How To Make Your First $1,000 with Reddit Ads

Update as of 9-14-2017. Reddit has changed their ad platform to drastically reduce ROI for advertisers. For example, new subscribers used to cost me $10 now they cost me $100 in Reddit ads. To put it bluntly, don’t run Reddit ads. They don’t work. Your energy is better spent on Facebook ads or other acquisition strategies. You can see a full discussion on this here. Sorry to to have to report this. – ryan

My name is Ryan Luedecke and I’m the CEO of a subscription service for jerky lovers called Sumo Jerky. As sole proprietor of a small bootstrapped business, I’m constantly looking for affordable opportunities to grow sales. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I could run ads on Reddit for as little as $5.

Reddit is a gigantic online forum with over 5 BILLION pageviews a month. It’s divided into smaller forums, called subreddits, where people with shared interests can post questions, vote on topics, submit cool pictures, etc.

I use Reddit, for example, to participate in the Entrepreneur forum, the Paleo forum, and the Austin forum because those are topics that are of interest to me.

To date I’ve run about 30 ads on Reddit, spending about $400 and making over $2,200 in sales. About 15% of my monthly subscriber base is from Reddit ads.

Reddit Sales Proof

I could’ve waited  to share this information until I’d spent thousands of dollars and run hundreds of ad tests, but pay-per-click strategies change fast so I wanted to share a technique that’s working for me RIGHT NOW.

If you’re wondering WHY you should run ads on Reddit, here’s a few reasons:

– Simple interface. Easy to get started.
– Low spending minimums. Start w/ as little as $5.
– Low priced vs other ad options like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
– You get to interact with potential customers in the comment sections of your ads.
– Don’t need a designer or developer. Just short text ads w/ one small thumbnail image.

Pressed for time? Then…

CLICK HERE to download my quick & dirty checklist for “How To Make Your First $1,000 with Reddit Ads”

Want the in-depth details? Here’s the blueprint of HOW I made my first $1,000 on Reddit using what I call the “PIMP” method:

Plan for profit by finding your target subreddits.
Implement quickly by running $5-$10 ads in targeted subreddit.
Measure the ROI of each ad.
Plus up sales by investing more dollars in high ROI ads.

Plan for Profit

Invest a little upfront planning time to reap huge profits at the end.

Create a Reddit account or sign in with your existing account then download a free copy of my Reddit ad planner.

Jot down 5 keywords related to your service. Example terms I used for Sumo Jerky – “jerky”, “beef jerky”, “office snacks”, “subscription box”, “paleo.” Enter one keyword at a time into the search bar and it will give you a list of subreddits where your keyword is mentioned.

Subreddit Search

Identify 15+ subreddits with people interested in buying your product. Typically the search results will show up to 20 subreddits where your keyword was used.

Read posts within each subreddit to see if people who read that subreddit might buy your service.

If a subreddit has potential buyers, then put the subreddit link AND  subscriber total in your ad planner.

Subreddit links can be found in your web browser bar and look like this:

The subscriber count is listed on the right hand side of each subreddit. You should focus on subreddits with atleast 10,000 subscribers (also called “readers”).

Once all your subreddits and subscriber counts are added to the ad planner, sort your list of subreddits based on the Subreddit Score it calculates for you.

Subreddit Score Sorted

You will use this list of subreddits later to create VERY profitable ads. Now it’s time to create the photo for your ad…so…

Take 1 selfie photo with your cell phone. Yes, I said selfie. Crop it or resize it to 70×70 pixels –the same size it’ll be when displayed in your ad. Save it as PNG or JPEG format.

Example: Reddit Ad Selfie with Dimensions

Guidelines for the photo:

– Use a decent cell phone camera.
– Take the photo from the bottom of the neck, up.
– Make sure the room is well lit or take it outdoors during the day.
– Make eye contact with your camera and smile.
– Use the camera flash to make it look more real / candid.
– Three rules: no blurry photos, no red-eye, and you have to smile :).

Once you’ve got your selfie, you should be ready to start running some ads.

Implement quickly

Test $5-$10 ads to figure out which should be continued, reworked, or killed.

With your planning completed, it’s time to start your ads. First you’ll need to go to the Reddit ad page and click “Create an Ad.”

