Our Monthly Income Report – April 2013
Welcome to our April 2013 monthly business and income report!
While our last report was a quarterly report (focusing on Jan – Mar details) your overwhelming requests to go back to a monthly schedule have us back to reporting monthly status updates. 🙂
We love hearing about how much these reports inspire and encourage you to continue to build and grow your own online empire. That’s part of the reason we openly share this information with you, but there’s also value for us brought about with the introspection that comes with writing these reports.
Having to take an open and honest look at our strengths, weaknesses, and growth opportunities (along with the feedback you deliver) provides us insights into our business we wouldn’t have otherwise. It gives us an opportunity to look at our business from the outside in, and (I hope) leads us to make better-informed decisions about the direction our company should take
Most of this revenue comes from you.
Whether you’re a long-standing outsourcing client of ours or you happened to use one of our affiliate links to buy a piece of software, we wanted to thank you for your continued support as we continue to expand our online empire.
Alright…let’s dig into the details!
I should start off this report with an admission – I’m significantly less confident with the numbers this month than I have been in the past. Every month I’ve used a combination of digging through emails, logging into affiliate platforms and accounts, Quickbooks, etc. and I’ve verified those numbers by checking our bank accounts and Paypal. Some changes to our classifications and a bazillion micro-payments in our Paypal account this month have made some of that verification virtually impossible. All of the income streams have been verified and, if anything, are under-reported. (Except for IntelliTheme…I think we’ve had $1K-ish in refunds that I’ve not accounted for)
The lesson learned here is that, as our business continues to mature and we add additional revenue streams, tracking these numbers as I’ve done previously is unsustainable. I’m working with our bookkeeper that will take the reporting aspect involved here off my plate and give me a nice, easy-to-digest report each month from which I can run the numbers. We get reports now, but they’re not how I need them and typically 1.5 – 2 months behind.[callout]”We’re getting to the point where having a better understanding of detailed business analytics could have a real impact on our bottom line”[/callout]
One last thing regarding numbers – we’re getting to the point where having a better understanding of detailed business analytics could have a real impact on our bottom line. Most of our internal data right now revolves around overall cash-flow and project-based ROI numbers. That’s actually preferable in the early stages of a company, I think. (Spending too much time/effort/energy on tracking can HURT growth efforts) If we intend to grow at this point, though, we need to have a better grasp on the Lifetime Value (LTV) of our customers and need to understand the entry points for customers so that we can better focus our marketing efforts, etc. My guess is that we’d get more out of customer development than new customer outreach, but it’s going to take some testing to validate that assumption.
What We’re Working On
April was a pretty big month for us in terms of getting some new projects shipped. With the re-launch of IntelliTheme, our guest posts on Flippa, and pushing out a weekly podcast, we’ve been pretty busy! While we’ve got some great content coming out through the blog and the podcast in coming weeks, much of our efforts in May/June will be internal. We’re carrying over a few of the projects mentioned in the last income report, but we’re also working on:
- Data And Systems Migration: Moving all of our data and customer records from disparate systems like email, AWeber and our vTiger CRM into Office Autopilot is going to be quite the job and a bit complicated. In addition to migrating the data, we’re also looking to clean up our records by deleting duplicates, adding appropriate tags, automating some of the emails and tasks, etc. After setting it up and migrating the data, it’s also critical that we have a smooth adoption process with our team. We’ll have to train our agents on the new process with the new system and ensure it’s all running smoothly.
- New Products: I had a chat with our Intern (Erik) the other day regarding Customer Support staff. Most of our support packages are $3K+ per month which puts us out of the price range for many eCommerce shops, early-stage entrepreneurs, etc. We have our own internal support team right now that are working out extremely well with Zendesk and they have some extra hours available. The plan is to offer Zendesk support on a per-ticket basis…allowing entrepreneurs to use up their pre-purchases support tickets as they come in. This will allow us to offer support to a much broader audience – We should have this out by the end of May. We’re also looking at a content editing/syndication service, but we’re still working out the details. 🙂
- Adding Staff: There have been a few speedbumps with us bringing on a new Hiring Manager, but we’re looking to have most of those sorted by the end of the month. Some of our teams are at capacity and with new projects, products, and potential outsourcing clients coming up we really need additional team members in the coming weeks/months. We’re looking to bring on additional support, content, and technical staff to cover our expected growth. We probably won’t fully utilize the additional staff for a couple of months, but if we don’t get them onboard and ready to go today we won’t be where we need to be in Q3/Q4 of this year.
