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February 2020 Income Report

March 18 2020 – 06:40pm

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

February’s revenues were $4,918, up from January’s $3,104. Profits were $4,056, up from January’s $1,278.


This is a very solid-profit month. Profits weren’t cut by any anomalous expenses, though, as you’ll see, there were some anomalies in income.

Can I weather this new catastrophe?

At the beginning of this year, I hoped for a year without a major catastrophe. After a year of visa troubles, followed by the sudden death of my mother, I had had it with catastrophes. Then I had a minor catastrophe in getting kicked out of my apartment. Now it turns out there’s a global catastrophe with the COVID-19 pandemic. Life never stops, I guess.

The pandemic is obviously having a negative impact on the global economy. This is particularly true in industries where people are in physical space with one another, such as the restaurant industry.

A pandemic-proof business?

Time will tell, but it seems I’ve created a job for myself that may experience minimal negative impact throughout this pandemic.

For starters, I work from home, and have done so for more than thirteen years. Additionally, everything I sell is virtual: Courses, and books, for example. With widespread “social distancing” going on to help “flatten the curve,” people have more time on their hands to read books, take online courses, or listen to podcasts – such as mine.

Second and third-order effects caused by the pandemic may also play in such a way that isn’t terribly negative to my business – and perhaps even in my favor.

Pandemic effects on online education

Paul Orlando made the astute observation that one potential second-order effect of the Coronavirus pandemic may be that people start to question why they’re paying so much for traditional education – especially if they’re taking virtual classes anyway. Maybe more people will seek out online courses.

An obvious negative that will occur across the global economy will be people losing jobs, and thus having less income, and thus having less money to spend on courses and books.

The upper classes have done so well over the past couple of decades, I like to think that even if they lose their jobs, many of them will still have money to spend. If someone is in between jobs, that’s a good time to invest in one’s education, or perhaps take a crack at writing a book or starting on online business.

This is all of course speculation, and none of this is good, overall. A global economic crisis is never welcome, and especially not when one is merely keeping their head above water in their business anyway.

COVID-19 & me

As for the virus itself, and how it affects me, I am not terribly worried. I’m more worried about preventing a crisis of scarcity in the healthcare system, and preventing whatever other chaos that would cause.

I have a trip booked to visit my father in Scottsdale in late April, but that is probably not going to happen. It would be a bad idea to visit an assisted living facility after traveling on a plane during a global pandemic – not that the authorities would allow that anyway.

This week is the birthday of my brother – who lives in Scottsdale – and apparently my father isn’t supposed to leave the facility, nor are visitors allowed. So, they sadly won’t be able to have a birthday celebration.

COVID-19 in Colombia

Additionally, Colombia just announced travel restrictions, and recommended quarantines for anyone over the age of 70. If I were to travel to the U.S., then return to Colombia, I would be required to self-quarantine for two weeks.

At the time of this writing, there have been “only” 102 cases of COVID-19 in Colombia, but I’ve been checking every day, and the growth in the number of cases has followed the same exponential trajectory I’ve seen in other countries.

It’s possible that COVID-19 will prove less contagious in a warmer climate, but I do wonder about whether the culture will be conducive to curtailing the spread.

The Colombian government has taken wise measures, such as the travel ban that I just mentioned, but some of the citizens not so much. For example, people still congregate at the church in my neighborhood every day. Not smart. And in a predominantly Catholic country, I bet that scene is replaying all over the country. We need the Pope to straight up tell the world’s 1 billion+ Catholics to stop going to church (for chrissake!)

Additionally, there are logistical challenges of preventing the spread, given the typical Colombian household. There are more people, living in smaller homes, with multiple generations mixed together. Additionally, it’s a very hands-on culture. You can hardly pay a bill without going in-person somewhere to do it.

These cultural realities may prove disasterous for Colombia. Then again, we may be fine.

Found my new home – just in time!

Fortunately, I finally secured an unfurnished apartment in Medellin, which was by far the most difficult housing search I’ve ever conducted. But the place I found is also by far the nicest apartment I’ve ever lived in for an extended period.

I now have the essentials: A bed, kitchen utensils, a couch, and a hammock. I also have a wonderful standing/sitting adjustable desk that I have set up in my own dedicated home office.

standing/sitting adjustable desk

My new standing/sitting adjustable desktop.

