Welcome to my July 2012 monthly income report!
Each month I share an extremely detailed report about what I’ve been up to, the income I’ve earned online and the lessons I’ve learned during the past month.
I do this for several reasons:
- To keep me headed in the right direction, hold me accountable and continue to try and outdo myself.
- I want to be honest and transparent. If anyone talks about making money online, I think that’s really the only way it should be. Wins, losses, successes and failures—the whole deal.
- I know it inspires a lot of people to take action.
If you’re just starting out online, please understand that making money via the Internet is definitely not an overnight thing.
Time, hard work, dedication, a lot of failures, constant learning and a passion to help other people are all things that I’ve found to be part of the recipe for success. That, and stepping out of your comfort zone every once and a while.
Important Goings-On in July
July started off with a bang!
Since working as director of web and social media for the independent film, Crooked Arrows, the producers asked me to help with another project titled Lucky Stiff, a broadway musical adapted movie which stars several Tony Award-Winning actors, including Jason Alexander, who we all know as George from the sitcom, Seinfield.
I was invited to come to the set to be an extra, which I did for Crooked Arrows too (in a crowd scene), but this time I got some serious screen time.
And by serious, I mean just a few of seconds, but I played an important role—a bellhop who tries to take a bag from one of the leading characters, and she refuses and tells me off.
I'm pretty sure this role won't land me a spot on Dancing With the Stars (unfortunately), but the experience was amazing and now I can truly check that one off the bucket list.
Here's a picture of me preparing for a take:
And here's one of me and Jason Alexander in between takes:
And to think, just 4 years ago I was still employed at an architecture firm in Southern California.
So many amazing things can happen in such a short period of time. Remember that.
I'm truly blessed that I had this opportunity, so a big thank you to the producers (who actually found me through my podcast on iTunes) who reached out to me.
Security Guard Training HQ
The earnings from my primary niche site, SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com, are back on the rise.
(See the Niche Site Duel posts for details about how the niche was selected and the site was built.)
The issue is, I'm still relying almost 100% on Adsense and I've been wanting to diversify and expand beyond pay-per-click advertising for a long time.
In July, I've finally started making progress on building a system that could possibly do that.
My Virtual Assistant has been busy collecting data about security guard training facilities around the U.S.—a list of companies that didn't exist yet. So far, she's collected over 2000 different companies, and I have a developer who is currently building a “search-by-zip” function on the site. He's already made great progress so far, as you can see on this test site below:
This is just the search and database function, but the idea here is not just to show people the companies that can train them, but to collect their information and sell those leads to that specific company too. For each listing, the user will be able to enter their details (name, email, phone number, etc.) and then I should be able to (or rather, a Virtual Assistant should be able to) forward that information to those specific companies.
I'll probably give away a limited number of the leads to start building relationships with those companies, but if they're smart they would know how much a lead is worth to them, and would be able to pay me for the leads that I collect.
I'll keep you posted as things happen.
I'm also in the middle of a site redesign too, one which will include a store, the new company search function, a more prominent job board, plus a few more things.
Also, one thing I've recently noticed is that most of the existing security guard websites have very poor designs. I don't think it would be too hard for me to offer website design services specifically for the security guard industry. Then, my niche site could really become the ultimate resource—not just for customers or end users, but for businesses too.
Last year, I was getting up to 500+ spam comments per day. Luckily, the Wordress plugin, Akismet, was taking care of pretty much all of them.
Unfortunately, Akismet was also counting several legitimate comments as spam, including my own! I couldn't even comment without having to fish through the spam and approve my own comments.
I contacted Akismet about it, and they basically told me, “tough luck.”
Why there isn't a way to whitelist certain commenters, I don't know, but I'd had enough.
So, I switched to a plugin called Growmap Anti-Spambot Plugin, also known as G.A.S.P.
GASP adds a little checkbox to the comment section that people have to click on to prove they're human, and for months, it worked like a charm.
I had zero spam comments coming in, since all of that spam was coming from bots.
Recently, however, human spammers have become a problem. Even with GASP in place, up to 20 or 30 spam comments were coming in each day from actual people.
As a result, every day I had to go into my comment section in WordPress and delete them. Blacklisting the I.P addresses from the spammers didn't stop new spammers from arriving.
I was okay with deleting the spam each night, it would only take a couple of minutes, but in June and July several people complained. Not because they saw spam on my site, but because they were subscribed to the comment and were getting emails with spam comments in them.
I wouldn't be happy either, and I don't blame them for complaining.
The spam issue was becoming such a nuisance, I spent a good half a day trying to figure out what to do.
I found a solution that seems to be working so far. Spam comments have significantly decreased, although still not 100%.
I'm using a combination of Conditional CAPTCHA for WordPress, and Akismet.
Yes—I'm back to using Akismet. My comments still don't go through right away, but if I answer comments on the backend of WordPress, I can quickly hit an approve button and they'll go through—not a big deal.
So what's the purpose of the CAPTCHA plugin?
It works with Akismet in a way that if Akismet detects spam, it then asks the commenter to fill out a simple CAPTCHA, which apparently the human spammers don't have time for, or maybe don't understand how to use. If the comment is not detected as spam, then it just gets published.
