My August 2009 Monthly Income Report

dollar-signThis 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 :)

Income Breakdown

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.

  • Product Sales:
    • Ebook Only: $2121.46
    • Audio Only: $429.65
    • Ebook + Audio Package: $2624.57
    • Total: $5,175.68
      • Last Month: $6,381.51
      • Difference: -$1,205.83
  • Google Adsense:
    • Total: $125.00
      • Last Month: $110.00
      • Difference: +$15.00
  • eHow Earnings:
    • Total: $188.47
      • Last Month: $152.96
      • Difference: +$35.51
  • Affiliate Earnings:
    • Total: $3,745.81
      • Last Month: $2,341.32
      • Difference: +$1404.49
  • Gross Total in August: $9,234.96
    • Last Month: $8980.79
    • Difference: +$254.17

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.

  • Adam

    This is why i always tell people that the day they become stagnant they risk their entrepreneurship.Having a lot of baskets and lots of monetization models is always a must for every IM.

  • Adam

    Pat,do you have an opt-in form there?

    • Pat

      I do. I’ve already announced the update to the 4000+ people on my email list. Hopefully that’ll help spread the word too.

  • Andy

    It all points to another aspect of this game, and that is money management after the income hits your bank account.
    I am sure you guys are pretty careful with your money, and having reserves set aside will bridge the gap until the SEO catches back up.

    Another thing that hit me about your post was the lack of whining! It happened and now moving on to other projects with lessons learned. Well done. Another encouraging post, Pat.


    • Pat

      Thanks Andy. I’ve definitely learned that whining doesn’t do anyone any good, and can only set you back further. We definitely have some reserves – we WOULD be able to live for another year with no income whatsoever if we had to, but of course that would be worst case scenario.

  • James

    Hey Pat,

    It’s great to hear that you are starting a membership website. I too have taken the leap into entrepreneurship too and we do membership sites. We help by setting up everything for you and connecting to your favorite CRM system like infusionsoft or office auto pilot. I would love to help you out in any way possible, just give me a shout!


    • Pat

      Thanks James, I appreciate it. I definitely know a lot about membership websites because I am a part of a few, but it would be nice to be on the other side of things and earn the cash instead of pay someone else. Cheers!

  • DDFD at

    Pat– two thoughts:

    1) Ask your wife and son to speed it up– a late December birth gets you a nice tax break for 2009, and

    2) Did the bulllies offer terms for you to pay to use the LEED name?

    • Pat

      Haha, yeah – you’re actually not the first person to talk about having the baby before January 1st (actually, you’re like the 7th), but he’s due on the 22nd, so being born in December would definitely be a health risk I think.

      Secondly, nope – no offer to pay to use the name.

  • Oscar – freestyle mind

    So bad you can’t use a 301 redirect…

  • Camille

    This is a great point. I’ve been worried about a lot of people who join eHow thinking that they can count on it forever and ever. You can’t count on anything like this. There are too many variables.

    Which makes Andy’s comment on taking care of the money as you get it rather than count on what you expect in future all that much more important.

  • Domain Name Expert

    For an internet business, your earnings are a must PAT.

    Always inspiring your words and numbers.

    If you need any help with the domain name just send me an email, i and my team can help you anytime.

    Wish you all the best :)

  • Studenomics

    Pat just noticed you have over 1k subs, congrats man! Sorry about the legal stuff but eh look at the bright side. You struck when the iron was hot and made some good money. With your intelligence, hard work, and dedication I am positive that you will rebound and make even more money than before.

    • Pat

      Thanks dude! I noticed you have quite a few subscribers yourself too :)

      You’re definitely right, and I’m hoping I can turn around and use that same energy on something else that’s even more profitable. Thanks buddy!

  • Maren Kate

    I dealt with the same thing! But fortunately for me realized that eBay and other big business’ will crack down on their names being used so I switched from using eBay in my URL to using the word Powerseller. That really does stink that you have to forfeit it had such a good ring. But one thing so many older, wiser entrepreneur’s have told me before is that if you can make money once on your own you can replicate that success over and over again in continually bigger ways. I am starting up another biz at the moment too that has to do with TWitter but I agree with you… the best business format is one that is totally and completely yours and not dependent on anyone/any other business.

    Good luck with the new site!

    • Pat

      Thanks for talking about your experience Maren, and good luck on the new stuff you’re working on. Let me know when they are finished :)

  • Deneil Merritt

    The affiliate marketing income is awesome. Is it recurring or one time payment?

