Subscribe to blog updates via email »

December 2020 Income Report

January 25 2021 – 05:24pm

An audio version of this income report is available to Patreon backers of certain levels »

December’s revenues were $6,090, down from November’s $7,848. Profits were $2,738, down from November’s $6,338.

Want to 4x your writing output? Click here for my free toolkit »

The profit for this December report is higher than usual for December. For example, in December 2019, my profit was $1,278, and in December 2018, I reported a loss of $773. Much of this is due to a change in how I’m accounting expenses I pay for on a yearly basis.

But first, how I came to make this change. Come along with me through a circuitous thought process.

ActiveCampaign switched to monthly billing. How to streamline email marketing (and the business)?

You’ll start to see a recurring line item from ActiveCampaign in these monthly reports. I switched from yearly billing to monthly billing. I wasn’t feeling excited to spend $1,400 to commit to another year of ActiveCampaign.

Weighed down by the D4H list?

One reason for this is I’m feeling weighed down by parts of my email list I’m not regularly emailing. I’m paying for 25,000 contacts. I have about 20,000 contacts, but only about 7,000 of those contacts are on my main Love Mondays list. The rest are on my Design for Hackers list, which is pretty much stagnant. There are also about 15,000 of those contacts on either or both of those lists, but who also get emails each time I publish to my blog.

I’d like to find a way to get D4H subscribers – who are interested – onto that Love Mondays list. It would also be a good idea to clean inactive subscribers from that list. However, given that I haven’t sent a lot of emails to that list in recent months, it’s not easy to identify who is inactive.

It’s not like it would be easy to get my list down to a number that would make ActiveCampaign cheaper for me. The next plan down is 10,000 contacts. Now if Love Mondays were my only list, I would be on that plan. So, I’m paying extra money to keep a list I hardly market to, and that I hardly make money from.

Then again, I have 15,000 contacts getting blog updates, which I don’t think is a waste. At the very least, if I pared my list down to those contacts, I’d have room before outgrowing the 25,000-subscriber plan I’m on now.

Should I be burning boats?

Sometimes I think about pulling the plug on the D4H list entirely. However, my free email course consistently gets new sign-ups – to unknown benefit – and the book itself directs people to sign up to get a font cheat sheet. It seems unprofessional to leave those loose ends out there hanging as I have an active career publishing books.

If I could wave a magic wand, the D4H subscribers and email course would be whisked off to a cheaper and maybe free email marketing platform. Inactive subscribers would be regularly pruned, and I’d have revamped automations for selling D4H courses.

I recently simplified my D4H Video course so there’s only one version of the course, with up-front payment. I’ve been slowly weaning off my $24-a-month SendOwl subscription. I could change to a cheaper plan, or to a payment processor such as Payhip or Gumroad where I would instead pay a percentage of each transaction.

In the process of simplifying D4H Video, however, I deactivated the automation I had for marketing the course. So, I’m hardly making money from that course. I need to look over that automation or find some other way of marketing the course.

As I think about this, it’s work that distracts from my top priorities of writing more creative productivity content and books – with little earning potential. It seems like another case where I should burn my boats. I guess I’m attached to the idea of having a small ecosystem of courses that supplement my first book – of having a portion of my business that sits and makes money, however little money that might be. I hate the idea of having the D4H website out there getting plenty of traffic for articles I wrote years ago, and not capturing that value. But maybe I should be letting that go?

Sometimes having a business that has been around a long time and that has many different pieces feels limiting. I can understand how big companies that have been around for a long time start to get weighed down by bloat and aged systems.

Are there better email marketing options?

Another reason I switched to monthly billing is I’d like to think about whether there are better options for my Love Mondays newsletter. I’m not sure ActiveCampaign is still a good fit for what’s important to me for that newsletter.

I originally fell in love with ActiveCampaign because I wanted to build sophisticated automations for my D4H list – and ActiveCampaign has been great for building automations. But I currently have a pretty unsophisticated approach to email marketing: I have a weekly newsletter, an automation sends out an email when I update my website, and I otherwise send out emails when I have something to promote. I no longer have sophisticated automations that are critical to running my business.

