Friday, August 31, 2012

First Passive Income Payment

There it is! My first passive income payment ever, from my very first eBook sales in the last week of June, reflected in my bank account. This is awesome.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My Net Worth (It's Less Than Zero)

I just calculated my net worth and discovered that it currently stands at -$3,140. It's negative because I have approximately $6,000 in student loan debt and only a few current assets, mostly jewelry and music gear.

The good news: this is changing!

In addition to making more money, I'm also re-implementing my plan to save money. I'm more or less following the principles of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, which appeals to me because it espouses a credit card-free, debt-free lifestyle. My desire to be debt free is not rooted in religion or morals. I just think debt's really dumb.

"...but shouldn't you buy it before you have the money?"

Ramsey's six-step plan in a nutshell

  1. Save up a starter emergency fund of $1000
  2. Pay off all of your debts, smallest to largest, but do not reallocate the money freed by paying off the first debt. Put it toward the next debt and pay it off faster
  3. Fully fund your emergency fund with three to six months of living expenses
  4. Invest 15% of income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement
  5. College funding for kids if you got 'em (I don't, and don't plan to any time in the next ten years)
  6. Pay off mortgage early
  7. Build wealth and give
Step 0, if you are not current on your debt payments, is to get current.

My 'year of broke' is coming to an end

I've written out a budget for the next two months. My income is increasing 250 percent over that period. I'll be getting current on my payments this coming month and re-starting my emergency fund the next (I had it about a year ago, and had also managed to throw $1,200 at my student loans before choosing to travel with the money I'd saved instead of holding on to it. It was fun and I certainly don't regret my awesome month in Southern California or the financial consequences it incurred, but 'lesson learned'). I can't believe that I'm only $3,000 away from establishing a positive net worth.

I'm very lucky because I graduated college with a relatively small debt load (about $8,000). I've never owned a credit card and have never had the chance to get into any kind of credit card debt. My situation got bad, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

Anyway, having a positive net worth has a strong psychological association for me. It's something that I've never really cared much about, but climbing out of the hole symbolizes the the beginning of building real wealth. I should get used to saying that word: 'wealth'. After all, I won't be saying 'broke' much anymore.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Buying Internet Marketing Courses

I'm gonna be straight with you.

I am broke right now. I'm doing great with passive income and am wildly exceeding my goals, but the money that I've earned for that comes on a two month delay, which reminds me...

DIVERSION: Today (actually, yesterday - it's 1:30am currently) I received my first royalty payments from Amazon and B&N - a whopping $23.45 for copies sold in the last week of June - directly into my bank account. That small sum - the first fruits of my labor - gave me so much motivation to work today. I've been churning away at my sales page all day and am now almost done!

...Okay, back to the topic at hand.

My passive income journey started after I was laid off from my last job at a tech startup. I was quite sad about it because it was one of the few jobs I've had that I actually liked, and a much welcome relief after several months of dire brokeness due to poor planning on my part.

My savings were running out and I was beginning to get desperate. I was Google surfing one night, as I remembered having recently stumbled upon a video showing how to set up a quick affiliate marketing/AdSense-based website. My search brought me to Matt Carter's Marketing Blog, where I signed up for his list and immediately received an email that set me off on my path to learn.

The Bug Is Planted

I was so impressed by Lisa Parmley's webinar for Matt - which I received through the email list - that I set aside some of my savings to buy her Authority Site Model course (which is easily worth the price. She continually updates with valuable content and excellent bonuses). I built a site according to her model and launched it after about a month of work.

Shortly before I was to dive into the 'promotion' phase of the site launch, Steve Pavlina began writing his Passive Income Series and recommended Vic Johnson's Getting Rich with eBooks 3.0 course. Intrigued, I clicked and watched the sales video. I found it very inspiring, but I ultimately convinced myself not to buy it, not even to spend my money on the $12 trial (biggest reason: I couldn't afford it).

Writing an eBook appealed to me a lot more than running a website, as I had just learned to do. I stalled and stalled on promoting this site in favor of doing a little bootstrapping and writing my first eBook. Lisa's course (which had nothing to do with eBooks, btw) had taught me enough about keyword and market research to figure out a niche that would sell well. Within a day or two of posting my first eBook to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I made my first sale.

