Welcome to my September 2016 Monthly Income Report!
Beyond the income and expense report, I’ll be sharing my experience at one of my favorite conferences, the results and strategy from a webinar I co-hosted with another company, and the “secret” launch within a small segment of my email list here on SPI for a brand new product I’m validating.
Here we go!
Latest Goings-On in September
“Do you remember the twenty-first night of September?”
Bonus points for anyone who knows that reference 🙂
September was a great month, which started with a family trip to Disneyland. Yes, we visit Disneyland a lot, but not always to just walk around the park. Sometimes we run!
This time, my wife was signed up to run the Disneyland Half Marathon. In fact, she registered for the “challenge,” which combined a 10k run on Saturday, and a half marathon on Sunday. That’s 19.3 miles in two days. She’s a beast!
And I mean that in the best way possible.
She did great, and the kids and I were super proud of her. I just wanted to give her some love here on SPI because she never gets the credit she deserves for all she does to support the family.
In addition to that, but still related to the family, I had some really important meetings early in the month with some experts on estate planning. Estate planning is just a nicer way of defining “what’s going to happen to all your stuff when you die.” My wife and I have planned this stuff before, but it’s been a little too long since we last revisited it, and with two kids, a house, and a growing net worth, now is the time.
Life insurance, wills, trusts, and other things one doesn’t normally talk about every day were discussed, but one thing that came to mind that I may need more help with is this:
What happens to my online businesses if something were to happen to me?
It may sound obvious, right? Those assets would simply get passed onto my wife. But do they? She’s not involved in the business and with SPI specifically. Yet, is there really anyone else who could take over? Perhaps not. But what really became clear was just how important it was to get everything in order, just in case.
I plan to discuss this more in a future podcast episode or blog post, similar to how I invited my attorneys Richard and Alena onto SPI Podcast Session #231 to discuss legal aspects of running a business. And by the way, thanks for all of your positive feedback about that episode. I was worried it would be a little dry for your tastes, but it turns out it was well received. Thank you!
More on those kinds of things later. For now, let’s continue with September.
The Financial Blogger Conference 2016 is one of the events I had been looking forward to all year! It was the first event I ever spoke at back in 2011, and the first I ever keynoted in 2013. They are like a family to me, and I knew I was going to see some old faces again, so I was definitely eager for this one to come around.
To kick it off, I decided to combine my recent obsession with playing basketball (I play 5-on-5 pick-up games three days a week at 5:00 a.m.) with FinCon and see if attendees would be down for a few games before the event started. A couple of us San Diego residents try to get a game together whenever there’s a conference in town like this. It’s always super fun, and I was hoping there were at least a few people interested in balling with us.
And boy, there were! After setting up a casual event on September 21st (see what I did there?), and sharing it in the FinCon Facebook Group, twenty-six people registered! Most came to play, but some just wanted to come watch and show their support, and man—it was such a blast! It was a great way to break the ice, get to know a few people, and also hang out and share some friendly competition with some friends.
We decided to make this an annual thing and maybe get some shirts or jerseys printed! We'll see. Here's a 45-second clip that Monica from OurDebtFreeFamily.com took that features a sweet give-and-go pass with me and my videographer, Caleb Wojcik!
And all this before the event even started!
And the event itself? Aside from some weird hot and muggy weather to begin the San Diego event, it went off without a hitch. As always.
I was slotted to speak three times. The first was that same day at a sister event to FinCon called XYPN, which stands for XY Planning Network, a conference specifically for financial planners that usually ends right as FinCon begins, and of course a lot of people do stay for both, which is cool.
I closed the show by talking about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, since most in the audience were just getting started on their journey of working for themselves and starting their own practice. I have eight years of entrepreneurial experience, with both wins and failures, that I was able to share with the attendees, and I had a blast sharing it all. I was also thankful I had another excuse to use one of my favorite slides of all time, in reference to how becoming an entrepreneur is sort of like learning how to raise a child:
Kudos to Dusty on my team for his handiwork on this one.
My second talk was about email marketing, which I delivered on a panel with Noah Kagan, Chris Ducker, and Erin Chase. It was a fun talk (especially with Noah there; he always adds an extra layer of fun and interesting in whatever he’s involved with), but it was also very informative too. I know from personal experience in researching the personal financial blogosphere that email marketing is something that is completely underutilized in the space.
My third and final talk was on the main stage at FinCon. It wasn’t a keynote, but they were trying something new this year, adding quick ten minute powerful and impactful talks before the main keynotes, and I was slotted for one of them, right before Kim Garst. Even though it was only ten minutes long, for whatever reason, I was more nervous than ever.
The shorter format meant that every word had to count, and all they gave me to work with was “promote.” That was the one word I had to expand on to deliver a memorable and impactful message, which was a big challenge.
Here’s the full clip for you below. Thanks to Monica from OurDebtFreeFamily.com for the recording.
And a special thanks to Grant Baldwin, who listened to me run through this talk a couple of times before I got on stage too!
Other than the speaking gigs, I had the pleasure of hosting a book signing at the event! FinCon bought hundreds of copies of my book during my launch in February specifically to give them away to conference attendees, and they set up a little booth for me to sign books. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and I’m always super flattered people will actually wait in line to chat with me for a bit. Thank you to everyone who came out and showed your support!
After the event, I was glad to spend time once again with one of my best friends, Chris Ducker, who flew into town for the event and a few other business functions. I am super thankful that my family got to hang out with him; the kids adore Uncle Chris.
