Category Archives: Income Report

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.

November 2016 Angular on Rails income report

I’m gonna try to bang out this post as quickly as possible.

Income in November was $871. Let’s look at that next to the other months:

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

As you can see, November was the first month where revenue went down instead of up. I believe the main reason for this is that I didn’t really do anything in November to make revenue go up. I didn’t do any launches and I barely communicated with my list at all.

Frankly, I don’t have any plans to necessarily do much in December to make income go up either.

I recently hired a business coach who I think I’ll keep anonymous. He’s not really a coach, just a successful person I know who I believe can help me.

In my first call with this coach who I’ll call “B”, he shared two opinions with me that I found kind of surprising: a) my conversion measurement is woefully inadequate and b) I should get off of Gumroad in order to have a better ability to track sales. Now that I see these things, they’re obvious. But I never would have found them myself. This is the exact reason I wanted to hire a coach and the exact type of outcome I hoped for in our call.

B also suggested that I add a content-specific opt-in to each of my 8 or so most popular blog posts. Right now I’m getting about 40 subscribers a week or 120ish a month. Based on my traffic, B seems to believe that I can and should be getting more like 500 new subscribers a month. That would of course be good.

So my priorities right now are:

1. Get adequate conversion tracking set up
2. Add some content-specific opt-ins to my most popular posts
3. Do a few certain other things to improve my landing pages/sales pages

So I expect revenue in December to be pretty low again, probably even lower than in November. But then I’m probably going to expect January to look more like October or even better.

October 2016 Angular on Rails income report

I decided to do an income report for Angular on Rails for October 2016. I haven’t officially done this before for Angular on Rails. I don’t know if I’ll end up making it a regular thing or not.

In case you’re not familiar, Angular on Rails is a site where I teach Rails developers how to use Angular on top of Ruby on Rails applications. I started the blog in 2014 but didn’t start making serious attempts to monetize it until April 2016, partly because I couldn’t think of a good way how.

In April 2016 I went to MicroConf where some conversations I had made some lightbulbs come on in my head. In June I pre-sold seven copies of Angular for Rails Developers then released the book on August 30th, 2016.

My revenue in those last couple days of August was $868 and in September I made $1053.

On October 25 I released a $199 book + video package which I sold on launch day at a discount of $99 (and, if you had already bought the $39 book, $60). My total revenue in October ended up being $1580.

To sum up the months it has been:

  • August: $868
  • September: $1053 (18% growth over August)
  • October: $1580 (50% growth over September)

My goal for November is $2000 which would be 27% growth over October. I had previously set a goal of $3000 for October which I didn’t hit, but 50% growth is still “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick”, as my grandpa used to say. I decided to adjust November’s goal to something less ambitious, partially because I don’t plan to launch any new products in November.

I’m not completely sure where I’ll turn my attention next. I like to think about next steps based on the health of the various steps of my funnel. The first funnel step is traffic. I think I’m good on traffic for the time being. Traffic has historically been 5,000-6,000 visits a month. In October it was about 7,900 visits even though I haven’t been doing anything to actively try to improve traffic.

The next step in the funnel is to opt into my email list. My opt-in conversation rate last month was about 22%. That’s pretty good.

There’s also the conversion rate from subscription to purchase. According to Gumroad I made 40 sales in October and according to Drip I got 270 new subscribers. That means about 15% of subscribers went on to buy something. That actually strikes me as pretty good.

A little while ago I read something interesting Pat Flynn wrote. He said if you want to double your sales, double a conversion rate. It seems kind of crazy but it really is that simple. You can double any conversion rate in your funnel and it will result in a doubling of sales. So maybe the question is: out of all the conversion rates in my sales system, which could be increased with the least amount of time and effort? That’s hard to say. 22% and 15% are both pretty good conversion rates. But I guess that’s not to say they couldn’t be improved. It’s hard to imagine doubling them though.

So far I’ve pretty much only talked about sales and marketing. There’s also the necessity of maintaining the product itself. There are some certain aspects of the book that I’m very unhappy about right now. For example, the material covering authentication is incomplete.

And there’s also the consideration of keeping my list warm. I haven’t been emailing my list nearly as much as I should be. And in order to email my list, I need to have something worthwhile to say. Putting together a worthwhile utterance usually takes me a pretty large amount of time since the nature of my material is such that I can’t just spout it off the top of my head like I could with, say, freelancing advice. There’s research involved. So I have to somehow fit that in.

And speaking of freelancing, that’s what takes up most of my time. For a while I was allocating about an hour a day to working on Angular on Rails, although lately I’ve been barraged with client emergencies as well as sales conversations too good to pass up, and both those things have swiped a pretty huge amount of time from my plate. So I have to get my schedule back under control, and once I do I have to fit all this stuff inside an hour a day.

Perhaps I’ll spend, say, three days a week developing my educational material and three days a week on sales and marketing (Monday through Friday plus an hour on Saturday mornings).

It’s interesting how the nature of the challenge has changed over the years. When I first started with attempts at a product business, the challenge was that I had literally no idea what to do at all. Now the challenge is that I think I know exactly what I need to do, I just don’t know the best way to prioritize. Like Dan Sullivan said, “The skills that got you out of Egypt aren’t the same skills that will get you to the promised land.”