Welcome to the third update of the Authority Internet Business Traffic and Income Report.
It’s been about 15 months since I started this case study. The idea behind it is to show how to build an authority business from the ground up with a brand new site (DevelopGoodHabits.com).
With each post, I talk about the techniques that actually work for creating reliable, long-term Internet income.
To illustrate what’s possible, I provide a quarterly breakdown of the traffic and income the business has generated. If you haven’t read the last two updates, here they are:
- Authority Traffic and Income Report #1 [Apr. through Sep. 2013]
- Authority Traffic and Income Report #2 [Oct. through Dec. 2013]
Today’s post will cover six primary topics:
- Successes of Develop Good Habits
- Failures of Develop Good Habits
- Traffic Results
- Income Results
- Total Expenditures
- Future Strategies
Like you, I’m a big fan of the sites that detail the results of their businesses—warts and all. It’s my hope that you’ll take the lessons from each of these updates and use them to grow your business and learn where to focus your attention.
Similar to the last update, a lot has happened in the first quarter of 2014. The income has been fairly consistent in this time, and I’ve reinvested it into a few strategies that I hope will grow the business. So let’s get started by talking about went right.
[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Successes of Develop Good Habits[/title]
In the spirit of masterminding and learning from one another, let me start with a few things that are working well for DGH.
#1: Added Two More Kindle Books
Like last time, my most successful strategy was to simply write more Kindle books. To be honest, from a writing standpoint, I wasn’t as productive as I have been in the past. But during the first quarter, I did manage to publish two new books (S.M.A.R.T. Goals Made Simple & Declutter Your Inbox).
Overall, this is a slower publishing pace than what I’ve done in the past. I think that’s because a large bulk of my time was consumed with a few side projects that I’m looking to complete before the start of the summer. That said, I’ve already published one book in the 2nd quarter (Habit Stacking) and should have two more out before July. So that’ll put me back on pace for what has made the business successful so far.
#2: Built a Team Around Kindle Books
One of my major side projects has been to build a team around my online business—especially the Kindle books. It’s been my experience that the best way to “spend” newly acquired income is to reinvest it back into what’s currently working. Specifically, I’m starting to pay for the following:
- A full-time virtual assistant (hired through Virtual Staff Finder) who handles a number of repetitive tasks, creates SlideShare presentations, turns SlideShare presentations into YouTube videos & Pinterest slides, researches specific Kindle topics and creates “show notes” for my audio books.
- Audio and print versions of my books (I work with the wonderfully talented Rob & Matt of Archangel Ink.). Basically, all I do is send them a file of my book and an e-cover, and they handle the rest of the process.
- Two editors. The first goes over the rough draft versions of my content and turns them into polished products. The second acts as the final proofreader/editor of my Kindle books.
- Various writers to create content for my blog, guest posts and small sections of my Kindle books. This is a work in progress, but it’s my ultimate goal to turn Develop Good Habits into a multi-author blog where I’m not responsible for posting regular articles (more on this later).
Building a team hasn’t been easy. I’ve definitely made a ton of mistakes during the last few months, but I feel a team is well worth it because I’ll eventually get back more time I can use to focus my energy on high-level tactics. If you want to know more about what I’m specifically doing, then check out this recent post where I go over 7 Steps for Building a Team.
#3. Built Another Source of Traffic
Throughout the Authority Internet Business Case Study, I’ve emphasized the importance of growing an email list. It’s been my experience that having an engaged list full of active subscribers is the secret to building a long-term asset. I feel that the biggest mistake online entrepreneurs make is not spending the time and money necessary to grow their lists. My best piece of advice is to always be on the lookout for new list building strategies.
Here’s an example. In the last T&I report, I had the idea of taking existing content and turning them into new formats that leverage existing platforms—like SlideShare.net. But it wasn’t until I hired my VA that I found the time to pursue this idea. Now, I have someone who can take pieces of content (like old blog posts and Kindle books) and turn them into presentations.
The great thing about SlideShare (here’s my account) is you can create visually pleasing presentations that pre-sell your content and drive traffic directly to your list-building squeeze page.
Here’s a process flow of how this works:
Kindle Book Chapter (or Blog Post) –> Turns into Short Bullet Points –> VA Turns Bullet Points into SlideShare Presentation –> Call-to-Action at the End Goes to Squeeze Page
So far, this strategy has worked like gangbusters. For the first quarter of 2014, I’ve added 518 subscribers and I’m confident this number will triple by the end of Q2 2014.
Furthermore, it’s not too hard to further leverage this strategy to get even more subscribers. You could easily take these slides and create a YouTube video that also drives traffic to a squeeze page. Then you turn the presentations into individual slides that drive traffic from Pinterest and Twitter to your SlideShare presentation.
