Welcome to my Build in Public report, where I discuss the activities contributing to my building a $20K/month one-person business (starting from zero) and what I have learned each month.
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In this edition:
Why am I sharing my income report publicly?The story of how I ended up in Danang and the path that led me hereChanging the way that I approach making a livingImportant Goings-On for SeptemberSeptember 2022 Income BreakdownImportant things that I LearnedWhat’s next
Why am I sharing my income report publicly?
Since I started these weekly build-in public updates on Sept 18, I’ve been going back and forth about whether I wanted to share any income reports publicly.
In the end, I decided that if I am to build in public, then transparency is key.
By openly sharing what’s working (and what’s not) in my business, I hope this can also be a valuable learning tool for others.
Just as I was inspired by the income reports of entrepreneurs such as Pat Flynn, Monica Lent, and Sadie Smiley, I hope this report will do the same for others.
I also realized that I could choose the level of transparency and be careful about what information I share. For example, I am comfortable sharing my total revenue, but I will not be sharing detailed information about individual products, services, or confidential client information.
Being held accountable is another reason I choose to share my experiences. I am more likely to stay on track and develop a habit of regular self-reflection.
The story of how I ended up in Danang and the path that led me here
Somewhere between the start of the pandemic in 2020 and the start of 2022, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions which led to me reassessing my priorities and what I wanted out of life.
I won’t get into all the details here, but suffice it to say that I went through periods of languishing, burnout, and soul-searching. After grinding for six years, it was time to take a break and rediscover the things that brought me joy.
My wife and I also decided in early June that after being stuck in the same apartment and routine in Sydney for the past two years, it was time for us to move to greener pastures. Danang, Vietnam, would be our new home.
In less than two weeks, we put our stuff in storage, gave back the keys to our apartment, said bye to friends and family, and booked a one-way ticket out of Sydney.
Before we made our way to Danang, we took a spontaneous trip to the West Coast of the US and Canada for a bit over a month. We had an incredible time at a week-long event in Portland, caught up with some of my dearest friends in Vancouver and San Francisco, and did what we love most – go on an adventure together.
In July, we finally landed in Danang, found an apartment, rented a scooter, and settled in.
All the travel and time off was just what I needed to recharge my batteries and get clarity on what I wanted to do next.
Changing the way that I approach making a living
While on my break, I decided to do something I’ve wanted to do for years:
Work with only a handful of high-value clients, Get serious with growing my monthly affiliate income and Start building and selling digital products.
I have always been interested in the idea of creating and selling my own products. I’d tried to launch group coaching programs in the past, and the idea of selling some kind of DIY course had been on my mind for a while.
But I never took the plunge because I wasn’t confident in my ability to create something people would actually want to buy. And I wasn’t sure if I had the time and energy to invest in something new while still working with clients one-on-one.
After my break, I felt ready to take on the challenge. And I was more confident than ever that this was the right direction for my business.
I’m building my business with a different philosophy this time around – slow growth. This means:
I’m prioritizing my mental health, time for rest, enjoying life, and my marriage. I’m also focusing on developing my writing skills and creating something of lasting value.
I’m 43 years old and intent on building a sustainable one-person business that affords me the lifestyle I want while also creating something that matters.
I’m extremely grateful that my wife and I have enough savings to live off for at least a year here, giving me the space to take my time with this transition.
This doesn’t mean I don’t have goals or that I’m not hustling – I absolutely am. I’m just not running myself into the ground and sacrificing my health and relationships in the process.
I’m not sure where this journey will take me, but I’m excited to find out.
Important Goings-On for September
Kicked off my new and improved weekly newsletter on September 16. Set up my Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)Finalised rebranding process and launching my new website and domain.Identified opportunities to optimize my website content and grow my organic traffic.Started working on a client projects again. Completed 80% of the 2 Hour Writer course.
September 2022 Income Breakdown
Since taking my break, this is my first real income report, and I’m happy to say it was a good month. It was my best month so far for 2022, actually.
