Week 10: Two Lightbulb Moments And My Untold Story

It’s Week 10 of my $20k to $500k in 1 Year challenge. You can read past weeks here.

I’ve been slacking pretty hard when it comes to Twitter, but I tweeted this a little bit ago and wanted to share it here:

I didn’t elaborate on Twitter, but I will here.

Even if your best campaign were to come in at 20 cents per lead, when you scale it with $1,000 over a 1-2 month period, you’ll be sitting on 5,000 subscribers.

To put that into perspective, the email you’re reading right now has a little less than that.

The key is to blow your new audience away. Whatever niche it might be, hit their inbox with absolute fire.

Don’t hit Send until you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they’re going to feel something, learn something, and crave more.

When you have this small but loyal audience, it’s your business nucleus. With this foundation, you can launch your website, build on new platforms, offer products, create additional content, and catapult your brand.

Every business starts somewhere. And this is just one straightforward way you can start and have real readers very quickly.

But first, let’s get into all of the latest numbers, thoughts, and developments Week 10 has brought.

In Today’s Email:

  • Traffic is good, not great.
  • Facebook is gonna Facebook.
  • Newsletter is on track to explode.
  • I see a path to $500k.
  • Everything finally clicked and it’s a relief.
  • You need to ramble on…and on…
  • Ask me any question (featured next week).
  • The Untold Story of Viral Nova, coming soon.
  • And that’s a wrap (with a final tip).

Here are the latest numbers.

November traffic: 21,224 sessions (+9,108)

While underperforming (goal was 50k in November) so far, I’m still fairly happy with these numbers. It takes a Google-centric site months to get any significant traffic at all, so the strategy to get immediate traction for that much needed dopamine hit is working.

Although, technically, I am getting Google traffic:

totally crushing it

As I said before, the traffic seems to still be coming in waves when it comes to Facebook. One day will spike to 4k visits and then several in a row with only a few hundred.

It’s the nature of the social beast, so I’m just focusing on good content.

Facebook Page Likes: 112,290 (+2,967)

I turned off the Like campaign recently to focus as much budget as possible to lead generation ads. Like I said last week, email is my top priority right now.

That said, photo shares continue to go ballistic. I’m averaging around 85,000 reach per photo post.

Links? Not so much. Anywhere from 8,000-20,000 reach. But this is pretty common as Facebook clearly wants users staying on their platform.

Once I crack the newsletter code (details below), I’ll likely kick up a Like campaign again.

Newsletter subscribers: 4,102 (+670)

It took me a few days to find the time, but as you can see here, I’m starting to hit a groove.

I’m writing this at 10:30am on Thursday, so that last one is only a partial day. Here’s what I’ve been doing to increase it:

  • Shifted the Like budget to the Email acquisition budget.
  • Updated the ad creative to lower cost per lead slightly.
  • Began posting a link to the newsletter in the comment section of my Facebook photo posts.
  • When relevant, I personally reply to a comment suggesting they get the newsletter for more.
  • Made the sign-up form on the website sticky in the sidebar.

Regarding the last point, I’m going to play around with better placements soon.

I’ve told this mini story before, but a decade ago when I figured out how to display the sign-up form inside of the video player after a video ended, my subscribers shot up to over 3,500 per day.

That simple change literally changed my life. That’s why we have to always be trying new things.

So overall, email is looking better, but I need a minimum of 500 new subscribers per day if I want a chance at completing this challenge.

Here’s some rough math I’m looking at, using April 1st as a goal:

  1. December 1 – March 31 @ 15k subs per month = 60,000 subscribers. I won’t count my current subs because some people will inevitably unsubscribe.
  2. Now take a click through rate of 30% (of the people who actually open the email). Roughly speaking, this should be 60,000 x 25% open rate = 15,000 opens x 30% click through rate = 4,500 clicks.
  3. With an RPM of $20 (assuming I’m in Mediavine or Adthrive at this point), that will generate roughly $90 per day from display ads. This doesn’t count potential e-commerce, sponsorships, or affiliate revenue which will all be tackled later.
  4. This will obviously make money along the way, but these numbers put the site in a position to make $2700+ from email in April and beyond.

Once I tackle the other revenue streams just mentioned, I think it will be significantly more.

Even if Facebook never grows, it should be contribuing another $1000-2000/month.

Google is another X factor which will, of course, be covered extensively in months to come.

Bottom line: I’m starting to see a path to a $500k valuation by September 2023.

However, there’s one (literal) challenge:

Money remaining: $8,183 (-$656)

I still haven’t incurred the writer cost since it’s paid at the end of the month. The number above is going to drop significantly in the near future, which leads me to the other problem.

Revenue: $0

I’m pretty annoyed with Google Adsense. Much like the Search side of things, apparently waiting on them is part of the game.

They still haven’t approved the site, so there are still no ads. I’m not overly concerned in November, but I have many ad layout tests I want to try out, so hopefully it happens soon.

So my $20k budget may dwindle fast, but I look for revenue to start spiking soon.

Or else one day these challenge emails will just stop and I’ll go hide with Sam Bankman-Fried.

But enough about numbers.

Last night, I was rambling on to my wife like I often do. One of the topics was that I really had no idea what to write today, but, during the course of the conversation, I had two light bulb moments.

Light bulb 1: My site’s content finally clicked.

If you’ve been reading all of my emails, you’ll remember I said I hate my challenge site’s niche. I went as far as to say you MUST choose something you’re passionate about.

