How I made $120.53 on Robinhood without buying a single stock

Pimpin piggy

It turns out Robinhood has a pretty kickass referral program that I wasn’t utilizing. They’ll give a free share to me and anyone that I refer to Robinhood. That means all I had to do was get my referral link out into the world then I can sit back and enjoy a free stock for everyone that signs up.

Their referral program advertises that it could be a stock like Apple or Berkshire Hathaway, but so far I have yet to get that lucky.

I decided to set up a little experiment — what if I could drive traffic to a simple landing page advertising free stock for new Robinhood users? My offer wasn’t a hard sell — everyone that signed up using my link was guaranteed to receive a free stock. My goal was to target people with the intent to sign up.

Step 1: Make a simple landing page

I started off by building a simple landing page on carrd.co. I didn’t want to overcomplicate things — the landing page was intended as a place for visitors to get a quick tidbit of information before they decide whether to move forward or not.

The landing page I made

The landing page design and build took about an hour to create — it was super simple.

When I finished the page and started testing it, I realized that I was adding an extra unnecessary step for users. My UX brain was caught in a quandary.

On the one hand, I’d just created this elegant and minimal landing page, and it looked great. On the other hand, though, I was adding an extra decision for users which took them one step away from making me money. I was also displaying the exact same information that they would see once they continued to my Robinhood share link.

See what I mean…

In the end, I decided to ditch the landing page with the pimpin’ pig illustration and send users directly to Robinhood. It made more sense rather than bouncing users around to different links. With the new flow users were sent directly to a place where they could sign up and get their free stock immediately.

It was just a bonus that I didn’t have to pay for a domain or subscription to carrd

Step 2: Creating an Adwords campaign

I decided Google Adwords would be the best place to start with this because if people were already searching for keywords like Robinhood free stock, then there was a high likelihood that they had heard about the free stock from Robinhood and had the intent to sign up to receive it.

I set up an Adwords campaign targeting people that searched for a list of keywords that I came up with. The keyword list was based on the search volumes that I found by researching with the keyword planner tool on Adwords.

Keywords on the left [brackets] meant that I wanted an exact match for those terms

I’ve been sitting on a $100 Adwords coupon that I received from Google for $50 that I spent on ads about three years ago. The coupon came from here — Adwords coupon. This meant I could run up to $100 in ads on Google for free since I’d already met the $50 spending amount on a previous campaign.

$100 in free ads!

I went ahead and created a few text ads. I made three variations experimenting with different copy. After two days of testing, I selected the version with the highest CTR (click-through rate).

One of the ads I ran

Gathering results — how did I do?

The results of my campaign were surprisingly good. I had little competition based on the keywords I was bidding on and was able to get a modestly high CTR on all of my ads.

As you can see from the title, I made a little over $100 from a $0 investment. Since I used a $100 Adwords credit all of the ads I ran were free, however, if I had to pay for the campaign then I would’ve barely broken even. Which is why I will no longer be running ads for this campaign.

Screenshots of referral stocks I received (not all referrals)

38 people signed up from 201 unique clicks. Out of the sign-ups, eight have not funded their account yet, and three have failed. I don’t receive a free stock from Robinhood unless the user funds their account. And an abandoned sign up also means I don’t get paid — woof.

The average value of each free share I received was $4.46. The highest value stock was GE at $10. The lowest value, AKS at $2.99.

The average CPC (cost per click) of my highest ranking keyword, [robinhood free stock], was $0.48.

There’s a potential of about $3.98 in profit if the person that clicks ends up signing up. This also means that I would need to have at least one sign up for about every ten clicks to break even.

38 sign ups - (3 failed + 8 incomplete) = 27 verified sign ups
(27 verified sign ups / 201 clicks) x 100 = 13% conversion rate
100 clicks x $0.48 CPC = $48
100 visitors x 13% conversion rate = 13 sign ups
13 sign ups x $4.46 average free share price = $57.98
Potential profit for 100 clicks = $9.98

There’s one critical flaw in this model though; the variability in free stocks. If I was certain that I would make exactly $5 for each referral, then I could probably turn this into a side business. But on Robinhood, it’s not that simple; I could get ten $2.50 stocks in a row — there’s no predictability, it’s completely random.

The randomness of the stocks plays a key factor in the risk of paying for sign-ups. There is the possibility that I could hit it big with a referral and get a share of Apple which is currently valued at $170, but the chances are slim. I read through Robinhood’s terms of service and well…

There is an approximately 98% chance of the stock bonus having a value of $2.50-$10, an approximately 1% chance of the stock bonus having a value of $10-$50, and an approximately 1% chance of the stock bonus having a value of $50-$200, based on the price of shares at the time of purchase.

Robinhood pretty much pays between $2.50-$10 for each referral and then teases you with stocks like Apple as a possibility to make their referral program more enticing. It makes sense, Robinhood is assuming that people aren’t going to be paying for signups so making an extra few bucks isn’t too bad for simply sharing your referral link with a friend.

Conclusion

Overall, this experiment was a success. I earned an extra $120.53 that I wouldn’t have otherwise made and gained a ton of exposure and experience with PPC (pay per click) campaign management.

Kudos and shout out to Peter Schroeder for introducing me to this referral + PPC method with his article.

If you want a free share of stock on Robinhood, this is my referral link.

Thanks for reading and smashing the clap button!