As always, thanks for reading.
Livin’ La Vida Luna
Ladies and gentlemen.
Put your hands together for Luna Mars.
🎵 ...And when you smile
The whole world stops and stares for a while
'Cause girl, you're amazing
Just the way you are...
Week Ending July 18th, 2021
I struggled to come up with a topic for this week’s newsletter. When that happens, I rely on the tried and true: Document, Don’t Create.
Let’s dive in…
Dia is Back in the Office:
Monday was Dia’s first day back in the office. We’re not happy about it. We got used to that WFH lifestyle.
The good news is it’s only 3 days per week.
The biggest hurdle is only having one car between us. FYI: If you’re in the market for a new car right now, they’re all selling for above MSRP and the wait times are ridiculous.
Since we only have one car, I’m dropping Dia off at work after dropping Luna off at school and she’s Ubering it home. It’s not as expensive as we thought. ~$45 for her one-way trip home.
$45 per ride * 3 times per week * 47 weeks / 12 months = $525 per month.
Car insurance is like $150 per month.
Gas (if driving both ways) would be $125 per month.
That leaves $250 per month for a car payment, or $375 per month if we went electric.
Can’t even get a Rav4 for $250/month and probably not getting much more than a golf cart for $375 if we went electric.
Also have to factor in the benefit of not dealing with the stress of driving in traffic after a long day of work.
Let’s see how long this lasts.
Call with VideoHusky:
On Tuesday, I had a call with a video editing service called, VideoHusky.
I’m debating whether or not I want to create video content. The call didn’t provide any clarity on what I want for myself. But it did reassure me that I wouldn’t have to sit through the least fun part of creating video content: editing.
The obvious answer is there are more eyeballs on YouTube than anywhere else. It’s the second-largest search engine in the world, only behind Google (which also happens to own YouTube).
The second reason is that I’m terribly uncomfortable with the idea of being on camera. Over the years, I’ve found leaning into that discomfort can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
Lastly, I’m looking for a new challenge. SunShakSunday is coming up on its 100th consecutive week. I might pivot and commit to doing 52 weeks of 1 video per week. #PersonalGrowth.
I’m not fully there yet, but the fact that I’m sharing it here at all speaks volumes. I may be trying to convince myself to do it.
Call with Founder of NewlsetterOS:
On Wednesday, I spent 30 minutes on a Zoom call with Janel of NewsletterOS. She dissected SunShakSunday.
What a humbling experience.
To my credit, I’m doing some stuff right.
To my dismay, I’m doing a bunch of things wrong.
Before our call, she asked me what 3 things I wanted to talk about most. In order they were:
I won’t bury the lead. There’s about a 0% chance of me monetizing through ads. Affiliate income will continue to be the strategy.
This is the bulk of my passive monthly affiliate income right now. I have some other partnerships, but they aren’t as consistent.
Here’s my homework from Ms. Janel:
Start building in public. Anytime I ask people to sign up for the newsletter on my Instagram story, a few people trickle in. The problem? I don’t do it nearly enough.
I also have to start posting my work in places people can find it. That means all my socials as well as...
I have to meet my readers where they are. I need to start linking to relevant posts on forums like /r/realestateinvesting, BiggerPockets, and the NJREIA Facebook Page, to name a few.
Ugh, self-promotion is just so difficult. Imposter syndrome at its finest.
Revisit the structure of SunShakSunday. The intro, although consistent, is boring. Linking to the post would serve me if I was trying to optimize for website traffic, but I’m not. I’m trying to optimize for readership.
Given my goal is readership, I need to dive right into the content to immediately hook the reader in. Going forward I’ll be nixing the intro.
If another goal is growth, I will likely have to kill one of my darlings: the Livin’ La Vida Luna section. I can’t post Luna’s picture in a newsletter to strangers. It’s just weird.
Emulate. I need to find 3-5 people with newsletters in my niche. That would probably be easier if I knew what my niche actually was. I’m just having fun out here writing about whatever the hell I want.
Is there another 33-year-old brown guy out there that writes about Real Estate, Personal Finance, and his baby every week?
Move to a more professional platform. Or at least stop linking to sendfox.com/sunshak. I need to link to my own blog.
I designed my blog myself and it’s not that pretty. I think I need to make the move to Ghost.io, where the out-of-the-box offering is much prettier than anything I can create myself.
I need to remove the first name requirement for my email list sign-up page. This is a huge barrier to entry. People already don’t want to provide their email addresses. Providing their first name introduces a new hurdle that’s going to further reduce my conversion numbers.
I need to put an email capture in the footer of my website so it shows up on every page.
If we had more time, she probably could have rattled off more. I’ll implement these changes and then maybe try to hop on another call with her if my fragile ego can handle it.
Her time wasn’t cheap, but it was definitely worth it. Thanks, Janel!
Property Walk Through:
On Thursday, my partner, Bill, and I walked a 4-family home in Elizabeth, NJ. The homeowner called us after receiving our direct mail marketing campaign for July.
It was a decent property with real cash flow potential. It had 4 units: 2 beds / 1 bath each. Two separate basements are about $40,000 (total) away from being converted into 2 bonus units.
