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October 2020 Income Report
An audio version of this income report is available to Patreon backers of certain levels »
October’s revenues were $5,589, up from September’s $5,093. Profits were $3,627, up from $3,242.
I learned some new tricks for working with Google Sheets graphs, so we’ll get to visualize some trends this month.
Notice that line for profit trends downward. That’s not great, but it’s not terrible. I’ll talk about why in a bit.
Mind Management, Not Time Management earnings off to a good start!
Mind Management, Not Time Management brought in $2,410. $1,863 of that was profit. $330 of those $547 in expenses was for a Bookbub Featured New Release, which actually took place in early November. So on an accrual basis, that profit would be $2,190.
When I factor in the income from the preview edition, revenues through October for MMT are $6,215. When I account for expenses, including up-front expenses, profits through October for Mind Management, Not Time Management are $3,726. Again, that includes the $330 in expenses for the Bookbub Featured New Release, so accrual-based profits for the book are more like $4,056.
That’s a great start for Mind Management, Not Time Management. If you remember my one year income report for The Heart to Start, my profits for the first year were $3,319. That after spending more than $15,000 on ads.
Self-published book income rising (yay!)
Another number in this report that makes me happy is $3,785 of income from self-published books. As you can see from the below graph of self-published book activity, that isn’t a super-high revenue number, historically speaking, but that’s with $1,539 in expenses, for $2,246 in profit. Again, some of that is for the Featured New Release, so – you know the drill.
You can see that self-published book income is trending oh-so-slightly up and to the right.
Income mix shifting to books and affiliates
$3,600 overall profit for the month isn’t fantastic (though it’s higher than the average over the past 12 months of $2,873). But I like how the income mix has shifted over time. You can see in the graph below that income from books and affiliates have trended up over the three years I’ve been doing these reports.
Books and affiliates are the categories I would most like to see moving up. Much of that affiliate income is recurring, from ActiveCampaign, so that gives me a nice padding of passive income to bring stability to revenue.
I assume income from books will also keep coming. I’m still getting checks from Design for Hackers, ten years after signing the book deal, after all. (Forgot to mention last month: I made about $600 from my bi-yearly royalty payment.)
As books and affiliates have been going up, other categories have been going down. For the sake of focusing on Mind Management, Not Time Management, I de-prioritized digital products (courses). I also stopped taking sponsorships for the podcast, and cut out interview episodes – which reduced potential ad inventory anyway. Services are the least-important category to me: I don’t want to be in the business of selling my time.
How did the Mind Management, Not Time Management launch go?
As a solopreneur with limited resources, I’m an advocate of a “slow-motion” launch. But I still had a launch. I focused on the following:
- Email list
- Other existing channels (podcast, YouTube podcast syndication, Instagram, Facebook)
- Hacker News and Reddit
Email list promotion
Emails went to about 20,000 people. 7,000 of those were creative-productivity-focused subscribers to Love Mondays. The rest were Design for Hackers subscribers, or subscribers to general blog updates.
Wildly successful tweet storm
I also prepared a tweet storm for launch day. I worked hard on it – I first drafted it weeks ago. Then, the day before launch, I put the finishing touches on it, including publishing on a locked test account to make sure it looked right.
Productivity + creativity is about mind management, not time management (a thread)— ? David Kadavy (@kadavy) October 27, 2020
I emailed or DMed several contacts to whom I had sent galleys (read my post on the best places to order advance reader copies), asking if they would please consider liking the thread. To my pleasant surprise, many retweeted the thread!
The thread is still getting activity, but it got about 80,000 impressions in the first few days.
That brought over 400 clicks to the Amazon link at the end of the thread!
The thread prompted a whole-hearted endorsement of me from Conor White-Sullivan – creator of Roam Research and leader of the “Roam cult.” (Roam is a ground-breaking note-taking app, very popular in the personal knowledge management space).
This tweet thread was a positive “Black Swan” from a Twitter standpoint. Look at the impact it had on my impressions.
It also quickly brought in about 700 followers. Here are my numbers for October. (For reference, I gained 12, 91, and 67 followers in the previous three months.)
The counterintuitive thing is the impact this tweet storm had on my traffic here at kadavy.net. (Note there are zero links to my website in the tweet thread. Nor are there links in my profile.)
It also modestly increased new sign-ups to Love Mondays.
