How to make $100 000 per month by Xmas 2017!

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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 – January 2016 – Month 1 of the $100,000 Challenge

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

  1. The history of the challenge – A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)
  2. How I got started
  3. The FREE Tools You Need
  4. What I did in the first month
  5. What went wrong
  6. What went right
  7. 5 Lessons learned from taking on this challenge
  8. Traffic
  9. Conclusion
Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 1.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’


1. History of the Challenge – A Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)

Big Hairy Goal

Big Hairy Goal

If you don’t know what that is, Neil Patel (co-founder of KissMetrics, CrazyEgg, QuickSprout, etc) made a public claim on his blog, saying that ‘anyone’ can create a business that generates $100,000 per month in revenue within 12 months. He then proceeded to demonstrate this by creating a brand new blog in the nutrition space, and started driving traffic to it.

As he is not an expert in the nutrition space, he got someone else (Mike Kamo) to run it, while essentially mentoring him. Mike is a nutritionist and has done a fantastic job posting content to the site.

Neil posted a monthly update on his progress, and is now in month 9. All indications are that he’s going to reach his $100,000 goal. His latest traffic figures are approaching 70,000 unique visitors per month, and he’s started generating an income by selling a nutritional supplement on Amazon.

While this is an unexpected monetization strategy, it should make you sit up and take notice. Neil didn’t get to be where he is in life by following convention. Sometimes you have to take an unexpected route to get where you want to be.

What I really love about Neil’s approach, is that he’s detailing every step he’s taking in public, on the QuickSprout blog. And he creates additional blog posts that serves as tutorials for how to follow along. For instance, he’s written a number of posts detailing how to improve your writing.

I’ll be referencing and using those as I go along.

If I succeed in this, I’ll have Neil to thank, as he’s been the motivation to do this.


Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 1.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

2. How I Got Started

Website Planning

Website Planning


I started paying attention to Neil’s progress at around the 6th month of activity. His progress report posts kept popping up in me Feedly reading list, and it’s hard to miss the fact that:

  1. He was obviously executing relentlessly (a key requirement)
  2. He was making the required progress

Now at this point I sat up and took notice.

I mean, I have a full time job.
I’m on a pretty good salary.

But if I could achieve even a fraction of what Neil was clearly going to achieve, I could quit my job, work less and earn more!

This was definitely something I wanted to do.

So I spent about a month thinking of various niches.
How to approach it.
Like many of the other followers of ‘The Challenge’, I considered doing a nutrition/diet blog as well. It was clearly a space in which there is endless room for competition.

I know very little about nutrition.
Certainly not enough to create the level of content that Mike was creating over at the Nutrition Secrets blog. And I kept coming back to the fact that I wanted to reference ‘The Challenge’ directly in my blog.

Now – if you know anything about internet marketing and niche selection, you’ll know that there are basically 3 big niches:

  1. Health
  2. Wealth
  3. Romance

There is one additional market which can be very profitable, and that’s hobbies/activities that people get really passionate about. A great example is golf. Or tech. Or gardening. Or Pets.

Nutrition is obviously a sub-niche of Health.
My best go at this would have been running. I could certainly blog about running and running nutrition quite a bit. it also has the benefit of crossing into the activity niche. People will get very passionate about this stuff pretty quickly.

But in the end I felt this wasn’t for me.

So I chose the wealth niche.
Specifically, internet marketing.
And inside that, I’ll specialise in:

  1. Getting started, and building your audience
  2. How to make money from your blog (monetization)
  3. Testing
  4. Email Marketing

You see, I’ve been studying internet marketing for at least 7 years.

Like you, I’ve bought many courses teaching conversion tactics, list building tactics, monetization strategies, email strategies, ppc strategies….
The list goes on and on and on…

But I’ve never actually managed to make it work.

I should say, that I spent the majority of my time in CPA (cost per action) marketing. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it’s a form of affiliate marketing where you get paid per lead. So, you get paid for every email signup you generate for a company. Or every app install. In most cases the customer doesn’t have to spend any money before you get paid.

Sounds easy right?
Payouts range from as low as $0.16 (for some app installs) up to $80 or more. The higher end payouts are typically for stuff like credit card applications, insurance quotes etc.
In fact, this is basically the model that most price comparison sites use.
There’s an unbelievable amount of money on this market.
And competition is fierce.
I’ve met a few guys who make over $10,000 per day. I know one bloke who does over $50,000 per day.

But as I said, competition is fierce.
The best I ever did was about $200 a day. That was on a dating offer (I forget which one) – and I could only run that for about a week.
And keep in mind, that to make that $200, I was spending at least $250 per day on advertising.
So you keep a pretty high balance on your credit card.
Once you generate enough leads, you do get paid weekly though.

