#ShowMeTheMoney Part II
The Path to Profitability in Running
Now that we’ve established my 3 Steps to Ultramarathoning Success, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how I’m going to turn this “success” into financial stability. When I set out on this new journey, my first financial goal was to make $1 from my running. As my former boss would say at Square, “If you can get 100 users, you can get 1,000 users. And if you can get 1,000 users, you can get 10,000 users!” Translating that guidance to running, if I can make $1 in running, I can make $10. And if I can make $10, I can make $100 (and ideally that trend continues until there are a couple more zeroes at the end!). My second milestone — to break even with my expenses. And finally, actually turn a profit, so that I’m not just funding my current lifestyle but also saving for my future — profitability will be my “graduation metric” and a key indicator that this new career path has the potential for sustainability.
Milestone #1: Make $1
STATUS = COMPLETE!
In March I signed up for the Marin Ultra Challenge 50 Mile one week after a personal best performance at the Way Too Cool 50k. My legs were a bit banged up and racing 50 miles was probably not the best way to recover, but I had my eyes set on the $400 prize for first. After losing my early lead and beginning to doubt myself, I turned my race around and crossed the finish line first, earning that first payday. It wasn’t much (but $8/mile ain’t bad!), but the physical check itself represented some early sign of validation and helped cover my extravagant birthday celebration from the prior week!
Milestone #2: Break Even
STATUS = WORK IN PROGRESS
In order to break even, the amount of money going into my bank account must equal the amount leaving it (you can tell I studied a bit of Econ, right?). Let’s take a look at my money outflow:
- $1500 for Monthly Recurring Expenses
Rent for #basementlife, car insurance, health insurance, Spotify subscription (I don’t expect these expenses to change throughout my run-employment)
- $250 for Costco
~$50/week (I keep my shopping cart under control!) + one larger shopping spree for less regular supplies (peanut butter, toilet paper, 10-lb bag of Kodiak Cakes pancake mix, etc.)
- $250 for Gym
Olympic Club membership dues + one third of the quarterly minimum expenditure required on food & beverage at the Club (separated this line item from Monthly Recurring Expenses since I could pause my membership given my infrequent use of the Club’s facilities while training out on the trails)
- $100 for Transportation
2 gas tank fill-ups for Daisy + parking fees + bridge tolls ($6.50 to cross the Golden Gate adds up!)
- $150 for Misc Food & Drink
A couple out-to-eat meals (even I have to be social every once in awhile) and the occasional drink (ideally during happy hour!)
- $250 for Other Misc Expenses
Covers the periodic bachelor party, transportation to weddings, Airbnbs, birthday gifts, etc.
TOTAL EST. EXPENSES: $2,500/month (Est. Annual Expenses = $30,000)
(yes, I manipulated my estimated budget slightly in order to get a nice round number!)
Could I cut down these expenses and live a bit more frugally? Absolutely. But this feels like a reasonable annual budget (and well under the typical expenditures of an SF Bay Area resident) and should provide enough wiggle room to afford the occasional Chipotle Burrito or (small-sized) McFlurry.
My target income for hitting breakeven: $30k/year. $2.5k/month. $82.20/day. That doesn’t seem that unreasonable, right? Well, Let’s see how I fared in my first two months of run-employment:
$400 for 1st place @Marin Ultra Challenge 50mi
$1.59 in Google AdSense revenue from mockoshow.com (banner ads on website)
TOTAL EARNINGS FOR MAR + APR: $401.59
- TOTAL (EST.) EXPENSES FOR MAR + APR: $5,000
= NET PROFIT FOR MAR + APR: -$4,598.41 (-$2,299.21/month)
At the moment, we’re falling just a bit short. But the good news for my future potential earnings:
- If I can continue to perform well in my upcoming races (Western States, UTMB), I’m hopeful that I can attract a sponsor (or two?) that is willing to offer more than just gear and performance incentives. And I could finally earn my Strava Pro Badge!
- I was fortunate to have a lucrative weekend back in Virginia just a couple of days ago competing at the Ultra Race of Champions ($5,000 for 1st place!) — earnings that will appear on my May revenue statement. Seeking out more races with big prize purses will provide a nice bump in my monthly earnings (Run Rabbit Run, perhaps?).
- I just set-up Google AdSense at the end of April for mockoshow.com, so the $1.59 figure quoted above is probably a bit less than what I should expect to earn over a full 30-day period, assuming I can continue to produce interesting content to drive traffic to my website. We’re talking about dollars or even tens of dollars, folks! #bigmoney
- I began my YouTube channel (The Mocko Show) on May 1st and just yesterday earned my 1,000th subscriber (not bad after just three weeks!). I passed an even more important milestone the previous weekend — 10k total views across my entire video collection — making me eligible to earn ad revenue on YouTube. Again, much like the website, this should be small dollars, but you’ve got to start somewhere
With all of this talk about user growth and finances, this feels like the appropriate moment to introduce a new concept on The Mocko Show — Mocko Math! Mocko Math was a hallmark of almost every presentation during my days at Square, where I would take initial growth numbers and extrapolate them over the next 5,000 years to produce outrageous forecasts. Let’s use some Mocko Math on my YouTube growth…
Here’s a screenshot from my YouTube Analytics Dashboard 1 week after the first episode of The Mocko Show:
In that first week I earned 4,890 views, but importantly saw a growth rate of 13,116.22% from the previous period (I must’ve uploaded 1–2 random YouTube clips in March or April). Mocko Math assumes that I’ll be able to maintain that same stellar growth rate, which would result in…
- 646,273 views in June
- 85.4 million views in July
- 11.3 billion views in August
- 3.4 quin-tillion (that’s two commas after trillion) views in December
So, you see, one dollar or two in revenue from a couple thousand views today should turn into trillions in advertising revenue by the end of the year (assuming my Mocko Math checks out, which it always does). It shouldn’t be long until we hit…
Milestone #3: Turn a profit
Maybe got a little carried away with the money GIFs…
STATUS = …
Not going to focus much attention on this goal since we have to tackle Milestone #2 first! #babysteps
Where we go from there
I look to Sage Canaday for inspiration as one of the most successful athletes from both an athletic and business perspective. I’ve learned from him that you should never become complacent with a single revenue stream, that you should be constantly hustling for new sponsorship opportunities by selling your story to brands and experimenting with new business ventures (coaching, eBooks, video production, Patreon monetization, etc.). I hope that I’m just scratching the surface with these initial revenue streams and that, by taking inspiration from Sage’s example, I will continue to challenge myself to grow existing channels in addition to developing new, more creative approaches to making a buck or two.
$1.59 per month is certainly not going to pay the bills, but I have to start somewhere. I know that I need to trust the process and believe that all of the hardwork that I’m putting into my fitness and building my personal brand could/should/hopefully will pay dividends in the future. In a sport that is far from transparent when it comes to Money Talk, I hope I can remain as open and honest with you moving forward. I’m not intending this to come off as a brag (it’s hard to brag when you’re pocketing an average of $0.05/day) or to depress my parents (How will he ever fund the Chris Mocko, Jr. College Fund?), but illustrate just how difficult it is for athletes in our great sport to make it. More updates to come at the end of May.