As I’ve said in my ActiveCampaign review, ActiveCampaign’s user experience for creating one-off campaigns is pretty clunky and terrible. It’s the weakest part of their whole experience.

As I mentioned in my 2020 year-in-review, I have a slick system in Airtable for creating markdown text of my weekly newsletters. I fantasize about having it even more slick, where I could change a field in the spreadsheet, and have the email automatically composed and scheduled. It would be even better if I could also have the emails published to my website, where people could preview the emails they’d get on the list.

What other platforms do I think about? I’ve long thought ConvertKit was nice, but I also am a little envious or at least curious about the Substack experience – however, I don’t have plans to have a paid newsletter, and that is what they are geared toward. Even if I could theoretically “freeload” indefinitely with a free list, I’m wary of working with a service whose priorties aren’t aligned with my own – I don’t think that would play out well in the long run.

Is this worth thinking about at all?

I also wonder if this is worth thinking about at all. Even if I were able to eliminate my email marketing expenses entirely, it would “only” be $1,400 in savings per year. Surely I could make $1,400 dollars in a year from the energy I’m expending even thinking about this.

Additionally, the money I make from referrals to ActiveCampaign is a huge portion of my revenue. Maybe I shouldn’t view the expense as an issue at all. Switching to another platform, however, doesn’t preclude me making money from these referrals. ConvertKit has a similar referral program, though given the praises I’ve sung them in my ConvertKit vs. ActiveCampaign comparison, I’ve been surprised how little revenue I’ve made in their affiliate program.

If I feel automations aren’t important to my business right now, how do I know they won’t be important in the future? Maybe I don’t like the experience of composing emails in ActiveCampaign, but perhaps I’ll have an assistant again and that person can make up for that lost energy?

And this is why I switched to monthly billing

As you can see, I have a lot of thoughts about this, and am undecided. This is why I switched to monthly billing: To remind myself on a monthly basis to think about this, as well as to keep the door open for me to switch. Another motivator is the fact that a monthly plan costs more than a yearly plan.

In the past, I’ve paid on a yearly basis to prevent myself from thinking about switching to a different email marketing platform. Now I’m paying on a monthly basis to encourage myself to think about it. Which may be a mistake – I don’t know.

Ended up thinking about switching, more than I had planned to

To switch to monthly billing for ActiveCampaign, I sent them an email. They confirmed that they had switched me, and I didn’t think about it much until I was putting together this report. Then I noticed they had charged me $259 – their current rate for up to 25,000 subscribers.

When I ran the numbers, I realized my yearly expenses would end up being more than $3,000 – rather than less than $1,400. I hadn’t confirmed with them what the monthly price would be, but I was expecting the standard jump of 10–20%. It took a couple emails with their support to get them to consider adjusting that price. I was grandfathered in on the yearly plan for the price I signed up for years ago, but when they made the change, they put me on the current rate.

In the meantime, I was worried I had made a horrible mistake. Though I had to admit to myself this was why I had hastily changed to monthly billing – to force myself to think about alternatives.

I was pleased to see that ConvertKit now has a free plan for under 1,000 contacts. This would give me a chance to play with it and see what switching would be like, without the pressure of a monthly fee. I messed around with it and was impressed with how their platform had progressed. I sketched up some plans for how a switch might work.

To switch or not to switch?

ActiveCampaign did end up adjusting my monthly fee down to $135 – about a 17% premium over a yearly fee. If I were forced to pay $259 a month for ActiveCampaign, I’m pretty sure I would switch to ConvertKit. My fee with ConvertKit for the same number of contacts would be $199 per month.

But now ActiveCampaign costs me less than ConvertKit, and it has the benefit that I’m already set up on there. On one hand, I’ve said myself that price should be a secondary consideration in choosing an email marketing platform – choose the platform that meets your needs. (That would be a case for switching.)

On the other hand, it may be wise to follow the principle of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” (The case for not switching.) I don’t know what negative Black Swans may lie within switching. What might break and end up taking extra time and energy? Would this affect my nice monthly affiliate income source?

