In January of 2015 I decided to begin documenting my progress building my online businesses with the goal to help and inspire others. I've owned ThinkEntrepreneurship.com since 2007 (my senior year in college), and DIYPETE.com since 2014. Getting to this point has taken a lot of hard work and persistence. I've had a number of road blocks to overcome in building DIYPETE.com but the rewards have been well worth it. I want this article to show that you can create a living doing what you love by creating a blog and online presence. I am an open book in sharing my real statistics and figures because I want others to see the many different ways to monetize a site.
As you can see in my 2014 Year End Review post, my two websites have increased in both traffic and revenue over the past year or so. The growth can be attributed to my DIYPETE.com site which started in 2014 and has grown to see current traffic of 78,000 users / month and 107,000 sessions. The DIY PETE Youtube channel has been a main factor in the growth of my business, with over 140,000 views per month and 17,000+ subscribers.
In this 2015 Spring Income Report and Overview, I will be going over the first 5 months of 2015 in terms of website revenue, traffic, and things I've learned. I'll also mention a few things I took part in to help learn and continue to grow the business. Please note some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that by using them, you are supporting Think Entrepreneurship.
Let's start by taking a quick look at revenue earned through both ThinkEntrepreneurship.com and DIYPETE.com in 2015 thus far. This year's revenue is up considerably over 2014 where blogging brought in $88,660 the entire year. In comparison, if my sites maintain the average of my first 5 months in 2015, the total for this year could be $158,520. That is without continued growth.
The beauty of running an online business is there is very little overhead, minimal expenses, and a good amount of profit. In addition, you are able to work from about anywhere, travel when you want to, and create passive income. I've traveled much more in the recent months because of the flexibility of running my online business, which all started in 2011 when I made my first dollar online.
Major Milestones this Year
The Youtube channel broke 1,000,000 views in May of 2015 and 16,914 subscribers. This has helped in bringing on new sponsors and more credibility for the site.
As you know, there are a variety of ways to create passive income online. My income breakdown is as follows:
1. Affiliate Income: 70%
2. Sponsor Income: 20%
3. Youtube/Adsense, Plan Donations, Misc. 10%
1. Affiliate Income
Affiliate income is brought in by referring visitors on the site to buy products or services. For instance, I recommend tools and various products for “Do It Yourselfers” to purchase for some of the projects on DIYPETE.com. In addition, I recommend software in case DIY'ers are looking to start their own blog or online store. A large chunk of the affiliate income is from referring website visitors to use Bluehost to start a blog or Big Commerce or Shopify to start selling crafts and woodwork online. The other affiliate income is from referring products on platforms like CJ.com, Shareasale.com, Amazon.com, Flexoffers.com, LinkShare.com, Clickbank.com, and so on.
Amazon is one of the easiest affiliate programs to get started with for affiliate marketing. All you need is a website and tax ID to get started. In 2014 my sites referred a total of $53,344.40 in business to Amazon and I received about a 6.5% cut. So far this year I have already topped this number in just 5 months. Whenever a link is clicked to buy something on Amazon a 24 hour or so tracking cookie will make sure anything the customer purchases on Amazon within 24 hours of clicking on the original link is attributed to my earnings. I also tell friends, family, and website visitors to simply use www.DIYPETE.com/Amazon (affiliate link) each time they purchase through Amazon to help support the websites. You can do this for your own website to create extra income if you haven't already. Simply take 10 minutes to sign up for an Amazon Associates account.
This is a look at last months Amazon Associates income. It has been continuing to climb each month.Here is an example of a video and post I created as a review for a company. This has sold hundreds of their products which run $90 each.
2. Sponsor Income
Sponsor income continues to increase as the audience grows. Without my Youtube channel, sponsors would be extremely hard to come by. The Youtube channel has given me a platform to build trust with potential sponsors and fellow DIY'ers around the world. I've had the opportunity to work with a number of companies in the home improvement and tool industry. I can't go into exclusive details about who I have partnerships with due to contract agreements, but you can get a good idea of companies I work with by checking out the Youtube channel or various blog posts. One of my favorite collaborations thus far has been with Glidden NFL Team Colors Paint where I created a couple videos for them displaying projects for the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings.
