Founder’s Log 091717-02: Player 1, Press Start! Day 1
I wish I started recording my adventure like this years ago when I was truly starting out and working a job I hated with absolutely no online income sales or experience. But unfortunately I didn’t, so better late than never. Oh well, let’s talk about what I have been doing lately in terms of business and making money online.
How I’m Currently Making Money Online
If you read my long founder story here, in which I described how I started to make money online and how I quit my job; then you will know most of my income was made via digital product sales from selling website and landing page themes and templates. And you also know that since then my sales have dipped. So what have I been doing to make money online?
For starters, I’ve been freelancing. I will post all the numbers below of how much I’m earning from each one, but here is where I’ll explain it more in detail.
Since my sales started dipping, I kind of transitioned into taking more and more, high-paying client freelance/contract positions. This, right now, is my main source of income, unfortunately. I say unfortunately because honestly I really don’t care to trade my time for dollars anymore – but they pay and I need to pay the bills. A lot of my customers just email me asking me for custom page designs because they see my themes and templates online somewhere like the Leadpages marketplace. I suspect that will dip as well since my themes are not just products for sale, but also marketing tools that help me get clients. That reach will disappear the more Leadpages cleans out the old legacy themes.
Also, Leadpages also hires my company (me) to create custom high quality landing page designs for their new marketplace. It kinda hurts because every time I create a quality page for them I think to myself, “Man, if only the marketplace was thriving, this theme would have made a killing!”
But I’m working with them now and they treat me very well. They have always treated me well and for that, I will always be generous and giving to their company. They helped me get out of the rat race. And I use the builder all the time for my own business and their product is top notch too so I have no problem promoting them.
My second main source of income has been affiliate marketing. Once again, Leadpages’ affiliate sales are on top with that. This is mainly because I use the affiliate links in my themes and templates. That has dipped quite a bit as well. Not sure why exactly, maybe more subscribers dropped out using Leadpages when they were upgrading their platform, but it’s still a good chunk of passive income each month and that helps.
I also receive minimal affiliate income from Convert kit and aWeber. And when I say minimum, I mean minimum. Like I said earlier, all my numbers are listed below. I really haven’t promoted these companies all that well. The reason is because I didn’t have my own site or any site on which to blog more and talk about marketing more. This will change as I continue to do more content creation. Expect those numbers to go up for sure.
Why Convert kit and aWeber you ask?
Well, I was promoting aWeber before Convert kit was even born, so I collected some affiliate income from there. Since then, I learned of Convert kit and realized how much better it was in every way for my needs. So I jumped ship to go to a better product and promoted it more because it’s a better product in my opinion. I want to only promote what I think are top of the line products. So if you are on the lookout for a different kind of email marketing service provider, then I recommend trying Convert kit as it’s the platform I love and use.
My future with affiliate marketing and income generation will increase, but I need to find more quality products to use and stand behind. This will come in time after I focus on content creation.
Ohhh man! This was my bread and butter for the longest time! It sucks to see it dip so low these days, but boy was it a wild ride. I learned so much and for that, I can be nothing but grateful.
The templates I currently have in the Leadpages marketplace are still generating some gas money I suppose. And I still will build and sell theme templates here and there, but not a lot.
I suppose I could diversify my reach and convert my themes to place in different marketplaces like Themeforest or whatever, but doing it for so long I think I’m pretty burnt out, to be honest. It’s keeping up with the support that is such pain, so I think it’s time to pivot into something more secure and less demanding.
The Missing Element
Those are the three things I have been currently doing to make money online. These are awesome and great ways to make money, but the main thing that is missing from it all is this….
They do not build my brand!
If I am going to build a solid and financially secure business doing the things I love, then I need to build something that I’m 100% in control of and that will build my brand.
If you think about the people who make the most money, they are the ones with the biggest brands. Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian, Donald Trump, etc… Some provide enormous value and some….not so much. *cough* Kim Kardashian *cough* (Lol and don’t even get me started on Trump).
So my platform and personal branding need some attention.
Adapting For Success
Being an entrepreneur is not an easy task. If you are a fragile person, the financial uncertainty and self-accountability can eat you alive. The swings and constant level of attention needed to evolve and grow can be stressful and you can burn out and lose motivation.
When I was making $7-$8k a month in passive income from theme sales, I felt like I was on top of the world. I put in hours and hours and hours of work to keep that growing. However, when I still put in those hours and the money started dipping, it started to affect me and my mindset. I started to lose motivation. At first, I started to worry. I started to stress and started thinking it could all end tomorrow and I would be a back to square one, hunting somewhere for a job that I did not want.
I kinda started to care less as time went on, but I think that created a bigger slump. I started sleeping in more, going out with friends, brushing off work and working less. I was back to getting by with the bare minimum and kept thinking I was going to succeed eventually.
Kicking Myself Back into Reality
After months of being in an unproductive slump, I decided I needed to get back on my gallant steed and be a Hero again!
Bad habits are hard to break overnight and it took me a little while to break them, But I will tell you what I did to pick myself back up and motivate myself to take action once more.
