My goal in writing this “A Year in Review” post is to help and inspire others about the life changing opportunities available from building an online presence. In this article I will be sharing what has worked this past year in terms of building my online business and growing a loyal audience. I'll share revenue stats and figures from my online businesses solely to show that bloggers, Youtubers, podcasters, online marketers, and content creators really can make a living by providing value to others on the internet. The reason I want to build a successful online business is ultimately to be able to reach more people, inspire others, and to give back.
My Online Businesses
DIYPETE.com – This is a website geared towards helping and inspiring “Do It Yourselfers” to create projects out of wood, metal, and concrete. I create detailed video tutorials, project plans, and website tutorials to show DIY'ers how to build things. This is the website I spend the majority of my time building.
ThinkEntrepreneurship.com – This is a website made to inspire and help entrepreneurs start and run businesses. It consists of articles that relate to entrepreneurs who want a source for motivation, lifestyle tips, money making ideas, and reviews on products and services for entrepreneurs. It is an outlet where I share what I've learned along my journey, in hopes to inspire others. The site also has a podcast which has done well, but it's been on the back burner lately do to the time I feel is necessary to run DIYPETE.com.
History of my online businesses:
I started monetizing Think Entrepreneurship in 2011 and still remember when I got my first $90 check from Bluehost.com (affiliate link) for recommending their website hosting services. I contribute much of my success online to Pat Flynn over at SmartPassiveIncome.com. His blog and podcast have taught me how to monetize my site and scale the business.
Now I am getting multiple affiliate payouts like the original Bluehost check everyday. I launched the DIY Projects with Pete Youtube channel in 2014 which has quickly propelled the success of my sites in both audience growth and income. The beauty of running an online business is there is very little overhead, minimal expenses, and lots of profit. In addition, I am able to work from about anywhere, travel when I want to, and create passive income while I sleep. You'll notice by looking at the income report that I topped $8,000 for the first month in July and in November I had another record month compared to months prior. The passive income continued to come in even though I was in Scotland for 2 weeks in July and Costa Rica for 2 weeks in November.
2014 Income Overview
The purpose of showing my online income is purely to inspire others and show that you can make a living by helping others. My audience has grown due to the value people have found in the information, plans, and tutorials provided on my websites. I've now taught over a half million people through Youtube how to build simple DIY projects, and the number continues to grow each and every day.
Here is a look at this years income generated on both DIYPETE.com and THINKENTREPRENEURSHIP.com. This consists of affiliate income from selling tools, products, software, and other digital products on my site. For instance, I recommend specific tools for each project I build and many visitors end up purchasing the tools using my links. I automatically get a commission each time someone uses the link and ends up buying the product on either Amazon or another store. Example: I recommend Kreg Jig's (affiliate link) for many of my DIY Projects. In addition to affiliate income, I've brought on sponsors for Youtube videos and website posts. As the year progressed I found more sponsors and thus income has increased. Second, a greater number of people come to the site each day. This means I have the opportunity for more people to purchase tools and software through affiliate links.
Please note there are affiliate links throughout this post and that by clicking on them you will be helping support this site. (See disclaimer for more info.)
2014 Internet Entrepreneur Conferences
New Media Expo Conference
The year started off strong with a trip to the New Media Expo conference (NMX) in Las Vegas. This conference is where I've met and gotten to know many of the top internet entrepreneurs in the industry like John Dumas, Antonio Centeno, Kate Erickson, Pat Flynn, John Corcoran, and Jaime Tardy. These entrepreneurs have huge audiences and all do extremely well in business. Just take a look at John Dumas's income report on EntrepreneuronFire.com or Pat Flynn's income report on SmartPassiveIncome.com to see what I mean. John is generating over $250,000 each month by helping and inspiring entrepreneurs through his blog and podcast. Attending the New Media Expo has been one of the reasons I've been able to grow my business rather quickly. Meeting the top players in the industry has given me the opportunity to leverage audiences much bigger than mine. I will be attending the 2015 New Media Expo conference and you can use this affiliate link New Media Expo coupon for $75 off your ticket. (This 2015 NMX coupon will work for a limited time only and will expire at some point in 2015.)
Ecommerce Fuel Live Conference
A good buddy of mine (Andrew Youderian – AKA my Ping Pong Rival) who runs a top Ecommerce blog named Ecommerce Fuel started his own conference this year for e-commerce store owners. The Ecommerce Fuel Live Conference in Austin, Texas was very well done and I met super successful store owners doing millions of dollars in sales each year. I wanted to attend the conference to learn from other store owners and to find out how bloggers can work together with online store owners to grow their brands. Andrew also has a membership website that helps store owners become successful and I'd highly recommend becoming a part of the community.
