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- AutoGrowth Report December 2018
- Two biggest learnings: focus and laying a stronger foundation
- Upcoming products for the new year
- Lessons for entrepreneurs: be focused, keep it simple, cut the costs
Marianna: Hey, guys, Happy New Year. I’m here with Matt Ackerson, founder of AutoGrow and we’re gonna talk about the month of December. Hi, Matt.
Matt: Hey, guys, Happy New Year from Marianna. And I and this is the final growth report for 2018, December 2018. And obviously we’re gonna talk about numbers. We’re also gonna talk about lessons learned, reflections, insights and wisdom apprehended, so let’s get into it.
Marianna: So, what was your favorite part about last year?
Matt: Favorite part about last year was actually going the entire year. So started the business in 2010, seven years or about seven and a half, eight something like that, I think was closer to eight years, selling services as an agency. And in 2018 we saved up money, made a calculated risk and began selling our own original products. And, you know, we’re very close to profitability now, but we made it through the whole year selling our own products and we’re really proud of that. So, that’s my favorite part.
Marianna: And now let’s talk about numbers.
Matt: Numbers, let’s see. So, in November, we generated about $3,340, which was up from like $1,200, so about a 280% increase from October to November. And then from November to December, last month, we generated $3,320, so about the same as November. But I actually count that as a win because we haven’t been putting out any new content other than getting our new survey funnel in place. I’ve been creating a lot of videos behind the scenes and only sending them to our email subscribers who explicitly opt-in and click saying, “Yes, I’m interested in this.” And so most of those sales are coming from that, not from any new content we’ve been putting out. So, even though sales are down by $20, since it’s December and since we’re putting out new content, I think we’re actually doing really, really well. It was kind of…been laying the groundwork for 2019 when we actually start putting out fresh content again. And that becomes a core focus of ours.
Marianna: What did you learn last month? What can you share?
Matt: Last month I feel that focusing on one thing at a time is something that I’ve come back to again and again because it’s difficult. But once you do it consistently, you sort of see more of a stacking effect versus getting distracted by different things. So, you know, I feel like the focus this month was, you know, cutting costs which we should have done earlier in 2019. So, I think that was kind of a big lesson for the year…is that, you know, we could have been profitable a lot sooner. So, we brought our costs down in December of 2018, something we should have done earlier. And now we’re within striking distance of being profitable, so that’s good. I think the other thing was, so that cutting costs focus, speaking of focus on multitasking here driving and giving you guys insights on the past month. But yeah, I think those are pretty much the two biggest things, you know, doing one thing at a time and kind of like laying a stronger foundation for us to enter 2019.
Because our survey funnel, something I’ve talked about in the past where it personalizes, you know, we give content to our email subscribers based on what you tell us, your biggest marketing challenges, you know, whether you’re a startup just getting started or whether you want to build a sales funnel or whether traffic is your biggest problem. You know, we had unique content that we would send to you, but it was really just, you know, old blog posts and that was fine because every time that we would do an experiment and turn the survey funnel off and on, it would go from like, you know, like a 5% or 9% average engagement rate to like a 35% engagement rate consistently across our entire email list. So, the survey funnel has just been really effective at doing that, but now it’s going to be much more effective, I think, at delivering that content in a better format where I’m on camera. I’m giving you like a professional presentation with a whiteboard behind me or doing a PowerPoint in some of the videos. And it’s all brand new content and, you know, so far we’ve been getting a lot of really positive comments too. People leave, you know, comments below the videos as we’ve been putting them out. So, it looks like it was a good decision so far.
Marianna: What other things do you think have helped you, you know get to the point where you are at right now, like for example, you were changing your website, right?
Matt: Yeah so, you know, we spent a few months in 2018, you know, looking at different options to move the website until we finally made that move. And, you know, something that helped us also to grow our traffic this past year was just continuously doing little things like tweaking the server or, you know, adding a new WordPress plugin and other things like that that would help to speed up the website. But now we’re on a new server, which is also faster and we’re starting to get some of the benefits of that. And the server is also great because it’s built on top of Amazon. So, when we eventually come out with an application, perhaps later, you know, middle of 2019, you know, we’ll be building on top of a strong foundation, technically speaking as well.
Marianna: And what things do you think you should have avoided in the past month and what things do you think you should avoid next month, you know, to have or to see better results?
