One of my big, long term goals is to build an income separate to my current employment so that I can eventually work from home. My plan is to do this through a diverse range of methods including writing and publishing books, creating niche websites and through freelance writing. I think that having a broad range of income sources is the best strategy so that if things slow down in one area I am not completely out of income.
I have chosen these strategies as income sources for several reasons:
- They interest me – I don’t see any point in doing things you do not enjoy. I love to write and create and share my ideas. The idea of building websites really excites.
- These income sources play to my strengths – I am a good writer, I have experience in writing and have been publishing my own work for the better part of a decade now. I have written for magazines and journals and have contributed to some high profile game design projects in the past.
- I can manage these income streams around my life so that I can spend more time with my kids and wife. I can do all of these things from home (or while travelling) and can organise my work time around my family time, rather than the way I (most of us?) currently live.
- These endeavours are scaleable – they can be nurtured and grown into larger businesses if the need, opportunity and desire is there, or I can simply work on them as I have the time.
- They are relatively passive income sources (with the exception of freelance writing). Once you have written a book, or created an affiliate or niche website they have the potential to continue to earn for you with minimal effort on your part. I am going to talk more about this in a minute.
Why share my income report?
I want to help people with similar goals to mine. Smarter Happier is all about helping people find smarter ways to work so they can live happier lives doing the things they want, rather than the things they have to do. For some of you this will very likely involve finding ways to work from home, generate a passive income, or earn a bit of extra cash. I am not making a lot of money at the moment but I am making money, and not in any dodgy, scammy or underhand way. And I haven’t even begun to leverage the tools that are available to us as clever, engaged and motivated individuals.
As I explore publishing, niche website development and freelance writing I am going to share with you what works and does not work for me. I hope to see an increase in my income, and hopefully the things I do will be a benefit to you as you develop your own independent income. That is the point of my sharing my income report.
In sharing this income report I have been inspired by two very talented and hardworking gentlemen.
The first is Fred Hicks, who is a game designer, writer and publisher with Evil Hat Productions, a game publishing studio. For a very long time now Fred has been an advocate for transparency in business and it has been something that has set Evil Hat apart. As a game designer and publisher it has also been incredibly helpful to see the numbers that this successful small press deals with, giving me an insight into how I am doing by comparison. You can check out there Q1 2014 sales numbers here.
The second person that has really inspired me is Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. Pat is a dynamo, working outrageously hard (and smart!) in a variety of businesses in order to achieve goals incredibly similar to mine. Every month Pat shares his income report clearly showing the income his websites and other projects have generated. He shares big numbers, but more importantly he also shares the lessons he has learnt along the way in any given month. He clearly explains what he did (or did not do) that lead to a change (positive or negative) in his income. I have a bit of a crush on Pat Flynn at the moment and he is inspiring me to get off my butt and really pursue goals for the benefit of my family.
The nuts and bolts
Okay, almost to the numbers. First, though, I wanted to just explain exactly what I am sharing here. Below is the reported gross figures from the past three months. Just the gross – I am not going into tax, or expenses or any of that at this stage though I am sure I will in a future post. At this stage I only have one business, Peril Planet, which publishes roleplaying games and resources.
Peril Planet (roleplaying games) PDF sales
- January: $23.27
- February: $23.78
- March: $18.85
- Total: $65.80
- Last Quarter: $29.57
- Difference: +$36.23 (122.523% increase)
I started Peril Planet almost ten years ago though it only started to make decent lunch money this quarter. The major change I made this year was to adjust my pricing structure. Interestingly, I did not increase my prices but instead moved almost all my PDF’s from a set price to a “Pay What you Want” pricing structure. This allows people to choose to “purchase” the game for free if they want, or to give me any amount they believe the product is worth. There is an interesting bit of psychology going on here, which I have not yet fully delved into, but I am definitely making more money after changing to this model. Some things I have noticed though:
- Purchasers choose how much they wish to pay before they download (get access to) the game. It is my belief, from my own purchasing experience, that if you are in the mindset to pay for a product most people don’t want to be perceived as “cheap” so pay what they believe is a reasonable price.
- Games that I used to charge for but were not being purchased are now being downloaded, usually for $0.00. That’s okay, since I wasn’t selling any copies anyway – at least people are getting the game, seeing what I can do. I am counting this like “advertising”.
- Most of my income has come from the purchase of FU: the Freeform / Universal Roleplaying Game (affiliate link), which was previously free. FU has grown a solid little community around it and has some vocal advocates, and this has no doubt helped in the value people are seeing in the game, and thus encouraging them (giving them the confidence?) to pay anywhere from $0.05 to $10.00 for the PDF. This has just blown my mind.
The most amazing thing you need to know
Over the last month I made $65.80, which is hardly enough for me to quit my day job. Heck, it doesn’t even cover my web hosting. However, over the last three months I have done exactly ZERO game design, advertising, game writing or anything else that might constitute “working” on this business. I made $65.80 completely passively. That there is my proof of concept – it is possible to make money without slaving away. By actually working a little more on this business I hope to achieve $90 next quarter – $30 a month or a dollar a day. It is not a lot, but it is a start. Think what you could do with an extra dollar a day.
Where to now?
Now I need to sit down and consider what I should do to maximise my earnings from Peril Planet. I am working on a new product, and I have a few ideas for some smaller items that will hopefully also boost my income. This is my immediate priority. After that, I am gearing up to work on my first niche website. I am really excited to see how that goes.
So, that’s my first income report. Questions or comments? Leave them below! I would love to hear from you if you are working towards building your own income.