Weekly #3 - Major milestones in hiring and marketing

This has been a crazy week. I’ve always been shy about calling Lunch Money “a real company” but in the last 7 days, Lunch Money has surely graduated from just being an app to being a full-blown business.

Hiring

It’s funny that just a few weeks ago, I was pretty happy and set on the leisurely path of staying a company of one. By last Wednesday, I had effectively hired 3 people: a marketing manager, a writer and a part-time customer support agent.

Marketing

The marketing team of 2, originally mentioned in last week’s retrospective, have gotten straight to work since I sent over the project brief.

To quickly recap, I hired them on a project-basis to rewrite Lunch Money’s marketing site, in particular, the feature-specific pages. For reference, the current marketing site was 100% written by me. I didn’t have much of a strategy beyond “well, this sounds right to me so it should be okay”.

Hiring is very humbling. I stand by what I said in an earlier article, Optimizations as a Company of One:

[..] doing a job yourself before hiring someone– it’s always better to grok the requirements first to some degree so you can understand how to best utilize who you’ve brought on (and appreciate them more!).

For anyone out there who thinks content marketing and copywriting is just laboriously stringing together words in an eloquent manner– I was right there with you until a few days ago. Let me tell you: it’s the amalgamation of research, critical analysis and user psychology that goes beyond simply an artform or a wordsmith’s craft.

To my surprise, some of what I was requesting was not strategically sound. For example, I thought it would be cool to have an entire page that explains why someone should support independent developers. Why not further solidify my narrative as a bootstrapped founder and show my support for the community, right?

How I thought it would go down:

Me: Let’s have a page that explains why someone should support independent developers.

Marketing Manager: Ok!

A day later

Writer: Here’s the copy!

Me: Great!

🎆 5,000 pageviews per day

What actually happened:

Me: Let’s have a page that explains why someone should support independent developers.

A day later

Marketing Manager: Well, actually, while research shows that people love a good founder story, the type of content on this page is not expected to rank higher than any of the existing “build in public”-type articles since search intent is more geared towards long-form content as opposed to a page on a marketing landing site. Instead you should add snippets to your About page and/or pricing page since there’s more value there as supporting content and it can help boost their existing rank.

Me: 🤯

I am honestly amazed at the depth of content marketing. For each of my features, my marketing manager conducted thorough research into competing pages and in the end presented a solid strategy for Lunch Money’s SEO.

I realized that my prior content plan was no different than throwing darts in the dark. It worked well for me in the beginning to simply have a landing page but as Lunch Money matures as a business, I now see the value in a well-thought-out content marketing strategy.

The pieces from the writer so far have been superb and it looks like he’s running his text through a set of tools to measure readability and rankability. So far I’m impressed and I’m excited to see the long-term effects of these changes. The new content for our landing page should hopefully be up within the next two weeks.

Customer support

I hired a lovely lady from the Phillipines via Upwork to be my part-time customer support agent. At the moment, she’s helping me with Plaid support tickets.

I spent a ton of time preparing for this– over 10 hours writing a guide in Notion on how to handle Plaid accounts and another 10 hours on an admin portal for gathering debugging information. It was probably more than I would have liked to spend but my attitude is always to do it right the first time because I want the foundation to be strong. Since the customer care team has the potential to expand in the future, I want to invest in quality tools and wikis that will ultimately save me time in the future.

My hire has been great so far (look out for an email from Ann if you’re having issues with your synced accounts!) and I love that we’re in the same timezone since this role requires a bit more back-and-forth communication during the training period.

Affiliate Program

Early last week, the director of advertising for an online FinTech media company reached out and said they were interested in featuring Lunch Money in their “top X crypto portfolios trackers” listicle which gets 45,000+ page views per month.

Of course, they were looking for an affiliate deal. I’d been very cold on affiliate programs for some time. The main hesitation stems from this fantasy idea that I should continue growing organically and that if my product was good enough, word of mouth would naturally continue to drive up my signups for free.

I could theoretically stop all marketing efforts and still grow at a slow and steady rate, but since I’ve been presented with opportunities to accelerate growth, I’ve been taking them. It’s not so much a question of why, but more so, why not. After all, one of my new year’s resolutions with regards to Lunch Money is to put more money back into the business.

When I first started contemplating affiliate marketing, I consulted with a friend of mine who is an accomplished digital marketer. He gave me some tips on how to structure the deal– mainly, don’t go for recurring commission and don’t go into it with a long-term mindset.

The affiliate programs of my biggest competitors are very alluring– some pay out for every trial signup and some pay out a commission on every single recurring invoice.

I ended up suggesting a three-month affiliate deal for a 15% commission on the first invoice. This protects me since I only pay if I get a conversion (which is way better than paying for Facebook ads).

I was really excited that they accepted the deal and ended up including Lunch Money in several more of their listicles (best X budget apps, best X budget apps for couples). On top of that, they want to feature me in their Women History Month events which will include a panel of females in the FinTech space! Feels good to gain a champion of their calibre and I’m excited to see how many new users this brings in over the next 3 months.

What went well

Lunch Money

  • Nearly everything. Lunch Money levelled up this week.

Personal life

  • Justin and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary! We had a wonderful dinner where we had deep conversations about all aspects of our life. We’re both super busy with our current endeavours and we both have high aspirations. I feel lucky to have a supportive partner.

What didn’t go so well

Lunch Money

  • I didn’t end up doing any engineering work at all! My hope with hiring and outsourcing work was that it would free up my time to do more coding & writing. While I’m still finding time to write, preparing for the new hires took quite a bit of time this week.

Personal life

  • I considered getting Lasik surgery and went in for a consultation. Ultimately, I shied away from the idea. I don’t think I want or need Lasik bad enough to justify the risks, side effects and post-op procedures and healing.

Next goals

Get back to engineering! I have a ton of backlogged tasks and bugs to fix.

Thank you for your readership!

Jen is the founder of Lunch Money, a multicurrency personal finance tool for the modern-day spender. She is currently based in Taipei. Follow her on Twitter!

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Weekly #2 - Prioritization, (more) hiring and a case study!