Then again, there could be benefits that it’s hard for me to picture at this point. The easier email creation experience on ConvertKit could encourage me to create email courses that build my list. Their landing page selection may encourage me to experiment with lead magnets. If I switched, it would make sense to make a follow-up ConvertKit vs. ActiveCampaign post/video. Would that bring in more ConvertKit affiliate revenue and diversify my income sources? Is that something I want to spend my energy doing? Should affiliate income be a focus for me? Is diversifying my income sources a high priority?

Letting it incubate

It’s probably annoying to read along with this indecisiveness – try having it in your head! Obviously, I wouldn’t have switched to monthly billing if I were 100% confident ActiveCampaign were the right platform to stick with. I put myself in this quandary on purpose. I think it’s because I recently finished a book after deliberately ignoring thoughts about my email marketing platform, and now seemed like an appropriate time to give it some head space.

I don’t need to decide now, but now I’ve loaded my brain with the factors of my decision, and even elements of a plan for how I might switch. Following the four stages of creativity, I’m going to let it incubate.

Monthly ActiveCampaign billing may affect profit appearance

So, ActiveCampaign will start showing up as a monthly line item. This may affect the appearance of monthly profit in these reports. This gave me second thoughts about my cash-based accounting method for lots of these yearly expense items.

Most of these yearly-billed expenses would normally show up in this month’s report: Quickbooks, Zapier, and Dropbox, for example. Some others would show up in January’s report: WP Engine and Evernote – maybe some others.

Now that I think of it, yearly expenses now reported monthly!

This monthly billing saga got me thinking maybe I should be accounting for these expenses on an accrual basis. This would make my profit trends more consistent. December and January usually show low profit because of these expenses, and the rest of the months show deceivingly high profit.

I was going to just say “oh well, what can I do?”, but as I typed that last paragraph, I decided I’d be foolish not to break those out into monthly expenses. This will cause a misleading change in my trend graphs, as compared to past years, but it will give me a more accurate picture for decision-making moving forward. I won’t add WP Engine as a line item until their yearly bill comes in next month.

Now I’m wondering what other little things I pay for by the year. What criteria I will use to decide whether it’s worth breaking them into monthly expenses? Todoist, for example, is like $30 a year. Is that worth breaking out by month? Maybe my criteria for accrual-based accounting for expenses should be “things for which I pay at least $100 a year.” I don’t know. It doesn’t have to be an exact science. The point is to get a clear picture for decision-making.

I’ll make these decisions as these expenses come. For now, you can see a monthly, accrual-based fee reported for Quickbooks, Zapier, and Dropbox in this month’s report. On a cash basis, I actually paid lump sums 12x each of the fees you see.

Mind Management, Not Time Management now $14.99

In last month’s report, and in my article on Amazon’s Great on Kindle program, I was unsure of whether Mind Management, Not Time Management was yet in the program. I saw the “Great on Kindle” graphic on the Amazon page, but I wasn’t seeing the 50% royalty rate option that I see in the pricing dashboard for The Heart to Start, which is also in the Great on Kindle program.

Turns out Amazon no longer offers the 50% royalty rate option to authors in Great on Kindle. This is a disappointment, because I had long planned to raise the price of MMT to $14.99 once it was accepted into the program.

Is the 35% royalty-rate plan actually better than the 70% royalty-rate plan?

I learned about the discontinuation of the 50% royalty plan by calling Amazon KDP support. When I told the representative I had been looking forward to using that plan, he pointed out that sometimes the 35% royalty rate is actually better for the author than the 70% royalty rate.

That got my attention. How could that be possible? It took a while to understand the case he was trying to make. Turns out there’s one crucial difference between the 35% royalty rate and 70% royalty rate that most authors miss.

35% royalty plan is on your List Price – even when Amazon price-matches

As most authors know, if your book is priced lower on a non-Amazon platform, Amazon will usually match the price of your book to that lower price (we’ll call that the “promotional price”). When you are on the 70% royalty plan, you then earn 70% on that lower promotional price. So if your book’s list price (the price you set) is $4.99, but is price-matched to only $0.99, you then earn 70% of $0.99, or about 70¢.