First thing I did was I started listening to more business and motivational Youtube videos and audio books. Tony Robbins is the king of this stuff and he will change your life. If you are in a slump, then double down on this stuff because it will keep you motivated, educated, and energized.
From there, I started to take action again and formulate things I could do to make money online. I kept listening and reading business, financial, self-development books and resources.
The Book That Changed Me Overnight
Then I listened to the audiobook “The Morning Miracle”.
At first, I didn’t want to listen to it because I knew it was about being a morning person and ohh, I am not a morning person at all. Dream town is my favorite and I always thought my body needed more sleep than the average person. But I am always on the search for constant growth and self-development, so I purchased it and gave it a chance.
I wish I had read this book in my 20s! Almost overnight I got motivated and eliminated a ton of bad habits in my life. It has helped me be more energized and productive than ever in business and life.
Now my mornings consist of a solid morning routine that helps me gain extra hours in the day and to have more energy. I didn’t think that was possible. Each morning I get up happy and motivated right when the alarm clock goes off. Being poorly conditioned growing up, I use to hit the snooze button over and over thinking those extra 10 minutes gave me more sleep, which gave me more energy. But it just made me more tired. Then after I get up, I do my morning routine and actually exercise to start my day off right. For me, exercising is so difficult, but I just do it and get it out of the way and the reward is a huge boost of energy throughout the day because of it.
I’m not an affiliate or anything for this book and have no relation to the author. I am just telling you this from my experience. I recommend reading it as it has dramatically changed my life and mindset.
Another thing I realized I needed to change if I was going to succeed was my lack of self-accountability. That’s when decided I was going to journal my progress as an entrepreneur.
I really didn’t know where to begin having a journal so I looked online and found John Lee Dumas book “The Freedom Journal”, bit the bullet and purchased it.
I cringed at the price at first, to be honest, but I thought to myself, “JLD has given me a ton of free value over the years, it’s time I pay him in some way for all he’s given me.” I do that with all the people who provide value in my life. That’s why I created this website too. I figured journaling myself will keep me accountable, and if I post it online for the world to see, that will keep me even more accountable and maybe help me with a little brand building too.
Oh, and I am not an affiliate for John Lee Dumas or his book either. I am just using the product.
Ok, enough with my self-development transformation stuff. Let’s talk about what I have done since getting out of my recent slump.
The Game Plan
I have already talked about how I dramatically changed my habits. Hopefully, this lasts long-term. So now let’s talk about business success.
My long-term goal right now is to build a business with minimal capital. The best way to do that I have found is to build an authority website and utilize affiliate marketing and digital product development.
I need financial security so I want to ultimately build my own platform that I have complete control over, and that will help me build my brand. I just need to find a niche now.
In my opinion, finding a niche and getting started is one of the hardest things to do, especially if you don’t already have a passion in mind. Luckily I already found one and wrote a blog post describing my process here (How I found my niche). If you are struggling to find yours, then check it out.
If you are thinking this site is my niche then you are wrong. This site is just my journal/blog to talk about my business building and to help me keep myself accountable. Who knows what the future holds for this site, but right now I’m focused on another authority site.
Project Convert is all about helping small business owners and bloggers optimize their website with creative ways to generate more leads and create more sales. It is an online marketing site that focuses on quick, to-the-point tips, tricks, and walk-throughs for conversion optimization and design.
The reason I went this route was because of the demand and supply. From working with Leadpages’ customers, a lot of people come to me asking me a ton of marketing questions, such as how I can improve their landing page or website, etc.. So I have a lot of experience doing this stuff for clients and know that the demand is there.
I am confident I can develop myself as some kind of authority on the subject and I already have some service and products to sell that will help people in that niche.
My 100-Day Goal
My goal for the end of the 100 days is to create a website that will make a minimum of $2k passively. That may sound low to some and I think I can do more within that time frame but I wanted to set an achievable goal and passive income is not as easy as it sounds. I know I will get more business doing service-based work if I open up that revenue stream, but I think my time is spent more wisely creating content for the long-term play.
To achieve this goal I will need heavy content creation fused with affiliate marketing and product development.
- Post 1-3 blogs a week to start.
- Create 1-5 lead magnets for lead generation.
- Build a minimum of 1 ebook to sell.
- Build a community around niche (FB group).
My plans might change as I learn and grow, but that’s my basic starting point.
What I have Accomplished so Far
My 100-day game plan for my Project Convert website starts today. I have no history in terms of building that site so far. But I have been really busy.
My days to date have been dedicated to making sure my freelancing clients and contract position is taken care of first. That takes a lot time out of my days but priorities are priorities. I have been setting up this site you see here so I can talk about my business adventures.
Lately, I have been focused on setting up this website you see here. The posts have been really long because I’m playing catch-up and I am not good at getting to the point. I guess I feel the substance is in the details. I hope I’m right and I hope my readers agree.