The current owner had lofty expectations. After walking through most of the property, we sat down and talked numbers. She opened with $700,000. It was hard not to laugh.
Her son accompanied us on our walk through and he probably divulged a bit more information than he should have. Het told us her motivations.
She refinanced the property a few years earlier and needed to get out from under the debt. She also wanted to buy a home in Georgia and needed $200K to do it.
We knew her loan amount was in the 3-400K range so we offered her $500K and said we could make it happen in 30 days.
She came down to $650,000 and got stuck there. She is certain the house can get $650,000 on the open market. She might be right, but it’s a moot point. We don’t pay market-rate.
We spent a few more minutes spinning our wheels. Before leaving, we came to an understanding.
We made her a “guaranteed offer”. We’d list the property for her at $650,000. But we were also going to send her a purchase contract at $575,000.
If at any point she gets tired of the retail market process, she can choose to execute against our cash offer and secure the bag.
It’s a win-win. If we list at $650,000 and bring her a buyer, I stand to make 25% of the 5% broker’s commission, which equates to $8,000.
If she wants to sell to us at $575,000, we should be able to flip the contract to an investor as-is for $600K and I’ll make 50% of that profit, or $12,500.
I’m happy my partner and I were able to figure out a way to monetize this transaction even though we couldn’t come to terms on price with the seller immediately. Hopefully, she agrees to work with us.
If I’m being honest, I doubt she calls us back. But it’s fun to dream.
On Friday, I built a new webpage for a business model I’m toying with. It was cool to get the idea out of my head and onto the page.
If you want to check it out, here it is. I’m calling it Investor-X (working title).
There’s only one Call To Action on the page: “See Your Rate”.
It doesn’t link to anything right now, but I’m trying to build a custom application that returns an interest rate and cost structure for borrowers based on a pre-determined rate sheet.
I have no idea what I’m doing, but this is fun for now. I’m sure I’ll become my own bottleneck sooner than later and give up or hire a developer.
If you know someone who might be willing to help, please let me know. I truly believe I have access to the BEST no-doc loan program for real estate investors and I’m trying to automate the process for my network.
Now that Dia’s back in the office, I have a little more time to listen to podcasts on my way back home after dropping her off.
This week I listened to 3 podcasts that were packed with gems.
- James Clear (Author of Atomic Habits) on The BiggerPockets Podcast
- Anne Lamott (author of Bird by Bird) on the Tim Ferriss Show
- Shaan Puri Interviews Sam Parr (of The Hustle) on the My First Million Podcast
I looked up the transcripts for the first two and picked out some of my favorite parts to share with you here.
James Clear on The BiggerPockets Podcast:
Your results are a lagging measure of your habits. Your health and fitness is a lagging measure of your eating and training habits. Your bank account is a lagging measure of your financial habits.
Your habits are how you embody a particular identity. Every day that you make your bed, you embody the identity of someone who is clean and organized. The more that you do that, the more you believe in that story. So every action you take, is like a vote for the type of person you wish to become.
People are their own bottleneck, usually long before the circumstances are the actual bottleneck. Preparation is very important in life, but I think the key distinguishing thing is, at some point planning becomes its own form of procrastination.
Know your ABZs. A is where you are right now. B is your next step. Z is ultimately where you want to go. Start at Z, let me figure out where I want to go. Then you have to be honest about A, where am I right now? What do I actually have? What resources do I have? What skills do I have? What is the truth of the situation? You don’t actually need to know, C through Y, you don’t need to know the rest of the steps. All you need to know is what is B going to be? What’s my next step going to be? Can I take action right away and then I can just repeat that again.
Anne Lamott on The Tim Ferris Show:
K-FKD (fucked) Radio’s on 24/7 in your head. It’s telling you how far short you’re falling. It’s telling you how great you started out and what a disappointment you’ve turned out to be.
Some great acronyms for FEAR:
- False Evidence Appearing Real
- Frantic Effort to Appear Recovered
- Future Events Already Ruined
- Fear Expressed Allows Relief
Five rules of being human by Tom Weston:
- You must not have anything different or wrong with you.
- If you do, you really have to get over it as quickly as you can.
- If you can’t get over it or fix it, you should just pretend that you have.
- If you can’t even pretend to have corrected it, you should just not show up because it’s just so painful for the rest of us to have to see you in your current condition.
- If you are going to insist on the right to show up, you should have the decency to be ashamed.
Everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
Laughter is carbonated holiness.
Everything we let go of has claw marks in it.
Hate is not the opposite of love. The opposite of love is indifference.
The great poet William Blake said, “We’re here to learn to endure the beams of love.”
“Sometimes I think that Heaven is just a new pair of glasses.” I can either have the glasses on that are like x-ray glasses, where I can just see everything that’s wrong with almost everything, really. Because I’m good at that. I’ve made a career of it. Or I can put on the glasses where I feel a lot of compassion for everybody. And I see how hard they’re trying. And I see that they got dealt a really shitty hand of cards and that they played it the very best they could.
Emily Dickinson said that hope causes the good to make itself apparent.