What if you had 5 years?

I’ve been thinking about my Dad a lot recently. We have a great relationship, and since I became a Dad myself last year there have been even more conversations.

But this particular line of thought is because my Dad wants to start a blog. Which is great! After years of asking him for advice on relationships, marriage, taxes and fatherhood, I get to pay him back a little.

Here’s a little context. My Dad is 60, knows that working 60 hours a week isn’t a long-term strategy anymore. He has years of experience in accounting, financial planning, and business development. He’s a smart guy with a lot to share.

Thinking in years (not months, weeks, or hours)

How many headlines have you seen about making $24k in 24 hours? We talked about that recently at ConvertKit, because it can really set people up for disappointment if you don’t replace your income in a matter of months. As Val has talked to more and more people on the Reach podcast, she’s heard many times that a 24 hour launch is preceded by years of building, showing up, and being consistent.

My Dad understands this much better than I do. It’s probably because he’s been a working pro longer than I’ve been alive, and 5 years doesn’t sound too far off. He also has a good job and saves money, so immediate monetization is not a panicked rush to the sales page.

A 5 year runway

What we’ve been talking about is what a 5 year runway would look like. Here are some conservative numbers at 1 blog post per week and gradual product scaling.

  • 250–300 blog posts
  • Starter email course for new subscribers
  • Ebook on primary niche (1st year product)
  • Mid-range $$ course (2nd year product)
  • Premium $$$ course (3rd year product)
  • Expanded niche topics and products (4th year focus)
  • Target and expand most popular products (5th year and on)

This is a broad glance, what stands out to me is that we’re looking at a plan that has time and scale. My Dad has given himself time to build without panicking.

Money

I want to point out a specific distinction in this plan. My Dad will monetize as soon as possible. But, full-time income isn’t necessary for 3–5 years. One of the biggest mistakes I made early was to dismiss creating a product until I had built more authority. I should have had something to sell.

At the very least, I should have been breaking even with the cost of blogging. Domain hosting, email service, premium theme, and lead gen services can cost up to $500 a year. A product helps replace that cost.

A quick note on affiliate offers & ad traffic: Yes, these can also be a source of early revenue, but a professional blogger should not rely on them. Why? Because you don’t control them. Affiliates pull offers, sponsored posts aren’t continued, Google changes keyword pricing and AdSense revenue, then you’re stuck. You should build a business to control your own revenue streams.

Decide how you will make money

When I started my first blog, I just wanted to write. I didn’t think about paid products, and even when I did, I couldn’t articulate how my site would provide an income. This is a huge red flag, and something Dad and I talked about from the beginning. His blog isn’t going to be a pure “passion project”, it’s going to be a business that produces revenue that he also cares about. It’s best to have an idea about how that will happen from the beginning.

One thing we didn’t do was generally say “Oh you’ll make money with ebooks, courses, and coaching!” ::high five::

We wrote down several ideas for those ebooks, courses, and what a coaching program would look like and how they would be priced. We were very specific.

Sell early, sell often

Selling a product early also conditions readers to the mindset that you are a professional with something to sell. If you are providing valuable free content on your site, then please don’t get worked up on a $9 ebook. I paid $12 for paper towels yesterday. Your $9 ebook is not “selling out” on your morals, get a grip.

Working with the professional bloggers at ConvertKit has shown me they are unafraid of telling readers they have a product. Every piece of content builds to a sale, and they don’t apologize for it. You don’t need to either.

Teach everything you know

Maybe all of this has been too sales-y, because at the root of everything is teaching. My Dad has valuable experience that will benefit people at all stages of their personal business. Teaching everything he knows will help them save money, understand taxes, cash flow, and forecasting.

It’s exciting to talk about blogging with my Dad, and think about what I would have done differently at the start. Having a 5 year runway to full-time profit would have been a much better plan than what I did (which was basically no plan).

It’s still a commitment

Even with a solid plan, monetization strategy, and content calendar, my Dad still has to show up and do the work. 300 blog posts, an ebook, and courses don’t just happen. It’s a grind much of the time, with many months of low reader counts and no sales.

But hey, he’s got time.


I’ll be continuing to write about this process with my Dad (still in development) and my own blog. He writes about how solo entrepreneurs can understand their finances, cash flow, and budgeting. I draw stick figures.