It's lightly edited but otherwise untouched. I've kept them on the site to show how the journey has evolved.
Welcome to July’s business breakdown.
Each month we take a peak under the hood of Digital Freedom, discussing:
- Freedom (leverage)
- Revenue (income and expenses)
- Growth (social media and newsletter)
The bad news is July’s the worst month this year.
The good news is I've got a few important lessons to share. Including what I'm investing in, why my social media strategy sucks, and the reasons I think the creator newsletter model sucks (and what to do instead),.
So first we'll unpack the numbers, then we'll talk strategy.
This one’s a 6-minute read.
Let’s dive in.
The Freedom Metre
Digital Freedom’s about getting paid for your mind, not your time.
2023’s goal is to move away from 1-1 work and toward higher leverage stuff.
In January, 43% of total revenue was 'low leverage'.
Here's the figure now:
This hasn’t budged since last month because I haven't earned much.
July’s net income: $2,198.43
I’ve made a loss two months in a row now (I don’t include the girlfriend’s wage as an expense).
But I’m happy because as a dentist, if my income plummeted, I'd have shit the bed. My pay check was my purpose.
The main reason is High Impact Writing isn't for sale. But I've also been investing more time into building long term assets like my welcome sequence and website.
Here’re the figures broken down:
One cool observation.
My coaching conversations are wildly different to a year ago. It used to be social media growth, but now it’s just the business of writing (which is nice because who wants to be a social media coach really).
Plus since speaking to Jay Clouse on Creator Science about product launches, I connected with a few big names in the space.
(You can listen to the podcast episode here if ya like).
Feels a little surreal to see the journey unfold - but I’m loving it.
I’ve been investing more into courses - mainly around email.
It's a skill I'd love to master over the next few years.
Yesterday I had a call with an email writing coach too. I've never had a writing coach so I'm pretty keen to upskill.
And as we approach 30k newsletter subs, the other expense is paying for ConvertKit - which is getting bloody expensive (but worth every penny).
ConvertKit’s Creator Network continues to kick ass and I’m now investing in paid growth through Sparkloop - the expense started in August so we can cover that next month.
However I'm less focused on newsletter growth now.
Let’s discuss audience growth then wrap up with why.
Next month we should hit 200k overall.
My girlfriend and I will be island hopping in Greece at the time - so that’s pretty cool.
But when we come home I want to change up the business approach.
So let's discuss why.
What’s wrong with my creator biz strategy
When you’re steering a ship that’s getting faster all the time, making the right decision becomes crucial.
Like Naval Ravikant says, “In an age of infinite leverage, judgement is the most important skill.”
So I've been doing a lot of thinking recently.
Revenue's way down, but clarity's way up.
Mainly around 2 topics:
- The customer journey
- The best way to write a newsletter
To explain, let’s begin with one truth:
The creator business is the relationship business - through and through.
The more your audience knows, likes, and trusts you - the more money you make doing what you love.
But I haven't been intentional in designing my reader's journey.
I think it's a massive mistake.
At the moment, you can find me on Twitter and email.
My content strategy is to repurpose my newsletter into social content. Invite people to the email list. And hope a few buy my products. But if not, I'll also sell advertising slots.
... Pretty standard creator play.
But here's the problem:
Your reader is on a journey when they find you.
And each stage requires a different approach. The aim is to take someone from stranger, to follower, to fan.
My first change is I'll no longer post newsletter content on Twitter.
They’re separate platforms with separate goals.
Social is about casting your net wide.
But email is about building a tribe.
Combining the two makes you suck at both. You either write a listicle-style newsletter because it’s easy to repurpose and so never create fans, or you post your newsletter on Twitter and lose the exclusive, personal touch.
So what’s social for?
You write on Twitter to catch attention by sharing your values, beliefs, and insights in your industry.
NOT hard teaching.
I’ve spent hours writing threads that got ~100 likes.
That’s 0.05% of my audience.
You’re wasting your time with in-depth content because only a TINY portion see it.
And guess where they are?
Waiting for your emails (you can also build authority assets like free courses to show your expertise).
Leading us to the next point of contact.
The problem with the creator newsletter
Everyone’s hyped about the once-a-week-teach-an-idea newsletter model.
You make good money from ads and can pitch your products/services at the end.
I thought it was a brilliant idea.
But recently I've changed my mind.
It works for someone like Justin Welsh because he's at the top of his game. But you and I are a few levels down - and it's a whole different world here.
Let me explain the risks of not adapting the strategy:
1. Lack of frequency
People worry that emailing more than once a week is 'too much' for their audience.
I think the opposite is true - especially now that there's so much content.
Let me explain.
I used to listen to loads of podcasts. But as more and more choice emerged, the opposite effect occurred - I listened to less people. It's easier for me to find 2-3 great hosts and listen to them only. I trust them and know they deliver. And I'm grateful they release 3+ episodes a week as a result.
The same is true for email.
Sure, some people will hate hearing from you more.
But they ain't your target audience.
And you'll create many more fans as a result (and it's fans that build your biz).
Newsletter guys n gals talk about how brilliant advertising is.
But you've spent years earning the attention of your reader - just to rent it back out again?
I've spoken to a few big creators who rely on ads. None of them enjoy it. Plus you're dependant on externalities like the economy (and other creators selling attention cheaper than you).
So what do you do instead?
Well, you have a deep understanding of your audience's problems.
Solve them yourself.
Most newsletters teach, teach, and teach.
I’m guilty of this too, but it’s a mistake.
I've created a lot of content over the past 2 years. And there's one undeniable truth:
Your audience does not want to be educated anywhere near as much as they want to be entertained.
Information is abundant - it’s connection that’s scarce.
But this doesn’t mean you don’t give useful advice.
In fact, you’ll probably be more useful. I’ve never once read a ‘hard teaching’ email and taken action.
I read it. I say, ‘Oh how nice’. I click away. I forget.
I bet you do too. That’s the nature of free content - we don’t value it like we should.
The aim is to blend information with personality.
Or what Ben Settle calls 'infotainment'.
The result is a tribe
The next step then is to build offers that help your fans achieve the common desire you've built your message around.
This builds a tribe - and that's where a creator excels.
Because unlike other companies we have the advantage of being real people.
My friend, can you see how this journey is much more intentional?
Each level of your business pulls them deeper into your world - instead of the amalgamation of generic content spread across as many places as possible, just hoping for the end result.
Let’s wrap this up with an important point:
I’ve said nothing new.
Copywriting experts talk about the fan-building process often. Most send daily emails for a reason.
Social media pros understand casting the net wide is the most efficient way to create content.
But what they do poorly is see the other side of the equation.
Copywriters bring their ‘fans only’ attitude to social and never grow. Social entrepreneurs treat their newsletter like another thread to tick off in the content hamster wheel - never creating fans.
The smart play lies somewhere in the middle.
So after the relaunch of High Impact Writing in September, I’ll adjust my strategy.
Will it work?
But there’s one thing for sure:
You can expect regular updates as we go. And I hope a few of you give it a whirl with me.
Adios and keep writing your way to freedom,
Ex dentist, current writer, future Onlyfans star · Sharing what I learn about writing well, thinking clearly, and building an online business