As I wait impatiently for winter to turn to Spring I have a lot of time on my hands for my business. And although I may not always apply myself as well as I should (more on that later) my focused efforts seemed to nudge me in the right direction towards a record month of earnings in January.
Although destroying your previous record earnings is a wonderful thing to do, you always run the risk of a “sophomore slump” in the following month. So the question is, was January a one-off or did I sustain (or even build upon) my big income leap?
That was the question in my mind at the start of February and I sought to provide myself with a positive answer.
What Happened in February?
At the end of my last income report I said that I had a lot in store for February, but at the same time I wanted it to be a month of consolidation. Doing too much is the curse of many business owners and I didn’t want to fall into the trap of spreading myself too thinly.
Well, consolidation was certainly the name of the game. Although I didn’t start up any new projects I certainly had plenty to keep me busy: my freelancing, this blog, my authority site and my series of Kindle eBooks; not to mention all the various other miscellaneous tasks that I have to carry out in any given month.
I wouldn’t be comfortable in taking on any more work at this stage so my progress must come by making the most of existing projects and/or utilizing my time more effectively (either by becoming more efficient or switching to projects with a higher anticipated return). As I often say, we all have the same amount of time available to us — it is what we do with those hours that make all the difference.
In terms of earnings, I was doubtful of beating January’s record this month — it was after all a great month for me and a huge step forward. But how did I get on?
Monthly Income Report — February 2013
- Freelance writing:
- Income: $4,722.21
- Expenditure: $29.38
- Profit: $4,692.83 ($94 per hour equivalent)
- Income: $11.21
- Expenditure: $0
- Profit: $11.21
- Affiliate Marketing (Leaving Work Behind):
- Income: $963.03
- Expenditure: $19.83
- Profit: $943.20
- Information Products:
- Income: $1,058.57
- Expenditure: $85.01
- Profit: $973.56
- Income: $128.23
- Expenditure: $20
- Profit: $108.23
Total profit for February 2013: $6,729.02
Although I didn’t break January’s record there’s a lot to like about my progress in February. First of all I kept up the pace with a decrease in earnings of just 2%. But that doesn’t tell the whole story — a careful analysis of the numbers and the stories surrounding them leads to an even rosier picture.
Let’s first consider my freelance writing — I didn’t quite beat my January record in terms of total earnings but I did establish a new record in terms of my equivalent hourly rate. I doubt I will top the $100 mark in the near future but I am really happy with my earnings hovering around the $90 mark.
Then there was the real win of the month — my affiliate marketing earnings. I absolutely smashed my previous record of $447 and nearly broke five figures in February. To me this represents the momentum gained by a year-long perseverance in my efforts to generate a decent affiliate marketing income.
There were three products that made up the bulk of my affiliate earnings in February:
It’s interesting to note although I generated by far the largest volume of sales with TweetAdder (largely due to my post on how I attracted 10,000 Twitter followers in 12 months), WestHost was my most lucrative affiliate partner with $100 commission per sale. That doesn’t affect the motivation I have to promote any particular product but it is noteworthy to see how your efforts can be rewarded depending upon the product and commission.
For me the key to honest affiliate marketing is promoting only the products that you use and love. That is exactly the case with the above products: my site is hosted with WestHost, I used the Start a Blog that Matters course to re-launch this blog last May, and I have been using TweetAdder for more than a year to help build my Twitter followers. I’m never going to wander away from this method of affiliate marketing — I will only ever promote products I really care about.
I believe that the dramatic increase in sales this month is down to three things:
- I simply had a good month — the cards fell in my favor.
- My Twitter post helped generate most of the TweetAdder sales.
- I had a record month in terms of visitors.
My affiliate marketing earnings are notoriously unpredictable so I have no idea how I will fare next month. However, I will be surprised if I surpass my success in February (although it would be nice to get close again).
This is a speculative project for me and I will not begin to adjudge its success until I have released all nine books I have planned and optimized them in terms of cross-promotion. However, it is nice to see that I’m making a bit of money already and I hope that these earnings will increase month-by-month.
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My Information Product
This month’s information product earnings hides a two-part story — thankfully one that ultimately has a happy ending. On the one hand it was not good to see my earnings dip by around 33% but there is more to this than meets the eye.
Generally speaking I have enjoyed an average of one or two sales of my freelance writing guide per day, but that all changed on 13th February. On that day I generated no sales. Or the next. Or the next. In fact, I went seven days with no sales at all, which was more than a little disconcerting.
So I started investigating and could only think of one thing — that my sales page was a little out of date. It quoted earnings from November 2012. I updated it to reflect more recent earnings and it was as if a switch was flicked. I made a sale within 30 minutes and enjoyed my best ever week of sales last week (not including launch).
I took two things away from this:
- When things are going well it is time to take action, not get complacent.
- Viewing the sales process from a prospect’s shoes is a useful exercise to carry out regularly.
Motivation and Application
Any business owner (and perhaps especially those that work from home) can you tell that motivating yourself can be really tough. This is something that I struggle with and seek to improve upon constantly.
Take the last three working days as an example. On Thursday I only got half of my work done. On Friday I ended up doing nothing, and this morning I didn’t get up until 10am. I have a pretty sizeable backlog of work and a whole load of guilt for not having done it.
You would be entirely forgiven for not empathising with my position one bit. The fact that I am able to do this would be seen as a huge freedom by many people in employment and I totally get that. However, self-motivation and applying yourself properly are huge issues for most business owners and I am no exception.
I am slowly coming around to the realisation that my motivation seems to ebb and flow. On some days I will work extremely hard and find it very easy to do so and on other days I will not want to work at all. The decision for me therefore is should I account for that and allow myself the time off when I simply don’t feel like working? I could do that and it would have no adverse effect — I would simply earn less and grow more slowly. But would doing so lead to a slippery slope in which I do less and less work?
On the other hand, I could try to force myself to work harder despite my lack of motivation. This would lead to me getting more done but I would also feel like I was driving myself harder than I perhaps wanted to. This conundrum has been at the front of my mind for quite a while and I don’t have a conclusive answer yet.
What’s in Store for March?
At this point I have no plans to start any new projects this month — I’ve got enough on my plate as it is! There’s a lot for me to be getting on with and no new projects certainly doesn’t mean that I plan for my progress to stagnate.
There are some interesting things to look forward to this month, such as the results of my authority site’s content marketing strategy and the progress of my eBook sales. It could also be a great month for information product sales — possibly even a record.
In fact, if everything falls into place then March could be a new record month of earnings. It’ll require a lot of hard work and no small amount of luck but I am happy that I can even consider it. After all, I was earning a basic salary of $3,750 in my last job and I have nearly doubled that the last two months running. Most interestingly, my “pipe dream goal” for the year of making $100,000 gross is still within reach.
All of the hard work, the months where I lost money and felt like I was going nowhere, the times where I wondered if I could ever succeed in establishing a viable business, the dreaming and the doubting, my friends and family considering me a little mad for what I was doing, and the risks I took in quitting a great job, are all part of the price I paid to get here. If you’re not where you want to be yet then never forget that success is more a matter of persistence than anything else. I would like to think that I am a good example of that.
Photo Credit: Kalexanderson