Our Monthly Report – June July And August 2013
Welcome to our monthly business report for June, July, & August 2013!
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 in 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 (hopefully) leads us to make better-informed decisions about the direction our company should take. To be clear:
Most of this revenue comes from you.
Whether you’re a long-standing outsourcing client of ours, purchased one of our products/services, 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.
Reasoning For Monthly Reports
We’ve been sharing these reports for nearly three years now and some of our reasoning for sharing them has changed.
Purpose When We Started
- Trust / Social Proof – So many people claim to be “killing it” online and we thought it might be more interesting to show you exactly where we were having success and where things weren’t working out so great. As we continued to add new processes and revenue streams, we were hoping to share those with you to both inspire and to give you ideas you can use in your own business.
- Engagement – Monthly reports brought about a ton of comments (and traffic) as people were following along, leaving comments, and mentioning the reports elsewhere around the web. We were hoping that transparency would drive conversation.
- Accountability – It’s one thing to have private goals and something completely different to state them publicly. We wanted a record that would allow us to hold ourselves accountable – one that we could review in the future and see where things were working, where we failed, etc. As I go back through some of our previous reports I find myself cringing at our naievte and our failed projects…but I’m also thankful that I’m able to see what worked and build on those successes.
If you’ve been with us for quite a while, you might have noticed we didn’t have much to report on those first few months in 2010/2011. (Dec | Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr) We simply weren’t making all that much money and (by the end of April or so) were already in for more than $10,000 in expenses and had spent hundreds of our hours and more than a thousand hours from our team on the project.
We weren’t including our other sources of revenue (most importantly, our outsourcing side of the business) as we viewed the two businesses as unrelated…even though it was the outsourcing company that was funding AdSense Flippers, our lifestyle, etc.
Things have changed quite a bit for us since we began our online journey. We’ve brought all of our different businesses and earnings together under one brand, added additional revenue streams, (through brokered sites, products/services, etc.) built a highly-rated podcast on iTunes, and more.
While the reasons listed above for creating monthly reports continue to ring true, we’re also hoping that these insights will help readers see exactly how we:
- Build An “Empire” – Following our “70% Rule”, Joe and I continue to test through and add on projects that align with our goals, our vision, and drive our industry forward. We share our reasoning for getting involved in new projects, our process for replacing ourselves with a top-notch team, and hope that these insights help you continue to build your own online empires.
- Add Profit Streams – While AdSense Flippers started off with very few revenue streams, we’ve since added tools like IntelliTheme and WP Rank Tracker, added Products/Services, and now have a broker package that allows others to sell their sites with us on the marketplace.
- Drive The Business Towards Long-Term Goals – It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of your company and miss the bigger picture or longer-term goals. Our hope is that sharing a long-term, inside look at our business will encourage you to set aside the time required to design the business you want to have in 2, 3, or even 5 years.
Enough about that, let’s get into the report!
What We’re Working On
Three months has given us plenty of time to hash out a few different projects. Here are the highlights:
Marketing Apprentice – We put up a post about a Marketing Apprentice position a couple of months ago and had a total of 27 people apply to join us here in the Philippines to help us grow our business. I narrowed that down to 10 for our first interview and both Joe and I interviewed the remaining 4 to make a final decision.
It wasn’t easy, due to some really talented people that applied, but we’ve finally made our decision! We’re so excited to have Vincent Nguyen from SelfStairway.com joining our team! He blew us away with his initial video (keeping in mind that his job will entail reaching out to others in our space) and continued to impress throughout the interview process. He’ll be joining us here in Davao in November, and both Joe and I are excited we’ll be working together!
Answered Our “Old Content” Problem – We’ve used a process to determine sites that are seriously underperforming and to not renew the domains, effectively making those sites and content on them useless. It always seemed silly to us to waste all of that content we’ve created and paid for, so Joe set out to do something about it.
Using Jon Haver’s process for expired domains, Joe went to work reusing content from expired domains on a new site and well…it worked!
In the next few weeks/months we’ll share exactly what we did here and also dig into a new site strategy we’re working on that includes using expired domains.
Purchased WPRankTracker – This was a bit of an impulse purchase for us, but it fit so well into what we were doing that we knew we’d find something to do with it. The creator/seller knew us actually and was willing to come down on the price to give it to a good home and we thought this was a great deal for $2K.
We’ve since revamped the plugin and have added some features. You can check it out here.
Niche Site Mastermind – In a recent podcast episode, Joe and I mentioned that we might be interested in starting a niche site mastermind on steroids. Basically, we’ll have 5-10 people apply and get accepted. We’ll then fund the creation of a niche site and offer a small team of Virtual Assistants on our team for them to work with while we have regular strategy calls.
The response was incredible.