Still Waiting For My Money - But Still Learning

I've been in the eBook game for a little over two months. So far, I've made almost $1,200 with zero expenses. I've yet to see most of it because, again, royalty payouts are on a two-month lag. I have larger plans that grow as I learn more and make money to invest in future projects. In the future, I would like to use a paid distribution service, outsource the design of my eBook covers, and probably outsource as much as I can to make myself more efficient - but I enjoy the challenge of being a one-woman show for now.

I'm on the fence about whether or not to spend future earnings on more courses. I find it quite helpful and educational to keep watching the webinars from Matt Carter's email list. I watched one today that helped me take my eBook master plan to another plane of potential, gave me a ton of great ideas, and got me really excited. I'm sure there are other great sources for free IM webinars, but Matt's is just what I know. They're free and contain enough information to be helpful, but I feel that my knowledge of IM is strong enough now to be able to piece the rest of the info (contained in the courses these presenters are hard-selling in the latter half of their webinars) together on my own. IM is not rocket science, and sound fundamentals are like literacy: you need to know the building blocks (ABCs) and how to put them together (spelling, phonics, pronunciation, grammar), but once you know the fundamentals, you can use what you know to figure the hard stuff out. After reading predominantly negative reviews for Getting Rich With eBooks 3.0, which I seriously considered buying, I'm feeling pretty comfortable with this way of doing things.

Share your favorite free IM info sources (I'm partial to long-format presentations myself) in the comments below.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sales Page Is Underway

I finally got the momentum going to do some serious work on writing my sales page. Small wonder that the bulk of the hard stuff is done now - half of the difficulty was in starting the work.

I know a fair amount about site building basics, but there are still a few things that throw me for a loop. I'm using a WYSIWYG editor to build the site, and learning that is a whole task in itself. Getting things to line up and look good is frustrating. I've been driving myself crazy with Photoshop tutorials to create decent graphics for the site, but managed to make acceptable-looking items with my rudimentary knowledge.

(You may suggest that I hire out the confusing work to other people. I totally would if I could! Let's hope this site is successful so that I can contract out work on my next project, which I already have a seed idea for)

I may just need to bite the bullet and sign up for AWeber now. Okay, enough talking. Back to work.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Making a Sales Page Seems Really Hard

There's something about writing a sales page that I'm finding quite daunting. The whole idea of rolling out a website is really intimidating me and causing me to stall. In this post, I'm going to outline the reasons why I am hesitating.

What are the benefits of a good sales page?

  • Potential for a strong increase in income via SEO and targeted promotion.
  • I only need to do it once!
  • Need I say more?

Why I'm Hesitating

  • Daunting - something I've never done before and have to learn to do from scratch. Sales copy, web design, planning - yikes! In a perfect world, I'd have someone design the sales page for me, but at this stage in the business it's not really possible.
  • Perfectionism - I'm a perfectionist and am terrified of not building my sales page the 'right way'.
  • Wrist Pain - I've got some serious problems with my wrists that have lately kept me from spending too much time typing, which is the biggest trigger for my pain. Fortunately, it's been getting a lot better in recent weeks as I've undertaken a new regimen and taken new precautions to alleviate some of my symptoms. In a perfect world, I'd also have someone do this for me.
  • Overcoming Laziness - I don't know how lazy I am objectively, but I certainly beat myself up over it an awful lot. This is counterproductive.

What Is the Next Step?

I've spent the last few weeks sporadically studying what goes into a good ebook sales page. I've also downloaded a few templates. I'm going to write out a step-by-step list by hand, from drafting the sales copy to my promotion strategy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

July 2012: $473

The month's results are in!

In July, my first full month selling ebooks, I vastly exceeded my goal of $200 and pulled in $473.

This month, it looks as though I'll make more, but probably only an additional $125 dollars. This month I'm rolling out a sales page, upgrading my copy on the existing listings, and deploying a promotion plan. I really think that I could leverage these books far more - I see other people who've vigilantly promoted similar books doing much, much better than me (albeit on broader topics). I'm satsfied with my results with the very little promomtion I have done, but once I have an actual optimized web page to link back to, I think the results will be quite incredible.