I also saw an uptick in branded search to my website (in other words, people specifically searching for my name).
This is the first big moment in which my focus on Twitter this year has paid off. I understand this channel better every day. I hope for these results to compound.
It did make me appreciate what a force multiplier releasing a new book is. Much of this success was thanks to the help of others with big followings – which I explicitly asked for. I don’t suspect you can ask for that kind of help very often – though it’s possible I underestimate that.
I released a podcast episode with a sample of the book. That syndicated to my YouTube channel. I also posted an Instagram post, and a post on my Facebook page, as well as my personal Facebook account.
With the exception of the podcast, these are channels I deliberately ignore – in lieu of focusing on Twitter. I don’t know that much came of them, though my personal Facebook post did get a lot of engagement, and prompted several friends to buy the book. Again, that’s one of those force-multiplier moments you can enjoy when you announce a big milestone to your personal Facebook.
Inspired by the success of my Twitter thread, I thought I’d try to replicate the success on Reddit.
The success of the Twitter thread demonstrates something I’ve been thinking of a lot lately – don’t try to get people into your “funnel.” Instead, give them something they can enjoy right there on the channel.
So, I adapted the content of my Twitter thread to a Reddit post, and I posted it on /r/productivity. Since I know Reddit communities are sensitive about self-promotion, I didn’t even mention the book.
It was a huge success! People were begging for more.
The post hit the top of /r/productivity. It amassed nearly 500 karma points, with a “100%” upvote ratio, a “Helpful” award, and a Rocket Like.
Then, it got flagged as spam.
Fuck! Well, maybe I had screwed it up. After several requests in the comments for more information, I had placed an “EDIT:” at the end of my post, with an Amazon link. I shouldn’t have done that.
No big deal – it was flagged by a bot, but obviously the community likes the content. After all, there were people in the comments wondering what the hell happened.
So, I removed that “EDIT” line and sent a message to the moderators explaining exactly what had happened. Once a human saw that the community liked the content, they’d clearly overturn the spam flag.
But I heard nothing. I then contacted a moderator directly. Still nothing. There were still people in the comments wanting to see the content. I had to tell them, sorry, nothing I could do.
I get that there’s a lot of spam in these communities. But when someone provides content that the community approves of, and it still gets marked as spam? That makes no sense.
This content had hard-won insights that took me a decade to refine. It dumbfounds me that a person can’t mention their book – meanwhile corporate interests and celebrities are getting free advertising as these “communities” gossip about them.
The intention of this policing is to reduce attention pollution in the form of spam. The actual effect is to push down independent creators while promoting corporate/mainstream interests. They’re cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
So, looks like Reddit was a dead-end.
Next, I took to Hacker News. A friend submitted the Amazon link. I didn’t upvote it myself, nor did either of us ask anyone to upvote it.
I watched with excitement as it gained points. It hit the front page!
I was just about to comment on the post, explaining the contents of the book, when I saw that someone had flagged the post. It disappeared from the front page.
Oh, no problem. I’ll just post my comment and we can get this flag reversed. I responded to the comment of the flagger. Meanwhile, my comment was gaining upvotes.
But the post still wasn’t reversed. I talked to a friend who recommended I contact a certain person who moderates the HN community. I got this response.
(Note the comment does not say that the Amazon link is a problem. It cited the lack of explanation in the comments. Also when Design for Hackers debuted, the Amazon link was #1 on Hacker News all day.)
I tried some other things, including posting a link to the Twitter thread, and posting a “Show HN,” but I couldn’t replicate the success I had begun to see with the Amazon link.
Once again, the independent creator is pushed down, while the front page is plastered with stories about Amazon, Tesla, Microsoft, Apple, etc.
Hacker News made my author career. It was thanks to the interest of that community that I got my first book deal. The moderators can run the site the way they want. It’s just disappointing to see the expressed interests of HN and communities like it silenced, pushing down independents to promote the mainstream.
Tried some Medium promotion – worth it?
I continue to promote the book and experiment with other channels. I’m currently putting some energy toward Medium, syndicating some posts from here on kadavy.net, and pitching other articles to publications on Medium.
I did successfully publish a detailed post on how to sell a “preview edition” using Payhip and Bookfunnel over on Writing Cooperative.
I’ve pitched other articles to publications, but have been surprised at the high rejection rate. The Writing Cooperative story was also initially rejected. After so much time away from Medium, I think I lost touch with the “medium.”
