I just got back from a successful trip to New York for Blog World Expo and I'll definitely post a recap post about that in the near future (I have a ton of amazing experiences to share!), but for now, it's time for my May 2012 monthly income report.
As always, each month, I publish a detailed summary about my online businesses including a breakdown of exactly how much money I've made and where it comes from.
Doing this helps me take notice of any upward or downward trends in my businesses, and it allows me to be transparent while hopefully providing some inspiration to you as well.
With that said, many people see the numbers and fail to realize that years of hard work was put into my businesses before getting to this point.
Succeeding online takes time, patience, stamina and perseverance, and as a result most people who try will fail. I hope that my insights both here in this post and on the rest of my blog will help you succeed in your journey.
What Happened in May?
I don't know about you, but there seems to be an inconvenient, intermittent pattern that's a part of my life:
Long stretches of calm with nothing of major concern, followed by 2 to 4 weeks of stressful “OMG why is everything happening now at the exact same time!”
The first week of May was cool, calm and collective.
The rest of May—not so much.
With 3 presentations at Blog World Expo to prepare for and the nationwide release of Crooked Arrows, housework both in the house and in the backyard, combined with a wife who is 5-months pregnant and a 2 and a half year old who is acting like a 2 and a half year old, it was definitely a lot to take on.
As a result, I didn't really work on much else, and I even slowed down my posting schedule a bit to accommodate.
It'll be interesting to see what the income looks like for May considering most of what I was working on had nothing to do directly with my income sources.
Here is what I did do though:
As of May 1st, Smart Passive Income is now a federal trademark.
It took 9 months and 26 days (almost 10 months!) to complete the application process—but it's finally done.
I got it through Legalzoom, but Legalzoom wasn't the hold up—it was the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and a lengthy back and forth process to make sure that I was only trademarking the term “smart passive income”, and not “passive income”.
The total cost was $484:
- $169 Legalzoom Fee
- $325 Government Filing Fee
Note: You can save money by going directly through the USPTO.gov website instead of through Legalzoom, although it'll take a little more time.
So why did I get the trademark?
The main reason is for protection. Having a registered trademark makes it much easier to stop anyone who attempts to use or register a similar mark—especially when it comes to domain names. No particular website prompted me to get the trademark, although I have noticed a few using the same domain that I'm now keeping my eye on.
Don't worry, I'm not going to go on a killing spree and start targeting any site that mentions SPI, but if someone uses the mark it in a way that's harmful to my brand or confusing to consumers, then I definitely have the trademark to use in my favor, which is nice.
Crooked Arrows Premiere—On The Red Carpet
Mid-May, I flew to Boston to watch the premiere of Crooked Arrows – and it was an incredible, once in a lifetime experience!
I've been a part of the marketing team for a good year and a half, so to finally sit in a large theater and watch the finished product alongside some of the stars of the film, including Brandon Routh (of Superman Returns), brought tears to my eyes.
It was extra special because the producers gave me a nice shout out before the film started, and afterwards I did see my name in the credits under “Social Media”.
As far as my scene in the movie—I was mixed in a large crowd and I *think* I saw myself in a frame or two, but I'll have to get the DVD just to make sure.
Next time, maybe I'll ask for a line instead. 😉
The movie has done pretty well in the box office, especially considering it's an independent movie that has only opened in 300 theaters nationwide. It was a one-point the top #13 movie in the country on a revenue-per-theater basis, which is impressive.
A number of SPI fans actually messaged me saying they saw the movie too and my name in the credits—and to each and every one of you—I thank you!
The coolest thing that happened in Boston was at the after party for the premiere. At the party, a number of people came up to me and congratulated me on the work I did for the film with the website and the Facebook Page, which is now 130,000 fans strong.
About 6 or 7 people gave me their business cards asking if I was available to work on some of their own film-related projects in the near future, which is awesome!
This venture has definitely opened up a lot of new opportunities for me, and to think it was all because of someone in Hollywood listening to my podcast. 🙂
How I Increased My Bluehost Affiliate Earnings Even More
Many SPI readers know that a significant portion of my income comes directly from the affiliate earnings made through my domain & hosting link for Bluehost.
