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March 2024 Income Report

April 25 2024 – 02:48pm

To listen to an audio version of this report, join the Patreon »

March’s revenue was $4,990, down from February’s $6,120. Profits were $1,667, down from February’s $1,975.

The low revenue and profits continue, but help is on the way in the form of some new products.

Low revenue and profits

This month had the lowest profit overall since May 2023. This month, my profits were $1,667, and last May, they were $1,587.

This was also the lowest-profit month for self-published books since May 2023. This month, my self-published book profits were $1,253, and last May, they were $958. However, that includes $472 in direct sales of books, which don’t yet account for printing costs. I also haven’t yet been billed for the fulfillment and shipping costs from my warehouse.

I’ve also dropped below $80,000 in twelve-month revenue for the first time since July 2021. My revenue for the year previous has been $77,649. As of July 2021, it was $76,982.

My twelve-month profit remains below the $50,000 threshold, after dropping below last month for the first time since August of 2021. I’ve made $46,009 profit in the past year, which is the lowest since July 2021, when it was $44,997.

More ad spend, not more sales

Much of my revenue was countered by $2,844 in ad spend. That’s lower than last month’s $3,012, but closes out a quarter of higher ad spend than previous quarters. I spent $8,403 on ads in Q1 2024, and spent $2,785 in all of Q4 2023. I spent exactly $1,000 in ads for all of Q3 2023.

I spent less in previous quarters because ads weren’t paying off. I had some signals that they were working again, but I seem to have hit the point of diminishing returns again. My ROI on ad spend this month was only 44%, which is the lowest since ads suddenly stopped working in May 2021, yielding an ROI of 20%. My ROI on ad spend last month was 70%, in January was 136%, and 265% in December.

Investing in email list growth

However, $244 of my ad spend, less than 10%, was spent adding 515 new subscribers to my email list, via Meta ads (I talk about how I quarantine and warm up these leads in a video on the Patreon).

Direct Sales

Direct sales of books were $472 this month, which was 11.5% of my overall self-published book income. Here’s how that stacks up, historically, on a logarithmic scale.

40,000 copies MMT and 30,000 copies HTS

Revenue and profits are mostly low because I haven’t had a new book in more than three years. But the books that are already out are still selling.

In fact, I recently crossed two big sales milestones at the same time: Mind Management, Not Time Management has now sold 40,000 copies, and The Heart to Start has sold 30,000!

MMT has been the more profitable of the two. After $153,367 revenue, it’s earned $86,869 profit. HTS has earned $30,666 profits out of $93,320 revenue.

100,000 self-published books!

I’ve now also sold more than 100,000 self-published books! I announced back in March 2023 that I had crossed the 100,000-book threshold, but included sales of my traditionally-published book, Design for Hackers.

Considering Design for Hackers has sold about 18,000 copies, and these sales of self-published books don’t include most foreign-rights sales, which comprise print runs of about 25,000 copies, I may be close to selling 150,000 copies in my lifetime.

Here’s what those self-published sales look like, over time:

And the breakdown is:

New book? How to Sell a Book

I accidentally started writing a new book.

A podcast host asked me how I sold 100,000 books, and that really got me thinking, because I wasn’t sure off the top of my head exactly how. So, I thought it would be a great idea to write a blog post commemorating my 100,000-book milestone, and share what I’ve learned along the way.

But I’m almost 14,000 words into this blog post, and I think I’m somewhat more than halfway done. That’s way too long for a blog post! And, indeed, I don’t think I can even write a shorter blog post without first exploring all the things I’ve learned about how to sell books.

So without realizing it, I’ve started writing a new book! The title I have in my head is How to Sell a Book. It’s looking like it will be my longest “short read” to date.

I don’t want to overthink this book. My hope is to write it, do a quick editing pass, then use Vellum to create Kindle and Paperback editions.

Then, I can write a shorter blog post, commemorating my 100,000-book milestone.

This was meant to be a very rough mockup for a cover, but I’m actually starting to like it.