You’ll start with the ad title which is the most important part of the ad. Study the advice here carefully and make sure you’ve written a bad ass title before you start ad testing.

Create an amazing ad title

Draft your title in Microsoft Word or Google Docs so you know the exact character count and can spell check it before copy-pasting into the Reddit title field.

Use as close to 300 characters as possible, spaces included – that’s Reddit’s character limit for self-serve ads. Longer titles are better, statistically, because more words are usually more persuasive. Plus, longer titles cover more visual space at the top of the subreddit and more likely to be clicked.

Introduce yourself and use your real name to personalize the ad — people buy from people. Describe why your service is interesting, relevant, and adds value.

Write casually, like it’s an email to a friend.

Customize your title for each subreddit. Make it appeal to their interests. Use their slang if possible.

Include a special offer for Redditors. I’ve had a lot of success with “50% Off Trial” offers.

PRO TIP - Include a unique coupon code or tracking URL for each ad so you can track exactly where your sales are coming from.

Here’s what a good title looks like:

Reddit Ad Title Example

Once your title is ready, you’ll need to determine the type of ad you’re going to run: text or link.

Determine the ad type

You’ll need to choose whether you want to run a link ad or a text ad.

Reddit Ad Type Selection

I’ve had success with both.

Link ads works like normal PPC ads where someone clicks the ad and is sent to your website.

Text ads click through to sales copy that you write and display underneath the title like this:

Reddit Text Ad Example

Advertisers with good websites should select the ‘link’ option,  enter their website URL, click ‘next,’ and skip to the ‘Upload your image’ section of this article.

Advertisers with no website or with a poorly converting website should select the ‘text’ option and read the next section about how to sales copy for a text ad.

Write your sales copy

You’ve gotten their attention with your title, now it’s time to make the sale. If there was something important that wouldn’t fit in your title, this is where it goes. There’s not a character restriction on your sales copy, so be as thorough as you need to be.

Be specific about what the buyer gets. Tell them how your service works and anticipate their questions.

Give some background about yourself and why you’ve created the service.

Include a price and a money-back guarantee.

Include a way for Redditors to pay or provide a link to a checkout page where they can pay. For simplicity, I recommend setting up a Paypal email and have buyers send money to it.

Share your contact info for follow up questions.

Here’s an example of good sales copy for a text ad.

Reddit Text Ad Sales Copy

PRO TIP - Click the ‘formatting help’ link to see how to format the text in your ad. For example, putting double asterisks around a word will make it bold.

Once you’ve finished drafting the sales copy , click the ‘next’ button. It’s time to add your image.

Upload your image

Click ‘edit creative.’ Select the correct image type: ‘jpeg’ or ‘png.’ Click the ‘Upload’ button to add your selfie image — important — I tend to forget this step.

Here’s what this looks like inside the Reddit creative dashboard:

Upload Reddit Selfie

He’s a handsome devil isn’t he…moving along…

Leave comments enabled

Comments are enabled by default so that Redditors can leave questions and feedback on your ad. This is a good thing as it lets you interact with potential customers, field questions, and eliminate barriers to buying that you might not have thought of when you created the ad.

I highly recommend enabling comments.

If you’re unsure about enabling comments, here’s a checklist that can help with the decision:

Enable Comments Disable Comments
You don’t have a website OR You will be unavailable to answer questions or comments AND
Your website doesn’t have good FAQs OR You have an amazing website with great FAQ section AND
You have an early stage business that needs to understand common questions or concerns potential customers have. You have an established, well-known, successful business that already knows all common questions & concerns.

Again, I recommend that most advertisers leave comments on. I’ve gotten more sales when comments are enabled.

Once your image is uploaded and comments are enabled, click save. Now it’s time to set your target subreddit for this ad.

Choose your target subreddit

In the targeting section of the campaign dashboard, select ‘subreddits.’

Choose Subreddit

Now review your subreddit list in your ad planner.

Subreddit Score

Start with your highest scoring subreddit and type its name into the dropdown menu. Select the correct subreddit  from the auto-fill drop down menu.

Now it’s time to set the ad timing and budget.

Set the ad timing and budget

I recommend that you start ads on Thursday with a 1 day duration because that’s when I’ve made the most sales. If you think your service would sell better on another day, feel free to try it out.

