Welcome to my July 2013 income report!
Each month, I publish a detailed report sharing how much I've earned and all of the lessons learned and latest going-ons in my business from the previous month. For a list of my previous income reports, click here.
Doing these kind of reports helps me take notice of any upward or downward trends in my businesses, and it allows me to be transparent while hopefully providing some inspiration and helpful information to you as well.
With that said, many people see the numbers and fail to realize that years of hard work was put into my businesses before getting to this point.
Succeeding online takes time, patience, stamina and perseverance, and as a result most people who try will fail. I don't know everything and I still have a ton to learn – this is just a snapshot of where I'm at now in my journey. I hope that my insights both here in this post and on the rest of my blog will help you succeed in your journey.
Important Things that Happened in July
July was an EXTREMELY busy month! Most notably, I launched my very first online course & membership website, Breakthrough Blogging. The 3-day launch, which was a part of the latest Only72.com promotion, was a major success, but it didn't come without some expected concern.
Note that I said “expected”—not “unexpected.” I share why below…
The 200+ comments at the bottom of my launch post transformed into a discussion mixed with congrats and excitement, sprinkled with comments of worry and disappointment.
I read things like “Finally Pat!”, to things like “Pat, you finally joined the dark side.”
99% of the ‘negative' comments were completely respectful and in the end I know they were all coming out of love for the SPI brand, so the thought of deleting them never came across my mind. To all of you who left comments, both positive and not so positive, I'm so thankful for you and I completely appreciate your honesty.
I love the fact that opinions can be shared – that's what makes this whole Internet and blogging thing so awesome—and I feel that respectful and constructive criticism is incredibly important for the growth of any brand.
Before I even had a chance to respond to any comments, a lot of the SPI community responded in my defense, which I am incredibly thankful and eternally grateful for. A couple of days later, I actually received an email from Jeremy—one of the more upset and outspoken commenters (who kindled an entire series of responses) apologizing for his comments, giving me permission to delete them and asking for forgiveness, which was interesting.
I decided to keep his and everyone else's comments up because although different people have different methods of sharing their opinion, there were some valid concerns, and I blame myself for not properly addressing these concerns beforehand.
The biggest concern, I felt, was that people were worried that SPI was going to be different from that point forward. For years I've been sharing content for free, and now I was charging for something.
Again, a completely valid and expected concern.
The truth is, SPI is different. It's better. It's growing. It's becoming smarter.
I haven't taken anything away from what SPI was—I've simply added something completely new to it that wasn't there before—something that has been in high demand from my audience for a very long time. If it's something that you're not interested in, you don't have to buy it and nothing will have changed—it's simple! And don't worry, I'm not going to ram it down your throat because I know what that's like and it doesn't feel good, but it was important for me to create this course as someone who takes pride in being known as someone who leads by example.
What do I mean by that?
Well, having a business model that you can have control over is extremely important. This is unlike the current business model of SPI which relies heavily on affiliate commissions from products and services from other companies. At any moment in time these other companies could walk away, disappear or end the affiliate relationship I have with them, and that income would be gone in an instant.
Affiliate marketing is a fantastic way to generate an income and help your audience when you don't have the ability or the resources to create that type product or service yourself – but when you have the opportunity to create something of value yourself that can actually help people, you should take it—not just for the money that you could potentially earn from it, but because you can better take care of your audience and control the customer experience.
That's the most important part and the example I'm trying to set.
The irony in all of this is that I've been recommending products and services created by other people for years—blogging products included—and never heard any kind of backlash for that. Now, with the launch of Breakthrough Blogging, I feel I can better serve those in my audience who may need additional help and attention. That's how I know it's the right move.
The Course Itself
As far as the course itself, I couldn't be happier with how it turned out.
It's beautifully designed and coded by Jonathan, my new and amazing developer/designer, who built the platform on WordPress using a custom designed skin for Thesis 2.1, and he integrated the membership software, which is powered by WP-Wishlist.
So far, the response from users has been nothing but incredible! I'm also keeping track of the user experience partly by hosting the video lessons on Wistia.com, which allows me to track, in detail, how each video is being viewed, by who, and where improvements can be made.
We're listening and working closely with the existing members and continually adding new features every other week.
I've had a lot of questions about when Breakthrough Blogging will be re-opened, and right now it's not exactly known. I'm hoping to re-open the membership before the end of the year, but it depends on the workload based on user feedback on features that will be added over time. 🙂
Epic Posts in July
July was not without some posts that I published which were extremely well received and highly shared around the web. It was nice to be back in the groove again (since a lot of my extra energy in June was dedicated to launching Breakthrough Blogging) and crank out the kinds of posts that took double-digit hours to put together.