This is definitely something we’re going to do, although we’ll likely get it rolling in November to give us some time to get ready. Want to join us? You don’t have to do anything…just check back in the next 4-6 weeks and we’ll be accepting applications! You can sign up for our email list for updates:
Last thing, and I know this is a bit of a reach/longshot…but I’ll be traveling SEAsia quite a bit in October and I’d love to meet with you! If you happen to be in any of the following locations and are down for a coffee, beer, and/or chat shoot me an email and we’ll set something up!
HCM, Vietnam – 9/29 – 10/1, 10/9 – 10/14
Siam Reap, Cambodia – 10/1 – 10/4
Phnom Penh, Cambodia – 10/4 – 10/9
Bangkok, Thailand – 10/14 – 10/21
Phuket, Thailand – 10/21 – 10/28
Let me know – I’d love to meet up!
Traffic has held fairly steady, bringing in a total of 64,506 visits over the three months.
Here’s a look at our most popular content:
And our top referrals for the three months:
We’re happy to see our traffic keeping up even with less blog posts over the past few months. Most of our content has been through podcasts in recent months, but you’ll see more blog posts here as we head towards the end of the year and prep for 2014.
Podcast & Email Audience
Something weird happened in June where our podcast downloads across the board dropped down to 15,256…but we more than made up for it in July and August with 31,080 and 35,432 downloads respectively.
I think the things leading to our increased downloads in July and August were:
– Great guests and interviews
– Hot streak w/ popular episodes and rankings in iTunes
– Others interviewing us for their podcast
– Weekly schedule and consistency
We’re really excited to see this and hoping we’ll have a 50K month before the year is out!
During this three month period, we fully transitioned from using Aweber to Office AutoPilot as our email tool of choice. This allowed us to really combine all of the separate lists we were building into one major list and start the process of segmenting based on interest and behavior.
After importing all records and deleting duplicates we ended up with a total of 10,732 contact records and have been continuing to grow since:
Here’s a look at our AdSense earnings overall:
We brought in a total of $3,783.75 with our worst day on August 23rd at $17.42 and our best day June 25th at $66.05. Not great! We were really hoping to grow our earnings from the niche sites over this period, but it seems our earnings couldn’t keep up for several reasons:
– Creating sites for clients took sites away from us
– Selling a ton of Empire Starter Packs that include the low-earning niche sites
– Dropping domains for extremely low earners
Selling Our Sites
Our total site sales for the three months were a bit low at only $6,060.40, although we’ve sold quite a few sites that were included in the starter packs. This hasn’t been as much of a priority for us lately as we’ve really been exploring additional monetization methods, but we’re ramping up our production spend through the rest of the year so we can come out strong in early 2014 with sites for sale.
We’d really like to get our average sale price up on our own sites and the only way to do that is to create significantly more sites (so that we have more winners) or create sites that earn more per site. Joe is researching and testing through a couple of different options to find out the best way for us to approach this.
Products & Services
We saw a massive amount of growth in our Products & Services in the last few months. Considering the fact we only brought in $8.5K in May, we crushed it in June/July/August with $5,391.00, $26,006.00, and $10,573.00 respectively. This is great, of course, but the increased orders and work put us behind a bit on delivery, which led to a few grumbles from clients. We’ve hired additional staff in the last 60 days or so to help with the increased orders.
There’s a real 80/20 thing going on here…80% of the revenue comes from 20% of the products. The plan will be to pare down the products that aren’t a hit so that we can focus on those that are popular with our customers. We had a big-miss with our maintenance app development/wireframe packages…ugh!
We also found a better way to test through new products – create and offer them privately! We’ve been working with some clients on non-published products and packages that are successful. As we continue to test through these offerings, we’ll eventually make the “winners” public so that others can purchase as well!
As we’ve been low on inventory, this has been another area of focus over the last few months. I was a bit shocked with the numbers on this one: $157,567.96 in total brokered sales, with $23,887.08 of that to us in revenue.
We’ve added some premium listings to the marketplace that are, frankly, a bit more expensive than usual and outside our comfort zone. Typically, we’ve sold our own sites and packages in the $2K – $20K range, but we’ve spent some time talking to and working with site sellers in the $100K range. We didn’t start out with many potential buyers at that level, but after listing some of the higher-end sites we’re starting to see some of the higher-end buyers check out the marketplace.
I don’t see the $50K – $200K range as a core price range for us quite yet, but it’s good to see that we are attracting buyers to support those sellers.
We’re wrapping IntelliTheme, WPRankTracker, and any future software projects into this section. IntelliTheme brought in a total of $1,677.40 over the three months and WPRankTracker $932.00 in July/August.
While this represents a very small percentage of revenue, it’s taken up a ton of our time/focus. (Especially if you consider non-product related software projects like the marketplace, OAP setup, etc.) Joe and I have been discussing this lately – we really WANT to have a big win in software, but it’s something we really struggle with.
