Week 5: I Did A Lot Without Doing Anything


Welcome to Week 5 of the $20k to $500k in 1 Year challenge. This week was different… because I didn’t do much.

Before I get into it, weeks 1-4 can be found on the Challenge page.

And here’s what you can expect in today’s email:

  • I barely worked.
  • But I made a ton of progress.
  • Refreshed and hungry.
  • Time to skyrocket
  • Content is ready to roll.
  • Facebook scale is underway.
  • Pivoting my email strategy.
  • Real website traffic incoming.
  • Remaining balance of the $20k.
  • Sites I would start today if I could replicate myself.

I barely worked.

Being out of town from Friday to Monday, then Tuesday mostly getting away from me, I was concerned.

What would I have to say in today’s email?

But then I realized this was kinda perfect.

While grinding it out is usually important in the early days of a business, it’s important to keep in mind what most of us are really seeking: freedom and flexibility.

The goal is to grow – and make money – while you’re sleeping. The goal is to be able to take time off to watch your kid’s game, hang out with friends, take an impromptu trip to Chile, or just otherwise embrace life all the while your business works for you.

So this was the perfect opportunity to show the progress I made while not even touching my computer.

And there was actually a ton of progress.

Between the ongoing Facebook campaigns and scheduling content ahead of time, everything grew.

  • Facebook Page: 45,180 -> 55,910 fans (+23.7%)
  • Facebook Group: 405 -> 1,646 members (+306.4%)
  • Email newsletter: 1,205 -> 1,703 subscribers (+41.3%)

These were all with modest budgets and ad creative that had not been improved in weeks.

It shows the power of making sure your campaigns and the content you schedule ahead of time are optimized.

It all grows without you. And there’s another massive benefit to that…

I feel refreshed and hungrier.

Since I had taken several days off, I felt more motivated than ever on Wednesday and Thursday.

Not only that, but I did a lot of thinking about the site on the days I wasn’t physically working.

And thinking is progress. When you sit down to physically work, you can efficiently knock out so many things. Never underestimate the power of daydreaming about your site and how to improve it.

So now it’s time to skyrocket.

Have you ever really been into a show and then, after one episode, you feel like nothing happened?

That’s this email. But, before you cancel your HBO subscription, trust me: things are about to get really good.

I’m writing this on Day 31.

In just one month of part time effort, the groundwork is complete.

Now we scale.

Content is ready to roll.

In the last two days, I finally got down to serious content business. If you recall from my last email, I think of content in two buckets: social/viral and search/informational.

Bucket one:

I created a clear content roadmap that will focus on articles geared toward social, email, and virality. Along with a part-time writer, I’ll be putting out two of these articles every day.

They will go on the Facebook Page, in the Group, and in email. I expect immediate traffic from them.

Bucket two:

Between a copywriting service and Jasper AI, I should be publishing a minimum of 25,000 words a week in guides and resources.

The idea is to build a core of highly valuable guides that thoroughly cover my topics in a trustworthy way.

These will then be used to hopefully gain backlinks and begin setting the search traffic machine in motion.

Facebook scale is underway.

First, the Page:

I pushed the envelope on my latest creative for the Facebook Page Like campaign – and Fb approved it. I literally put a giant arrow on the photo pointing to the thumbs up button. I’m shocked they let me do it.

Given how Like-able it is, I increased the budget back to $250/day. They’re coming in at 5 cents each, which means 5,000 new followers a day after it trickled back up to that on only $50/day.

The key is to update your creative every time it starts to get expensive.

But I’m not going to stop until I can achieve less than 5 cents per Like at $500 per day. By Day 60 of this challenge, my goal is to be sitting on at least 250,000 followers.

Second, the Group:

I’m using the “automatic invite” option that Facebook offers when you set up a Group through your Page.

They’re basically doing the inviting for me (by auto inviting Page followers) and it’s growing automatically. I’m going to become more active in the group and feed them better content. Right now, the engagement is great and it’s growing at 300 per day with no work.

I have a feeling that Fb Groups can hit a “viral” point where they become recommended outside of your Page.

We will see where this goes, but a modest hope is 10,000 members (with high engagement) by Day 60.