1-Day Business Breakthrough with Pat and Chris
One of my best friends, Chris Ducker, came to San Diego to visit my family in July. We had an awesome time together! My son actually cried when he left town. 😛
On July 12, Chris and I hosted a full-day, premium mastermind event for 25 bloggers and entrepreneurs at a co-working space downtown, and it was probably one of the most fulfilling things I've ever had the pleasure of participating in.
Each attendee had a chance to showcase their business front and center while Chris, myself and the rest of the group provided our honest feedback and ideas for what to do and where to go next. Our goal was to have each person leave with at least one MAJOR breakthrough in their business, and from the feedback we've been hearing it was a total success and everyone felt they got more than their money's worth, which made us both really happy.
Chris and I sat down the next evening to record a podcast session together to capture our thoughts on the day—but more importantly we wanted share what we learned about how important it is to connect and mastermind with other people. It turned out to be an incredibly inspiring and educational episode. I highly recommend you have a listen (and a laugh or two!) if you haven't already.
Cost and Profit
Since this was a full-day premium event, Chris and I did charge money to attend. We sold out 25 spots (in a day and a half!) for an advertised price of $497.00 per person. That's a total gross income of $12,425.
Of course, the day didn't come without basic expenses, including:
- Pastries / Coffee / Lunch and Beverages: ~$500.00
- The Venue: $500.00
- Dinner: ~$2,000.00
- Eventbrite Fees (5%): $621.25
- Total Net Profit: ~$8,803.75
- Total Individual Profit: ~$4,401.88
Not bad for one day's work!
The truth is, however, a lot of time was spent planning this first event, so it was more than one day's work. We spent a few hours together each day before the event going over each attendee's business and their goals, which we learned from a Ning.com community we setup so the group could connect with each other and answer a few questions for us beforehand, which took a little bit of work to setup as well, but it was totally worth it.
All in all, it was an amazing experience. To get the feedback we did, while helping people move forward in their business and get paid for it—it's an awesome feeling. If you're in a niche where you have the ability to get a few people together, in person, and use the power of the group as a whole to help everyone get inspired, think big and move forward—you should totally give it a shot!
Chris and I are already planning our next 1-Day Business Breakthrough event, which will happen in San Diego in January after New Media Expo, so look out for more information about that soon.
Niche Site Duel 2.0 (i.e. Where the Heck are Your Updates Pat!?)
This round of the Niche Site Duel is much different than the first round I conducted back in late 2010, and I know it's feeling much much slower.
To put this into perspective, I announced NSD2.0 over 3 months ago and I have yet to have the main site up and running. During Round 1, I had a new website, built from scratch, ranking #1 in Google for it's target keyword within 73 days and making a few hundred dollars per month.
So why the turtle-like pace?
A few reasons:
- A lot has changed with Google and how websites get ranked since 2010, and I spent a lot of time conducting research first, as seen on the NSD2.0 Update Page.
- My approach for how the website will be created and how people will find the site is much different. I don't want to rely solely on Google (or on Google at all) for traffic because of how incredibly volatile it is right now. The plan is to penetrate the target market by creating a resource that gets talked about and shared on Day 1 by creating buzz around the new site with a ‘coming soon' page and related campaign. I've never done anything like this before, so it'll be a fun experiment – but it takes more time to do it this way. My hope is that the prep-work that's being done now will put my website significantly ahead of where it would be, once it's launched, as opposed to just simply building a website and start writing for no one.
- I'm spending a significant time on creating branding elements, including the logo, colors look and feel of the site. I didn't spend any time on this during the first NSD, but I think it's important—especially with the new approach mentioned above.
- As you can see, a lot of work is being done behind the scenes, but the primary reason why I haven't shared too many updates yet is because most of the above items would require me to reveal the exact URL to you – and that's something I promised not to do until after the real site goes live so the results aren't skewed. . I am documenting everything though and will definitely be talking about everything I can once the site goes live in mid-September, which will give me a month to figure out how to build buzz to the new coming soon page that just went live 2 days ago. I'll be recording phone calls, documenting email conversations – the whole nine yards.
- Another reason for the delay is that I'm trying to benefit from the timing of a television show. As you already know, my site is geared toward existing and inspiring food truck owners, and I'm going to see if I can feed off the buzz around season 4 of The Great Food Truck Race, which starts on August 18th on the Food Network. If anything, following the show will help me with content generation and potential guests to reach out to for the brand, but I'm hoping to build buzz for my food truck site at the same time. Again – I've never done anything like this before, but there are some creative, out-of-the-box things I think I can do to help the site before it goes live next month.