Spending money in pounds (I’m UK based), and getting paid in dollar is tricky. The exchange rate and VAT both have massive impacts on your bottom line.
And it’s hard to keep track of it all.

In the end, I took a break.

And then, I started following Neil’s challenge.

The point of all this is that I do know quite a bit about internet marketing.
Running CPA ads, building high-converting landing pages and testing, I get that.

Did you know that a good ad will perform as much as 20 times better that a bad one?
Based on headline alone? Or image?
If you don’t, you’re probably not testing enough.

But we’ll cover all that later.

The thing with testing at this level is, you need traffic before it makes any sense.
You can’t judge statistical significance without traffic.

OK – so that’s enough background.

So, soon I’ll lay out the specific model I’ll be following on this blog.
Remember my BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) of making $100,000 per month? That means I’m going to have to kick ass at sales.
And monetization generally.
Adsense wont cut it 🙂

Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 1.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

The Essential Free (and Paid) Tools You Need

NOTE: Some of the links below are affiliate links.  If you purchase a product using these, I will get a small commission.  It won’t cost you more than purchasing direct from the company.

Free Tools

Free Tools

  • A domain name and hosting for your website – I reccommend Bluehost ( starting from $3.95/month
  • An autoresponder (email service) – I reccommend MailChimp ( – You can start for FREE. You don’t have to pay until you have 2000 subscribers. And you get $30 credit when you sign up using my link for any future purchases.
  • Software to run your site. There really is only one option – WordPress (FREE). There’s a simple 1-click install on the BlueHost dashboard.
  • A WordPress theme. This provides the look & feel of your website, and allows you to customise pages and page templates to suit your business. I use (and reccommned Thesis them by DIYThemes ( You could start with one of the may free themes too.
  • SumoMe ( FREE – By FAR the best collection of tools to grow your email list. Also some great tools to track site visitor behavior.
  • HootSuite ( – A great tool to manage and schedule tweets (FREE 30 day Pro Trial)
  • SocialQuant ( – 15 Day FREE evaluation – no credit card required. This is an absolutely FANTASTIC tool. It’s not even clear that t should be called a tool, rather than a service. Basically, they take over growth of your Twitter account for you. You specify ‘keywords’ that your target audience would be interested in, and they manage the rest.
    If you’re familiar with growing your Twitter followers, you’ll know that it’s an endless stream of following and un-following new tweeps. It gets really tedious and is extremely time consuming. Well, I have a job. I’m supposed to make this BHAG happen in my spare time, so I’ll take any automation I can get. It’s in no small part thanks to SocialQuant that I’ve been able to grow my Twitter followers to 3234 in just 30 days of creating this new Twitter account. I honestly can’t recommend these guys enough. You can test drive the service with no credit card required for 15 days – so if you want to grow your Twitter following, just do it. you’ll thank me.
  • ( – 14 Day FREE evaluation – no credit card required. This is another service I can highly reccommend. It removes a large amount of effort from your Twitter strategy. It’s basicly a set and forget service. You specify what you want to tweet about, setup a tweet frequency, and they take care of the rest. As a bonus, you get to display a custom call to action (CTA) on EVERY tweet. So, whenever someone clicks on your tweet, they see both the content, AND a banner ad that links to your site. Very cool.
  • Google Analytics – must have to track visitors and conversions (FREE)
  • Bitly ( – FREE. A great tool for tracking your links.
  • Google Analytics URL Builder – FREE (
  • Feedly ( – FREE. A great feed reader that let’s you find new content, and keep up to date with news.
Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 1.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

What I did In The First Month Toward my BHAG

Executing Daily

Executing Daily

The first month was really a head-first dive into the world of building an audience. As I mentioned before, I’ve spent the past few years essentially doing CPA marketing. So I was simply driving paid traffic to landing pages, and getting people to sign up to various offers. None if these offers were mine.

However, I learned a few things doing this.

  1. You don’t need much (or any) content on your site to start building a list
  2. Traffic is essential before you can conduct any meaningful A/B testing

So, to start out with, I just put up a website, added a feature box describing the challenge, and asked people to sign up to the list.

I used the feature box in ThesisTheme to do this. It allows you to put a box on any (every) page that describes your mission and collects emails.

I signed up for a new Twitter account to link to the blog, and started following a number of high-profile people in the internet marketing / content marketing and growthhacking space. I also followed their to followers. Then I started driving traffic with Twitter.

I had my first sign-up the next morning, which was a Saturday.
By Monday, I had 5 people on the list. At this point, I started sending daily emails.

