My Finance Newsletter & Community Hit A $3M Run Rate This Year
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Codie Sanchez, and I am the Founder and owner of Contrarian Thinking. Our mission is to free minds and build the bank accounts of our readers. Specifically, we strive to help one million people become financially, philosophically, and physically free.
Our flagship product is our premium membership community, Contrarian Cashflow. What is it? The system I used to go from zero to 26 businesses and 8 figures in investment income by becoming a dealmaker and 1,000+ humans all sharing how they’re implementing it. It’s pretty rad (we’re not biased or anything). While our weekly newsletter targets readers who are curious about the intersection of thinking outside the box and unconventional means to build wealth, our cashflow membership teaches members specifically how to add more cash-flowing income streams to their portfolios.
I was tired of people telling me making passive income was a mindset or other squishy nonsense. So I created a roadmap and tactics, we’ll leave the “manifesting” to someone else. Specifically, the Cashflow group allows access to our premium newsletter, message board, and recurring calls with industry leaders and experts. Each month members receive a new ‘Cashflow Playbook’ with a detailed step-by-step process on cash flow strategies. People can also buy a single cashflow playbook if they want to dive into one niche aka mobile home parks, vending machines, or RV parks.
The goal is to create a tribe who are unafraid to challenge the status quo to shape the life they have always dreamed of. They may want to learn to grow their existing business or buy a business to break free of the 9-5 day job. Through a series of strategic calls and business playbooks, we provide our members with all the resources to get it done. Freedom through income.
We currently have over 100,000+ newsletter subscribers and a community of over 1.5 million people across our social media platforms with a run rate of $3m this year.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Looking back, it’s crazy the number of seismic career changes I’ve had. Like wandering through the desert as a human trafficking journalist before finally pivoting to finance.
I wrote for almost an entire year before making a single penny.
I graduated from Arizona State with a journalism degree and began as an investigative journalist researching human trafficking and other issues. I am curious by nature and enjoy asking questions to help solve deep-rooted and complex problems.
However, I’ve found words do not fix issues. What can is money.
Therefore, I turned to finance and earned my MBA at Georgetown in international finance and worked with many of the big players on Wall Street, such as Vanguard and Goldman Sachs. Then, I worked as the head of Latin America investments for a few firms before becoming a partner at a private equity firm and building out a venture capital business.
I view each step I made as part of a building block to allow me to do what I am doing today. I found that I love writing, investing, and teaching others, and therefore, my company is an equal part blend of journalism, investment firm, venture fund, and startup.
It just felt like the right time to make a bold move, and it turned out to be the perfect time as Covid-19 brought about the ‘Great Resignation’ that is now overlapping with the ‘Great Retirement’ of Boomer SMB owners. People want to break free of the chains of the 9-5 desk job, and I knew I could build a strong community by teaching the critical skills that lead to financial freedom.
Take us through the process of designing the original newsletter.
Beginning this journey was a massive learning experience. I wanted to write about my own experiences, stories, and business thoughts and teach people how to make money in ‘not so talked about ways’...like buying overbuilding.
I would estimate that the startup costs were about $5,000 to get the right web platforms and file the LLC paperwork. Then it was just me on my laptop writing the newsletter.
My first newsletter was published on February 15, 2020, and it was one paragraph, three sentences, and 34 words. I wrote for almost an entire year before making a single penny. In January 2021 we launched the founders club offering of our premium digital product Contrarian Cashflow for 500-lifetime access..it’s now 1500/year.
This went better than I could have anticipated and we had quite a few founding members join within the first month. What surprised me was their feedback on just how valuable our content was and how much they’d be willing to pay! That was rad.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I bootstrapped it all and had money some pennies in finance to fund it all. That doesn’t mean it was not hard, it just wasn’t rocket science.
Zero. That is what I began with. No outside capital raised; no pre-sales; no sponsors and no revenue coming in to start. As I mentioned, my first newsletter was a paragraph announcing my intentions. And it was free to anyone. I publicly announced Contrarian Cashflow in my newsletter on February 6, 2021, and could have never predicted the response.
Building this business from scratch has sucked at times and been a blast at times. If you take one thing away from this it would be… every business is a sales business. Sell don’t just build.
My first few subscribers were friends, family, and old coworkers… I did a mail merge to my entire Google contacts list and wrote them a note about what I was building. I told them my goal, what the newsletter would be about, and how it would help people, and simply asked them to subscribe to follow along if it sounded interesting.
