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Neil Patel (cofounder of the analytics companies KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, and Quick Sprout), recently claimed that 'anyone' can create a business that generates $100 000 per month in 12 months. So I thought - I'll take on the challenge. Want to see me succeed? Or FAIL? Sign up here, and I'll send you the getting started [...]

Income and Activity Report – February 2016 – Month 2 of the $100,000 Challenge

This was the second month of activity for the $100,000 challenge. In this post you’ll learn:

  1. A Brief History of the challenge
  2. What I Spent My Time Doing This month
  3. The Tools I most depended on
  4. What went wrong
  5. What went right
  6. Detailed Goals
  7. Traffic Summary
  8. Goals for next month
  9. Conclusion
BONUS:
Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 2.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

IncomeReportFebruary2016

1. A Brief History of the challenge

You may be aware of a blog post Neil Patel wrote almost a year ago claiming ‘anyone’ can create a business that makes $100,000 per month in 12 months. You can find the original post here.

You can get more details of my decision to run my own version of the challenge here.

So, I’ve just completed the 2nd month of my challenge, and this is how it went.

Note that I didn’t plan (and don’t plan) on getting any revenue from this project till at least month 4.

So everything I’m doing now is leading up to that.

If you’re wondering how I can write the report for February before the end of February, it’s because the actual start date was 18th December 2015.

2. What I Spent My Time Doing This month

Webinar1

BONUS:
Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 2.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

So, this month saw a number of new things for me.

  • I created the first content for the site (yes – the site was up for a whole month with only a landing page).
  • I discovered a new tool that saved (and is saving) me a load of time.
  • I created a webinar video detailing my basic twitter lead generation process.
  • I started dabbling in Facebook ads.
  • I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get Google Analytics to work properly.

As I mentioned before, I used to spend quite a bit of time in the performance marketing world. And tracking tools there are just 2nd to none. Sadly, they’re expensive, an my traffic levels are not yet such that I can justify these. Also – there isn’t anything that I’m aware of that will track tweets in the way I need to track them. So I’ve been working on the process.

I’ve also signed-up for Instapage as I needed some basic landing page split testing capability, and they have a free trial. I don’t know yet if I’m going to be using this long term.

Lastly – I traveled to Cornwall with my family for a week. I was working (I can work from anywhere), but it was still great to be in a different place, drink some cornish ale, and spend some time in great seafood restaurants. We also took the kids to the Eden Project which was awesome. I love the tropical biome 🙂

3. The Tools I most depended on

As you can imagine, I’ve managed to refine my daily routine quite a bit.

Having done this for over 60 days now, I’m streamlining routine tasks and starting to focus on new stuff.

A real lifesaver this month was MeetEdgar (not an affiliate link). Seriously, this thing rocks. It allows me to schedule my tweets and Facebook posts in advance, and recycles them in a sensible way. No manual intervention required, unless you want to change what you’re saying. I cannot recommend this highly enough. If you want to see how I use it, you can sign up to see the webinar replay here: Ultimate Twitter Lead Generation Strategy

I’ve also spent more time using Google Analytics. I have to say I’ve been a bit surprised by this. I haven’t used it in ages and it’s really ‘grown up’. Real time tracking is pretty cool. Pity about the spam, but that’s easily filtered. (details here – https://moz.com/blog/stop-ghost-spam-in-google-analytics-with-one-filter)

Another new tool is Camtasia – ideal for video recording. I expect I’ll switch to a webinar service soon, but for now Camtasia does what I need it to do. Which is allow me to record training videos, and edit them easily before posting online.

Lastly I used Wistia to host the video – as this allows you to password protect videos or capture email addresses etc.

So my must have list for month 2 is:
1. SocialQuant
2. MarketHub.io
3. MeetEdgar
4. Google Analytics
5. Camtasia
6. Wistia

4. What went wrong

GA1

BONUS:
Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 2.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

As usual not everything went as planned. A few things to note specifically:

  1. I’ve not been able to generate leads with Facebook.
    Now this is probably due to my inexperience with the Facebook advertising platform. However, one thing I don’t want to do is spend a lot of money testing ads before I have any way of turning those leads into cash. So, while I believe that the final value of a lead on my email list will be at least $1 per month (e.g. $12 per year), I don’t have the spare cash to just buy leads without proving the process first. So for now, Facebook will have to wait.
  2. My list growth slowed.
    This turned out to be directly related to my Twitter growth, but the annoying thing is I didn’t realize it for about 12 days. So I ended up not hitting my 300 list size goal for the month, or my Twitter follower growth target.