Some of you even emailed me to say I should pivot. I thought about it – a lot.

But here’s what happened.

All the way through Tuesday of this week, I was losing sleep because my content seems all over the place. It seemed like I was randomly writing content for my niche with no clear and cohesive feeling that this site just makes sense.

A clear feeling that this site should exist, and this is exactly why.

I was down pretty bad because I have thousands of people who trust me that I’m not BS’ing them, and here I am, losing sleep because I might’ve made a huge mistake choosing a niche I simply cannot crack.

But, with no exaggeration, it was on Wednesday that I felt it all click.

I’m not sure how to describe what “it clicked” really means, but we’ve all heard the phrase.

But in this instance, I finally felt like I knew my audience at their core and exactly what they need.

So why am I saying this? Two main reasons.

Reason One

It would’ve been incredibly easy to give up. If it wasn’t for this challenge, I 100% would’ve already pulled the plug and moved on. I’m impatient and I need clarity.

But I continued: I read all the Facebook comments consistently and I kept throwing content, even if it felt scattered, at the site and my audience.

Every time I read a single comment or posted a single piece of content, my brain was taking that feedback and getting me one step closer to fully understanding what it would take to truly complete the marriage between my content and my audience.

Our brains have advanced algorithms. You just need to use them.

After it clicked, I immediately un-scheduled the newsletter for the next day and completely re-did it.

After finishing, it was the first sense of satisfaction I had. It really just felt clear, which has ripple effects.

Now the content roadmap is clearer. Now I won’t feel a sense of nervousness spending more money on subscriber acquisition.

Now I can finish building the well-oiled machine that grows without me.

Reason Two

Here’s where it’s exciting.

Everything above happened to me in a niche I don’t care about at all.

That’s why choosing a topic you already love and understand fast tracks you. It doesn’t just save you 10 weeks like my example. It saves you exponential time because, as you immerse yourself in content you love, you’re going to discover new ideas and levels to your topic you didn’t even know existed.

And then you’ll be the definitive expert in your space. That’s when you can basically print money because so many more doors open.

All of that was the first light bulb that went off while rambling to my wife, which instantly set off the second one.

Light bulb 2: You need to ramble on about your business.

I didn’t gain attention in the digital business world because I’ve sold sites for a lot of money.

The attention came from doing it without funding and without employees. That makes it tangible and real. It (hopefully) inspires people to believe they can do it too.

But it gives this image that I locked myself in a room, free of social interaction, and came out with a wheelbarrow of cash like Scrooge McDuck.

Don’t get me wrong – there was a lot of head-down time. A lot.

But there were a handful of people over the last 15 years that would listen to me endlessly ramble about my sites and ideas. They could see a passion in me, so they’d just let me go on and on even if they didn’t understand it.

And I can tell you without a doubt: so many good ideas were sparked with these chaotic brainstorming sessions.

Everyone’s situation is different, so maybe it’s not your spouse. Maybe it’s not your friends. But find someone that you can ramble on to about your business.

Even better, someone who will let you ramble on and then ask questions. There really are no dumb questions – they all get your juices flowing until you’re landing on brand new ideas to try.

Even better than better, find another person who wants to build a business, too, and set up Zoom sessions where you just say anything and everything. Or go out for wine, have an extra glass, and just talk.

Don’t calculate your words – just ramble.

Get excited. Feed your passion and think outside the box.

You’ll be surprised by what you come up with. And you’ll be equally surprised by how valuable a person’s response can be.

Anyway, enough light bulb moments for now.

A Questions & Answers section is starting next week.

Every week, I try to include plenty of takeaways. Reporting on the numbers and even the same strategies is boring for me so it’s gotta be boring for you.

To make sure every email is absolutely packed, I want to better organize the questions I get. When I have dozens of conversations going in email, things get lost.

So if you have any questions at all about parts of this challenge, things you’re trying to figure out, my thoughts on something I’ve never covered, or whatever it might be, use the link below to submit it.

Ask Anything Right Here

Then every week I’ll end my email with a Questions & Answers section. Of course I can’t guarantee every single one will be included, but I’ll do my best.

As always, if you just want to say hello, give me feedback, or tell me how your projects are going, you can always just reply to this email directly.

And I want to share an important story.

I’ve been working on an article called The Untold Story of Viral Nova – And How You Can Learn From It.

I’m about half done:

I’m telling you this because I plan to share it with you next Friday. By telling you, I’m holding myself more accountable to actually finish it. If I don’t share it next Friday, please email and shame me.

I’ve poured everything into this piece and I’m really excited to publish it in the near future. There are a lot of valuable lessons in there that I learned the hard way.

It really puts it all out there. Stay tuned…

And finally, let’s wrap this up.

My word counter at the bottom is at 2003 words. I completely hit a brick wall around 1350.

After taking a walk around the house and getting some fresh air, I came back to my draft and read it through the eyes of a reader.

Where was I confusing? Where did I need to clarify? How could I rewrite something to be more straightforward? Which parts merited a deeper analysis?

The result certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s really the exact process you should use when writing your own content. The second (and third, fourth, and fifth) passes each make your piece a little better.

And you end up with a level of quality that blows away your competition because they’re just trying to finish and hit Publish.

This entire business really is all about discipline and trying new things.

Thanks for reading.

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Scott DeLong

I'm an introvert who has built and sold multiple companies for millions of dollars - without funding or employees. I've been featured in BusinessWeek, Business Insider, Fortune, Inc, and more. I hope you find my site helpful to your own entrepreneurial journey.