Don't ever underestimate 2 things…your network and asking for what you want.
I have met incredible humans and learned even more than I expected. The biggest lesson is to do the damn thing. It’s harder to fail than you think.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
In the early days, there was much brainstorming about how to grow this into something larger than just a newsletter. To deliver value in a unique way that is unrivaled for our customers. To accomplish that growth, I needed to diversify our product mix, scale operations by building a team, and streamline tasks with technology.
What started as a free newsletter has evolved into something greater. I have created Contrarian Cashflow, which provides members access to our premium newsletter, weekly calls, and our asset Playbooks.
From 2020 to 2021, we grew from just over 20,000 newsletter subscribers and no members to over 78,000 subscribers and 1,400 cashflow members. The goal of driving this growth was to create consistent thought-provoking content that appealed to people who wanted to improve their financial savvy.
Just do it! Go faster than you think is possible. Identify your niche and cater to it. AND - set day-long deadlines, not week-long deadlines. Light a fire.
The goal, in the beginning, was to maximize eyeballs. Get countless people reading and engaging with the content we produced. Sign up for our newsletter; follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. Content is king, and we must produce it daily in a way that is unique and customized to our audience.
Now I have had to find a way to scale our team and use technology to our advantage. Our social media managers help create content for and interact with our followers for each different platform. We are not using paid ads and are in the infancy phases of incorporating SEO strategies.
My best growth advice is to define the target audience you are creating for, create consistent content ripe for engagement and interact with your followers.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today we are a profitable business at low 7 figures in ARR. We have roughly 1.5 million followers or subscribers across all of our platforms.
I kind of think we are just getting started.
Our goal is to hit 5 million dollars this year and $50 million in the next five. Follow along and we’ll let you know.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The best lesson I have learned is how to break the habit of being involved in every aspect of the business. Big ROI = Big Focus. If it’s not ROI in cash or followers it’s delegated or I don’t do it.
A friend of mine calls this the $10-1000 Hour Rule; determine the high revenue-producing tasks and reserve your time for those while allowing your team experts to focus on the others. That way we can all move forward faster.
You will face critique, hate and doubt along your journey, but just continue to believe in yourself and think big.
I have learned how important quality over quantity is. I work with our social teams to put out consistent, engaging, and thoughtful content that speaks to the current events and trends.
Another strategy that I have found advantageous is building the right partnerships and networks. I want to learn from those who have already achieved what we are trying to achieve and I want to be able to return the favor and help where I can.
There is not much you can control in the social media realm when it comes to virality. You just have to experiment, try your best, and not get hung up on the small details.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Along with our newsletter, we use all the social accounts: Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. The goal of the course is to increase our following and direct them to join the newsletter and then become Cashflow members.
To stay organized and communicate, we use Slack, Google Docs, and Zoom. My favorite tool at this point is Notion, which helps us assign tasks to each other and keep all of our notes in one place. I also use Wordpress to organize and write our newsletters; Convertkit to help market our portfolio of products and even Support Shepherd to help hire employees.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
My favorite book is Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip by legendary investor Jim Rogers. It details his journeys worldwide —such as traveling through Africa and China in a bright yellow convertible Mercedes— and investing in as many markets as he could. That inspired me to take a chance and invest in Latin America, and I think the book’s principles helped motivate me to start Contrarian Thinking as well.
Five books that I credit for getting me out of my cubicle are:
- The One Thing
- Let My People Go Surfing
- The Startup of You
- Work Rules
- Getting to Yes
- I also loved The Lifestyle Investor and Buy then Build
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Scratch your itch. Solve a problem worth solving; you will be surprised by how many people are needing help by solving this problem. You will face critique, hate, and doubt along your journey, but just continue to believe in yourself and think big.
I would also say do not fall victim to the spotlight effect—not everybody is watching you, waiting for you to fail. Also, there is no reason to wait. Time is your most precious asset; I wish I did not wait as long as I did to break free from corporate Wall Street.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are looking for a salesperson to help accelerate our membership growth. They would be responsible for managing the full sales cycle process by engaging with prospects on social media and email. We want someone who is experienced in sales, has a business background, and is hungry to work! This would be a paid position, plus commission.
We are also looking for an executive editor who can create incredible content and manage the content creation process across all of our social media channels. Want someone who is experienced in copywriting, and script writing, and has ideally managed and grown social media before. This would also be a paid position.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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