Subscribe to blog updates via email »
September 2018 Income Report
September’s revenues were $7,400.23, up from August’s $6,491.13. Profits were $5,189.48, up from August’s $2,348.70.
The main feature of September’s report is improved ROI on ad spend, and thus, improved profits.
Improved ROI on ad spend
You can see from this graph that book income for self-published books was down sharply vs. August. At the same time, ad spend was down sharply, for a net total of increased profit. I took solace in ballooning ad spend last month with the fact that I had a 28% ROI on that ad spend – something that was reported on the Sell More Books Show (thanks for the mention, Bryan and Jim!).
Ad spend isn’t bad if it leads to profits. But there’s a point of diminishing returns, after which each additional dollar spent on ads actually reduces profits. I’m looking for the sweet spot, and I may be closer to it. September saw a 76% ROI on ad spend. You can see from the slight uptick in that yellow profit line that I made a bigger profit with less ad spend. I sold $2,725.30 in self-published books on $1,545.92 in ad spend, for $1,179.38 in profit – a roughly third increase from August’s profit of $887.16, when I had double the ad spend, at $3,210.60.
I’m sure there are some equations one could follow to find the perfect ROI sweet spot, but Amazon’s poor reporting on AMS ads makes that a virtual impossibility. The AMS dashboard has notoriously faulty reporting. Rather than being able to trust the numbers, I find myself simply creating a set of rules to follow on whether to turn a keyword or a Product Display ad on or off. Right now, I keep a Product Display ad running if it has an ACoS lower than 150%. That would mean that for every $5 I spend on ads, I earn $3.33 in revenue – meaning my royalty cut isn’t even accounted for. Yet, I’m still turning a profit, so those numbers are way, way off. Additionally, there’s no way to track how many of my sales are organic, so I have to settle for assuming all sales come from my ads.
Free travel coming thanks to the Chase Ink Preferred
I’m still unreasonably excited about having a way to spend money on ads and actually turn a profit – after many failed attempts at turning a profit on Facebook ads. Driving this excitement is that I have a new 3x points credit card. With it, I’m earning 3x credit card points for every dollar I spend on Amazon AMS ads. It’s the Chase Ink Preferred.
Thank you to whomever signed up for the Chase Ink Preferred using my link in a previous report. I also earned 20,000 points for referring that person. I’m allowed to earn on referring up to five people per year, for 100,000 points. So, if you have a business in which you spend a decent amount of money on ads (or travel), check out the Chase Ink Preferred through my link. At the time of this writing, you’ll earn 80,000 points when you meet their spending criteria – that’s worth about $1,000 in airfare!
I mentioned in a past income report that I plan to use the points I earn toward travel that I can use to grow my business. I landed a spot on a very high-profile podcast in early 2019, so I plan to use my points to travel to do that interview in person.
Health improvements driving growth
I’ve mentioned many times before my struggles with chronic health problems. After decades of mysterious ailments, I had a big breakthrough several months ago when I removed my amalgam fillings.
Since I’ve been breathing mercury vapor for a few decades, there is supposedly a fair amount of mercury built up in my soft tissues, including my brain. (It’s possible it’s a level that would be fine for most people – but I happen to be very sensitive). So, I’m following a chelation protocol to get rid of that mercury.
One mysterious health annoyance has been a patch of yeast growing on the back of my knee for more than fifteen years. It first showed up somewhere around 2002, and hasn’t gone away. I’ve avoided topical treatments lately because I see it as a barometer for my overall health. A healthy body should be able to get rid of that yeast, I figured.
As my treatment has progressed, this patch has been disappearing.
Here’s what’s in the picture:
LEFT: Sept 2015 (started keeping records after about 13 years.)
CENTER TOP: Before removing fillings, November 2017 (it was so bad, it was bleeding).
CENTER: After removing fillings (a long process), March 2018
CENTER BOTTOM: Starting ALA after 3 months of DMPS chelation, June 2018
RIGHT: a few weeks ago
It’s really wonderful to have this visible representation of my improving health. But other aspects of my health have been improving as well. I still have many tough days, have to follow a strict diet, and fatigue easily, but for one example my executive functioning is much better. I’m able to build systems in my business more easily, and think long-term.
For posterity, here is a growth graph of my revenue and expenses since I started reporting at the beginning of 2018. Mark my words, you will see this graph continue to go up and to the right, and it will be in no small part thanks to my health improvements.
Given where I’m at in my treatment, I expect it to take a few more years (yes, years) of chelating the build-up of mercury from my body.
Bump in podcast revenue
I’ve warned in past income reports that you’d soon see a bump in podcast revenue. This is because there were ads I ran as far back as June for which I still hadn’t been paid. Those ads got paid for, as well as some others. It feels fantastic to bring in over $2,000 in one month with Love Your Work, but that’s unfortunately not yet representative of what an accrual-based accounting method would report.
Library marketing paying off
After reporting that a reader had gotten The Heart to Start at her local library in July, I started thinking about how to get HTS into more libraries. I decided to run a test.
I searched for suggestion forms for public libraries. I suggested HTS to seven libraries. One month later, two of those libraries had stocked HTS. One even had five copies on the way, so that makes six copies sold for seven libraries contacted.
There are apparently about 9,000 public libraries in the U.S. I’m trying to come up with an efficient way to suggest HTS to as many of them as possible. Hardly any two libraries have the same method of submission. Some have forms, but each form is different. Some want you to send an email. Others want you to log in with your library card.
It seems intuitively not-worth-it to go through all of that work just to sell a book here and there, but there’s something cool about having my book in libraries. I’m trying to explore all avenues for marketing my first self-published book, so I can have a clear strategy for future books.
If you’d like to see HTS in your local library, please ask your librarian – or visit your library’s website, and see how to suggest the book. I could use your help!
