Month 8 Income Report - Into the social media gauntlet

It's time to stop building and start growing.

Hey there!

This is Zach, and in this newsletter, I share a monthly update on how my full-time entrepreneurship journey is going.

I’m at the end of month 8, and…

Well, let’s just rip the band-aid off.

Revenue tracker

There are two ways to look at this month:

  1. My net profit was $31, which makes me more profitable than 80% of venture-backed startups. Over the last 6 years, I’ve only had like… 3 unprofitable months ever. That’s a… win?


Wish I could say I fell into camp #1, but rationalizing poor results is not in my game plan here. I’ll always be optimistic, but I’m not going to pretend that this is working when it’s not.

I’ve been foreshadowing this revenue drop for several issues now, but no amount of forecasting can make this feel better.

We’re not only miles from the stated goal of this newsletter, but we’re also going backward. I don’t expect this to continue, but it most certainly makes me question the validity of this newsletter, my own ability to grow things, and so much more.

That said, I’ve got some freelance revenue in the pipeline, I’m doing way better mentally, and I’m finally in the clear to start spending most of my time on direct revenue-generating activities.

Is that what they call… Optimism?

Here’s the damage:

The above revenue is primarily broken into 3 separate business areas.

  1. The DIY Golfer + Local Golf Spot - my golf websites/brands

  2. Tech YouTube Channel - mostly web development tutorials

  3. Freelance - a “catch-all” for one-time contract work

Here’s a detailed look at how the overall business has done comparing Nov. 2023 vs. the prior period, Oct. 2023.

Some notes:

  • I don’t want to talk about it

  • I don’t want to talk about it

  • My chart of accounts is a mess and I promise I’ll get that cleaned up

What went well

Continued improvements in my mental state

2 months ago, I was on the verge of complete burnout. I was experiencing mental challenges I’d never faced before and for the first time ever, they were significantly hindering my ability to do my work.

So I hit the brakes and added back some good daily habits I had slacked on (workouts, taking breaks, etc.), which has helped me re-frame everything and enjoy the process more.

Local Golf Spot is still growing

This growth has been SLOW but it appears that the work I did in the first couple months of this journey is going to eventually pay off in some way:

With programmatic sites, there is always the risk that you grow quickly in the beginning and then drop off the face of the planet. I spent a ton of time on the UI/UX of that site and I’m hoping in a world filled with AI-generated WordPress niche sites, this one stands out to Google.

Eventually, I’d love to tie this site into The DIY Golfer in some way. I have been brainstorming on that for a while and have some cool ideas.

Improved customer experience for my golf training platform

One of the strategic moves I’m making on my golf site is moving away from one huge golf training course and towards a collection of shorter, lower-priced courses that golfers can pick and choose from. A “buffet” of courses rather than “fine-dining”.

Because of this, I had to completely re-write the code behind this to support many courses. If you’re an engineer, I’m sure you’re very familiar with the challenge of going from n=1 to n=2+.

Here’s the before:

And here’s the after:

Adding a Guest Checkout

Another problem I had with this training platform was the onboarding experience. The previous flow was:

  1. User buys a course

  2. I send them a password reset email to setup their account

  3. They get to view the course

Well… I have a wide audience on this golf site, but mostly males from ages 35-70. Some folks had a hard time with this password reset flow and even worse, some would never receive the onboarding email (due to spam filters).

As a result, 1/5 customers would not be able to access the course after purchasing and would then end up thinking they got scammed until I would email or call them on the phone.

So during this rebuild, one of the main priorities was a better onboarding flow. Here’s the new flow:

  1. User buys the course

  2. User immediately starts viewing the course as a guest

  3. User sets up account and guest data is merged with their newly created Auth0 profile

So far, I’ve sold 6 courses with zero complaints. Very happy with that!

One of my golf videos took off

I bought a $600 personal golf launch monitor back during the summer, and in October, I finally got around to taking it out and reviewing it.

