Welcome to a special edition of my monthly income report, my February and March 2013 Monthly Income Report!
Each month I like to write a detailed report that goes over what I've done and lessons learned from the previous month, and I always list where my income comes from and exactly how much I've earned.
Last month, however, I was unable to post my February earnings report due to an attack on my site and a migration to a new server that took way longer than planned. It was the first monthly income report that I have ever missed since the birth of The Smart Passive Income Blog in October of 2008.
That's why I'm going to share my earnings and lessons learned from both February and March to make up for it.
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 my readers, listeners and viewers are 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 I share. It's my responsibility as a person in this particular niche to be totally upfront, honest and transparent with you, and to give you a snapshot each month of how I'm performing.
The earnings, although I know that's the first thing a lot of people look at, are just a part of the whole picture. What I've done and the lessons learned along the way are much more valuable in my eyes, and I hope they are to you too.
I hope you enjoy this month's report, and make sure to catch the blooper reel for my new book, Let Go, which is embedded mid-way through this post for you below.
What Went Down in February and March
What went down? Well, at the end of February, my sites went down—nearly all of them. Only GreenExamAcademy.com, which is hosted through a different server, stayed up during the whole ordeal.
SmartPassiveIncome.com, SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com, CreateaClickableMap.com and a number of smaller niche sites, all of which I hosted on the same dedicated server, were inaccessible for a period of about a week due to a denial of service (DOS) attack.
Imagine a revolving door that serves as the entrance to a hotel. Guests come into the building a few people at a time, no problem. A DOS attack is like putting 100 people in the revolving door at the same time, which clogs the entryway and blocks everyone else that's trying to come in. That's what happened to SmartPassiveIncome.com, and because I hosted those other sites on the same server, access to all of them was denied.
The timing was, of course, impeccable. I was in the middle of traveling to San Francisco and shooting videos for my new book, and this thing that I couldn't control was definitely taking up a lot of brain-space.
Once everything was back up and running, I published this detailed post talking about exactly what happened and why it took so long to get back up and running.
Here is a summary of lessons I learned:
- Expect stuff like this to happen. If you expect everything to always be perfect, you're setting yourself up for disaster, because when anything goes wrong you'll flip out and delay any sort of action that will help you get back to where you should be. Yes, my experience was unfortunate, but it could have been a lot worse if I freaked out, got upset and just started to complain. When you expect the unexpected, you can have plans and systems in place to get things taken care of much faster when things do happen, and you'll view these setbacks as just part of the process.
- “Being everywhere” is vital. My sites were down, but I wasn't totally cut off from my audience. This is huge because brand diversification matters not just for expanding your audience and giving them different kinds of mediums to consume your content, but multiple points of contact are important because if one particular segment of your brand fails, you have the other platforms to keep it going. YouTube, my podcast, social media and my email list were all ways that I was able to continue communicating with my audience, and also keep it growing too.
- At a certain point, some of your websites may deserve their own server. I did have a dedicated server, but within that dedicated server I was hosting multiple sites, including SPI. It was a huge mistake not to move SPI onto it's own server to separate it from the other sites. Yes, you can save a lot of money by putting several websites onto one hosting account – however you do have to keep in mind that if your server goes down, all of the websites on that website go down with it. If you're hosting multiple websites, there comes a point when moving a website onto its own server just makes complete sense.
Servint.net, the hosting company that I was with who dropped the ball when it took them longer than expected to even diagnose the issue, let alone fix it, did eventually send me a formal apology and will be refunding my hosting fees for the period of downtime.
I am currently with StormOnDemand.com, and so far I'm extremely impressed. The customer service is beyond excellent and they offer a mitigation service which will quickly respond to DOS attacks in the future, if they were to happen again.
The downtime did set me back a couple of podcast episodes, a few posts, traffic and about $12,000.00 in estimated earnings, but it was a good lesson for me and I was glad to be able to share what happened to all of you.
Two More Excellent Speaking Experiences
In both February and March, I was excited to travel for a couple speaking engagements, which has sort of been ‘my thang' lately. I'm just so in love with public speaking and the challenges that come along with it – I already can't wait to do more of it this year. My speaking schedule for the rest of the year (so far) is at the bottom of this section.
February: The Platform Conference
In February, I traveled to Nashville for the first time to speak at Michael Hyatt's first ever Platform Conference. I arrived a day early for a speaker and staff dinner (which was a fantastic idea – every conference organizer should do this to set the tone for the rest of the event) where I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Hyatt himself, his amazing family and team members, as well as others like Ken Davis, Jon Saddington, Stu McLaren and Jeff Goins.
Like at New Media Expo this past January, I was given the last presentation of the entire 2 day event. Unlike NMX, however, the event was much more intimate. There were only 150 attendees and only 1 presentation going on at a time that everyone in attendance would watch.
