Week 3: A Facebook Explosion And A Writing Crisis

In some ways, it feels like I’ve been doing this challenge for months. But it’s only week 3. Weird.

You can find the previous emails here: Week 1 | Week 2‚Äč

At this point, I’ve laid a ton of groundwork between the first two weeks and the in-depth guides on my site. I’ll try not to repeat myself.

This is a 52 week challenge and we’re only 5.7% of the way through it. There will be updates that just aren’t overly exciting.

However, this one is pretty exciting.

Let’s waste no more time.

Here’s what you’ll find in today’s email:

  • Explosive Facebook growth.
  • Not so explosive newsletter growth.
  • My writing crisis.
  • Growth hackers rule the world.
  • Impressing you is my motivator.
  • Unorthodox things coming up.
  • How much money I’ve spent.
  • FAQs from Twitter and email.
  • A rambling outro.
  • PS: How’s your project going?

Facebook go boom.

A week ago, I had spent $23 and gained 500 followers on my Facebook Page.

As of this writing, the Page has 25,684 30,419 (edit: I started this draft two days ago). Even better, engagement is actually off the charts. Here are the last 5 days of posts:

I’m getting this level of engagement because I’m treating my posts as an extension of the Like campaign that got them to like the page in the first place.

What made them go ahead and hit Like? That’s the “root” here.

From there, stick with concise, visual posts that hit that same exact feeling. Example:

If your Like campaign was a photo/video of an easy but interesting gardening technique, you might write:

“Love gardening? Like my page and get more tips like this one every day.”

If you then proceed to post anything other than gardening tips that can be understood in one concise, visual update… you’ve lost your audience.

If you’re not seeing the same numbers I am, it’s OK.

  • Some niches will cost more, but you’ll probably make more.
  • I’ve been doing this for a decade and a half.

To continue lowering your cost per Like, it’s pretty simple: write more ad variations. Facebook lets you put several variations in the rotation, tests them all automatically, and shows the winner a lot more often. Still not happy? Write more of them.

All that said, Facebook is still unpredictable and none of this makes me money (yet).

But here’s why Facebook is a must.

The reason I still build a Facebook presence is because I’m really impatient. If you’ve ever read the teachings of a niche site guru, their method works but it’s incredibly boring.

It’s almost impossible to stay the course. Burying my head in keyword research and waiting on Google to bless me isn’t my idea of freedom.

It’s an important component, but, with Facebook, you can begin creating a positive feedback loop on day one. The first like that comes in is really motivating. It makes things feel real.

So even if you’re only spending $2 a day and getting a handful of daily likes, that’s great. Both for your business and your mind.

Newsletter subscribers don’t go boom.

To complete this challenge, I need email subscribers and A LOT of them.

I use Facebook to acquire them through their lead generation ads.

How that works, technically speaking: Facebook ad form -> Zapier -> ConvertKit

Sadly, it’s been expensive and pretty erratic. I’ve managed to buy about 800 subscribers so far, and the open rate looks good. So that’s the positive here, but the negative is that they’re costing too much money.

I’ve had a lot of success with Facebook lead generation (subscribers) ads, so I feel like I can figure this out. I just haven’t yet.

It’s going to hopefully be a huge part of what I report next week. Not Facebook, not Pinterest, and not even Google holds a candle to email subscribers. They’re highly valuable, and we all need to crush that.

I am, however, having a writing crisis.

I spent about 2 hours today writing a 1500 word, 22 photo article. It’s the only article on the entire site.

It’s OK, but I don’t love it. And if I don’t love it, there’s a good chance nobody else will love it.

I’ve never felt more certain that starting a site you’re passionate about is the key. While I absolutely love writing on scottdelong.com because I’m really passionate about the content, my new site just isn’t that.

So I’ve been trying to find a writer or two.

In my search for quality writing, I’m finding several options:

  • Just horrible writing by a real person.
  • Horrible content written by AI and fraudulently submitted as a person.
  • Underwhelming but OK writing.
  • Great writing that costs a fortune and has a long turnaround time.

Given we live in a Google era where high quality, in-depth, personal, authoratitive, trustworthy content is king, this is tough.

For Facebook, I can use someone in the “Underwhelming but OK writing” category and probably do pretty well as long as I choose the topic and the headline.

But nobody is going to buy my site if traffic isn’t diversified, so I need to appease the Google gods.