Pivoting my email subscriber strategy.

Email subscribers are vital to the success of this challenge. Nobody wants an Fb-dependent property.

As I’ve also said for 2 weeks now, the lead generation campaign on Facebook has been incredibly disappointing.

I will keep a small budget behind that campaign, but I’m focused on building email subscribers through the Group, Page, and Website.

  • Group: I’m still capturing leads when users request to join.
  • Page: I’ll be pinning a “sign up for the newsletter” post at the top of the Page. A lot of people hit the Page when you’ve got a big Like campaign running. This has been a missed opportunity. Also, I’m going to test out leaving a comment on each post casually asking people to sign up. When a photo gets 1,000 comments (which is happening), it’s another missed opportunity to not be in the comment section with them.
  • Website: Since I will be sending traffic to the site, a prominent sticky newsletter sign-up form will capture more leads.

And best of all: actual site visitors.

Here’s where I’m most excited. With content being created regularly now, I actually have links to post.

Between the Facebook Page and the email list, even at this point, I should be able to do a few hundred visits a day.

The magic is, when you begin scaling those bases, you scale visitors.

Over the next few months, I expect traffic to grow as I continue to understand my audience and double down on what’s working.

Then, at some point, Google traffic will start to climb. At that point, I’ll have a diversified property that’s increasing in value every month.

How much of the $20k investment is left?

Last week’s balance was $16,715.36.

The only new expenses in the past week were Facebook-related and, given I was out of town, that was only $478.57.

Actually, I think my $25 hosting bill kicked in as well.

Remaining balance: $16,216.79

But that’s about to plummet. Between content and increased ad budgets, the next month is going to be very expensive.

That said, I feel confident that I’ve figured out the scaleable strategy to complete this challenge.

Sites I would start right now if I had time.

Since today’s email was largely a quick progress report and hype for next week, I wanted to add something extra.

I do not have time to start any more sites. I don’t even want to start any more sites. But if I were to start a site, here are some niches I think are poised to do really well.

Steal them if you want.

Virtual Reality: understand it or not, virtual (and augmented) reality are coming. Zuckerberg has done a great job of confusing everyone with Octopus-dressed people going to virtual meetings, but the actual helpful world of VR isn’t too far off.

The tens of billions of dollars invested in these new technologies by Internet giants is all you really need to know. Why not be years ahead of the inevitable competition? Your site will have age and a library of content on its side when this industry explodes.

Plant-based Diet: similarly, veganism is sort of misunderstood. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not cutting out meat any time soon, but this subtle shift is happening. As plant-based food gets more inexpensive and delicious, there will be very little reason not to change your diet.

Before you reply with some diet-related information, I don’t claim to understand it all. I just know a plant-based site will be in a great position to grow with the industry.

Girl Dads: okay, maybe I should start this one. Being the father of a daughter is an entire world of its own. Along with myself, several of my friends became “girl dads” in the last 2 years. There’s a special bond among us.

And special bonds = business and business = $$$. There are so many parenting sites, but there’s a lot of room for niche parenting sites. This is just one.

Remote Work: let’s continue the trend of what’s to come. The most shocking part about the pandemic pushing people to remote work is how many people actually went back to working in the office.

It’s going to change. Most people are still stuck in their ways, and they’re really confused when forced to work from home. The office provides structure, community, and stability. As more information (from your website, perhaps?) becomes available to help people transition – and even demand it – the movement will grow.

Capture the incoming audience by starting now.

Geo-specialty: I just made that hyphenated word up, but being the absolute master of a specific location in the world can mean success. Everyone writes about Paris, Tokyo, NYC, and the Caribbean. They’re massively popular.

But when you’re the master of one location, you don’t need a lot of visitors to make a lot of money. Admittedly, this idea works best if you physically live there, but starting a site about a place with no great alternative site can work. Cover all the details that no major publication will ever know.

If I could replicate myself, I’d start all of those tomorrow. Try as I might, I cannot replicate myself.

I hope you got something out of Week 5. Feel free to reply and let me know… it always means a lot to hear from you.

See you in Week 6.

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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.