Welcome to my November 2016 Monthly Income Report!
We’re quickly approaching the end of 2016, and this is the second to last monthly income report for the year before we all start fresh in 2017, so let’s get right to it!
As you know, I post these income reports not only to share the numbers behind my business, but also to share all of the important lessons I’ve learned and my plans for the future. I’ve been posting these reports since October 2008 when the blog started, so if you want to go back into the archives and check them out, head on over to the income report page here.
For now, let’s see what happened this past month!
Important Goings-On in November
November was a rough month for the Flynn family. It was probably the roughest month we’ve had in years in terms of general health, which put the brakes on much of the production work I wanted to do in November.
It was important for me to get a lot of work done because of an upcoming family trip to Australia for Christmas, as well as some big projects coming up at the start of the new year I wanted to clear the runway for. But I’m currently playing catch up on my editorial calendar because I got sick, and then the rest of the family did too.
It wasn’t really the kind of Thanksgiving break we were hoping for, but luckily out of all of the days in the second half of November, Thanksgiving Day seemed to be the one where we were all relatively doing okay.
For all of 2016, as far as I can remember, I was able to avoid any sicknesses. My wife, my son, and my daughter would occasionally get colds throughout the year, but I know that my intense focus on health and nutrition helped me avoid catching whatever they were sharing with each other. I was all clear until a steak did me in. At a restaurant in Anaheim, I got food poisoning, and it was all downhill from there.
I was in bed with a fever, aches, and pains for about a week and a half after that, and I won’t get into much more detail, but let’s just say that I lost a lot of water during that time. At the end of it, I lost six pounds and felt very weak, and definitely didn’t have the ability to think about work.
Luckily, business continued to run like normal. Because we were ahead editorially, there were no breaks in production from the team to continue to publish blog posts, podcast episodes, and episodes of SPI TV, which I was thankful for. And, as you’ll see in the income report below, there were no obvious hits as a result of taking time off to get better.
With that said, as soon as I felt better, my son got the stomach flu, which he probably picked up from school. There was an email sent from the school that a bug was going around, and he seemed to want to join the party. Hooray. He had symptoms that were very similar to mine after that, and much of my time was dedicated to making him feel better and trying to cheer him up.
Seeing your kids sick is the worst.
That is until you get sick because of them, and then both of you are sick!
Yup. After finally feeling like I was recovering, I ended up getting the stomach flu my son had, and went through the same process I went through weeks prior with the food poisoning. It was the worst of luck, and I felt bad because my wife April was working overtime to take care of both of us. Then, my daughter contracted it, and finally, of course, my wife. We were all sick!
Now that we’re in December, at least the kids are back to 100 percent and in school again. My wife and I have had lingering coughs, but I’m finally putting weight back on and getting back into my normal workout routines again.
Getting sick is no joke. It can totally throw things off. And this experience just showed me that even though I did everything I could to take care of myself, it just took one experience with a mishandled or undercooked steak to break the seams and wreak havoc on my plans. Perhaps I would have still contracted the stomach flu, but I feel like I could have potentially fought it off if my immune system wasn’t so defeated from food poisoning.
But then again, because of passive income and the nature of investing time upfront for businesses that can run themselves for period of time, I’m super thankful I was able to keep things afloat.
The 100 Email Challenge!
There was one business-related item I wanted to discuss before we get into the numbers. I was able to fit this in before everything went downhill in November healthwise. It’s the 100 Email Challenge!
The 100 email challenge is a 72-hour challenge I put together to encourage people to start growing their email list. Inspired by Bryan Harris from Videofruit.com, and hosted in conjunction with ConvertKit, I was able to encourage 9,884 people to participate in the challenge!
Why a challenge though?
Challenges are important for getting people to take action. It’s one thing to share information that’s helpful to people, but it’s a whole new ballgame when you give them a timeframe to do it in.