But if your book is price-matched and you are on the 35% royalty plan, you earn 35% not of the lower promotional price, but rather your list price. So if your book’s list price is $4.99, but is price-matched to only $0.99, you then earn 35% of $4.99, or about $1.75. You read that right: The customer will have paid 99¢, and you will earn $1.75 per book.

Will exploiting Amazon’s price matching get you banned?

If you look around the 20booksto50k Facebook Group, you will see discussions about exploiting Amazon’s price-matching to earn a higher royalty. This is an attractive option, in particular, if you are running a BookBub Featured Deal, because that usually involves pricing your book in 35% territory. Earning 70¢ per sale makes your Featured Deal profitable faster than does earning 35¢.

The consensus in these discussions in the 20booksto50k Facebook Group, however, is that exploiting Amazon’s price-matching to earn a higher royalty will get you a strongly-worded letter from Amazon, possibly followed by having your account shut down. In other words, don’t even think about trying it. When 95% of your self-publishing income comes from Amazon, having your account shut down is not good.

I asked the representative I spoke to about this, and he said essentially (I’m paraphrasing): What you say is true about maybe getting a warning if you’re clearly deliberately abusing our price matching, but I’ve never seen anyone have their account shut down over it. I asked him how long he’d been working there. He said three months.

Will choosing the 35% royalty plan make your Amazon ads run more profitably?

Okay, so maybe three months on the job doesn’t make this representative a good person to listen to, but I was still intrugued. There was one thing I had always wondered about the 35% plan: Would it make your Amazon ads run more profitably?

My thinking is like this: If I were an Amazon algorithm, and I were deciding which ads to run, and which books to display, wouldn’t I favor books that were on the 35% royalty plan? After all, Amazon makes more money on a book on which they’re paying only a 35% royalty.

I asked this representative, and he said (paraphrasing): All I can say is that’s a closely guarded secret. But, the general Amazon credo is we do what’s best for the customer. So if one book is a better deal for the customer, that’s what they’ll see.

Reading between the lines there, sounds like the answer is No, choosing the 35% royalty rate will not make your Amazon ads run more profitably. Not that I’d take his word for it. More in a bit.

How I earned more royalties than the customer paid

I needed to see this 35%-of-List-Price policy in action. So, I switched How to Write a Book to the 35% royalty plan. Then I watched it a few days. Didn’t see any notable difference in sales. My ads weren’t running more, the book wasn’t selling more – nothing. Nothing aside from the fact I was earning 35% now, instead of 70%. (Yes, I considered that of course an Amazon representative wants me to earn 35% instead of 70%.)

But then, I ran a pricing promotion on non-Amazon channels. I would have liked to run the promotion only on one retailer, such as Kobo. That would be a less-suspicious situation. Unfortunately, since I moved all non-Amazon books to the PublishDrive aggregator, I had to change my price on all non-Amazon retailers at once.

I did that, and sure enough, Amazon changed the price from $4.99 to $0.99. And I was earning about $1.75 per book. More than the customers were even paying.

However, I was surprised not to see a bigger uptick in the number of sales I was making. Perhaps Amazon was promoting this price change less than they would have normally?

What happened when I boosted my price to $14.99

I was watching out for a nasty email from Amazon during my 99¢ WAB promotion. The price change lasted a week, and I was pretty nervous. But, I got no such message.

Next, I decided to change the price of Mind Management, Not Time Management from $9.99 to $14.99, even though the 50% royalty plan wasn’t an option. However, this time I was more careful not to do anything that might upset Amazon. So, I first changed the price on all non-Amazon channels, through PublishDrive. I waited until the price had changed across all those channels, then I finally changed the price on Amazon.

But Amazon was still selling the book for $9.99. However, I noticed that the displayed “List Price” had changed:

As expected, though customers were paying $9.99, I was earning 35% of $14.99.

I was still earning only $5.25 per book, instead of $6.88, but I noticed another change. I was making more sales than before.

Looking at that graph, you might notice that I was selling slightly more books at $14.99 than at $9.99, but keep in mind I had also stepped ads back up after taking the holiday season off. Here’s how many clicks I was generating.