    • Pat

      Hey Deneil – about 1/2 is recurring, and the other 1/2 is through one-time affiliate sales. Gotta love the recurring payments though.

      • Deneil Merritt

        Yeah, that was my big mistake. Not promoting recurring payment programs. I just started promoted one so this should be a good month.

  • Sarah H.

    I’m glad you are finding new success with eHow. I’ve been a little annoyed at their seemingly inconsistent methods for removing articles. I appreciate that they are trying to clean up the site, but it seems a little haphazard. I’ve become a little leery to write more articles because I’m afraid they will be removed and my time will have been wasted. I look forward to your upcoming post about your new articles.

    • Pat

      I agree – I like that they are trying to clean up the site as well. I saw a LOT of articles that shouldn’t be there before that are now gone, however I’m sure there were quality articles that were erased for no good reason which is definitely a scary thing. Thanks Sarah! I hope all is well with you and your photography :)

  • LS

    I actually was contacted by eBay’s legal department because I had a domain with the name eBay in it. I was selling an ebook and it was a great domain name for SEO. eBay’s argument was that someone might mistake a one-page site that sold an ebook for a giant auction website with million of searchable pages. Seemed reasonable to them, I guess.

    • Pat

      Yep…same type of argument in my case:

      “Section 1125(a) of Title 15 of the United States Code imposes civil liability to those who use in commerce any false designation of origin which is likely to cause confusion or deceive as to the affiliation or association of the origin or sponsorship of goods, services, or commercial activities.”


    • Camille

      It’s actually more that having their name on a product implies that they sanction it. When you have a registered trademark, that implies that any place that trademark appears is a part of your identity.

      • LS

        That might be the legal argument, but the argument they emailed to me was that they didn’t want their customers to mistake my site for theirs.

  • Luke

    The more I learn about passive income and internet marketing the more I think it comes down to attitude. I’m not talking about that cheer bright eyed naivety preached by self-help gurus who want you to smile at the world, even when it’s beating your head in.

    It comes down down to having a clear eyed pragmatic view of the world, with a healthy mix of confidence in your own abilities.

    Pat you have done an amazing job with this blog, and I appreciate the example you set for everyone looking to move into this sort of lifestyle.

    I’m sure your son will gain a huge advantage in life for having someone like that around to raise him.

    Here’s to you man.

    • Pat

      Luke, thank you so much for your kind words. Right back at ‘cha.

  • Diggy –

    Aw:( So unfortunate to hear they are bullying you!

    I guess thats part of the game.

    Congrats on your earnings, thats really impressive. If I would make half of that every month I would be overjoyed and on top of the world:)

    I’ll get there soon, my goal is within a year :)

    Thanks Pat!

    • Pat

      Everything we do should be a learning experience, and that is indeed part of the “game”.

      Thanks for your comment, and keep up the good work and you’ll definitely reach your goals. Cheers!

  • James

    Great post as usual, Pat. Which brings me to rethink, because my model is similar to yours, I plan to sell training for SAP certification and I also have SAP in my url. Maybe it’s best to modify it since I am just starting up and not wait till later when the pain will be harder to bear.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    • Pat

      I’d run a check with the USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office), and you can easily check to see if that is trademarked. If it is, then you may want to ask permission to use it, or possibly undergo a trademark-license agreement if they are up to it.

      Of course, the best thing to do is contact an attorney to make sure you’re not infringing on anyone trademarks or intellectual property rights. Best of luck James!

    • Pat

      Oh James, I forgot to mention. I frequently visit this website and sometimes post a question whenever I have a question about legal stuff. People on this forum offer great advise, and some are even lawyers, but of course anything said on there may not necessarily be “right”.

  • chris

    pat ,

    if im going to write an ebook on say how to fix an xbox 360(this is not actually it ), do I have to get permission from microsoft or is it fine just to publish it?

    • Pat

      I’m pretty sure you can’t just write and sell an eBook using the xbox360 name without first getting permission or going through some time of license agreement. It’s definitely a gray area, and is something I wouldn’t do without first advising with a lawyer. You may want to read up on the “xbox” (or whatever it is you’re doing) terms of service to see what kind of legal stuff they say.

      Of course, I’m not a lawyer and these are just my educated opinions. Again, a lawyer is your best bet to stay safe.

      I really wish this legal stuff didn’t make it so hard, but of course it has to be there, or else businesses and consumers everywhere would be in trouble.

  • Money Grubber

    Hi Pat,

    I’ve just recently started following your blog. I think your honesty is really refreshing. Thanks for sharing all of your insights into creating your business. This is good stuff!

