Blog Income Report – 2020 Year-End
In this blog, I am providing a breakdown of my blog income report, a breakdown of the revenue, expenses, and profit from my niche websites. This income report is for the full year of 2020. For a full list of my income reports, see my blog income report archive here.
Blog Income Report – How To Read This Page
At The Entrepreneur Ride Along, I try to be as open and transparent as possible. That is why I’m sharing my revenue and expenses, the real behind the scenes numbers from my websites. These are the websites that I’ve started and scaled. I want to show you real numbers so you know what to expect (and what’s possible) when you launch your online business.
I want you to see what is possible when you start an online business, I want you to see the successes I am having (and the mistakes I am making) so that you can begin making money online. I will publish a new blog income report every quarter (after I pay my quarterly taxes) to show you my results from the previous months.
Below, and in each upcoming blog income report, I will post three tables:
I will breakdown my real revenue and expenses for each one of my websites. Below these tables, I will give you some insight behind the scene into what I am doing with each blog, what happened during the last quarter, and how I plan to continue scaling.
And if this sparks some ideas for you, or encourages you to go out and start an online business for yourself, I encourage you to start today. If you just need some ideas, go ahead and download my five website ideas (the businesses I would start if I had more time).
For proof, and to show I’m not making these numbers up, I will include screenshots at the bottom of this blog from my Stripe account showing revenue generated from each business over the last quarter.
Blog Income Report – 2020 Recap
2020 was my best year as an entrepreneur (best year so far). Between my three businesses, I generated $91,180 in revenue which resulted in $63,948 in income. I am very happy with those results! With this profit of $63,948, I was able to pay myself a salary of $4,000 per month. The rest of the profit was used to pay taxes, reinvested in the business, and paid out to myself as a year-end bonus.
My goal going into the year was $10,000 in revenue per month, for a year-end revenue of $120,000. I missed that goal by quite a bit, but that is absolutely okay! Shoot for the stars and land in the clouds as they say. I will not complain about $91k in revenue. In 2021 I will focus on eclipsing the $100k mark. In 2020, some things went my way, and other projects did not go according to plan. But hey, that is online business in a nutshell, now I need to re-focus my effort to meet my new goals in 2021.
2020 in Review
A LOT happened in 2020. I started two new businesses (including The Entrepreneur Ride Along where you are currently reading this blog), I launched two group coaching programs, I launched two new online courses, I doubled the income of my dog blog, I updated all of my insurance courses, and most importantly I got married!
Here is a quick recap of some of the major projects and events that pushed my businesses forward in 2020:
- $8,000+ from a new business – in 2020, I launched The Entrepreneur Ride Along (the blog you are reading now). Over the course of this year, I booked over ten coaching clients, hosted two group coaching programs, launched two online courses, recorded over fifteen podcasts, wrote over twenty blogs, built out a 50-week automated email marketing series, was hosted as a guest on over thirty blogs and podcasts, and I helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs in building their online business. Not bad for one year of work! There is a lot more to come from this website, but I will happily take an extra $8,000+ in profit for doing what I love.
- $60,000 from insurance courses – my insurance sales SKY ROCKETED in the first half of 2020, this carried me to my best year ever for AssociatePI (even after a few hiccups during the second half of the year). This came as a result of a series of new blog posts, podcasts, and YouTube videos that I published toward the end of 2019. I saw a steady spike in traffic and email subscribers around this time, which led to a massive increase in sales. All was going just swimmingly until I got hit with a surprise in June and had to re-write all of my courses, which really slowed profitability. Otherwise, I was well on my way to a $100k year if AssociatePI didn’t get blindsided (more on that debacle below).
- Doubled Dog Blog Income – I made a few strategic decisions in early 2020 in an attempt to double the income from my dog blog, The Pomsky Owners Association. In 2020, my income jumped from ~$10,000 per year to nearly $20,000 and it just keeps growing! I will talk about this a lot more in the section below where I discuss the profit of my dog blog, but this year I really focused on growing my organic traffic and Facebook following which helped me TRIPLE my email subscribers in one year and 2x my income.