Masterminds, guest posting, and having help from friends and companies in my industry has been a major contributor to the audience growth for DIYPETE.com. In order to help grow my brand and hold myself more accountable I've formed mastermind groups with other internet business owners. A mastermind is simply a group of about 3 to 5 people who bounce ideas off each other and help one another by sharing what is working for each others businesses. I have 2 mastermind groups.
The first mastermind meets once every 2 weeks. This is with Deacon Hayes of WellKeptWallet.com and with Meron Bareket of Inspiring Innovation. We chat on Google Hangout which streams live video, very similar to Skype. I live in Montana, Deacon lives in Phoenix, and Meron lives in Israel.
My second mastermind meets once a week and is with Kurt Libby of Youth Ministry Tracker, Rob Farrington of TheStrapSmith.com, and Jackie Laulainen of TheBudgetMindedTraveler.com. Kurt is a youth minister, Amazon selling guru, and owner of an App company. He lives in California. Rob owns a super successful high end custom watch strap store and is from Whitefish, Montana. Jackie is a travel machine and loves to inspire others to go out of their comfort zones and discover new places.
I brought on Austin Schuerg from CPAYOURWAY.com as my accountant for my online businesses. Austin's business is geared towards helping online entrepreneurs with their accounting and taxes. In addition to being an all around down to earth and top notch person, he is extremely knowledgable about the finance side of things for businesses. While Turbo Tax is a great solution for small and simple businesses, I'd highly recommend hiring an accountant when you are ready. An accountant will actually be able to save you money by knowing the ins and outs associated with expenses, depreciation, and so on. Use Quickbooks or Freshbooks to keep track of the books and then hand over the info to your accountant at tax time. If you have any questions or need an accountant who specializes in online business I'd highly recommending talking with Austin over at CPAYOURWAY.com!
Looking back on the year, I've determined YOUTUBE has played one of the most important roles in growing the DIY PETE brand.
The channel currently has between 3,000 and 4,000 views per day. This continues to grow and I notice a significant difference when the consistency of videos uploaded is increased.
As of January 13th I hit 10,000 subscribers which took a total of 1 year and 4 days.
The site is currently seeing about 76,137 views per month and generating between $300 and $350. At the current rate there are 1,085 new subscribers each month.
The Farmhouse table tutorial below has been the most popular.
If you are wondering about the possibilities of what you can make from Youtube ads when your channel grows I'd recommend checking out SocialBlade.com. Enter the Youtube channel name you'd like to look up for a rough idea of their ad revenue. Remember that many You Tubers's have sponsored videos and thus make a sponsorship fee for various videos they make.
Here is a look at the backside of my Amazon Associates account. This primarily consists of tools visitors to DIYPETE.com have purchased through my affiliate links. In December 2014 the site did $10,286.61 in sales. My commission is generally between 6 and 7%. So the site made $662.82 from Amazon.
When a visitor uses a link, a cookie is placed on their computer. Anything the visitor buys off Amazon in the 24 hour period will be contributed to my account. To set up your own Amazon Associates Account for free click here.
Because of the statistics I am able to go back and look at the total amount I've done in sales for various companies. In 2014 the site did a total of $53,344.48 in sales on Amazon. I specifically tracked $11,549 in sales with Kreg Jig and $8,165.90 for Dewalt. Being able to show these figures to potential sponsors is extremely helpful. I wish I could track all the people who have taken my recommendations and purchased the tools at local stores and box stores like Home Depot as well!
DIY PETE and Think Entrepreneurship also promote other companies like Eddie Bauer, Bluehost, TurboTax, Quickbooks, Big Commerce and so on. Affiliate earnings for software are very lucrative. For instance, Bluehost web hosting (affiliate link) pays out $90 signup and Big Commerce pays out between $90 to $300. Thus, even just a few sales per day adds up quickly. Many companies use affiliate brokers like CJ.com, Shareasale.com, and Linkshare.com for tracking purposes. Check out this video to see how you can quickly start building your own website to build an online presence for your business.
Affiliate Brokers – CJ.com
Here is a look at the backend of Commission Junction. It tracks sales on a daily basis and they send a direct deposit once a month. There is a “lock period” that is typically 2 months for each broker. This means the sale must be locked in and verified prior to you getting paid. Payment for a sale this month would be paid 2 months from now. The same is true with Amazon and most brokers.