Once the ad timing is locked in, set your ad budget to $10.

Some subreddits won’t have enough impressions for you to run a Thursday ad and you’ll get a message from Reddit that says “insufficient impressions.” If that happens, you’ll need to pick a different day, extend the duration of the ad, or reduce your ad budget to $5.

You might have to play with the timing and budget a little to find a combination where Reddit has enough impressions available to serve your ad.

Here’s what it looks like when you’re ad timing and budget are completed properly:

Ad Completed

Once you have your timing and budget set, click ‘create’ and then pay for the ad by clicking the little blue “pay” button in the campaign dashboard. I recommend doing this immediately because I’ve had some ads delayed because I forgot to pay.

Create ads for 10 different subreddits

Simply repeat the steps in this implementation section until you have an ad running in ten different subreddits. I recommend a budget of $5-$10 per ad for a total spend of $100 or less.

When your ads go live, Reddit will send you a link to the review ad and respond to comments.

Answer questions in the comment thread

Be polite and have a sense of humor. Some of the commenters might make critical remarks. Don’t take it personal. Answer all the reasonable questions & comments and ignore the others.

Keep track of frequently asked questions

Track common questions or concerns come up with potential solutions and note them in your ad planner. This will help you improve your ads and your website later on.

Once you’re ads have finished running, it’s time to measure their performance and find the winners.

Measure The Impact 

Track key metrics to find your highest ROI ads

Once your ads are complete, you’ll want to review their effectiveness. This will help you determine which ads you should continue, which you should re-work, and which ads you should no longer pursue.

Add key metrics to your ad planner

You’re going to want to track some key metrics so that you can quickly make decisions on what to do with each ad. Here are the metrics I recommend you track:

Spend: how much you spent in total on the ad.
Clicks: number of people who clicked your ad.
CPC (Cost Per Click): what you spent for each click you received.
Sales: how much revenue, profit, etc you made from the ad. Tracked by you, not Reddit.
CTR (Click Through Rate): % who clicked your ad. Measure of your title’s effectiveness and your service’s fit for the subreddit. Your target CTR is 0.50 or higher.
Sales Multiple: sales divided by spending. Not true ROI, but a good proxy. Your target sales multiple is 2x or more.

Each of these data points is available in your Reddit ad dashboard.

Click the advertising tab in Reddit and you’ll be shown all your ads. Then click the ‘traffic’ link on each ad to get its statistics. Here’s what that looks like:

Reddit Ad Statistics

You can export the data as a CSV and copy-paste to your ad planner or input the data manually. I personally find it faster to just do it manually.

Review data for big picture learnings

Which subreddits have the highest CTRs? The lowest CPC? The most sales? Which ad titles had the highest CTR? Which discount codes worked the best?

Here are some examples of what I’ve learned during a big picture data review:

– Big trial discounts work: “50% off 1st month” converts 3x better than “20% Off for Life”.
– Images are important: Not including a selfie on one ad cut my CTR by 2/3.
– Targeting learning: Paleo, Keto, BuildaPC, and NoFap love jerky. Crossfit & Golf do not.

Add your big picture notes to your ad planner.

Once you have a grasp of the big picture, it’s time to drilldown to each individual ad and decide if you need to plus it up (replicate & increase the spend to $50+), rework the title (retest for $10), rework the offer (retest for $10), or kill it (stop running the ad).

Plus up the winners

Increase spending on your top performing ads and kill the others.

Now it’s time to make some real money. The formula is simple: find the most profitable ads, duplicate them, and increase the ad budget.

I’ll give you my decision making framework, but you’ll also need to use some judgement as the profit margin for your product may be different from mine.

Plus up

When the CTR is  >0.50 and Sales Multiple is >2x you know that Redditors are clicking the ad and buying the offer – this is a winning ad.

You just need to re-run these same ads, target the same subreddits, and increase the spend. Here’s how to do it:

– Find the winning ad in your advertising dashboard.
– Click ‘edit’
– Click ‘new campaign’
– Pick same subreddit and day of week as winning ad.
– Increase the budget to $50+

Here’s the decision matrix I use to sort through my ads:

Decision Matrix

After you’ve plussed up winning ads, you might want to take a look at some of your other ads and see if you can optimize them into winners.