- Insurance course update – In June of 2020 I was blindsided. It was announced that ALL EIGHT of the insurance courses that I sell at AssociatePI (my most profitable business) needed to be updated. My insurance courses help employees of the insurance industry prepare for the “CPCU” designation. The organization that administers this designation announced that the exams were changing, which meant all of my courses needed to be updated to help my students pass the new exams. That was a HUGE project. For perspective, it takes me about three months to write ONE of these insurance courses. I needed to write eight courses in about six months. This is a project I worked on from June through December, but it is not something I could do on my own. In the early days of my entrepreneurial journey, back in 2015, I wrote all of the insurance courses by myself with blood, sweat, tears, and hard work. But I’m smarter now. I know I don’t have to do it all on my own. Now, I know how to outsource. If you see on my expense report above, there is a new line item “Editor + Ghost Writer”. I spent over $3,000 this year hiring writers to help me re-write each chapter and write new practice exam questions for my courses. So, rather than me writing each course (3 months at a time) I hired a couple of writers to do the bulk of the writing for me. Then, I would spend 1-2 hours per chapter reading and making sure the ghostwriter’s work was up to my standard of quality. I went through each chapter and added my value and personal touch to tweak their writing to match the quality that my students expect. I officially completed and totally re-wrote all of my courses by December of 2020. A huge accomplishment! It was an unexpected hiccup that I was not expecting to deal with this year, but I took the challenge, outsourced the bulk of the work, and completed a gigantic project in just six months’ time. This definitely threw off my plans for the year, as I was supposed to have these six months to focus on scaling my businesses. Instead, I had to focus on maintaining my businesses which hurt my revenue as you can see AssociatePI revenue dropped to $3,000 and $2,600 in November and December respectively because students were not buying my courses (because the study material was outdated) and I was not focused on marketing/growth. I took a temporary hit, I fully expect AssociatePI to spike back up in 2021.
- I got married – Most importantly for me this year, on October 5th, 2020 Brooke and I got married in Canyon Lands National Park Utah. Just us two on the side of the cliff with a special private ceremony after a day of off-roading and hiking. This came during the middle of a road trip when we up and left our home for about two months on a cross-country trip from Massachusetts to California, spending time in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and all the states in between along the way. It is not how we originally planned to get married, but after three wedding cancelations (due to COVID) and considering the health risk if we gathered all of our friends and family, we decided to get lost in the woods for a few months and get married while adventuring across the national parks of the United States. How does this affect my business? At The Entrepreneur Ride Along, I am my business. If you notice, in October and November The Entrepreneur Ride Along made only $183 from a few affiliate sales. I took a full two months off which meant no coaching and no revenue. My other businesses are set up for passive income with online courses, memberships, and book sales. Those businesses kept cruising on autopilot, bringing in $11,000+ in revenue without me touching them (other than answering emails). But my revenue definitely took a hit during October and November when I took a full two months off from work. That being said, I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, I will probably do the exact same thing next year and block off one to two months to get away with my wife, that is the beauty of online business!
- Two road trips – In addition to my wedding, which was a two-month-long road trip. Brooke and I also took a road trip in June. That is when our wedding was originally supposed to be (we were supposed to get married on June 26, 2020) but that date had to be postponed due to COVID. So instead we drove out to Colorado and South Dakota for a little hiking and exploring. That means, during the year 2020, I barely worked throughout the month of June (road trip #1) and I barely worked through the months of September to November (road trip #2). What does this have to do with my blog income report for 2020? Well, I take it as a great sign of things to come! Three to four months of this year were spent on vacation, barely working and pushing my business forward. That means I really pushed my business forward and hit a year-end revenue of $91,000+ with only eight months of dedicated work. That is a sign of good things to come in 2021! Not to mention, it is incredibly encouraging to see how automated my businesses are, that I can step away for months at a time and still bring in $5,000+ in revenue per month.
I will discuss the performance of each business, and the expenses I incurred this quarter, in more detail below.
What Happened Quarter Four?
Before we dive into each business, let me quickly touch on what happened in quarter four. If you have been following along with each quarterly income report (last quarter posted here), you are probably interested to see what happened in quarter four.