I worked my butt off for this one. I spent a TON of time editing and making sure it was as concise and data-driven as it could be.

It paid off:

It always feels great to see a video you worked hard on actually get some views because let me tell you… It doesn’t always happen. I’ve had plenty of videos I’ve spent an entire week on getting 80 views. It’s the ultimate gut punch.

I FINALLY finished my golf site migration

Along the lines of those improvements to my training platform, I FINALLY finished The DIY Golfer site build.

As a quick summary, this build included:

  • A CMS switch from Git-based to Sanity CMS

  • Re-writing tons of old content

  • SEO keyword research, planning, and site structure reorganization

  • UI/UX improvements for better affiliate conversions

  • Query performance optimizations

It started as a “2-week project” and ended as a 3-month endeavor.

Golf Terms Glossary

Product review templates

Swing position glossary

My weekly newsletter automatically posts to my site

That said, it is hands-down the best site I have ever built. I haven’t had the chance to brag about much of anything in this newsletter yet, but I genuinely think this is a top-10 golf website on the internet from a UI/UX perspective. I really hope that pays off in the long run.

What went poorly

The results were bad. The results were really bad.

You saw the revenue above. But from a psychological standpoint, I don’t think I can accurately portray what it feels like to work your butt off for 8 months and end up in the same spot financially that you were an entire year ago (when I wasn’t even paying attention to this business).

I don’t care who you are, it puts doubts in your head:

  • Maybe… I’m not good at this?

  • Am I convincing myself to be patient when really, I’m just internally justifying working on the wrong things?

  • Do I even want to do this?

  • Why am I writing a newsletter about it?

  • I must be doing this wrong

I think if there is a lesson here, it is this—especially for first-time entrepreneurs, momentum is important, and it doesn’t matter HOW you generate it.

It’s one thing for a 3x exited founder to lock themselves away for 3 years building something, burning through cash, and receiving no external validation in the process.

It’s another thing for someone trying this for the first time.

We’re all human. We NEED to see things working.

Into the Social Media Gauntlet

8 months ago, I started this journey with a tech YouTube channel with ~29k subscribers, a golf YouTube channel with 2,500 subs, a golf website with ~20k monthly pageviews, and was more or less making $1k per month.

I knew scaling this would be tough, but didn’t anticipate the amount of time that I’d end up spending building and rebuilding (sometimes 2-3x) to simply get the foundational stuff correct. As you’ve seen in this newsletter, this mainly included:

  • Refreshing and migrating old content (this took FOREVER)

  • Building a blogging/newsletter engine with Next.js and Sanity CMS

    • I’ve built a lot of apps, but none of them where SEO was critical. So I was surprised at how much of a learning curve I had on this one.

  • Completely rebuilding the structure of my golf site (i.e. topic clusters)

  • Talking to customers and rebranding to reach a larger audience

  • Testing all sorts of content formats (review posts, roundup posts, newsletters, YouTube videos, short videos, etc.) to see what worked best

And all those bullets above were just for The DIY Golfer! I couldn’t even find the time to think about my tech channel during all this.

But I’ve FINALLY reached a point where I feel solid with the formula here. I know what type of content works, and I have a rock-solid publishing foundation (thanks Sanity and Next.js!).

So moving forward, I’m firing myself as “engineer” and hiring myself back as “SEO and content marketing lead (who has to fix software bugs occasionally)”.

Recap, Looking Forward

During the first 8 months of this journey, I have roughly spent my time on the following things:

  • Local Golf Spot (2 months)

  • Rebuilding and rebranding The DIY Golfer (6 months)

    • Migrating old content

    • Re-imagining the overall vision (I’ve talked to a lot of readers and customers)

    • Building a new platform with Next.js + Sanity CMS to better scale my content production and improve SEO

In other words, I’m running out of time, and I have to figure out how to grow this thing.

I’ll see ya in the next issue!


My Links