Finish What Matters outlining

I’m working on yet another draft for my next major book, Finish What Matters. This draft, I’m writing in outline form. I have more than a 7,000-word outline, and I don’t think I’m even halfway done.

I’ve never been able to fully outline a book before writing it. I usually just break into prose at some point in the midst of the outline. However, every book is different as you gain experience, and this time I may actually finish this outline.

The collapsible bullet-points feature in Obsidian has been invaluable for staying focused while writing the outline. I can collapse everything except the part I’m working on, which prevents me from getting lost or distracted.

The only sticking points I’ve had so far in writing this outline is some information just doesn’t suit itself well to outlines. One area of the outline feels like it needs to address another area of the outline, in tandem. Not as separate sections.

I envision finishing this outline, fleshing it out into a very plain-language draft, then restructuring and peppering in other elements that make it flow better. We shall see.

Austin networking trip

I took a six-day trip to Austin in late March/early April, just to meet other writers.

My very first night was worth the whole trip. I had dinner with Andrew Warner, Abel James, Nat Eliason, Paul Millerd, Justin Murphy, and David Perell.

I had to have many things repeated to me, as my short-term auditory memory was shot from waking up at 2:30 a.m., but the dinner was full of great conversation about writing online, writing in general, and publishing. It was surreal to see all these people I had never met in-person (aside from Andrew, whom I had interviewed in-person), but had conversed with so much on Twitter or podcast interviews.

The following day, my friend Alex Pyatesky organized a hike. I wound up having a very long conversation with WP Engine founder and A Smart Bear blogger, Jason Cohen. Alex Birkett, Alex Baldwin, and Jason Evanish were there, too.

Tuesday night, 2-Hour Cocktail Party author Nick Gray held a meetup in my honor, full of name tags, icebreakers, and cool creators, such as Madi Taskett, Stephanie Thoma and Valerie.

I also caught up with long-time friends, Laura Roeder, and Noah Kagan, but my selfie-amnesia took over and I didn’t get a photo.

I’m a huge stand-up comedy fan and so I also went to a comedy show at Joe Rogan’s Comedy Mothership. I left a lot of open space in my calendar for serendipity, but there was pretty much no serendipity. I don’t know if that’s the nature of the layout of Austin, or that I and those I associate with are older than when I lived in a city of serendipity, such as San Francisco.

Overall, it was a great trip, a sort of roll-my-own conference, and I hope to repeat something similar in the future. Maybe every six months or year. Rather than leave blocks of my schedule open, I’ll be sure to plan more things, and now I know a few more people with which to do that.

I can’t tie a trip like this to any concrete outcome yet, but that’s kind of the point, and if anything happens, it will take time. As an example, the meetup only occurred as a result of a chain of events that led to me meeting Nick Gray, but started with a mini life I took in Brooklyn in 2013. Short social trips like this are a part of my barbell strategy for life: Live in a cabin in the Colombian countryside, and make special trips to shake things up a bit.

What’s going on in Austin is fascinating to me. For the first time in my twenty-years writing online, I feel like there are a lot of online writers I can relate to, who are curious and genuine, and it’s crazy to me that so many are in the same place. I thought the “next Austin” would be somewhere outside the U.S., but to my surprise, it was…Austin. And in case you’re wondering, no I have no plans to move to Austin.

100-Word Writing Habit wristbands!

While in Austin, I was able to pick up my first samples of the 100-Word Writing Habit wristband. This is a special habit wristband. On the interior, it says “0 WORDS.”

Once you’ve written 100 words, you flip it right-side-out, to display to yourself and the world that you’ve written “100 WORDS.”

I’ve been wearing it daily, and it really works! When the band is inside-out, I’m eager to write so I can flip it right-side-out. I thought maybe I’d forget about it, but that hasn’t happened.


I produced a batch of regular-sized wristbands, and my trip to Austin was a good chance to get lots of people to try it on. Unfortunately, the regular-sized wristband is too big for some people. The 8” band is quite loose on my slight wrist of 6.5”, and it was nearly falling off the hands of some petite women who tried it on.