- Group Coaching – I wrapped up my “Scale Your Business” group coaching program in November (now available as an online course). I was conducting this group coaching program while I was on a road trip getting married. This was a group of four entrepreneurs learning how to get more traffic, get more leads, and get more sales to their online business. The cost was $1,500 per seat which provided a nice bit of profit in August and September but required A LOT of work from me. So I did almost no coaching, connecting, or selling between September to November for The Entrepreneur Ride Along.
- My Coach – In November I hired a coach, I booked a six-month coaching package with my friend Tom Heffner. Everyone should have a coach, I need a coach. It helps to have a neutral third party to help you think through challenges and the stresses of entrepreneurship.
- I got married (and got another dog) – I got married on October 5th, 2020 and my wife immediately convinced me to get another dog (our 3rd Great Dane). So things slowed down quite a bit for me around this time!
- Seasonality – November and December were some of my worst months ever for AssociatePI. December I didn’t even surpass the $3,000 revenue mark. This is a big case of seasonality. This happens every year around the end of the year and the holiday season. I did not expect seasonality to be this bad, but there was a clear drop in traffic during these months even though my SEO rankings remained strong (which means fewer people searching for my exams so fewer people buying). I expect this to bounce back up in 2021.
- Ghostwriters – As I discussed in quarter three, to assist in writing my new insurance courses, I hired ghostwriters. I had a team of three ghostwriters that were helping me re-write my insurance courses and practice exams. And we got the job done! By December, all courses had been re-written and published to my online course.
- Textbook formatting – One of my goals is to launch a printed textbook version of my insurance online courses in 2021. To begin this process, I am having one of my virtual assistants help to format my online course in a Word Document for the Amazon KDP program. We have fully formatted two of the courses, they are now ready to be published as a print-based textbook. I expect to have this launched in quarter one 2021. More to come on this project in the next income report!
- Migrating online courses – my website at AssociatePI needs a lot of work. I’m currently using the WPLMS WordPress theme to host my online courses. It’s okay. It’s not great. The site is a bit buggy, and sometimes it completely crashes when I update my plugins. That’s always fun answering dozens of angry emails when my students can’t access their study material for their exam the next day… It is one of the biggest stresses of my insurance course business. So, one of my goals for 2021, is to migrate over to Thrive Themes and use Thinkific to host my online courses. One of my virtual assistants is helping with this migration, we got started in December and plan to have the whole website migration and conversion complete by Quarter two 2021. This is a huge project but I expect this to increase my conversion over the next year.
- Launched Scale Your Business Online Course – in December I launched the online course version of my “scale your business” group coaching program. I launched it exclusively to my email list, as a pre-sale, before I even built the course. I sold four courses at $197 each, giving me a nice little bump in revenue before the end of the year! This will be a big focus for me going forward into 2021. In 2021, I will have two online courses (which will be my main products) to go along with my quarterly group coaching programs and one-on-one coaching.
- Affiliate blogs – for my Dog Blog, I wrote a series of new affiliate blogs. I actually had one of my assistants help out with this process. I told her the products I wanted to list in the blog and she did the rest, easy enough for me! We published five new affiliate blogs with the best Black Friday deals, Cyber Monday deals, and best holiday gift ideas. This brought in more traffic and spiked my Amazon affiliate earnings in the month of December to about $400 (my best affiliate month yet).
- New revenue stream (marketing on my website) – an interesting new revenue stream fell onto my lap in 2020. With my dog blog now getting upwards of 40,000 page views per month, I had people cold emailing me asking to write articles and buy marketing space on my website. So I started selling a guest blog package on my website. The pricing structure was $25 if you just want a mention/link to your website on one of my blogs, $50 to post a full guest blog on my site, and $100 to get a guest blog and have the blog posted to social media and my email list. This started in November and resulted in an extra $271 in revenue by the end of the year. Not bad for throwing together a quick marketing package! I am still getting a few of these sales trickling in during early 2021 as I write this blog. This is something I will experiment with in 2021, I might be able to increase my revenue by a few thousand per year with this new revenue stream.