Luckily, that specific problem is resolved, and I now have a process in place to verify that it doesn’t happen again.

5. What went right

While some bits were disappointing, there were a number of highlights in the month

I managed to start adding content to the site, and from the feedback so far (both comments and email), the stuff I’m putting out is good. I can’t tell you how great it feels to get a comment from someone saying they enjoyed your post, or that you helped them in some way. It’s awesome.

I figured out the last bit of my basic Twitter automation strategy (meetedgar), and that’s now running smoothly. I’m currently working on optimizing the actual tweets and leads from that, but that will be in next month’s update.

I’m slowly (very slowly) starting to get organic search traffic from google. While the numbers are low (only a total of 184 session so far), the conversion rate for those is 10.33%. I think that’s fantastic. And that should start ramping up a bit as the site gets older, and gets more shares.

I’ve started getting feedback from users based on surveys I’ve sent out (and just replies to my daily emails), on the types of products they’d be interested in. This is not ready yet, but it’s good to see that there is a small group of followers that are interested enough in what I’m doing to provide some feedback. Thanks you!

BONUS:
Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 2.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

6. Detailed goal breakdown for the month

My goals for the 2nd month were clear:

  1. Get a total of 300 email subscribers
  2. Keep writing daily email
  3. Post a detailed Report for Month 1 to the site
  4. Post 2 power pages to the site detailing 2 distinct parts of the overall business model
  5. Grow Twitter followers to 6000
  6. Grow Facebook (no specific target, other than daily posting)
  7. Start working on Pinterest followers

So – how have I done?

Let’s see:

  1. Get a total of 300 subscribers – Not reached, I only got up to 210 subscribers
  2. Keep writing daily email – Done! (If you’re not subscribed, you’re missing out on some awesome tips)
  3. Post a detailed Report for Month 1 to the site – Done!
  4. Post 2 power pages to the site detailing 2 distinct parts of the overall business model – Managed two posts
  5. Grow Twitter followers to 6000 – Not reached. Only up to 4771 by the end of the month.
  6. Grow Facebook (no specific target, other than daily posting) – Done!
  7. Start working on Pinterest followers – Haven’t started this

So – a quick review actually shows that I hit 4 of my 7 goals.

In review, the biggie here is the slowdown in subscribers. As I said that was caused by 2 things:

  1. Twitter went down for about a day – the affect on my growth lasted for a couple of days
  2. One of my accounts was de-authorized and I didn’t notice for about 12 days.
    This was an authorization issue between SocialQuant and Twitter.  normally, they notice this and would let me know, but for some reason it didn’t happen in this case.

The 2nd item above had a big impact. What’s annoying is that I knew something was off, but I couldn’t figure out what.
I only realized near the end of the month and since then I’m back to 5-10 new subscribers per day, and the rate is growing.
And over 100 new followers per day on Twitter.
Which of course would have made me hit both those targets.

So, I’ve taken steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
One easy way to do this is to use the airline approach.
When there’s a crash, or any error, they go out of their way to not only fix the problem, but they also put measures in place to make sure it NEVER happens again.

So, in my case – at this point that amounts to a checklist of things I should look at DAILY to make sure everything is ticking over.
Of course, I can’t do much about Twitter going down…
But I can check daily that my accounts are still authorized to post on my behalf – so this is now part of my daily routine.

7. Traffic Summary

Traffic from profile page

Traffic from profile page

Overall traffic is still quite small, but it continues to grow. most of my traffic is from Twitter, but I’ve seen some bumps from Google search (and even Bing).

One thing that’s interesting to note is that a large amount of traffic from Twitter comes directly from my profile page. Not from tweets. I would guess this makes up about 50% of the traffic, though I didn’t have tools in place to measure effectively in February. I’m working on that.

However – this traffic converts at almost 12%

So make sure you set your profile page up properly. Details in the webinar here Ultimate Twitter Lead Generation Strategy

BONUS:
Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 2.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

8. Goals for March 2016


Goals

So, I didn’t do this last month, but I thought I’d actually post my goals publicly this month.

  1. Continue Daily email
  2. Write a Detailed Income report (done 🙂
  3. Write 3 additional Blog posts
  4. Create a detailed product outline and get more feedback from potential customers (perhaps even a mini product)
    That requires:

    1. Set up a shopping cart
    2. Figure out payment processing
  5. Grow to 7000 Twitter followers
  6. Grow to 700 email subscribers

We’ll come back to this next month and see how close I got.

9. Conclusion

So this wraps up month 2 of the challenge.

10 months to go, and I feel like I’m off to a good start.