The presentations were great and I made a lot of fantastic connections with people I've never met before, but here are some key things I remember specifically from the Platform Conference:
- Everyone has an amazing story. Whether it was at the table I was sitting at or out in the kitchen during breaks, everyone I met and spoke to had an amazing story to share. Sometimes, however, it wasn't always apparent. When I'd ask people what they do, I often got a job position or a website url and a small explanation of what they did – a surface level answer. It wasn't until I asked them how they ended up there or what do they want to do in the future that people's faces lit up and real, interesting stories were told. And guess what? It is those stories that they told me that I remember, that help me to connect the faces to the businesses that were described. We all have a story, we just have to go deep enough to find it, and be bold enough to share it.
- My timing was WAY off. The one thing that I was disappointed about during my talk was that I totally didn't time my presentation correctly. During the middle of my slide deck, one of Michael's team members held up a sign that said I had only 10 minutes left! I had to skip over 20 slides in order to get to my conclusion which tied everything together. I still got the emotional response I wanted from the conclusion and several people complimented me after the event, but I couldn't help but be a little disappointed. I had prepared for my presentation like mad, like I normally, do, however because I don't script the whole thing anymore (yeah, I used to do that), sometimes I get a little excited and talk about specific things a bit too much and my timing gets screwed up. I still have a lot of work to do to master this craft of public speaking, but I'm learning.
- Michael Hyatt's Team = Golden. One of the things that impressed me the most about Michael Hyatt, besides always having amazing content and being one of the nicest and most genuine people I know, is the fact that he has created the most amazing team I've ever had the experience of seeing in action. From his tech and web development guy to his “director of experiences”, he has the right people in place in his business to help him run it smoothly. They helped to run the conference and they help Michael focus on what he should be focusing on, which is delivering content. He's definitely inspiring me to think differently about what I do vs. who really should be doing those things.
Here are some pictures from the event:
From left to right: Cliff Ravenscraft, Pat Flynn, Ken Davis, Carrie Wilkerson, Andrew Buckman, Michael Hyatt, Stu McLaren & Jeff Goins.
At the start of my presentation, I played the trumpet for 30 seconds. It was a good way to wake up the audience after lunch, and it also tied into the core message of the presentation. I hope to get a recording for you soon.
Near the end of March, I had the honor of being a guest presenter for Derek Halpern's live 2-Day broadcasted event for CreativeLIVE, which took place in Seattle, Washington.
The whole experience was amazing!
I was scheduled to speak twice: 45 minutes on March 21st, and then another 45 minutes on March 22nd. I flew up the day before to hang out and get to know Seattle a little bit, and yes – the city is as awesome as everyone says it is! I was lucky because it hardly rained and the sun did peek through the clouds a few times. It was gorgeous.
The live studio audience experience was different than anything I had ever done before. Typically, when I've been speaking, it's in front of a crowd of up to 400 people. This time, it was in front of a crowd of six. What's nice is that in this kind of intimate setting a presenter can more easily interact and get to know each of the people in the audience. I actually became good friends with all of them by the end of the event!
On the other hand, it's a little more difficult to ‘read' the audience's reaction because there are only 6 of them. In larger crowds, many times the reaction to specific points that you make or jokes that you throw in will be more powerful, simply because everyone feeds off of everyone else's reaction. Or, you can find and tune in to those people in the crowd who are totally into what you're saying, nodding their head up and down after each sentence, to give yourself a confidence boost during your presentation. It's a lot harder to do those kinds of things in this kind of setting, but it was definitely a fun challenge!
My first presentation was a refined and more updated version of my ‘Be Everywhere‘ presentation that I made in 2011, and it centered around driving traffic through the use of various mediums (video and audio in addition to your website) and also getting over the fear of putting yourself onto those types of platforms.
My second presentation was a refined and more updated version of my ‘Affiliate Marketing the Smart Way‘ presentation from 2012 where I talk about ‘The Soft Pitch Pipeline' and how to sell other people's products in a way that helps you establish an even deeper relationship with your audience and have them keep coming back for more – something I've become known for since most people know (after reading reports like this one) that a majority of my income, nowadays, is earned from affiliate marketing.
Here is a picture of me speaking live—a screenshot from the live stream on the CreativeLIVE website:
The presentations went very well and I can't wait to get back on stage again.
Speaking of, here is a list of where else I'm headed this year:
- April 7-9 at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego
- April 18-20 at Internet Prophets LIVE! in Chicago
- July 5-7 at World Domination Summit (not speaking – just attending)
- July 12 – I'm co-hosting a paid business breakthrough session with a special guest here in San Diego. Details will be posted on April 12th here on the blog.
- October 17-20 at The Financial Bloggers Conference (My first keynote presentation!)
That's it for now, but the list may change one way or another as the year progresses.
If You'll Be in the Chicago Area Between April 18-20…
Between April 18-20 is an event called Internet Prophets LIVE! that takes place at the W Hotel in downtown Chicago. It's hosted by Steve Olsher, author of the book Internet Prophets which I happen to be featured in. I'll be speaking at this event on Saturday the 20th.
Steve emailed me the other day and said that I could give away 30 free tickets to anyone who wants to come. The price of the event is $997.00, so this is definitely a great deal.
You'll have to take care of your own travel and lodging, but you'd get to go to the event and you'll be invited to a dinner meetup on Friday the 19th with myself and Jason Van Orden from Internet Business Mastery. This particular meetup is only for those of you who end up reserving your seat at IPL through this special deal.
