Welcome to Weeks 40-43 of my $20k to $500k in 1 Year Challenge. You can read past issues here.
Well, analytics doomsday has arrived. Google is officially forcing all of us to use GA4 instead of Universal Analytics. Even their countdown timer looks like something out of an apocalyptic movie. A really annoying one that you can’t turn off.
As of this morning, the old one is still tracking so I assume their engineers slept in.
But anyway, tech giants will do tech giant things. I’m sure we will all get used to it as we always do.
Moving on because this is an email about a ridiculous challenge, not a ridiculous analytics change.
If you haven’t read last month’s email, please do because it’s really important to fully understand today’s updates.
In Today’s Email
- June numbers.
- The $5,000 breakdown.
- An obvious multi-billion dollar idea.
- About to 5x revenue (maybe).
- A meltdown led to an epiphany.
- My digital product launch strategy.
- Personal notes and thoughts.
June by the numbers.
This screenshot compares June to May. Keep in mind that May and April were both down from March, so this isn’t exactly growth at all as much as it’s fluctuation.
In my experience, June is always a pretty bad month because kids get out of school and the weather warms up, which means vacations and less screen time.
So, with that in mind, I consider it a moderate win strictly from a numbers standpoint. But like I said last month, I don’t care about pageview prison anymore – I care about revenue.
And it broke $5,000 in June.
That’s up from $3,600 in May which was up from $1,900 in April.
Since, at the end of the day, we pay for our lives with money and not pageviews or subscribers, I’m really excited about the growth. Shifting my focus from relying on impossible algorithms designed to squeeze small businesses has been eye-opening.
Building that highly valuable audience that loves you because you literally make their lives better is a much safer bet in the end.
That said, here’s the revenue breakdown:
Raptive (Display Ads)
Even though pageviews were roughly the same, my RPM in June was $27 versus $22 in May. This made a substantial difference in earnings, which came in at ~$2,300.
I didn’t do anything different, so this one was likely just a result of end-of-quarter budget spends.
As far as opportunity here, I could definitely turn up the ad density and put a video ad on the site, but I am still a believer that a better user experience wins in the long run (versus a higher short term RPM).
Like I said last month, I really only focus on this around the holidays now (Father’s Day in June) because it’s just way too much work for a ridiculously low commission.
It made right around $200.
Amazon Prime Day is July 11th and 12th, and I’ve received endless emails from Amazon to promote things. I’m not sure if I will though because, like I said, it’s just a lot of work for not that much money.
Sparkloop (Newsletter Referrals)
This is the one I’m most excited to talk about because I predicted it perfectly and now I feel super smart.
As a reminder, this is basically promoting other newsletters in my own newsletter in return for $2-3 per subscriber.
Last month, I said that Sparkloop was really promising and had the potential to make $3,000 per month. I even said it was “the easiest money I’ve ever made.”
But I went on to say that any time money seems too easy, it usually is.
And that’s exactly what happened here – the two newsletters I was promoting that were perfect for my audience paused their campaigns. And I mean their entire campaigns through Sparkloop, nothing specific to me.
Fortunately, I made $2,800 from it before they were paused. I have two key takeaways here:
- If anybody ever does exactly what Sparkloop is doing but takes it to a wider variety of newsletters, it’s likely a multi-billion dollar company. I’ve said this before, but there’s a MASSIVE hole in newsletter monetization. This one is really win-win, and I respect what Sparkloop is doing, but 95% of their newsletters are about business/finance/crypto/ai. Someone needs to create this exact platform in more mainstream niches.
- I might directly contact the two newsletters I was promoting. One was paying $2 per subscriber and the other $3. I was easily sending 25-100 per day. I could work out a direct deal. That is if they don’t turn their campaigns back on, which I’m hoping they do today (new quarter).
Direct Donations / Subscribers
Last month, I said I made around $700 from simple donations and people subscribing in return for PDF versions of the articles. Hardly an incredible offering, but people like the newsletters, so some of them paid.
I said that I wanted to offer them something actually incredible before I bring this offering back, and that’s what my entire next section is about.
But just from recurring payments, it made around $100 (20ish subs at $5 monthly). The others had paid for the annual ($50) option, hence the monthly income discrepancy.
So not much to report there, but it’s okay because…
I’m poised to 3x revenue.
Okay, I don’t know if I’ll 3x revenue, but I feel like it’s possible. Even 5x is.
I ended the last email by saying I absolutely need to offer my own digital products. The part I didn’t anticipate is how much time that is taking.
I could churn out some 10,000 word ChatGPT-generated garbage, package it up, and sell it… but I want to create a recurring revenue stream based on actual, real value that will last.
I need to offer so much undeniable value that it’s an absolute no brainer for my users to spend money. And I worked on these products all through June and desperately wanted to launch before July so that I could report about it in this email.
But it just didn’t happen.
I cannot emphasize how much I tried and how I almost just launched a sub par offering for the sake of telling you, “Wow I had a $700 day.”
However, I want to do things right. And even though I only have July, August, and September left of this challenge, that’s plenty of time to prove if I can do it.
Before I get into the specifics of my plan…
A couple of meltdowns led to an epiphany.
I don’t know if it was the pressure of launching before July 1st due to this challenge or the pressure of simply offering amazing products, but I had a couple of minor meltdowns in June.
