Welcome to my April 2013 income report!
Each month, I write a detailed report about my online businesses and web properties.
I do this not only to help me keep track of my own progress (which I could obviously do in private), but I want to be open and honest about what's going on in my business. I want to lead by example by showing you what's working, and what's not.
I also include an extremely detailed breakdown of the income I’ve earned online.
For those of you new to SPI, you might be wondering why I care to post my income reports in the first place. Here’s why:
Companies in the stock market share their earnings too, which gives people an idea of how the company is performing. Based on that, people can make a decision whether or not to invest (or continue investing) in that company.
Although you're not investing money into my company, you are investing time—time to consume my content as well as any time you use to execute the strategies and methods that I share. It’s my responsibility to be totally upfront, honest and transparent with you, and to give you a snapshot each month of how I’m performing.
Before I get to the meat of this month's report, if you’re just starting out online, please understand that making money on the Internet is definitely not an overnight thing. Not even close. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to pull it off.
A lot of people will attempt it and many people will fail, but I absolutely know that it’s possible to find success.
And remember, I struggle through trial and error every single day too, so as long as you have a goal and constantly work towards it, you’re giving yourself a great chance for great things to happen.
I hope you enjoy this month’s report!
Important Goings-On in April
April was the first month in a while where I felt like everything was finally, at least for the most part, running at full speed again. If you've been a long time reader, you probably felt it too.
When my servers went down for an entire week at the beginning of March, it threw me off a bit. Last month, I was finally able to get back on the saddle and start producing content regularly again. Not only that, it was content that seemed to truly resonate with people, as the number of comments that were coming through were much higher than the previous months.
Here's a convenient list of what was posted on SPI in April, in case you missed anything:
- My February and March 2013 Monthly Income Report (164 Comments)
- SPI 061 : Successful Startups and the Entrepreneurial Mindset with John Saddington (118 Comments)
- SPI 062 : Marketing and Monetization with Mom Blogger, Meagan Francis (63 Comments)
- Are You Taking Advantage of Your Unfair Advantage? (7 Examples) (182 Comments)
- SPI 063 : Monetizing a Hobby Blog and the “Magic” of Membership Sites (47 Comments)
- Reader Challenge Roundup: Readers Choice and the Next [BIG!] Challenge (58 Comments)
- SPI 064 : Podcasting for More Exposure, Leads and Money (My SMMW13 Presentation!) (48 Comments)
- Niche Site Duel 2.0 (pre-launch) – What's Working in SEO Right Now with Alex Becker (273 Comments)
In April, the SPI blog saw record numbers both in terms of monthly traffic and downloads to the podcast.
Also, both the blog and the podcast hit huge milestones this past month:
- 5,000,000 visitors since October of 2008
- 3,000,000 podcast downloads since July of 2012
Mind blown. That's really all I can say.
Let Go is a #1 Best Seller!
The biggest news coming out of the month is that my new book, Let Go, shot up to become the #1 Best Selling Small Business and Entrepreneurship book on Amazon.com! Not just on Kindle, but overall!
Now, you might be wondering how this all happened, since I originally published Let Go on another platform first.
Here's the story…
At the end of March, Let Go was published on a brand new multi-media platform called SnippetApp for iOS, which allowed me to do some cool things like embed videos, images and even social media (i.e. a Twitter hashtag conversation; see #letgobook) right inside the content itself.
The format allowed me to tell my story in a way that I couldn't really ever tell it before, especially when it came to the videos that were included in the book. For example, at the end of one of the chapters you can tap a button to watch a personal interview with my wife. I had just proposed to her right before I was told I was going to get laid off and the interview examines how she was feeling at the time and why she was so supportive or my decision to work for myself. There's also an interview with my dad who had originally suggested I go back to grad school after I was let go. Plus a lot of other cool on-location videos at the end of most of the chapters.
Beyond that, I definitely wanted to seize the opportunity to become one of the very first authors for this very forward-thinking platform.
In a little over a week, I sold over 2000 copies of the book through SnippetApp, which was awesome considering that a lot of my audience couldn't get it because they didn't have an iPhone or an iPad. AND the fact that people had to download the free SnippetApp first, and THEN get my book from there. That's asking a lot of my audience, so thank you to those of you who picked it up!
As a result of hundreds of emails from people who were disappointed that they couldn't get the book, and because it's something my team and I were planning on doing eventually, we made it a priority to reformat the book and optimize it as best as possible for Amazon's Kindle platform. The beauty is that anyone with any device can read a Kindle book: Kindle devices plus iOS, Android, and even desktop on Mac and Windows. (See free Kindle Apps for more info on how this works)
The challenge was trying to figure out how to best translate the multi-media SnippetApp experience into a Kindle book. There are many different Kindle devices (e-reader, PaperWhite, Fire), not to mention the free Kindle Apps—but there was no way we were going to be able to embed videos, images and social media into the content like it was before.