Blogging opportunities and PR continue to bring more traffic and attention to the website. I've had the opportunity to become a “Celebrity Blogger” for Ryobi Tool company which has brought on all sorts of neat opportunities as well as the chance to travel for more projects in the near future.
This is a project done in collaboration with Ryobi Nation and Woodworkers Journal to help promote woodworking.
3. Other online income
People always ask how much money can be made on Youtube. For me, Youtube is currently a pretty small piece of the pie, but still an extra $400 or so per month at this point. To get an idea of what some of the big time Youtuber's make head over to SocialBlade.com. The chart below shows statistics from the last 30 days on the Youtube channel. The subscriber base increase is what I'm most excited about, with over 2,000 new subscribers each month.
Youtube Channel Trailer
To give viewers a better overview of the channel I had Bayard from Montana Film Maker create a channel trailer. This has been a huge help in bringing on more subscribers.
Adsense is currently bringing in about $350 per month. It consists of ads in my right sidebar and header on DIYPETE.com. Google combines the Adsense payment with the Youtube Payment so you'll get 1 deposit or check from Google each month.
Here is a look at the current traffic DIYPETE.com has. All of the Youtube and Adsense revenue does come from the DIY site.
While I do have ideas to sell future plans and digital products, I'm currently experimenting with “Donations” for past projects which I've already created free plans for. In the first month using Gumroad to automatically take donations and email out plans, the site brought in $328.50 for 3 sets of plans.
So far this month, the site brought in $128 in a week. This could turn out to be an extra $512 / month with just the 3 plans up that I'm experimenting with. If this continues to do well I will be putting all of my past plans on Gumroad. Gumroad makes it super easy to sell digital products. They do take a 5% cut, but I think their service is well worth it.
Here is an example of a set up plans in the Gumroad platform to show you how it works.
I'm excited for my first digital course to be released on the Bob Vila Academy. This is yet another experiment in monetizing the business and I'm excited for the opportunity. Bob's site has a massive audience, and I think courses I create for this have the potential to reach a lot of people.
This year I brought on Austin Schuerg from CPAYOURWAY.com to be my accountant. He restructured my business from an LLC to an LLC taxed as an S-corp. This change is going to help save money on self employment taxes and he's been a blessing in making tax time easy. He specializes in accounting for online entrepreneurs, ecommerce store owners, and bloggers. I'd highly recommend him as an accountant! He'll soon be writing a guest post packed with all sorts of helpful information and tips to save money as a small business owner.
2015 Trips and Happenings
The year started off with a trip down to San Diego for a mastermind with a couple entrepreneurs I like to talk business with. The mastermind was with Deacon Hayes from Well Kept Wallet and Austin Schuerg from CPAYOURWAY.com (my accountant). We stopped over at John and Kate's place from EntrepreneuronFire.com for dinner and drinks. The metal work behind us is a gift I made for Entrepreneur on Fire in 2014.
February 2015 Mastermind
In February I hosted a mastermind with a few well known and successful online entrepreneurs. Over the 5 days we spent up at a cabin in Montana, we talked business strategy and bounced ideas off each other. In addition, we did some skiing up at Big Sky Resort, some 4 wheeling, and a few nights out on the town.
The mastermind included Rick Mulready from RickMulready.com, Greg Hickman from GregHickman.com, John Dumas from EntrepeneuronFire.com, Rob Farrington from Strapsmith.com and Casey Zeman of EasyWebinar.com. Andrew Youderian from EcommerceFuel.com joined in on the action for our ski day. We also had Jackie Laulainen of TravelingJackie.com and Austin Schuerg of CPAYOURWAY.com stop up to the cabin to bring in a few more online entrepreneurs.
I was invited to be on the EntrepreneuronFire podcast in February to chat about the mastermind, ski trip, and what I learned from the event. John's podcast and business is consistently bringing in over $300,000 per month and you can learn more about getting into podcasting by joining his awesome community over at Podcasters Paradise.