This is the first week in the past two months that I’ve both had a place to live secured for the foreseeable future, and enough stuff to completely dedicate my working hours during the week to actually working.

First home office in four years

Additionally, it’s the first time I’ve had a dedicated office space since I moved to Colombia four years ago. Yay! I think having a comfortable space in which to work will be a boon to my productivity.

The home office is nothing special right now. My books are all still stacked up on the floor, as I don’t own a bookshelf. I just have my standing/sitting chair in their own echo-ey room.

Expanded “podcast studio”

Another nice feature of my new apartment is the walk-in closet. I had a very small walk-in closet at my last place, which immediately improved the sound quality of the podcast, but this one is a bit more roomy. I have room to sit down on a chair as I conduct interviews, and to think.

Better access to nature

The main attraction of my new apartment is that it’s near a park that I really like in Medellin. I go there every afternoon to think. I also read each evening in the hammock on my balcony.

After experimenting, there is no denying that I have some kind of sensitivity to EMFs. I can write on my AlphaSmart all day long. I can write for several hours on my iPad, with external wired keyboard, provided I’m not connected to WiFi. However, I can hardly spend an hour on my laptop before my muscles get tense and I can hardly think anymore. This is true even if my internet connection is wired.

If I do find myself feeling this way, a visit to my special spot amongst the trees in this park quickly melts my tension, and returns my ability to think.

Actually, I’m in that park right now, as I type this on my AlphaSmart.

alphasmart in my favorite park

I drafted this income report on my AlphaSmart, while sitting in my favorite park.

Motivational Judo earnings

I earned $446 on a little course I have called Motivational Judo, from running a discount promotion to my email list

I created this course something like five years ago, and I simply never made much effort to sell it. A few months ago, I responded to an offer to subscribe to Teachable for three months, at a discount, thinking that spending that money would motivate me to try to sell some courses in the beginning of the year.

As it turned out, I wanted to focus on honing my direction in the beginning of the year. However, this trick – a little Motivational Judo in itself – was sufficient motivation for me to push this course a little.

I didn’t push it very hard. There was so much more I could have done. I didn’t warm up the list to the idea, but instead simply sent out the offer. The showing wasn’t too bad. I sold 9 copies at $49.50 apiece.

I’m aware that when it comes to pushing my courses, the perfect becomes the enemy of the good. I hold out for the “perfect” email campaign, and end up doing nothing, instead. Maybe I should follow the 80/20 rule more religiously for these. Put in the 20% effort it takes to simply make a short discount coupon, and get 80% of the revenue I might have normally.

Wow, I just realized that I talked about “pushing” my courses. That may say a lot about my shame around selling. I’ll leave that there for posterity. It is not “pushing” my courses. It’s marketing my courses.

Record ActiveCampaign affiliate earnings (in spite of, & because of accounting anomaly)

This month, you’ll see the biggest payment ever from ActiveCampaign. They paid me $2,767 in February, and the previous record was a $1,764 payment I received in November of 2019. Why the huge jump?

activecampaign affiliate earnings February 2020

I received a record payout for ActiveCampaign referrals – but there’s a catch.˜

I wish I could say this was going to be a new normal, but it’s not. At least not yet.

Yes, in February I was already due to get my largest payment ever from ActiveCampaign. But ActiveCampaign also switched up their accounting. Essentially they shifted the payment date for affiliate earnings from being from one part of the month to being in another part of the month.

So, the payment for February, which was already going to be a record of $2,139, ended up being even higher. Because of the accounting adjustment, the payment for March will be unusually low. Then I guess by April, the payments should achieve stasis again.

As you can see from the graph above, I have had slow but steady growth in ActiveCampaign affiliate revenue over the past couple of years, powered by well-ranking posts such as MailChimp vs ActiveCampaign, ActiveCampaign vs ConvertKit, and my ActiveCampaign Review. (My AWeber vs ActiveCampaign write-up continues to perform weakly, despite the fact that I put a ton of work into it.)

If making passive income was my main goal, it would make sense for me to spend more time on this. To create a bunch of other content around ActiveCampaign, and perhaps ConvertKit. To build a micro-site even.

But for now, I’m just grateful to have a thousand dollars a month or so of this passive income coming in. It frees me up to work on other things, such as my upcoming book, Mind Management, Not Time Management.

Spending on ads again (though not much)

I have begun mixing ads back in for self-published books, but so far I’m not spending anything near what I was several months ago.