These are definitely a few of the less exciting aspects of our business, but critical to our continued development and our longer-term goals.
We had a total of 20,053 visits to EmpireFlippers.com in April:
That’s an improvement from our 51.5K visits in the first quarter. Here’s a look at our most popular content in April:
It’s helpful to see that our most popular content on the site includes our “paid” pages like the marketplace, products and services, etc…but I worry this highlights a bigger problem – it’s not very easy to find some of our best content. I think having our Get Started page is helpful for those new to the brand, but I’d like to make it a bit easier for people to quickly/easily find some of our older content for reference.
Here’s a look at our top referral sources for the month:
It’s pretty surprising to see Facebook at the top of the list, considering we don’t actually do much promotion there. There are less “new” visitors finding us through Facebook, so it’s mostly people familiar with our brand that are likely seeing and sharing our posts. It’s funny…I probably spend 3x more effort on Twitter, but it’s only produced about 60% of the traffic we received from Facebook. Interesting…
I’ve been doing regular guests post at Flippa which has been great for outreach and exposure for us. One of the posts about life as an expat entrepreneur was extremely popular and several people I’ve spoken with recently told me that was the post that introduced them to Empire Flippers. (Sweet!) You can check out all of the guests posts here.
Podcast & Email Audience
We saw another increase in podcast downloads in April and we finally crossed the 200K downloads mark!
The podcast audio quality has been better in recent weeks and we’ve had some positive feedback about the improvements. We’re currently running an iTunes review
bribe giveaway where we’ll randomly select an iTunes podcast review given in May and offer a free niche site to the winner! (US, UK, and Australia only) Click here to add your own!
We’ve been doing more interviews on the show in recent weeks which is great for us – we get to ask questions of people we like/respect and get some insights into how they’re growing their empires.
I thought it might be interesting to share our email list or contacts here as well:
We have a total of 10,078 emails or contact records associated with our current business. (Those I’ve blacked out are related to niche sites or unrelated projects) The problem is that MANY of these emails are duplicates…people that have signed up to more than one list. We’ll be importing all of these records to Office Autopilot in the near future where we can run dup-checks and generally clean up our lists a bit.
Here’s a snapshot of our AdSense earnings in April:
Our best day was April 17th at $76.31 and our worst day was April 11th at $40.69. We’re starting to see some earnings from the sites created earlier this year pop-up and have sold a few through the Marketplace and through our Empire Starter Packs. We lose a bit of revenue with sites that are “losers” and we don’t renew the domains, but they weren’t valuable enough to sell or for us to do anything with anyway. I still question the fact that we’re losing/dumping the content from those sites. Finding something else to do with that content would be nice, but not a priority at this point.
Selling Our Sites
We didn’t sell as many of our own sites as I’d thought in April, bringing in only $2,991.20. as compared to $12,622.00 the previous month. This was mainly due to still not having enough sites available and ready for sale yet. We’re expecting this to pop up a bit in May and (hopefully) we’ll have many of the sites we created earlier this year available for sale in June.
Products & Services[callout]”It was great to see around half of those sales coming from repeat buyers that were happy with their previous purchase”[/callout]
We had another good month of products sold, representing $4,554 in total revenue. It was great to see around half of those sales coming from repeat buyers that were (presumably) happy with their previous purchase. We’d love to build and create products and services that provide recurring income and we’re on our way with some of our current offers.
We’ve noticed that with our top seller, Empire Starter Packs, many of the buyers already have a copy of Long Tail Pro, IntelliTheme, or their own hosting account. They’re buying the package because of the niche sites that come with the Pro/Premium product. Because of this, we’ve decided to offer the following:
- Own a copy of Long Tail Pro? – We’ll replace that with a $3-4/month niche site.
