Yikes, the year is already half over!
This is the second installment of my quarterly progress reports. If you want to check out the first one from April, you can do so here.
Why “progress”? Because that’s what it’s all about.
To me, progress means forward motion, or actively taking the steps to improve each day. It’s one thing we can control.
Progress is universal; everyone can make progress toward their goals in some meaningful way, however small the steps may seem.
As you’ll see, it’s a cumulative, iterative process we can work on week in and week out.
Growth of the Nation
There are 3 main metrics I track: website traffic, podcast downloads, and email subscribers. The latter is the most important.
Side Hustle Nation earned a little over 1300 visits a day during the second quarter of 2015. Traffic was pretty consistent throughout the quarter, but was more than 3x higher than it was during the same time period last year.
The tallest point on the graph was on May 21st, when my episode with Lise Cartwright was released. Some strong Facebook traffic that day combined with clicks from my newsletter to create a record traffic day.
The Side Hustle Show continues to be an excellent growth engine, averaging just over 2000 downloads per day in Q2. For comparison, I was only seeing 295 downloads per day this time period last year.
Unlike the website traffic, the show is seeing a slow and steady upward climb so far this year. The weekly spikes are generally on Thursdays when new episodes are released.
A couple interesting points on this chart are the big wave in the middle. That was due to my early May appearance on Entrepreneur on Fire, a very popular business podcast. The growth in listeners has fallen off since then, but the new episode spikes are still much higher than they were before that show aired.
And then in June I hit nearly 5500 downloads in a single day, but it was on a random Wednesday when no new episode was released. Unfortunately podcast analytics aren’t that great so I really have no idea where those downloads were coming from. Still, I’ll take it!
I added around 40 net new subscribers each day in the first quarter. Unfortunately I can’t get the AWeber data to compare to the prior year, but suffice to say it’s accelerated quite a bit from 2014.
What’s the secret sauce? Last year I had two lead magnets. Now I have close to 50.
What I Shipped
I worked on a bunch of different projects the last 3 months. Here they are in no particular order.
19 Podcast Episodes
The most popular ones were:
- Earning $3000-$4000 per Month on Kindle in Just 6 Months as a “Professional” Author, with Lise Cartwright
- How to Retire in Your 30s, with Jeremy Jacobson
- How to Build and Monetize a Blog from the Ground Up, with Melinda Fleming
15 Blog Posts
I’ve found myself doing more batch-processing with my blogging lately. Like knocking out 3 or 4 posts within a few days and scheduling them out over the course of the month. In fact, I’ve got my editorial calendar mapped out several weeks in advance which feels great.
With blogging, there’s a constant pressure to post, but I actually think the process of sticking to a schedule is really helpful for the creative process. And hey, if you really can’t come up with something it’s not the end of the world either.
Here are the most popular articles from Q2 on Side Hustle Nation:
- How to Start a Business in 7 Days
- My First Amazon FBA Clearance Arbitrage Shopping Trips – And My First Sales!
- Udemy Launch Strategy and Results – $3525 in 60 Days
One interesting/important note is that NONE of those articles were in the Top 20 of most highly trafficked pages on SHN during the quarter. That’s the power of writing a ton of content over time and having it indexed in the search engines.
Not everything you write has to be a viral hit, but it can serve you for months or years down the road. For example, the most popular post of the quarter in terms of traffic was actually a brief post from 2011 (2 years pre-SHN) on “What Makes SmartWater Smart?”
The 15 blog posts figure does not include posts I wrote for other sites, but I was slacking and actually didn’t have any guest posts for the quarter.
An Updated Edition of Work Smarter
On May 11th, I re-released the Work Smarter book, which has been my bestselling Kindle title to date. The updated edition was beefed up to include more than 500 unique resources named by over 800 entrepreneurs. It’s a beast!
The re-launch generated over 4700 downloads but the residual sales have been disappointing compared to last year.
Still, it’s an important part of self-publishing catalog and may pivot the concept to other book ideas in the future.
A New Volume of The Side Hustle Path
This series serves a few purposes:
- It allows me to re-purpose my podcast content to book form and potentially reach new people through Amazon.
- It allows me to test out new strategies, such as giving the first book away permafree. (I’ve given away more than 10,000 copies so far; click here to check out my permafree strategy and results.)
- It allows me to continue to build out my author portfolio. Each new title adds to my discoverability in Amazon and can turn into a brand-building and passive income asset.
A New Fiverr Gig
Last year I talked about my results as a Fiverr seller, and how I wanted to grow the business, but so far, the opposite has happened.
I’ve had my main gigs paused much of the time to focus on other projects, but may resume them shortly.
The one gig I added was a massive list of blog post ideas. (Purposely not linking it here.) It took a while to research and compile (Fancy Hands helped), and it’s slowly making a few sales and collecting reviews.
I have a few more gig ideas I’d like to test out, because I still feel like there’s a great opportunity on the site. In fact, with their custom quote feature, you can now sell services up to $10,000.
My First Amazon FBA Sales
I’ve spent more time shopping in the past month than I have probably in the last 10 years of my life combined. The reason is I’ve started a new experiment called clearance arbitrage that involves finding cheap items locally (like at Walmart), and reselling them online.
Check out my full post for where I’ve been hunting, what I bought, and what’s sold so far.
11 Ways I Earned Money This Quarter
1. Affiliate Marketing. This is essentially helping other businesses sell their product or service online, and I do this both through Side Hustle Nation and other sites.
2. Online Courses. I’ve been averaging around $500 a month between Udemy and Skillshare lately. Here’s my full breakdown on my Udemy course launch.
3. Self-Publishing. My Amazon books haven’t been setting any bestseller records this year, but this channel still provides a steady stream of semi-passive income.
