It’s already 2017.
I didn’t do a “yearly wrapup” for 2016 like I do sometimes.
The last month of 2016 flew by and I still feel overwhelmed with projects.
I felt like 2016 was a lot of waiting and working, without seeing major results.
My income went way down, as I spent most of the year avoiding client work (just taking on as much as I needed). We spent the first 8 months in Taiwan, finishing my PhD and publishing four part-novels, my first fiction. I also launched my first course, while we were in Bulgaria, and made 18K. Then I got featured on CNN for running a Nanowrimo writing retreat in a French castle.
All in all, I probably spent more than I made in 2016, though I did hit some pretty huge personal milestones. With that in mind, I’m excited about 2017.
Now that I’m done with school, I can finally get organized with my online businesses and finished all the projects that have been languishing over the past few years.
I’m going to be pretty candid in this post, about my expectations. These are just guesses, and I could be totally wrong about everything. That said, these estimations are based on some hard data, like the amount of traffic and optins I get, as well as some past experiences. So it’s not like I’m saying, as I saw somebody do on Facebook recently, “I’m going to make X amount of money” and just count on the universe to figure out exactly how it’s going to happen.
Stage One – Passive Income
I’m switching from active based income to passive, which means, rather than working with clients and getting paid for my time, I’m building assets that people can by without me needing to do anything for them.
For cover design, I’ve just redone my platform and doubled my prices, again – for the amount of stuff I can do for authors, my services will still be valuable, but it also means I can work half as much and make the same amount of money.
I’ve also added two lower-cost cover design options to my main cover design site: one is my DIY Covers option at $87, the other is 99designs at $299. I get a $50 commission for every person that decides to sign up. I need to improve DIY Covers and add more templates, but it’s still an attractive, DIY option for many authors.
So in addition to charging more for my services, I’ll hopefully have added more revenue streams by increasing my offerings. I’ve also added a free book to my cover site homepage, Cover Design Secrets That Sell, which should boost optins.
I’m also going to redo all my funnels soon. Right now I get some traffic from YouTube, but most people find my Book Formatting Templates or Cover Design Templates and sign up for free stuff. Previously, I haven’t been gone at converting those free signups to buyers, which means I pay a lot of my fast-growing email list but don’t earn enough back from it.
I haven’t been selling the templates much or well, because I don’t have enough confidence in them (they’ve helped a lot of authors, but I think they should be better… but haven’t had time to redo everything and add more tutorials and resources). I’ve been soft-selling, and the process is a mess. I still make maybe $1000 a month with them, but I get about 100 optins every day. Out of those 100 options, a reasonable conversion rate would be 1%, or one a day.
(Assuming I’m getting them on my email first and then trying to sell something; I could also just send them straight to a sales page. I get about 3000 visitors a day on all my sites, so a 1% conversion rate would be 30!)
But in general, I think it works best to give away free content, provide value, build trust, establish credibility and then try to sell something. (I hate selling. But if my content and materials are great and people love them, I should be able to just share the offer – the way I see “selling tactics” are just motivating people to take action now to solve their problem. Helping them help themselves.)
However the big piece of my new funnel will be the addition of a course on the end of the funnel, so even if they don’t buy some of the cheaper products, they may get a full course on book marketing, as long as I prove I know what I’m talking about and make a desirable offer.
My new course, Guerrilla Publishing, will launch at $349 with bonuses. With my existing list, and the addition of lots of bonuses, I’m hoping to sell 200 on launch, which would be over $60k (I sold just shy of 100 on my first course launch, and I’ll do this one a lot better, with more advertising/building before I launch).
But then I’ll put this course in at the end of my regular email funnels (with less bonuses), so it’ll stay available. Inside of my email autoresponders, I’ll also be focusing on a bunch of useful content authors need to build their platform, and will get better at recommending specific services. For example – hosting. I’m still having big problems with my hosting, after switching hosts several times. My sites are costly to maintain, go down sometimes and take far too much coddling… I’ll be recommending a couple services from now on that I think are ideal.