Overall, I feel that it doesn’t matter what type of authority business is being built—your #1 goal is to grow your email list. So as we move forward with this case study, I’m going to be on a constant lookout for different ways to add more subscribers. For more on this, I recommend reading this post: Traffic Hacking – How to Find and Focus on Your Top Sources of Traffic.
[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Failures of Develop Good Habits[/title]
Building an authority business is not all sunshine and rainbows. Odds are you’ll regularly encounter obstacles that could potentially derail your success. The trick is to be honest with yourself about what’s going wrong and learn from each experience.
Let me start with what frustrates me the most. When I first started this case study, I knew that being 100 percent transparent about my books would lead to copycats and potentially people who would attack my books.
What I didn’t anticipate was the severity of this problem. Now it seems like almost every day I’m finding a new Kindle book that is a cheap imitation of things I’ve written in the past. It’s annoying to say the least.
For instance, back in November I published a book detailing how to take the problem of procrastination and develop specific habits that can counteract it (called “23 Anti-Procrastination Habits”). At the time, this book was the only one had the words “procrastination” and “habit” in the title. Now there are dozens that are obvious imitators of my book.
I’m not saying that everyone is a rip-off. However, but I do notice that many books have titles and content that’s extremely similar to mine. At the end of the day, I still believe in the model of continuously striving to publish good content and build an audience. I try to keep things in perspective and simply let imitators bury themselves, but sometimes it’s annoying to see people ripping off ideas/content without adding any value to the readers
#2: Lukewarm Reviews
A long time ago, I took a hard stance on the practice of review swapping. This is where authors join Facebook groups and/or special websites for the sole practice of exchanging reviews. Again, I feel that the best long-term strategy is to write good content and build an audience.
The downside to this viewpoint is my overall book rating is not artificially inflated like some authors who can get 30 reviews on the day they launch simply because they have no problem with gaming Amazon’s system.
The reviews I get run the gamut from the good to the ugly. It’s perfectly normal to get bad reviews. What frustrates me is I don’t have dozens of “sock puppets” (like certain authors) who write glowing five-star reviews in exchange for mutual reviews on their books. The end result? My overall ratings (on some books) are lower than others in the market.
Sidebar: After re-reading the previous two points, I realize my comments could be construed as “sour grapes,” so let me clarify something. I understand that some people won’t like my books and there’s nothing wrong with leaving a negative review. In fact, I gain a lot of insight from these reviews.
The point behind mentioning these two things is that building a business off of someone else’s platform isn’t always easy. Some people will attack your content. Some people will rip you off. And some people will use any dodgy tactic they can to get an edge. This is universal truth, no matter where you build a platform. It’s important to recognize this fact, keep things in perspective and not let it get you down. The best “antidote” is to focus on activities that grow your business.
Okay, let’s move on to the final challenge.
#3: Lack of Blog Content
The blogging aspect of DevelopGoodHabits.com was a disaster for Q1 2014. As I mentioned before, it’s my goal to turn this into a multi-author site, so I’ve started to work with different authors who can provide their own unique perspective when it comes to habit development.
The problem is I’ve been completely lazy when it comes to mapping out a “unifying theme” behind the site. I only have myself to blame for this one. Honestly, I’ve procrastinated on mapping out a content strategy for the blog. (I recognize the irony since I literally wrote a book on how to overcome procrastination.) I have a lot of great posts about habit development on my hard drive, plus there are a number of articles I’d like to write (or source to someone else).
Really, it all comes down to me taking the time to simply implement these ideas. Until then, the blog is an accumulation of articles that are okay, but not extraordinary.
[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Traffic Results of Develop Good Habits[/title]
Despite the lack of effort on the blogging front, the traffic to Develop Good Habits more than doubled in the last quarter. This growth comes mostly from a few specific strategies I implemented:
- Sending all new subscribers to a “success page” on the blog
- Additional traffic from SlideShare and guest posts
- Increased presence on StumbleUpon (but I consider this to be “junk traffic”)
- Testing paid advertising on Facebook (so far, I’m not impressed with the results)
These are just a few new things I did in the last quarter, but what has actually worked for my business has been a few sources of traffic:
- Kindle books
- Guest posts
- Organic search traffic
Here are the stats showing how they compare to the totals from the last T&I Report:
- 28,725 visitors compared to 13,384 visitors (an increase of 15,341 visitors)
- 02:14 average visitor duration (a decrease of 0:24)
- 70.62 percent bounce rate, up from a 60 percent bounce rate (an increase of 9.73 percent)
When looking at these numbers, you’ll see the average traffic has once again doubled, but my overall engagement has decreased. I feel this is a combination of junky StumbleUpon traffic and not providing blog content that focuses on building an audience. Now, let’s break down the traffic into specific sources:
- 24,188 Direct
- 5,784 StumbleUpon
- 5,479 Facebook
- 3,967 Search Engine
- 1,139 Pinterest
- 793 Amazon (browsers, not book buyers)
- 416 Twitter
Once again, there are a large number of direct traffic visitors. These are people who buy/download a book, view content on SlideShare or read a guest post. I feel this is a good thing because my business is not built on the whims of Google and other search engines.
