Welcome to another monthly income report here on SPI where I share exactly what's going on in my online businesses, including a detailed breakdown of my income and expenses for the month.
I do this not only to help me keep track of my progress but also to show you what’s working and what’s not. I try a lot of new things and sometimes it goes well, and sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, there’s always a lesson involved which I share in these types of reports so that you can learn from both my wins and failures as you move forward with your online business too.
July was filled with a lot of family travel, but even while away my businesses continued to run on their own. There is no such thing as 100% passive income, but July was a great reminder of the power of automation and building a business on the Internet.
Additionally, I did something I haven't done in 5 years here on SPI that will completely change the course of how I serve you in the future. Please don't make the same mistake that I did.
Let's get into the month of July:
Important Goings-On in July
After celebrating the 4th of July at home, my family and I traveled to the great country of Australia! This is the second year in a row that we've been, which is pretty amazing to think about especially considering my kids are only 5 and 2 years old. It took me nearly 30 years to start traveling like they do!
Last year, I was invited to perform the opening keynote at the ProBlogger conference in the Gold Coast of Australia. Instead of a speaking fee, I had asked instead to help me cover bringing my family along on the trip. They agreed, and it was an epic vacation full of trips to animal parks, theme parks and even a tour of a private island off the Barrier Reef.
Both my wife and I have family there in Brisbane, and unfortunately last year we didn't spend as much time with them as we had hoped we would, which is why we wanted to come back this time 100% for pleasure—no work. I did my best to get completely off the grid and was mostly successful, except for a daily Periscope while on my Australian morning coffee adventures.
It was really nice to not work and come back home to a business that was still running full steam. I had also spent many hours on the plane there and back writing my book and using Gmail Offline to catch up on my email messages too. This was the first time I came back from a trip incredibly excited to wake up the next day and get back to work. Usually, it takes me half the number of days I was out to adjust and get back into things.
The jet lag wasn't as bad as last year, and since coming back home I've been incredibly productive. Also, I've been completely motivated by something I setup on SPI and had working for me before I left—something I haven't done on SPI for over 5 years…a survey.
The SPI Audience Survey
If you've been following me for a while, you would know that I'm always trying learn and understand more about who my audience is. My strategy has always been to have real conversations with members of the SPI audience—via email, and especially in person.
I love to ask questions about what people like and dislike and what I could do to improve. Those who I have corresponded with have been extremely helpful in guiding me forward, and I thank you for that!
Before I left for Australia, I heard an amazing podcast episode with Amy Porterfield about how helpful her recent audience survey was. It was interesting because I've been noticing changes on her website which had come as a directly as a result of the information she learned in her recent survey.
Then, by chance, Jaime Tardy, a member of one of my mastermind groups (who is very well connected in this space) introduced me to Ryan Levesque (pronounced “Le-Vek”), the author of Ask: The Counterintuitive Online Formula to Discover Exactly What Your Customers Want to Buy…Create a Mass of Raving Fans…and Take Any Business to the Next Level. [This link leads to Amazon. Full disclosure: I receive affiliate commission if you purchase from this link.]
She suggested that I read his book, and I'm very glad I did because it sparked a sudden realization of how important collecting data about your audience is in this way, and the fact that it had been over 5 years since I've run a survey on SPI.
A week before I left for Australia, I scrambled to pull my team together to get a survey going that could be there to collect data while I was out on travel. Ask was such a great resource because it helped me craft the right questions to ask to make the most out of the effort.
After it was launched and I came back home from Australia, nearly 5,500 people had responded to the survey and the data couldn't be any more clear: I haven't been serving you in the best way possible.
I'll get more into the details of that survey later in an upcoming post, but it has already made a dramatic effect on certain changes that are happening with the brand and my direction moving forward. The results will be the inspiration for the upcoming blog redesign, certain tools that I'll be using, how my email marketing will be structured (periscope replay), and the content I will produce in the future across all segments of the brand—blog, podcast, and video.
In an upcoming podcast episode (#178, going live on Wednesday, September 9th), I invited Ryan Levesque to the show to talk about his survey formula, and we also dive into my own survey and what I did right and what I could have done better. It has already been recorded, and you definitely don't want to miss it!
My New Content Manager / Editor
The survey results, combined with my conscious effort to become more streamlined and knowing where SPI is headed in the near future, have led me to bring on board a brand new Content Manager. Her name is Janna, and she's awesome!
I've never had a content editor before—someone to help me plan content ahead of time and streamline the production process—but I feel that a content editor is very necessary at this point, and probably someone I could have benefited from having on the team a long time ago.
Janna has a number of specific roles in the SPI brand as my content editor, including:
- Editorial calendar planning. She's going to work with me to come up with podcast episode topics and guests, blog and SPI TV content ahead of time and make sure they reflect what's important and what people want to know about. She's very in tune with the survey results and the kind of content that already exists on the blog and my goals in providing value to you.
