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December 2022 Income Report (and 2022 review)
An audio version of this income report is available to Patreon backers of certain levels »
December’s income was $16,325, up from November’s $8,903. Profits were $8,395, up from November’s $4,364.
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If you’ve read many of these reports, you’ll immediately notice this month’s income is unusually high. It is, in fact, a record, by a substantial margin. The previous record was $11,295, back in August, 2022.
Big payment from ActiveCampaign
The main reason income was so unusually high this month was I got an unusually large payment from ActiveCampaign, of $5,311. Here’s how it compares to prior payments.
Notice that the payments from ActiveCampaign were unusually low in the previous three months. By unusually low, I mean nonexistent.
There was an issue in collecting payment from them, but it’s been straightened out. If payment had come regularly, I would have only gotten about $340 from AC this month, about $1,200 in November, about $2,700 in October, and about $940 in September. Instead, I got paid for all four of those months at once.
This makes the data misleading, which I don’t like, but there’s not a good way to fix it without too much hassle. During the months I wasn’t getting payment, I didn’t want to account for it, not knowing if I’d get it. Now that those months have passed, I’m not going to go back and change the revenue for those previous months.
I’ve had to change the upper bound of my income graph to accommodate this spike in revenue. That makes the recent gains not look as impressive as they once did. Here’s last month’s graph, for comparison.
If nothing else, this month’s unusually and misleadingly-high revenue is something to aspire to.
Solid book revenue
Obviously you don’t make over $16,000 from a $5,000-payment alone. Even without that $5,300 payment, this month was almost a record. Much of that revenue came from my favorite income source: Books. I made $9,872 from self-published books this month.
That’s the second-highest book income I’ve had. The record is $10,018, again from August. This also caps off a record twelve-month period for book revenue, which happens to also be a calendar year. I made $86,561 in 2022, from self-published books.
This is the fourteenth month in a row my twelve-month book income has been a record! That’s a run that deserves a look at the graph. Isn’t it beautiful?
Along with record income, I also had record expenses. I spent $7,930 this month. The previous record was $7,072, in June 2020. The main expenses were over $6,000 on Advertising – which gets expensive during the holiday season – and nearly $1,500 in Outside Contractors, to pay for the design and layout of my new short read, 100-Word Writing Habit. (If it’s out-of-stock, more on that later).
The end of a profitable year is a good time to spend a lot of money on Advertising. Each dollar you spend, you no longer have to pay taxes on. If you’re spending it effectively, you get the money back and then some in the beginning of the next year, and can use it to grow your business once again.
I also spent some money in categories that aren’t included in these reports, such as on a new camera lens, and on charitable contributions.
25,000 copies of Mind Management, Not Time Management!
I’ve now sold more than 25,000 copies of Mind Management, Not Time Management! As of the end of December, I’ve sold 25,774. Here’s what the sales look like over the approximately two years the book has been out.
I love the concave shape of that graph! Looks like sales have compound effects. Sales are leading to more sales. Indeed, sales per month – though highly-variable – are trending upward.
And here’s how the income from the book compares to expenses, over time.
I love how that gap between expenses and revenue keeps getting bigger.
Wheat-flanked words update!
Every 5,000 copies, I update the sales number on the cover of the book. I’m still a few copies short of Mark Manson’s 20 million or James Clear’s 10 million, but if a number is in a laurel wreath, it has to be good.
Crossed 25k as predicted
Back in October, I posted on PredictionBook that I was 70% sure I would cross the 25,000-copy threshold by the end of 2022. I have marked that as correct!
Closing in on $100,000 earnings from MMT (made it!)
You may have noticed the MMT revenue graph is very close to $100,000. I’ve made $96,092 from Mind Management, Not Time Management, as of the end of December.
Will I cross $100,000 earnings for MMT by next month’s report? I average $4,794 revenue from the book each month, which would get me there, but never walk across a river that’s 4 feet deep on average. In 2022, I made as little as $2,523 in a month, and that would be well short.
As I write this, I’ve earned $3,992 from MMT on Amazon alone in January, so I’m already there! I’ve made $100,000 from MMT! I won’t bother making a prediction then.
100-Word Writing Habit now available! (sort of)
My new short read, 100-Word Writing Habit, is now finished. The first copy has arrived at my home in Colombia, and I think it turned out great.
The book is listed on Amazon, but at the time of this writing, it’s impossible to order it there. They are showing it as out of stock. It was previously possible to order it, but lo and behold, right after I sent an email to graduates of the 100-Word Writing Habit email course, it went out of stock.
How can a POD book be out-of-stock?
