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)
Each month, I write a detailed income report, highlighting exactly where my online income comes from—down to the penny. I do this not only to help me keep track of how my businesses are progressing each month, but also to help you understand the kinds of things you could do (or shouldn't do!) to achieve similar results.
I support a family with the passive income streams I generate online, which allows me to spend more time with them. This is motivation behind everything I do. Whatever your motivation is, whatever your goals are for the future, I'm here to give you all the information I can to help you get there.
As always, thank you for your undying support, and I hope you enjoy this month's report.
Important Goings-On in April
April is always one of the fastest months of the year for me, mainly because everyone and their mom has a birthday in April for some reason. Each weekend is usually filled with good times and good friends, and as they say: time flies when you're having fun.
This April was no exception, especially now that our son Keoni is 4 months old and starting to be more interactive, and honestly really really fun to be around. Don't get me wrong, he was fun to hang out with before, but now there's a little more to him than just pooping, peeing and crying. Being a dad is awesome.
Although the month flew by, I was still able to get a lot of good work done, especially in the iPhone app realm.
In my income reports from February and March, I mentioned how we were in the middle of outsourcing some new iPhone apps. Well, in April, a number of them finally made their way into the App Store.
If you read my post entitled 5 Things You Must Know About Creating Your Own iPhone Apps, you would know that if you want to have a successful iPhone app, one that can hopefully make you some money, you're going to have to do more than just submit it to Apple. If you don't do any marketing, it's just going to get lost in the sea of 180,000+ apps, and all of your time and money will have been wasted.
Well—thanks to the number of awesome tips in How to Make iPhone Apps Without Programming Experience, we were able to see a lot of success with the apps that went live. Here's the run down:
This is a “gag” app that is supposed to look like you can change traffic lights from red to green. These kind of apps are “hit or miss” in the app store, but you see a lot of them in the top rankings all of the time (i.e. A Hands Heater, Fingerprint Scanners, iBeer, etc.).
At first, it wasn't seeing much momentum and we figured it was just a flop. But, after an advertising campaign and some tips from that ebook, it finally entered the top 100 list in it's category and just took off:
And here's a graph of how many times it was downloaded:
That's 61,974 downloads in just 15 days. That's a LOT of reach! Do note, however, that this is a FREE application, and free apps get downloaded a lot more than paid ones, generally.
Now, I know what you're probably thinking: if it's a free app, how do we make money from it?
The answer: advertising.
And how has that been working out so far? Here's a screenshot from the 15 days in April that the app was live:
Success? I think so, especially when I think about how long it took me to earn that much from blogging or even writing for eHow. Plus, the app only cost $500 to develop.
Even though there are a slew of negative reviews and ratings, that is expected for an app like this. Plus, there are a lot of hilarious and fantastic reviews too from people who “faked” their friends and just had a blast with the app, which was the whole point.
I won't go into the same amount of detail with the other apps that went live in April—I'll save those for a later blog post specifically about iPhone apps. But I do want to give you a list of the apps in case you were interested. I'm quite proud of how much work we've done in the past couple of months, and it seems to be paying off. Remember, each one of these is a potential stream of passive income!
Anti-Theft Alarm: STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE
Balance Test: How Balanced Are You?
Shake Nation 100 & Shake Nation 1000 (not currently ranked, and the funny part is that these were the most expensive of the bunch to develop, and are the most “complicated” too)
In addition to what we released in April, we currently have 4 more apps completed, submitted and waiting to be approved—hopefully within the next week or so. That's a total of 9 new apps in two months.
Hey, if you're going to do anything, you might as well go big, right?
Green Exam Academy
Honestly, I did not put one hour of work into this website in April, because as you can probably tell I was primarily focused on iPhone apps. But that's the beauty of setting up a passive income business—you can have it work on auto-pilot for you, so you can have time to do other things, such as diversify your passive income portfolio and work on other streams of income.
Even though all I did was answer a few comments and emails from customers, you'll see that my earnings actually went up just a tad bit from March. I'm just glad to see the earnings are staying fairly consistent. And don't worry, I'm always watching it to make sure I'm up to date with any changes in the industry, and I'm constantly testing.
Smart Passive Income
I'm proud to announce that I hit the 6000 RSS subscriber mark! The reason this is a huge milestone for me is because it was my 2010 goal to reach 6000 subscribers—and it happened in mid-April. Thank you all for making that happen, really. I hope I can continue to provide you with awesome content so you will continue to stay with me as we crush it online together.
In other exciting news, I finally bought some hardcore, professional podcasting equipment! Yep, that's right folks, the SPI Podcast is on it's way! I know I've teased you a lot about it since last year, and I even have a space reserved for it in my navigation menu at the top of the blog, but I finally got off my butt and bought some nice equipment, including:
A Heil PR-40 Microphone, a Heil Mic Arm, a mixer, and some mic cables. I'd like to thank Cliff Ravenscraft from PodcastAnswerman.com for all of his help with setting me up with this awesome equipment. I'll definitely take some pics for you once it's all setup in my office.
As far as when the first episode will be, it's hard to say. I'll be going over a podcasting course to help me make sure I setup everything correctly, especially in regards to the iTunes feed, so it may take a little while still. It's coming through, I promise!
Lastly, I'd like to mention that I'm going to do my best to not edit any episodes. I really want to master speaking on the mic and thinking fast on my feet, so forcing myself not to edit will help me get there. It's my own little Toastmaster experiment. And hopefully, a couple years from now when I listen back to my first few episodes, we'll all be able to notice how much I've grown as a speaker and host. We'll see…
Okay, it's time for the monthly 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.
Full Disclosure: Some of the items in the list below are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase through that link, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
Note: Items with an empty difference percentage were not present on the previous month's income report.
Definitely a stellar month, one of the best in a while, and I don't forsee the numbers going down anytime soon, especially with all of the new income streams being created.
Things I Learned in April
April was tax month, and this was the first tax season that I had to pay taxes for a full year of income generated entirely online. While grossing over $200k in 2009, you can imagine the look on my face when it came time to see how much I owed. Luckily, with the help of a great CPA (one of the best investments you could ever make for your business, especially if you work from home, is a good CPA) it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. And yes, I do pay quarterly estimates.
I won't go over the specific details, but basically we opened up an IRA to shelter some of the money so I would be paying less money to the government, and more money to myself and my family's future. We maxed that out at $28k.
Also, I learned that having a good bookkeeper on board really pays off when it's time to do your taxes. Each month, I send a bookkeeper (one who I found on Elance actually who I've been happy to work with for over a year now!), my reports from E-Junkie, Paypal, and my Banks, and any other reports that have business transactions on them. She plugs them into QuickBooks, and by the time tax time rolls around, all I have to do is click a few buttons and I get some quality Profit and Loss statements, which I double check, of course.
Simpler Is Often Better
When looking at our iPhone app business as a whole, and the types of apps that we have produced, the less complicated, simple applications are the ones that we're seeing success with. Plus, they're much cheaper and faster to produce.
When you think about Online Business in general, the basic rule of “Simpler is Better” almost always applies:
- When taking people through a checkout process, once it get's complicated—their out.
- If the design of a blog is too complicated, or it's too hard to navigate, people are more likely to bounce (this is why Flash sites aren't the norm).
- If you're selling a product and it's not easy to use (or at least you don't present it as being easy to use), good luck making a sale. (Why do you think a huge chunk of an infomercial is all about how simple the product is to use?)
Remember, keep it simple…
I just wanted to thank you once again for your support. I wouldn't be where I'm at today having so much fun writing these reports and chatting with you on the blog if it wasn't for you.
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Here's to a healthy, safe and profitable May! Cheers!