- $50 lifetime membership – one of the memberships I offer on my dog blog is a $5 per month “advisory” package. This basically means the customer gets access to an online course portal with all of my content (new and old content) and they get unlimited access to me for help with finding the perfect puppy for their home. It’s like a pre-course for you to learn and get all the information you need before your dog comes home. Now, I know that $5 is not charging nearly enough. So, in December, I launched a holiday special $50 one-time payment for lifetime access. I got five sales, an extra $250 at the end of the year! I was very happy with the results for something that took me less than 30 minutes of work. To put that in perspective, I have 47 members in my $5 membership right now. That’s $235 per month in recurring revenue. I beat that revenue level in one month, with two marketing emails, by increasing the price to $50. In 2021, I am considering tweaking the pricing model altogether. I might fully switch this to a $50 one-time fee or I will increase the price of the membership.
In the next section of this blog income report, I will give you a summary overview for each business and give you some insight into my plan for 2021.
Blog Income Report – Summary
In this section I am going to talk through my expenses, the performance of each of my businesses, and my plans for the next quarter.
The past few months, especially November and December, were expensive months for me. As you can see in the snapshots above, my expenses were about $3,500 and $4,000 for November and December respectively. It was the two most expensive months of the year for me. Here’s why my expenses were so high this quarter:
- Editor ($1,500) – as I mentioned above, I had to re-write all of my insurance courses this year. So, I had my editor take a look at the updates before publishing the updated courses. I use Jen Harshman of Harshman Services. She’s great, highly recommend if you need an editor.
- ConvertKit ($1,071) – I have over 10,000 email subscribers across my various websites and businesses, so my ConvertKit subscription is pretty expensive. I pay for the year in full. I have no regrets about paying this much for an email management system. ConvertKit is awesome, it’s the only email management system that I recommend. If you want to check it out, you can use my two week free trial for ConvertKit here.
- Thinkific ($748) – as I mentioned earlier, I am migrating my insurance courses over to Thinkific. It’s an awesome platform, way more powerful and professional than the WordPress platform I am using now. I took advantage of the Thinkific Black Friday sale and paid for the year in full, which resulted in a hefty expense in November.
- Teachable ($396) – I launched my “Scale Your Business” online course. This is being hosted on Teachable. A platform that I really like for online courses, I plan to add a few more courses to Teachable this year!
My expenses for 2020 totaled $27,231. That’s about a 70% profit margin. Here is a breakdown of my biggest expenses in 2020:
- Returns ($7,444) – Over $7,000 in returns isn’t great. That is a huge chunk of my expenses. I know it isn’t technically an expense, but it takes away from the topline revenue so I have included it here in my expense section. I had a tough year for returns. I offer a money-back guarantee on my insurance courses. If you use my course and do not pass your exam I will refund you for the cost of the course. Unfortunately, I had a lot of failures ($425 refund per course) which resulted in a hefty $7,444 in refunds for 2020. In 2021, I am going to consider discontinuing this money-back guarantee. This was a great selling point when I first built this site, but now that I am established and I have a trustworthy brand, I may not need to offer this strong of a guarantee. I will consider switching to a 30-day satisfaction guarantee instead.
- Virtual Assistants ($4,454) – I have a team of three virtual assistants working on a variety of tasks at all times. These virtual assistants make anywhere from $5 to $10 per hour, based on the task and experience level. I estimate that my VA’s worked over 500 hours this year. That’s equivalent to about twelve weeks of work. That’s THREE WHOLE MONTHS of work, work that I otherwise would have had to do on my own. Instead, I outsourced various tasks like formatting Word documents, programming online courses, posting to social media, and even answering emails. This expense is worth every penny. If I didn’t have my VA’s, 2020 would have looked a lot different. I would never have accomplished this much without my amazing team of virtual assistants.