Now, a metric that’s more important (in my opinion) is the number of email subscribers. As I mentioned in the post about monetization, the Most Wanted Response (MWR) for DGH is to build an email list. How many subscribers did I generate in this three-month span? Here they are (broken down by their subscription path):
- Kindle books: 2,543 subscribers
- SlideShare: 518 subscribers
- PopUp Domination: 244 subscribers
- Sidebar widget: 366 subscribers
- Mobile apps: 111 subscribers
- Guest posts: 98 subscribers
- Splash page: 1 subscriber
- Other: 114 subscribers
- Total for 1st Quarter 2014: 3995 subscribers
- Previous total: 1789 subscribers
- Grand total (up to April 1st): 5785 subscribers
(Read this post to learn more about email marketing and how I’m building a list.)
Overall, I’m really happy with the email numbers. I feel this will pay huge dividends as the audience grows. And the traffic numbers are decent, considering my lack of presence on the blog. I hope that once I map out an effective content strategy, both will increase.
[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Income Results of Develop Good Habits[/title]
As always, income is where the rubber meets the road. While it’s nice to talk about successes, failures and traffic, most people want to know one thing—how much money have you made? My income comes from five places:
- Habit Kindle Books: 70 Healthy Habits, Wake Up Successful, Writing Habit Mastery, 10,000 Steps Blueprint, 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits, Resolutions That Stick!, Declutter Your Inbox and S.M.A.R.T. Goals Made Simple.
- Amazon Associates (physical product and book recommendations on DGH).
- RevMob (an advertisement platform for the app Trigger Monitor).
- Audible.com (audio book versions of my books published through the ACX.com program).
- CreateSpace.com (print book versions of my Kindle books).
In the last report, I mentioned that the business generated total revenue of $25,842.81 in the preceding three months. Here’s what happened during the first three months of 2014:
- Amazon Kindle: $18,846.55
- Amazon Associates: $162.75
- RevMob $4.42
- Audible: $129.84
- SUBTOTAL: $19,143.56
- Amazon Kindle: $12,979.24
- Amazon Associates: $366.48
- RevMob $3.51
- Audible: $644.54
- CreateSpace: $152.60
- SUBTOTAL: $14,146.37
- Amazon Kindle: $14,823.14
- Amazon Associates: $276.06
- RevMob $2.58
- Audible: $1,164.40
- CreateSpace: $359.48
- SUBTOTAL: $16,625.66
Income 1st Quarter 2014 (January through March): $49,915.59
Previous Income: $25,842.81
GRAND TOTAL: $75,758.40
While I sometimes dwell on the negative (see points #1 & #2 of the “failures” section), overall, business is a boomin’. I’ll admit that I’m still waaaaay too dependent on Amazon’s platform, but I still feel I can maximize revenue by keeping books in their KDP Select program and using borrows/Countdown Deals to maintain a high level of exposure.
Audible is a nice supplement to the income. I’ve done a few things to encourage subscribers to buy audio versions, which I hope will translate into “bounties” for the second quarter of 2014. A bounty is a $25 or $50 bonus that’s generated if you get someone to buy your book as one of their first three Audible transactions.
CreateSpace has been a disappointment. I know some authors get a huge ratio of print vs. e-book sales, but mine are pretty dreadful. Perhaps it’s the market? Maybe it’s the size of the books? Or perhaps it’s the lack of promotion on my part? All I know is I’m barely breaking even on print copies of my book. Overall though, I’m extremely happy with these numbers. The best part is they have been fairly consistent from December through March.
[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Total Expenditures of DGH[/title]
Every online business requires a financial investment. The trick is to know what’s worth buying and what can be skipped, so another point of this case study is to provide a financial breakdown of what I spend on DGH. There are five categories of expenditures for Develop Good Habits:
- Content: Blog posts, guest posts, editing, Web articles, lead magnet creation, autoresponders, and a few e-book sections.
- Graphics: Stock photography, logo design and e-book covers.
- Audio and Print: Turning Kindle books into different formats (here’s the service I use).
- Marketing and Development: Press releases, Web design tweaks, Fiverr gigs, paid advertising, hosting, domain registration and various experiments.
