Alrighty, let’s do this May income report!
It was a busy month: a big new blog post on Solo 401ks, testing Facebook ads for the first time, adding a new email to my autoresponder series, and grabbing more credit card sign up bonuses. I didn’t get to piloting a live webinar (womp womp), but will be testing that soon.
First, results. In May, I booked revenue of $4,005, up +179% year over year.
Why the spike? A couple factors. One, my email series helped pull in extra customers; there was a fairly consistent stream of orders during the month. Two, it’s graduation season at many universities. It’s possible many soon-to-be finance professionals are investing some early summer downtime tooling up for future buyside jobs.
Here’s a recap of May and what’s on deck in June.
What progress did I make?
1. Released new case study on Solo 401k plans
I put out a new case study on why a Solo 401k is the best solo retirement plan out there. The post shows:
- How a Solo 401k works
- Why it’s superior to its sibling alternatives: SEP, SIMPLE, and IRA
- Basic strategy for maximizing its impact
- And finally, I walk you through the Solo 401k application process step by step
I was researching this on my own anyway and decided to summarize my findings into a blog post chock full of insights. If you’re a solo-preneur and need an extra tool to shield income from taxes, check out the post for all the juicy details.
2. Started testing Facebook ads
I mentioned in my last couple income reports that I was getting ready to test out Facebook ads. I was waiting to cure enough audience data for Facebook to tell me insights about readers visiting HYW.
After curing enough data, I have now started testing ads on FB. My first ad is a simple “Like” campaign for the HYW Facebook page. I’m running separate tests in the mobile newsfeed, desktop newsfeed, and desktop right hand rail.
A couple insights so far:
- Facebook ads are expensive. The CPMs and cost per conversion are quite a bit higher than I expected. Granted, I’ve only been testing ads for a few days and the ad serving algorithm is probably still calibrating how to most effectively display my ad and I still need to experiment with different target audiences. But it’s made me realize customer acquisition via Facebook is pretty darn expensive.
- Your text has to be small. Facebook doesn’t allow text to occupy more than 20% of your ad image, but complying with this rule effectively means your text must occupy much less than 20%. They don’t analyze the true area occupied by your text. Instead, they divide your image into a grid, and if you have ANY text inside a grid cell they count that entire cell as 100% text. So, you don’t get “credit” for white space between words and letters. And that makes it a lot harder to message anything prominently in your ad.
So, Facebook ads are hard.
It’s definitely not the old days when their ad rules were much looser and you could acquire customers very inexpensively on FB. Still, thoughtful analytical marketers who are quantitative in their testing strategy can still see good results from FB, and I’ll continue studying best practices and techniques for maxing ROI from Facebook ads.
3. Twitter bot still going strong
My Twitter bot continues to help grow my Twitter follower base faster than would be possible manually. We’re getting some good followers, and at some point I’ll start reversing follows to rightside my followed / follower ratio. We still continue loading up Buffer posts twice a day, mixing in both HYW content and interesting personal finance posts I read across the web.
4. Added new email to autoresponder series
After adding another new email to the series, the HYW autoresponder is now 7 emails long. I’m beginning to sequence the series into a theme that’s all about minimizing taxes.
I’m actually thinking about turning the series into a full-blown email course at some point, since I have found with my other sites that email courses provide a natural incentive to signing up in the first place and help drive strong email conversions.
5. Continued to make progress on credit card sign up bonuses
We locked in some great credit card sign up bonuses in May, adding to our nicely growing untaxable asset class.
We collected 60k big ones from a Chase Ink Plus card, 15k from a Chase Freedom, and 35k SPG points. That’s easily $1,200 – $2,000 worth of travel value.
We also started redeeming. The interwebs advises you to routinely “earn and burn,” as points can depreciate in value quickly especially when airlines and hotels reset redemption rates. So, we booked a big trip for the fall and paid nothing but taxes and fees for our multi-city round-trip airline tickets. We haven’t booked our hotels yet, but those should be easy redemptions, too. We’ll end up mostly just paying for food and sightseeing for 2 weeks. Nice!
We also got 2 new cards: the Amex Hilton HHonors and Amex Hilton HHonors Surpass cards. Both had their biggest-ever sign up bonuses totaling aggregate 175k HHonors points, plus automatic Gold status. That’ll come in handy. 🙂
One important thing we learned: Amex has a rule of not allowing you to open more than 2 Amex credit cards during any 90 day look-back period. And you cannot hold more than 4 Amex credit cards in your name, personal or business, at a time. Charge cards don’t count toward these limits. If you hit your 2 applications in 90 days limit, you’ll need to cancel one of the two cards in order to “free up space” to apply for a third card. Just be sure to collect (and redeem / cash out) your sign up bonus before doing that!
It’s also important to know Amex credit card sign up bonuses are once per life. They cannot be earned again. You can still double dip on charge card rewards, though.
1. Refine Facebook ads
I’ve spun up my Facebook ads and have various designs I want to test over the coming months. But most of my efforts will be spent fine-tuning my audience targeting. I’ve made a list of different target audiences I want to experiment with and I’ll be creating lots of ad sets to systematically test the performance of each one before figuring out how to combine audiences together efficiently.
2. Release new case study and autoresponder
I’ll also be pushing out another blog post and email autoresponder. I’m currently thinking about doing something on strategies for maximizing value from an HSA account. I now have an HSA account, so it’s something I’ve been intending to look into anyway. Either that, or a step-by-step walkthrough on analyzing the unit economics of real estate investment properties (including a simple useful spreadsheet I use for comparing properties efficiently side by side).
Any finance topics you’re interested in seeing on HYW? Drop a comment below and let me know. If several folks mention the same interest, I’ll write about that topic next.
3. Pilot a live webinar
I didn’t get to piloting a live webinar in May, unfortunately, but I plan to do it in June. There are still things I need to flesh out in terms of format and structure. But I’ve got a few topics in mind, and I’ll definitely share more details as I get closer to the pilot.
So, that wraps up my readout for May. I’ll do a bigger Q2 recap at the end of June, since it’ll be the end of the quarter and a good opportunity to analyze my progress over the last 3 months. Stay tuned for that….
And please leave a comment below with any suggestions on financial or tax topics you’d like to see developed into a case study here in the future – your feedback definitely influences what I create on this site!