- Ghostwriter and Editor ($3,164) – As I mentioned above, I paid for Ghostwriters and editors to help me update my insurance online courses. It was a lot of work. For perspective, it takes me 3+ months to write one course. And I needed to re-write eight of them! So, starting in August, I hired a few ghostwriters. They each wrote a few chapters of a course for me. The cost ranged from $150 per chapter to $400 per chapter. By outsourcing this writing, I saved myself upwards of 12 to 16 months of work. That is a HUGE time saver. My ghostwriters would do the first pass writing the chapter, then I would spend about one hour per chapter going through and adding my personal touch to help my students better understand the content. So, rather than spending three months per course, with the help of ghostwriters, it took me about 10 hours per course. That’s much better!
- Google Ads ($1,684) – I continued running Google ads to my email opt-in at AssociatePI. AssociatePI is the only site I run Google Ads for. It’s profitable for me, I spend around $150 in Google ads per month, capture about 30 new email leads by running these ads, and it results in one or two sales per month (~$750 in revenue). It’s worth continuing the Google ads campaign for now, but next year I will look into scaling or discontinuing the campaign.
In 2020, I successfully scaled AssociatePI to $60,000. I reached a revenue of $63,070, 27.9% better than 2019 sales. I have been trying to hit that mark for years. This year, I was finally able to push past the $60k revenue mark.
The big driver was email subscribers, I wrote a few strategic blogs that are ranking really well on Google and bringing in a new source of traffic. You can see in the ConverKit graph below that my email subscribers nearly doubled this year. This strategy continues to work for me, I keep getting more traffic which results in more email leads. I plan to hit $70k in 2021, my plan is to focus primarily on conversion. I am moving my courses over to Thinkific (which will look more professional), I am totally redesigning my website, I am tweaking my automated email marketing, I am building out new sales pages, and I will be launching at least one new online course. With all of these plans in the pipeline, I should be able to surpass $70,000 in 2021.
Sales came in hot to start the year, I was averaging revenue around $8,000 per month throughout the first half of 2020. Things slowed WAY down in the second half of 2020. I was expecting revenue to drop a little bit due to seasonality (see Stripe graph below, sales always drop in the summer and fall) but I was not expecting a 28% drop in revenue compared to the first half of 2020. I can point to one primary reason for why the sales dropped. The exams changed. I mentioned this earlier, but I will reiterate it again. In June, it was announced that eight of the exams that I sell insurance courses for would be changing. That means the study material that I am selling was outdated. The new exams were released in October 2020 and January 2021, which means my customers were holding off and not buying courses until the new exams were released and the study material was updated to reflect the changes in the exam. There was an immediate shock and drop in sales after the exam updates were announced. Consequently, this also means my job got a lot harder! This meant I had to re-write eight of my online courses. That is a HUGE project. But, my courses are all updated now. I expect sales in 2021 to pick back up now that my courses are up to date with the latest exams.
Traffic and Leads
Traffic for AssociatePI is typically around 5,000 to 6,000 users per month. You can see a screenshot from my Google Analytics below. This is normal, I have plateaued around this range for about two years now. I plan to double down on my SEO efforts in 2021 to bump up this traffic.
The big story is my email subscribers. You can see in the ConvertKit snapshot below that my email subscribers for AssociatePI grew from about 3,800 to nearly 6,000. That’s around 36% growth, that is huge! That means my list was growing by about 180 to 200 net subscribers per month. Backing out unsubscribers, that means I was collecting around 300 to 400 new leads per month. That is why I was able to surpass $60k in revenue this year, it all came from my email list.
This goes to show you. You don’t need huge numbers. You do not need one million people visiting your website every month. You just need a couple of thousand website users, a couple of email leads, and you can build a highly profitable business.
See below for a screenshot from Stripe, Google Analytics, and ConvertKit for proof of monthly revenue, website traffic, and email subscriber growth. Please note, this screen capture is online course sales only it does not include my affiliate revenue or sales through my partner channels.
Pomsky Owners Association
In 2020, I DOUBLED the revenue of the Pomsky Owners Association. From $7,374 in 2019 to $19,322 in 2020. That was the plan, and I absolutely crushed it this year with my dog blog. I have been neglecting this website for years, but a few minor tweaks at the end of 2019 and a few investments in new products and improved marketing, and I double my revenue just barely missing my goal of $20k.