In February, I spent $48 on ads, and made $591 on self-published book royalties, for a total profit of $543. Average profit for 2019 was $437.


I’ve been more careful with my ad spend, which has kept my spend low. I would like to spend more, but I’m putting in very low bids on my Lockscreen ads. I’m almost running no keyword ads at all.

For what I am spending, I’m not seeing much impact on sales. Amazon’s unreliable reporting is showing a pretty poor ACoS, and my KDP sales dashboard isn’t exactly going gangbusters either. Meanwhile, it’s hard to know if any of that poor performance is due to declining consumer confidence.

Switching up accounting methods to reflect new priorities

I’m switching up accounting methods on a couple of categories, to reflect new priorities.

Medium earnings moving to cash-based

As a reminder, most of this report is cash-based, though some categories are accrual-based, such as self-published book sales. This helps me better track marketing efforts on my most important categories.

For awhile, writing through sites such as Medium was an accrual-based category. But that hasn’t proved to be an important category. I’ve made it more of a priority to distribute my original content through my own channels, such as this blog, or my podcast.

So, it’s not worth the effort to log into Medium to fetch the revenue I earned in the month – not when I can simply fetch how much Medium actually paid me for the previous month. The numbers aren’t big enough to make a meaningful impact on my decisions. Decisions, after all, is what these reports are all about.

Clarity earnings moving to accrual-based

While Medium is now a low priority, Clarity is now a higher priority. I’ve optimized my profile to position myself as a self-publishing coach. I enjoy helping people with their self-publishing journeys, and it turns out there are people willing to pay non-trivial amounts of money to get my guidance on their books.

I have begun experimenting with different ways of driving people to my Clarity profile. I set up a small call-to-action on the home page of, and I put a button at the bottom of my Love Mondays emails.

So, the $136 you see in this month’s report is for calls that took place in February, despite the fact that I won’t get that cash until later.

So, far, my efforts are helping. I’ve earned nearly twice that already in March.

If you need help with your self-publishing journey, book a call with me here.

ODMM makes it’s last hurrah

Back in December, I killed a passive income stream that earned me more than $150,000 over the years, thus making possible my first book and much of the platform I’ve built.

In this month’s report, you’ll see a payment for $68 for “ free trial.” I believe that’s the last money I’ll earn from this passive revenue stream, which I started more than a decade ago.

It’s sad, but I must move on.

WP Engine & Freshbooks affiliate earnings

These days, it’s not too often that I earn money through WP Engine’s affiliate program. It’s even less common that I earn money through Freshbooks’s affiliate program. But, you’ll see some small payments from the both of them.

Judging by the amount of the WP Engine deposit, that must have been a referral by someone who signed up for WP Engine’s affiliate program through my affiliate link.

As for Freshbooks, it turns out I generated a couple of leads through this Freshbooks free trial page.

If I’m not putting a ton of effort into ActiveCampaign referrals at the moment, I certainly shouldn’t be thinking too much about these programs. They’re small amounts, and neither is recurring revenue.


Book Sales

The Heart to Start Kindle $250
The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon) $38
The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon) $43
The Heart to Start Audiobook $30
How to Write a Book Kindle $58
How to Write a Book Paperback $134
How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon) $4
How to Write a Book Audible $22
How to Write a Book Spanish Kindle $3
How to Write a Book Spanish Paperback $3
In Defense of Papyrus Kindle $0
In Defense of Papyrus Wide $0
Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain Kindle $3
Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain Paperback $0
Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain Audible $1
Ten Passive Income Ideas $0
Total Book Sales $591

Digital Products

D4H Video $222
Summer of Design $6
Motivational Judo $446
Total Digital Products $674

Affiliates / Advertising

Active Campaign $2,767
ConvertKit $71
Freshbooks $10
Google Adsense $124
Hostgator $200 free trial $68
SendOwl $5
WP Engine $50
Total Affiliates $3,295

Love Your Work Podcast

Patreon $200
PayPal Donations $10
Total LYW Podcast $210


Medium $11
Clarity $136
Total Services $147



Accounting $370
Outside Contractors $94
Podcast Editing / Publishing $254
Misc. Software $8
Total General $725


Amazon $42
BookBub $0
Comped books $7
Total Advertising $48


Bookfunnel $15
Genius Link $10
Libsyn $20
SendOwl $24
Teachable $20
Total Hosting $89


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This post is filed under Income Reports.