A formal NSD2.0 update is already in the works, which will reveal my content strategy, site architecture, and how I put the coming soon page together. All I can say is – thank you for your patience! Once the site goes live, it'll be full-steam ahead with updates and content geared to help you and your website too.
Glen's Recent SEO Posts on Viperchill.com
Speaking of SEO and Google, our buddy Glen from Viperchill.com recently wrote a couple of posts that are actually really disturbing to read. They're disturbing because Glen reveals just how easy it is, now more than ever, to game Google and rank a website high in the search engines, and it's the opposite of what Google and other SEOers are recommending we do to climb the search engines.
He shares specific case studies of sites that are ranking high that shouldn't, and he even mentions:
“I created this blog post partly our of frustration that my own 2-page websites with 0 links are outranking my own authority sites which are years old and have thousands of links. And partly because we can't do anything about it, so we may as well be creating crappy sites to offset our traffic loses.”
Here are the links to Glen's posts below:
So what's my response? How should we proceed with building websites when what Google is saying is different than what actually is?
Well, for one, it's definitely a shame. So many websites, and as a result, people's lives, are affected by Google's algorithm and search results, so to see results like this when there are honest people putting in hard work and not getting the results they deserve is, like I said, disturbing. Not all search results are skewed though and there are examples of high-value websites ranking where they should—but if you're going to set the rules, they should apply everywhere—at least one would think.
So how will I proceed? I've shared a little bit of that already. With NSD2.0 I'm not even going to focus on trying to game Google like I did before. I will follow Google's suggestions and provide highly valuable content, but not for Google sake – it's for the benefit of my target audience. A low quality website might be able to rank high, at least for now, but a low quality website is still a low quality website, and for the end user it's not going benefit them as much.
If Google chooses to rank my content high in the search engines, that's awesome, and if that content deserves to be there I think that's really what they want and maybe they'll get their stuff together eventually. But if they don't, it won't matter. Like here on SPI, Google could completely disappear and traffic would still come to the site.
Thanks for the research and amazing posts Glen—very eye opening, indeed.
As many of you know, a significant portion of my overall income comes from affiliate earnings from a single source—the domain and hosting company that I recommend, Bluehost. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
I wanted to address this really quick because it's always a hot topic in each of my income reports, and last month I recorded another record month of earnings from Bluehost, earning a total of $36,150.00 in commissions.
I can definitely see why many readers find this to be so unbelievable. I would too and it always blows my mind each month—especially considering that these are all for new signups—not recurring commissions.
Let me shed a little light on the numbers.
Bluehost's affiliate program advertises $65.00 per sale, but I do earn a higher, negotiated commission, which is possible because of the volume of sales that I'm able to produce. I started at the $65.00 commission, and over time I've been able to increase the amount I earn twice.
In July, I had a total of 3,546 clicks on my affiliate link. That link is scattered strategically throughout the SPI blog and YouTube. For a detailed look at exact where those links are located and an idea of how well they convert, click here.
Out of those 3,546 clicks, 242 converted into sales (about 8 sales per day), which is a 6.8% conversion rate. This is after refunds and is the average conversion rate I typically see month after month. In July, I experienced a slightly larger click-through rate—a result of launching NicheSiteDuel.com. Most of these sales (about 30-40%), however, have always come directly from my Resource Page, which I absolutely love because people go to that page looking for tools and solutions, which I share as recommendations on that page, and no where am I pitching anything.
If you don't have a tools or resources page on your site, you need one!
I'm truly blessed to be able to recommend a service that I've used in the past and continue to still use today (although not on SPI since I upgraded to a dedicated server!) that also pays very well too, but it's scary as well. Like I mentioned above in the section about Breakthrough Blogging, it's a smart business decision for me to diversify and create my own products because at any moment Bluehost or any other product I recommend could go away, and that income source would be gone in an instant.
I could take it to the next level and, of course, create my own hosting company—but I don't want to do that. I don't want to run my own hosting company and do all that's required for that, because although there's obviously money there, I probably wouldn't be able to do it as well, and that's not the kind of lifestyle I want to live. Hence, my recommendation for a company that I'm happy to put my name behind.
What it really comes down to is this: hosting is a service that people in my target audience need. If they want to put up a website their going to need hosting – no brainer. If people enjoy my content and trust me, they are likely to go through my recommendation and link, and as long as I can make it easy for them to do that, it's likely to happen.
What does someone in your target audience absolutely need to get started? If that's something you can't provide yourself, do the research, find the best one out there, use it and be confident in it, and confidently recommend it to your audience. Unbox the mystery, and earn while helping your audience too.
