How I built my first organic traffic funnel (and how much money I made)

And so we built a funnel to filter in the good and select out the not-so-good. And all was well. 

After a couple days of wallowing in a bit of a funk, I’m finding my strategic stride again and today, I really want to dig into some ‘show not tell’ content. 

One of my key pillars in my business is radical transparency. Not in the sense that I air dirty laundry, but in the sense that I want to be open and honest about how things actually work. 

It’s not my job to withhold information from you. If I had my way, information would be free – always. It’s my job to help you make decisions with that information in your present circumstance (hence why, when it comes to digital business, I’m a strategist). 

There’s A LOT and I mean A LOT of information floating around the internet about funnels.

Who needs one? 

What is it? 

How does it work?

How do you build one?

How long does it take? 

Is it really a license to print money?

And I’ll add the massive caveat here that I am NOT a funnel strategist. As in, it’s not my job to build you a funnel. But what I can do here is explain how I use funnels in my business and how my experience with funnels has unfolded. 

Buckle up and get ready, because this is about to get detailed. 

Here is how my first ever, solo funnel build went down.

Back up. Like way back to the spring of 2018. Yes, I have been testing and running funnels since 2018. 

My first funnel 

In the spring of 2018, my first blog DIY Passion was doing gangbusters. It was at its peak in terms of traffic. 

Had I been smart and psychic, I would have launched my funnel in December 2017 – but I wasn’t psychic and so I definitely left money on the table. 

In January of that year, the Netflix Konmari series was released. It sent Google traffic for anything declutter related through the actual roof. 

You see, three years prior – in 2015, I had written a 7 part series on Konmari decluttering. And so, when the world started to Google, my blog rankings took off like mega. (It broke my blog and ended up costing me thousands in new hosting fees, but that’s beside the point). 

I knew people were ravenous for decluttering content. They wanted guidance on how to get their crap under control.

Lesson: Know what your people want. 

Well, I had skads of content about my decluttering journey. I was even doing media segments about it. So I knew I had something to give them. 

Easy guided steps to declutter their crap and leave them feeling lighter and in control. 

Lesson: Be able to succinctly explain their problem and your solution in one or two sentences. 

And so, my funnel was born. 

I was driving most of the traffic to my site from Google and Pinterest at the time. So this is what I did to build that funnel. 

Freebie – Opt-in creation

I created a quick 10 page print out Decluttering Workbook (still on the site to this day. 12 people opted into it just yesterday!)

I attached that opt-in form to my top 20 posts and to any post that was ranking for decluttering key words. 

My list grew FAST. 

Tripwire offer

I created a quick and dirty (as they say) tripwire product. (Not currently active, but we are reactivating it on a new platform soon). 

What is a tripwire?

A tripwire is also known as an OTO or one-time-offer. It’s usually the page you are redirected to after you opt into a free resource and it can have a timer on it or special offer. 

The ‘trip’ is that the offer will go away if you clear the page without buying. 

I have a whole ethical thing with timers and tripwires that isn’t sitting right with me at the moment – which might be why I don’t really have one right now. But that’s a post for another time. 

So my tripwire was a 72 page eBook and Audiobook on Mindful Decluttering.

I was selling it for a cool $11. 

And people were buying it. About 25% of people bought it, in fact. 

Main funnel offer

Now, let’s keep in mind, this was 2018. The tech to build funnels was CLUNKY as f**k. And I had NO guidance or coach or anyone to help me with this. 

I should back up again and say that my list was about 3500 subscribers BEFORE I launched the funnel. So I used my email service to tag anyone new who subscribed after the funnel launched. 

Every 200 new subscribers, whether they bought the tripwire or not, were put into an email sequence that offered them a 5-week course on decluttering their home. 

The course cost $97 USD. The email sequence was nine emails long. One each day until the last day, when I sent three. 

The email sequence was relative to the time the person subscribed. 

And here’s the key. 

If they bought the $97 course, it was DRIPPED to them. That means, when people bought it, they had access to it unlocked week-by-week. Which meant I could sell it as I built the content. 

Every 200 people would be tagged Alpha, Beta and so on and I’d tweak the language and testimonials in the funnel every time. 

I’d measure how many people of each cohort of 200 bought the $97 offer and that’s how I worked out my profit margin. 

If I remember correctly, I was averaging about 1.8% to 2% overall conversion – which was a decent percentage at the time. 

All in all, I ran that test funnel for about three months and made about $15,000.

Not too bad for a test using nothing but ORGANIC traffic, right?

But then I fell out of love with the material and found I wasn’t super engaged anymore. So I mothballed it to focus on other things, knowing I could always return to it when I was ready. (This is what we are going to stand back up later this summer).

Lesson: If you commit to being simple and clear with your funnel, it can be profitable.

But now, you’re probably left with a host of other questions. Like how am I using a funnel in my strategy business now? Or is there another type of funnel? Or how does storytelling play into funnels?

Or how do you live launch a funnel? Or what about Paid Traffic to your funnel?

I’m positive there are so many questions. So feel free to ask them and I will do my best to answer in a future post. 

But let’s say that yes, Stories for a Year is a type of funnel, but this one was created to bring my absolute IDEAL clients closer to me, versus the DIY Passion funnel that was designed to keep students at arms’ length. 

I want to work with people who are committed to showing up and being creative and who want to work with me as a person. So Stories for a Year has that dynamic, with personalized prompts and a more curated experience. 

Safe to say the DIY Passion funnel is much more passive than the Erin Trafford funnel will be. 

Stories for a Year will also have a paid component to the traffic strategy because I’m clear on the type of person who will purchase it and I have a really (like REALLY) good in-funnel offer that isn’t anywhere else. 

I guess the point is that if you have traffic, know what your people want, and you can solve it relatively simply with different levels of access and commitment, you can build a funnel. 

And if you want to understand how to create content that will drive ORGANIC traffic, Stories for a Year is for you. It will help you create consistently in a way that feels good and drives interest and engagement from the audience that matters most to you. You can start with Stories for a Year for just $37 (and yes, this means that you will be offered the super awesome offer once you’re into that funnel!) 

The Rest of the Story is a project of love and commitment to showing up on this site every day for 90 days; sharing honest opinions, thoughts and observations. Comments are welcome.

Erin Trafford Incorporated is located on sacred land that has been the site of human activity for over 12,000 years. We are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People, and we acknowledge them as the past, present, and future caretakers of this  land.

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