Category Archives: Income Report

May 2019 Revenue Report

In March 2019 I launched my new book, Rails Testing for Beginners, and made $988 on the launch with a couple sales later in the month.

April was launchless. My revenue was only $98.

This month I launched a video package to accompany the book. I earned $481 which was less than I expected but in hindsight it makes sense. My list hadn’t grown much since the book launch so almost everyone who got the video launched to them had already had the book launched to them. I did the math afterward and out of ~700 email subscribers, about 5% of them ultimately bought something, whether it be the book by itself or the book + video package. A 5% overall conversion rate isn’t bad.

Now that I have this higher-tier product my focus for the next while will be to get a bunch more subscribers to launch to. I’m tentatively thinking that I’ll wait until I have at least 1000 subscribers to do another launch.

Below is my revenue for every month.

2019 May $481
2019 April $98
2019 March $1037
2018 October $400
2017 June $185
2017 May $480
2017 April $735
2017 March $352
2017 February $449
2017 January $371
2016 December $428
2016 November $871
2016 October $1580
2016 September $1053
2016 August $868

April 2019 Product Revenue Report

As I wrote about a month ago, I launched my new book, Rails Testing for Beginners, in mid-March, for a total launch revenue of $988. I sold one book at the full $49 price post-launch for a March 2019 total of $1037.

April was a much slower month. I made two sales, each at the full price of $49 for a total of $98. This low total is not surprising. I did basically nothing to try to make any sales in April. Almost all my effort was focused on adding a video package tier that I can offer at a higher price.

I’m planning to launch the video package this coming week, May 6-9 2019.

Here are my numbers for last month and every prior month.

2019 April $98
2019 March $1037
2018 October $400
2017 June $185
2017 May $480
2017 April $735
2017 March $352
2017 February $449
2017 January $371
2016 December $428
2016 November $871
2016 October $1580
2016 September $1053
2016 August $868

March 2019 Product Revenue Report

For a period spanning August 2016 to June 2017 I put up what I called an income report post showing how much product revenue I had earned that month. My source of revenue during that time was a website called AngularOnRails.com which I eventually decided to give up on, partly because I didn’t actually like the stuff I was teaching.

Then there was a period where I flailed around from idea to idea and didn’t earn any meaningful product revenue from anything. Then in January 2018 I joined 30×500 and got on the right track toward starting a new product business that would actually be successful.

January 2018 to February 2019 was basically a long incubation period that led to my March 2019 launch of Rails Testing for Beginners, an ebook that hopefully has a self-explanatory title.

During my launch I earned $988. During the whole month of March 2019 I earned $1037, making it my best product revenue month since October 2016 and my third-best product revenue month ever. I’m very happy now to have a reason to continue posting these income reports, although now I’m going to call them “product revenue reports” because I think that’s a more accurate way of putting it.

Here’s every meaningful month of product revenue I’ve had since August 2016.

2019 March $1037
2018 October $400
2017 June $185
2017 May $480
2017 April $735
2017 March $352
2017 February $449
2017 January $371
2016 December $428
2016 November $871
2016 October $1580
2016 September $1053
2016 August $868

June 2017 Angular on Rails Income Report

Here’s every month of Angular on Rails’ sales so far:

2016 August $868
2016 September $1053
2016 October $1580
2016 November $871
2016 December $428
2017 January $371
2017 February $449
2017 March $352
2017 April $735
2017 May $480
2017 June $185

As you can see, June 2017 was the worst month ever. Why? I don’t know for sure. One thing I do know for sure is that I’ve neglected Angular on Rails for about the last two months. That may well be the root cause of the decline.

My plan at this point is to focus on one thing and one thing only: traffic. I’ve gone from a peak of over 8,500 visitors a month (IIRC) to about 6,200 in June. So I set a goal of 10,000 visitors in the month of September.

A person might look at these numbers and wonder if Angular on Rails is really a viable business. My opt-in page still converts fine (~14%), my sales page still converts fine (~7%) and my checkout page converts okay (~18%) so I see no reason to seriously think about bailing now.

One big problem is that I’ve given my supposed #1 much less than my #1 slot attention-wise in the first 6 months of 2017. I’ve spent too much focus on training work. My plan for the remainder of 2017 is to go back to doing more coding-by-the-hour work. It’s not as enjoyable as training but it’s easier on my schedule and family, and the paychecks have tended to be more steady. From here on out I only plan to take on training gigs if they’re relatively easy and lucrative.

May 2017 Angular on Rails Income Report

Here’s every month of Angular on Rails’ sales so far:

2016 August $868
2016 September $1053
2016 October $1580
2016 November $871
2016 December $428
2017 January $371
2017 February $449
2017 March $352
2017 April $735
2017 May $480

And here are the last six months in graph form (I used Gumroad prior to December 2016 so Stripe doesn’t have data for those months):

So May was not as good as April, but better than the months leading up to April. Why wasn’t May as good as April? I don’t exactly know.