Yes, I had more ads running, but that wasn’t a matter of just switching them back on. It often takes a while to get them to run. I think Amazon may have been promoting my book more, and/or running my ads more when they were discounting my book.

Maybe 35% royalty is better sometimes

Think about it. Despite their “customer first” credo, it would be dumb for Amazon to push my 99¢ book when they’re paying me $1.75. But if they get to promote a book they’ve marked 33% off the list price, and they get to earn $1.50 or so extra royalty per book than they would on the 70% royalty plan, that’s good for the customer, but it’s also good for Amazon.

Finally, I could see how maybe sometimes the 35% royalty plan is better for the author.

Does Amazon optimize your price on the 35% royalty plan?

But I had been careful to make sure MMT was priced at $14.99 on other outlets before I changed the price on Amazon. Why were they selling my book for $9.99?

Maybe I missed an outlet, and my book was in fact $9.99 somewhere else. Maybe Amazon was working from slightly-old data that still suggested my book was $9.99.

But there’s a third explanation I wonder about: Does Amazon optimize your book’s price when you’re on the 35% royalty plan? The language of their royalty plan explanations suggests they merely match prices.

Whatever they were doing, the “sale” on MMT didn’t last. Amazon eventually started selling the book for my list price of $14.99.

Will I keep using the 35% royalty plan?

Now that I’ve seen Amazon’s 35%-on-List-Price policy in action, I have a better feel for the 35% royalty plan. I still don’t know their internal policies, but my guess is it’s something like this:

If you’re abusing this price matching, you’ll probably have a bad time. Imagine I ran a BookBub Featured Deal and allowed Amazon’s price-matching to take over so I was earning $5.25 per book on a $1.99 purchase, and I was selling thousands of books. I bet that would be bad. Not to mention I’d be sweating after spending a thousand dollars on a BookBub promotion and just hoping Amazon would actually price match. I’d risk pissing off both Amazon and BookBub. Career suicide for any author.

But I bet if I marked my book down to $9.99 on other channels, and allowed Amazon to price-match my $14.99 list price down to $9.99, that probably wouldn’t be so bad. Amazon would look good for discounting my book, and they’d make a little more for each book than if I were on the 70% plan. That might result in an algorithm boost.

I’m curious about that, but I’m not going to try it yet. I’m sticking with the $14.99 price – and thus the 35% royalty plan – for a bit. For one, I’m curious to see if Amazon alters my price again. Two, I just don’t like selling that book for $9.99. I think it’s worth $14.99, even if it means I get paid less for it (though I still earn like 70% before PublishDrive’s cut on other channels, and will soon sell it direct). Three, I’ll see if I can build pent-up demand for the book. Once the MMT audiobook goes live, I’ll start applying for BookBub. I posit that going from $14.99 to $1.99 for a BookBub deal will drive more sales velocity than going from $9.99 to $1.99. That may even drive enough velocity to hit the WSJ list.

What is this experiment costing me?

I went into this experiment knowing I’d probably make less money than if I just stuck with the 70% plan – at the very least in the short term. But, I was curious. I’ve seen a drop in profits of at least 50% during the couple weeks I’ve been experimenting with price. What it’s ultimately costing me? I don’t know.

I do know that while looking over these numbers, I noticed I still have WAB on the 35% royalty plan. I’m changing it back to 70% right now!

Mind Management, Not Time Management audiobook still being produced

You’ll notice a line item for $1,320 for the audiobook production of Mind Management, Not Time Management. I have one chapter left to record, but the post production is taking a long time! I’ve been putting off recording that final chapter until the post production was further along, but it’s just about time to do it.

At this rate, it will probably be March at the earliest before the audiobook is live on all channels. It can take a while.

The Heart to Start audiobook now wide

In preparation for the MMT audiobook, I’ve been experimenting with taking my other audiobooks wide. I had a seven-year contracts with ACX for my audiobooks, but since I did all the production myself, I was able to get out of those contracts just by emailing them.

I’ve since distributed all my audiobooks through Findaway Voices. Or at least anywhere that’s not Audible, I’m distributing through Findaway Voices. I’m still not clear on whether I can change my Audible listing to be distributed through Findaway and still retain all my reviews.