At the end of that first week, I had increased my follower count to about 700, but by now it was clear that continuing this would be way too time consuming. This is the point that I discovered SocialQuant and MarketHub. Both these tools are awesome.

I also added SumoMe to the site. For collecting email, this rocks. Specifically Welcome Mat. If you’re not using it, you’re doing it wrong. It’s free, so get started now.

So, since signing up for these, I only have to send out my ‘self-serving’ tweets. That is, the ones that link to my own site.

Once this process was automated, I started looking at Facebook.
I’m still not sure I’m doing the right thing with Facebook. I’ve created a page for the blog, and post curated articles twice a day. The page has a small following, and hopefully it will grow over time. Apparently, the secret is consistency. We’ll see.

So, at the end of month 1, my daily activity is basically:

  1. Post curated content to Facebook
  2. Schedule Tweets to the site
  3. Send daily email

Of course, I also check my stats many times a day – even though my traffic is negligible. Checking stats is every marketer’s dilemma. I don’t know of any solution 🙂

Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 1.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

5 things I should have done different in the first month

What Went Wrong

What Went Wrong

  1. I messed up with the Facebook page. You really need to advertise (or boost) your FB pages, and my original page for the 100K challenge was not accepted for advertising. It took me a few days to get this resolved. I have since spent a fe pounds on Facebook advertising, just get get some engagement on the page. I will probably continue this at a very low level.
  2. My Twitter profile didn’t have a decent call to action. And I didn’t use pinned tweets effectively. Many people come to the site by going to my Twitter profile and then clicking through to the site. Make sure to set this up correctly. And use the URL builder and to track where the links are coming from properly.
  3. When you configure SumoMe with MailChimp, there’s an option to disable the double opt-in requirement. I should have disabled it from day one. I’m still trying to figure out how to disable the double opt-in for my main Thesis opt-in box. This requires some coding, and I haven’t had a change to test it.
  4. SumoMe again. Really – just add this to your site right now. You’re missing out on many leads. Yes, I know you think ‘I don’t want to be that agressive collecting emails’. You’re wrong. Just install it and get the leads. They can always unsubscribe if they don’t like you. But you’re lovable aren’t you?
Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 1.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

4 things that worked great

  1. SocialQuant. I really think this is an awesome product. Without it, growing your followers is VERY hard work. With it, it’s on autopilot. Which is a word used way to often in internet marketing circles. But in this case, it’s true.
  2. Frequent Tweeting. you should be tweeting MUCH more than you think. I currently tweet about once every 8 minutes. This has helped me tremendously. I’ve build authority in many areas. And I get thanked for sharing daily.
  3. SumoMe – How many more times can I say it? I can’t believe this is free!
  4. MailChimp – Again, I don’t see why you would pay for an email provider. MailChimp ROCKS!
Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 1.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

Lessons learned in month one

  1. Its easy to say ‘it will take 12 months’ to see real value from building a blog. It makes sense when you think about it. Actually doing it and realizing you have to think long term is hard. I’m sure this wont change, and Pat Flynn tends to say he knows he’s doing the right thing when he’s worried about the outcome. But when you have 10 opt-ins one day, then 1 the next, you wonder if you did something wrong. Sometimes you just have to have faith. But you should also test. It’s easy to screw up.
  2. Keeping a progress journal rocks. This helps you see on a day to day basis that you’re making progress. You can also see what went wrong, what went right,and keep track of HOW to do things. Writing the daily email helps me realize that this is just the beginning of a 12 month process. And it makes it real.
  3. Google Analytics has spam! Who knew? You get these ridiculous frequent traffic showing up at your site. At first, you’re excited, then your realize it’s meaningless. They’re trying to trick you to click on the URL, which will then infect you with a Trojan of some sort. To learn how to get rid of it, see here:
Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 1.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’

Traffic Summary For Month 1

I got very little traffic. This was expected, as my main traffic source is twitter at this point. And of course, it’s only month 1.

There are great reasons for Using Twitter. It’s by far the easiest platform to get started on if you have limited time. It won’t drive as much traffic as Facebook in the longer term, but it will actually help you build your base, and drive some organic traffic over time too.

Given that the site had no content yet, I was a bit surprised to see how well I was converting traffic into leads. Again, thanks to SumoMe!

My overall conversion rate was 10.23% (As you can see on the screenshot).

Google Analytics For Month 1

Google Analytics For Month 1


Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 1.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’


Growth Hacking

Growth Hacking

The first month was interesting. I hit my target of 100 subscribers. Actually, I got to 96 – but hit 100 the very next day 🙂
My next target is 300 subscribers for month 2.