I’ve been pretty distracted from Angular on Rails lately. I’ve been doing a lot of training. Last week I taught a class in Amsterdam and the week before that I taught a class in Detroit.

I’m frankly expecting to have to neglect Angular on Rails for about the next 6 weeks. I really hate to do that but the first priority has to be the client work that pays the bills, and I have a lot to do for clients over the next 6 weeks.

Side note: I tried Facebook ads in May. It went well it the sense that I was able to acquire 37 subscribers for about $2 a pop but it went poorly in the sense that none of those 37 subscribers bought anything. I’ll try again later when I can afford to waste some money to get it figured out.

April 2017 Angular on Rails Income Report

Here’s every month of Angular on Rails’ sales so far:

2016 August $868
2016 September $1053
2016 October $1580
2016 November $871
2016 December $428
2017 January $371
2017 February $449
2017 March $352
2017 April $735

And here are the last five months in graph form (I used Gumroad prior to December 2016 so Stripe doesn’t have data for those months):

So March 2017 was the worst month ever, and then April 2017 was the best month in a long time. I attribute this improvement to two main things:

  • I dramatically improved my opt-ins from April to March
  • I raised my prices from $39/$89/”custom” to $49/$99/$249

More opt-ins means more sales and higher prices means higher average sale size.

I had set a goal at one point to double my average sale size. Prior to April 2017 my average sale was $35.13. In April my average sale was $52.52. That’s of course not a doubling but it’s a 50% increase which isn’t bad.

In my last Entrepreneurship Journal I described a 4-step plan:

  1. 3X opt-ins/mo
  2. 2X average sale size
  3. 2X traffic
  4. 2X average sale size again

I think I was initially imagining I would start with the first goal and not move to the second goal until the first goal had been achieved. Later I decided it would probably be more effective to turn some knobs on goal #1, then move to goal #2 while I’m waiting for results to come in, and so on, since there’s a delay between the time I take action and then time I have enough data to see the results of my action.

Here’s what has happened with opt-ins so far:

That’s not a 3X but it is a 1.5X which I’m happy with for now. And we’ve already seen that I’ve 1.5X’d the average sale from $35.13 to $52.52. 1.5 * 1.5 = 2.25. That’s interesting because March’s revenue, $352.25, times 2.25 is $792.56, which isn’t too far off what April actually was. So it looks like fiddling with these inputs really does affect the outputs in the way I would expect. And as long as my opt-ins stay about the same and average sale size stays about the same, I can expect May to be about the same as April.

I haven’t done much yet to influence traffic and I certainly haven’t 2X’d the average sale size for a second time. But for the foreseeable future I think traffic is what I’m going to be focusing on. My first goal is still to 2X traffic but I wonder now if maybe I should just try to, say, 5X traffic. I’ve been told that all my conversion numbers are pretty good and that it might be easier just to crank up traffic than to try to squeeze out some higher conversion rates. I can see the logic in this.

Right now my traffic is at about 8,000 visitors a month, so I’m shooting for 16,000 a month. My guess is that if I do that my revenue will go from about $750/mo to about $1500/mo. So that’s the next milestone.

March 2017 Angular on Rails Income Report

Here’s every month of Angular on Rails’ sales so far:

2016 August $868
2016 September $1053
2016 October $1580
2016 November $871
2016 December $428
2017 January $371
2017 February $449
2017 March $352

To use the classic geological metaphors, you can see a peak in October and then a plateau from December to the March. Why the peak and why the subsequent plateau?

Well, here’s one possible factor:

subscriber chart

That’s a chart of my new email subscribers. I had a peak in October 2016 with about 300 subscribers. Then it was all downhill from there. In March I had something like 98. So that’s one issue. (The jump in April 2016 is when I imported a list of ~300 subscribers from MailChimp.)

Then there’s this:

sales page traffic

That’s the traffic to my book’s sales page. Again, it peaks in October 2016 and goes down from there.

I think the decreased traffic to the book’s sales page is probably at least partially a function of the waning opt-in rate. And I think the slowing opt-in rate is a function of traffic to the home page. The home page is where all the opting in happens. Here’s the home page traffic:

home page traffic

Similar trend: down.

It took me until recently to notice these things because overall traffic has gone up! Here’s a graph of site-wide traffic:

overall traffic

That graph by itself makes the site look pretty healthy. Not entirely so, of course.

I have a hypothesis of the “no shit, Sherlock” variety that more opt-ins would result in more sales. I figure if I can get my opt-in rate from its current 100ish to its erstwhile 300ish, then I could reasonably expect sales to roughly triple.