- Virtual Assistant: Seventy-five percent of my VA’s pay is related to DGH activities. She spends the rest of her time on other activities not related to DGH.
Here is the financial breakdown during the three-month span:
- Content: $3,642.75
- Graphics: $700.00
- Audio and Print Versions: $2,395.00
- Marketing and Development: $441.99
- Virtual Assistant (from February to March): $1,128.00
Expenditures 4th Quarter 2013 (October through December: $8,307.74
Previous expenditures: $7,163.08
GRAND TOTAL OF EXPENDITURES: $15,470.82
Now compare my expenditures to my overall gross income and you’ll get the net income for Develop Good Habits:
Gross Income: $75,758.40 – Total Expenditures: $15,470.82 =
Net Income: +$60,287.58
I started monetizing DevelopGoodHabits.com back in May 2013. Since then, the site has turned a profit of a little over $60K. Not bad at all for a brand-new business. So even though I’ve made a number of mistakes along the way, I feel like I’ve “proven” that you can generate a substantial income by focusing on a single authority business. But I feel like it’s equally important to expect the unexpected.
There’s no guarantee this income will last. That’s why I like to closely examine the business every quarter and look for ways to improve on what’s working. Here’s what I’d like to do for the second quarter of 2014.
[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Future Strategies of Develop Good Habits[/title]
There are two areas I’d like to improve in the next three months.
#1: Create Compelling Content
When looking at my business, I feel like a lot of obstacles (low number of book reviews and traffic) stem from one major issue: not having a great connection with my audience. I can truthfully say this because I get emails and questions all the time from my “Steve Scott Site” audience, but not that often from my “Develop Good Habits” audience.The truth is I’m not getting messages because readers simply aren’t engaged with the content I’m providing on my blog and email list.
So for the next few months, I’d like to do the following:
- Revamp my autoresponder sequence to focus on building a relationship with readers.
- Create a core set of principles behind DGH that make it different from other blogs.
- Pick one or two writers that I’ve worked with in the past to become regular contributors to the blog and make sure each piece of content matches the core principles.
- Increase the number of guest posts to build up the blogging audience.
I’ll be the first to admit it’s easy to lose that “connection” with readers when you run a multi-author blog. But if I take the time to create a set of values and make sure the content is aligned with them, then I feel like I could build a solid relationship with subscribers and readers.
#2: Leverage Existing Content
SlideShare is definitely working. It only makes sense to create more presentations, including some that promote specific Kindle books. What I like about this strategy is now that I have a “system” in place with my VA, all I need to do is identify the topic, provide the content that will be repurposed and review the finished product. This only takes about 30 minutes of my personal time.
Furthermore, it’s not too hard for my VA turn these presentations into YouTube videos and images for Pinterest. I’m not 100 percent sure these strategies will translate into email subscribers, but they’re worth exploring. For Q2 2014, not only will I focus on these three sites (SlideShare, YouTube and Pinterest), I’ll also look for opportunities to grow the DGH brand, without taking up too much of my personal time. The lesson here is to look closely at the assets you currently possess.
Odds are you probably have a lot of content that can be reused on different platforms. All you have to do is create a simple system for repurposing it and then pass it on to a VA or freelancer.
[title color=”green-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”verdana” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-2em”]Comments? Questions? Ideas?[/title]
That’s it for the third edition of the Authority Internet Business Traffic and Income Report. I’ve learned a lot in the last three months, which I hope will translate into a stronger brand as we move into the middle part of 2014.
Now I’d like to hear from you. I just wrote more than 3,500 words on my personal experiences with a single site, but the secret ingredient to this case study is your comments and questions. So I’d love to hear your feedback. Please take a few minutes and post your comments in the section below.
Have a question? Disagree/agree with something I said? Don’t like how I complain about minor setbacks?
If any of these things apply to you, then let me know your thoughts.Take Action. Get Results.
68 thoughts on “Authority Business “Traffic and Income” Report #3 [Jan. to Mar. 2014]”
Great job, I like these reports. I’ve been following a lot these lately, it gives me insight I definitely need now.
Keep rocking Steve
Great! Glad they’re giving insight into what to do for your business.
Dude, everything you write is worth reading. I totally respect your stance on review trading and agree 100% percent. Recently I had a call from a customer who wanted me to do a baited review. It was awkward to say no but that’s my policy. I personally have asked for reviews on one or two occasions because I needed them, but the requests were made of people who’ve actually used my service.
Nothing beats credibility and transparency for a core stragegy. Thanks for taking the time to reiterate the upside and downside. It seems like there’s a downside but the income numbers tell the rest of the story.