Cross Country Flight Around the Western United States
In April I took 3 days to fly around the western United States with my Dad and Grandpa. We are 3 generations of private pilots, and my Dad had a goal to land in all lower 48 states this year. So I joined for 9 of the Western states. They were Montana, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington. We had a blast and had some quality family time together.
NMX – New Media Expo Conference
This year's New Media Expo conference was in April in Las Vegas. It was a great excuse to get to hang out and see some of my blogging and online business friends. The conference was combined with the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters Conference) this year which made it quite a bit different because of it's size. I wasn't as impressed with the conference as I've been in the past, and hope they go back to their roots next year so it is a smaller conference.
Checking out Seattle
Growing up in eastern South Dakota I've become a huge Minnesota Twins Baseball fan. In April I had the opportunity to go out to Seattle with a good friend and fellow Twins fan to watch a couple games at Safeco Field.
Cross Country Flight to Lake Tahoe
I'm beginning to make friends with quite a few other private pilots lately and one of which asked if I wanted to join as co-pilot to go hang out at Lake Tahoe for the weekend. So we rented a four seater Piper Arrow and flew down!
Summer in Montana
Montana summers are my favorite and I try not to leave the state as I love whitewater rafting, fly fishing, making DIY projects, hiking, bonfires, trail running, and hanging out in the mountains. We also have a co-ed softball team sponsored by DIYPETE.com and a buddy's business named Gallatin Valley Chiropractic.
Mentoring and Breakfasts
As a young entrepreneur I love helping and inspiring other entrepreneurs. Thus, I've been mentoring a good friend of mine with his online business named Recovery Elevator. We meet once a month for breakfast and to chat about life and online business. I've done mentorships with a few other entrepreneurs to help launch their businesses. If you are an online entrepreneur and are looking to hire a blogging mentor feel free to shoot me a message.
Breakfasts have been a big deal for me because I love starting the day early in the morning with a good meal. So often, we entrepreneurs are asked out for cocktails and dinner. While I love chatting business over cocktails and so on, I don't want to do it every night. So, I've opted to meet up more often over breakfast or coffee in the early AM. Not only is this much cheaper, but I'm helping minimize the calories to stay away from that beer belly!
Shop Upgrades and other Business Opportunities
I decided to give the garage a little facelift this spring by taping, texturing, painting, and adding trim to the walls. This gives the videos a bit more professional look.
Conferences have been a huge help in growing the business and meeting others in the internet marketing and blogging world. Upcoming conferences include:
July: Vidcon – A conference for Youtubers in Los Angeles, CA.
August: Podcast Movement – A conference for Podcasters in Fort Worth, TX.
October: Ecommerce Live – A conference for Ecommerce Store Owners in Nashville, TN.
ACTIONABLE STEPS TO START YOUR OWN BLOG:
1. Get Website Domain and Hosting (I use Bluehost – affiliate link)
2. Find a theme to make your site look nice out of the box.
3. Start Blogging! Set up an Amazon Associates account and promote products you believe in! Start building an audience, helping / inspiring others, and making a difference. Start learning ways to monetize your site. One of the best resources for monetizing a blog is Pat Flynn's Podcast which is the Smart Passive Income Podcast.
ACTIONABLE STEPS TO SET UP YOUR OWN STORE:
1. Get a Shopping Cart. This will run about $30/month and includes hosting, a website name, and complete cart.
I use Big Commerce for my shopping cart and it works great. Plus it is simple to use.
2. Upload products. Use Stripe and or Paypal to process transactions. STRIPE has no monthly Fees and is awesome!
3. Start Selling! I recommend my buddy Andrew's site EcommerceFuel.com if you want to learn about Ecommerce. He's an e-commerce guru.
The first 5 months of 2015 have been a blast and I continue to learn so much everyday along my entrepreneurial journey. The goal with my online businesses is to help and inspire as many others as possible. The fact that helping others and doing what I love has has turned into a business has been a blessing that has changed my life. I hope this report is a source for inspiration and will show other entrepreneurs how starting an online business can change your life as well. This has been years in the making, but hard work, consistency, and focus have helped in making things go faster. Thank you so much for all of your support along the journey and I wish you the best for you and your business's success.
Cheers from Montana,