began to make more sense. Justin was motivated by this sudden breakthrough, and he began to experiment by building small apps. He had put himself in a perfect position to start his side hustle.

In the summer of 2017, he created the first version of a product he called Graphite. Justin had chanced upon Blockstack, an app protocol which allows developers the ability to build apps where users own their data. Up till this point, Justin had never entertained the thought of Graphite being used by anyone other than himself. There was no bigger purpose or a grand plan at all.

But as he built Graphite and shared each iteration with the Blockstack community, people in that community noticed. They encouraged him to continue building and to release it publicly. This was the first hint that anyone else would actually be interested in it.

In March 2018, Justin launched Graphite publicly. At this point, the app was free for all to use. A key issue was figuring out how to get customers to pay. Eventually, he designed a form of team-based collaboration into the decentralized app, allowing users to securely and conveniently collaborate across an entire organization. Unlike G Suite, Graphite allowed people to easily encrypt and share files with an entire team.

As his product gained popularity, Graphite gained more paying customers. The revenue generated from these customers were still fairly small, but because of how well the product had been designed, Graphite consistently garnered top ratings and reviews from users. This made the product eligible for the Blockstack App Mining program. Funded by Blockstack, a company which aims to build an open-source and decentralized internet, the App Mining program rewards the best app developers… and for Justin, he’s now earning an average of $12,500 in monthly payouts.

Moving forward, Justin hopes this will eventually become a project he can work full-time on. To those who wish to do something similar, Justin’s advice is to remember that no one is going to tell you that it’s okay to build something, or that you should build something. You just need to decide for yourself—and then, you need to do something about it.


  • Graphite: Learn more about this G Suite alternative over on Justin's website!
  • Blockstack: The platform that Justin used that gives users control over their fundamental digital rights
  • App Mining Program: A company that aims to build an open-source and decentralized internet


Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"No one is going to come to you and tell you that it's ok to build the thing you want to build. If you don't know how to do it, use your motivation to build it as the thing that drives you to learn. But no matter what, the first step is starting."
—Justin Hunter #SideHustleSchool

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