You’re right. It’s soooo hard with the reviews sometimes. I feel it’s okay to do on books you like (oddly enough my reviews are on books that are basically “the competition”), but you also don’t want to write glowing reviews on everything that comes across your path.
Bro, I can’t say how happy I am for the success that you are seeing. Your immense talent and your focus on detail is now snowballing into the rewards that your talent in due. This is the kind of post we all dream of writing and no one deserves that kind of satisfaction more than you.
Hey Tim — as always, great hearing from you. Honestly, I couldn’t have done well with Kindle early on, if it wasn’t for your help. Anytime you need something, just let me know. You have my number. 🙂
This is an awesome report! Thanks for sharing. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to support you.
Appreciate the offer Alexis! Actually it would be cool if you did another Writer’s Bundle. Really liked the offer and I feel my audience got a lot of benefit from it.
On it =)
Second that about the Writer’s Bundle. It was fabulous. Also, thanks for this series Steve. I’m working on building a business around long distance relationships, and this is helpful.
Great to hear Lisa! Let me know if there’s a certain “type” of content that you’ll find useful.
I love how open you are about all that you’re doing. You are one of the good guys in this business and I’m learning from you every day.
Your goals and attention to all aspects of your business are inspiring to me. I know your success will continue to grow..
Hey Steve– Glad it’s providing some lessons. Actually, after looking at my email numbers, I realized the value of getting more guest posts out there. So I’ll definitely talk to you more about getting things out on a weekly basis.
Sounds like a plan!
It’s inspiring to see another Kindle author doing SO WELL. Say what you will, but nearly $76,000 in just 3 months is PRETTY DARN GOOD!
On the flip side, it is SLIGHTLY discouraging, since I’m not seeing ANYWHERE near the same results, at least as far as website visitors and subscribers go.
My website views are PITIFUL (maybe 20 on a good day) and I only have 100 or so subscribers, after months of owning a list.
Kindle book sales are decent, so I can’t complain about that, but I’m still pretty discouraged about my website and email list. But, then again, I haven’t put a huge effort into gaining traffic/subscribers, so…
Maybe I just have to put more work into it. I don’t know. Right now all I’m doing is writing more Kindle books, and the occasional blog post for my site. What are your suggestions?
Should I work on SEO for my blog? Or social media?
What would you do if you were in my position?
Thanks for all of your helpful advice and posts. It’s much appreciated. 🙂
Best of luck!
Yeah Mark, I do say that the flip side is the numbers can be discouraging — It’s kind of like when I look at John Lee Dumas’s and Pat Flynn’s sites. I guess it’s all relative.
That said, I do have to say the “teach people about Kindle publishing” market is really becoming saturated on Amazon. That might be part of your problem. Honestly, my best income came after moving out that space.
To answer your question… I don’t really get a lot of results from Social media and SEO. Actually that “Traffic Hacking” post on my blog goes into specifics: http://www.stevescottsite.com/traffic-hacking Overall, my main strategy has been to keep working on getting people to subscribe to my list. That means analyzing traffic, knowing my 80/20, tweaking offers/squeeze pages, and testing a bunch of new things. For instance, I wouldn’t have seen the opportunity of SlideShare, until I decided to test it out.
Thanks for the advice. I’ll have to see what I can do. Once I get my next book or two out I’m going to start working more on traffic and subscriber generation, so I’ll probably get better results then.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Sounds good Mark. As always, keep me posted.
Congrats Steve! And, I agree – I read this post thoroughly and did not peak at the bottom first. I thought your income numbers were going to be a real bummer for you. Not! It seems maybe what you are saying – is forget about negative reviews – they happen.
Let me ask this – could you develop a Facebook or Twitter presence and organically increased more reviews? Yes, the contests are silly – but they work! And it is amazing how people love contests.
After re-reading the middle part, I realized I come across as whiny or complainy…overall, things are good. I feel it is possible to grow the business with Twitter/FB. I think for some authors it would work like gangbusters, but my time is super limited…so getting on social media for an hour a day wouldn’t happen. So the only strategies I’m exploring will either a) leverage existing content b) can be systematized for maximum return without eating up precious writing time.
Wow! That’s really remarkable how much the site has grown and look at that income! Nice job, Steve.
Thanks TD — Appreciate you stopping by!
Been awhile…been watching over you from afar though! Is the income you report for ALL of your Kindle books, or just the S.J.Scott/Habit ones?
Great to hear from you Paul. What are you up to lately? (I’ve been meaning to write and check in.) The income is from just the habits stuff. Usually everything else is an extra $4K to $7K, depending on the month.
Congrats on the success! I for one and shocked at what’s possible with Kindle publishing, especially in an “obscure” niche and a new/unkown author. More credit to you for that.
