Welcome to my October 2012 monthly income report!
Each month I write a detailed report about my online businesses—what I’ve been up to, what’s working, what’s not, and how much and where my income is coming from.
I create these reports for several reasons.
First, they are here to help me keep track of how I’m progressing—sort of like an online journal that I can go back to in the future.
Secondly, I want to be transparent about everything I do online. I talk a lot about online business strategies that I use and this is where I summarize whether those things work or not. I share so you can learn from my wins, as well as from my losses too.
Lastly, I share the numbers in this post only because I know you’re interested and they inspire. I don’t do this to showoff or pretend like I’m better than anybody else, because I’m not. I just take action and execute, and these are my results.
I hope you enjoy this month's report! 🙂
Important Goings-On in October
October was a fantastic month and it all comes down to the fact that my 1-month old daughter graciously decided to follow a somewhat regular sleeping pattern through the night. She wakes up every 3 hours, approximately, instead of every 1 hour like she did in September. It has made a huge difference on my entire day and I've been a lot more focused and driven when I'm in the office getting stuff done.
Create a Clickable Map
In last month's income report I talked about how I hired a web developer on Elance to help me revamp my free Create a Clickable Map web tool to make it HTML5 friendly and enable people to come back and edit their maps later (among a few other additional features).
I hired the developer on September 17th and within 10 days he had finished the first phase of the project, converting the tool so that it was HTML5 compatible and it was perfect!
I was completely impressed.
Phase 2, which involved adding the option for users to pay a small fee to have them be able to come back and edit their maps later started immediate after, and that's when things started to go sour.
He stopped all communication.
I thought maybe he needed a few days, but then a week went by, and still nothing. No replies to any of my messages, and I even hunted him down on Facebook.
The completion date was October 12th and since he was so great in Phase One I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought that maybe he was just hard at work with it, but then when I heard nothing from him on the 12th, I filed a dispute with Elance.
Then and only then did he finally get back to me and say that he was having personal issues and was unable to respond.
My first reaction was that I was seriously glad that he was alive.
My second reaction was <insert rant here>.
Unfortunately, long story short, he stated he was unable to finish the second phase of the project and I was refunded that amount.
Luckily, Elance is incredible good at handling things like this, and since my money was in Escrow there was no worry about the developer running off with my money for good.
After sharing this fiasco on Facebook here (and you can see there are many other people with similar outsourcing experiences), an SPI fan who develops web apps contacted me and offered to finish the project instead.
Words cannot describe how thankful I am! I won't share his name here yet because he hasn't given me permission to do so, but if/when he does, you can be sure I'll promote the heck out of him and his services when the app goes live, which should be fairly soon. He showed me a version just yesterday that is 95% complete!
What a roller coaster.
And yes, I do plan on expanding the application to other countries in the future as well.
Security Guard Training Headquarters
My security guard training niche site is seeing record numbers all around! (see how it all started at NicheSiteDuel.com)
There were 24,995 unique visitors, 68,192 pageviews and earnings were up 50% from last month, surpassing the $3,000 mark.
This was due primarily to an uptick in traffic thanks to some upward movement in the search engines. Here's a snapshot of several keywords in the industry and where the site ranks for them:
I'm most excited about guard card, which is a keyword that I've been targeting for over a year now.
A guard card is the license that someone in the state of California needs before they can become a security guard. This is a keyword that has nearly the same amount of monthly searches as my primary keyword, security guard training, however it's a bit more competitive in the rankings.
(“Comp.” in the charts below reflect the advertising competition in Google Adwords for that particular keyword, not the actual competition for search engine rankings. This is a common mistake people make when looking at the charts in the Google Adwords Keyword Tool)
Charts generated at SEMRush.com.
Now that I'm ranking in the top 3 spots in Google for guard card, I'm finally starting to see decent surges of natural traffic from that specific keyword. The page that is ranking is a secondary page that I specifically created and campaigned to rank for guard card.
