Welcome to my August 2011 monthly report!
Each month I write a detailed report about what's been happening with my online businesses. I do this not only to help me keep track of my progress, but also to show you what's working for me, and what isn't.
I also include a detailed breakdown of the income I've earned online and I conclude with some of the more important things I've learned during the previous month.
I do all of this because I want to be transparent. I don't consider myself a “guru” and I use my own experiences, experiments and case studies as my teaching tools.
I hope you enjoy this month's report 🙂
Important Goings-On in August
August was an incredibly inspirational month for me.
Not only because I achieved record breaking numbers in both traffic and income for several of my online properties, but also because I heard and shared a number of other success stories from people who are making an honest living online in industries outside of the make money online industry.
Here are links to these amazing stories in case you missed any of it.
- SPI Podcast Session #24—Online Business Success Stories – Part 1
- SPI Podcast Session #25—More Online Business Success Stories – Part 2
- Taking Control – An Incredible and Inspiring Success Story ($2,325.91 in a Day!) with Benny Hsu
In addition to that, my proposal to speak at Blog World Expo 2011 in Los Angeles was accepted! I'll be speaking on the monetization track and as most of you know, I have a pretty non-traditional take on monetizing a blog so it should definitely be an interesting presentation.
I've been preparing and practicing my presentation skills already—keeping in line with the advice I learned in Stand and Deliver—which I highly recommend even if you don't plan on ever doing any public speaking. The skills and tactics it teaches, which are almost scientific and mathematical, can be applied to several aspects of business and life.
Security Guard Training Headquarters
For those of you new to SPI, I recommend you check out The Niche Site Duel to see exactly how I built SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com from scratch.
Security Guard Training Headquarters is doing extremely well since the theme was updated a month ago. Adsense earnings hit a record high, the traffic has consistently been growing and I'm starting to get more emails about advertising on the site, which I have yet to take advantage of, unfortunately.
I am taking baby steps, and for administrative reasons I filed for a DBA (doing business as), primarily to setup a separate Paypal account that will make and accept payments under the name of the website. Currently, if I were to use my primarily Paypal account, it would be tied to GreenExamAcademy, which wouldn't make a lot of sense. This isn't required, but for me I like to keep it all separated, especially if I'll be accepting recurring payments from companies for advertising.
I'm currently exploring a service from Adpeeps.com which would allow me to create my own ad management system on the site. I'll save the details, once it's up and running, for a future post.
As far as keywords are concerned, I'm still ranking #1 for security guard training and am ranking high for several other relevant keywords too, including armed security guard training, security officer training, security guard classes, security guard gear, and security guard.
I've noticed, however, several other copycat websites spring up as of late that don't rip off my content 100%, but they're pretty darn close. I knew this would happen—it was only a matter of time—but for those of you who keep asking me to disclose some of my other niche websites, this is why I don't do that.
I would be okay with this if these sites actually added more value to the content that I had already published—that's how we all should be approaching niche site marketing and our competitors, but sadly, they don't. Google has consistently mentioned that creating high value content that other websites will naturally link to is the best way to show authority for a particular keyword, so if these sites want to outrank me that's exactly what they're going to have to do.
There's no easy way in, and of course how fast you climb Google depends on a number of factors including strength of competition, the quality of content on your own site, the quality of backlinks pointing back to your website, on-page SEO, etc. But the truth is you have to earn your rankings, especially if you want to stay there for a while.
iPhone App Stuff
My business partner is in a middle of a move, our developers are a little slow, and as a result we have no new applications to launch like we had hoped. As Benny's app success story showed you, this is definitely not an overnight success kind of thing.
I'll keep you posted if anything new comes up, but I just wanted to be honest and upfront with you—nothing new here.
Our current apps are still live and still earning for us.
Smart Passive Income
A few things to announce.
First, the SPI iPhone Application is doing really well. I launched it mid-July to make it more convenient for iPhone users to consume my content (blog, podcast, etc) and it's proving itself to be very useful.
AppFlurry showed that the app has been used over 20,000 times, primarily to listen to my podcast, which is awesome.
For Android users, I was about to get one built until I saw someone had created an unofficial SPI fan Android app.I don't have an android phone so I can't tell if it works, but the screenshots look great and thank you to the developer for building it for me. It should serve as a good temporary fix until the official one gets released—maybe at the same time the iPhone app gets updated since there may be some new features installed.