The biggest thing in your authority business case study is that you are building and running a “business” – with the emphasis on building. Spending your time building an asset that will continue is produce income – allowing you to focus your time and attention. Instead of spending time cranking out adsense and affiliate sites.
Trust me David — I’m pretty shocked as well. 🙂 Before I started the case study, I had a good idea it would work, just not this well.
Definitely agree that the important part is “business.” I feel people should look at the long-term impact of what they do on a daily basis. Like you said, the short-term Adsense and affiliate sites might make money, but they could easily crash-and-burn, then you have to start all over again.
Thanks James! Will have lots to talk about on the podcast. 🙂
What great progress you have made. I can see where changes in my elder care site and namesake site need to occur.
I do want to mention that it is a shame you have to deal with copycat Kindle books, and that people can’t think for themselves and come up with their own unique content.
As far as guest posts, not sure if you are only accepting guest posts or you are guest blogging on other sites (I’ve heard that strategy can bring in visitors), but beware of too many guest posts, and their links, coming into your site. I got slapped by Google not too long ago due to too many links from guest posts during a time when I was dealing with a family long term care situation. Not only am I trying to pick back up from that, but at least weekly someone contacts me to remove the links as they are now cleaning up at their site. I’ve also changed links to “no follow” when asked, as well.
Glad this stuff helps your site…that’s why I post these updates.
Re: Guest posts. I’ve hired Steve Roy (he commented in this article) to do about a guest post every week. I do recognize that Google might penalize the site. But honestly, I made the decision two years ago to not care about what Google says or does. If they like my site, that’s cool. But if they don’t, then I know how to generate traffic in other ways. Regardless, appreciate the heads up. 🙂
Your comment that Google might penalize your site brought a smile to my face. After I got penalized, I was looking at stats from other areas such as my website host and saw that those numbers were climbing. Although it did bother me about the Google slap, and I did stop most guest posts, I also found that it didn’t take long to start climbing back. The actually traffic seems to have picked up anyway as I’ve used various other ways to draw traffic such as FB and Twitter. I like your attitude towards Google and that you know how to generate traffic in other ways. Thanks for reinforcing what I am beginning to realize.
Yeah, Google goes up and down. Love how the traffic converts, but I think it’s risky to put your biz in solely in their hands.
Congratulations on some fantastic results.
As a subscriber to both stevescottsite and the DGH site, I have to agree that I do not feel as ‘engaged’ with DGH, and whereas I treat stevescottsite as my Wikipedia for all things to do with authority internet marketing and kindle publishing, I do not treat DGH the same way. I find it very interesting and have bought several/ most of your DGH books and submitted some reviews but it doesnt have the sense of anticipation and excitement as stevescottsite.
However I put this down to the fact that I am personally more committed to trying to build my own authority site and less committed to good habits, even though I know I ‘should be’. It also comes down to the fact that whereas I might search for ‘how do I increase my email list’ but am less likely to search for ‘how can I develop a habit of being more organised …’ even though when actually presented with a book by you Steve on being organised, I am very likely to buy it.
Is the clue that we do need some more personal ‘evidence’ or ‘stories’ as to how some of us or you have changed habits through using DGH. I did find the latest post that you sent out as to how you have been using DGH to improve your business productivity was an inspiring nugget of information.
On a different note I too noticed a plethora of habits books looking remarkably similar to yours in terms of title and cover but I did assume they were poor imitations!
Keep up the great work.
Hey Teresa… Really appreciate your honest feedback. At its core, DGH is one big case study, which means I tend to do a lot of things and make a LOT mistakes. I agree that engagement is not the same on that site. When taking an honest look at the site, I realize that I need to more genuine and specific with the content. It’s still a work in progress, but I feel I have a few ideas that can make readers resonate better with the content. Thanks a bunch for your comment… it helps me make the content better.
I read your, “How to write a non-fiction ebook in 21 days” and then registered for your e-mail list. I’ve gotten a couple of e-mails from you & am really impressed with your book (I’ll go review it now;-). I also read your, “How to start a blog in one hour.” I want to be you when I grow up! It’s really inspiring to read your success. I love how transparent you are, as it really helps others to know what is possible. Are you ever going to take multiple books & make a larger how to guide? Or maybe you can tell me the order I need to read them in. My goal is to launch a web-site with a blog. My husband is writing children’s books & I’d like to start doing non-fiction ebooks on personal finance, as that’s my background. You could offer consulting services too if you’re not already! I’m new to your site, so I don’t know the gamete of what you do, but it wasn’t listed in the above income….
Hey Gina — Thanks. Glad you enjoy the transparency.