I just wasn’t happy with anything I was creating (to sell) and it felt like there was no way I’d ever get this thing off the ground.
After creating more than 10 products (more on that in a minute), it just still didn’t feel great.
But that’s when I had a really obvious but important epiphany:
In those very moments of melting down, anyone else in the same situation would’ve also melted down.
And that’s exactly when successful people separate themselves from unsuccessful people.
Creating something special is work. A lot of work. When you’re ready to give up, just remember that’s when most people actually do give up.
And it’s when you can push forward, away from the pack, and find success.
There was just something about putting other people in my situation and realizing they would’ve pulled the plug that gave me power. I don’t want to be like everyone else. I’m not a quitter. I don’t like to give up.
I want to push forward, continue iterating, and build something that’s not only financially rewarding but also a benefit to real people’s lives.
And that’s what I strongly feel is about to happen.
Let’s talk about the digital products I’m going to offer and how I’m going to offer them.
Right now, I have around 15 digital products ranging from one-sheeters to full-on 50 page ebooks (ChatGPT did indeed help with this).
As an example, let’s say my site is one aimed at girl dads (like myself). I would create one-sheet products from coloring pages to fun activity sheets to chore charts and everything in between.
Think things that can be printed and hung on the fridge.
But also deeper products such as an ebook that might be “How To Thrive As a Single Girl Dad” or “How To Handle The Wild Changes Of A Daughter.” I’m just making this up off the top of my head, but you get the point.
As far as selling them, I didn’t want to be brainwashed by “experts” so I didn’t really look into the so-called best way to do it.
I just cleared my head and came up with the following approach which I’m aiming to roll out by July 10th.
- Offering a LOT of simple one-page, printable products for $1-3 each. These products only exist for a bigger reason and nobody should ever buy them because…
- I will bundle several of them and offer them for between $10-20. I want people to realize it makes no sense to spend $1-3 per product on a whole bunch of products when you can just buy the bundle.
- But the real sale here is an All Access Pass. This is what I really want to sell. For roughly $99/year, a user gets access to the entire library of content that exists today but also everything that’s added in the future.
So just imagine you land on this enormous library of helpful content pertaining to your exact needs. And every product has some small price tag on it, but you can skip all of that by simply paying one fee for full access.
I really believe this will work. Psychologically, it makes sense. And value-wise, it’s a no brainer.
But all of this is why I haven’t launched yet. I need an overwhelmingly helpful library of content that makes that $99 such a no brainer decision that hundreds, if not thousands, of people pay.
And since it’s $99/year, I can count on a certain percentage of them sticking around the following year(s) because fresh content will constantly be released.
I’m beginning to look at the business differently – the website is the free content that’s helpful, but the digital product library is where the undeniable value is.
When I consider that 25,000 people per day open my email, it gets really exciting to look at extremely modest numbers.
If just 2 people (out of 25,000) are convinced each day that the All Access Pass is the no brainer purchase I’m designing it to be, that’s $6,000/month in revenue. Not only that, but it’s $6,000/month that will be charged again one year from now.
Here’s what to expect in July.
I want my users to have as many touch points as possible when it comes to the digital product shop. And from there, it’s all about positioning it properly.
I have a lot of ideas, but I’m still working on them. The August 1st update will detail every way that I reached them with this new offering and how they performed.
It’s hard to really even predict how it will go because building on the Internet can be so volatile. That said, there’s a confidence in owning your audience (newsletter). If this doesn’t work, I can iterate once again and see where it goes.
With this challenge coming to an end, it seems the updates are becoming more granular. That makes sense since you really should be trying a whole lot of stuff when you first launch your business – then focus in one what’s working.
Throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. Then triple down on that.
Almost nobody has ever launched a business that became successful looking exactly like it did on day one.
This one has certainly changed quite a bit… in ways I never, ever would have expected.
And finally, some personal notes and closing thoughts.
I’m actually in the process of moving. In fact, I wrote this from a hotel room because I was checking out a house a couple hours away from our current one.
We’re moving because we live on top of an isolated mountain. It’s a beautiful place with endless views, but we’re craving human interaction, walkability, and actual civilization.
Ever since I became financially independent around 10 years ago, I have continuously said that a sense of belonging is more important than any amount of money.
That’s why rich people still turn to substances or even commit suicide. And that’s why some of the most unlikely countries in the world still rank among the happiest despite being poor.
I’m really looking forward to this challenge ending in September. I don’t regret it at all, but it’s a stress I put on myself that really makes no sense at all sometimes.
All that said, this is the first time I’ve started a site where “lucky” timing wasn’t a factor. In my past, I was so constantly obsessed with quickly launching anything and everything that it was just a numbers game. I was bound to hit the jackpot with that level of consistency.
With this, it’s been a grind. It has not only given me newfound respect for those who are also grinding it out, but it has opened my eyes that you really can succeed if you don’t give up and constantly iterate.
A $5,000+ month after 9 months is not exactly bad after all!
When all is said and done here, I’m not sure what’s next. I have wanted to write a book based on my experiences for a long time, so maybe I’ll do that. Not a pretentious book about me or my life, but one that will hopefully help others wanting to get started.
In the meantime, there will be 3 more emails from me: August 1st, September 1st, and October 1st.
Thank you for reading,