ConvertKit On a Roll
Back in March of this year, I co-hosted a training session with the guys from ConvertKit, the email service provider I use and am an advisor for, and it was a major hit. We had planned to do another one later in the year, and it finally happened again in September.
Back in March, we had talked about how to start growing an email list, and with over 5,000 registrants and 2,500 attendees, it definitely helped a lot of people get a head start on their lists. This time, we wanted to continue the education and talk about some of the next steps, which was about how to utilize automation in email marketing.
And I’m not just talking about autoresponders.
We discussed basic automation such as tagging prospects and creating email courses, and we even got into some of the more advanced stuff that I use in my list, showing specific examples of how I segment my list, and how I use ConvertKit to maximize open rates and click through rates in my emails.
As we mentioned in the webinar, you don’t need ConvertKit to do all of the things we talked about, but ConvertKit is one of those tools that once you share how it works and show how easy it is to use, it’s sort of an obvious choice for many.
The big thing I learned on this webinar was the power of taking the opposite approach. We always hear about the importance of being different and unique enough to stand out from the crowd, but the way ConvertKit ran their promotion of their tool was genius, and very much in alignment with how I love to promote stuff: focused on giving away the best information you can first, and then having the product speak for itself.
At the beginning of the webinar, Darrell, who was co-hosting the webinar from the ConvertKit side, mentioned that they would not be asking for any money or payment inside the webinar, that it was going to be purely content, and provide the attendees a chance to to try ConvertKit for free.
In the online business space especially, we see a lot of webinars where it’s 75 percent content, and 25 percent pitch at the end, with some sort of special deal that one can only take advantage of while on the webinar, or just a day or two after it’s over. Here, it was none of that, and I even got emails from people saying it was a breath of fresh air to not have to worry about that.
That’s not to say that offering a pitch at the end isn’t effective, because it is. And truth be told you won’t sell anything unless you ask. But for a product with a free trial, especially in the online business space, not asking for a payment was enough of a difference to keep their attention, and have them follow through into the free trial offer. And of course, the goal of that is to impress them so much with the software, that they can’t help but subscribe after that.
And sure, for some, ConvertKit won’t be the answer, or it’s not enough for them to make the change, and that’s okay. As I said earlier, we make it very clear that you don’t need ConvertKit to implement these strategies. It’s just easier using the tool that was built for these things. But even if a viewer doesn’t convert, they now have a relationship with ConvertKit, and may offer it as a recommendation for a friend, or may even end up changing their mind later.
We’ve had a number of requests for follow-up webinars related to even more email marketing topics, and we’re likely going to hold one more before the end of the year. Stay tuned for that 🙂
For now, let’s get into the income breakdown for September.
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.
I’m super thrilled with the results of September, which is traditionally a month where numbers are up because people are back into their normal routine after the summer season. There’s one line item I’d like to mention that accounts for a relatively significant jump in earnings, and that’s related to my brand new course I just launched.
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A Final Lesson Learned in September
As I mentioned in the beginning of this report, I launched a brand new course. It’s called Smart From Scratch: How to Find a Winning Business Idea and Land Your First Customer, and I couldn’t be more excited because it marks the beginning of what will be a number of solution based courses specifically under the SPI brand.
As most of you know, I currently generate most of my income through affiliate marketing, which is a dangerous game to play. At any moment in time, any of those companies I recommend can change their policy and cut their affiliate program entirely, or perhaps even die out at some point. Even though I purposefully seek out affiliates that produce great products and services I really love, there’s always a chance of that not lasting forever. Furthermore, with every referral, it’s a person leaving my own site and getting onto another person or company’s ecosystem.
It’s always best (but not always the easiest) to create your own products, and after eight years of blogging, real courses with real solutions are finally coming to SPI, starting with this very foundational course that helps people through their first idea to hopefully land their first customer.
It’s not a course for everyone, but it’s truly for those who are starting from scratch. To test and validate this idea, I promoted the course in a single email to a segmented portion of my list (that accounted for 12.2 percent of my entire list) who I knew were people who had yet to start a business of their own and fit other certain criteria for who I wanted to share this with to start.
Here are some of the stats from that initial email I sent, and part of the copy as well:
How did I know exactly who to send this to? For one, I know exactly who it’s for, and secondly, you can see some of this segmentation happen in the very first email people get when they subscribe to my main list. See below:
After about twelve hours, we closed the cart and had all of the founding student spots filled, and on October 3, I opened up the course lessons and students were given access to Stage 1 of 3 within the course. So far, the feedback has been amazing, but I’ve also had some amazing constructive feedback too to make the course even better for the next launch, which is the entire reason why I decided to launch to a small segment of my list first.
Now, you might be saying that this course sounds very similar to the content shared in my book, Will It Fly?, and if that’s so, you’re right. A lot of it is the same kind of content. In the course, however, I go deeper for those who want more detail and a closer look into the entire idea validation process. [This link leads to Amazon. Full disclosure: I receive affiliate commission if you purchase from this link.]
Will It Fly? definitely has what one may need to discover a business idea and test it, but there will always be groups of people who want more than just what’s offered in a book. More access to instructions, more access to an instructor and community, and more accountability too.
I’m excited to continue to work with these students through the next stages of the course, and I can’t want to share some success stories with you too! If you’re just starting your entrepreneurial journey and this sounds like a course you’re interested in, you can check out the course page and join the waitlist by clicking here.
So, big lesson, if you provide any type of information already, on a blog, in a book, on a podcast, there is likely to be a subset of those people who want more information and more help. How do you know? You test. Ask and validate.
Cheers, I appreciate you, and here’s to another productive month!