I hope this answers some questions you might have previously had about my Bluehost earnings. Thank you to all of you who have purchased hosting through my link—or anything through any link and recommendation that I've shared—you're awesome!
Ok, let's get to the numbers for July 2013.
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.
This is definitely, by far, my best month ever! Breaking 6-figures in a month in gross revenue is incredible and something I never thought was possible. Of course, a major chunk of this income is a result of the launch of Breakthrough Blogging, but since enrollment is closed for now the numbers for next month should be back to normal. I couldn't be happier, excited and more humbled by all of this, and I know I have you and your undying support to thank for it.
As always, most of this income will be saved, invested and donated, but a lot of it will be invested back into the businesses I own as well, to better help you on your journey in online business too.
A Quick Note from Pat
I’ll be the first to admit that 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 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 away as much as possible, 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.
My goal with the new businesses that I'm creating, including the food truck site that's being built for NSD2.0, is to increase the non-SPI income side of my income report. Yes, $10k is a significant amount to be earning outside of the site already, but the SPI portion has grown so big, I feel like I'm becoming known as the person who only makes money by showing others how to make money online, and the non-SPI related income is forgotten as a result. I realize I have some work to do to even it out, but I am working hard on making that happen and do realize that I am in that position of earning from teaching how to earn. With that said, I am proud of how I do it. I get emails and hand-written letters every week from people who I've helped, so I know it's being done in the right way. There are no regrets, I just feel I need to step up the non-SPI portion of the reports very soon, or else that side of the income report will be completely lost and forgotten. To me, it's the non-SPI income that should matter the most.
The Big 3 Lessons Learned in July
We're 4,412 words into this post and I can see just how much stuff happened last month—it's crazy! I hope there were at least a few tidbits of information here in this month's report that will help you and your online business get to the next level.
I wanted to end with 3 final lessons, all of which relate to each other and are extremely important if you want to succeed online.
The first lesson is a big one that all of us hear over and over again, but it's also one that is easy to forget. That lesson is:
You cannot please everybody.
Whenever changes are made on your site and in your business, from design changes to product launches, and even publishing blog posts—there will always be people who wish you had done it differently. That will always be the case.
I've experienced this before—to a lesser extent—each time I've redesigned my blog, and I'm sure I'll hear it again when the new redesign goes live this October.
I've tried to please everyone before, and it's a losing battle. It's important, however, to listen to those who you do not please, because in many cases their opinion will help you. It may be a simple misunderstanding, or an actual error on your part that you can correct, so it's important to listen to those who expend energy to share their honest opinion with you.
This can be extremely hard to do though. It was for me at first, which takes me to…
You have to grow a thick skin.
In other words, listen to those who aren't pleased, but don't let them get to you.
In the past, especially during the first couple of years since I started the SPI blog, the slightest bit of negative criticism about my blog or what I do would get under my skin and I'd think about it all day. I'd spend hours dwelling on those comments and I'd start to doubt myself, which isn't good for my confidence, my business, and what I'm doing to serve my audience.
Then there were (and are), of course, comments from trolls and haters, which surprisingly never got to me. I grew up getting bullied in school and soon learned that the best way to deal with people like that, those who have deep-rooted problems that are expressed in violent and hateful ways way beyond genuine criticism, is to simply not give them the pleasure of your attention.
But, it was the respectful criticisms, especially from those people who I knew and built a relationship with online (i.e. my readers, customers and subscribers) that shook me pretty hard, because like I said in Lesson #1, I tried to please everybody, and that just cannot happen.
So how do you grow a thick skin? For me, it just came with practice. The more my business has grown, the more I've had to deal with those who aren't pleased, and that's okay. My intentions are always to help as many people as I can, which brings me to my third and final lesson for the month…
You must not forget about those who ARE pleased. They should be your primary focus.
You cannot please everybody—we've already established that—but while there are people who may not be pleased with something that you do, there will always be people who are pleased and love what you do and want you to keep doing what you're doing for them.
It's funny. Negative feedback will always overshadow all of the great, positive feedback that comes your way. It just takes one negative comment to make hundreds of great comments and support disappear, and you have to remember that while it's important to listen to those who criticize and disagree, it's ultimately more important to focus, listen and cater to those who are pleased.
Each ounce of energy you use to respond and reply to negative comments is an ounce of energy that can no longer be used for those who are waiting to benefit from what you have to offer.
The comments on this post will be interesting to read, I'm sure. 🙂
Cheers, and I look forward to reading them! Thank you so much for your time, and wish me luck on my first ever half marathon this weekend! I'm going to need it!