In Session #205 of the SPI Podcast, Jadah Sellner of SimpleGreenSmoothies.com used challenges as the number one strategy to grow her email list and Instagram following to over 200,000 people! She and her partner, Jennifer, conducted a thirty-day challenge where they sent challengers recipes for thirty days straight. Inspired by this, I thought it would be fun to conduct a similar challenge related to starting and growing an email list.
Why 100 emails?
I could have picked any number for the goal of this challenge, but 100 is optimal for a few reasons.
First, it segments the challenge specifically for beginners. Knowing that it’s for people just starting out, it’s much easier for me to tailor the information and share it using language that all of the participants can understand and use.
If, for example, I was challenging people to double the size of their email list, instructions for doing so are going to be a bit different for someone going from 100 to 200, versus someone going from 5,000 to 10,000, or 50,000 to 100,000.
If you’re going to run a challenge, know exactly who it’s for, and stick with it.
Also, because I’ve been segmenting my list for a couple of years now based on the level of business experience people have, it was really easy to make sure I didn’t put this challenge in front of people on my list who’ve already started an email list.
Second, 100 emails seems achievable. It’s not too much where one might say to themselves, “Well that’s going to be impossible! I’ll pass.” But it’s also not so little that it wouldn’t seem useful to have an email list of that size.
In fact, one of the first emails I send out after people subscribe to the challenge is about how useful a list of 100 people can be. Imagine a room full of 100 people that you’re speaking to. That’s what it’s like to have a list of 100 people, because remember: every one subscriber is a real human being on the other end who has expressed interest in learning more about what you’re sharing.
And third, it’s a quick win. It doesn’t take that long to get to 100 subscribers (if the work is put in). Some participants of the 100 Email Challenge met that goal on the first day, which was awesome! Quick wins are huge because they show the participants that what you’re teaching them is working.
So, if this challenge stuff sounds like something you’re likely to run with your audience, my initial advice would be to make sure you choose a challenge that will give your audience a quick win. In my case, it’s the creation of an email list. In Jadah’s case, it’s the ease of creating green smoothies and proving that, even on day one, that they taste amazing and you’ll feel great!
Now, I know you may have some questions about how all of this works. Don’t worry, I got your back. I’ll be creating a comprehensive guide for you so you can run your own challenges. Step by step, every tool and detail along the way so you can literally just go down the checklist.
That will take me a good amount of time to produce, but for now I’ll give you the basic rundown.
The Challenge—How it Worked
The challenge was, on a technical level, relatively easy to setup. There are likely hundreds of ways to run challenges, but I wanted to keep it super simple for people (and myself). So it was all done via email in my email service provider, ConvertKit.
You can run these kinds of challenges using any email service provider that allows you to use autoresponders and send broadcasts. But I prefer ConvertKit for this. What I love about ConvertKit (and the reason why I switched to them from Aweber and Infusionsoft) is the ease of tagging and segmentation. It was super simple for me to tag people as they subscribed, and never send them an email again asking them to join the challenge as I was continually promoting the event leading up to it.
A week before the challenge was set to begin, I started to promote the free challenge by sharing a LeadPage that asked for a name and email address. This collected email addresses into a specific sequence in ConvertKit that delivered the how-to content over the course of three days.
You can actually see a version of this at 100emails.com, which has since been converted to an evergreen challenge page. So, if you wish you could have taken the 72-hour email challenge but didn’t have the time, you can now take it at anytime!
Now, how did this landing page convert? With 5,844 visits, it converted 2,568 people, or 43.94 percent of visitors, which is fantastic!
The thank you page has a number much higher because the rest of the challengers (remember, I said there were nearly ten thousand participants) came from those who were already on my email list. I one-click subscribed them to the challenge, by-passing the leadpage, but they still landed on the thank you page. This is another fun tactic that’s easy to implement using LeadPages and ConvertKit.
Getting the word out there was half the battle. Delivering the content in the emails and keeping people motivated through it was the other half. The best decision I made was to create a private Facebook Group that participants could access to share their journey with each other.