It doesn’t seem worth it to try to appeal to gatekeepers on Medium – or the gatekeepers of news-aggregator “communities” for that matter – when I can publish tweet storms without seeking permission, and the Twitter community/algorithm can decide if it’s good.
BookBub Featured New Release
It was an honor to have Mind Management, Not Time Management chosen as a BookBub Featured New Release.
They didn’t have room on their calendar for my launch date of October 27th, but an email did go out to approximately 600,000 subscribers one week later, on November 3rd.
That’s right, on Election Day, people got this email.
I was worried nobody would be thinking about books during the election, but in a way it felt timely. I’m sure many people felt they could use some mind management during the election.
This promotion cost $330. MMT brought in $871 on November 3rd on Amazon alone. As compared to the $16 it made the previous day, it looks like the promotion quickly paid for itself.
The book was featured for a whole week, and there was some sign of lasting sales driven by it.
Unfortunately, Mind Management, Not Time Management wasn’t available on Barnes & Noble in time to be included in the promotion. I published wide through PublishDrive, and B&N seems to just take a long time. I don’t think I missed out on a ton of sales, but I need to remember to submit at least a couple weeks in advance if I don’t want to miss out next time.
Review copies going to influencers
You’ll see a line item for “product samples” in this report. So far, I’ve spent about $500 sending books to various influencers. The printing and shipping on these is slow, so many still have not received them.
I probably miss out on the “force-multiplying” benefits that would come to having these books out to all of these people in time for them to actually read the book and help out during “launch week,” but that level of coordination didn’t happen this time around.
I’m interested to see what happens as these people do read and potentially help out in the promotion of the book.
Working on audiobook
Another thing that wasn’t ready in time for launch was the audiobook. I don’t think that’s a big deal. It means I got to work on making the book better, and making the book better makes the audiobook better.
Additionally, it allows for another “launch” event to promote and draw attention to the book.
This is where all of that practice in reading essays for my podcast starts to pay off. I think my vocal performance has improved over the Heart to Start audiobook – which gets good ratings, but some people think I sound a little dry or dorky.
I tried to speak extra slow for that one, but this time I’m trying to be more fluid. I also have slightly better sound equipment.
I’m about 80% done recording the raw audio, and working with my post-production team on getting the files ready. I’m so glad I don’t have to try to suffer through banging this out in a couple of days in some studio. I spend an hour on it here and there. It should be about seven hours long in total.
From ACX to Findaway Voices
I’m planning on publishing the audiobook through Findaway Voices this time, instead of ACX. That should make the audiobook available in more places, such as Google, Scribd, and BookBub’s Chirp. (ACX only publishes to Audible, Amazon, and Apple.)
The drawback is instead of a 40% royalty, I believe I’ll only earn 25% through Findaway. I also won’t be eligible for those $50 Audible bounties you can get for referring new customers.
But, Findaway publishes to a ton of directories, and I’ll get to set my own price. I disagreed with the price ACX set for The Heart to Start, but couldn’t get them to set it higher.
I also plan to move HTS to Findaway. It would be a good idea for me to make that transfer even before submitting MMT.
Moved The Heart to Start to PublishDrive
I moved my wide publishing of The Heart to Start from Draft2Digital to PublishDrive. PublishDrive has better reporting, and publishes to Google Play.
I also stopped publishing The Heart to Start directly to Apple Books, Google Play, and Kobo, in lieu of publishing through PublishDrive. (I also moved How to Write a Book from Kobo to PublishDrive).
Why the move?
I published direct to Google Play because D2D didn’t publish to them. I published direct to Apple Books because I wanted to keep more money, and I published direct to Kobo because I wanted to try Kobo’s promotions.
Now PublishDrive publishes to Google Play. I realized I make so little from Apple Books it’s not worth dealing with publishing direct, and Kobo kept rejecting my promotional applications (even after HTS had a BookBub Featured Deal and a Kindle Daily Deal!)
I found myself spending too much time and energy simply collecting the sales numbers for my books through these direct channels. And Draft2Digital’s reporting was too opaque to rely upon them entirely. Plus, I think we’ve hit “Peak CAPTCHA.” Maybe it’s because I’m either in Colombia or accessing these sites through a VPN, but I frequently had to do two-factor authentication and/or several pages of CAPTCHAs just to log into these accounts.
