Week 4: Getting Ridiculous Reach And Using Unconventional Strategies

Hey there,

Welcome to Week 4 of the $20k to $500k in 1 Year challenge I self-accepted because apparently I like pain.

You can find the previous weeks’ emails right here.

On one hand, things are going really well. On the other, I’m impatient and anxious so it can feel like I’m not progressing fast enough even though I’m less than a month into it.

Perhaps writing this email will make me feel better about my progress. Let’s find out.

In today’s email:

  • I’m getting actual traffic.
  • A Facebook post went ballistic – here’s why.
  • Saved hundreds with a simple change.
  • Newsletter struggles. 🙁
  • Newsletter tip! 🙂
  • My site categories are also secret categories.
  • Why I start with longform content.
  • My take on AI writing.
  • An experiment (clickbait warning).
  • Remaining balance of the $20k.
  • The week ahead.

Let there be traffic.

Right now, my “challenge” site’s daily email is almost entirely content you can consume directly in the email itself. I want to build trust and keep the open rate high, so I just try to provide value without asking for anything, including a click out of their email.

But I decided to throw in a link to an article on the site one day:

Everybody calm down, I know this is server-breaking levels of traffic.. phew, glad I’m on a cloud-based host.

For real though, I’m a believer in giving yourself these little dopamine hits that make your site feel real. A niche site guy I actually really like on Twitter shared this the other day:

It’s obviously pretty funny, but it can genuinely be a really discouraging feeling. It’s why people give up.

So, if you’re an impatient person like me, don’t be afraid to tease your site out there a bit especially if you’ve got a great piece of content to put out.

More on that in a bit.

Here’s where Facebook is now.

Last week, the Page hit 30,419 followers. I’m writing this about a day before you’ll be reading it, and the Page is at 45,180 now.

By tomorrow, it should be approaching 50,000. That number alone doesn’t mean much if fans aren’t engaging.

But they are – check out the post two days ago:

So why did that one go ballistic?

I’ve compared it to the others, and one thing stands out. The photo share is more of a declaration of who they are – something they’d want to scream from the rooftops.

Most of the other posts were witty quotes or sayings that are relateable, which is why they did well, but not that well.

Think about bumper stickers.

My son is on the honor roll at Buttmunch High

Former Marine

Proud Mama of 9

And even those stick figure families that directly tell creeps everything about your family in one happy photo.

These are literally things they are so proud of that they actually stick them to their car. They say “yep, this part of my car that the most people will see is exactly where I want to announce that I love my goldendoodle.”

It’s the same thing on Facebook except their timeline is the back of their car. For the post above, it went wilder than the others because it received 5,000 shares.

Getting likes on a post is a quick “yeah, I agree… moving on.”

Getting shares is “this is so me, and I want everyone else to know it.”

Try to get into bumper sticker mentality when crafting your shareable content, and not only will your paid fans engage but you’ll start to get organic ones as well.

What does your average user want everyone to know about them? Or what does he or she want to share that makes them be seen the way they want to be seen?

It’s really important to nail that so you can keep them engaged.

A budget change saved me hundreds.

My cost per Page Like increased from around 4 cents to 6 cents. I was spending $200 per day.

I decreased the budget to $100 per day, and my cost per Like went down to just over 2 cents! When your budget is higher, you’re hitting the same people more often – people who will never Like the page – so your cost slowly increases.

Lowering the budget can (temporarily) lower then cost per Like. That worked for a few days, and now I’m only spending $50 a day at about 3 cents each. I’m just letting it ride for now while I work on other things.

so far today.

My next step will be to find fresh visuals and copy, and relaunch it. This should give it a second life I can ride to 100k+ followers.

Email acquisition is still a struggle, but here’s a tip.

Without a doubt, the most disappointing part of this challenge has been my inability to acquire email subscribers via Facebook cost effectively.

At best I’m getting them at 20 cents each but they’re coming in at closer to 50 cents.

I know there’s a way to get that down, but I haven’t figured it out yet. The good news is, the 1250 people who have subscribed have a solid open rate and are giving lots of good feedback.

Sidenote: One of the most insane things still happening online today is the unmonitored email address. I’m talking about the thousands of companies that set up newsletter@company.com with a message that says not to reply because nobody will ever get it. So, in 2022, the majority still agrees that a single user who is directly interested in your business cannot reach you in the easiest way possible (hitting Reply). Missed opportunity is putting it lightly.

Anyway, a reader of this newsletter sent me a tip that I’ve been experimenting with.

Create a Facebook Group that’s connected to your Page. When someone wants to join the Group, you can include a question they need to answer. Usually it’s to better understand that person to make sure they’re a good fit.

But the tip was to ask them for their email address so you can send them your newsletter.

Be direct here and tell them what they’re going to get – don’t just simply ask for their email.

I’m finding that around 30% of people requesting to join are also giving their email address. I have not scaled the Group (it has around 400 members), but I’m excited to see where this strategy goes.

One thing – you have to, as far as I can tell, manually add their email to your list. I don’t believe there’s any way to tie into these replies automatically.

Combined with a plethora of untapped ways to grow my Group, I’m excited to see where this goes.

Let’s talk writing and content.

This is where I’ve spent most of my time recently.