Here is what I did this year that helped me reach my goal of $20,000 in revenue:
- Membership snowball – the beauty of membership programs, is the snowball effect over time. As new members join, the monthly revenue keeps growing and snowballing, getting bigger and bigger each month. That is what I am experiencing with the Pomsky Owners Association. I launched my membership program in April of 2019, the membership averaged about $200 per month in 2019. This year, the membership averaged $900 per month hitting a high of $1,580 in July (after a couple of annual membership purchases). I keep adding more members each month, and I am gaining more members than I am losing, which leads to the snowball effect. The downside to managing a membership program, it is a lot of work. I spend a minimum of two hours per week answering customer service emails, canceling/updating memberships, and fixing monthly payments. It’s the worst part about managing a membership site. The recurring revenue is great, but I do not love the constant upkeep. This is something I am looking to automate or outsource in 2021 (I want to make my life easier).
- Audiobook – in July 2020, I launched an audiobook version of my book “the complete guide to Pomsky training“. You will notice on the income report above that there is a new line titled “Pomsky – Audiobook Sales”. This bumped up my top-line revenue just a little bit, about $50 to $100 per month. It is scaling my revenue just a little, but it’s growing. And it is bringing in new leads as more people read and listen to my book, these leads later turn into membership customers. I’m excited to watch the audiobook sales grow as I begin to push the audiobook next year. I am also strongly pushing the Audible affiliate program, with this program I can give away free copies of my book, and then I earn $75 any time I get someone to enroll in Audible. I already had three people signup for Audible through my affiliate link, that’s $225 that will be paid out in 2021. Not bad! That is equivalent to selling 28 books. I will double down on the audible affiliate program next year, I envision this being a big-time revenue driver going forward.
- Affiliate blogs – As I mentioned above, I wrote a series of new affiliate blogs for the Pomsky Owners Association. In total, for the year, we wrote about fifteen new affiliate blogs (including five new affiliate blogs for Black Friday deals). The downside is, Amazon cut their affiliate commissions in mid-2020. Their commission rate dropped from 8% to 3% on dog products. That was a big hit. My affiliate revenue was scaling nicely this year, but leveled off around $120 per month after the commission rates were cut. I was still able to average $106 in Amazon affiliate commissions per month for the year ($1,270 total), but this could have been double or triple had the commissions not been cut. I started the Amazon affiliate program in September 2019, so it has only been a year and three months since starting my Amazon affiliate adventure. I am happy to add an extra $100 per month in revenue with this simple process of posting blogs, but I don’t expect this to be a major revenue driver going forward. In 2021, I will look into other affiliate programs like the Chewy affiliate program that offer higher commissions.
- New revenue stream (marketing on my website) – I mentioned this above, but I will reiterate it here as well. A new revenue stream fell onto my lap in 2020. Two to three times per week, I have SEO services cold emailing me asking if they can write articles for my blog and buy marketing space on my website. In November 2020, I started selling a guest blog package on my website. The pricing structure was $25 if you want a mention/link to your website on one of my blogs, $50 to post a full guest blog on my site, and $100 to get a guest blog and have the blog posted to social media and my email list. So far, this has generated an extra $271 in revenue (I grouped this under “affiliate sales” above). Not bad for throwing together a quick marketing package! I am still getting a few of these sales trickling in during early 2021 as I write this blog. This is something I will experiment with in 2021, I might be able to increase my revenue by a few thousand per year with this new revenue stream.
- $ 50-lifetime membership – As I mentioned above, I changed my $5 per month membership package. For the month of December, I started charging a $50 one-time payment for lifetime access. My thought process was $50 is equivalent to ten months of membership, most people cancel after five to six months, so why not sell for $50 and try to maximize the profit rather than charging a $5 per month membership. Well, I tested the $50 price point and I got five sales right away, an extra $250 at the end of the year! I was very happy with the results for something that took me less than 30 minutes of work. In 2021, I am considering tweaking the pricing model altogether. I might fully switch this to a $50 one-time fee or I will increase the price of the membership.