This is the best solution I've found so far—the spam has drastically decreased and legitimate comments are still getting through, but apparently most people who leave a legitimate comment will still have to fill out a CAPTCHA because Akismet detects them as spam, and that's really annoying to me.
If you know a better solution, I'd be more than happy to explore that as an option.
Publishing a Kindle Book
In July, I posted How to be EVEN MORE Everywhere, which went over my plan for publishing a book. I'd like to eventually do both a traditionally published book and an electronic book on the Amazon Kindle platform, but I've decided to start with Amazon because it'll be faster and because I can help more people along the way.
I also started a Private Facebook Group and am inviting anyone who is interested in book publishing into it. It currently has over 2100 members and the community has been extremely active and has shared a ton of great advice. There's a good mix of aspiring authors and those who can call themselves authors already, so if you're interested just click here and click the “ask to join” button, and I'll approve you.
The title of my book is Be Everywhere and it's based off of my “How to Be Everywhere” presentation at Blog World Expo in 2011, which was very well received and something I've become an authority on since then.
The subtitle—now that's a different story.
I have about 5 different versions of the subtitle and am creating ads on Facebook where the name of the ad is the title of the book, and the description of the ad is the subtitle. This is a strategy straight out of The 4-Hour Work Week and will help me determine, without guessing, which subtitle works the best, based on which one has the highest click-through rate.
Those clicks actually go to a specific tab on my Facebook Page where I'm also collecting email addresses to announce the launch of the book, so the experiment is doing double duty, which is awesome.
Thanks to Rick Mulready for his help with this!
I'll be sharing the results of this experiment when I announce the final title and start promoting.
Now all I need is a book!
I've started writing and have made it a part of my nightly ritual. It's a struggle, but I'm having a blast and cannot wait to share the final product with you!
In the meantime…let's get to some numbers!
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.
Also, please note that a lot of 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 and may change because of potential refunds or corrections.
Note: Items with an empty difference percentage were not present on the previous month's income report.
Major expenses this month include virtual assistants (one full-time, one part-time), hosting account for SPI (dedicated server), hosting for other websites (bluehost), recurring payments for various tools, CPA (Certified Public Accountant), attorney fees, website security tool.
Another amazing month of earnings! The Bluehost earnings are through the roof, and I spoke to my affiliate manager and apparently the summer months are always the highest converting. No complaints here!
As I always mention, I’ll be the first to admit that a significant portion of my total online income comes as a result of The Smart Passive Income Blog—mostly from the products that I recommend as an affiliate, which are products I’ve used or am extremely familiar with and have helped me in one way, shape or form. Because of that, I have no shame in earning this much from the blog as I know that I’m helping people, I’m just fortunate that I’m doing so in a way that pays me back too.
The support from the SPI community is amazing. Some people even go out of their way to make sure they click on my referral links, which means the world to me.
With this comes a great responsibility to the community that I know I have and will never take for granted – and as such I never promote just for the potential income that can come from an offer, even though those opportunities are definitely there.
I’m incredibly grateful for everything and I will continue to give back with valuable content and my experience in return.
Ready to learn about affiliate marketing?
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Things I Learned in July
I've been doing a lot of housework as we get things prepared in the Flynn household for the arrival of our daughter next month. As I was painting my son's room, I was listening to Zig Ziglar's podcast, Inspiring Words of Encouragement.
In one particular episode, Zig was talking about taking your nothing time and turning it into something time. He called it, specifically: Automobile University. That means using the time you spend in your car (which can also be at the gym, on a walk, or in a waiting room, etc.) learning something useful that will make you better.
On the way to work, he would listen to something on a cassette tape (that's how old these recordings for the podcast are) that would make him a better worker when he arrived. On his way home, he's listen to something that would make him a better husband at home.
It was cool to know that I was attending my own version of automobile university at that very moment, and it inspired me to stock up on podcasts and other forms of audio that I could listen to while in my nothing time.
There's no reason NOT to do this!
Since hearing about AU, I've been making sure that I always have something in queue to learn about when I'm in my nothing time.
Here are some podcasts that I've been listening to:
- The Social Triggers Insider by Derek Halpern
- This Is Your Life by Michael Hyatt
- Internet Business Mastery by Jason & Jeremy
- The Lifestyle Business Podcast by Dan & Ian
- The Foolish Adventure Show by Tim Conley
- Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel
- Creating Wealth with Jason Hartman
- The Self Publishing Podcast with Johnny B Truant, Sean Platt and David Wright
In addition to podcasts, thanks to Cliff Ravenscraft of Podcast Answer Man, I learned about an amazing productivity / learning tool called Sound Gecko.
With Sound Gecko, you can take any article or blog post on the web, mp3-ize it and then listen to it later on any device that you want. You can email the article to yourself where it will be translated into an mp3 and there waiting for you on your device, or you can use the chrome extension to accomplish the same thing.
It's amazing, and it's free!
On my way to pick up some food the other day, I listened to 2 blog posts on the way there, and then 2 posts on the way back, and I have more than 10 posts in queue for me to listen to later.
Thanks again, Cliff, for the amazing resource, and I hope all of you will be attending AU if you aren't enrolled already.
And the best part: no tuition.
Thanks for your support as the SPI community closes in on 50,000 subscribers!