Obviously – I don’t have any income yet.  That probably won’t change for at least another 2 months.  I’ll post a detailed plans for monetization soon.

I still need to summarize the exact expenses I had in month 1. Though it was only paying for Bluehost, SocialQuant, and MarketHub. I already owned the license for ThesisTheme so won’t add that here. It won’t make that much difference in the longer term anyway.

So, what do you think? Am I on target? Do I have any chance of reaching my BHAG? I’m very excited. I think its looking real good.

Please comment below and let me know what you think.

Also, please share this on Facebook, Twitter or your favorite network.

Sign up for the email list to get access to a spreadsheet detailing the expenses and actual hours spent during Month 1.
Just enter your email address in the box at the top of your browser and click ‘Show Me The Money’
23 comments… add one
  • Tom

    Hi Alex,

    I will post the first comment and I feel honoured to do so. Great to see you are progressing so well.

    I am following you because I was trying the same – follow Neil’s challenge. Working on twitter I came across your profile by accident. I will work with a different focus and not make the $100k challenge the main theme.

    But this is not about me. I am almost a month behind you but it is great all the detail you provide. I used some of the tools you mentioned and in some cases I made different choices. So far I can say that it is easy to follow you and copy the methods you are using.

    I will closely follow your progress and looking forward to you future updates.

    • Alexander James

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks so much for the support. Will be following closely to see how you progress.
      Your site doesn’t look like you just got started. Best of luck. I’m sure you’ll do very well.

      The great thing is, with the scale of the net, there’s plenty of room for all of us.

  • Brad Hussey

    Interesting stuff man! I’ll be definitely following your progress. Best of luck 🙂

  • warren

    Hi Nice blog

    I am adopting some of your recommendations to my own website. Posting every 8 minutes is a huge undertaking are you using to achieve this and how often does your content repeat?

    • Alexander James

      Hi Warren.

      Sorry for not replying earlier. I somehow missed this. I do use MarketHub.IO to post frequently. I’m not 100% sure, but I think at the moment my content probably repeats maybe every 5 days. I keep adding content so the time should increase. With that and some automation from HootSuite, I only spend about 20 minutes a day on Twitter.
      Thanks for following. Please spread the word and share to friends who might be interested.


  • John

    Excellent article! Thank you for sharing this interesting and insightful info, will follow your progress, looking forward to the next update!
    To your success!
    John @scotlist

  • Steve Arky

    Do you use Twitter Analytics? How many Twitter impressions per day are you getting?

    What you’re doing will become meaningful to me when I see how you will monetize your subscribers and visitors.

    I believe readers are no longer loyal to blogs. They seem to be loyal to platforms and ‘search.’ When they see an article they like, they read that particular article, but not the blog.

    I think blogs still needs authority though and I see that you’re developing authority. Personal example: I want to keep up with what you’re doing, so with me and others like me, you’ve set a good hook. You achieved that because you’re offering info that’s worthwhile.

    So maybe you’re bucking the loyalty trend I’ve mentioned (the trend of ‘loyal blog readers’ becoming loyal to platforms instead).

    As far as monetizing is concerned, I assume you’ll use Affiliate Marketing and maybe develop products of your own that will help readers succeed in your business…and your business is to: ‘set up people in your business’ (kinda like a house of mirrors).

    That’s OK though, because others can choose other niches and determine how to monetize their niches. They don’t need to carbon copy you (i’m sure you don’t recommend that anyway).

    Keep up your good work,


    • Alexander James

      Hi Steve,

      Yes – I use Twitter analytics. At the moment, my figures for January (28 days) show
      Tweet impressions, 1.18M – so that averages about 42142 impressions a day.
      I realize everyone wants to see monetization, but I think that’s the thing that holds many people back.
      They don’t realize that you need to build a following BEFORE you can start to monetize effectively.
      So by doing this publicly I’m trying to frame expectations a bit better.
      But watch this space – we’ll get to the money.

      I’m not convinced readers were ever that loyal to blogs. A blog (or website) is merely the starting point.
      In order to get loyalty you need to earn trust from your readers. The best way of doing this is by building a list.

      So, my ‘hook’ gets you to sign up, but then you will keep following me because I’m in your inbox everyday. Hopefully providing value.

      When it comes to monetizing, I think you’re right, it will probably be a mix of affiliate and my own products.
      Though my own products would make the bulk of the revenue (that’s the plan at least).

      So, while this particular niche is about teaching people marketing, I do plan to do a case study at some point during the year where I use a completely different niche.
      I’ll probably do this with one of my subscribers.

      Thanks for following and commenting. I really appreciate it and want to keep this process as transparent as possible.