Just Findaway, or Findaway/ACX?

Also, since the majority of my audiobook revenue will likely come through Audible, I can avoid Findaway taking a cut of that by keeping my audiobooks direct to ACX. However, switching to non-exclusive means I’m earning 25% royalty instead of 40% royalty through Audible, so that revenue Findaway would take a cut of will be considerably lower.

In the spirit of simplicity of reporting and management of audiobooks, it may be a good idea to just go straight through Findaway. I also recall hearing Joanna Penn saying she had trouble with an audiobook taking months and months to go live through ACX. I think she said going through Findaway made the audiobooks publish faster. That could make sense as ACX might be more reluctant to piss off a big partner like Findaway, rather than an individual indie publisher.

So, I’m still undecided on whether I’ll publish the MMT audiobook directly to ACX, or let Findaway distribute. Something to investigate as the MMT audiobook release approaches.

Selling HTS audiobook direct on MP3s

After switching to a non-exclusive agreement on the audiobook for The Heart to Start, I’m now free to directly sell MP3s through Payhip. I know there are a minority of readers who prefer this experience. Time will tell whether it ends up being a support drag for me, as figuring out how to even listen to MP3s on one’s mobile device requires some tech savvy these days.

Award entry fees

You’ll see a $213 line item for award entry fees, for Mind Management, Not Time Management. I’m personally skeptical of awards, but I do know that if I won an award, it would help sales and selection for BookBub Featured Deals if I had awards on my book’s cover or description.

Additionally, the awards I’m entering do have cash prizes of up to $5,000. So, there’s some chance of making a profit here. Of course, these contests are businesses, and this is the way they want you to think.

There are some predatory contests in publishing, so I consulted the Alliance of Independent Author’s database of contests, and just picked a few. One of them is through BookLife. BookLife is a part of Publisher’s Weekly. I had the good fortune of having The Heart to Start reviewed in PW after I submitted it to BookLife – free of charge. HTS ended up in PW’s print magazine, and I know that drove some library sales, and that PW review may have helped me land my first BookBub Featured Deal.

BookLife Prize

So, by submitting MMT in the BookLife Prize contest, I’m hoping to help along with potentially replicating that success. I’ve already received a review. MMT scored 8.5 out of 10 points, and got a nice review I’m now featuring on the Amazon page.

I’m always wary of glowing reviews when I’ve paid someone, but it looks like last year’s winner in Business and Personal Finance scored 7.75, so not only does that bode well for the sincerity of this review, it looks like I have a good shot at winning.

When are winners announced?

As far as contest results, there are various stages leading to the finals for the BookLife Prize in April/May. The Self-Publishing Review winners are announced in April. The Independent Author Network’s Book of the Year contest winners are announced in November.

2020 revenue/profit numbers

This report closes out 2020, and though I shared a lot of thoughts on the year itself in my 2020 year in review, I did not share finances there.

Income was down more than 25% in 2020, vs. 2019. $64,847, instead of $88,748. Most of this is because I spent way less on ads. Only $16,619, instead of 2019’s $37,241.

So, while income was down, profits were up – though only modestly. I brought in $37,703, instead of $37,299. A $400 increase.

2018 2019 2020
YOY Difference
Income $68,624 $88,748 $64,847 -$23,901
Expenses $31,985 $51,449 $27,144 -$24,305
Profit $36,639 $37,299 $37,703 $404

Making less every year?

Given that I called 2018 – two years ago – a “lean year,” when I made $36,639, I can’t say 2020 was a whole lot better. In fact, this is about how much money I made my first year on a “real” job in 2003, where I made $13.50 an hour, plus time-and-a-half for overtime. If I were even keeping up with inflation, I’d make about $52,000 a year.

And that’s not comparing apples with apples. You pay more taxes when you’re self-employed. Additionally, when I account for expenses that aren’t on these reports (such as travel (most years), professional development, and payment processing), as well as the standard deductions, I’m flirting with the U.S. poverty threshhold by the time I’m filing taxes.

So, I’m inclined to feel like a failure when I look at pure numbers.