The solution we came up with was to simply link to the videos within the Kindle book. On some devices, it would open up the video on another application on that device. In some cases, like for e-readers and PaperWhites, one would have to manually type in the (friendly) URL to watch the videos. This definitely isn't optimal, but it works. There are many instances while reading the physical version of Tim Ferriss' book, The 4-Hour Body, where I would manually type in a URL to watch a video related to something that I just read, so I thought this would be okay.
After a few rounds of edits and the inclusion of a Bonus Chapter (a video to my younger self, which is included on the newest version on SnippetApp too), I signed up for Kindle's Direct Publishing (KDP) and my team submitted Let Go for publication on Kindle.
Within 12 hours of submittal, on Thursday, April 18th, the Kindle version of Let Go was available on Amazon.com. I was in Chicago for an event at that time, so it made sense for me to wait until Monday the 22nd to begin any sort of push to my audience.
On Sunday evening, I decided to share the link to Let Go on Amazon on my social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) and then also with my private Kindle Author Facebook Group that I started almost a year ago, which currently has over 3,000 members.
Apparently, that was enough because when I woke up on Monday morning, my book had sold over 300 copies on Amazon and was already ranking #1 in the Web 2.0 category – while also ranking #2 in Kindle > Entrepreneurship category, and #7 in Entrepreneurship overall.
After hanging out with the kids in the morning, I immediately crafted an email.
By 5:00pm that day, Let Go was the #1 book in the overall Small Business and Entrepreneurship category!
And that's how it happened! I plan to do a second push for Let Go in the near future using some strategies that Jeff Goins shared with me for an hour over Skype recently. The rankings have dropped a bit, which is expected, but the 2nd push could take the book even higher overall than it was before. I guess we'll see!
That conversation with Jeff was recorded and will be put into a future podcast episode, one that not only includes the tips and strategies that I'm going to test, but also a future recording that we'll do together after I implement the strategies where we'll talk about the results and what I did right or wrong.
If you're interested in getting free early access to the first part of that recording, be sure to join my Private Facebook Group, which is the only place where I'll share it before the episode actually comes out.
To those of you who picked up Let Go already, on any platform. Thank you! You rock!
If you picked it up (on any platform) and have yet to leave an honest review, you can do so by clicking right here. (You don't have to purchase ‘Let Go' on Kindle to leave a review on Amazon – if you bought the SnippetApp version, you can still leave a review on Amazon – it'll be extremely helpful!)
And lastly, if you haven't picked up Let Go yet, here are the links:
- Let Go on Kindle and Kindle Apps [This link leads to Amazon. Full disclosure: I receive affiliate commission if you purchase from this link.]
- Let Go on Nook ( just came out yesterday)
Niche Site Duel 2.0
If you haven't heard already, Niche Site Duel 2.0 is on the horizon!
I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am for this, and I know a lot of you are too. 🙂
For those of you who don’t know, the original Niche Site Duel (NSD) was a public challenge to create a website from scratch, get it on the first page of Google and start earning an income from it. In 73 days I was able to work my Security Guard Training website to #1 in Google, and since then the site has been earning between $1,500 and $3,500 per month with very little upkeep involved.
In total, since last month’s income report, that one website site has earned over $50,000.
The strategies I used for NSD1.0 still work today, just not as well and not as consistently as they did before, since Google has made a ton of algorithm updates since them.
This is why now is the perfect time to start up Niche Site Duel 2.0 and see if I can rank a website from scratch, using tactics that are working today.
Before I select a niche and primary keyword, build a website and begin my marketing strategy, I'm in heavy research mode right now. I'm conducting interviews with people who seem to know how to build and rank a website in today's environment.
I recently interview Alex Becker who shared his search engine optimization strategy in a video interview that was posted last week. The transcript to that interview is now posted on that page as well.
Alex's primary strategy is to purchase expiring domains that have an existing Page Rank, and create links on those sites to a main site, all while maintaining a diverse anchor text profile.
It proves to be working very well, however there are two reasons I'm not going to be using his strategy in NSD2.0:
- The strategy involves a lot of additional money (to buy the domains and also put them on separate IP addresses and servers); and
- It's not ‘white hat'.
I won't get into the arguments here about white hat vs. black hat vs. gray hat SEO strategies—I recommend you check out the amazing comment section of that interview post for some good discussion on the topic. Just know that I'm going to do my best to take an honest approach to this challenge, and yes some link building will have to happen but I'm going to try to go as ‘white hat' as possible for a more long-term approach, although I'll still do what I can to rank quickly.
I've also scored interviews with other people who seem to be doing things to rank well in Google today, including Spencer Haws from NichePursuits and creator of Long Tail Pro (the Keyword Research tool I'll be experimenting with during NSD2.0), as well as Neil Patel of QuickSprout.
My interview with Spencer goes live on SPI Podcast session #66 this coming Wednesday, where we will explore exactly, step-by-step, what he recently did to get a brand new website to #1 in Google, and also some great tips for proper keyword research.