This is nonsensical, because it’s a print-on-demand book. But this commonly happens with books I fulfill through IngramSpark. In the past, when I’ve emailed IngramSpark about this issue, they’ve blamed Amazon. When I’ve talked to Amazon, they’ve blamed IngramSpark.
Apparently an Amazon algorithm decides whether or not to carry a book, based upon a number of factors. According to IngramSpark, those factors include, “a discount (with a maximum trade discount being most-favorable), whether a book is returnable, product page views, and sales history.”
In theory, if I were to list the book with a higher wholesale discount and a favorable return policy – i.e. less profits for me – Amazon would show the book as in-stock. But the Digital Zettelkasten paperback is fulfilled through IngramSpark, and I have the same – minimum – wholesale discount and strict return policy as I have for 100-Word Writing Habit, and Digital Zettelkasten doesn’t have out-of-stock issues.
IIRC, I had out-of-stock issues early on with the Digital Zettelkasten paperback, but haven’t had them since. (Okay, I just checked, and it looks like only used copies are available. Maybe Amazon is being a dick about wholesale discount and return policy. Just learning about this problem.)
I also just noticed the Heart to Start hardcover is in-stock with Prime shipping. It’s also fulfilled through IngramSpark, and sells at a lower volume than Digital Zettelkasten. Like ZET and HWH, the HTS hardcover has the lowest possible wholesale discount, but returns are allowed. So that may be the difference-maker. I’ve just changed ZET and HWH to allow returns. That’s not necessarily less profit for me, but I do now run the risk of having revenue clawed back for copies I thought had been sold.
Why not fulfill through KDP Print?
If I want to ensure the Digital Zettelkasten paperback is in stock, I can at least choose to fulfill it through Amazon KDP. With 100-Word Writing Habit, however, I don’t have that choice. I’m using IngramSpark’s new custom trim size option, which Amazon does not have.
One thing Digital Zettelkasten had going for it was a Kindle version. If a book is selling Kindle copies, it makes sense that Amazon would keep copies of the paperback in-stock (which they certainly did for a while). Since 100-Word Writing Habit is highly-designed, there’s currently no ebook version. If the paperback does really well, I might invest in trying to recreate the experience on Kindle.
Current options for buying 100-Word Writing Habit
Maybe if enough readers visit the 100-Word Writing Habit Amazon page, that will signal to them to stock the book. You can at least pre-order at Barnes & Noble. It’s currently showing an on-sale date of February 1st – which was temporarily my on-sale date, when I didn’t know when the book would be ready to sell. Some sales happening there might trigger Amazon’s algorithm.
And, of course, you can walk into your local bookstore and have them order it for you, in most places. They might say “It’s out of print,” but if they can order through Ingram’s systems, they can definitely order the book for you.
2022 in review
This is the final income report of 2022. So now we can compare this year to last. Here are my basic income and profits from 2022, compared to 2021.
All these numbers went up, including expenses. Expenses went up about 29%, and profits went up only 23%, so my profit margin decreased a little. I spent about $6,500 more on Advertising than usual, but the reduced profit margin certainly didn’t come from that. My return on ad spend went up in 2022 over 2021, to 159% over 117%.
Other than that, I hired a contractor to design the layout of 100-Word Writing Habit, and my accounting costs went up more than 40%! I spent more than $4,000 to have my earnings counted and reported to the government. God what a racket that industry is.
Here’s how that breaks down across categories:
As you can see, earnings went down in all categories, except book sales. That’s fine, as it’s my main focus, and book sales went up a lot. My book income went up 47%!
It’s no surprise that Affiliate income went down. My ActiveCampaign Review is a bit out-of-date now.
Also no surprise Digital Products went down. My course catalog is a year older, and the only work I committed to this was a Black Friday deal.
Services were never big, and are probably my lowest priority. I’m a little surprised I didn’t do more Clarity calls in 2022, but I had a paid speaking gig that helped Services revenue.
It’s a little sad to see the Podcast revenue go down 25%. That’s entirely a reflection of reduced earnings from Patreon support. Admittedly, I don’t offer a lot of steady benefits through Patreon, other than early access to episodes and audio versions of these income reports.
Patreon dying? Or reviving?
Given this drop in Patreon revenue, I have contemplated whether I should reduce Patreon all down to one lower-priced tier to get more participation, which could create momentum for special things such as more Q&A episodes. I’ve also contemplated whether I should kill the Patreon entirely. It’s a little extra administrative costs and work to make what benefits there are available.