What's exciting is that in October I worked with a company that administers online classes for security guards in California who want obtain their guard card. Not all states in the U.S. allow online training, but California does.
I reached out to this company and proposed an affiliate relationship for their course, and they agreed! They did not yet have an existing affiliate program, but I was lucky because they ran their course through membership software (Amember) that had existing affiliate software that could be programmed into it.
Within a week their technical team set it up for me, gave me an affiliate link and I started to plant those links throughout that ranking article and several other California related posts on my site as well.
A total of 462 (unique) people clicked through my affiliate link in October. Unfortunately, conversion rates were pretty low but I still generated 8 sales for $167.92 in commissions. It's not a game-changer, but that's $167.92 that I wouldn't have made otherwise and the affiliate links didn't seem to impact my Adsense earnings at all (like my attempt at private advertising did), since those links are only located on just a few articles on the site.
I plan to find more companies from other states that can do something similar. It would be nice to have an offer for each particular state so I could have all 50 states covered, but like I said not all states allow online training for their security guards.
I'm still working on redesigning the website and including a database that my virtual assistant created of all of the training facilities in the US, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around how to take advantage of those potential leads. I may end up giving those leads away for free and offering B2B services to security guard companies instead. It seems like several security websites were built in the 90s and are just dying for something more current. It would be cool to be that potentially (turnkey) solution for them.
We'll see what happens, but I'm working on it!
Much of October was dedicated to shooting a high quality, FREE podcasting tutorial to help anyone easily start their own podcast.
There were already a ton of great podcasting tutorials on the web, but a lot of people requested a specific tutorial from me. Since podcasting has become an incredibly significant part of my brand, I decided to go all out with it.
I approached creating this tutorial like I approach every other project that I do where information like it may already exist: I utilize my unfair advantages. This is something you must do if you want to stand out of the crowd and turn some heads.
My unfair advantages here were:
- My ability to take complicated information and break it down into easy-to-consume, bite-size information.
- Injecting my personality into the tutorial (we each have this particular unfair advantage—use it!).
- Extremely high-quality videos.
Check these out:
These are Cineskates from Cinetics, and they are awesome! I was actually introduced to them when surfing through Kickstarter a couple of months ago.
It's a tripod with skate wheels and it can produce some amazing, professional looking videos. I definitely used them to my advantage in my first video when I talk about equipment and software, which you can see below (starting at the 0:35 second mark):
The Cineskates have absolutely nothing to do with podcasting, but for me they represent a creative way to uniquely present something that has already been presented many times before. You have to look for those kinds of opportunities when you create content if you want it to really make some noise, and they don't always require toys or spending money on things—just a little creativity can go a long way!
It has been less than a month since the podcasting tutorial videos went up and I'm already getting emails from those who have published their first episode and have their podcast live on iTunes!
Congratulations to those of you who have already taken action!
Podcast Awards Voting Is Happening Now!
I'm honored to have been nominated by the SPI fans for two awards for the 8th Annual Podcast Awards!
Please show your support by going to http://www.podcastawards.com and voting for The Smart Passive Income Podcast in the People's Choice and Business sections. (see below)
You can actually vote daily up until the 15th of November, and whether you vote just once, or ten times from this point forward, I appreciate your support entirely!
Ok, 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.
I received a refund of $1200.00 from Elance for the failed CreateaClickableMap.com development.
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.
Why do I include income from Smart Passive Income in my reports?
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.
When I first started this blog back in 2008, I never intended to make any money from it. If you go back to my earlier income reports you'll see that all of my income was coming from outside of this blog through other businesses. Over time, however, the SPI community has grown and as a byproduct of being helpful and giving everything away for free, I started earning from this site too. Because I believe in total honesty and transparency, I decided to include the income from SPI on these reports as well. It wouldn't feel right hiding this from you.