This summer Bob Vila's crew contacted me about featuring one of my projects in the Bob Vila Thumbs up competition. It ended up winning the August competition which turned out to be amazing PR. Because of this publicity a number of other opportunities have come about.
Sirius Radio Interview
I was a little nervous before going live on national Sirius Radio this year to talk about DIY projects with truckers. However, the hosts of the show were fantastic and the interview was a success.
Make Magazine reached out and asked if I'd like to contribute a project involving concrete. So, I came up with the LED concrete patio table with a built-in cooler which was featured in the September print edition available all over the US.
This is the table that was featured in the magazine.
Art of Manliness
Contributing to large publications helped increase traffic and build an audience.
Local News Feature
Getting to share my story locally has been a lot of fun. Because of the local PR I've started putting on a few local events for online entrepreneurs.
The website and Youtube channel opened up a number of opportunities to work with top notch companies. In addition to getting tons of free stuff I was also able to work out sponsor deals with many of them.
I got to try out the complete line of Ryobi tools. The air nailers are a favorite!
Product reviews have been fun projects to add to the business this year. Large companies have found out how valuable it is to get their products reviewed by DIY'ers via Youtube.
Partnering with a large paint company and NFL Team Colors Paint was a neat opportunity where I got to create projects and videos featuring 2 of my favorite NFL football teams.
Improving the quality of each video is very important to me. This is why I've slowly been upgrading cameras, video equipment, and microphones. I will be doing an in depth post on DIYPETE.com about my setup, but here is what I currently use. The key upgrades this year were: 15 Inch Macbook Pro for Portable Video Editing (1 tb Solid state drive, 16 gb Memory), a top of the line Sennheiser Wireless Lavalier Mic System, a Go Pro Hero 4 Silver, Rode Boom Mic, and good quality tripods.
A Year of Traveling
One of the best benefits of running an online business is the freedom to travel and to work from anywhere. In July I traveled with my Dad, older brother, younger brother and Grandpa to Scotland for 2 weeks. We loved it and the whole trip is documented in my “A Trip To Scotland ” post in case you are looking for ideas of what to do in Scotland!
We did a weekend Fly Fishing trip in Northwestern Montana which was an absolute blast. I love getting in the backcountry to relax.
In November I traveled to Costa Rica to meet with some fellow entrepreneurs and to explore the country. My buddy Matt Wilson over at Under30CEO.com and Under30Experiences.com owns both companies along with Jared Toole.
Family is very important to me and we get together with each other whenever we have the opportunity. This year we were all able to get back to South Dakota in the fall. My younger brother got engaged and so we now have a new member to get to welcome to the family!
A look ahead at 2015 – Helping and inspiring others
2015 is going to be an awesome year and I'm excited to see each and everyone of us grow our businesses. In 2015 a big goal of mine is to do projects that give back and help others. I'm planning to team up with organizations doing big things to help raise money or provide assistance / awareness for programs that benefit others. The reason I want to be a successful entrepreneur is so I have the opportunity to help a greater number of people.
This year I'll be hosting a ski trip mastermind with friends John Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire, Rick Mulready from the Inside Social Media Podcast, and Greg Hickman from GregHickman.me. We'll discuss goals, projects, priorities, and topics that will help grow our businesses and personal lives so we can in turn help and inspire others.
Collaborations, Consistency, and Action
This year I'll be bumping up consistency on projects and youtube videos. I'll be collaborating with some big name Youtuber's and companies in the home improvement industry. Above all, action will be taken to make sure things happen and that 2015 is a productive year.
Thus far I have a couple conferences on the agenda. In April 2015 I'll be attending New Media Expo (affiliate link) in Las Vegas. Then in July I'll be heading to Los Angeles for Vidcon (a conference for Youtubers). Other conferences I'm looking into attending are Word Domination Summit (Portland, Oregon), Agents of Change (Portland, Maine), and Social Media Marketing World (San Diego). I'd love to have the opportunity to meet you at an upcoming conference!
GO FOR IT!
I can't wait to hear about your success in 2014 and what you have planned for 2015. Please comment below about your business and what is working for you! If you have questions about monetizing or helpful tips please chime in! We are all learning and can improve so much when everyone works together and helps one another.
Best of luck to you for 2015.
Cheers from Montana,