Matt: You know, one of the videos that I made, because there’s like different buckets, as I said, with the survey funnel and so, one of the buckets, you know, that we put people into based on what they say their biggest challenges. And so I talked about, you know, startups for one of the final buckets that I was actually recording. And so I talked about startups and my experience actually starting, you know, AutoGrow for example. And I think one of the things that I shared there was just the importance of… Can you repeat the question?
Marianna: What things do you think you should have avoided, you know, in this past month and what things you think you should avoid next — the need to get to better results?
Matt: All right. So, what I was going to say was, in a couple of the videos I held up my journal as, you know, one of my secret weapons because I feel that, number one, it saves a lot of money. You don’t have to hire a coach. Instead, you can just journal and reflect on, “Okay, this is where I’m at. This is where I wanna be. Are the steps that I’m taking right now going to get me there?” And I feel like this is a really useful tool for anyone to use, you know, and if you don’t like writing in a notebook, you know, that’s fine, too. You can just talk into your phone and, you know, use like a voice recorder. That’s another option. I think it’s better to put it on paper because it’s easier to kind of flip back and skim through your notes so you can kind of see your progress and your thoughts over time.
But that’s one thing that I haven’t been doing as consistently that I want to be doing more. In other words, to answer your question that I’ve been, you know, avoiding, so to speak and I feel like that has slowed down, because every decision that you make, like what you’re going to work on every single day, it determines how fast you can grow. So, if you’re making good decisions about where to put your time and energy, you’re going to grow that much faster. So, I would say again, just, you know, journaling and having that kind of mind space to check on each of the daily decisions that I’m making and just holding a mirror up to myself say, “Okay, like, you know, yes, this is working and we see it over here. Or no, this is not working. I should adjust and tweak it in this way.”
Marianna: What’s coming up next for this month for AutoGrow? And for this year do you have new plans with the company, new products?
Matt: Yeah. So, now that we have the new survey funnels all done…it’s like I recorded I think in total of 55 new videos. Some of them are shorter than others, but averaging right around, you know, 10 to 15 minutes each. So, that’s all done with and, you know, we’re putting some final polishes on these, you know, new landing pages that we rolled out which are looking pretty good. I’m getting a lot of compliments on them. After that, we’re gonna be coming out with new products. So, we have six products in the pipeline right now. We want to develop products in the same way that we’re personalizing the experience with our survey funnel. We wanna develop, you know, products that are very, very relevant to each person’s need as they go through our survey funnel. Now, obviously, you know, I’m doing it the hard way, I would say. You know, most marketers and entrepreneurs…the advice is, you know, okay, you know, pick a niche. “The Rich is in the Niche,” is the expression. And that’s largely true and I often will advise that too.
But I’m doing it the hard way just because, you know, this is just how I want to build the business for certain long-term goals. And I’m really excited to put those out because I think that we’re going to be giving laser-targeted offers based on what people say their needs are. And we’re gonna see an increase in sales and increasing conversion rates as a result of that.
Marianna: So, what would you say is your main goal, you know, right now for the next month, or for this month January?
Matt: So, for this month I want to develop at least one, maybe two new products. And develop and launch at least one product is where we’re on track for right now. So, we’re gonna do that. And then we’re gonna keep doing it. I think going into February we’re gonna start to ramp up traffic. Certainly, I think by the end of this month we’re going to be beginning to put out new content as well and that’s going to become our consistent routine. Because, I mean, for the first time literally in five years…you know, we didn’t put out any new content since I think it was, you know, November because all the new content I was putting out instead was for you know these 55 videos I recorded for the survey funnel.
Marianna: So, you’re gonna start creating content for the website, for the blog, or for the articles?
Matt: Yeah, and more than that, the focus is gonna be on growing our traffic.
Marianna: Okay. And what else do you think, you know, that AutoGrow is gonna do for next year? Like do you have some other plans besides launching new products, maybe, you know, like relaunching the website?