Self-publishing profits up

But, I can’t measure my success solely by my income. My job and life satisfaction now versus 2003 can’t even be compared. I can look back on those days fondly because I was struggling to find my place in the world, but I wouldn’t want to go through it again. I may feel the same way about now at some point in the future. And of course, I live in Colombia, and the point of that is to be able to live a comfortable lifestyle on a lower income.

The important thing is, aside from having a good life, my self-publishing profits are up. Yes, I spent $20,000 less on advertising my books, but I only had a $14,600 decrease in book sales. So, I added more than $5,000 profit in my most important category. Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s more than double over 2019.

Lower income in Digital Products, Services, and Podcast

Here’s how my income breaks down, by category, over the three years I’ve been doing these reports:

2018 2019 2020
YOY Difference
Book Sales $26,509 $47,023 $32,399 -$14,624
Affiliates $17,043 $21,409 $22,193 $783
Digital Products $12,371 $12,179 $5,704 -$6,474
Services $4,219 $2,431 $1,248 -$1,182
LYW Podcast $8,169 $5,706 $3,303 -$2,403

So all categories were down in 2020, over 2019, except affiliates. We’ve already been over why the book sales aren’t that bad. Digital Products, well, I purposefully de-prioritized those to focus on finishing MMT. Services are my least-important category, and most of that comes from calls on Clarity (and I’m starting to take calls on the much-better Superpeer), and those are fun and easy.

The decrease in Podcast income over the years is surprisingly large. On the bright side, I’m not having to deal with sponsors, there’s no pressure to keep up with reading to prepare for interviews – meaning I can focus on my own ideas – and what podcast income I do make is mostly coming from Patreon support now.

Will this ever turn around?

I certainly feel better about my business than I did at the ten-year mark, though I have to ask myself if I’ll ever be making more than a livable income on this business. I don’t want to be so hard on myself that I cease to enjoy what I do, but I also am wary of explaining away failure when maybe there’s something else I could be doing with my life – what that would be I don’t know.

But, I’ve come a long way. While the quantity of dollars I make each year doesn’t seem to change, the quality of those dollars improves. As I’ve said before, book sale and Patreon dollars feel the best, affiliate and digital product and Clarity and Superpeer dollars feel alright. Consulting and podcast sponsorship dollars excite me the least.

Podcast Thank Yous

Thank you to Alex Birkett and the team at Omniscient Digital for having me on their podcast, The Long Game. It was a wide-ranging conversation about managing creative energy and making decisions, and it was a lot of fun!


Book Sales

Mind Management, Not Time Management Kindle $1,072
Mind Management, Not Time Management Paperback (Amazon) $396
Mind Management, Not Time Management (non-Amazon) $130
The Heart to Start Kindle $396
The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon) $143
The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon) $56
The Heart to Start Audiobook $52
How to Write a Book Kindle $97
How to Write a Book Paperback $336
How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon) $0
How to Write a Book Audible $24
How to Write a Book Spanish (all) $16
Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain (all) $3
Ten Passive Income Ideas $18
Total Book Sales $2,740

Digital Products

Blog 2 BLING! $384
Explosive Email Course $18
Motivational Judo $90
D4H Video $701
Summer of Design $23
White Hot Course $303
Logo Mastery $36
Total Digital Products $1,555

Affiliates / Advertising

Active Campaign $1,055
Amazon $207
Brave Browser $64
ConvertKit $62
Hostgator $100
SendOwl $5
Total Affiliates $1,493

Love Your Work Podcast

Patreon $219
PayPal Donations $5
Total LYW Podcast $224


Clarity $0
Medium $79
Superpeer $0
Total Services $79



Accounting $430
Outside Contractors $1,320
Podcast Editing / Publishing $0
Quickbooks $36
Misc. Software $34
Total General $1,819


Amazon $1,047
Twitter $21
Award Entry Fees $213
Product Samples $20
Total Advertising $1,301


ActiveCampaign $135
Bookfunnel $15
Dropbox $10
Fathom Analtyics $14
Libsyn $7
Namecheap $13
SendOwl $24
Zapier $14
Total Hosting $232

Want to 4x your writing output? Click here for my free toolkit »

This post is filed under Income Reports.