Rework the ad title

If your CTR is <0.50 and the Sales Multiple >2x it’s worth the effort to try and rework the title.

Redditors are buying once they see your website or sales copy but the title isn’t getting enough clicks.

Try a new photo or use some slang in the title that’s specific to that subreddit.

Run another $10 test to see if you can bump CTR to 0.50 or more before plussing up the ad.

Rework the sales copy

A CTR >0.50 and a Sales Multiple <2x suggests you need to rework the offer. Redditors are clicking the ad but the offer isn’t compelling them to buy.

Reply to Redditors who commented on the ad and ask them why they didn’t buy immediately.

Reddit Comment

Consider adding different benefits to the offer or changing your discount to be more motivating. Run another $10 test to see if you can achieve a sales multiple of 2x or more.

Kill the ad

Seeing a CTR <0.50 and Sales Multiple <2x means it’s time to kill the ad. Don’t invest further time or money.

Instead  of wasting time on underperforming ads, revisit your list of keywords and go through the process again: identify new subreddits, create new ads, measure results, and plus up winners.

Get the credit you deserve

Improve the chances that you’ll personally benefit from reading this post.

If you’ve made it this far you’ve spent quite a bit of time reading and I really appreciate that.

I also realize that you might not be able to start running Reddit ads today…but… I want you to get the credit you deserve for reading this article and internalizing the key takeways.

So for your benefit please do the following to get FULL credit:

1 – Send your boss this pre-written email to show her that you were doing legit research on how to grow the biz. She’ll see you as a thought leader.

2 – Send your entrepreneurial friend this note to show that you were thinking about her and want to be helpful. Trust me, she is stressed out and always looking for cost-effective ways to grow the biz.

3 – Email this message to yourself so that when the time is right to run your Reddit ads this article will be easy to find.

Closing thoughts

In my experience, you only need to find 1 interested subreddit and write 1 great ad to make your first $1,000.  I’m convinced you can do it.

Follow the steps closely and iterate until you nail it.

Have questions or want more marketing hacks like this? Sign up for my free email list.

High Five,

Don’t Be Polo Shirt Guy

Ryan Polo Shirt Guy

Polo shirt guy tucks his decent polo shirt into his decent khakis and puts on his decent shoes and goes to his decent job. He’s decently fit and decently good looking.

He parties it up a little on Fridays, a lot on Saturdays, and usually makes it to church or brunch on Sundays.

There’s just one problem with polo shirt guy: he’s UNHAPPY.

Not like a conscious depressing, everyday unhappiness, but occasionally when all is calm and the radio is silent, the flat screen is off, the car is in park, the hustle & bustle of everyday life slows down, the chatter of friends fades, the girlfriend isn’t around…

When all of that is gone & silent…he has a brief moment of deep truth:

He hates his life.

He hasn’t self actualized. He once had ambitions & real passions and got off track.

Someone else started telling him what’s important to achieve in life. Other people told him what he should believe in, what he should fight for, who he should associate with, where he needs to be going.

These people may have had the best intentions. They may have just been scared.

Doesn’t matter.

Polo shirt guy forgot who he was. He got caught up in “things”…distractions. His ego put him in places he didn’t want to be. His self esteem and confidence failed in key moments and he lost trust in himself.

If he’s like most, he’ll be able to suppress this hatred his whole life, or at least long enough to ignore the dissonance until he he hits a middle age crisis or his deathbed.

I hope that doesn’t happen.

The way out is often as simple as admitting where you’re at and finding help.

It’s weird to seek help – admittedly. But the cool thing is you don’t ever have to explicitly say “I need help” and force your ego through that deep bruising and scarring. You don’t even really need to tell anyone.

You can go it alone, cold turkey, quietly, and be OK. It’s never too late. Not when you’re 20, not when you’re 70.

You just need to actively go find help. Call it an ADVENTURE if you will.

Help is all around. It’s in books, it’s in blogs, it’s in the words & actions of your truly happy & free spirited friends (not always the same as your well-to-do friends)…it’s in me. Just start looking. You’ll find it.