Re: Consulting. Unfortunately, I’m swamped as is, so trying to do consulting would take away from the core things that are working. The best I can do is write posts like this that provide details about my the different aspects of my businesses.
Re: Larger how to guides. The short answer is yes. I’m currently putting together an extensive course on Kindle publishing. Plus, I plan on taking some of the books that sell well (hopefully in the next few months) and turn them into Udemy courses. That’s been on my to-do list for a number of months, so hopefully I’ll get started on that sometime in the near future.
Great Steve, mind-blowing how many Kindle books are being sold; yeah, release a how-to-write and sell on Kindle as a course, it will sell well. Question: what is you’re average price for a kindle book? Unit sales? Cheers
Anthony — My average price (with a few exceptions) is $2.99. Unit sales really depend on the month. They can be anywhere from 8K to 14K per month.
Steve, this is excellent. I normally wouldn’t read something this long, but it was well worth it.
Thanks Hugh! Yeah, it’s a long one…but I find that (for me) it’s better to write infrequently, but make sure each article provides a lot of value and lessons from what I’ve done.
Amazing success after only 1 year! It is a shame that people cannot get their own ideas and try sabbotage someones else biz. (had someone do negative seo on one of my aff sites)
How much of the sales do you think come from your list of this blog?
I plan to try what you have done with good habits, in another niche of course!
Thanks for the great info!
Josh — Yeah, don’t get people who do negative seo. Hate when people attack other businesses because they can’t be original.
Good question. Actually, I’m compiling a massive breakdown of ALL the links I’ve used to promote my books over the last year. Expect to see this in a detailed post sometime next week.
First, I’ll echo the others who have said congratulations and who are also marveling a bit at your success. Part of selling anything is skill and sometimes part is hitting on a trend/hot topic/outlet and I believe you have a bit of all of that going on.
I don’t know if it popped out at others, but your comment that you know you may not be able to rely on Amazon forever is smart and shows you truly are in business, not just trying to find the latest gimmick to make a few bucks.
In response to your note about your lack of print book sales, my personal opinion is that part of it might be length. One thing Kindle has done in many ways is to convince people that if books are short, they’re worth a few bucks at best. I think this is especially true in nonfiction because not only are we competing with other cheap ebooks, we’re also competing with blogs & videos that are free.
I also think the category might have something to do with it. There is a ton of self help stuff out there as you well know and it’s a big genre for Kindle. If an analysis was done, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that readers expectations are being directed toward the middle or lower end of the price scale in that category in general (as is true in many other “soft” topics I bet).
I don’t write fiction, but I have seen a few notes here and there that some publishers are trying to get ebook novel prices back up again. Typically a novel is at least a couple hundred pages, so if those are in the $7ish range in print, that could be why people are balking at 100 pages or less for $7. At least online/on Amazon. Back of the room, signed copies could be a completely different story.
If you can get to the point of break even, or even if it’s a loss leader that still brings people on your list, I’d still do them if I were you. When you have time, you also might consider bulk sales to organizations etc. I think the topics could lend themselves well to something like that.
Re: Definitely agree that Amazon might not last forever. So it’s better to make plans for a worst case scenario.
Re: You’re right about the categories. Perhaps the “self-help” doesn’t lend itself to print. Perhaps if I had more checklists and worksheets, it would get more purchases. But you’re also correct that many people “expect” a lower price nowadays and print doesn’t often seem worth it. I know my opinions are starting to shift that way… I don’t really buy print books that much now because the digital versions take up much less space and are usually cheaper. Really speaks volumes of how Amazon has revolutionized the marketplace.
I just started reading here and already appreciate all you have done. I could be totally off, but I think certain books lend themselves to physical copies. I know when I want to do a lot of flipping back and forth, etc. I want a physical book. It’s possible yours are more suited to being read in electronic form.
You’re right. Some types of books are better for print. What comes to mind are travel books…I’m always flipping back and forth on those, so would never go with a digital version.
This is very interesting and congrats for doing such a good job on writing Kindle books.
In fact, you have inspired me to start writing for Kindle as well, so thanks for the inspiration!
That’s great to hear Timo! I’m confident you would have a lot to share on this subject and would do well on Amazon’s platform.
Awesome income report Steve. This helps me alot to write my own book as well =)
Thanks Jerome! Glad it’s helping with your ebook efforts…
Steve, imitators is the price we pay for allying with the devil, tfu, I meant Amazon.
If I remember correctly it was you who was predicting a year ago that Amazon will introduce massive changes to penalize crappy content and scammy tactics.
And not much changed in that regard.
In my opinion they won’t change, because they don’t care if the content is crappy or not as long as it sells and they get their cut.