It’s taking me some time to write these posts and the content on the other pages because I well… I suck at writing. But I know with practice, I will get better and start figuring out more efficient systems over time. The fact is I’m doing it and I think that’s the most important part.
Project Founder Instagram
I also set up a Project Founder Instagram which you can view here (@ProjectFounder). It’s proving to be more time-consuming than I anticipated though. I am overly picky on the posts I put up as I want them to be entertaining, but also informative. I also don’t want them to be just cheesy motivational quotes or stick photos like all the other cheesy success Instagram accounts. However, I need to take more real pictures of my life.
The Instagram accounts that get the most followers are ones that post quality photos, have fun, have engaging posts, and are personal. I will need to be more personal and focus on quality over quantity, but that is not the highest priority right now so that will be on the back burner until I get other things set up.
I am also using buffer.com to help me automate my social media posts. I have been doing them once a day because I have little time, but I need to dedicate a day to just buffer a lot of posts to my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as those are the three social media avenues I have chosen. I believe I can kill three birds with one stone if I use Buffer.
My Struggles so Far
There are always constant struggles with growth. But I know it’s the struggles that give me the opportunity to learn something new, grow, and gain experience in my quest.
Since embarking on this adventure, I have been struggling with time management. I never seem to have enough time in the day and things often take a lot longer than expected. Life stuff often gets in the way as well. My systems are not refined, but each day I do work, each day I learn something new to help become more efficient and productive. I’ll learn to build my well-oiled machine, I know it!
I also struggle with trying to be more extroverted and putting myself out there. I find it difficult and don’t want my friends to know I’m on this journey yet – at least not until I’m somewhat successful. I haven’t told anyone I know about my website – not my friends or family, not even my girlfriend. In time I will, but I am afraid if I fail, they will see that in real time. Not a pleasant thought.
Possible Solutions for My Struggles
Right now, I’m working overtime to launch this website and play catch-up. It’s a bit hectic, but once I am caught up I can start creating posts for the future and this will allow me some breathing room with my time.
Of course, these Founder logs cannot be buffered, but if I just do 3 each month, a lot shorter than this one, then I think that shouldn’t take a ton of time out of my busy schedule.
I just need to catch-up and stick to a plan and outline.
Secondly, after I get caught up, I have decided to theme my days to help me spread my work out evenly and should allow me to be efficient. However, I think this will only works if I start buffering my content. Below is a basic example of my theme.
- Sunday: Planning Day
- Monday: Writing Day
- Tuesday: Podcasting Day
- Wednesday: Graphics / Publishing Day
- Thursday: Marketing Day
- Friday: Admin / Misc Day
- Saturday: Family Day
I know what you’re thinking. “Family day is just one day?” Well right now my family is my girlfriend and our dogs, so I have no kids to take care of. Plus I hang out with my family a lot in the afternoons after a long day’s work, so there is plenty of time and attention in that department.
Also with the whole exposure thing, I think this will get better in time as well. I will come out of my introverted shell over time. I feel confident about that.
My Goals for the Next 10 Days.
Ok, here are my goals for the next 10 days! This might change, but this is the plan for now. Man, I have a lot of work, I hope my girlfriend doesn’t get pissed with me working so much…
- Finish writing content and launching Project Founder.(PF)
- Create social media accounts for PF.
- Buffer social media posts for PF.
- Setup ProjectConvert.com. (PC)
- Write About Page / Resource Page for PC.
- Write the first blog PC blog post.
I am not sure exactly where to start with the first blog post for Project Convert site. I have so many ideas written down, but I’ll figure it out I’m sure. I always do.
INCOME BREAKDOWN: AUG 2017
Since this is my very first income breakdown I will have to put it here instead of at the end of August. All future reports will go at the end of each month. This is the report for August 2017.
Freelancing / Contract work:
- Web / Landing Page Design Service: $6,012.50
- Themes & Templates: $675.73
Web Services / Hosting:
- Hostgator: $11.95
- Gmail: $5.00
- Netfirms: $26.00
Marketing / Automation Services:
- Convertkit: $29.00
- Buffer: $8.05
- Subcontractors: $20.00
- Total Gross Income: $7368.53
- Total Spent: $100
- Total Net Profit: $7268.53
As you can see, most of my profit is being made by freelancing, so that will be high priority. However, a bulk of that income is coming from a single client and that scares the living bejesus out of me. I told myself I would never put all my eggs in one basket and here it is again, history repeating itself. I will need to diversify asap.
If that wasn’t bad enough, next month I anticipate Leadpages theme sales to tank even more because they just make more changes to their marketplace. They are not advertising third party themes on the front of their website anymore, only on the inside admin to their members and even then my landing pages are extremely hard to find.
Oh well, such is life. I can’t do much about it and am working to adapt. I am just glad for the experience and opportunity to be part of it in the first place. I will adapt, I will survive, and it will give me even more motivation to strive to succeed.
Ok, that’s enough for me, I hope this is enough of a catch-up post. I’ll be back in 10 days with another Founder Log update on my progress. Hope to see you there!
Cheers to success!