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My August 2009 Monthly Income Report

By Pat Flynn on

Editor’s Note: The content regarding eHow is no longer relevant. Please visit our Getting Started page, which we keep up to date with advice for getting started with earning money online. (Updated 10/2015)

This is actually my 10th monthly income report here on The Smart Passive Income Blog. As you know, each month I give a detailed summary of my earnings, including where each penny came from, and what I’ve been up to that may have had an impact (or will have an impact) on my earnings. I will also conclude with what I’ve learned in the past month, and what I plan to do next. It’s not only a way for me to formally keep track of my earnings and have written goals for myself – but it’s more of a way to show you exactly what (or what not) to do to live a passive income lifestyle.

Important Going-Ons in August

I honestly cannot believe it’s August already. The main thing on my mind right now is our baby boy, Keoni, who is due on January 22nd, 2010. When doing anything, whether it’s working 9 to 5 or working hard at home on new ventures, it’s always good to have some kind of motivation. Keoni is mine, and he’s definitely giving me a push to do bigger and better things as of late.

On a more poopy note—I have some major news about I was contacted by a counsel representing the USGBC regarding the use of LEED in my domain name. I had told you in a previous post that they had originally sent me a cease and desist letter in April of this year, and I had hired an attorney and responded. After that, I heard nothing – so I suspected everything was a-okay. Just a couple of weeks ago, I finally get a response letter pretty much nullifying our arguments for the “fair use” clause and other points that we made. Regardless of how long it took them to get back to me, I am pretty much forced to change my domain name.

I really don’t want to get into the details of this whole ordeal, but trust me—I’ve tried as long as possible to keep the domain name. There’s a lot of gray areas legally regarding the use of domain names and the internet and such, but the USGBC has enough money to pretty much do what they want, and that includes bullying around the little people if they want to. (Tidbit: Ebay is also known for cracking down on businesses and individuals who were using the mark “Ebay” in their domain names too.)

I’m not mad at them though, because they are just protecting their brand and their customers. If only they knew how many people I’ve helped, maybe they would make an exception for me – but I doubt they could do this because then they’d have to make an exception for everyone else. It’s ok – I get it, and I totally respect the actions they are taking, although I may not be totally happy about it. There’s actually a lot of other LEED prep websites out there, some who used to have LEED in their domain name but changed it without any argument, and some who are still using LEED in their domain name anyways. (We’ll see how long they last…)

So, I’ve already changed from to Originally, I did a 301 redirect so that my SEO wouldn’t be impacted, but they told me I can’t do that either because I’m still using the original domain as a forwarder. So, starting September 30th, will die {insert teardrop}. will still carry on the same products and information to help people pass the LEED exam, but it’s going to be much harder to reach people because I’m sure everything regarding my SEO will drop, as if I was starting over. I may have to rely on paid advertisements via Google Adwords and Facebook, but that will definitely eat at my profits unlike before, where most of my traffic was from organic search and word of mouth. I do have an SEO guy already working on getting me back to where I was—so it may take some time, but I’m determined.

I did learn one very important thing from my experience with this whole ordeal, and it’s one you should definitely think about regarding your current or future online businesses:

You don’t have a real business if you’re doing something related to another business that can at anytime change the rules or die out.

Based on this, I’ll admit it. I have an LLC, and I’ve made over $150,000 in one year, but I don’t have a real business. Most of my income came from teaching people how to pass the LEED exam. Basically, my earnings and income are at the mercy of LEED and the USGBC. They have the power – I don’t. Does that make sense? It’s really important that you understand this.

Let’s take eHow, for example. You can write for, earn thousands of dollars a month of residual income, but it’s not your business. Those articles you wrote, which are earning you an income each month, are yours – but it’s not your business, and it can’t even be called a reliable source of income (even though I’ve written numerous times that I’ve consistently earned $130-$150 each month for the last 8 months). The thing is, at any time the people over at can change the rules and shut us down. I’ve recently heard of hundreds of articles being deleted, some of which were peoples’ top earning articles, which had a drastic effect on many monthly incomes. Get it?

Now, I love, and I love to write for them. The income I earn from my articles each month are definitely no less than awesome, but I can’t rely on it. What if a company buys and takes away the writer’s compensation program? What if Google Adsense died? Those are all questions that make me believe that the best thing you can do online is to start a business that has your own unique material that no one else can change but YOU.

Anyways, before I move on to my August income breakdown, let me just say that I don’t regret anything I’ve done, and I’ll continue to work like I have as well as work on new projects, that will of course be as much of my own material as possible.

Oh, and thanks for listening to me rant a little :)

Please note that these are figures from reports from each individual company for the previous month. It does not necessarily reflect the actual payment which, for some of the companies listed below, come 30 to 60 days later because of potential refunds.

Income Breakdown

Difference from last month
Gross Income
Affiliate Earnings
Article Marketing
Niche Sites
Green Exam Academy eBook Sales
Green Exam Academy Audio Sales
Green Exam Academy Package Sales
Green Exam Academy Google Adsense

Expenses Breakdown

Difference from last month
Total Expenses

Net Profit Breakdown

Difference from last month
Total Net Profit

Note: Items with an empty difference percentage were not present on the previous month’s income report.

Not bad, not bad. Definitely not bad. Also, I did make a couple thousand from my other iPhone Apps business, but I did not include it here in this breakdown because it would have an impact on the numbers and skew the comparisons from previous months.

Other people in the LEED Exam Prep industry have been saying sales have all around been cslow for August too. This is probably due to the season, since many people are off for the summer, or wanting to spend time with their kids before they go to school, rather than study for an exam. Hopefully, things will pick up by the end of the year. Now, obviously things will change for me because of the whole domain name fiasco, but I’ll roll with the punches and do what I can.

On another note, my eHow earnings have risen as much as they ever have since I first started writing articles last year. This is probably because I’ve finally written some new ones since last year – and have already seen the impact. I’ll have a specific post written about this later this month, but just to give you an idea, I wrote 8 articles in August, 6 out of 8 have earned money, and in total I earned as much as I did in the first month when I wrote 150 articles total, just from these 8 articles (or 6 if you discount the 2 dudes I wrote). That’s pretty awesome.

What’s Next

Well, I already gave you the important lesson for the month, so I’ll just get straight into what’s next.

What’s next is kind of up in the air. I have a lot of ideas in my head, in addition to the passive things I have going on already. Since they are passive, I don’t really want to sit around and just do nothing. SOMETHING more can always be done.

I REALLY want to get into some kind of membership website (with MY OWN content), and charge a monthly fee. The membership website model is a business model that really appeals to me, so I’m looking for a niche to get into, and I do have a few in mind. When this stuff happens, you’ll definitely be following me along the way so we can all learn at the same time.

Thanks again to those of you who congratulated me and April on finding out we were going to have a boy! If this is your first time reading this blog, thanks for stopping by! I really appreciate it!

For automatic updates, please grab the rss feed – and you can even follow me on Twitter. :)

Please, let’s all have a safe and happy (and cool!) September. My prayers go out to any of you who are affected by the fires in any way.

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