My plan for increasing opt-ins includes:
– Put an “ad” on each blog post for the same Free Guide that’s offered on the home page (I’ve actually already done this)
– Add an opt-in on each of my most popular blog posts that offers something related to what the blog post is about (I believe this is known as a “content upgrade”)
– Write an promote some new material, which I haven’t done in quite some time. I have a hunch that the lack of “freshness” on my site is partially responsible for my decline in opt-ins, although I can’t explain exactly how that would work. Regardless of whether my hunch is correct, there’s a ton of stuff I think I should be writing about that I’m not. The more I write, the more traffic I get, generally, and more traffic is of course one way to increase opt-ins, although perhaps not the smartest/easiest way. New writing is a lower priority for me than adding content upgrades and refreshing old content.

Another thing that can increase sales is of course to raise prices or to increase the average purchase size. I recently re-did my $89 video product and adjusted my sales page to do a better job of presenting the $89 product and of saying to prospects “this is the default option, the best value, the one you should buy”. Anecdotally, my efforts seem to have worked, although it’s too early to tell. And I certainly haven’t yet done the best job of improving the sales page that I could possibly do. It really needs a ground-up rewrite and redesign. But that’s a lower priority. First let me just get opt-ins back up to where they used to be.

I mentioned that I re-did my $89 video product. I also updated my book so that it covers the latest version of Angular, Angular 4. After I did both these things I did a launch. I was expected big sales from the launch, like a couple thousand or more, but on launch day I believe only two people bought. Big disappointment.

I wondered why that was, and I think I know the answer. On my list of 1500ish subscribers, about 130 have bought. That’s about 8 or 9 percent. Maybe about 8 or 9 percent of my subscribers are going to be buyers, and that’s just all the buyers there are. Maybe by trying to get the others to buy I’m just trying to squeeze blood from a stone. A huge portion of my list comes from places like India and Brazil, after all, where $39 is a lot of money.

I think there’s also another explanation as to why my launch failed. Every time a subscriber subscribes, I give that subscriber his own private “launch sequence” which often does result in the subscriber making a purchase. So if my “private launch sequence” is effective, then a regular launch would probably be mostly redundant. For the most part, the people who would respond to the launch have responded the first time, and the people who would never respond aren’t going to respond to the second launch any more than they would to the first. Again, I think this is true for the most part although of course not always.

Those conclusions, if true, lead me right back to increasing opt-ins. If all the buyers on my list have already bought, find more buyers.

If I can boil down everything I’ve said so far into a concise plan, it’s this: increase opt-ins and increase average sale size. If I can 2X my sale size and 3X my opt-in rate, I can 6X my revenue. That would take my from my current ~$400/mo plateau to 400 * 6 = $2,400/mo. I would be very happy with that number. Heck, I’d even be pretty happy with a consistent $1,000/mo right now.

I don’t want to jump to conclusions or get my hopes up but it seems like some of the actions I’ve taken recently might have helped improve opt-ins and average sale size. My April sales as of right now, April 10th, are $386.75. That’s an average of $38.68 a day which would mean about $1,160 for the month. Again, I’m not going to jump to conclusions or get my hopes up. Even though my launch was a flop, the $386.75 does include launch sales. But just by absolute numbers, I’m already right at “plateau level” on the 10th day of April and I do think I can reasonably expect that April’s final sales will be higher than any other month since the plateau started.

Entrepreneurship Journal, 2/23/2017

Lately I’ve been posting income reports that talk exclusively about Angular on Rails.

I’m not sure what my original intended scope of these “Entrepreneurship Journal” entries was but I think I’ll now include in them everything I do that makes money.

In 2017 I think I can pretty accurately say that I make my money by a mix of three things:
– Custom software development
– Training/mentorship
– Products

In fact, I just got new business cards which say on the back, “Training / Mentorship / Custom Software Development”.

The training service is something I’m doing more of in 2017 than in the past. By the beginning of February my sales of training services were roughly equal to 75% of my total earnings for 2016. That’s a pretty big deal.

The “regular old coding” work I’ve done so far in 2017 is probably about 15% of my total earnings for 2016, so I’m already at about 90% of 2016’s income. Keep in mind that these are sales numbers, and not everything I’ve sold has yet been delivered or paid for. But the contracts are all signed.

This might sound like I have it made for 2017, and in a way I do, but a lot of this money is just going toward back taxes and credit card debt from 2016. I had a dry stretch in 2016 that really put the squeeze on at an inconvenient time. And when you get behind on taxes, it can be very hard to dig yourself out of that hole. So the pressure is still very much on to make a lot more sales over the next few months.