- Social media growth – in January 2020, I brought a new assistant to my team to help me grow my social media presence. Social media is not one of my priorities. In the 8+ online businesses that I have started, I barely do anything on social media. But, I know there is a HUGE presence on Facebook and Instagram for the Pomsky dog. So, I hired an assistant to post 3-5 times per week on Facebook and Instagram. Over the last year, she grew my Facebook page organically from around 500 followers to over 2,000 followers and she grew my Instagram from 0 followers to 600+, just by posting cute pictures of dogs with the appropriate hashtags. Not bad! This has lead to a big spike in my website traffic and email subscribers. We set up a cadence so we are posting at least one blog post per week and at least one lead magnet per week to entice my Facebook and Instagram followers to visit my website and join my email list. This is one of the big reasons that my traffic, email subscribers, and revenue have spiked in 2020. In 2021, I plan to learn a lot more about social media and how to grow my audience. I will be sure to share everything I learn with you!
Traffic and Leads
A combination of new blogs that are ranking really well with SEO, new podcast episodes that I published in early 2020, and my investment in social media (Facebook and Instagram) kicked in big-time around March/April 2020. These three avenues of driving traffic continue to bring organic traffic to my website (10,000 to 20,000 users per month) and continue to increase my email subscriber count.
The growth in email subscribers is the big story here. Look at that ConvertKit graph pictured below. Starting in March, until the end of 2020, my Pomsky Owners Association email subscribers nearly DOUBLED. That is huge. A lot of that is coming from a new market that I am reaching through Facebook and Instagram. I also tweaked my email opt-in around this time, with a better landing page and call to action, which helped me better convert website visitors into leads.
There is still a lot more I can do with this website. My revenue doubled in 2020, let’s see if I can double it again in 2021!
See below for a screenshot from Stripe, Google Analytics, and ConvertKit for proof of monthly revenue, website traffic, and email subscriber growth. Please note, this screen capture is membership fees only it does not include my affiliate revenue
The Entrepreneur Ride Along
In my first year, after just starting The Entrepreneur Ride Along in 2020, I generated $8,709 in revenue. I am EXTREMELY happy with those results. An extra $8,000+ while managing two other businesses is great. This website is showing a lot of promise, and it is what I absolutely love doing. If I could focus on The Entrepreneur Ride Along 100% of the time, I would. And I will someday, once it is scaled up to the point of taking over my other websites.
Over the course of this year, I booked over ten coaching clients, hosted two group coaching programs, launched two online courses, recorded over fifteen podcasts, wrote over twenty blogs, built out a 50-week automated email marketing series, was hosted as a guest on over thirty blogs and podcasts, and helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs in building their online business. All of that resulted in $8,709 in revenue, and the website is just getting started. It’s still growing.
There is a lot more to come from this website, but I will happily take an extra $8,000+ in profit for doing what I love.
Here is what I did this year that generated revenue from The Entrepreneur Ride Along:
- Coaching – this year, I booked ten coaching clients. Rates ranged from $500 to $1,500 depending on the coaching package or program. I personally helped over 1,000 entrepreneurs this year through my one-on-one connection/help on Reddit and other social media platforms where I was connecting with coaching prospects. Not all of those 1,000 entrepreneurs were coaching prospects, most of them were a few comments back and forth to solve a problem or answer a question, but in the range of 50 to 100 of those entrepreneurs I coached for free (a free introductory coaching call). Of those free coaching calls, ten of them turned into paid coaching clients. I started 2020 with coaching as my only revenue stream, I ended the year by diversifying into online courses and affiliate revenue. Coaching will remain the center of my revenue at The Entrepreneur Ride Along, but in 2021 I plan to focus a lot on the online course revenue stream.
- Two Group Coaching Programs – This year, I hosted two group coaching programs. In April I hosted the “Build a Business” group coaching program and taught five entrepreneurs how to find a business idea and launch their first online business. I am now working on turning this into an online course. In September of 2020, I launched another group coaching program, this one was called the “Scale Your Business” group coaching program (now available as an online course). This was a group of four entrepreneurs learning how to get more traffic, get more leads, and get more sales to their online business. These two group coaching programs were big revenue drivers for me in 2020, now that I have the coursework and groundwork laid out, I plan to host three or four more of these group coaching programs in 2021.