How am I going to do that?

I need to optimize every step.

In 2013, I was the first person to truly optimize every single aspect of Facebook content.

  • The clickable headline.
  • The perfect thumbnail.
  • The best idea.
  • The share-able execution.

The result was a website doing 100 million visits and hundreds of thousands of dollars a month – with 2 Google Adsense units.

In 2022, it seems obvious, but nobody was doing it back then. It took a random kid in Ohio to show enormous media companies how to actually position content.

This is where my focus is going to be when it comes to creating highly valuable, incredible content that doesn’t absolutely break the bank yet ranks well in Google.

Yes, thousands of digital marketing experts are trying to do the same. But thousands were trying to figure out Facebook too.

Growth hackers rule the world because we aren’t constrained by our peers, redtape, or underpaid employees. Thinking outside the box is everything.

What’s the plan this week?

One of my motivators is making sure I have surprising metrics or breakthroughs to report to you. You’re going to unsubscribe if this gets too boring, so I use that to make sure I spend my time on the most impactful improvements.

So, here’s what’s coming:

Subscribers are vital.

My highest priority is optimizing my Facebook lead gen campaigns to acquire email subscribers at a much faster rate without blowing my entire budget. If I can crack this, I absolutely guarantee you I have a $500k asset at the end of the challenge.

Next week I’ll hopefully have a breakdown of what I did to figure this out.

Facebook Page growth should continue.

I’ll let the existing Facebook Like campaign keep running because it’s not showing any signs of slowing down. Hopefully in a week I’m reporting over 50,000 followers, but I’ll probably jump in and try to make it even cheaper.

I’m getting 4-5 cents per Like on my first try.

My content strategy.

Not to overhype myself, but I’m experimenting with a new content funnel that could prove ridiculously effective. Basically, taking the writer -> editor -> publish traditional approach and throwing it out the window.

I’m not there yet, but when it’s time for backlinks, I have some strange ideas. I think there’s opportunity to write for backlinks in ways nobody is doing yet.

How much of the $20k is left?

As predicted on Twitter and in the last email, expenses have gone up significantly.

Last week, my remaining balance: $19,523.37

I’ve now spent $1551.27 on Facebook. Another $197 on writing tests.

This week’s balance: $17,775.10

But more than 30,000 Facebook followers, 800 email subscribers, and some OK content on a fully functional, blazing fast site is a solid foundation. I need to be careful to not overspend on Facebook because reach is extremely unpredictable.

FAQs from Twitter and email.

Q. What’s your site and Facebook page?
A. You know I can’t reveal it and you know why.

Q. What is your plan with the Facebook page? How will you convert it to money?
A. Even though link reach isn’t what it once was, by continuing to post high engagement photos, I can definitely get traffic from the Page by posting links to my articles. I need to keep it really, really relevant and not post too many. People get greedy. In my experience, the algorithm rewards LESS links as long as each one is a banger.

Q. How are you getting Facebook likes so cheap? Mine are 10x that.
A. After talking to several of you, there are two reasons. 1) some of you are in extremely competitive niches which will naturally make it more expensive. 2) your copy just isn’t good at all. You’re leaving your audience with no reason to Like the page.

Give an extremely clear benefit. Don’t ask for a favor. Tell them what they’ll get – and make it count.

Q. Have you considered AI for writing?
A. I’ll be honest – as I type this, I’m on a free trial of Jasper. While I don’t think AI can currently do the “full” job, this might actually be a helpful tool. Will report back.

Q. Can you look at my niche and tell me if it’s worth pursuing?
A. It usually is, but yes – just reply to this email and I’m happy to take a look.

Q. Will you mentor me? I can pay you.
A. This isn’t something I have any time for, but I would love to create something along these lines some day. For now, these emails and my site contain a lot of information all freely available.

Q. Do you really think you can turn a $20k investment into $500k in 1 year?
A. I’d put the chances at 50% right now. Most others are putting it at 0-10%.

And now for some rambling ramblings.

At this point, I would say my mind changes about this challenge every 6 hours. I’ll feel really good about it, and then I’ll wish I never did it.

My favorite part about the entire thing is writing this Friday email.

The actual work can be a grind. If you choose to launch, it probably will be for you too. But I can say with absolute truth (and a track record), if you stick with it, follow the foundations of great content, and keep an open mind to always adapt and learn, it’ll pay off.

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.