Getting Fired Led Me To Build A Crypto Newsletter That Makes $360K/Year

Dillon
Founder, CoinSnacks
$30K
revenue/mo
2
Founders
3
Employees
CoinSnacks
from Denver, CO, USA
started December 2017
$30,000
revenue/mo
2
Founders
3
Employees
1.52M
alexa rank
1.41K
followers
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Getting Fired Led Me To Build A Crypto Newsletter That Makes $360K/Year

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello, my name is Dillon and I co-founded CoinSnacks, a crypto-focused newsletter that is read by more than 70,000 people weekly.

Since launching in 2017, crypto-focused newsletters have come and gone, but as far as I know, CoinSnacks is the longest-continuously running crypto newsletter on the market.

With roots in the financial publishing industry, tied with our compounding interest (and capital) in the evolving crypto-asset environment, we began to dig.

We found that the crypto space changes rapidly. There were tons of new projects coming online, thought-provoking research, and narratives every week. The only problem was that your average investor was either overwhelmed, confused, or didn’t even know where to start.

The question then became, “How do investors learn about the space without dedicating hundreds of hours to sift through the noise?” CoinSnacks was our solution.

Since then, we’ve ridden multiple bull and bear markets in crypto, acquiring competitors along the way, and developing a process that allows us to make ~$30,000 monthly in 2022.

coinsnacks

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

In late 2017, I was working at a financial research company that got acquired. With the acquisition came an ultimatum: Move to the company’s HQ city or get fired…

…I was fired.

With some severance and finally some time on my hands, I began exploring new and different ideas with my business partner/roommate. While at my previous company, I had done a lot of research into new and emerging financial instruments, particularly Bitcoin and Ethereum. I wasn’t well versed yet, but I had enough experience recognizing trends in alternative assets to realize that there just might be something here to focus on. Bitcoin had just broken $1,000 per BTC and some hype was starting to build.

We started by looking into mining Bitcoin and other crypto assets. Although in our tests it seemed profitable, it was difficult to source the needed equipment and to pay the energy rates where we were currently living.

During this period we were reading a few crypto-focused newsletters to become more knowledgeable in the space. Although they were all good, we quickly realized that they were speaking to an intermediate to an advanced audience.

So it dawned on us: What if we wrote a newsletter focused on bringing people with no crypto knowledge to a beginner's level? That’s when CoinSnacks was born.

Find the trend and stop looking at “metrics”. What looks like there is no traction or interest today could be the biggest market in a few years.

Take us through the process of designing and coming up with your first newsletters.

Because we had experience writing newsletters in the past, we knew what was needed to get started. We spun up a Mailchimp account, built a landing page on Unbounce, and convinced friends and family to opt-in to the newsletter.

We then began to brainstorm how we wanted to format the newsletter. We wanted it to be approachable from a beginner's perspective, but also give enough important information so that once you went from no knowledge to some, the newsletter still provided a signal.

What we came up with was to break up the newsletter into three sections:

  1. Must Reads: This included all need-to-know news for those in the market. This section didn’t need to be technical in any way, it just needed to reinforce the idea of crypto.
  2. Deep Dives: This section was a little more technical than the Must Reads section, including specific token information, hacks, and deeper investing knowledge.
  3. Regulatory News: This section was focused on providing information that was emerging from the regulatory environment that was targeted at crypto holders and companies.

Now that we had our format, we began writing.

Our first email was sent to 15 people and looked like this:

coinsnacks

Describe the process of launching the business.

Now that we had a concept and had sent our MVP, we began to brainstorm about how to gain an audience. We knew once someone opted into our newsletter we had them hooked. There simply weren’t enough beginner-focused crypto newsletters on the market, so all we needed was that first read and we were good.

We decided to write a guide to getting started in the crypto-ecosystem by focusing not on the individual tokens in the market, but rather on something that was more easily consumable for a retail investor: stocks that would benefit from the growth of crypto.

Our report was titled, The Ultimate Backdoor Strategy, and explained to investors how they could find stocks (like Square, Paypal, and Silvergate) that would be a “backdoor” into investing in crypto.

coinsnacks

It’s safe to say that the report took off with thousands of people downloading it and sharing it with their friends and family. Now that we knew the report was enticing, we began buying traffic to it from everywhere we could (newsletters, Facebook, Google, etc).

We have hundreds of ads that we tested… We would write and test new copies every single day. But here are a few random ones that were sent to some recent newsletters:

From a newsletter send to Finimize:

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Dirt:

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And here’s a random list of email copies that we used in 2021.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

To generate and retain subscribers, we’ve tried just about everything you can imagine. One of the most successful methods we have seen for growth though is through acquisitions.

Since launching CoinSnacks we have acquired four competitor crypto newsletters.

Although an arduous process to contact, negotiate, and integrate someone else's newsletter, the payoff can be significant.