All of this work just to count the roughly $50 a month I was making from these channels. Not worth it!
Staying wide despite the cost
I try to “fight the good fight” by having my books available in places other than Amazon, even though it makes no economic sense. (Ironically, the alternatives to the giant Amazon are other giants – Google, WalMart (Kobo), and Apple.)
I finally decided I didn’t care if I lost some money publishing to these channels through an aggregator. However, even if I end up selling a lot wide, PublishDrive may end up only costing me about $10 a month – which is a bargain to not have to log into all of these channels.
Overcoming the loss-aversion of losing reviews in the move
One thing that really held me back from migrating to PublishDrive was I knew I would lose reviews. I spent three years building up reviews on Apple and Google Play, and I didn’t want to lose them.
I knew if I pulled my books from these channels and published through PublishDrive instead, there would be no way for me to get those reviews back.
But then I realized my main motivation for wanting those reviews was because I thought it might help me get a BookBub Featured Deal.
Well, I already got a BookBub Featured Deal, so that’s not a motivation anymore. And, looking closer, I realized PublishDrive could at least salvage my Kobo reviews.
Dealing with all of these channels was unnecessary complexity. I decided to burn my boats and kiss those reviews goodbye for the sake of making things more simple.
By the way, I’d deeply appreciate reviews on Apple or Google Play! (And B&N for that matter – I have yet to even have a review over there.)
Direct sales of The Heart to Start through Payhip + Bookfunnel
I’m also now selling The Heart to Start directly to readers! Thanks to what I learned selling my preview edition, it took only a couple minutes to set up a Payhip page to collect payment and deliver the ebook through Bookfunnel.
This is something I had been meaning to do for a while. Now that the migration to PublishDrive reduced the number of channels I have to manage, I can add a channel back in.
I just set it up the other day, on something else I had been meaning to create: A dedicated page for The Heart to Start. No sales so far, but I haven’t promoted it yet. Perhaps that page will start to rank for inbound search traffic.
I’m charging the same as I do on Amazon and other channels: $9.99. I believe you’re not allowed to sell for cheaper on another channel – and Amazon could price match anyway. However, I’ll earn about $9 per sale, instead of the $7 I earn through Amazon.
I would like to do the same for MMT, but I am waiting until after the audiobook is done. I’m collecting errata as I go. It’s better to have one less channel in which I need to correct any errors. In the meantime, I have started a Mind Management, Not Time Management page.
I recently stopped working with an assistant who was picking up some processes. The natural inclination is of course to find another assistant. But, I’m taking it as an opportunity to eliminate things, and refine processes (like Ari Meisel says, EAO: Eliminate, Automate, Outsource – in that order).
This was one motivation for finally migrating HTS to PublishDrive. Collecting the sales reports was a messy process, and security measures were strict enough in some places that I hadn’t yet delegated the process.
I’ve also automated some processes. For example, when I enter a new podcast episode into my Airtable spreadsheet, Zapier creates the to-do items in Todoist. This was previously a process for an assistant.
I’m considering whether it’s worth it to have an assistant. They’re good for repeatable processes, but in my experience you still have to check their work. It’s just one more moving part to add complexity. Plus, if it’s a repeatable process, there are often ways to automate it.
The amount of things I have that are repeatable and that can’t be automated are so limited, I only have a couple hours a week of work for an assistant. At such a low workload, you end up in a weird place where you have tasks that are either too complex or require too much security clearance for a “cloud” assistant (such as FancyHands) to pick them up, but you don’t have enough work for it to be worth it for a dedicated assistant to work with you.
Fortunately, my business is simple enough I can pick up the slack of not having an assistant for a while. That’s a good forcing function for streamlining things. As someone leveraging media, the way to “scale” isn’t to literally scale by adding people and processes. It’s to reduce workload and make decisions that increase the force you apply when leveraging media.
Home page focus on Love Mondays sign ups
I quickly changed the home page so that it’s entirely focused on email sign ups – with a simple link to the blog. I had been meaning to try this, but I finally cranked up Thrive Themes and made a page.
It could be better. I could have some link-building links to some key articles there. Thrive isn’t exactly the most elegant code, either. But it’s good enough.
My everyday email sign ups have gone up since I made the change (the spike I believe is from the tweet storm).