Coming soon: Spanish edition of How to Write a Book (Cómo Escribir un Libro)
I’ve been exploring options for getting HTS translated into other languages. I’ve spoken to foreign language agents, and directly with publishers. But one fellow self-published author told me that if your book ranks well for certain search terms, it will sell itself in Spanish. I live in a Spanish-speaking country myself, and am okay at Spanish, so I was excited!
Getting HTS translated seemed like a big investment with little knowledge of returns. HTS isn’t particularly keyword-heavy, and translating a 25,000 word book would be costly. But How to Write a Book does very well, thanks to it ranking for popular keywords. Plus, it’s only about 7,000 words long!
I was able to get the book translated for about $250. I’m currently reviewing the translation, and it’s really wonderful to read my own book in Spanish! I hope to launch a Kindle version very soon – in late October or early November.
Working on a Ryan Gosling / Papyrus book
I won’t blame you for thinking I’m crazy. I’m working on a book, working title Dear Ryan Gosling: Stop Worrying, and Learn to Love the Papyrus Font – a Font Snob’s Guide to Dealing with the Usage of Papyrus in the Move Avatar, and Regaining Sanity in a Design-Oblivious World.
This idea stemmed from the hilarious SNL skit, featuring Ryan Gosling agonizing over the fact that the James Cameron movie Avatar used the Papyrus font in its logo.
This skit prompted many people to send it to me, suggesting that I write a follow up to my “Why You Hate Comic Sans,” entitled “Why You Hate Papyrus.”
The only thing crazier than this book idea is how much time I’ve been spending on it. I’ve spent a few months worth of morning writing sessions on it so far, writing at least 50,000 words – not all of them coherent. It turns out that my thoughts on Papyrus, and its usage in the movie Avatar, bend and wind to touch on architecture, city planning, robot design, evolutionary psychology, and possibly even politics. With all of this rambling, I expect the “book,” which was originally just going to be a blog post, to end up being about 10,000 words.
This book will either make no sense at all, or it will be a hit – or maybe even both. I have no idea what to expect, which is why I’m doing it. I consider it a Black Swan play. There’s no way to predict how it will be received. It’s the kind of thing that Tynan would do.
In any case, it’s fun to combine what I’ve learned about writing over the past few years with the design writing that made me into a writer in the first place. I’m honing my storytelling chops in the process.
Design for Hackers royalties
I got my bi-annual royalty payment for Design for Hackers. $660.80 is the lowest royalty payment I can remember getting, which really ruins the theory I’ve been fed that writing new books helps your old books sell.
However, D4H was featured in a Humble Bundle, in which people could pay as little as $1 for it and three other books. I was unpleasantly surprised Wiley had set this up, but it may be good. Over 30k copies were sold. I wonder if those officially count as “copies sold” on my resume as an author? If so, my lifetime sales of that book nearly tripled within weeks.
In addition to the royalties I’ll get on those 30k bundles, some readers chose to allocate a larger portion of their purchase to me when they bought through my partner link. It looks like I made $753.34 through that avenue, but I’m still waiting for the payment to process.
“Bust Through Creative Blocks” webinar coming up
My digital product revenue has been down in recent months, as I’ve been focused on book marketing. Now, it’s time to have a special on one of my courses.
I’ll be running a live “Bust Through Creative Blocks” webinar on October 30th. I’ll be sharing a deal on D4H Video at the end of that webinar. I suspect that will bring in somewhere around $1,000–$2,000. Let’s see how that prediction goes. My April webinar brought in $1,739.
Webinars are a tremendous amount of work, and that work is even more difficult when you do webinars infrequently. I’m so glad that I put systems in place when I did the last webinar. I have scripts, slides, and checklists and email automations. I still have to write some fresh emails and I’m documenting my processes as I go, to make it even easier next time.
Significant passive revenue through Active Campaign
Active Campaign is my email marketing service, and I earn about 30% during the lifetime of anyone I refer. I by no means believe that AC is for everyone, yet I continue to make many more referrals to AC than any other service, despite also creating detailed reports on other email marketing services, such as my AWeber Review, my ConvertKit vs. Active Campaign comparison, and my Active Campaign vs. MailChimp comparison. However, I do have a page dedicated to my Active Campaign free trial coupon.
I made $1,328.98 from Active Campaign’s affiliate program in September. That’s fantastic, considering that’s more or less recurring revenue, and that it will likely grow. Of course, it was a lot of work to create all of the content I have around Active Campaign. I could certainly make more money if I would do an in-depth Active Campaign review, but that doesn’t meet my core goals. I’m at a point in my income where I feel more freedom to do more conceptual writing that helps re-architect people’s brains.
|Design for Hackers (all)||$660.80|
|The Heart to Start Kindle||$1,425.00|
|The Heart to Start Paperback (Amazon)||$264.54|
|The Heart to Start “Wide” (non-Amazon)||$81.37|
|The Heart to Start Audiobook||$184.10|
|How to Write a Book Kindle||$390.71|
|How to Write a Book Paperback||$284.84|
|How to Write a Book Audible||$61.76|
|Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain Kindle||$8.91|
|Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain Paperback||$1.25|
|Make Money Writing on the STEEM Blockchain Audible||$22.82|
|Total Book Sales||$3,386.10|
|Summer of Design||$9.00|
|White Hot Course||$198.00|
|Total Digital Products||$312.00|
Affiliates / Advertising
|Match.com free trial||$162.35|
Love Your Work Podcast
|Total LYW Podcast||$2,135.66|
|Chase INK Preferred Business Membership||$95.00|
|Podcast Editing / Publishing||$240.00|
|Virtual Post Mail||$20.00|
Thinking of writing a book?
Download your FREE copy of How to Write a Book »
(for a limited time)