For a while now I've been wanting to do something similar to what Pat Flynn does over at his blog. However, the last thing that I want to do is be a copy cat. For those that don't know, Pat does something pretty awesome. Essentially, he breaks down his entire monthly income and shows all of his passive income streams.
Well, although making good side income is great, what's more important in my opinion is how much time you spend on it. Living with a mortgage in Southern California is tough. Last year my wife and I made the decision to be a single-income family even though my full-time job - which pays very well - does not bring in enough money to sustain us. Long story short, I had to start a side business.
Time is more important than money
The purpose of these monthly posts are not to show how great I am, but to hopefully inspire you to do the same. I know that there are husbands and fathers out there that are in the same boat that I am and want to give their family the best that they can without having to sacrifice a great deal of time being away from them in order to make extra money.
In these reports I will detail as much as to how I generate extra revenue on the side. I do not count my full-time income (yes, I still have a full-time job) since it doesn't have much of a connection to how much side income I can generate. Keep in mind that things fluctuate month-to-month as with any business.
Finally, the most important part of these reports is the amount of time I spend actually doing the work in whatever venture it may be.
May 2011's report
- Web development projects: $3892.04 (Time: ~10 hours marketing/networking/sales along with some project management)
- Local Business SEO Setup: $250 (initial 50% deposit) (~1 hour)
- Affiliate income from niche sites: $242 (~4 hours)
- Adsense from niche sites: (~$90 + $77 unpaid. Will be realized next month. Just wanted to show average)
- Consulting: $300 (~2 hours)
- Workshops: $113 (~3 hours)
- E-book: $0
- New Catholic Business Course (pre-opening): $20 (~6 hours)
Total Income: $4817.04
Monthly Business Expenses:
- Basecamp: $24
- Unique Article Wizard: $67
- Mechanical Turk: $180 (Will be doing a post on why this service is AMAZING)
- Build My Rank: $59
- Virtual Assistants: $670
- Fiverr: $30
- Freshbooks: $19
- Memberwing-X: $399 (for my new business course at Productive Catholic)
Total Expenses: $1448
Total Profit ($4817.04 - $1448): $3369.04
Time/Profit (3369.04/26 hours): $130 average hourly rate.
Goal for next month: $6000 profit at 20 hours of work for the month.
The Breakdown and Lessons Learned
Web Development Projects
Web development this month has been pretty amazing. Thanks to a great joint venture, and awesome virtual assistants, we have been able to help some pretty big clients.
I've really let my lead virtual assistant take charge and not only manage many of the projects, but also interface with customers (he is pretty amazing). Doing this has freed my time tremendously to help sell and close deals, something that is exciting and challenging for me. In addition to that, it's helped to bring tremendous value to clients. Rather than spending hours and hours working on code, I'm able to go above and beyond for customers by delivering surprise products. That, of course, leads to referrals.
On the bad side of things, not being able to devote myself fully to marketing/networking/selling is a little frustrating. Thankfully my partner picks up where I lack but I can't shake the feeling that we could be doing so much more in revenue if I were free to promote the business.
The only part about web development that sucks is that a large amount of cash flow is dependent on the client. If they are late approving mock ups or giving copy, then you can go weeks or months without being paid. That being said, the potential for 90% of monthly income to be lost.
For example, we closed a project deal with a local veterinarian. It took two sales calls, which adds up, and although we are moving forward, the initial deposit won't be realized until next month. Now, that may not seem like a big deal, but if you don't have many clients it can be. Keeping your sales pipeline full and closing those deals are key.
Local Business SEO
I've done some SEO for local companies in the past and I recently was asked by an uncle-in-law to help his plumbing business to rank better in the search engines. I've kind of made it a rule not to work for or with family anymore, but I decided to make an exception in this case.
Local SEO marketing is very, very easy and can be pretty lucrative if you do it the right way. I'll be creating some posts showing how I go about getting businesses ranked in their area.
I will say this, protect your investment of time or money when it comes to projects like these. My preferred approach to something like this is to lease a site out to clients at a reduce cost and to do some revenue sharing. This may sound jacked up, but I see it this way - if I were in sales and I spent a lot of hard-earned time building a referral network and a strong base of repeat customers, I should make a commission from each of those sales. It wouldn't be right for the company that I work for to fire me and take all of the clients that I worked so hard to build trusting relationships with. Well, the same is true for SEO. I am building relationships and channels for a client. Once they are #1 on Google, it's not right for them to dump me and reap the benefits.
Affiliate and Niche Sites
My niche sites are pretty steady. I've started two new ones and I am doing the majority of the work for those simply because I want to learn the best way to go about making them. I've been experimenting with Fiverr and Mechanical Turk with some great success. It definitely takes some work though if you aren't going to outsource it.
The only problem that I've found with niche sites is knowing exactly how much I'm making a month. This month it's been just under $300. But sometimes I get breaks with some of my affiliates like Shoeboxed or Market Samurai. The monthly income definitely fluctuates.
Consulting and Workshops
I love consulting. If I could do it more I would, but my full-time job makes it a bit difficult. I think the reason I love it is because you see very quick ROI for the client. For example, last month I had a consulting session with a former hotel operator that wanted to create a full-service concierge concept online for hotels. For less than $350 (including my consulting fee), he is now doing business with big name hotels with contracts worth thousands. Totally amazing!
I am going to have him on the podcast so I don't want to ruin the story ;).
My business partner and I are helping a startup training center to get off the ground. We are going to be doing some workshops in June and July for them. We'll see how that goes. Workshops are great to get consulting gigs.
Talk about being transparent, this one disappoints me but it's totally my fault. One thing that I rarely ever do is promote my content. Not promoting yourself is always the #1 mistake in any business. Usually I make 1-3 sales a month from my book (which is still bad).
Here's what I think I do wrong with my E-book:
- I don't promote it (as mentioned before).
- I haven't positioned it well. There are a ton of books and blogs out there that talk about virtual assistants. However, most are just theory and aren't very practical. I am living my book and should exploit that fact.
- I haven't asked for support from other bigger named bloggers and thought leaders that use virtual assistants.
- I think the copy on the sales page is bleh....
I am sure there are more reasons (I'd love to hear your thoughts on what I could do differently or what roadblocks would stop you from buying the e-book).
New Catholic Business Course
Over the last 2 weeks I started a business course that's geared towards teaching Catholics how to start a business. Of course, I'm Catholic, and one of the things that I see is that we are horrible entrepreneurs. There are typically only three business types for us:
- Book stores
- Selling rosaries
- Selling audio CDs
My hope is to change all that and get some good business things going. Since the course is in development, I started the price at $9.95. Once it's finished, the bottom tier of the course is going to start at $97, and will be more for the higher tiers.
This was the reason for the Memberwing-X expense this month. It's a pretty amazing plugin that turns your WordPress website into a member site. I've been REALLY happy with it so far.
We'll see how it goes. The students that are in there right now are loving it. I'll be teaching the same stuff (and more) that I've paid well over $10,000 to learn myself.