Welcome to the first monthly income report of 2015!
As always, every month I produce a detailed report of my online businesses and how they've performed. In addition to the income breakdown, you'll get an idea of what's been working, and what needs work too.
To check out the archive of previous reports (dating back to October 2008), click here.
Let's not waste any more time…
What Happened in January?
We're off to the races.
A lot of things that were planned in 2014 were finally launched in January, including The Smart Podcast Player, and the 1-Day Business Breakthrough Podcast with my co-host, Chris Ducker. I'll talk more about those two things below, but the first thing I'd like to touch on relates to something specific I mentioned in my annual review—and that's related to my posting schedule.
Last year, I published a total of 39 blog posts (not including show notes for podcast episodes), which was the lowest production of blog posts in the history of SPI. In a similar fashion, up until October of 2014, zero videos were added to my YouTube channel.
Podcasting became my focus and addition, but with tens of thousands of subscribers on each of those other platforms, I definitely felt like I let people down and missed out on opportunities to deliver more value, and all that really needed to happen was better planning.
This year, I made a commitment to do better. I opened up more time by outsourcing the production of the SPI Podcast, and spent several hours in January focusing on the editorial calendar for 2015 across all platforms, taking into consideration production dates for batch processing.
In January, I wrote more than I had ever written in a single month before. Over 60,000 words. Part of that was for blog posts that were published (including the Annual Report which turned out to be 7,196 words), but also for the first draft of my upcoming book too. Although I didn't stick to a post per week in January, it was great practice for me to ramp up my writing habit and start my regular and consistent posting schedule in February, which I've easily been able to keep up with.
Also, my videographer Caleb Wojcik and I planned out every single episode of SPI TV through June, including filming dates and locations. SPI TV is my commitment to consistently bring video back to you this year. In January, we filmed the teaser episode and all episodes for February—all in one day.
SPI TV officially launched on Friday, February 6th, and a new episode will come out every Friday until the “season” ends in June. More on the results of this show in next month's report.
So far, it seems to be a great move and people are loving it!
The Smart Podcast Player Went Public!
After a successful beta launch during the second half of 2014, and a period of time spent fine-tuning the software to include new features based on user feedback, I was so happy to finally release this premium podcast player solution to the general public in January.
The Smart Podcast Player, in case you didn't know, was first a custom built player for my own blog to create a better listening experience on the web. It was also built with my new show AskPat in mind so I could publish a new episode 5 days a week, without having to publish a new blog post to go along with each episode.
After AskPat was launched, hundreds of people asked me where they could get a player just like it, and so naturally it turned into a solution I could distribute to others!
During the last part of 2014, the podcast player was not for sale because it was being updated with new features and undergoing massive testing for the public launch. I did, however, collect emails from those who were interested in the player.
Overall, I'd consider the January launch a success, although we didn't go with a huge promotion. There were no JV partners or aggressive email campaigns or even webinars. Since we went public for the first time, we still wanted to make sure we could handle customer support and any unforeseen issues, and our waitlist became our first marketing channel. All of those big promotional ideas, however, are definitely in the pipeline.
What's cool is that some big players in the podcasting world have recently picked up the player too, which is pretty awesome!
If you're a podcaster and are interested in more downloads of your podcast, more sharing of your show and a better listening experience for your audience on your website (like with our new speed control feature), check out The Smart Podcast Player here, and use the discount code ‘JANSPI' to get 25% off.
The 1-Day Business Breakthrough Podcast Was Launched!
Initially, 1DayBB was simply a 20-person live mastermind-like event that happened in a co-working space here in downtown San Diego. Whenever Chris was in town, we'd put on one of these events, and each time the tickets went on sale they'd sell out overnight. We even did one while we were together in Australia.
The premise is, like in most mastermind group settings, each person would have 15 minutes in the “hotseat” to quickly share what their business is about and then they'd dive deep into a problem or issue they were having. Then the entire room, led by Chris and I, would come together to help and brainstorm a solution for that person.
So many amazing breakthroughs happened right in front of us, and the alums have done an amazing job taking the information from that day and putting it into action when they got home too. Several personal mastermind groups have been formed within each session too, and it's definitely one of the most fulfilling things I've done related to online business, and I know Chris has said the same thing before too.
This year, we wanted to take 1DayBB to a whole new level, and it started in January with the release of our brand new 1-Day Business Breakthrough podcast. It came with a complete redesign of the brand, and we couldn't be happier with the outcome.
Within the first day, the podcast received over 300 5-star reviews world-wide, and it climbed to the top of the business section in iTunes (US), and #13 overall, surpassing podcasting juggernauts like Tim Ferriss, Dave Ramsey, and several other big-name brands.
The best part, however, has been the response from the listeners. People LOVE the format of the show, which mimics the hotseat structure at our live events. After a quick intro, you hear a voicemail question from a real-life business owner and a struggle they are having. Then, Chris and I spend exactly 15 minutes (yes, we time it) going back and forth brainstorming ideas and pulling from each of our unique business experiences to help that person out, and we always finish off with what each of us would do next if we were them.
