March 2018 Income Report

April 20 2018 – 02:48pm

After a “scarily bad” month in February, March was the best month I’ve had since I started reporting revenues at the beginning of the year: $9,910.71 of revenue. It might seem premature to call anything a “best month” three months into reporting, but it was also my best month in awhile.

The last time I made more than this in a month was September 2015, when I brought in $10,648.30 in revenue. So, this is the best month in two and a half years. That was about the time I decided to take the long journey of pivoting and doubling down on writing and starting my podcast, so all of that rebuilding is finally starting to bear fruit: I have another book out (two if you count a short read), and I have over 120 podcast episodes out there connecting with new people every day.

Health continuing to improve

I expect there will be more “best months” to come. My recent health breakthrough has skyrocketed my productivity. Every day I improve, and I see more clearly what a severe handicap I’ve been operating under. Suddenly I can build systems and processes, and I’m even delegating. I’m also finding myself more motivated by money than I used to be.

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My body was in fight-or-flight mode for decades, so that really hurt my executive thinking. With my improved health I’m also finding myself to be more extroverted. I think my natural state is slightly extroverted, but as my illness progressed, I became more introverted.

I’m in the process of reassessing just what my personality is, and how best to operate with that personality. One interesting thing is that I’m finding myself to be slightly less creatively-inclined. For example, when I write in bed in the morning, I’m shocked to find out how low my word-count is, compared to how many words it felt like I wrote. My ideas are less wacky, but my execution is more lucid. Overall, I think it’s a very good thing.

I made more than $1,000 on books!

I’m very glad to have made more than $1,000 of revenue on books in March. This is aside from the more than $1,000 royalty check I received from Wiley for Design for Hackers. I only get those checks twice a year.

Making $1,000 in revenue isn’t much good if you spend more than $1,000 selling those books. In February’s report, I reported that I actually lost money on books because I spent too much on AMS ads. My ad spend in February was exploratory in that I was trying a number of different techniques. In March, I stopped the losing strategies and did a little more with the winning strategies (though I ultimately didn’t think a lot about ads in March).

I spent more than $500 on ads in March. The reporting on AMS ads is notoriously unreliable, so I try to assume that all of my sales come from ads. This is obviously not true, but it’s my rule of thumb. Thinking about it this way, I made a roughly 100% ROI on ad spend.

It definitely helped that The Heart to Start was added to a beta program on Amazon called “Great on Kindle.” It’s currently only for non-fiction books.

Here’s the message I got from Amazon about the program.

my great on kindle message from Amazon

It seemed nothing had changed on the Amazon page for HTS, but I checked in. Turns out something is visible – apparently only for people in the U.S. I couldn’t even see it with a VPN.

great on kindle message on the heart to start Amazon page

Notice that it gives readers a 25% credit towards other Great on Kindle books, so that’s surely motivating some purchases.

First month of How to Write a Book earnings

March was my first full month of earnings from my recent short read, How to Write a Book. This book is an experiment. It started as a 7,000-word blog post (called How to Write a Book). I figured a long blog post makes a short book. Taking some inspiration from a ridiculously-hilarious author, I decided to publish a short “book.”

The experiment seems to be going well. As I write this, I’ve made about $400 so far off of the Kindle, Paperback, and the recent audiobook versions. In March, I recorded an audiobook, and sold it briefly on MP3, before signing away the rights to be distributed on Audible and iTunes. The Audible version was only recently released, so I have yet to report any earnings for it.

Aside from making How to Write a Book available for free as a blog post, I also syndicated it to Medium and Steemit. I earned $10.67 on Medium, and the post earned $13.10 worth of STEEM on Steemit (I get 75% of that). So, the $400 I’ve earned so far publishing How to Write a Book is much more than that, and infinitely more than the $0 I would have earned simply publishing it on my blog.

Successful webinar and Blog 2 BLING! launch

March earnings were enhanced by the success of my recent webinar, in which I promoted a course I have called Blog 2 BLING! I don’t aspire to build a business teaching online business, but I always try to teach what I learn in my journey as a creative entrepreneur.

I made $4,573 selling Blog 2 BLING! A small portion of that will recur every month for six months. It’s a beta course with casual videos showing exactly how I went from blog, to passive revenue, to book deal, to selling courses.

The Heart to Start now available everywhere

March was the first month that The Heart to Start was “wide.” This means that the ebook was available places other than Amazon. For the first three months, HTS was exclusive to Amazon, as part of the Kindle Unlimited program, which pays you buy the page read by KU members, but which demands exclusivity.

My earnings from KU were only 7% of my total earnings, which was far less than I had heard from many fiction authors. So I figured it would be good to go wide. So far, I haven’t been making more wide than I would have made on KU. I brought in less than $10 in royalties from non-Amazon HTS sources over the course of March.

But, I’m not ready to go back to exclusive just yet. Part of the strategy of going wide is to try for a BookBub promotion. They’re more likely to accept a book for a promotion if it’s wide. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a KU-only BookBub promotion in the few months I’ve been monitoring the service.

In addition to Amazon, the HTS ebook is on iBooks, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, as well as other places. Fortunately, Draft2Digital makes it easy to distribute to many of these outlets, though I published directly with iBooks and Google Play.