Here’s an example of a small acquisition.

In August 2018 I noticed that Coinpride.com’s newsletter was up for sale. I quickly reached out to the owner asking about details.

coinsnacks

After learning more about the business and its subscriber count I made an offer of 2 ETH which at the time was trading for ~$300 per ETH.

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In this example, I was able to acquire ~2,000 subscribers of a great newsletter for ~$600 (Of course, that ETH would be worth much more in the future).

In another instance, we acquired 25,000 subscribers for $15,000.

Each of these newsletters would have cost multiple more on broker websites, but by doing the work of manually reaching out to companies we were able to cut advantageous deals.

We continue to negotiate and acquire email newsletters when they fit (reach out if you are interested in selling).

But we also spend a lot of money on acquiring leads.

The method is fairly simple.

  1. Buy leads on a CPL (cost per lead)
  2. ROI in <60 days

If we can find a source that allows us to buy leads on this calculation at scale, we will put as much money into it as possible.

Here are examples of two different sources that we spent money on.

Source #1

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In this example, we spent $152,364 over seven months and generated $188,948.75 for a total ROI of 124%.

Source #2

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In this example, we spent $11,602 over six months and generated $10,683.50 for a total ROI of 92.08%.

Now, in both of the above examples, the ROI is much higher, but once we reach ~90% ROI we just stop tracking for that source since we know it is good.

But of course, not every source is this good.

Source #3: Facebook

coinsnacks

In this example, testing new ads to Facebook we spent $5,852.92 over 60 days and generated $3,246 for a total ROI of 55.47%.

That’s just not going to cut it.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

As I write this we are in another crypto bear market which is severely impacting revenue. We’ve had to cut our sponsorship rates to garner up demand.

Regardless, we’ve been through three of these before and every time we were able to build our audience and acquire other newsletters.

Still, we have managed to do ~$30,000 in revenue on average monthly over the last 12 months.

We do this through a combination of affiliate advertisements and sponsorship deals.

Pretty much, in a good crypto environment, we can be sold out for months on sponsorship deals and have to do zero affiliate deals.

But in a bad crypto environment (like we are in today), companies pull back their marketing spending. When this happens, we have to find offers that fit with our audience (we vet everything), but that can also generate revenue for us if a reader takes action.

By having this sort of barbell approach, we can weather any storm.

I’m often asked how we find sponsors and to be honest it is the part of the business I hate the most. Regardless, as I mentioned, in good times, we are overwhelmed with sponsors looking to get their products or service in front of our readers. So much so that we can raise our pricing significantly.

But in bad times, it's brutal trying to get companies to sponsor.

What we do though is focused on companies that jive with our audience but perhaps aren’t your average sponsors. We will then reach out to them on every platform – Twitter, email, discord, LinkedIn… you name it.

Here’s a random outreach email:

coinsnacks

We also use services such as Swapstack which give us introductions to businesses that are already sponsoring other newsletters.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Through this process, I have learned that it is okay to build your knowledge of the industry as you build your product. I didn’t have to be an expert on day one. You can always hire experts or spend your time learning an industry inside and out. But if there is no competition in a market, even subpar information will win. Just start.

I also realized the power of connections. Picking up the phone and calling people in the industry has led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorship revenue, business partners in other industries, and M&A introductions.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Unbounce for landing pages and funnels. It is simply the easiest and cleanest-looking landing page software on the market today.

Mailchimp for email sends and automations. Crypto newsletters often run into issues on Mailchimp, but we have been using them for years without any issues.

Canva to design reports.

Pressable for website hosting.

Swapstack to help with sponsorships.

Notion to manage just about everything.

Slack for team communication.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

CoinSnacks stands on the shoulders of so many other crypto tools, newsletters, and websites. A few that come to mind:

  • Messari.com for crypto data
  • Chris Burninske and his book Cryptoassets
  • Cody Shirk from Codyshirk.com for inspiration

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Find the trend and stop looking at “metrics”. What looks like there is no traction or interest today could be the biggest market in a few years.

When the Bitcoin whitepaper first launched, if you had used an SEO service like semrush.com you would have seen 0 search volume for crypto terms. Flash forward a decade later and crypto is taking over the world of finance.

Every year there are new trends that will become huge in the future. If it interests you, you can bet it will be something others are interested in soon enough.

My company recently ideated, built and sold a psychedelic investing-focused website to a VC firm in under a year all because the trend was growing. Besides CoinSnacks, we are now focused on the longevity market with Spannr.com (check it out!).

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are always looking to hire writers for CoinSnacks (and all of our other newsletters/websites). To start a conversation, reach out to Email, and let’s chat!

Where can we go to learn more?

To learn more about CoinSnacks you can check out our website (and optin to the newsletter!) at Website.

You can also follow us on Twitter.

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Dillon, Founder of CoinSnacks
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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