Here’s a breakdown of all the income that I generated in September: (amounts are in AUD)
In August, I slowly started working again. I earned a total of $50 for some project work I did for a client. That’s it. The total affiliate commissions amount is actually a payout for four months of earnings that had been sitting in my Paypal account, so the figure above is misleading. The actual amount for Sept earned was $121.30 USD (approx. $189 AUD). This is all coming from one affiliate product that I’ve been promoting.
Important Things That I Learned
You never know when a past client will come back to you (and it pays to keep in touch regularly)
As you can see from my income breakdown, the biggest source of income came from case study articles. This was one order for four done-for-you case studies placed by a single client.
To give myself a pat on the back (which I seriously need to do more often), I often kept in touch with this client via Facebook. When I had a VA, I had my VA reach out to all of my best clients once every couple of months to see how they were doing. I’d also consistently sent a weekly newsletter to which this client is subscribed.
There’s always a better way to do something, so you’ve got to invest in learning
In August, I paid for an online course, “2 Hour Writer“. I was doubtful about spending money on another online course since I’d bought a couple that I had never even started in the past, but this one seemed worth it. In recent months I’ve also become a fan of the Creator’s work and approach.
This digital product contains a series of video-based lessons that will teach you how to improve your digital writing skills and build a content ecosystem to help you grow your audience and sell online. The big promise was that this system would only require around 2 hours of work per day.
For a couple of weeks in Sept, I blocked off time each day to work through the material. I’m still going through the course, so I’ll do a proper product review later, but I’ve already received tremendous value from the lessons.
It’s practical, and the course creator provides real examples from his work and other peoples’ work to aid in learning. I’ve since implemented a routine to help me produce a high-quality weekly newsletter for my subscribers, and I’ve been getting positive feedback like the one below, which I’m stoked about.
Affiliate income can be passive, but it’s not 100% passive
So what do I mean by this?
Here’s how I got started with affiliate marketing:
In April 2021, I signed up for a free trial of some software that I had heard about online.I played around with it and liked what I saw. I had also joined their community FB group and saw they were launching a new unlimited plan with one particular awesome feature.I signed up for one year of the unlimited plan on a special launch offer.I then registered for the affiliate program for the product on Apr 5, 2021.That same week I hosted a 45-minute live stream demo of what the tool could do (that went to FB as well as Youtube)Somebody saw my video, and I made my first affiliate commission 7 days later. The amount was $8.70 USD. While it wasn’t a life-changing amount, it did give me the confidence that earning affiliate income was feasible.
So I started making tutorial videos on youtube and blogging about how I was using the tool for a couple of months. I recorded three or four videos and published two articles on my website that mentioned the product.
Here’s the kicker – I haven’t done much since and I’ve been getting monthly payments into my Paypal account.
Here’s a breakdown of monthly affiliate payments that I’ve been receiving in Paypal since Feb 2022:
As you can see, this income is now mostly passive.
But to increase the amount of passive income that I’m getting each month, I need to:
Increase the amount of traffic coming to my articles where I mention the productCreate more content to show off what the tool can do.Create content to promote other affiliate products so that I’m not over reliant on only one affiliate product to generate income for me each month.
Create more content to promote the affiliate product that’s already making me money.Explore a couple of opportunities to partner with complimentary businesses to offer my done-for-you services to their clients. I’m particularly keen on getting 1 or 2 referral partners for my monthly article-writing service.Continue to produce weekly newsletters that deep dive into topics that I care about, and that my readers may find useful. And test different ways to promote my newsletter to get more readers.
Feel free to email me with any comments, suggestions, or criticism you may have! I’d especially like to hear any plans you may have for the near future to help you earn money online through affiliate or digital products.
I’ll be publishing these build-in-public/income reports monthly from now on. I just find that I’ve already got a lot going on, monthly updates are juicier, and weekly updates no longer make sense.
Thanks for reading!
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