I’m currently running some tests to see how likely it is that I could make a run for the WSJ best-seller list by doing a BookBub promotion and “ad stacking” (as described on my episode with Joanna Penn). It seems a BB promotion would probably bring in about 1,500 US book sales, but WSJ would take 3,000–5,000, so I’m not confident it would be worth the effort this time around. In any case, the tests I’m running (promoting on other lists and experimenting with ads) can be valuable learning for the future.

No I’m not raking it in with podcast sponsorship

If I didn’t know better, I’d look at this report and conclude that Love Your Work was somewhat profitable. Keep in mind this report is mostly cash-based. So this means that I got payments from sponsors for blocks of ads that span multiple months.

So no, I don’t usually make over $1,000 in a month from Love Your Work, while merely spending $240 on post-production. That would be solid. More likely I’m roughly breaking even, so the roughly $150 from Patreon supporters helps keep my head above water on the show.

More Email Marketing Platform Reviews to boost passive revenue

We’re already well into April (tax season delayed my accountant in updating the books), and I have new things planned. I’m doing some email marketing platform reviews to recoup my passive revenue.

My main passive revenue stream, Match.com coupons, has dwindled over the past several years. I no longer have enough interest in the topic to try to revive it, and the online dating industry has changed so much I wouldn’t know where to begin.

You can see I make a little off from my Treehouse free trial, my HostGator free trial, and my WP Engine Coupon, but I’ve identified email marketing platforms as a good niche for me.

I’m interested in evaluating platforms because email marketing is so important to my business, and many email marketing companies offer recurring revenue for customers you refer. For example, I earn 30% of every dollar someone spends when I refer them to Active Campaign – for as long as they are a customer. Last I checked it looked like I’d make around $8,000 in 2018 from these referrals.

You can see in my revenue that I already have some nice passive recurring revenue coming in from Active Campaign (here’s my affiliate link). This is likely from my ConvertKit vs. Active Campaign Review, and my Mailchimp vs. Active Campaign Review.

There’s also some revenue starting to trickle in from ConvertKit. I’m surprised it’s not more because I’m very complimentary of ConvertKit, and I recommend it to most creative entrepreneurs who ask (here’s my ConvertKit affiliate link).

I’m currently working on an AWeber review (affiliate link), and trying to build a process for creating more reviews and comparisons. I enjoy it because it’s writing and producing content, and I’m getting to practice a little video production, but I’d rather be writing books. Doing the AWeber review has been grueling, so I may take a break before the next one.

However, the more reviews and comparisons I do, the easier they’ll get. Having passive revenue is a great way to gain creative freedom, and it doesn’t hurt to be sure that I want to stick with Active Campaign.

Another webinar coming up

As you can see from the success of my Blog 2 BLING! webinar, webinars really bring in a nice revenue spike. However, they are a ton of work, especially the first time around. So, I’m trying to make it easier to do webinars more regularly.

I’m doing a webinar next week, twice in one day (!), on Busting Through Creative Blocks. I’ll be pitching D4H Video at the end of the webinar. As I chronicled last month, I’ve put together a script, and am always trying to figure out how to automate the email sequence, while still keeping it fresh.

It’s hard to say just how much such a webinar will bring in. Some people have been on my list for many years and are unlikely to ever buy that course. Some have been to this webinar before and there’s no point in coming again. But, it’s useful to make predictions, so I’ll predict that I’ll make $2,500 from D4H Video in March. Stay tuned.

Income

Gross income was $9,910.71 (Up from February’s $3,238.69). Net profit was $8,919.33 (Up from February’s $1,845.92).

Book Sales

Design for Hackers (all) $1,036.78
The Heart to Start Kindle $553.93
The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon) $123.61
The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon) $9.71
The Heart to Start Audiobook $76.76
How to Write a Book Kindle $151.93
How to Write a Book Paperback $57.86
How to Write a Book MP3 Audiobook (discontinued) $54.89
Total Book Sales $2,065.47

Digital Products

Summer of Design $26.00
D4H Video $185.40
White Hot Course $198.00
Blog 2 BLING! (Beta) $4,573.00
Total Digital Products $4,982.40

Affiliates

Active Campaign $551.49
Amazon $423.98
HostGator $100.00
Treehouse $130.50
WP Engine $250.00
Total Affiliates $1,455.97

Love Your Work Podcast

Patreon $155.48
Sponsorships $896.00
Total LYW Podcast $1,051.48

Writing

Medium $355.39
Total Writing $355.39
GROSS INCOME $9,910.71

Expenses

General

Coworking Space $78.19
Podcast Editing / Publishing $240.00
FancyHands $29.99
Total General $348.18

Advertising

Amazon AMS $399.02
BookBub $47.09
Facebook $74.50
Total Advertising $520.61

Hosting

Genius Link $10.00
Meet Edgar $49.00
Twilio $10.11
WP Engine $20.00
Namecheap $33.48
Total Hosting $122.59
TOTAL EXPENSES $991.38
NET PROFIT $8,919.33

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This post is filed under Income Reports.