If the band sells well, I will definitely need to make another batch of smaller, 7” bands. In fact, that’s probably the size that would be more comfortable for me.

If you think an 8” band would fit you well, please order a habit-band from my store.

100-Word Writing Habit Journal Prompt Workbook

I’m still working on the 100-Word Writing Habit Journal Prompt Workbook. I have the interior finished, but am designing cover options and exploring specifications and running numbers on a potential Kickstarter campaign. Stay tuned!

ConvertKit vs. ActiveCampaign deliverability test

I ran four issues of my Love Mondays to a random sample of subscribers, through ConvertKit. I wanted to see if there was a noticeable difference in deliverability rates, versus ActiveCampaign which would be reflected in higher open rates.

The results of my test were inconclusive. Or, the conclusion was that ConvertKit doesn’t have dramatically-better deliverability than ActiveCampaign, if it’s any better at all.

I shared my discovery of the results, as I reviewed them, in a ConvertKit vs. ActiveCampaign deliverability video, over on YouTube.

But here are the results, in text, of the four emails, in the format: ConvertKit / ActiveCampaign (ConvertKit % chance to beat according to this “Bayesian” calculator)

As you can see, ConvertKit did have a slightly higher open rate on three of the four emails, but the difference was too small to feel confident it would have remained higher with a larger sample size.

If I was going to go through the trouble of switching to ConvertKit, I would want to see dramatically-higher open rates, and that’s definitely not what I saw. When I combine that with the fact that ConvertKit’s support for RSS wouldn’t enable me to do what I wanted, I feel very comfortable sticking with ActiveCampaign.

Low ActiveCampaign revenue

Speaking of ActiveCampaign, my affiliate revenue from them was very low this month, at only $287. But, I’ve already received a more than $2,500 payment in April, so that will help next month’s overall revenue.

New on Patreon: Evaluating foreign-rights deals

I’ve put up a new video for Patreon supporters. In this video, I share in real-time my evaluation of a foreign-rights deal.

See the spreadsheet I’ve put together to track my foreign-rights deals, evaluate new deals, and compare new deals to my old deals.

If that interests you, join the Patreon to watch the video.

Thank you for having me on your podcasts

Thank you for having me on your podcasts! Thank you to Aidan Helfant of the Personal Knowledge Management podcast.


Book Sales

Mind Management, Not Time Management Kindle $713
Mind Management, Not Time Management Paperback (Amazon) $1,099
Mind Management, Not Time Management (non-Amazon) $256
Mind Management, Not Time Management Audiobook $446
100-Word Writing Habit $452
Digital Zettelkasten Kindle $441
Digital Zettelkasten Wide (non-Kindle) $192
Digital Zettelkasten Audiobook $55
The Heart to Start Kindle $202
The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon) $41
The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon) $46
The Heart to Start Audiobook $44
How to Write a Book Kindle $23
How to Write a Book Paperback $11
How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon) $60
How to Write a Book Audiobook $10
How to Write a Book Spanish (all) $0
Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain (all) $4
Ten Passive Income Ideas $3
Design for Hackers (all formats) $267
Total Book Sales $4,363

Digital Products

Summer of Design $18
Total Digital Products $18

Affiliates / Advertising

Active Campaign $287
Alliance of Independent Authors $98
Amazon $68
SendOwl $5
Total Affiliates $458

Reader Support

Patreon $150
Total Reader Support $150


Clarity $0
Medium $0
Total Services $0



Accounting $0
Book Printing $0
Outside Contractors $47
Product Manufacturing $0
Quickbooks $27
Total General $74


Amazon $2,291
BookBub $0
Google $0
Meta $553
Influencer Marketing $0
Product Samples $0
Total Advertising $2,844


ActiveCampaign $135
Bookfunnel $15
Drafts $2
Dropbox $10
Fathom Analtyics $14
Libsyn $5
Namecheap $48
Obsidian Publish $10
SendOwl $9
Shopify $44
Ulysses $3
WP Engine $96
Zapier $14
Total Hosting $405

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This post is filed under Income Reports.