My interview with Neil Patel will be a special edition that goes live this coming Friday in podcast session #67.
It's like SEO week here on SPI!
In Neil's interview – well, it's just incredible. He's in a league of his own when it comes to SEO and really has me excited to get started with NSD2.0. He's helped companies like TechCrunch and Gawker Media get millions more visitors per month to their sites as a result of his work – and in Session #67 he's going to help us. He reveals some strategies I have never heard before – you're going to love it.
Glen Allsop is also in line for an interview. He revealed some strategies in SPI Podcast Session #3, way back in 2010, which helped me pick a good niche, and I'll have him on again to help us figure out how today we can do the same thing.
Lastly, a lot of you have been asking me if you can participate in NSD2.0 with me.
Well…right now I can't even call it a duel since it's just me…so I'm going to need people to duel with—so of course you're welcome to join in!
Logistically, this is all still being figured out, so just look out for more information in the near future.
Also, a special few of you will be able to work directly with me along the way – in scheduled webinars and a private group discussion somewhere. There will be an application process and I'm sure there will be a lot of applicants, so it'll take time to go through them all, but I figured it would be fun to have a select group of people to highlight and keep progress on along the way as well. This'll be a great way to see how the strategies work and if they are just a flash in the pan, or really something that anyone can do.
Again, logistics are still being figured out, but just look out for that information within the next month or so.
Excited yet? 😉
Ok, I think it's time for 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.
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. Travel fees and related travel expenses were not included this month since they were reimbursed.
A Quick Note on my Affiliate Earnings
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.
Something Else to Get Excited About
In 2010, I was introduced to a company called Only72, which was co-founded by my good friend Adam Baker.
A couple of times a year, Only72 brought together some of the top digital information products around the web, packaged them together and sold them at a massive discounted price to customers, for only 72 hours – hence, Only72.com.
I've been a customer before, and I've also been a successful affiliate for them too.
Because Adam is a really good friend of mine, I was really interested to see how this business was going to work out for him when he first started it, and I was so happy to see how successful the first few launches went. The first Only72 sale in 2010 went through the roof, and the company was able to donate about $30k to Charity:Water as a result of their success.
During the second launch in 2011, I joined as an affiliate and sold several copies of that particular group of products to happy customers here on SPI.
Then, I started to notice that some of the later launches weren't quite as spectacular. Sure, they were still offering great deals but I didn't end up promoting them as it seemed a bit formulaic and overall, it just lost its excitement. There was no theme to the sales anymore – it was just sort or whatever they could scrap up and sell at a discount.
I'm just being honest here.
I loved the business model through, so it was quite unfortunate that things seemed to go in the direction they did.
Well, a couple of months ago Adam contacted me via phone. We talk from time to time, but this time he wanted to talk business. He told me that his partner Karol Gajda was leaving the company to work on other things that needed his time and focus.
Then, Adam popped the question, “How would you like to partner with me on Only72.com?”
I didn't expect this question at all when I picked up the phone, so I didn't really have an answer for him. I had to think about it for quite a long time. I knew the history of the company, and also knew the trajectory that it was on.
But, I also remembered, as a customer and an affiliate, things that I wish were done differently. I wanted things more SPI style: getting really into the details of each of the products that were being offered, showing videos of each product before people decide to purchase, actually talking to the product owners and sharing those conversations, and just giving away a ton of massive value and focusing on customer experience. All of that stuff seemed so obvious to me, yet, it wasn't getting done.
With only a few sales a year, for only 72 hours each, I felt like this was something I could definitely add to my plate and add value to, so after long consideration, I decided to say yes and partner with Adam! I really wanted to make sure that things would be taken to the next level, and Adam was really excited because my ideas aligned exactly with what he wanted to do and where he wanted to take the company:
Careful selection and transparency with all of the products that are being offered, getting customers completely familiar with the products in the deal, and again just focusing on customer experience and overall value, which must never be forgotten. I also asked for some changes in the web design and other small things like that, which aren't reflected on the current design yet, but are coming soon.
I'm super stoked because in addition to selling information products related to online business and blogging, we're planning on expanding outside of this niche. There are hundreds of other potential markets we could run similar sales for, and if we can get a team to do most of the legwork for us, which they are doing already, then we're golden.
It almost feels like an advisory role, in a way, and I'm excited to be working with someone who has, time and time again, executed on his ideas. Adam was the one who created and produced the documentary, I'm Fine, Thanks, in about 3 months!
The next Only72.com sale is coming up within the next month or so, and we have something special planned for it. Not only am I now a partner with Adam on Only72, but for this next sale I'll be contributing an info-product of my own. It's gonna rock!
So look out for more information about that when you start to hear about the Only72 sale from me or others around the web.
Woo! A ton of awesome stuff happening in 2013, and it's almost half over already. Time for a progress check on your goals for the year!
Cheers, and I wish you all the best!