Imitators are the fruit of this attitude. There are thousands and thousands Kindle ‘publishers’ who are chasing and mimicking hot trends on Amazon. I was involved in a group which numbered a bit over 4k such ‘authors’ led by “Kindle guru” promising 6 digits income from such operations.
And Amazon fosters it. They act like a common corporation. They say they want to serve, but they act like they are interested only in profits.
Great marketing machine is the part of the bargain, but imitators are included in the price too.
Is VA’s cost you’ve showed 75% of his/her pay? Then I definitely can’t afford one. It’s an average salary in Poland!
Hey Michal — So far, it’s still business as usual. But I guarantee one day, there WILL be a major shift. Amazon is smart…they know that people game the system. So who knows what changes they’ll implement down the road.
Yes, the amount I listed is 75% of what I pay. My rate is at the top of the scale because I wanted the best person as possible. Having a VA isn’t mandatory…it’s just what I’m doing. In my opinion, I think you’re spending money in the right places… good ecover and editing. Honestly, that’s all I really did for my first few dozen books. Focus on the fundamentals for now and use my suggestions as “future” ideas that you could implement.
First all a big thanks for taking the time write a amazing post..really expediting
one quick question ?
on the StumbleUpon are you running ads there on just submit it ..?
It’s just regular articles from users. No ads or anything. To be honest, I’m now 100% certain I’ll never purchase an ad from SU because the traffic doesn’t convert.
“Not bad at all for a brand-new business.” Your leveraging your email list which you did disclaim but that disregards all of the success of the site for me sadly.
Its sad because I would have like to have seen something develop entirely from scratch in this day and age, although the Slideshare analysis is quite helpful.
Contrats either way.
Sorry to hear that Ash. But at the end of the day, this isn’t a “niche site” for me. When I focus on something, I do it 100% full-time. That means using any possible resource that I have access to. That said, there are a couple things happening: 1) I’m posting the exact numbers from all the marketing campaigns over the last year … including SSS links…the article will be posted next week. 2) I’m also exploring other traffic tactics (like SlideShare and YouTube) that I’ll post the results for sometime soon. I’ll write more about this in the next post.
Well their both your sites so of course you can do what you want with them, link them together email your list from this site to promote books on your new site, essentiallly every site is a niche site though right? I thought niche sites were just focused sites in one niche.
Yes…niche sites tend to focus on one niche. That said, I realized halfway through the case study that the authority site wasn’t a “part time” endeavor. That meant I had to dedicate most of my site to building it up. As such, made the choice to give ALL my audiences the chance to check out my books. Next week, I’m going to break down what I’ve done over the last year and give a clear breakdown of what “advantage” was given by promoting to the SSS list.
Thanks on your marvelous posting Steve! I really enjoyed reading it, you could be a great author.
I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and definitely will come back very soon.
Appreciate it Gary!
Wow Steve amazingly done. I’m shocked how consistent your Amazon kindle earnings are. I would think they would taper off month to month but you really have it down. Thanks for being so honest!
Yeah, they’ve been pretty consistent. That said, the past month (April) they dipped a bit, but now they’ve gone back up. I love Kindle publishing, but sometimes the earnings are too up and down.
Wow, impressive work.
Thank you for sharing, Steve. I appreciate your transparency. I think for many it is one of the most difficult things to do.
Appreciate the compliment George. Try my best to be transparent on both the good and the bad. Looking forward to speaking with you next week!
Great article, Steve.
So far I have not used Slide Share. I think I’ll try this strategy to grow an email list and traffic. I do agree with you that getting reviews for your Kindle books is becoming increasingly difficult. I have been approached by a few authors on Facebook for review swapping but I’ve remained silent on this. Sadly, a lot of crappy books have 30 or 40 5-star ratings whereas my books have a few. I use a link to the Amazon review site at the back of my books. This is my way of encouraging readers to leave a review. Those who like my book do not leave a review. I know that they have liked my book because some have written e-mails to me but didn’t leave a review on Amazon even when requested politely. The worst part is that some leave a review without even caring to read my book. This happened to me on the Amazon UK website which does not have any reviews. A lady left a two star review saying that she has not even read the book. Can you believe it that people leave reviews without even reading the book and saying so openly? Sadly that two star rating is the only review I’ve got on the Amazon UK website. So, now that two star appears below the thumbnail of my book.
Agree Pransenjeet. I think it’s only going to get harder and harder to get those reviews. That said, I also ignore review swapping requests. I feel that’s a slippery slope to go down. The best thing I can recommend is to focus on building a brand, especially an email list. From there, try to identify people who can be your “street team”, so when you have a new book, you can tap into this group.
I sell my own e-books on my site. When I considered e-books on Amazon, and saw the plethora of them on the site, I felt mine would be hopelessly lost in the mix.
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