Matt: I think our big milestone will be when we hit profitability, because I can see it. You know, you can kind of see it, you know, in the windshield down the road. It’s very close. We might even hit it this month. Because it’s really like, you know, we haven’t been focused on traffic and that’s why I think our revenue hasn’t been what it could be. But again that’s because we’ve just taken the time to layer stronger foundation. So, I think that hitting that’s gonna be a nice milestone. It’s gonna, you know, take away, you know, because even though I know that, you know, rationally as an entrepreneur, we’ve made much more revenue than we have in these more recent months, but it’s still stressful. You know, so stressful burning when you’re burning money, when you’re not running profitable, when you’re not stacking money in the bank. Instead, you see the bank account going down. So, that’s, I think, the big short term goal. And I’m not really looking much farther beyond that, other than to say that a big focus this year is gonna be traffic, traffic, traffic, traffic and more traffic.
And I’m excited to share the journey on that as well because when we even just have focused on it in 2018, I mean, we’ve than doubled our traffic from like…I think we were doing less than 20,000 visits per month. And we went from doing that to doing 40,000 visits per month.
Marianna: Yeah. And what about the Matt Hacks? Is that coming back, are you planning making them again?
Matt: They might just be videos. You know, they might just be integrated with the content that we put out there. So, you know, because, I mean, I don’t know like it’s weird because we would actually do really well in terms of sales when we put out the Matt Hacks, you know, where we would have the video be transcribed and edited a little bit. And, you know, so revenue would go up, you know, but the click rate was really low at the same time and, you know, I wanna keep our audience as engaged as possible, I wanna send them most relevant content. So you know, I’m on the fence on that one. But I think at the very least, video is certainly going to continue to be really important for us, and that’s why we redid our entire survey funnel like that. I think I also wanna say, you know, people might be wondering, what was the final number for 2018 in terms of total revenue.
It looks like it’s going to be 43,000 or about 44,000. I have to double-check with my assistant on this because some of the revenue like most of the revenue is in SamCart. And I think that, you know, when you start a products business like what we did, you know, you really have to keep an eye on, you know, the numbers so that, you know, when you hit profitability, for example, when you’re not just kind of, you know, feeling the wind on your finger, so to speak. But to help us with that, you know, we’re making sure to count some revenue and some customers that have come through, you know, directly through Stripe for example, or directly through PayPal and for whatever reason, they just weren’t incorporated into the SamCart numbers. But it looks like about 43,000, at least for the year of 2018, possibly 44.
Marianna: Do you wanna say something else? Or should we just say goodbye?
Matt: I think the lesson for all entrepreneurs, you know, like just do one thing at a time, don’t get distracted by shiny objects. Focus, focus, focus, keep it simple and control your costs, you know, get to running profitability as soon as possible. Yeah, it will give you peace of mind, it will allow you to think about and plan and see farther in terms of your business and that’s just money that is coming into the bank that you can reinvest later on and, you know, hiring someone new investing in a new tool or a new project once you are ready to make that next focus. That’s what I’d say, one thing at a time, cut your costs, gets to running profitability.
Marianna: Good. Well, thank you, Matt.
Matt: And thank you, guys. It’s been an amazing 2018. I think we might even compile this into some sort of a compilation. Maybe these videos, I think, might even become their own curated products. So, we might do a compile it into that for the people on our email list who say that getting started and making money online or creating their own products is their biggest challenge. So, I think that we’ll probably do that. And I think that’s another lesson that you can, you know, keep an eye on as well in upcoming reports like this…is, you know, how can you make your own products where you can actually repurpose your existing content and, you know, make it better and then package it?
You know, I got this idea when I loaned you that rework book from the guys over at 37 Signals aka Base Camp. You know, I was explaining to you that they just took these essays and they made it into a book. And they made it better obviously editing photos, but these were just their greatest hits from their own blog. And I was more than happy to spend money on their book, it’s a great book. You know, people are willing to pay for quality stuff. And I think that what we can do is we can compile this into something really fun and valuable.
Marianna: Thank you, Matt. I guess we’ll see you in a month.
Matt: Maybe in a month, maybe in two months, we’ll see. I mean, so far, I think that these growth reports are really good for me. I think that a smaller portion of our audience actually checks them out because we never really branded ourselves as, you know, other internet marketing type of people where it’s about, you know, the money and all this for us. But I think it’s important to share the journey and so I’m gonna keep doing that one way or another. So, maybe in one month, maybe in two.
Marianna: Okay, good. Thank you, Matt.
Matt: Okay. Bye, guys.
Marianna: Bye, guys.
Matt: Happy New Year.