Once my funnel is up and working, I’ll focus on driving more traffic: I have several free books on Amazon that need to be revised, a couple more non-fiction books coming out soon, and maybe 100 new videos for YouTube – however mainly I’ll start advertising the books/offers and drive traffic to my site.
The fun thing about funnels and passive income is that, if I can get things to work, I can spend money to double my traffic and pretty much know how much extra income that will generate.
I get about 3000 visitors and about 100 optins a day. It wouldn’t be crazy to see these results – actually these estimates are conservative at best (and abysmal at worst… if this is the best I can do, 1% conversion, I’m still doing a lot of things wrong).
- 1 sale a day @$87 (DIY covers)
- 1 sales a day @$47 (DIY templates)
- 1 affiliate sale a day: 99designs or hosting = $50
- 1 course sale a day, $349
If I can pull that off, it’s $533 a day, or over $15K a month.
I have a lot of work to do before I get there, but I’m planning on finishing most of it by February.
This year I published some fiction and built a new list of readers. I also partnered with a lot of authors in my genre and made a name for myself as a writer. I’ve been mostly giving away my fiction for free, but it’s time to make some money with it.
I turned one of my permafree books back to paid and started advertising – it might make over $1000 this month. I expect the launch of Shearwater to go quite well also. The real money won’t start flowing in until I finish some series though, so my main focus for 2017 will be finishing a lot of books/series and trying to hit $10K in book sales a month (including ebooks, print, audiobooks, etc).
I’ve discovered I’m not a very fast writer, however, so I’ve started partnering up with some writers to co-write books and get projects finished faster. That will be interesting, and challenging, but should significantly boost my output, and sales income.
It’s super scary to be turning my half-finished stories over to other authors and seeing how we can develop them together, but in theory I could finish 5 novels a month this way, which would be incredible. In 2017, I could *feasibly* hit my goal of 30 published novels (ten different 3-book series). If so, $10K a month would be an extremely conservative estimate, and it’s likely I’d be making much more.
I wanted to be succeeded in generating a fully passive income in 2016 but I didn’t make it. However I think I can get there next year. I don’t actually need the $25K I’m hoping to earn every month.
We’d survive on 1/10th of that.
However, I want more security. I want to be able to do bigger, more exciting things and help more people. I want my time back; I want to work on my own big and exciting projects, and do them well, and prepare them professionally, and market them like a rockstar. I need to hire a team to help me accomplish the things I want to accomplish, and not worry about not having enough money to start all the new and exciting ideas I get (like making a summer camp for adults in Oregon with treehouses and hobbit homes, not to mention buying a castle to use as a writing retreat).
So I’m going to put my head down and do a lot of work in 2017, so that, hopefully by the end of it, I have a lot more control and ability to focus on the things I want to.
How about you? What do you want to accomplish in 2017?
Let me know in the comments, or on Facebook here.
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.
It’s cool how you’ve set up multiple streams of income from consulting, cover design & templates, and books. That’s a huge takeaway. Every author should likely try to find 1 or 2 alternate streams aside from books.
My own plan involves taking a page from Derek’s approach. I’ll be writing the first half of 3 books in 3 series, to be published in July Oct. & Feb ’18 in 3 fairly low competition / moderate traffic subcategories: Ghost (Mystery Thrillers Suspense > Suspense), Hard SF (SFF > SF), and Gk & Roman myth (SFF > Fant). Alternatives could be Horror or Dystopia, or even Alt. History. Target audience, YA male 15 – 29. The same setup, an optin link at the end of each via mailchimp. Going forward it all depends on whether readers sign up. If so, then I’ll bring out the 2nd half of each throughout 2018. But if I get zero optins to my Posse then I’ll likely opt out! It feels cool having a definite plan for whether I stay in this game.
This month I’ll finally set up 3 funnels using bookfunnel for my fiction, nonfiction, & short fiction series, with 3 magnet novellas set to add to those. That likely won’t work but I’d like to have it in place as I try other avenues to expand my Posse list. Frankly though I’m not optimistic.
Last I’ll upload 7 or 8 short fiction pieces to instafreebie with follow-on tie-ins I can send out to new followers, open that door to Posse subscribers.
By this time next year I’ll know whether to move on to something else. All the best in 2017!