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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 – March 2016 – Month 3 of the $100,000 Challenge

This was the 3rd 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

IncomeReportMarch2016

1. A Brief History of the challenge

As you probably know by now, Neil Patel wrote a blog post 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 (http://www.quicksprout.com/2015/03/16/how-to-make-100000-a-month-within-1-year/).

This post was the catalyst that drove me to start my own version of the challenge, to see if I could get to $100,000 per month.

It’s important to realize that when I started this I had little idea of where this would take me. I simply had an idea for a niche (creating a decent income on the web), and I wanted to explicitly link that to the Neil Patel challenge.

What I find very interesting is that as I go through this process, I see many opportunities for creating a decent business. And many of these can be tied directly to my real-world experience and skill set (software development and data analysis).

In the next few months I’ll start exploring these options, to find the most promising one.

For now – let’s get started.

The 3rd month is now complete.
And this post is late. Very late.
This is mostly because I had a number of things to prepare for my trip to Spain in early April.
The good news is that the next income report will be up very soon.

2. What I Spent My Time Doing This month

Again – this month I did a number of new things.

I started analyzing my tweets in a different way. I combine twitter and google analytics with some analysis software to get a detailed breakdown of how tweets perform over several 1000 impressions. You can see a quick preview here.
I started outlining my first information product.
I set up workflow automation for MailChimp to allow me to track individual interest in my new product.
I continued split testing my landing pages and tweet performance.

In personal news – we accepted an offer on our house, and have started the process of buying a new house.
This is quite a time consuming process – so between that and work, it’s been tricky to keep everything going.

3. The Tools I most depended on

The process is starting to come together. As time goes my, I continue to refine my workflow.
I’ve not really used any new tools this month, but I’ve streamlined my workflow on the existing tool set.

My traffic is growing, but growing very slowly. This means I can continue to rely on Bluehost shared hosting.

MailChimp is still my autoresponder of choice.  I had to switch to a paid plan this month ($10pm). Mostly because I needed the automation features to enable tracking of interest in my upcoming product.  This allowed me to auto-add people to a new list if they indicated an interest in my PowerTweets product.

For growing my Twitter followers – I still use SocialQuant. I didn’t have any unexpected outages this month, so growth has remained steady.

The cornerstone of my Twitter process is still MarketHub and MeetEdgar.
Outside of that, I used Microsoft Excel, PowerBI, and some custom code to streamline the analytics process.
I’m still uncomfortable with Google Analytics, as I don’t think it really gives me what I need.
I’m considering using a real performance marketing tool for this – but Haven’t yet had the time to investigate.

The process of creating links is a bit frustrating. To track effectively, I have to create a long URL containing all the parameters I’m interested in, then shorten the link with Bit.ly, then post to Twitter. The process is time-consuming and error-prone. Hopefully I can streamline this a bit in future.

So for now – my workflow and analytics revolve around combining Google and Twitter analytics.So my must have list for month 3 is:

  1. BlueHost (http://bit.ly/100kBluehost) starting from $3.95/month
  2. ThesisTheme (http://bit.ly/100kThesisTheme). You could start with one of the may free themes too.
  3. MailChimp (http://bit.ly/100kMailChimp) – You can start for FREE.
  4. SumoMe (http://bit.ly/100kSumoMe) FREE – By FAR the best collection of tools to grow your email list. Also some great tools to track site visitor behavior.
  5. SocialQuant (http://bit.ly/100kSocialQuant) – I can’t recommend this highly enough. At the price you simply can’t get a better way to grow your Twitter followers.
  6. MarketHub.io (Free Trial)
  7. MeetEdgar (Twitter and Facebook automation)
  8. Google Analytics
  9. Bitly (http://bit.ly/100kBitLy) – FREE. A great tool for tracking your links.
  10. Camtasia (http://bit.ly/100KCamtasia) – FREE Trial
  11. Wistia (for video hosting)
  12. Instapage (http://bit.ly/InstapageFREE)

Note that some of the above links are affiliate links. If you don’t think I deserve a small commission for recommending a service I use, just go directly to the site. I would recommend these without the commission.

4. What went wrong

Again, not everything went as planned. Specifically, I missed my list growth target (again).
While my list continued to grow, I didn’t get to the 700 number I wanted to reach.
Also – I missed my content creation goals.

What this points out is that I should focus on doing the work.  You can’t predict how quickly your list will grow.

You can, however, know that continuously improving your tweet performance and publishing new articles will grow your traffic and list numbers over time.  So to grow your list quicker, DO MORE OF THAT!

My bootstrapping tactic so far has gotten me to a steady growth rate. But in order to drive much higher traffic numbers, I will have to start producing more content and driving organic traffic.

This should work well in conjunction with Twitter.

I’ll talk more about how this works in detail in a future post.

5. What went right

Tracking is a big part of understanding your progress.
The web is amazing as a marketing medium in the sense that it allows close to perfect tracking.
And I have had great success with tracking tweets.
For March, I’ve had specific Tweets convert to email subscribers at a rate of up to 37%. That is, for every 100 clicks on a tweet, 37 people join my list.

That’s amazing.

Of course, getting to this point hasn’t been easy.
It’s a combination of testing and tweaking.
And writing many new tweets.

But tracking individual Tweets and combining with Instapage for A/B testing, got me to that figure.
If you’re not using an A/B landing page testing platform like Instapage, I highly recommend you start doing so.
With Instapage you can get started for free. And as far as I can tell, they have everything you need. Including the automatic creation of mobile pages, which can be tweaked to ensure you’re getting the best conversions even from mobiles.