  • Oyekunle Damola

    This is wonderful James. I like your zeal. Just coming across SocialQuant and MarketHub. You should try They have a free plan for scheduling posts and you can also pay a stipend to get your posts shared across the popular social networks.

    Looking forward to reading more from you.

    • Alexander James

      Hi Oyekunle,
      Glad you like it. I’m quite happy with my current tools for scheduling. I’m not sure any other product would bring more to the mix but I’ll check it out. It’s always worth learning more, and trying new stuff.

  • Greg Schraff

    Great stuff, Alexander “action man” James! Love the moniker and the zeal, as well as the transparency.
    I know you addressed it above in someone else’s question, but how are you going to monetize this, more specifically what are you going to sell that you believe your audience will realistically buy, and at what price point? Is this a small dollar high volume play? A higher dollar lower volume play. Both? Neither?


    • Alexander James

      Thanks Greg, like being called ‘Action Man’. I’ll use that in my next email 🙂

      I plan on talking in more detail about monetization in the future (e.g. what I will sell and at what price). For now, the goal is simply to build that initial audience, and refine the process for doing so. But generally, I expect to sell details of the process used to do this. While I try to be transparent, publishing all details is simply not possible. So I expect to create products that will take people through the various stages of doing this for themselves. Prices will be determined based on the value of the product. While some people will look at this and say ‘Ahh – I can see what he’s doing, and he’s given me enough detail, I’ll go try that’, others will say ‘I really wish I had a bit more help doing this’. And that 2nd camp of people is where I expect to sell products to.

      And of course, as I go through the carious stages of this, the audience interested in that particular stage will change. So some might need info on Twitter, while in later stages I’ll drill into advertising, product planning, pricing etc.

      To that end – I love questions, and would think its fantastic if someone duplicated what I’m doing just by following my public process.

      Hope that gives you enough. If not, feel free to ask more.

      Thanks for the support
      Alexander ‘Action Man’ James

  • roy dowding

    could you elaborate on this please?

    My Twitter profile didn’t have a decent call to action. And I didn’t use pinned tweets effectively. Many people come to the site by going to my Twitter profile and then clicking through to the site. Make sure to set this up correctly. And use the URL builder and to track where the links are coming from properly.

    Roy dowding (also in U.K too!)

    • Alexander James

      Hi Roy,
      If you have a look at the webinar (think I sent you a link on Monday), there’s a brief section on how this works. Basically, make sure you have a link to your website in your profile, also in your profile description (with a call to action – e.g. click here for a free ebook), and a pinned tweet that links to your best (and best converting) content. That’s 3 options on your profile page to get a click that could convert.
      Hope that helps, and thank for following.

      • roy dowding

        Thankyou Alex!
        Diamond tipped info for sure.
        having a blonde moment finding the webinar you mention,
        if you could shoot it to me again please?.
        dropped a (very!) quick update on my blog,pitiful i know
        will have to do until next week,now wheres that time management article………..
        Have a great evening

  • Ramon

    Hi Alexander,

    I thought I try a few of the apps you recommend like SumoMe, Socialquant and Markethub.

    However, SumoMe which is indeed easy to setup and a great asset, doesn’t let you intergrate MailChimp for free.
    (MailChimp is a SumoMe Pro feature. To enable exporting to MailChimp please upgrade to SumoMe Pro).

    At Socialquant, I thought i give it a try too, however, they at registration ask your twitter password and mobile number which is actually giving away everything you have to protect your twitter account. Also they don’t show any prices on their website at all. So you just gave all this info away to them? and how much are you paying for their service now?




      Hi Ramon,

      I’ve had a look and it seems that SumoMe has changed their product. It was indeed free including the MailChimp integration when I got started. In fact, I’m still using the free version. They haven’t forced me to upgrade yet. Looks like I got lucky.
      It looks like you can get the basic integration for $20 pm – it’s a great app.

      For SocialQuant – I can’t recommend it enough. By all means, sign up for the trial and decide for yourself. But they’re basically responsible for my growth. After the trial it’s $50 per month. Though you may be able to get a 50% lifetime discount (I did) – os it costs me $25 per month.
      Yes you have to provide access to your account (including the phone number) – but this is what they need to do their magic.

      Best of luck

  • Zera

    Hey Alexander! I just subscribed to your blog! I’m a regular and loyal reader of Neil Patel’s blog, as well as QuickSprout. I loved his challenge and honesty, so I just had to join you in your journey as well!

    You’ll be seeing a lot more of me here now! Looking forward to all of your e-mails. You’ve made a loyal reader out of me today!

    I hope you’ll succeed in your challenge 😀


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