If you're interested, send an email to: pat (at) smartpassiveincome (dot) com, with the subject line: INTERNET PROPHETS LIVE, and the first 30 people to reply will get a special link from me to sign up for the event, as well as a link to sign up to the dinner meetup on Friday. I will answer emails in the order received and if you don't hear from me within 24 hours assume the spots have already been filled. Please only shoot me an email if you're going to come.
Update: The 30 tickets have already been given away—I apologize! Read the section below for something else…
There will be another meetup with Jason and me for people in general who are interesting in hanging out, whether you are attending IPL or not, but I'll be sharing that info separately on Facebook and Twitter, so look out for that info soon. We're still finalizing the details on that one.
I can't wait to meet you all!
My First Keynote Presentation in October!
In March, I finalized plans to present my very first keynote presentation! I'll be doing the opening keynote at one of my favorite events of all time, the Financial Blogger Conference (FINCON) in St. Louis on October 17th.
My very first experience with public speaking was at FINCON in 2011. It was my very first presentation ever and I was slotted to go last. Talk about pressure! It was so much fun and I've been addicted to public speaking ever since. 🙂
I wasn't able to make the conference last year because it was a few weeks before my daughter was due and I was worried that she would be born a few weeks early.
What happened next?
She was born as the event was going on!
Good thing I didn't go!
I did miss the conference though and all of the amazing people in the personal finance blogging industry, so I'm really excited to be coming back and presenting once again this year, and instead of going last, this time I get to go first!
I'm already mind-mapping my presentation, it's going to be awesome, and I'll be sure to have a high-quality recording for those of you who won't be in attendance!
Let Go is Now Available!
The biggest thing that happened recently is the launch of my new book, ‘Let Go'. If you haven't picked it up already, you should! I'm getting so many wonderful emails and messages about the book – it's really making all of it worth the effort”
— Stephanie Warner (@ImprimereGraphx) March 31, 2013
— Jon Kenney (@jondkenney) March 30, 2013
To get Let Go, download the Snippet App for iPhone or iPad (Android and Kindle version coming soon!), then download ‘Let Go’ and enjoy!
I knew it was a little risky to produce something on a 100% brand new platform like SnippetApp, but the rewards far outweigh the risks. On a few people's devices, for no apparent reason, the videos don't load, but there are updates pending Apple's approval right now that will hopefully fix all of the minor bugs.
For the thousands of you who already bought the book, thank you so much! And if you sent me a message about it or tweeted using the official hashtag #LetGoBook, you make it all worth it. Thank you! People are diggin' seeing the tweets for #LetGoBook right inside the book!
A bonus chapter and video discoverable is on it's way to you soon, so look out for that in the near future!
To celebrate a successful launch, I'm happy to share a 3-minute blooper reel from all the filming we did for the discoverables inside the book. My wife and I watched this video at least 50 times already and we laugh each and every time! Caleb, the videographer for Let Go, said that this was his favorite video that he put together, so I hope you enjoy it too!
Lots of stuff happened in February and March, but I'm sure you're interested in the numbers too, so let's get to it:
Note: With my new site redesign, I need to separate the income/expenses breakdowns into separate posts. For March's numbers, jump to this post.
And now on to February's 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.
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.
An awesome two months despite the downtime! Earnings are right around where they have been the past several months, which is a sign that the businesses are growing since I had a week off at the tail end of February and the beginning of March. My Bluehost earnings are still going incredibly strong. If you'd like detailed information about where my Bluehost links are located and where those conversions are coming from, you can read this post here. The volume is much higher than when I wrote that post, but the percentages are roughly the same.
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.
A Quick and Final Thought
Thanks to inspiration from my wife, a lot of our friends and a few SPI fans out there (i.e. Michal from Poland), I've recently made the decision to run my very first half marathon later this year (August). My goal is to run all 13.1 miles at a pace under 9:00 per mile, which would mean I would finish in less than 2 hours.
After announcing this goal on Facebook about a month ago, I got several recommendations for membership sites and training programs to help me train for this event. I ended up joining RunnersConnect.net and hooking up with a trainer there who is helping me through the training process, and the experience has been awesome so far!
I've obviously used membership sites and online training programs before, but only in the online business, blogging and Internet marketing niches. This membership site for runners, which includes a personalized training program that tells me exactly what my workout is each day, a library of extremely helpful articles and videos and also a community of other runners who are all there to support each other, is just so helpful and it all keeps me working toward my goal, even when I have an off day and I don't feel like running.
I think bloggers and business owners in niches outside of the MMO (make money online) space can truly benefit from putting together some sort of training program or membership site for their audience. Not only does it become an incredible revenue stream (potentially recurring each month), but it's a brilliant way to serve information to your audience, hold them accountable and keep them going while building a community at the same time. You might potentially be doing your audience and customers a dis-service by not having something like this available. Selling Ebooks and software is cool, but if your audience can benefit from a membership site and community you should definitely give it some thought.
I've given it some thought too.
Well, I've written enough for today! Thanks again for your support, and I wish you all the best!