My non-SPI related income has hovered around the $10,000/month mark for the past year, which is much more than I ever made working my 9 to 5 job in architecture, but I'm truly blessed that I have the support from an amazing community here at SPI who is willing to pay me back for all of the information I publish and the help that I try to provide for free. Some people go out of their way to make sure I get credit for an affiliate link, often emailing me to make sure I got it, which means the world to me. Thank you so much!
With this type of community comes great responsibility and I will never take it for granted. I will never promote something just for the potential income that can come from an affiliate 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 October
We ALL have the power to truly change people's lives.
Meet Michal Szafranski, an SPI fan from Poland who had a drastic snowboarding accident in December of 2007 and broke both of his legs and was left unable to walk.
You can see an x-ray of both of his reconstructed legs below:
Fast forward to September 30th, 2012—this is a picture of Michal on the final stretch of the Warsaw Marathon, his Mt. Everest:
I cried reading this story and am so honored that I had an impact on Michal's road to recovery. He even held up a thank you banner that included my name on it when crossing the finish line.
I've included a copy of the email he sent to me below. It's a little long, but I'm happy to share his story with you. There are so many powerful lessons to be learned here. I hope you enjoy.
In July I promised you that I will share some story with you by the end of September. It took me some time to complete my story… but I hope you will find it interesting. I’m sorry for my not-so-perfect English but I’m pretty sure you I will be understood 🙂
The story I’m sharing with you today is very personal but I’m more than open to share it with the world as I think it is just worth spreading. The story is the proof of how important you—Pat Flynn—was in my life and how you’ve help me achieve my personal goals. I’m extremely grateful for your completely “passive help”. I actually think that your blog is not only about “Smart Passive Income”—I would rather call it (from my perspective) “Smart Passive Help” or “Smart Passive Inspiration”. And Pat—I’m living proof of how powerful your message is. Although we have never ever spoken to each other, I consider you my friend. I’m feeling quite strange saying that and I’m still unsure whether I can say “friend” about you. But I think that after reading of my story you will understand why I’m thinking so.
My story starts in December 2007. I was already happy husband and father of gorgeous son and daughter. I was also workaholic (I think I still am) and seasoned snowboard rider. When the first snow appeared in Poland I’ve packed my board and drove to Polish mountains. One day later one of my jumps went really bad. I was bouncing of the hill and broke both of my legs in the same time. The result was horrible. I’ve finally went through expensive surgery and I was facing long rehabilitation process with no clear end-date.
I was unable to stand, unable to walk. I felt like the lion in the cage. I felt that, due to my stupidity, I disappointed my family and also my boss and coworkers. All my plans and schedules were ruined and I was both unsure about my physical and mental future. It was the first time in my life I’ve really started to worry and have negative thoughts. I thought that maybe all the best things in my life have already happened. Additionally I’ve felt guilty (being the only money source for our family) and troublesome. My wife and kids were very supportive what was making me even more worried. Before accident I’ve acted like a bulletproof person but seeing myself unable to stand and walk, I’ve lost all my confidence in myself. Something in me broke for good.
The pain I’ve experienced during transportation to my home city Warsaw, waiting for surgery and few days after it—moved my accepted pain level to new frontier. But physical pain was nothing compared to what was happening in my head. It took me roughly about a month to start to accept my state.
On the other hand I knew that I was the only person who could change the perception of the situation. I could make everyone worry about me and my mental state, or I could play strong man who can handle any situation. I chose to be positive and acted as “nothing really happened”. I think no one realized what was happening within me. It was really the hardest time in my life but I wasn’t willing to accept compassion / mercy from walking people. It would be pathetic. So I kept my “nothing happened” attitude but it was really tough.
