Month 6 in my new side business

I’ve now completed 6 months of working on my side business, just 2 hours per week, and my lesson of the month is how to deal with lack of feedback on an offer.

Have you also experienced this: You are excited about a product/service you’ve created. You share it with your audience… and then crickets. Nobody buys or inquires with you… 

Well, I’ve gotten a taste of that in my new business now. I’ll share the experience and what I’m doing about it.

First, the updates on 6 months into this project:

  • Still spending only about 2 hours per week on this project.
  • Approx. 2,500 people have engaged in (liked, commented, shared) in at least one of my Facebook posts in the past 6 months.
  • These engagers all arrived as a result of my Facebook Ads, which means I will be able to reach them again, using FB’s Custom Audiences of “Everyone who engaged with my page”.
  • Almost all my posts have been text-only (no image) posts of between 300-1,000 words, which means the engagers are likely connecting with my message.
  • Besides the once-weekly long text-posts, I started a weekly FB Live video about 3 months into the project, and because my audience has been seeing my posts for a little while, they are finally starting to connect with my videos too. This is in contrast to the first month when they didn’t want to watch my videos at all.

My Experience of my First Offer

It was probably too early to make an offer to my audience, but honestly I’m feeling a bit rushed to want to finally reveal this side business to you, and my hope was not to reveal it to you until I actually made some money in this business… so that nobody could say “George, your side business worked because you already had an audience… your methods don’t apply to me.” This is a real experiment in making money with an audience who doesn’t know my background, so that anyone could emulate what I’m doing, with their own passions and knowledge.

With that sense of urgency, I went ahead and made a very light offer to my audience, essentially asking for feedback on a possible membership program (with a monthly fee), briefly describing what it will be like.  My idea was to have a private FB group abd a weekly call for members that I facilitate for their personal development, and getting to know each other.

As usual, it was simply a text-only post on that Facebook Page, and I boosted it to my engagers. It ended up as one of the worst-performing ads I’ve run: $34 reached only 947 people, with only 16 likes, zero comments, and 4 shares. For comparison, another text-only Ad I ran that same week (content only, no offer) spent $20 and reached 1,221 of my engagers, with 64 likes, 3 comments, and 15 shares.

In other words, this first attempt at an offer was a bust.

I’m feeling the doubt: Can I really make this work? What’s the point?

And then I remember: Entrepreneurship is a long series of experiments. Each experience teaches us something. If we learn the lessons, we build increasingly successful experiments.

Authentic success is inevitable for each of us, if we are willing to stay on the path of joyful experimentation.

Now, for my diagnosis about this “failure”...

Primarily, I haven’t done any 1-1 conversations with my audience members yet, to really get to know who they are, to feel their energy, to understand what they’re struggling with, and very importantly: what they’ve been buying.

I’ve been shy about reaching out for these fan interviews because my scheduling system would reveal my real name, and, I’m concerned about time management since I’m only working on this 2 hours a week. However, as I write this I realize I should be able to make time for at least 1 fan interview every 2 weeks.

If you are experiencing making offers and people not buying, my question is the same to you: are you doing enough fan interviews?

To learn how to have such conversations, read these posts:
As I revisit the posts above, I realize I am missing a few other things:

  • Resonant marketing copy -- due to not having done any fan interviews, which would reveal who I am personally

  • Sampling -- doing sample calls would reveal my name

  • Repetition of the offer -- but if it doesn’t have initial traction, i.e. zero inquries with the first post and ad, it’s likely to be too much effort for any possible additional results… I need to make it something quite different, e.g. a $25 one-time, 2-hour online course, rather than a monthly membership.

  • Personal invitations/outreach -- which would also reveal my name

So much feels constrained in this side project because of these factors:

  • Having to keep myself anonymous: it’s hard to build an authentic business without revealing who I am personally!

  • Spending so little time on it: most of these 6 months only 2 hours per week, now just beginning to edge towards 3 hours per week. Also, these aren’t prime hours: I do this on the weekend after the best of my energy each week has gone towards my main business. Giving so little time to a new business is tough. I just don’t get the same amount of brainstorming and experimentation to make progress as fast as I do in my main business.

I hope that you aren’t dealing with these same constraints! You can still use my methodology to build your authentic business, hopefully seeing progress with greater speed.

I will, of course, keep going. Success is inevitable. I am willing to stay on the path of joyful experimentation. Thank you for witnessing this journey!


If you'd like to start from the beginning of this series, go to Month 1 of Building a Side Business.