We like the idea of predictable, recurring revenue…but we struggle with individual developers, meeting deadlines, etc. It’s a bit silly to spend so much business focus on this with everything else going on, but it’s something we both really want to get better at and we appreciate the challenge.
I asked Joe a few weeks ago what he thought the thing was that we’d look back on in 2-3 years and think, “Man, I really wish we would have done THAT”. His answer was that we should build a dev team of our own. Between that and purchasing products that fit our brand, we do continue to work on these projects in the coming months/years.
Nothing much has changed here, as we brought in a total of $2,545.33 through Jun/Jul/Aug. Chasing down the latest/greatest affiliates offers is tiring and time consuming…I don’t know how affiliate marketers do it! :-)
After a big month in May catching up on invoices, our revenue leveled back out here bringing in a total of $74,614.03 over the three months. This has been our “bread and butter” since before we started AdSense/Empire Flippers and allowed us to fund our online projects from the start.
Still – even though we merged TryBPO and AdSense Flippers under one banner (Empire Flippers) it still really feels like we’re running two separate businesses with (sometimes) competing interests. The problem, of course, is that these competing interests compete for our time and focus…and our half-hearted attempts at acquiring new outsourcing clients isn’t worth it.
To cut the cord, we’ve recently made the decision to no longer pursue outsourcing deals. If/When amazing opportunities present themselves here we’re definitely willing to consider them…but chasing opportunities down is not something we’ll continue to do.
We technically brought in $1,460.00 in consulting revenue, but $1,200.00 of that was actually converted to products instead of continuing on with the consulting hours.
I’m not really a fan of consulting, to be honest. It just seems so much more helpful to share information to a larger audience – the net value gets multiplied. This realization is what’s leading us to the mastermind idea instead of 1-On-1 consulting.
We’ve made some serious changes to our core projects over the last few months and those changes are reflected in our revenue streams. We’re happy with the direction we’re headed, but we still have a lot of work to do to meet our goals in 2014.
Speaking of which, it’s been a while since Joe and I have sat down to discuss the direction of our company and our longer-term goals…something we’ll knock out in November, most likely.
- Employees: 31
- Interns: 1
- Contractors: 3
- Contact Records: 10,902 (As of 7/15)
- Email Subscribers: 8,395 (As of 7/15)
- Site Visits: 18,035
- AdSense: $1,311.16
- Site Sales: $4,364.20
- Products/Services: $5,391.00
- Brokered Sites: $12,681.41 ($82,863.46 in vetted sites sold)
- IntelliTheme: $393.88
- Affiliate: $837.97
- Building A Niche Site Empire Guide (via Amazon sales): $192.53
- Outsourcing: $27,609.01
- Consulting: $200.00
TOTAL JUNE: $52,981.16
- Employees: 32
- Interns: 1
- Contractors: 3
- Contact Records: 11,272 (As of 8/13)
- Email Subscribers: 8,728 (As of 8/13)
- Site Visits: 24,593
- AdSense: $1,308.43
- Site Sales: $0.00
- Products/Services: $26,006.00
- Brokered Sites: $6,203.08 ($41,353.90 in vetted sites sold)
- IntelliTheme: $884.66
- WPRankTracker: $506.00
- Affiliate: $890.37
- Building A Niche Site Empire Guide (via Amazon sales): $174.47
- Outsourcing: $22,989.46
- Consulting: $1,260.00
TOTAL JULY: $60,222.47
- Employees: 35
- Interns: 1
- Contractors: 2
- Contact Records: 11,804 (As of 9/17)
- Email Subscribers: 9,062 (As of 9/17)
- Site Visits: 21,878
- AdSense: $1,164.16
- Site Sales: $1,696.20
- Products/Services: $10,573.00
- Brokered Sites: $5,002.59 ($33,350.60 in vetted sites sold)
- IntelliTheme: $398.86
- WPRankTracker: $426.00
- Affiliate: $816.99
- Building A Niche Site Empire Guide (via Amazon sales): $173.59
- Outsourcing: $24,015.56
- Consulting: $0.00
TOTAL AUGUST: $44,266.95
- AdSense: $3,783.75
- Site Sales: $6,060.40
- Products/Services: $41,970.00
- Brokered Sites: $23,887.08 ($157,567.96 in vetted sites sold)
- IntelliTheme: $1,677.40
- WPRankTracker: $932.00
- Affiliate: $2,545.33
- Building A Niche Site Empire Guide (via Amazon sales): $540.59
- Outsourcing: $74,614.03
- Consulting: $1,460.00
3 MONTH TOTAL: $157,470.580
Reviewing a detailed 3-month report over @empireflippers – Check it out! – Tweet This!
Alright, now it’s over to you! What are you working on right now that you’re excited about? What would you like to see us write about that would help you? Let us know in the comments below or shoot us an email…we’d love to hear from you!