Organic search traffic is still slowly growing. For March I had 92 visitors from search, with a conversion rate of 8.7%. While this is a small part of my overall traffic, I have plans to grow this significantly over the coming months.

6. Detailed goal breakdown for the month

At the end of last month, I set out my goals for the 3nd month was clear.

  • Continue Daily email (done)
  • Write a Detailed Income report (done)
  • Write 3 additional Blog posts (Only wrote 1) – I really need to get better at writing content. Over time this will be key to driving traffic.
  • Create a detailed product outline and get more feedback from potential customers (perhaps even a mini product)
    I managed to create a product outline as expected, and started testing interest.  A preview of PowerTweets is available here
  • 7000 Twitter followers – got up to 8235
  • 700 email list (missed by far – 428 – under target)

A bonus for this month:

Revenue: $65 🙂 – Suprise!)

I did not expect this at all, so it was a pleasant surprise. This came from my BlueHost affiliate link.

While I don’t expect this to be my main revenue generator, I may start doing a bit more to drive affiliate sales.  This will help with the bootstrapping process.

7. Traffic Summary

Traffic for March is up by 19.4% to a total of 2300 sessions. That’s compared to the previous month’s 1926 sessions.
This is still quite low, but of course you need to look at the conversion associated with that.
so for email sign-ups (my most important KPI) March had 189 new sign-ups vs 148 the previous month.
A 27.7% increase.

That’s good. As it means that I’m not only growing traffic, I’m also growing my overall conversion rate.
This is mostly due to my improved Twitter tracking. (see video overview here)

8. Goals for April 2016

Again, I’ll publish my goals for April.

  • Continue Daily email
  • Write a Detailed Income report
  • Write 3 additional Blog posts
  • Sell some products!
  • 10,000K Twitter followers

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

9. Conclusion

So this wraps up month 3.

9 months to go, and it’s still fun. I’m frustrated by the slow growth of my list.
However – that’s just the way it goes.
On the good side, I’ve figured out how to improve conversion, and I’m starting to see more interest in the process.

The surprising bit was the revenue. Yes – $65 is not much, but I didn’t expect it and it’s a great start.
I should probably do a bit more to get affiliate commissions.

Again, if you’ve been following along, you’ll know this post is very late.
I’ll make sure to have the next one up in the next few days.

Please share this post, and leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

Till next month…

11 comments… add one
  • Neil Mills

    Amazing Twitter engagement stat’s! Were they pinned tweets?

    Reply
    • Alexander James

      Hi Neil,
      Yes – I’m pretty happy with the twitter engagement I’m getting. And no – it’s not just pinned tweets. Pinning does help with getting traffic (quite a lot), but the conversion rate appears to be similar to retweeting often like I do.
      Thanks for following.
      Alex

      Reply
  • Timothy Gagnon

    Cool, that’s more than I made! I think I made a grand total of $10 in commissions, lol. Lovin’ the Twitter stats though, that’s really cool. I have to focus more on my website and building a list. I wrote a free report but it seems like people don’t want it because my conversion rate is terrible, I’m thinking about writing a new one or maybe it’s just a layout issue. Just needs more work and I’ll get to it. Whenever I read income reports, I feel like I should write them as well, and I will get around to it when I have at least some better stats, ha. Keep it up!

    Reply
    • Alexander James

      Hi Timothy,
      Yes – I’m very happy with my tweeting. It works well when combined with a decent landing page. It also seems to drive some organic traffic.
      I realize there’s nothing too exciting in an income report that just shows $65 revenue, but I think many people get started and give up because they expect it to be easy. It’s not. It takes time and work. But in another few months the stats will look much better. It will be valuable to be able to go back and see how long it took to drive a decent income.
      In the next few days I’ll post the next income report, and revenue has gone up 🙂
      Thanks for following.

      Reply
  • Lloyd Phillips

    Just working my way through your reports and commented in February. I also had a surprise 4th month of blogging with ad income and affiliate hitting $141 in total. I only made about $5 the previous month with 4c in my first month. It’s growth, so I’ll take it, but I’m not going to hit higher this month at all.

    I’ve realised I may need to pay for MailChimp also, for the automation, like you. Out of interest, which of your subscription forms is performing best? Is it the header bar or the welcome mat, or something else? I was looking a little more at AppSumo tonight and like the welcome mat. I can’t decide whether I should go for LeadPages though.

    Reply
    • Alexander James

      Hi Lloyd. Congrats on making revenue. Any revenue is good 🙂
      My best converting opt-in is from my webinar leadgen page, which is hosted on Instapage (similar to leadpages).
      The reason I went with Instapage is that you get a free month. Definitely worth it.

      Glad to have you following.

      Reply
  • Gilly

    Hey Alexander well done very good start! I read that you can’t really figure out analytics let me know and we can always jump in a skype chat to help you that!

    Reply
    • james.dejager@gmail.com

      Thanks Gilly. I think I’ve got it nailed now, and getting what I want out of it. Its a great app (especially as it’s free).

      Thanks for the offer to help though.

      Cheers
      Alex

      Reply
  • Souvik

    The more you retweets others post you gain more followers and leads .. (My personal view)

    Reply
  • Bruno

    Hi, is the challenge still on ?

    Reply
    • Alexander James

      Yep – definitely still on. Have to say I didn’t make it in the first 12 months 🙂 However – I will keep going till I get there. Thanks for following.

      Reply

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