Being tied to bad I’ve started to plan my goals. I’ve started with small ones like “clean up the house”. Small but very difficult for me (I was able to crawl or walk on my knees as my ankles were broken). I’ve spent two days doing home cleaning which normally would take me 30 minutes. Once I did it, my self confidence increased. At least I knew I can be useful somehow. Then I started to plan more ambitious goals. Step by step I was building my confidence in myself. One of the commitments I made during those days was: “I will run a marathon some day”. Strange commitment taking into consideration that I was unable to even stand on my legs and and was expecting my first walking lessons.
My way to marathon
My positive attitude helped me. I’ve realized that even on wheel chair I can do pretty much everything I’ve done before the accident. I was even meeting with my colleagues and customers in local restaurant. In April 2008 I went for roadshow being a speaker on several conferences around Poland. Being active helped me to get back to normal life. In June 2008 I was allowed to walk myself without any support. In September 2008 I’ve did my first 10 km run in “Nike Human Race”. At that time it was the Mount Everest for me, as had still several titan plates in my legs and tens of titan screws (I’m attaching my x-ray just for reference :)). In October 2008 I went through second surgery—all the titan was removed from my legs. By the end of 2008 my rehabilitation was complete. I had just one extreme and unachieved goal in my head—Marathon. It may sound stupid but for me this objective was the last thing that was keeping that bad chapter in my life opened. My self-confidence was still not there where I wanted to be and I’ve kept asking many questions which hit me right after the accident: am I enough helpful for my family and others, do I know what to do with my life, shall I slow down and enjoy the simple things rather than running through my life building my professional career, will I ever have enough time for my kids… Although I was fully functional from the physical perspective, I was still quite weak on my mental side. There were many questions with no really good answers.
In March 2009 I took my first half-marathon and I did it. Early September 2009 I’ve done my personal best in 10km race—47 minutes and 15 seconds. At the end of September 2009, after months of training, I’ve started in marathon… but I’ve haven’t finished it. I went of track on 31st km due to knee problem. I felt horrible. The problem was quite serious and it took me another 5 months of rehabilitation to recover from it. I was destroyed mentally. I’ve started thinking I was rushing to much and even though that my goal is beyond my possibilities.
I won’t go into details of what happened within next two years. It is enough to say I was struggling with myself and was rarely willing to go out and run. In whole 2010 and 2011 I’ve done less trainings than in one month of 2009. I’ve got more weight, I felt I’m heading nowhere. I’ve almost lost my positive attitude. Sometimes I was feeling I’m toxic both to others and myself. This self-judgment was depressing.
How I met Pat Flynn
I’ve turned 39 in February 2012. I’ve realized this year is the last chance to change my life before I become 40 🙂 I’ve also remembered that being before 30 I was telling everyone that I’m going to retire at age 40. I was very far away from it. Additionally we’ve moved to the new flat just before real estates prices started to go down. And I had pretty new and pretty big mortgage on me. In the meantime I realized that working for someone else is not giving me the joy it used to give. Although I’m satisfied with my job, I can’t imagine working at the same pace for next 10 years.
I decided to act. The only problem was I didn’t knew where to start. I remembered how I tried to set and achieve small victories when I was laying in the bed due to my accident. I tried to do the same now—just move step by step. From smaller victories to bigger ones. I repainted my old apartment myself and I rented it. In April 2012 I’ve told everyone I will run a marathon before 40 and printed a map of marathon track to get used to this idea. But, although the marathon was scheduled for September, I haven’t started my trainings yet. In parallel I started to think about sharing of my huge experience in personal finance and home budger area. I wanted to do something good for others. I knew I can start blogging about this topic however I knew nothing about blogging itself. The only name that came to my mind was “Wordpress” and this is how I found your blog Pat. I think the first article I saw on Smart Passive Income Blog was “how to setup a WordPress blog in 4 minutes” with helpful youtube wideo.