4. Fiverr. The Fiverr business is down compared with last year (when they put my mug on the homepage), but I’m trying to transition to a portfolio of non-labor-intensive gigs.
5. Freelancing. I got paid this quarter both a freelance writer and as an editor. I’m not talking about huge bucks here but every little bit counts.
6. Peer-to-Peer Lending. I consider my experiment with Prosper more of an investment than a side hustle, but it is automated and spins off cash each month (which I reinvest). Over the 4.5 years I’ve had my account, I’m earning 11.6% and have averaged around $230/mo in cash flow this year.
7. Sponsored Content. Occasionally you might see sponsored posts on Side Hustle Nation. These are typically written and vetted by me, and I have to turn down the VAST majority of requests I get, but I’m not above accepting money for my writing every now and then. If you have a blog, check out my post on how sponsored posts work and how you can get started.
8. Amazon FBA. This is the latest addition to my hustle-repertoire, but I’m excited about where it can go. I’m following along with the process Will Mitchell from StartupBros laid out during our podcast episode and during our free webinar to see if I can experiment with selling some physical products.
One thing to note on this business is while I have received payment for my first batch of Amazon orders, I’m still cash flow negative because of all the other inventory I’ve purchased that hasn’t sold yet.
9. Clarity.fm. Clarity is a pay-by-the-minute consulting platform, where you can connect with experts in whatever field you need help in. It’s actually pretty fun and because both parties know the clock is ticking, the conversations are pretty high-value. I had a similar number of calls this quarter as last quarter, and currently have my rate set to $100/hour.
10. Mastermind Hosting. The Side Hustle Nation Inner Circle Mastermind has expanded to two groups this quarter, and this is one of my favorite parts of the week. One thing that’s exciting now is watching some of the mastermind members turn around and apply the same model as a revenue stream to their businesses!
11. Private Coaching and Consulting. This portion of the business grew at a decent clip in Q2, and I think it will probably continue to follow the overall growth of the site. The “public coaching” episodes of The Side Hustle Show have probably helped as well. They don’t always get as many listeners as the regular episodes, but those who do listen seem to be really engaged and provide great feedback.
What I Read
As I’m glancing back through my Kindle app, I’m realizing I kind of fell off the reading wagon this quarter. It’s entirely filled with books from friends, which is awesome to see, but normally I’d have some other titles in there too.
Two books I did read that are worth mentioning:
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You. This was a gift from Paul Middlebrooks of Entrepreneurs in Training. My interpretation of it was rather than pursue a “passion,” if you want to make money, get really really good at a certain skill. And like Nick Reese explained in our podcast last year, passion can come from the journey to mastery.
- Authority. I’ve had this quick read by Nathan Barry sitting on the shelf for over a year, but it’s all about self-publishing and selling books directly through your own site, NOT through Amazon. Definitely some good takeaways in here, especially about priming our audience for a launch and creating a sales page that converts.
I just visited the library this morning and had a Good Will Hunting moment (skip to 3:15) as I paid my $4 in late fees. While I was there, I picked up 80/20 Sales and Marketing (recommended by Chandler Bolt and Steve Scott) and The 12 Week Year (recommended by Scott Britton and Mark Podolsky).
Haha maybe that will be my new rule — wait until I hear two recommendations for a book before reading it :)
What’s on your reading list? Any recommendations?
By the way, if you want a quick primer on tons of cool books, check out Alex Barker’s 66 Day Experiment podcast. He’s becoming my daily Cliff’s Notes.
Some Fun Biz / Lifestyle Stuff That Happened This Quarter
- I went to New Media Expo in Las Vegas and got to hang out with an awesome crew of entrepreneurs. Here’s my post on how to save money on conferences.
(Photo credit Tom Drake)
- Mom and Dad came to visit.
- We visited friends in Washington, DC. (And hosted a fun SHN dinner meetup!)
Want to get notified of a meetup near you? I’ve got a few more trips coming up this year (Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta?, Seattle?). Be sure to jump on my email list to get updates.
- I was in a ballet.
- I went 48 hours away from email for the first time in probably a decade.
- I attended the FunnyBizz conference in San Francisco.
- I walked 20 miles at the local annual Relay for Life.
At the beginning of the year I set goals following a 10/100/1000/10,000 pattern:
- 10,000 active subscribers
- 1000 “true fans”
- 100 customers
- 10 clients
And in the original post I described how I was going to define and measure those.
Earning 40 net new subscribers a day, I’m feeling good about this one. Using the metric I set up (at least one message opened in the last month), I’m slightly ahead of pace to reach 10,000 by the end of the year.
This one is harder to measure, but I believe experiments like my personal email outreach to people who fill out my welcome survey and the SH Nation Facebook group (now with over 800 members!) are having a positive impact on this.
I need a better system to track the happy emails and tweets I get.
I said a customer was anyone who spends $50 or more with me, and I’m around 80 unique customers so far this year. These are across a broad ranges of hustles, including freelancing clients, affiliate partners, advertisers, coaching clients, and mastermind members.
So in pretty good shape on this one, and might have to raise it up to a $100 threshold. Though for full-disclosure I’m “rounding up” for several people who booked a $49 strategy session at the moment. :)
I defined a client as someone spending $1000 or more with me. I’m sitting at 5 so far, so I’m on track. These are primarily affiliate partners, but by the end of the year could include long-term coaching clients and other advertising partners.
Keep calm and hustle on!
Gonna keep learning more about the Amazon physical product business, plus have another couple book ideas that may turn into reality. There’s another service business idea and an affiliate site kicking around in my head as well …
Lots of travel coming up this summer too, including Podcast Movement and FinCon. Will I see you there?
What’s on the top of your agenda for this quarter?