    • Pat

      Hey MG, thanks for following, and I really appreciate your kind words. I do my best to be honest because it’s something a lot of internet marketers are not. Hope to hear from you again soon!

  • Megg Mary

    Hi Pat,

    I only just came across your blog this past week when I was trying to figure out all of this eHow hype. Your blog has been really helpful to me. I’m a complete novice to all of this and I’ve just started my own blog to track my learnings about online earnings. Keep the great articles coming!


  • Michael-John Wolfe

    Ehow has had two rounds of deletions – I lost about 10-14 articles each time. This has been pretty disheartening – I have decided to to submit further to eHow. My thinking is that they are going to start removing outside articles and focus on having more articles from Demand Studios which will give eHOW ALL of the earnings.

    I have followed you for months Pat, I am one of those people you spoke about who started a blog and after about 6 months – stopped posting. I did manage to get to about $900 a month via online earnings, but this wasn’t enough money for my needs.

    Rather than focus on online income, I started a limousine business with only one black Chevy Suburban. Within two months of starting this business, I am now making about $1,500/week through this business. (I am driving a LOT though!) I also started a lawn care business – which I already have 10 bi-weekly customers.

    Shifting my focus from “online” to “real world” has helped me. And my online skills have helped me get the necessary SEO to get my limo/lawn companies easily found on Google, Yahoo and MSN.

    My goal is to take my “real world” earnings and use those to create online ventures such as iPhone apps, etc. You had a great advantage with InTheLeed – since that income ALLOWED you to pursue other ventures. Most people don’t have this luxury.

    So the next time you see a blog with no postings for months, it doesn’t mean this person necessarily gave up – they may have decided to pursue other forms of income!

    Good luck Pat! I will be watching your next year of income with baited breath.

    Best regards,

    Michael-John Wolfe

  • Robyn

    My son was due Jan 21, 2007 and was actually born on Jan 3rd. I missed the tax break by 3 days! haha He was fine though, even a few weeks early.

  • Michael-John Wolfe

    That is crazy – my son was born Jan 3rd, 2008 and due on the 21st! We have #2 on the way, though and he is due on December 24th! – So we will get the tax break this year AND the Obama $8,000 for first time home buyers!

  • valentina

    Someone I know got a cease and desist from a lawyer for the word stealth which apparently is trademarked! I just finished 30 Day Challenge and they were very strong on not using any trademarked words in your domain. Its a bummer, I know … there goes my “buy me a mercedes benz” which I did have but decided not worth the hassle – I think I “overachieved” with that domain name … not only Merecedes, but probably Janis Joplin’s estate and the long tail just gets longer!

    Congrats on the good results…. $9K isn’t exactly chump change.


  • Howie

    ….and, THIS is why I love reading this blog….

    Ever consider branding yourself, on another blog possibly, Pat?…..SmartPassiveIncome is great, but you could also do what well-known bloggers like Tyler Cruz do….have a LOGO/caricature drawn of yourself….

    Here’s a guy that does an AWESOME job at creating ‘Mascots’ for blog headers… (that’s not a referral link…)….

    If you ever try it, let me know how it goes….I’m thinking about doing the same one day…. :)

    • Howie

      By the way, Pat……I was using eHow for quite some time, but there were a few grey areas in their platform that kind of turned me off to them….Maybe it was me, but I experienced so many glitches there that it really made the writing experience painful, until a light bulb when off and I made it a habit to save every single article I wrote prior to submission (I suppose anyone should do that anyways…)….but, it’s just the fact that I lost 3 or 4 articles because they redirected me after I tried to submit content…..

      …also, even after reading their FAQs, I still can’t seem to figure out how much of a percentage they pay to writers for their Google Ad clickthroughs…

      Last week, I actually stripped off all my 100-some articles, and moved them to a website called Info Barrel….they pay 75% of the Google ad revenue on your articles, and bump it up to 90% if you earn 30 points in a month (which really isn’t THAT hard if you like to write…..most of your eHow articles, probably meet the criteria to be worth 5 Points right off the bat…..)

      Here’s my Referral link:

      If you write ANYTHING about marketing or promotion with Facebook, I’ll link directly from my Top Ranked Facebook Squidoo Lens:

      It currently has 280+ Five star ratings, a PR of 5, and is ranked #8 in the Business category (which is HUGE…)….it’s highest was #2…..

