What I Learned Spending Over Half a Million Dollars on Facebook and PPC Ads

Posted on July 02, 2018

Ryan Stewman



It’s one thing to spend a company’s money or a client’s money on ads, it’s another to spend your own money. In this article, I talk about my own money. Money that I earned, worked hard for and spent myself. I didn’t spend all this money overnight and it wasn’t handed to me to spend. I literally spent the last dime I had to keep going and advertise my business. 

I’ve never been lucky in life. Everything I have, I’ve had to work my ass off for.

Running online ads is no exception. I made so many mistakes that cost me money, I can’t even count them all. But that’s how most of us learn, by correcting the mistakes we’ve made in our past. My goal in writing this for you is to help you gain insight on what to do and what not to do, based on my personal experience. 
I ran my very first Facebook ad in July of 2010. It was for a local mortgage company and it failed miserably. I spent $200 and never got a single lead. At the time, I was getting a ton of leads organically from Facebook and since the ads didn’t work, I just went back to getting leads from people on my friends’ lists and in the groups where I belonged. 
Flash forward four years to 2014, I’d find myself broke AF because I’d spent my last dime to make an event in Las Vegas. I’ve always been a risk taker and I was betting that I could make sales at the event to pay for my trip and my ticket home. Once there, I met a dude who showed me how to run Facebook ads for my coaching business. He taught me the easiest way to run an ad you could think of and it worked. Within two hours, I had 30 leads and had made about $10,000 in sales by the end of the day. I was once again rolling in the dough. I then used that exact method to run ads for the next two years and crushed it. 

Any time I’d need money, I’d just use Facebook ads and collect it.

It was like turning on a faucet that made money and watching it come pouring in. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. I just kept running the same style ad over and over again. None of my competitors were doing what I was doing and I was raking in the dough.
Then in 2016, many of my competitors caught on to what I was doing. This caused the price of my ads to go up and it also caused my reach to die down. I used to be able to spend $100/day and get 20+ leads. Then, once others caught on, I started spending $100/day to get 2-3 leads. I’d spend more money daily, but the results didn’t justify the spend. That was when I really had to start digging in and making the most of my ads. The low-hanging fruit was gone and I had to learn how to be better than those running ads competing with me. 

First, I had to work on my offer.

If all of us were running ads to the same audience, I had to have the best offer. I worked every day on improving my offers and making my ads more specific to my audience. I also had to find more niched-down audiences to run ads to. While my competition went broad, I went deep. This meant instead of saying, “Do you work in sales?” I’d ask “Do you close mortgages?” and “Are you a Realtor?” This allowed me to run multiple niched-down ads instead of one large ad to the entire community
This strategy worked for quite some time and made me a lot of money, but after a while, always starting over and finding new audiences got exhausting. I’d have to make the funnel, run the ad, sell the prospect and deliver the service. I was a one-man-ass-kicking machine, but I was also fucking exhausted.  I knew how to run an ad but I struggled to scale it. Since I was finding niched-out audiences, I ran out of prospects quickly. 
At any given time up to 7% of any audience can buy from you at the moment they see your ad. That means 93% of the people you advertise to aren’t ready to commit yet. Finding that 7% is no joke and the truth is you will waste a lot of time on the 93%. However, if you execute your advertising correctly, the 93% eventually turns into the 7%. You can’t think that one ad and one sales call is going to get you the business. You gotta be in it for the long haul. I’d run ads, retargeting ads, email blasts, text blasts and Slydials. 
In the beginning, I was focused only on the 7% and I wanted to make ALL my money upfront. This was because I needed the money, so I needed to close the sales ASAP. I had to recapture my damn ad money so I could run more ads. It was like trying to feed an addiction. After running this cycle for years, I realized I needed a bigger plan.

That’s when I formulated my current method of running ads. 

There are three types of prospects in your pipeline. 1) Those ready to buy right now, 2) those who are going to buy soon and 3) those who are going to buy someday. When you focus on building a pipeline, you close the “right now” and “soon” people, but the “someday” money will eventually turn into “soon” and “now” money if you continue to follow up. 
At one point, I was spending $50,000 a month on Facebook ads. I did this for about six months. From that $300K I created one hell of an email and phone number database. I bought software that allowed me to follow up with my database and make sales on autopilot. Since I had over 100,000 emails and numbers of people who knew me, I needed to work on converting them from the 93% into the 7%. Then I was able to drop my ad spend down to around $5K a month and focus solely on retargeting. So, while my competition is all over the place, I spend my time converting fans to clients. 
I still run ads every day, but now I’m focused on retargeting everywhere. Once you find me online, I’m in your Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Google and on most of your favorite websites. This strategy allows me to focus on converting the 93% and has led to me going from $100K in sales per month to $100K every 3-4 days. 
I wish I’d had a fast way to get offers in front of audiences when I first started out. I used to spend hours setting up a funnel. Speed matters and most of the components of advertising take time. Recently, I dropped PhoneSites on the market, which is a software that allows you to create a funnel in about 5 mins. This makes it easy to get offers in front of audiences faster; therefore, you can run more tests and get more results. Check out PhoneSites. It will save you a ton of time. 

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