I think I’ve neglected my blog over the past few years, as a result of thinking too much about social channels, and the podcast. I also often let the perfect become the enemy of the good. For example, the new home page “could be better,” but I think the change I made is better than if I had done nothing.
This is part of an ongoing initiative to iterate on and most importantly think about my website, and how I can make it work for me. It is the one place on the web I truly own. Another element of this is a focus on writing more SEO-focused content such as my Getting Things Done summary and my The Black Swan summary.
20,000 copies sold of The Heart to Start!
Compiling the internal sales report for The Heart to Start, I realized I had surpassed 20,000 copies sold!
Pretty solid! It amazes me how hard it is to sell 20,000 copies, meanwhile I read things from Ryan Holiday about selling 180,000 copies of Obstacle is the Way (numbers from years ago).
Notice that I’ve made over $60,000 in revenue from The Heart to Start. Profits are about $14,000. The book has been out for three years, and netted a bit over $3,000 in the first year. It looks like the profits are accelerating. I think Mind Management, Not Time Management is helping.
60 hours of meditation in 60 days
I completed 60 hour-long sessions of meditation in 60 days! I was inspired to take on this challenge from a tweet storm by Naval Ravikant.
The final day of the challenge happened to fall on the final day of a solo retreat I took to a cabin in the mountains. This was the view of the location of my final session.
The challenge had made me re-think how I use my time – fitting given the subject of my latest book. Meditation is like a “barbell strategy” for your attention (I talk more about the Barbell Strategy” in my recent The Black Swan summary).
If you’d like to know more about what I learned, read my tweet storm. I hope to expand it into a podcast episode/article soon.
What I learned about productivity meditating 60 hours in 60 days.— ? David Kadavy (@kadavy) November 17, 2020
December off podcast
I normally take December off the podcast to create space to think about the coming year. Usually, that coincides with traveling to visit family for the holidays. Things are different this year because 1) I don’t have a mom anymore, and 2) I can’t physically visit my dad, as he’s living in a retirement home and there’s a global pandemic that is dangerous for seniors.
I considered not taking December off the podcast, because hey what else was I going to do? But on my recent solo retreat I decided to do it anyway.
The meditation challenge and reading Naval’s Almanack has me thinking about the importance of good decision-making in a high-leverage world. So, I plan to relax as best as I can without visiting family, and to dig into the first principles of media, to go into 2021 with a clear head.
Studying media theory
I recently read Marshall MacLuhan’s Understanding Media, and frankly I’m embarrassed that as a graphic design student (and author!) I never read it before. Sure, I had heard the adage, “the medium is the message,” but I never got it. Understanding Media is the most eye-opening book I read in 2020. I hope to write a summary soon.
I’m digging into other classics of media theory, such as The Image and Amusing Ourselves to Death. I’m also reading The Brass Check, which is called such because people used to use a brass check to pay prostitutes. (If “brass check” sounds familiar, it’s also the name of Ryan Holiday’s marketing consultancy.)
What do I plan to accomplish by reading these books? I have no idea. But it seems if you’re in the business of leveraging media, it behooves you to understand how media works.
Thank you for having me on your podcast!
I’ve been honored to be invited onto several more podcasts recently. Thank you to Azul Terronez at Authors Who Lead, Pete Mockaitis at Awesome At Your Job, Conor Butts at Personal Productivity, Giuseppe Grammatico at Franchise Freedom, and Rui Zhi Dong at The Upgraded Brain (YouTube).
As always, you can find podcast interviews of me here.
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Kindle||$1,761|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management Paperback (Amazon)||$537|
|Mind Management, Not Time Management (non-Amazon)||$112|
|The Heart to Start Kindle||$647|
|The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon)||$121|
|The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$27|
|The Heart to Start Audiobook||$156|
|How to Write a Book Kindle||$243|
|How to Write a Book Paperback||$117|
|How to Write a Book “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$0|
|How to Write a Book Audible||$38|
|How to Write a Book Spanish (all)||$11|
|Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain (all)||$0|
|Ten Passive Income Ideas||$15|
|Total Book Sales||$3,785|
|Summer of Design||$3|
|White Hot Course||$0|
|Total Digital Products||$62|
Affiliates / Advertising
Love Your Work Podcast
|Total LYW Podcast||$227|
|Podcast Editing / Publishing||$80|
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