Ebook sales: ~$6.00 ($3.00 for me $3 for Matt)
Web hosting: $13.87
Mass Planner (Twitter automation): $10
Matt and I have removed our e-books from Amazon but we’re still receiving the last bit of income from them when they were active on the platform.
We took them down because they weren’t earning a material amount of income for us and I wanted to offer them for free on my website.
Lack of Expenses
In my last income report, I noted how I wanted to put more money into my entrepreneurial efforts to make me take entrepreneurship more seriously.
Though I still feel this way, I discovered that I need to wait to put money into something that I can focus on singularly.
So I canceled my monthly Buffer expense and am letting my Mass Planner expense expire.
Overestimating my Capacity
A consistent failure of mine is spreading myself too thin or overestimating my capacity.
Last month, I thought, “I’m going to focus more on social media promotion.”
So I purchased various services to that end.
However, I realized that once again I overestimated my capacity and made my focus too broad.
The owner of Wolf Millionaire has mentioned how he spent nearly every waking moment for a year on Instagram, mastering the platform.
Now he makes six figures from his Instagram accounts.
Neil Patel has talked about how you should focus on just one social media platform, master it, and then (and only then) move on to the next one.
Yet here I was saying I would focus on “social media” more.
So what happened?
I poorly managed several social media accounts instead of totally dominating one.
Goals, Strategies, Objectives, Tactics
As I recently hit the 6 month mile marker on my blog and have yet to experience reliable cash flow, I’ve refocused my attention on questions like:
What’s my goal with the blog and how can I better achieve this goal?
Recent article research lead me to this Forbes article where the author clearly differentiates between the concepts below that have really helped me answer these questions.:
- A goal is a broad primary outcome.
- A strategy is the approach you take to achieve a goal.
- An objective is a measurable step you take to achieve a strategy.
- A tactic is a tool you use in pursuing an objective associated with a strategy.
The differentiation of these concepts has helped me view the full scope of my business with both a bird’s eye view and a focus on daily operations.
Here’s how I define these terms in my own context.
- My goal: have an internet business that pays the bills and enables me to be time and location independent
- My strategy: monetize my blog through affiliate sales and selling my own products
- My objective: use organic search traffic (SEO) or social media to drive traffic and ultimately sales
- My tactics: The Skyscraper Technique and the Pinterest Backlink Mining Technique or social media growth tactics.
I don’t think my goal will change much but my strategies, objectives, and tactics (SOT) are much more fluid.
One the one hand, this is good because I’m open to whatever SOTs get me to my goal.
On the other hand, I have not been focused or consistent enough to achieve my goal yet because I haven’t put in the necessary effort with any one SOT to see results.
This lack of focus is a shortcoming of mine and one that I’m actively trying to overcome.
That’s why I plan on focusing on search engine optimization to monetize my blog for the next 6 months.
One of the reasons why I’ve chosen to adopt this objective and its respective tactics exclusively is because (IMO) it’s easier to model than social media success.
More on that below.
The Importance of Modeling Success
I had a major realization this past month.
It all started with my day job.
I spend the majority of my 8 to 5 making financial models.
This might sound impressive, but really my financial models are simple.
I input some assumptions in an excel document, I evaluate how much cash we receive and how much cash we spend based on these assumptions, and then the firm buys or sells based on these cash flows and assumptions.
It’s not rocket-science.
It’s just good planning.
Yet for some reason, I had never made a model for entrepreneurial endeavors.
So this month I started modeling some business ideas I had.
And it was extremely helpful.
In fact, modeling was one of the reasons I decided to refocus my traffic-driving efforts on SEO; because it seems there’s more solid data behind SEO than there is behind social media.
Here’s some data I’ve found that has helped me model blog success with SEO:
- According to studies by Ahrefs, you have the highest likelihood of ranking in the top 10 Google search results within 2 to 6 months if you target a search keyword/phrase with small search volume (< 20,000 searches a month)
- A search engine watch study indicates that the number one Google search result receives 33% of that search term’s monthly traffic.
- Larry Kim with Search Engine Land has data that indicates conversion rates vary widely across industries but that a 1% conversion is a fairly safe estimate.
- SEO expert Brian Dean explains how the rate at which advertisers pay for their ads to show up next to search results of a certain term (or the cost per click, CPC) is an effective gauge of commercial intent (or how likely searchers of that keyword or phrase are to purchase something)
- Rand Fishkin, a web marketing expert with moz.com, explains how you need to focus on how to create something 10X better than the current search results for a given term if you want to outrank the competition.
- The number of backlinks to a page correlates with higher search engine rankings more than anything else, so if you want to outrank the competition, you should try to obtain more backlinks than the competition. (source)
- Once you’ve created 10X content, an effective way to get backlinks is to email everyone linking to similar (but inferior) content and ask them to update their content with a link to your post.
- Internet marketing pro, Neil Patel says you should expect a 5% conversion rate for backlink requests so for every 100 people you email asking that they update their content with a link to your blog, 5 will actually do it. I prefer to estimate a more conservative 3% conversion (since this is what I’ve actually experienced).
Given this information, you can build a rough model for how blog success can happen.
For instance, say you find a search phrase with 18,000 searches a month, high CPC (commercial intent), 50 backlinks pointing to it, and current first page search results that you can 10X in terms of quality.
You could probably rank for this search phrase in 2 to 6 months by creating content 10X better than what currently ranks and by sending ~1020 outreach emails to those linking to similar (but inferior) content asking them to link to your content.
If you send 1020 emails and 5% of them actually update their content with a link to your post, you would receive 51 backlinks to your content.
Assuming you take the number one search result spot for this keyphrase, you would receive roughly 6,000 monthly search visitors.
If 1% of these visitors convert and you sell say, Bluehost affiliate web hosting at $65 a conversion, you would earn ~$3900 in monthly revenue.
Not bad for one blog post.
Of course this is a model or estimate, and things won’t shake out exactly as planned.
But this model illustrates why modeling in general is so helpful.
First, it gives you a timeline of success.
If it takes you approximately 3 months to create 10x content and find 1020 email prospects and then another 6 months for rankings to update, you could be earning $3900 in revenue in ~9 months.
A timeline like this makes expectations more realistic and helps you understand just how long success can take.
Models also help clarify what exactly needs to be done on a daily basis to achieve long-term goals.
In the example above, you can break down the goal into daily or weekly mile markers.
Maybe you give yourself 1 month to create the content and each week represents a milestone. (week 1: research, week 2: outline, week 3: rough draft, week 4: complete)
And then you have 2 months to find email prospects and prepare an email template which might mean finding ~130 email prospects each week.
This back-and-forth between big-pictures goals and the daily work to achieve them is a critical skill for the entrepreneur and one I am continually trying to develop.
Every month I write these income reports, I marvel at how much blogging and trying to start a business has taught me in a fairly short time.
I highly recommend it to anyone even mildly inclined to entrepreneurship or life-long learning.