- Launched Scale Your Business Online Course – in December I launched the online course version of my “scale your business” group coaching program. I launched it exclusively to my email list, as a pre-sale, before I even built the course. I sold four courses at $197 each, giving me a nice little bump in revenue before the end of the year. This will be a big focus for me going forward into 2021. In 2021, I will also be launching the “build a business” online course. These two online courses will be the main products that I am selling in 2021, these will supplement my quarterly group coaching programs and one-on-one coaching.
- Affiliate – In 2020, I started tinkering with affiliate programs. In total, I generated $466 from the Long Tail Pro affiliate program and $80 from the Thrive Themes affiliate program. Affiliate revenue is not my main focus, but it is a good supplement to add in with my coaching practice, online courses, and group coaching as I am always recommending tools and products to new entrepreneurs. It is just natural to recommend my two favorite tools!
Traffic and Leads
Look at my traffic and email subscriber trends in April 2020 (photos below). Notice my monthly website users dropped from ~1,500 per month to around 500 per month, and my email subscriber growth slowed drastically. That was intentional. Starting in May, I decided to focus my efforts on maximizing one-on-one coaching and group coaching. This meant I stopped blogging, stopped podcasting, stopped my SEO efforts, and almost entirely stopped trying to grow my audience. Instead, I focused on leveraging the one-on-one relationships I had with my prospective coaching clients.
Now compare that same trend to my revenue trend for the same time period. Notice my revenue actually spiked and trended up after April 2020?
That is because I realized one crucial distinction. I make money by coaching. NOT through SEO and email marketing. My most profitable months came when I focused on a few specific clients when I focused on coaching and teaching (not on growing my audience). So that was my focus for the remainder of the year, from May to December. Because of that decision, I generated just under $9,000 from The Entrepreneur Ride Along.
The business model of The Entrepreneur Ride Along is MUCH different than that of my other websites. With my other websites, my profitability is directly correlated with my monthly traffic and email subscriber growth. The Entrepreneur Ride Along actually has a bit of an inverse relationship. The more I focus on traffic, the less I am focusing on actually coaching. Which means less money. By focusing on coaching (and not traffic) I grew my profit.
Again, this goes to show you, you do not need huge numbers to build a profitable business. The entrepreneur education space is incredibly competitive. I am directly competing with giants like Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas. Yet, in about 12 months, I was able to generate nearly $10,000. You do not need 1,000,000 podcast subscribers, you do not need a huge social media following, you do not need thousands of people visiting your website every month. In my case, I just needed a few hundred connections and a couple of coaching clients. You can build an incredibly profitable business with just a couple hundred customers.
See below for a screenshot from Stripe, Google Analytics, and ConvertKit for proof of monthly revenue, website traffic, and email subscriber growth. Please note, this screen capture is coaching fees only it does not include my online course sales or affiliate revenue.
Big changes are coming in 2021! Within the next year, I will be making some major changes to my business. Here are a few of the plans I have for the upcoming year:
- Writing and self-publishing an entrepreneur book (to help new entrepreneurs build their first business)
- Fully launch the Scale Your Business Online Course
- Fully launch the “build a business” online course
- Re-launch my two group coaching programs at The Entrepreneur Ride Along (one per quarter).
- Redesign The Entrepreneur Ride Along website (it’s about time).
- Podcast – I will be launching a few new podcast series true to the name “entrepreneur ride along” where I give a detailed breakdown of how I started each of my businesses from day one and scaled it to the present day.
- Add an email marketing campaign to The Entrepreneur Ride Along to begin selling my online courses.
- Redesign the AssociatePI website to optimize conversion.
- Migrate AssociatePI online courses to Thinkific
- Launch a textbook version of my online courses for AssociatePI through the Amazon KDP program.
- Launch my first product in my new business Agile Exam Academy.
- Move – I’m moving! (physically). Moving to the great state of Maine. New office coming soon.
Need help starting your own online business? Want to learn about how I am generating money online, and what strategies I’m applying? Simply contact me. I love meeting new entrepreneurs and I set aside time every week to connect and help entrepreneurs. I want to help you build your business. Simply shoot me an email to start the conversation.