Over 50% of sales come directly from my resource page—which is pretty sweet, and several more (40%) come from a mixture of my 4 Minute Blog YouTube video, the getting started page, and the niche site duel series.
Click here for a more detailed analysis and link distribution and conversion breakdown.
The affiliate relationship currently generates upwards of $20,000 per month.
In the later half of May, however, I've been lucky enough to be able to increase those earnings even more.
A landing page specifically for bloggers.
In other words—the page on Bluehost's site that people go to after clicking through my link is now better targeted.
Here's the before and after (click to enlarge):
That's a 2.3% increase in conversion rate, which is huge! To put that in context, that means that for every 50 people that click through, that's an additional sale because of the new landing page.
The new page is obviously targeted for those looking to start a WordPress blog, prominently displaying text like:
- “Welcome, WordPress Fans!”
- “Free 1-Click Installation of WordPress”
- “Hosting over 850,000 WordPress blogs”
- “WordPress.org Recommended Host Since 2005”
- “Not Just the Best Blogging Software”
For my specific audience, this is a much better and targeted page. The other one focused on web hosting and technology, as opposed to what the users were going to create with it—a blog.
I do have to give props and credit to Bluehost for this one—their affiliate team sent me this new page and it's definitely yielding higher conversions.
If you're promoting Bluehost as well (which I know some of you are), you can get to this specific landing page from your affiliate link by adding the following code to the end of your normal Bluehost affiliate link (without quotations):
so that your affiliate code looks like this:
If you're promoting a hosting company that isn't Bluehost—you should definitely try to convince your hosting service provider to create a landing page that's perfectly suited for your specific audience, if possible.
Actually, it doesn't matter if it's hosting or not—this strategy would work with any product that you're promoting. Getting people to click on your links is just half the battle. What happens after definitely matters—it's just most of the time it's totally out of our control.
Okay—so I'm sure you're itching to see how much my earnings increased for Bluehost in May, and how my other earnings fared, so let's get to the 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. (Click here to read a typical monthly expense report which breaks down how my time and money is spent.)
Major expenses this month include virtual assistants (one full-time, one part-time), hosting account for SPI (dedicated server), hosting for other websites, recurring payments for various tools, CPA (Certified Public Accountant) fees and payments for future travel for Blog World Expo.
Another amazing month, especially considering I didn't put in very many hours this past month, except for Crooked Arrows and prepping for my BWE presentations.
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.
Things I Learned in May
“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.“—Sun Tzu
This is one of my all-time favorite quotes, because it's true.
This was was made very clear to me while I was in Boston and given the opportunity to work on even more projects in the film industry as a result of the work I did with Crooked Arrows.
And when I think about when I started my first online business – it was the same thing.
The more you put yourself out there, and the more chances you take, the more opportunities will arise—that's just how it works. It's not even a matter of “the Universe” or luck or anything like that.
It's simple math.
So put yourself out there and create opportunities—or as I've said in the past, plant seeds.
Lastly, to help me prepare for my Blog World Expo speeches, I watched about 50 different presentations on YouTube. This helped me tremendously because as I was watching, I was consciously looking out for things that had an impact on me as a viewer—from words that were spoken to how they were spoken, facial expressions and even how they moved.
When doing anything that will be presented to an audience—from blogging to giving live presentations, one of the best things you can do is learn from those who have made an impact on you and use them as inspiration.
Now, of course, there's definitely a line between using another person's work as inspiration and just straight up copying, and that's a line that a lot of people tend to cross moreso online, but if you think about the “why” as opposed to the “what”, then it's definitely okay to attempt to include those whys in what you do as well.
As a quick example, many YouTube presentations I watched started with the presenter asking the audience a question.
I eventually learned that by asking a question at the beginning of a live presentation, one that people could relate to, it immediately gets the audience to engage with the presenter—especially if the audience is asked to raise their hand.
It worked on me.
If you were at Blog World Expo for my solo presentation last week, you would have noticed that that's exactly how I started off. And yes, I'll be sharing my full presentation on the blog and on the podcast very soon. 😉
The lesson is this:
Watch those who are where you want to be and actively try to understand the “why” behind what they do. It can streamline your learning process (and results) bigtime.
Thanks for taking the time to read this month's income report!
Cheers, and all the best to you!