      If anyone else signs up I’ll include a link to one of your articles, too, along with Pat’s….if he decides to use it…..just contact me………….I subscribed to this thread, so I’ll see updates as they occur :)

      Thanks again for an awesome post Pat!

  • Howie

    Oh, and just like a previous poster had said…..the eHow rounds of deletion, under some unclear guidelines (at best) really drove me away from that webiste, unfortunately, after being a faithful user for so long…..I read posts about hard working writers who lost up to 60 articles of their writing content (I mean, THAT is sad…..especially when it happens to a longterm writer)…..I honestly think you could do very VERY well over at Info Barrel…..and, their staff responds to emails very promptly…, it’s much more user-friendly, I think….

  • Steve

    Pat great post. Thanks for sharing about your earnings and your learnings. It’s true that we really need to be diversified in our profit centers, with our own product being front and center so that we are not depending on other companies. By the way, it would be interesting to hear from you on the business planning process that you go through to identify your niche. This is such a crucial aspect of online earning that I have not seen a whole lot written on.

  • Susie

    ( our WP and website still under revisions but I went ahead and posted it.)
    Looking to the future…..some suggestions….
    My husband and I actually need help with applying IBMA. We have our ebook done and have tons of videos to sell but we are stuck in certain places of how it all comes together from the big pict. to some of the small details.
    Maybe you could consult via member basis to answer questions via skype calls and to do sheets and WP reviews? More than happy to be your guinea pigs. lol.
    I would love to hire a successful graduate of IBMA to fill the holes and closer coaching and support of the WP-product business for a lesser price than $900 a month. Something more reasonable. Also there seems to be a lack of trustworthy coaches for outsourcing. Some of us have to develop a mindset to overcome the fear of someone totally messing up your business or how to instruct them.
    You could easily offer a consulting service until you got your membership site going and as IBMA says…survey us. :)
    OR how about step by step using camtasia on how you built your business. That would be worth a lot. Idea is to fill the holes from the other gurus. Not sure any of that is helpful. but its what we would need if you were to survey us.
    P.S. it was your testimonial that sold us on IBMA.
    Anyway, thats our 2 cents.

    • Julia

      Hey Pat,

      I’m a long-time reader here. Congratulations on the baby and all your great work with IntheLEED. With your final transition on September 30 to the URL, will you be augmenting your SEO efforts with PPC?

      I’m examining a new niche to enter and am trying to determine whether PPC is a good “bridge” to pursue until SEO efforts pay off, as they can take some time to implement.

      Best of luck with all!

      • Pat

        Hi Julia, it is something I thought about doing, at least for a month to see how it pays off. If I end up deciding to go forth with it, you can be sure I’ll include the results in my report. PPC is a whole different realm with TONS of techniques and strategies, so maybe a month won’t be long enough.

        We’ll see. Good luck to you on your campaigns!

        • Julia

          I look forward to hearing how you fare with it. I just downloaded Perry Marshall’s 2010 PPC book (Definitive Guide to AdWords) and am still considering taking the jump.

          On a separate note – I like that you don’t use a traditional one page sales letter/funnel on intheleed. You’re not forcing people down to that buy button – you’re giving them ways out to look around and take advantage of free information. I’m a big Ryan Deiss/Eben Pagan fan and I feel like this probably bucks their formula somewhat – what led you to use you current format? It’s clearly working for you!

  • Pat

    Perry Marshall is great – he really knows his stuff.

    As far as the sale page and offering free information first, it’s definitely a model that’s worked for me. I basically developed a website that I wanted to see. I was in the same situation as many of my readers, and I would be put off from a long sales page too, so the free information was definitely a great way to “break the ice”, offer good free information, and wow them with paid content.

  • Vance

    Good heads up on diversifying income streams. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on multiple streams of income and that seems to be not only safer, but possibly more profitable than only one source. So far I have two online sources. I write for eHow, which has not been quite as fruitful as it has been for you, and I started a blog/website focuse on real estate investing information products. I’m kind of following your lead. We’ll see how it turns out.

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  • Curt

    Very interesting. What affiliates are you using?

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  • Harsh Agrawal

    Hey Pat must admit thats a handsome income and you doing great. Best of luck for upcoming months.

  • Knoworange

    Thank you so much for this useful post!
    i found a youtube video about xbox live hacks- that I would like to share- Xbox live hacks.
    But seriously, amazing post and thanks allot !!
    i look ahead to your next post !!

  • Mikep

    I think the sap is making a difference.

  • Brian Cumerford

    Diversification is an increasingly difficult strategy due to market conditions

  • parisa