Not all of the participants joined, but it became an amazing community of now over 2,230 members who have been sharing their wins, struggles, and honestly helping each other out more than I could have ever imagined!
And the results?
Well, when you get hundreds of emails from people thanking you for setting up a challenge to finally light a fire underneath them and get them moving, you know it’s a win!
Some people went gangbusters on the strategy and found their first 100 email subscribers in a single day:
For others, it took the entire 72 hours to cross the threshold. And, as with most challenges like this, not everyone will meet the set goal, but will still be encouraged by the process. It’s about finally starting to take action because of the challenge and time constraint, and finally see some results and showing that the hard work pays off.
Check out these messages I received on Facebook:
There are hundreds of messages like these, and more and more are coming in each day as new people are taking the challenge at 100emails.com.
And that’s the cool part. After the challenge is over, you can update the copy on the landing page and thank you page, re-do some of the email copy, and boom—since it’s in an autoresponder series, it’s evergreen! So long as the content you share stays up to date, of course.
So, if you’d like to join the challenge yourself, or at least see how it’s run to give you an idea of how to put one together yourself, just head on over to 100emails.com and start there. Like I said earlier, I’ll be creating a more in-depth tutorial post for you (similar to podcastingtutorial.com) to help you put together a challenge of your own!
I’ll finish off this report by sharing the personal benefit of running this challenge, but before that, let’s dig into the numbers for November 2016.
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.
Lessons Learned in November
Although I was sick and feeling like I was just trying to survive most of November, I still felt it was a very successful month. The big win was that I experimented with a new strategy on SPI, a challenge, and it was so successful I’ll definitely be doing more like it in 2017. It was a great way to get people to take action, but it also helped my own brand a lot as well.
I think it was Noah Kagan in Session #71 of the SPI Podcast who said that if you can be the person who facilitates community movement in some way it will elevate your brand authority like crazy. This email challenge wasn’t centered around me or the Smart Passive Income brand at all, but because SPI was hosting the challenge, participants can’t help but make the association between their growing email list and the SPI brand.
Now, you might be asking how this may help me monetarily, especially considering that this was a free challenge.
On one level, I’m always playing the long-term game. Serve first and give value, and over time that will always pay you back in some way. Someone who participated in this challenge at the start may purchase my book or an online course someday in the future. Maybe they would have been on the fence, but because of the experience with the challenge they would be more likely to say yes and transact with me because I’ve already provided value to them.
On another level, you may remember that I mentioned that I ran this challenge in conjunction with ConvertKit, the email service provider that I use and work with as an advisor. I was able to incorporate a ConvertKit promotion into this challenge without being overly aggressive, or taking away from its true purpose.
ConvertKit and I set it up so that, for anyone who participated in the challenge, if they were not yet setup with an email service provider, they could take advantage of a 30-day free trial with Convertkit during the challenge to begin housing their email list. This was a win for everyone involved. It allowed challengers to try an email service provider without paying any money upfront, and it helped ConvertKit as well because if participants succeeded and grew their list, they were likely to stay with the service they were already using and ConvertKit would have a new happy customer! And, because I was sharing my affiliate link along the way, I pick up a commission on each person who stays through the trial period.
As I write this, it has yet to be thirty days since the challenge finished, so I can’t tell you exactly how many people stuck with ConvertKit, but the last time I presented an offer like this on a webinar, we had a 70-75 percent stick rate, which is great! Not everyone takes the offer, obviously, but it did give those a chance to use it freely to give it a try, and I expect those who did grow their list will definitely stay on, so a win for everyone!
The big lesson this month was just how powerful and impactful a challenge like this can be for not only helping people (which should always be the first and most important part of the mission), but also helping grow my income, and supporting a company that I love.
I look forward to sharing that challenge post with you sometime in 2017. Woot! Until then, keep up the great work and let’s finish off the year strong!