There’s no need to rehash the fundamentals of great content that I wrote a 4,208 word guide about, but I’ve re-thought a lot of things on behalf of being on a 365 day time limit.

The categories on my site serve two purposes.

I created categories on my site that, to the average user, look very normal. But the intent behind each one is completely different.

There’s social media / viral intent (Facebook, Pinterest, email).

And there’s information / resource intent (Google).

For example, if my site is for parents of children with autism, my categories might look like this:

  • Resources
  • Latest Research
  • Guides
  • Life
  • Stories

The first three are filled with content that will likely rank well in Google if it’s high quality, trustworthy, thorough, and well written.

  • Parents Guide To Autism
  • How ABA Therapy Treats Autism
  • Advocacy 101: Making a Difference

The last two are built around shareability, virality, and social.

  • The Girl With Autism Who Surprised Everyone
  • 7 Incredibly Fun Activities For Your Child With Autism
  • A Breakthrough That Could Change How We See Autism Forever

All of this content can easily and sensically live on the same website all the while being crafted for different platforms.

Longform content sparks great ideas.

A lot of people aren’t sure where to start when it comes to content. Here’s what I am doing:

First, create a series of guides that cover everything related to your topic. Make them so good that they might as well be a book. They’re going to take you a while, but it’s the core of your site.

It’s the definitive volume of content that’s specific to your site which makes it highly valuable and, therefore, highly linkable.

Look at it as the foundation of your site.

Not only is starting there important for eventual Google rankings, getting backlinks, and having your core to always reference back to in future articles, it comes with two other benefits:

  1. You will have learned more about your topic than ever before, priming you to be an even better expert on future articles.
  2. It’ll spark so many social-first content ideas if you pay attention and note them along the way.

For example, let’s pretend I don’t hate running and I’m actually in good shape. So I decide to build a website all about long distancing running and my first article is:

The Definitive Guide To Training To Run A Marathon

Along the way, I will have run into so many stories of other runners that I could spin off an entire series of shareable articles on them.

The Chicken Farmer Who Successfully Ran A Marathon

Meet The Woman Who Ran A Marathon Backwards

17 Times A Runner Pulled Ahead In The Last Minute To Win A Marathon

Those are (probably) fictional, but it’s really great, social content that you naturally surfaced through your original research. Your content roadmap will take shape naturally.

Even better, you will link to the full article (once it’s done) from the guide and have a quality internal linking strategy.

And now for a question I get often.

What do I think about using AI to write?

I have spent a couple of weeks learning Jasper. While I can’t conclude anything one way or another (nobody can except probably Jasper itself), I’m asked what I think so often.

The technology definitely impressed me. I was really surprised in fact.

But it’s, of course, not to the point (or even close) to replacing humans. I have zero doubt some of you reading this have gotten traffic from articles written almost entirely by AI. I also have no doubt some of you are probably using AI to generate articles for clients.

I’m not here to judge, but I’ve been around a while. Shortcuts often don’t last.

The real value of Jasper is when you understand what to feed it. At worst, it helps you get started. At best, it builds a pretty solid foundation of an article.

From there, you (or an editor) can go in, fine-tune, add images, and fact check.

And, please, fact check. I was experimenting with it writing some articles on a topic I’m not even involved in.

It was giving me fantastic stuff. I was about to swear by Jasper. Then I fact checked and… literally half of the information was incorrect.

You’re drunk, Jasper, go home.

It seems, at this point, that Jasper is really good at writing the boring and extremely well-known stuff in a fairly unique way. And don’t get me wrong – that’s ridiculously valuable.

But to reiterate – be sure to put your human touch on whatever AI spits out if you’re looking for a business with longevity. If you think the guys behind Jasper are smart, you should consider the guys behind Google.

I’m doing an experiment.

I just deleted 400 words from this section because I don’t feel confident yet with the details. But I’m going to be experimenting over the next couple of weeks with an AI-utilized content strategy to see how it compares to one that’s strictly human.

The content flow I’m working on will either be groundbreaking or impossible in reality.

Apologies for the clickbait… it’s in my blood.

How much of the $20k investment is left?

Last week’s balance was $17,775.10.

New expenses:

  • $808.57 Facebook advertising (Like campaign and lead gen)
  • $29 newsletter software (convertkit)
  • Jasper Boss Mode: $82 (AI)
  • Zapier: $41.17 (to move Facebook leads to ConvertKit)
  • Ahrefs: $99 (keyword research)

Remaining balance: $16,715.36

So about another $1000 in the past week.

Looking at next week…

I’ll be doing zero work from today until Monday because I’ll be out of town. Progress will still be made because the campaigns will continue to run and I’ve already scheduled Facebook posts and emails through the weekend.

But coming up:

  • A huge part of what I’ll be doing when I’m back is the aforementioned experiment.
  • Facebook Group growth and how it’s helping to scale email subscribers. I really need a breakthrough here.
  • Updates on all the metrics: spend, social numbers, traffic, and so on.
  • Probably unexpected things because that’s just the way it goes.

I could probably continue writing, but I’m at 2072 words and that’s pretty much my queue to stop.

Thanks for reading.

Photo of author

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. If you need help with your site, you can get unlimited consulting from me.