I started reading and listening to your podcasts and I was somehow threatened with the scope of things to be done around my planned blog (to get it right). I knew I have to have a plan. But on the other hand I’ve heard your “just go for it, just create the content, move your ass and do it”. I decided I won’t wait too long and scheduled realistic date of July 1st as my blog start. I’ve spent whole June learning how to setup a blog, planning the topics and following all the great tips you’ve shared with me. The more I was reading and listening to you Pat, the more I realized how awesome you are! I will get back to my blog topic later on…
Pat and me—training together
Do you remember what I was telling to my friends since April? I told everyone that I will run a marathon this September. Actually the end of May was coming and I still haven’t started my trainings. I realized it’s very late. I started looking for excuses. I even started thinking how I will explain to everyone why I’m not going to complete marathon this year do to lot of work etc. I already felt like loser… and I hated the feeling. Then I started listening to your podcasts. Your possitive energy and motivating “work hard now and reap benefits later” completely changed my mind. I realized that if I want to listen to all of your podcasts I will have to spend a lot of time. I also realized the best way to “optimize” listening is to do it during other activity. Running was obvious choice. Now I had a real good reason to run and really no good excuse for it. I started my marathon trainings on June 1st. There was only 120 days left to marathon. I didn’t knew if I will be prepared enough but I knew that listening to all of your podcasts will help my blog.
Listening to you Pat during my 660 km of trainings was great experience. Sometimes I laughed, sometimes I cried during my run. I remember many stories from your podcasts. One was the story of an ill man who was listening to your podcasts all the time again and again. I was doing the same. You become a very good, close friend to me. Strange but true. I decided I have to do two things:
1) Follow as many of your suggestions as I can and be as generous and helpful to others as I can. R.A.O.K. become my daily habit now.
2) Do something for you Pat as a small gift for all the good things you’ve done so far for me.
What can I do for Pat?
I decided I will dedicate my marathon to you and my closest friends and I will do it the big scale 🙂 And I did it. On 30th of September I run the Warsaw Marathon. 42 km 195 meters with my personal coach Pat Flynn talking to me all the time through my headphones. Awesome! The finish was on beatiful brand new National Stadium built for EURO 2012 football championships. I was bringing a big banner with “Thank you God 🙂 and you Gabi, Szym, Ida [my wife and kids], parents, DCS [my company] & Pat Flynn”. You can’t imagine how happy I was being able to cross the finish line. I stopped and I cried like a baby. I achieved my Mount Everest of self confidence. And you Pat deserve all the honour. None of that would happen without your help 🙂 Thank you very much and God bless you! The official time of my marthon: 4 hours 23 minutes 13 seconds.
I had a crisis time during the marathon but your calm and optimistic voice helped me go through it. I was listening to the podcasts and I was smiling to myself through the pain. I knew that I’m only several kilometers away from my big objective of running through the stadium with my “thank you” message for my family and you. Awesome! (I know how you like this word :-)).
I hope you will like my story and my thankfulness 🙂
How have you helped my blog?
At the end I would like to share some traffic statistics of my blog—just as the proof that everything you teach Pat really works:
§ My blog topic is “How to save money” and it is in generally crowded personal finance and home budgeting “niche”.
§ Blog is written in Polish. Following the advice of your German speakers from wedding portal I decided I will stick with my language and my reality 🙂
§ “Down to the penny” calculations are the most important part of my blog. I provide ready to use Excel files and solid numbers (ie. cost of one shower etc). I also share all costs of our 4-members family.
§ I’ve implemented your “be everywhere” strategy what gave me since 1st of July:
-18 663 visits
-8695 unique visitors
-Average visit time = 5 minutes 13 seconds
-706 visitors on record day!
-In last week between 300 and 400 visitors daily
§ Currently I have 253 Facebook likes and 175 people on my mailing list
§ I’m begging for comments and I already got 634 of them (probably half of them are mine) 🙂
And one of the comments is from you Pat. I really do appreciate it 🙂
Thank you again, Michal, for letting me share your amazing story here on the blog and I hope it makes an impact on others like it has on me already. You are a true inspiration.
Click here to check out Michal's (Polish) website.