I’m sure some will try to spin this as religious or spiritual or fashion satire or something…but it’s not that. It’s just plain ole’ advice that no one asked for. So I’m not giving it.

I’m just telling you how I felt being a polo shirt guy. I was one of those guys. That life is so easy, so safe, so secure, it can be addicting.

But I found help. I just had to admit I didn’t like where I was and wasn’t who I wanted to be – despite the bank account that was starting to look OK.

Happiness for me wasn’t dollar signs or something vague like “financial security” or “good career trajectory”…it was freedom, self improvement, and helping others. Dollar signs were fine for measuring progress, but they weren’t the end all be all.

If you go looking, you’ll find your own things that matter. Finding those things is an amazing experience. The important thing is to LOOK.

I’ve been there…I’ve been the polo shirt guy. Have left, gone back, tested the polo shirt life many times. Left again. Still kinda put one on in the morning and take it off after lunch these days. Hope I’m out for for good soon. Hope some of you come with me.

How I Went from Part Time Employee to CEO of a Profitable Startup

Becoming a CEO is kinda cool.

On Wednesday, October 16th, 2013, I was working part time doing online marketing, sales, and customer support for a small SAAS company in northwest Austin.

On Thursday, October 17th, 2013, I was announced the CEO of a profitable startup and remember jumping up and down in my kitchen and doing rotating fist punches in the air because I was so excited.

Coincidentally, I was hired as CEO by the same person who had politely rejected me for a job a year earlier:

Email from Noah

In a year, I had gone from someone who wasn’t qualified to do PPC campaigns (in all honesty, I wasn’t qualified at the time) to someone who was qualified to be a CEO.

It felt surreal.

The coolest part about this is that you can do it too. Whether you want to start your own company or get hired to be the CEO of someone else’s company.

Much of the content in this series is hard and requires acting like an extrovert and doing real stuff in real life. So I figured I’d start with the easy stuff. The stuff where you can just read, and be passive, and learn. After all, you will need some basic knowledge to be a CEO. By reading the books & blog posts I recommend, you’ll have all the knowledge you need in about 2 weeks.

Note: if you click one of the links below to a buy book on Amazon, then I will receive a small referral commission. That’s not why the links are there, though. The links are in there for your convenience so you don’t have to Google for them.

I’ve probably read 100+ business books and blogs in the last 7 years. The ones in my list are the most useful in a journey towards becoming a solo founder / CEO.

Here’s the reading list:

– Read Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Work Week. Got the entrepreneurial itch. Decided my goal was to be my own boss and spend my free time on learning and self-improvement. Also read these 2 motivating blog posts on Tim’s blog: How to make $1MM/mo selling ebooks, How to create a $1MM biz in a weekend.

– Read Robb Wolf’s book about the paleo diet, The Paleo Solution. Went Paleo. Have been eating paleo for 2+ years now. I’m more confident, more energized, more alert / clear headed, and more ambitious now.

– Read all the “Greatest Hits” in Patrick McKenzie’s Kalzumeus blog about SEO, email marketing, and SAAS sales. This helped me be more efficient and prioritize my workload at my day job (online marketing) as well as get a handle on the 80/20 rules of online marketing. Patrick is probably top 10 in the world at SAAS marketing when you mesh together his theoretical / tech knowledge and real life experience.

– Read all of Ramit Sethi’s blog posts on psychology, coming up w/business ideas, negotiating, and getting a dream job.

– Read James Altucher’s Choose Yourself for entrepreneurial motivation. Highly recommend. He’s a great motivator and storyteller and he has some top notch ideas, for, well, how to come up with business ideas.

– Read all of Andrew Chen’s blog posts about startups & growth hacking. Andrews’ blog is great for understanding startup terminology and learning the important metrics by which startups are measured.

– Read this blog post by Jakub Linowksi on good UI for websites. It’s super useful and also super motivating for some reason.

– Read all of Noah Kagan’s blog posts on life hacks & online marketing strategies as well as his incredible Quora post on how to acquire your first 100K users with zero marketing budget.


And that’s it. That’s honestly all the technical and tactical knowledge you’ll need to be a CEO or a solo founder. You don’t need an MBA or 10+ years of high level executive experience. Just 2 weeks and $40 to invest in a few books on Amazon.