July 5th, 2020
Fresh off of my think week, this June 2020 was the first full month of focus on Starter Story in a long time.

If you didn’t get a chance to read last month’s update, it’s important. (I didn’t send my monthly update last month because of the protests and craziness going on at the time)

But the tl;dr is that I’ll be moving most of my focus back to Starter Story.

Throughout June it’s become even more clear that this is the right move. 

The premium membership is performing very well. We did $8K+ gross revenue in June - that’s a 50% increase over May’s $5.4K, which was a 70% increase over April.

The growth here is promising but also shows why it’s so important to focus on just one thing - channeling all our energy purely into Starter Story is producing results. 

It also shows how much potential Starter Story has, and how under-monetized it is.

The main contributors to this growth? (1) more, diverse content (2) aggressive A/B testing (3) a metered paywall (4) switching to annual-only memberships and (5) taking advantage of email marketing automation (shoutout Klaviyo).

As far as content, we tested out a bunch of things with the ultimate goal of figuring out what our users want.

One experiment was to test if our readers want more “industry trends” (inspiration from Trends and trends.vc). We ran some experiments with content like this but it performed very poorly.

What worked? Our business ideas database - which further confirms our hypothesis that people want help finding a business idea.

To learn more about our users, we’ve started doing 1 on 1 video calls with them. We’ve been learning more about what our users are working on and where they’re struggling.

We also spent more time building out the backend CMS of Starter Story. It’s pretty damn cool what we’re building - as it allows us to take advantage of our growing database of case studies, tools, etc. 

Ultimately, this will allow us to be able to scale content in a way that other blogs cannot - because of the amount of data we collect on everything.

We also tested a new style of newsletter which is more long-form and opinionated. It is performing well so far.

Lastly, we spent much of June thinking about how we can approach decisions and ideas more experimentally - mostly building MVPs of new features and A/B testing everything - I wrote a bit about it here

June Numbers

- Monthly revenue (accrual): $11,921 (+30%)
- Traffic: 85k unique users (-4%)
- Content published: +109 (+17%)
- New email subscribers (net): +2,469 (+41.57%)
- Email collection rate: 3.4%

Plan for July

Our main focus for July is (1) more scalable content and (2) more optimization.

Our goal is to publish 150 pieces of content and roll out 2 new “types” of content as experiments.

We’ll also be building out a scalable system for our step-by-step “how-to” guides, as we believe there is a huge gap in this kind of content online.

This next month we will add time on site and pages per session as key metrics going forward - we want to keep people on the site longer. We will build and test features and optimize for that as we go.

A couple of other smaller things:

  • Test out selling a course for a fixed price
  • Run an ongoing survey with readers
  • Try out some social media ads

Goals for July

  1. Pieces of content published: 150
  2. Email collection rate: 5%
  3. Subscription impressions: 10%
  4. New customers: 2.5% (as % of subscription impressions)
  5. Time On Site: 3:00
  6. Average Pages Per Session: 2.2