Besides the format, listeners also enjoy the fact that Chris and I don't always agree with each other. I like it too, because it definitely adds a lot of flavor to the discussion and shows there are sometimes more than one solution to a problem.
In addition to all of that, one of the smartest things we did was allow the 1DayBB community to continue the conversation about each hotseat within our community page, which is simply a Facebook Group that we created for our brand. We mention this group at the end of each of our episodes.
One thing we experimented with within in the group was only letting me and Chris add new status updates. Members of the group are not allowed to add their own. This keeps the conversations super focused on each hotseat, and it removes overwhelm when people arrive to the group. Each episode has dozens of comments from the community, and some of the suggestions and conversations within the community are absolute gold! That's what this 1DayBB thing is all about. Chris and I leading the conversation, but the community taking it even further to help each other out.
Chris and I also started planning our next live event which will be taking place here in San Diego on Friday, April 24th. Unlike the older 1DayBB events we used to do, this one will be bigger (more people, bigger space) and the most exciting part: it will be professionally filmed and streamed live over the internet. Now anyone in the world with Internet access will be able to watch, but more than that, we also have some cool tricks up our sleeve for getting the online viewers to participate, interact and network with each other too.
If you'd like to check it out, just for SPI readers of this post, shoot me an email ([email protected]smartpassiveincome.com) with the subject line 1DAYBB, and I'll send you a discount code for the event.
Awesome! Now let's get to this month's income breakdown.
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.
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.
This was the overall second highest grossing month in the history of SPI! (July 2013)
I'm extremely proud of the work that my team and I have done over the last few months to make all of this happen, especially regarding The Smart Podcast Player, and the continuation of income growth on sites outside of SPI including FoodTruckr and SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com (which also had a record month!).
Podcast sponsorships are going strong as well going into 2015, and I already have half of the year booked for both the SPI Podcast, and AskPat.
A fantastic start to the year, but of course this comes with some expenses too—so it's not all profit.
A Note from Pat:
A significant portion of my total online income comes as a result of this very blog that you’re reading right now – 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 my own businesses.
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 giving away as much as I can here, I started earning an income 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 several months, although it has been steadily increasing as I add new projects to the board. This alone is much more than I had 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 could be making 10x my current income, but I choose not to because I'd prefer to do business the right way with long-term in mind, and I value your trust more than anything, especially making a quick buck.
I’m incredibly grateful for everything and I will continue to give back to you with valuable content and my experience in return.
An Experiment that Seems to Be Paying Off Already
At the end of January, I made a decision to see what would happen if I increased the price of my product on FoodTruckr.com—an ebook package sold at three different price levels, with various bonuses and goodies included in each.
Originally, when we launched this product in August of 2014, it was sold with the following pricing structure:
- $37 – The Main Course (just the ebook)
- $77 – The Combo Meal (the ebook + some goodies)
- $147 – The All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet (everything)
This is a pricing model based off of advice from Nathan Barry, who was our featured guest in Session #75 of the SPI Podcast. Essentially, it's a 3-tier pricing structure with a base product, a middle package (2-3x base price) and a premium package (4-5x base price).
This worked out really well for us. In 2014, the product generated $10,045.60 in revenue – and 75% of the sales were for the top tier package, which was really cool because this is typical with this kind of pricing model, especially if the target audience is attempting to learn something that requires an investment of time and money.
The same goes with teaching exams and other career-path related markets.
My guess (and hope) was that people in this niche who would be willing to pay $147 for the premium package would be willing to pay more for the same package. It was worth a try, and it was hurting no one to change the price point because new traffic wouldn't ever know what the old price was. The new pricing structure became:
- $47 – The Main Course (just the ebook)
- $127 – The Combo Meal (the ebook + some goodies)
- $197 – The All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet (everything)
I also increased the price of the 2nd level to be closer to the top tiered price. With the bonuses that were included, if someone were to pay $127 for the middle package it's almost a no-brainer to pay extra for everything.
And here are the results…
You'll see a lot of February sales here so I'll save the numbers for next month, but I definitely noticed a huge bump in sales of the product, and this isn't the first time this happened to me too.
In 2008, after selling my ebook over at GreenExamAcademy.com, a business owner who purchased my product emailed me to beg that I increase the price of the book. I was trying to be “the affordable one”, but after increasing the price and seeing an increase in the quantity of product sold, I realized that my goal to become “the affordable one” also made my product look less valuable to potential customers.
So cool that that guy took the time to email me. Hopefully this lesson here at the end of this report will do the trick for you, and you don't need to have your own customers tell you to increase the price of your products and increase the perceived value of them.
Have you experimented with pricing before with your own products? What were the results, if any, of that experimentation? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below – about this or anything else that may have come to mind after reading this report.
Thanks so much for your time, and look out for Wednesday's episode of SPI (#149), where we flip the script and my guest (a two time featured guest on the podcast) interviews me this time.