As always, I'll start off with this report by talking about the things I did in the previous month (in this case September), the successes and failures, and then go on to report the actual earnings.
If you're only reading this for some income testimonials or inspiration, that's fine, but I like to think the real gold is in reading how a bootstrapped business goes through its growing pains (of which there are plenty) and tries to find its way through life.
Things are going well for HPD, and I think a large part of that is down to being transparent about what we do. Yes, we don't always deliver things perfectly and sometimes they take longer than we'd all wish, but at least we're not hiding behind a veil or BS'ing about success. Empire Flippers recently blogged about how being a transparent business is a great move, and I couldn't agree more.
September Overview – Successes and Failures
For the most part September was more of the same. I've made it a goal by the end of the year to be able to launch (and sell!) 20 sites every two weeks, and September was the first time that we had achieved this properly.
The main reason behind this success was partly because we branched out slightly and sold non-Amazon sites (great for those people who live in Amazon-banned states) and also because the early-bird list is sh*t hot right now and people are buying sites within hours of receiving the email.
On one particular launch, I hit the send button on my email, then went to shower and clean out the fish tank. This was a deliberate move that would stop me hitting refresh on my email inbox or worrying if people would buy anything.
About 45 minutes later I returned to my computer to see if there had been any sales. I figured at best there might have been 3 or 4.
Imagine my shock when I saw 11 sales sitting in the inbox. 11!
All 20 sites were gone in about 22 hours total.
So while this was definitely a success, there were also two major failures on our part I think.
The first was that despite me blogging about changing it here, we've been unable to properly send updates out to our customers every Friday as intended. Our rapid growth has meant that I would be sending 30-40 updates out every Friday, and I just don't have the time.
We're working on something now that would auto-update customers via email whenever the status of their order is updated, but for the meantime, we're still struggling to keep people updated. This can be rectified in the interim by giving people a more realistic timeline for site development.
Which brings me onto the second failure, our delivery times.
Once upon a time we could get a site created in about 7-10 days, but as more moving parts are required in our business, more writers being used, and a general popularity of our service, we've been getting slower and slower. One or two sites in September took about 5 weeks to deliver (the average time was probably 3 weeks though), and that wasn't good enough.
Part of the reason they took longer was because we are adamant that quality comes first, and when things went wrong, we didn't jeopardize quality by cutting corners, and our customers appreciated that. For my part though, I wish we could do it faster.
I have already started doing a few things differently in order to speed up and, hopefully, from next month at least 75% of our orders will be done in 10-14 days again, but I'm going to hold off on announcing that until it's actually been achieved this time.
At the end of the day, these are good problems to have, but it sure is an interesting experience overcoming problems one by one.
Fortunately, as more and more people are being transparent about their businesses, it's becoming easier to find solutions, as everyone is sharing theirs.
This is the affiliate income from my various niche sites.
Google Adsense: $26
LongTail Pro: $15
The Hoth: $670
Wealthy Affiliate: $552
Pre-Expense Total: $16,227
Of course, there were some expenses involved in reaching these earnings, such as those paid out to affiliates and to a project manager and the team who build sites/write articles.
With the income I've listed above (done-for-you-sites etc), all of that is NET, so the costs involved have already been deducted. The only remaining costs are hourly rates paid to managers and affiliate payouts.
Affiliate Payouts: $742
Staff Expenses: $2,050
Total Gross Profit: $13,435
Great to see another month in excess of $10,000 (my end of year goal), and a new highest ever month. My focus from now on really is going to be on improving systems so I had expected to see a little dip in the income. Maybe next month eh?