A fresh start as a solopreneur – this is what I would do

I’m a web publisher at heart. What I enjoy the most is creating, publishing, promoting, and monetizing online content. It’s more fun for me than telling others to do that.

For example, over the past few months, I rolled up my sleeves and dug into the Facebook mud to figure out how it worked. And I LOVED every minute. I would still prefer to do that today, but alas, I have to keep on coordinating our team’s efforts to push forward with –

  • Scaling Facebook
  • Increasing Pinterest traffic
  • Building robust mailing lists
  • Creating and promoting info products (that’s an entirely new front for us, and quite the learning curve!)

It’s working well, too. I can’t complain. I don’t mean to be playing the world’s smallest violin here. The scaling game is also fun, and I’m grateful to have an awesome team to work with.

The point is, I do sometimes fantasize about what it would be like to get back to working by myself without a team. Really doing – rather than managing.

So, as CGPT likes to say, let’s dive in. Here’s a quick outline of my plan. This relies to a great extent on Scott Delong’s mailing list playbook.

For the purpose of the intellectual exercise, this is how I would do this if I were to start from scratch.

I Would Start with A Website (duh!)

I would use AI to create the content. Of course, it wouldn’t be single-click AI content.

Instead, I would write about things that I know and like (possibly about AI!). Depending on the topic, I would either use Koala, or ChatGPT. I would then challenge myself to create 10 articles a day, every day for a week. That’s 70 articles in week 1.

During the following three weeks, I would create an additional 130 articles by blocking 7 half-day sessions in my calendar just for that.

And yes, I can create 10 articles in a single day. I actually challenged myself to that a couple of months ago, just to prove a point. From ideation to hitting publish, it took me 7-8 hours.

The Facebook Twist

So, as soon as I get some time on my hands, in week 2, I’d start a Facebook page for the site, but without buying likes.

Plot twist!

Why not promote my articles on Facebook right away? Because I don’t plan on promoting to Facebook before I can monetize the site. Anything else would be a waste of my time.

The easiest way to monetize is using display ads, and I won’t get into Mediavine with such a young site. They told me a site should be at least four months old before it can be added to their network.

Growing Facebook traffic will happen only after I get the site monetized in some way. But I know my way around Facebook. It can go viral on you faster than you expect, and you end up with tons of traffic that you can’t monetize. Been there, done that. No, thanks.

So why the Facebook page?

Because I’d use it to buy subscribers for my mailing list.

Starting the mailing list

A mailing list would be the best way for me to grow traffic gradually so that by the time the site is old enough for Mediavine, I can also show them just the right amount of traffic.

If you have the time, you could do this phase much more slowly and possibly more efficiently. i.e. invest more as revenue starts coming in.

But I’m impatient and have the funds to literally “buy some time.”

The costs so far have been minimal. A domain, hosting, a ChatGPT Pro account, and a $99 Koala account. That’s maybe $150 for the first week.

But now it’s time to start buying subscribers for my mailing list.

I’m going to follow Scott Delong’s method for buying those subscribers. He seems to have perfected those campaigns. The playbook explains it all, from A to Z, including the Zapier connection that gets those emails from Facebook into Convertkit.

How much will the subscribers cost?

That would depend on the niche. I’ve already used this method in the past, and I could get them in the gardening and pets niche for around 20-40 cents per subscriber. This could be more expensive in other niches! Let’s assume half a dollar per subscriber. 50 cents is easy to work with for our purposes, since this is just a rough sketch.

My goal would be to reach 20,000 subscribers during the first four months. Yes, that’s an initial investment of $10,000.

An investment. Not an expense.

I’d be emailing my subscribers every day. That’s 30 emails per month. I would take one day a week to write and schedule seven emails.

Scott also explains how to quickly write those emails. And frankly, this part appealed to me the most. I want to be able to do nothing but create content. Adding 20 new articles and writing 30 short pre-formatted emails in a month is more than doable. It’s going to be fun!

This being only a back-of-the-envelope plan, let me jump forward to month 5, when we get the site monetized.

We would now have 20,000 subs; each getting a nice email daily. The kind of email that’s personal enough to resonate with them.

Let’s assume around 40% open rate. That’s 8,000 people who read the email. Now, let’s assume 20% of those readers click through to one of my lovely articles. That’s 1,600 people. A day.

We’re talking more than 48,000 sessions. More than enough to fly this site into Mediavine.

Let’s assume $30 RPM. We’re at $1,440 a month from display ads alone.

And we keep investing. Yes, the site will still be in the red for a while.

But – and this is the great thing about this model – investment can stay fixed at $2,500 a month, while the revenue grows by approx. $360 a month.

By month 12, the site should be making $4,320 from the newsletter traffic and display ads alone. Already turning a profit of $1820 that month. AND GROWING.

And yes, it has cost us $2,500 a month to grow that list, so $30,000 for that year. That’s a small investment for a reliable and stable money-making machine that keeps on growing.

Why not Facebook pages and Pinterest?

Why not, indeed?

I would totally add both to the mix. I would start Pinterest early on to start that particular snowball rolling. As soon as the site is monetized, I’d start buying likes for the Facebook page and promoting there as well. Another pay-to-play method.

Traffic from Facebook is going to come in faster and possibly cheaper (at least in the short term). But it’s also riskier. The day Facebook decides to tweak the algorithm, all that traffic could go away.

The mailing list traffic is there to stay, pretty much. It’s not 100% guaranteed – for various reasons – but it’s much more reliable compared to Facebook (or Google, or Pinterest) traffic.

It’s also much better for a future exit. Buyers love self-propelled sites.

This is actually a conservative business plan

By that, I don’t mean that it’s risk-free. Nothing is ever risk-free.

I mean that I would probably monetize the list using info products, too. I’m currently working on two info products for two of our sites. Still learning the ropes, but I know it’s doable.

Also, Scott brings up a great point – mailing list traffic can also be monetized directly via email ads. And that particular market is still in its infancy. Revenue from opens will probably go up, whether or not they click through to your page.

So, why don’t I move ahead with this plan?

I am! Just not with a brand new site.

While my team is busy working on four other mailing lists we manage, I’m knee-deep in creating a brand new list, pretty much from scratch.

The site already gets a decent amount of traffic, so I get a nice influx of subscribers from organic traffic. That’s nice, but it’s not enough. I’m going all in with ads—for now, on Facebook—to reach more subscribers.

I’ll have to optimize emails for open rates and CTR and ads for cost-per-sub. It’ll probably take me weeks, if not months, to get this right.

But that’s ok. I’m fortunate to have the budget to run multiple experiments, and I know these projects take a lot of time and patience.

Is this a good option for you?

I don’t know. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure. It’s a pay-to-play method that requires not only money but also dedication and commitment. The whole point here is sticking with this long-term to reach this compounding effect.

And if you’re not that person, I hope you still enjoyed peeking at my little napkin sketch of a plan!


  1. what is your opinion on sending people to a landing page for the blog posts where they have to enter their email before getting redirected to the actual blog post?
    This is what I am doing with pinterest. My idea is that it is more valuable to get them to email list, so it is worth the sacrifice in page views.

    • Hi Daniel,
      I think it depends on your ROI from page traffic vs. from email subs (future page traffic) and your conversion ratio from the landing page. It’s great that you’re testing and once you have enough data, you’d have to run the numbers and see.

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