- Project management in relation to content. Janna will make sure that I and other team members involved with content production are meeting deadlines and the process is as smooth as possible. We're trying to get 2 months ahead of publication dates across all aspects of SPI.
- Help me write better blog content. We've introduced a system that includes checks and balances where the entire team can get involved with copy-editing, as well as offering suggestions to enhance posts that I draft. Up until this point, I've never had anyone read my posts or check for mistakes before I hit publish (except for myself). It hasn't hurt me to publish posts with mistakes, but I know there's definitely room for improvement.
- Help with the production of lead magnets. In addition to the regularly scheduled content on SPI, we're going to be creating specific lead magnets related to specific topics (again, as a result of the survey results) which will help increase conversions into my email list, and also help to segment the audience right from the start so I can better serve them down the road.
- Provide encouragement and support along the way! This is a role that everyone on my team has.
I'm super excited to work with Janna, and already we've been meshing well together. We're currently working toward batch processing content production and working out the kinks in the content creation process, but we're shooting for an October 1st flip of the switch.
Matt, my executive producer, was the one who found Janna. He's actually found most of the people on my team as he's the one person on the team that works directly with me to figure out what I want to happen, and then he helps to make it happen and hires the right people if needed. He's batting 1000 right now (i.e. he's never missed the mark), and I'm excited for this new era of SPI.
In terms of the redesign, there's no specific deadline for the switchover yet, but I'm sure you'll take notice when it happens. I'm hoping to have it complete before the end of the year, at the latest. Best case scenario, I'd say early November.
Okay—a lot going on, but now it's time for the income breakdown for July.
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.
Expenses do not include pro-rated yearly fees. Most are related to the Smart Passive Income Blog and new projects that are currently under development.
GreenExamAcademy.com is experiencing smaller sales and less traffic due to the summer months. This is expected and has been a pattern I've noticed over the past 7 years, and sales should pick up again in September once school is back in session and people are back focusing on their work and resumes.
FoodTruckr.com is experiencing much smaller sales as well. Although the traffic to the homepage continues to rise (39,377 unique visitors in July), I believe the heavy leaning toward marketing product #2 (mentioned in last month's report), which has converted far less than we had hoped, is what accounts for the drop. Because we've been promoting product #2, our first product has seen less exposure.
iPhone apps jumped quite a bit, and again this is a seasonal thing for iOS that I've noticed over the years as well. Spikes usually occur in the summer and during winter break, which makes sense.
Affiliate sales continue to go strong, with much of the conversions happening over on the resource page. If you don't have a resource page for your business yet, you absolutely need one. It's a great way to provide value to your audience through one helpful page with the top resources you recommend on it, while also being able to earn a commission as well. The best part is that the promotion of this page is purely passive, mostly clicked through older posts and podcast episodes that mention the link.
If you'd like to look deeper into my affiliate links—specifically about how my top performing products do so well—you can read more about where those links are located and how well they convert on this oldie but goodie here.
Lessons Learned in July
After getting back from Australia and being super jazzed about the results of the survey (again, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don't miss the upcoming episode with Ask author, Ryan Levesque—it's a game-changer!), I knew that it was going to be even more important to get my book finished, the book that I've been working on for the past several months.
Writing this book has been a difficult journey for me for a number of different reasons. Obviously, finding time is always going to be a struggle, which is why Janna is playing a super important role as content manager here because she's going to open up a lot of time for me that I'd normally be spending organizing and coming up with content ideas.
But in addition to that, the voice in my head is always telling me what I'm writing isn't good enough.
I'm afraid of what people will say, and it's annoying because I know I shouldn't listen to that voice. Plus, it's advice I give to others and I even created a whole presentation about conquering that voice in your head at Podcast Movement earlier this month.
That presentation was definitely as much for me as it was for my audience though, and I share the struggle with many of you.
But, I am happy to say that since getting back from Australia I've been making it a habit to wake up each day and start my morning with writing—after a teeth brushing, change of clothes, glass of water and a bulletproof coffee, of course.
My Miracle Morning routine since Session #150 is still in place, but I've shifted things around a little. Now, my big task is to write every single morning until the kids wake up. The earlier I wake up, the more time I have and nothing else matters except writing during that time.
This mental shift in my morning routine has completely helped, and I'm at a point now where if I miss a writing session in the morning, I feel bad. That's how I want to feel, because that means it's turning into a habit.
When you can create a productive habit like this, you're well on your way to your goal, and I've never been more excited to sit down and write in my book than now, and the words just seem to flow.
Some days I'm writing only 500 words, which isn't much but it's something, and other days I'm writing over 5000. Either way, I'm writing and that's what matters, and I will get through this.
Plus, it's shaping up to be an awesome resource and I can't wait to share it with you later this year! The closer I get to the end, the more comfortable I seem to be getting. We'll see what happens, but it's coming!
What's something big that you're struggling to accomplish these days and are there any habits you could create for yourself in order to help you conquer your goal?
Leave a comment below, and we'll get through this together. Cheers, thanks so much for the support and I look forward to continually serving you here on SPI!