Secondly, the SPI podcast climbed back into the top 20 business podcasts in iTunes (at the time this post was published)!
Thank you all so much for your kind words about the podcast. I really love recoding it and I can't wait to come out with the next one in a week or so.
I also have some updates about the email subscription rates since I made changes per Derek Halpern's conversion advice. Look out for that detailed information in an upcoming post.
Finally, I want to tell you about the WordPress Plugins I've been working on, which I haven't mentioned in a while.
As you know, I tell you about my failures as much as I do my wins—and my idea to build premium WordPress plugins completely flopped.
Actually, the ideas are still good in my opinion, but the execution was terrible. I am usually pretty good to sticking with projects I'm excited about, but several things got in the way—both internal and external to the specific plugin projects, and I just had to put this particular adventure on hold for now.
Sometimes, that's exactly what you have to do.
One of the plugins was actually built, but it did not turn out like I had hoped. This is partly the developer's fault, but probably moreso my fault for not communicating EXACTLY what I wanted to see, which is something you have to do when outsourcing work like this.
The second plugin was half built, and like I said I just had to put it aside for other things.
Was I in over my head?
Maybe—but not because it wasn't something I can't do—it was just something I couldn't complete and focus on at that moment.
All that said, I am more prepared if I do get back to it and know exactly what to expect.
Okay, 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.
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 where time and money is spent)
Another awesome month, and it's fantastic to see consistent growth all around the board.
As I mentioned in my last report, I'll be the first to admit that a good chunk of my income comes directly from this blog, mostly from the products that I offer as an affiliate (about 20% of the income listed under “affiliate income” does not come from this blog). To be honest, it was never my primary intention to make money from this site. My primary intention was and will always be to help other people understand how businesses and blogs work on the internet, and for them to be better at it after reading, watching or listening to my material, which all comes from the wins and fails of my own real-life case studies and experiences without pushing or promising anything.
I know that I've created a wonderful resource here on SPI with a ton of free information about all kinds of things related to online business and blogging, and the fact that people are kind enough to offer me something in return—whether it's by going through an affiliate link, encouraging me to create a product of my own to sell, asking me for mentorship or advice, or even just thanking me for helping them earn more money online or get more traffic to their website, I am extremely grateful for and I will continue to give back with valuable content and my experience in return.
Things I Learned in August
In August, I was reminded about the power of the spoken word.
While preparing for my upcoming presentations at the Financial Blogger's Conference and Blog World Expo, I've been watching and listening to a number of speakers recommended by several of you in my last post.
I've watched and listened to over 20 presentations and have learned quite a bit about what kinds of things work and what kinds of things don't, but what resonated with me most while watching each of them is just how engaged I was, as a listener, as if I was hanging on to almost every single word and the way every single word was said.
There's really nothing like hearing someone's actual voice. There's a connection—something almost tangible to attach to and be reminded of later on.
This is why I believe all bloggers who want to grow should utilize their own voice for their brand.
I recommend reading Are YouTube Videos and Podcasting Worth the Effort?
Another thing I learned is that inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look for it.
The online business success stories I shared this past month totally blew me away, and based on many of your comments you were inspired by them too.
There were some common themes throughout each of the stories we heard:
- Their success did not happen overnight, even Benny's iPhone app success story. Yes, his app blew up like crazy a week after it was introduced to the app store, but it took him a long time and a lot of frustration to get the thing designed and just right. Time well spent indeed.
- They each got into their businesses wanting to fulfill a need that other people had, or a gap that needed to be filled.
- They were all very passionate about what they were doing, primarily because it related to something that was related to their own lives and experiences.
When I think about these three things, it reminds me of my own story too.
Of course, inspiration is awesome, but what you do when you are inspired means even more.
And the last thing, which is the most important thing of all—is:
Don't forget to enjoy life!
I have to remind myself of this every once and a while and I know many of you could benefit from that as well.
I was in Boston for a few days to help out a client, and when I got back it seemed like my son was so much bigger. It was only a few days, but it's crazy how fast they grow up. He's counting, talking, starting to say the alphabet—before I even know it he'll be wearing a backpack and going to school.
That short little trip (I don't leave the house often) made me realize how short and precious life is, and how we shouldn't waste any second of it. Always try to enjoy what you're doing, no matter what.
Thank you all for your support, and I wish you all the best!