Yes – I didn’t make all my goals. The most worrying bit is that my email list didn’t hit the target (300).
But that fact is – there’s no guarantee EVER that you’ll reach all your goals.

In fact – when you don’t reach them, you should try to figure out why, and fix the problem.
Which I think I’ve done.

What’s interesting is that it’s quite challenging to be so transparent about what I’m doing. Posting my goals for next month really scares me, but of course that means I’m pushing myself forward, and hopefully learning new things.

I hope you’re enjoying this. Please share this post, and leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

Till next month…

10 comments… add one
  • Kurt

    Inspiring stuff Alexander. I started a personal 5 week challenge to grow my twitter followers a week ago, but you have made me rethink everything and I will be setting my goals much, much higher. I’m going to be coming up with my own big hairy audacious goal and then I’ll lay it out for the world to see. Succeed or fail, I plan on moving forward, just like you are.

    Reply
    • Alexander James

      Excellent Kurt. High goals & hard work – that’s all it takes 🙂
      Just kidding, but glad you feel inspired.
      Check out The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure on Amazon. That should give you a push too.
      Like your site btw.
      On a different note – the first few days of the new month are already looking really good.

      Alex

      Reply
  • Brian D. Russell

    This is some really awesome content. Just started a full-time freelance copywriting myself, and am building up my website and all-around business, and even though it isn’t necessarily entrepreneurship, I find that both entrepreneurs and freelancers have to achieve similar goals.

    I do have one bit of advice though. Your article is really good, but your links don’t open new tabs, they just take me away from this one, and it can be a little annoying to right-click “new tab” it every time for people who want to read the rest.

    It’s a small thing, but I think it is useful to keep eyeballs on your content, while shuffling people to helpful, related sources.

    Keep on trucking =)

    By the way, do you find yourself outsourcing any activities? I’ve been thinking about outsourcing research, and I tried it out but did not achieve the results I was looking for.

    Reply
  • Brian D. Russell

    Also, I’m not getting an email for this webinar =( Maybe it’s just me haha

    Reply
    • Alexander James

      Hi Brian,
      Thanks for this. Sorry about the delay in the email, I re-sent the link today so you should have it if you haven’t had a chance to view it.
      Also – great tip about the links. I should have checked, but was in a hurry to get the post live. I’ll update it tomorrow.
      I’ve not tried outsourcing anything yet. I’ll probably get around to that later in the challenge.
      For now, it’s very much a bootstrapped, one-man business.
      Thanks again
      Alex

      Reply
  • Grace Gilbert

    Things seem to be off on a good start Alexander!

    Not only are you building a sizable email list pretty quickly (In my opinion) But you are also integrating your social media from the get-go and building it up alongside your blog, allowing for optimal presence within the industry. Even with some of the setbacks and hurdles you’ve faced so far, it’s pretty easy to tell you’re on a roll.
    You are definitely inspiring me to get my own blog up and running a lot sooner. Seeing as it’s still bare and without any posts or an available email list for opt-ins.

    I’m excited to seeing what you have to offer in the future. And I hope that you reach your goals so I can learn to reach mine!

    Wishing you the best, and looking forward to seeing your next income report 🙂

    Reply
    • Alexander James

      Grace, thanks for the kind words.
      Yes – things are moving pretty quickly, and I’m managing to hit most of my goals so far.
      I’m glad this is inspiring to you. Without the inspiration of others I wouldn’t have gotten to this point.
      There are daily setbacks, but also daily progress, and each of these are rewarding.
      Progress rewards because – it’s progress 🙂
      And setbacks reward because you realize that there will be many, and you have to overcome them.
      The road is never straight.
      Best of luck in your own journey.
      Hope you learn more from mine.

      Reply
  • Verena

    Great project, well explained report!

    I just tweeted this, Alexander. I’m excited to seeing your results and definitely follow this closely.

    Reply
  • Lloyd Phillips

    Just came across your blog. I followed along with Neil Patel’s $100k challenge avidly also. I started my own blog in January. My goals aren’t as ambitious as yours, but I guess they should be. I’m very tight on time and have little to no cash to invest so I’ll be following along your journey for some tips. I hope you check out mine. It’d be great to connect with you – feel free to DM me on Twitter.
    I’m also pretty keen to see how you managed to get your opt-in conversions so high for your mailing list. Mine has been a little dire but I know I could be doing more.
    Good luck with your challenge.

    Reply
    • Alexander James

      HI Lloyd
      I had a look at your site. Looks great.
      My conversion rate is really a combination of my PowerTweet method and continuous testing.
      Best of luck!

      Reply

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