The three month deadline which I initially set for this $99 side project experiment is nearly here; in this article, I share my latest learnings from growing my side project with experiments, discuss financials and make decisions on where to go from here.
A quick summary; I started a weekly curated growth marketing email as a side project at the start of this year, with a 3 month deadline and a budget of $99.
I have written a few times about what I have taken away from the project and some growth experiments, which are here;
A combination of being busy with other work and wanting to see natural growth when I am not pushing it, has meant that I’ve not exerted myself too far with growth experiments over the last few weeks. I’ve had two experiments worth sharing though, posting on Medium and promoting using Quuu.
Publishing article with lead magnet on Medium
One activity I had imagined would work really well for me, was posting an article, 100 growth marketing articles you really should read, on Medium.
I spent a few hours and collated all the content I have sent so far, and put it in a Google sheet for new subscribers to download or use. Then I added a form at the footer of the article, using Upscribe to collect subscribers from within Medium.
So far, the article has had 430 views (which is okay), and 24 recommends (awesome!) however had only 8 new subscribers. That’s a lot of work for just 8 new subscribers.
The main reason for the lack of reads and new subscribers would definitely be that the growth.email Medium account has only 148 followers. In hindsight, I should have posted it on my own personal Medium account, which has 3,300 followers. A rookie mistake which I now regret.
Trying out Quuu
Quuu is an interesting service. They provide a cheap service to fill your social queue with related content, and also offer Quuu Promote, a service that you can pay to share your content (if it is approved).
I paid $30 to share my previous article on this side project, as a way to encourage people to this blog, and hopefully flow on to subscribing to growth.email. The campaign resulted in 467 shares and 108 clicks.
These results reaffirm something I’ve known for a while, which is many people share content without actually looking at it themselves.
As a cost per click exercise, the campaign cost me $0.28 per click ($0.06 per share), which is cheaper than the $0.38 per click on reddit, and way cheaper than the $20 per click on Facebook. The most affordable result so far with paid experiments growing my side project.
Tweeting more content
The growth.email Twitter account @thegrowthemail has been steadily building up an audience since it started 3 months ago. It now has 1,325 followers, and a large reason for that is the increase in the amount of content I have it sharing per day, using my favourite social media scheduling tool, Buffer.
It now tweets six times per day (up from 2-3 daily tweets a month ago), with many of the tweets being the articles I have curated within growth.email so far. The combination of specific content (growth marketing) and relevant hashtags has meant it is organically growing nicely.
Content curation workflow
As well as growing my side project, I have achieved more in curation workflow, now sorting my Feedly account into categorising content feeds better, so I am able to choose a spread of topics to review for inclusion. I have had a few people contact me asking if their articles can be included. I’ve reviewed their blogs and where appropriate I have added to my Feedly.
Because I took a sponsorship booking until the end of June, it has meant that I can’t sell any new sponsorships. I’ve had four enquiries come in, however I’ve shared the sponsorship calendar (a Google sheet) and asked them to wait for availability.
Big lesson here is to not take advertising bookings so far in advance. They were charged at sub 1,000 subscriber rates, and I now have over 1,500 great people on the list. I’m not taking sponsorship bookings more than six weeks ahead now.
The side project has been great for me, building more connections in the growth marketing industry across the globe, and encouraging more readers to my blog here, and extra subscribers to my own email list.
The experiments have been enjoyable and interesting, and has reaffirmed my interest in sharing results of experiments, something I can’t normally do with client work.
The financials moving forward are tricky to balance. The costs of email delivery means that a weekly frequency is difficult to maintain in the longer term, which explains why so many established newsletter businesses are daily or multiple sends per week.
Say I send once a week, versus twice a week (assumption here is that I have every email sponsored at $25 per thousand subscribers).
|Subscribers||Weekly email||Twice weekly email|
Now, let’s look at my possible expenses (my curation software has recently announced a major shift in their pricing plans, so when I go over 2,000 subscribers I won’t be paying $8 a month anymore).
This means, that at 2,500 subscribers, I would earn $268.75 a month on weekly sends, or $537.50 on twice weekly sends. I would pay the same outgoings of $49 per month in either scenario. So, the estimated profit of either $219.75 (weekly) or $488.50 (twice weekly) per month.
So whilst we know the costs remain the same, the income can vary greatly depending on frequency and obviously, the amount of subscribers you have on your list. The 10,000 subscribers at twice a week means a monthly profit of $2,101 which would be a great result; a motivator in growing my side project.
Beyond the deadline
I am going to continue with growth.email past my initial deadline of 30 March, for at least another few months, and see what the subscriber growth curve looks like. Depending on how things progress growing my side project, it is possible that spending an hour or so a week curating interesting articles and emailing them out could be a worthwhile endeavour. It is still enjoyable and I like giving back to the community, so for now, it’s still a go from me.
If you haven’t yet, I would appreciate you signing up to growth.email – the content is high quality and it is easy to unsubscribe at any time, should it disappoint.