- Own a copy of IntelliTheme? – We’ll replace with a $3-$4/month niche site.
- Own a hosting account? – We’ll replace with a $3-$4/month niche site.
Just include a message on the order form after purchase and we’ll be happy to replace any/all of the above for you.
Brokered Sites[callout]”I still feel brokering sites is the right move and supports the goals of our clients and our business”[/callout]
We sold a total of $16,505.60 worth of brokered sites, which comes out to $2,475.84 in revenue for us. This is great news, but we’re still struggling to sell sites over the $10K mark. I know that some ARE looking for sites in the $10K – $100K range as I’ve spoken to a few of them, but it seems that buyers at this level are fairly specific in terms of the monetization they’re looking for, the niches they’re looking to get into, etc. I think it’s just going to take some persistence, time, and experience to break into this side of the market.
The feedback we’ve had from both the buyers and sellers has been quite positive, telling us we’re definitely heading in the right direction here and that we’re supporting the community. It’s not as profitable as I’d like it to be for the amount of work we put in, but I still feel brokering sites is the right move and supports the goals of our clients and our business.
April was a breakout month for IntelliTheme. As mentioned in our product launch case study, we were able to bring in nearly $50K in the week-long re-launch and finished out the month at a total of $52, 524.92 in total sales. Still…less than half of that revenue actually went to us, so we’re putting our total for the month on IntelliTheme at $17,091.32. It’s taking us a bit longer to wrap-up the testing for version 2.0, but we’re expecting to release the new features and functionality to everyone by the end of May.
We brought in a total of $981.49 through affiliate purchases, $190.37 of which came through Kindle purchases of our guide, Building A Niche Site Empire. Most of the affiliate purchases were of Long Tail Pro or content orders through HireWriters.com.
Outsourcing Clients[callout]”This is a growth area we do plan on expanding through 2013″[/callout]
The outsourcing side of our business generated $25,360.00 in April…a nice bounce back from the $11K in March. We were able to collect on a couple of outstanding invoices and one of our clients paid twice this month. Our Intern has taken on the role of pre-qualifying potential clients and will be taking on an Account Management role with any new deals brought in on this side of the house.
While these deals have much more long-term profit and potential for us, they’re also much harder to land. We have some fairly specific roles we fill for customers and it has to be an awfully good fit for us to take on a new deal. We’re hoping that taking a productized service approach will help us target a new market and bring more potential outsourcing deals through the door. This is a growth area we do plan on expanding through 2013.
We don’t do much to promote our consulting offers, but we we did get an email request and a 6-hour consulting gig paid this month (Our first 6-hour consulting package), bringing in a total of $1,260.00. We had a kick-off call last week with the new client (Hi, Jennifer!) and we’ll start the training this week. (2 hours per week for 3 weeks) The general idea is to walk her through the entire process of building niche sites, start to finish. Both Joe and I will be on most of the calls and will be building sites right along with her. The plan is to completely over-deliver and get her up and running…building profitable websites.
We’re pretty happy with how April turned out overall and we’re looking forward to another solid month in May. Most of our “work” through May/June will be internal as we focus on migration, process overhauls, and personnel. Here’s the detailed breakdown:
- Employees: 33
- Interns: 1 (Erik)
- Contractors: 3
- Site Visits: 20,053
- Emails / Contact Records: 10,078
- AdSense: $1,756.19
- Site Sales: $2,991.20
- Products/Services: $4,554.00
- Brokered Sites: $2,475.84
- IntelliTheme: $17,091.32
- Affiliate: $981.49
- Outsourcing: $25,360.00
- Consulting: $1,260.00
Total For April: $56,470.04
So…what do you think about our plan to focus on internal improvements over the next few months? What would YOU focus on if you were in our shoes? What did you learn here that you might be able to apply to your online empire? Let us know in the comments…we’re looking forward to hearing from you!