My business is far different from when I started with Patreon. I now have a good catalog of books from which I’m making decent revenue. Yes, it does take a very long time to write these books, and the contributions supporters make help add some revenue in the meantime, but I also have my “short reads” to help bring in extra income between bigger releases. It’s some of my favorite revenue, but it’s becoming such a small part of my revenue, I’m not sure the extra complexity is worth it.
Then again, the income I’m reporting is getting higher and higher. I may at some point become uncomfortable with sharing it publicly any longer. Perhaps the reports or some portion of the reports could be available under some kind of restricted access. Patreon is one option.
What did I want to do in 2022?
Looking back at last December’s report, the one thing I hoped to accomplish in 2022 was to finish the final book in the Getting Art Done trilogy, now with the working title, Finish What Matters. But, I noted that I was on the “uphill” part of the project, and so there was no way to be sure I would finish.
I’ve felt as if I had reached the “downhill” portion of the project a few times, only to once again feel as if I was going uphill again. I have workshopped a massive number of ideas on the topic of follow-through on the podcast. Some of it I even think is really good when I re-listen to it. It could reasonably be stitched together and released as a book, but I still find more and more facets of the topic to explore.
It’s a bit of a beast of a project that is in itself a useful exercise for grappling with why projects get so hairy they never get finished. I do think I can reach the point where I can weave everything together into a cohesive and organized examination of creative follow-through. But will I even get there in 2023? I don’t know, but hope so, and will try.
Another thing I wanted to accomplish in 2022 was to enjoy success. 2021 had been a breakout year, when many different aspects of work and life came together. In 2022, I also got way more settled in Colombia, buying a car, getting permanent residency, and buying a house.
In my business, the snowball I felt I had packed in my hand at the beginning of the year did indeed get a little larger.
Love Mondays growth
At the end of 2021, I rejoiced at having gained Love Mondays subscribers, after having lost them in 2020. I’m happy to report I’ve continued that trend! I lost 4.68% of subscribers in 2020. I reversed that to gain 3.85% in 2021.
I accelerated that growth in 2022, adding 10.59% to the list! It’s nothing like the 6x growth I experienced years ago when I first launched Summer of Design, but it’s steady growth of one of my business’s most valuable assets.
I felt that the 100-Word Writing Habit email course had done a lot to grow the list in 2021. In 2022, my 20 Creativity Books Giveaway helped bring new subscribers, mostly from my other email lists. I also like to think I’m a better writer with better ideas, and I’ve improved upon my systems for producing Love Mondays newsletters.
I’d like to see that growth accelerate once again in 2023. What do I plan to do about that? Nothing, directly. Except keep reading, writing, thinking, and testing ideas.
What do I want to do in 2023?
In 2023, I’d like to finish Finish What Matters, but I can’t guarantee it. I do feel 60% confident I’ll finish the manuscript in 2023.
I’d like to do more video in 2023. I’ve been enjoying making reels for TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, and I think I’m well-equipped with the skills to do pretty well at it.
How sure am I? I’m 50% confident I will have at least 1,000 TikTok followers by the end of 2023. I’m 30% confident I will have published at least four new reels in the final quarter of 2023. So, not super duper sure.
I’m currently grappling with how to find the time and mental energy to produce, upload, and monitor short-form video reels. Options include hiring a person or small firm to help me, just not doing it, or killing other initiatives to make the space.
Other than that, I hope to enjoy and adjust to life in a cabin in the countryside of Colombia. Does that mean less work, more, or the same amount? I’m not sure.
Thank you for having me on your podcast!
Thank you to David DeCelle for having me on The Model FA podcast.
As always, you can find all podcasts I’ve been on on my interviews page.
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Kindle||$1,766|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Paperback (Amazon)||$4,044|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management (non-Amazon)||$1,397|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Audiobook||$549|
|Digital Zettelkasten Kindle||$707|
|Digital Zettelkasten Wide (non-Kindle)||$208|
|Digital Zettelkasten Audiobook||$48|
|The Heart to Start Kindle||$525|
|The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon)||$229|
|The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$100|
|The Heart to Start Audiobook||$33|
|How to Write a Book Kindle||$88|
|How to Write a Book Paperback||$128|
|How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$10|
|How to Write a Book Audiobook||$15|
|How to Write a Book Spanish (all)||$18|
|Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain (all)||$1|
|Ten Passive Income Ideas||$7|
|Total Book Sales||$9,872|
|Summer of Design||$0|
|Total Digital Products||$0|
Affiliates / Advertising
|Alliance of Independent Authors||$467|
Love Your Work Podcast
|Total LYW Podcast||$184|
|Podcast Editing / Publishing||$123|