My plan is to first go after as many training gigs as I can, and once I think I’ve exhausted those resources, go after “regular” contracting gigs. And all the while I plan to put in an hour or two a day on Angular on Rails.

Let me talk for a second about the training I’ve done and the training I’m going to do. Last week I taught a 5-day Ruby on Rails class in Vancouver, Washington. In two weeks I’m teaching a 3-day Angular 2 class in Sofia, Bulgaria. Then, in June/July, I’m leading a 5-week coding bootcamp. I have two other leads, both in India, incidentally. One would be a remote teaching gig (in the middle of the night!) and the other would require me and the family to move to India for something like three months.

I also started something called the Grand Rapids JavaScript Meetup. I’m hoping/expecting that this will lead to some training and/or contracting gigs.

My #1 goal for 2017 is to go full-time on Angular on Rails. The way I’ve quantified this is that when I hit a consistent $10K a month from Angular on Rails, that means I’ve hit my goal. Even though I’m only making a few hundred a month right now I have a pretty good feeling about getting there. We’ll see where I am in a few months.

January 2017 Angular on Rails Income Report

In January I made $371, according to Stripe.*

*It seems like Stripe can be a little bit inaccurate since it always gives me the total sales number including sales that later got refunded. I had one or two instances where people got charged twice for some reason, so I had to roll back the second charge. There were also a couple people who wanted to pay me via PayPal, so those two things roughly cancel each other out.

Here’s my income for the 6 months Angular on Rails has been making money:

– August 2016: $868
– September 2016: $1053
– October 2016: $1580
– November 2016: $871
– December 2016: $428
– January 2017: $371

You can see a clear downward pattern. Why has revenue gone down? I think the simplest answer is that I haven’t really done anything to make it go up.

Let me talk about what I’ve done since January 1st. Keep in mind that I’m writing this on February 23rd.

A little after January 1st I offered a free training program. I sent out an email to my list of about 1200 subscribers and gave them a link to apply. To my great surprise, over 110 people applied for the free training. That’s almost a 10% conversion rate. Insane.

I told my subscribers that I would choose 20 students in order to keep the class size down, and that’s what I did. I think only about 16 students were able to join because there were time zone challenges. The format was a once-weekly 90-minute webinar. If I remember correctly, almost all of them attended the first session, but only 5 or 6 of the students stuck with it through the end.

I attribute the attrition to the facts that a) it was a free program and b) I had some really serious technical issues during the first session and had to push the whole program back a week.

Anyway, the class went reasonably okay. I plan to do it again. Next time, I plan to provide the students with videos that they can consume on their own time. The “live” time will be more of an office hours type thing as opposed to me just lecturing, which has very little benefit over a video. I’m very glad that I did this free training program before I tried to offer a paid one. I don’t think people would have been very happy if they had paid $X00 for the program I delivered this time.

Another thing I did recently was to pay for a book cover redesign. Here’s the original cover:

jasonswett2d

And here’s the new cover:

winning cover

I got the original off of Fiverr for $15 (IIRC) and the new one off of 99designs for around $550. (I think I overpaid but I’m happy with the end result.)

So, not much of the stuff I’ve done so far in 2017 is stuff that really directly drives sales.

Here’s what I think I need to do next. I have a $39 ebook that converts at a decent rate. Nobody right now is buying my $89 or my $299 product. I think the thing I need to do next is get my $89 product selling.

One obstacle is that I believe my $89 product to be outdated and kinda sucky. It’s hard to persuade people to buy a product I don’t really think they should buy. So I need to refresh the product. Second, I need to do a better job of presenting the $89 product on the sales page. If you give me $89, what exactly do you get? Right now the answer isn’t very clear. I need to make it more clear.

Once the product is refreshed and I make it better-presented on the sales page, I plan to re-launch the $89 product. When I originally launched the video package in October 2016, I made about $1600 that month, and at the time I had about 900 subscribers. Now I have closer to 1400 subscribers, so I think I can expect some pretty good launch sales.

I’m teaching an Angular 2 class in Bulgaria in two weeks and I need all the time I can get between now and then to prepare. I plan to do the $89 product refresh and relaunch when I get back. I’m giving myself about two weeks to do it. My deadline for relaunch is 3/23.

December 2016 Angular on Rails income report

In December I made $428.50. Here’s the full financial history over the months:

– August: $868
– September: $1053
– October: $1580
– November: $871
– December: $428.50

Like in November, I didn’t do much in December to try to make Angular on Rails make money. Instead I spent some time fixing some foundational issues to prepare for long-term success. Now that I know Angular on Rails is something that can make money, it’s no longer premature for me to invest serious time into things like making the site look good.

By the way, you might wonder why December’s figure is so oddly precise compared to the other months. That’s because my new payment plugin allows me to charge percentage discounts, not just dollar amount discounts.