Reflecting On The Income I’ve Generated Online Since 2012

I have not made a blog post in a while, one of the reasons being that I’ve been trying to “focus” as much as possible on 1-2 tasks at most.

This has been and honestly still is one of the hardest challenges for me as an entrepreneur. I always want to be doing different things, and if you haven’t read my story yet you’ll know how much I’ve already been through in regards to this.

I wanted to write this post to reflect a bit on some of the things that I’ve tried over the years. Mostly this will be to really help me and anyone reading this understand what’s worked for me and what has not.

I’m going to break down more or less everything I’ve tried and what income I’ve generated while working on those activities. I’m also going to include a brief paragraph with my overall pro’s and con’s doing each of these models.

While certain things I’ve invested way more time into than others, there is definitely no “right” or “wrong” path if you decide to put your time and energy into any of these things.

What you will notice is certain activities will clearly stand out from others based on time and revenue produced.

Some activities I’ve been dabbling with for over 5 years, others maybe for a short few months possibly longer, possibly shorter. So just this in mind as you read on.

Podcasting

Background:

Starting a podcast was one of the first things I really “committed” too when I got started in this space. I ultimately loved it, it allowed me to really put myself out there and get out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot and connected with some amazing people but overall I found it very difficult to generate income with and monetize.

I honestly just felt like not a lot of people were listening to my show and it eventually discouraged me. In fact when I stopped I didn’t get anyone reaching out wondering why I’d stopped. I did just about 80 episodes and did interview some really big name people in the space like Pat Flynn, Andrew Warner, John Lee Dumas and many others.

Time Committed:

I spent a full year heavily committed. Roughly 2 years or so total.

Revenue Generated:

$600-1000

I made most of my income from doing some exclusive interviews for a magazine publisher on iTunes which paid me $600~ for 2 gigs where I had to write massive guest post articles. I also did make some affiliate commissions likely from the show.

Pro’s: 

  • It was a lot of fun overall
  • I met a lot of really successful people
  • I got more comfortable being on camera and “public speaking” in some ways
  • I learned a lot about recording equipment
  • I developed some really awesome business relationships through this as a medium to meeting people

Con’s:

  • I had a hard time monetizing it
  • I didn’t feel like my audience was really “there”
  • Took up a lot of time to find guests, edit episodes, and publish them given the reward
  • I got bored after a while and found myself being too generalized with my show (my own fault)

Affiliate Marketing (Internet Marketing Software & Courses)

Background:

This in my opinion has been one of my favorite ways to make money online. Basically you promote someone else’s product and earn a percentage of the sale. Most affiliate sales provide a commission range anywhere from as low as 3% upwards of even 50% or more.

(Some internet marketing products even offer 100% on “front end” products as part of a funnel)

I’ve overall made a good amount of money doing this over the years. Some of my friends in the space swear by it. You basically can use the hard efforts put in by someone else to promote their products instead of creating your own.

Time Committed:

6+ years – I’ve been playing around with this since December 2012. Most affiliate promotions were done via my email list, YouTube videos, or through online courses I have. Some seldom sales came from conversations via Facebook with others.

Revenue Generated:

Rough estimate of affiliate earnings over time: $26,000 – $28,000

The primary platform I earned income with was Jvzoo, this mostly caters to internet marketing based products. Here is a screenshot showing my all time earnings:

Notable products I promoted were Scopeleads (almost $4k in affiliate sales promoting just 1 product) and other misc. products.

I also have promoted many products on another platform called WarriorPlus. They also cater to mostly internet marketing based products. Here is some income I’ve earned from that platform:

Notable product promotions here were earning from mostly products related to offline marketing such as website profit monster (a WordPress theme for building client websites)

Other notable platforms include ClickFunnels (a sales page and funnel building software), Zaxaa (another platform for promoting internet marketing products)GumRoad for promoting more products, SEO Powersuite and Thrive Themes suite of products.

There is very likely more I’m forgetting but these were the “major” ones where I had some substantial earnings.

Gumroad Earnings:

Clickfunnels Earnings:

Thrive Themes Earnings:

Zaxaa Earnings:

SEO Powersuite was roughly $2k~ in earnings over 2-3 years promoting their x-mas offers.

I’ve also earned several hundred dollars promoting a men’s discipline challenge program which I built an entire case study for over at 30daysofdisciplinejourney.com

Pro’s:

  • All you need to do is drive traffic and let other people’s sales process earn you income
  • Literally unlimited niches and industries to promote products in
  • With proper setup some of this can be done automated depending on how you promote your products (You could have automatic emails being sent to people for example promoting tons of products)

Con’s:

  • You don’t own the products you promote
  • Product creators can abandon products, provide poor support or worse remove the ability to promote the product altogether
  • Some products can easily become or seem “saturated” in the sense that tons of people are promoting it (Clickfunnels comes to mind here as something more recent in this category but also isn’t an “MLM”)

Affiliate Marketing (Amazon Affiliate, Adsense, Admob)

Background:

While similar to the category above, this is basically involving promoting products through sites such as Amazon or earning income from Google Ads (Adsense) or through Mobile Apps (Admob). I made my first earnings in December of 2013 from Amazon.

Time Committed:

4+ years on and off – Most of my time committed to this was towards Amazon affiliate style sites promoting Amazon products.

I dabbled with adding Adsense to these sites and also building a few very basic mobile apps that had ads enabled in them where I’d earn revenue.

I spent an entire solid year focusing on 1 of my Amazon sites and ultimately the income earned likely was not worth the time invested.

Revenue Generated:

Total Rough Earnings: $9000~

2018 Earnings:

2017 Earnings:

2013-2016 Earnings was around $4330~

Amazon Rough Total: $8500~

Adsense/Admob: $500~

Pro’s:

  • Very passive once setup
  • No need to speak to a soul
  • Can be fun if you can find a niche you are passionate about. I started this site about women’s clothing with my wife which is one of the main earning sources for Amazon.

Con’s:

  • Takes a ton of time to get traffic to these assets, I mainly did it with SEO traffic to my website by ranking website product reviews
  • I spent a solid year building a Pinterest asset to 13,000+ followers and it hardly drives any sales
  • Tons of time put into it for very little reward from the work I’ve done
  • Unpredictable if sites could lose ranking due to Google updates
  • Low commission payouts (Amazon starts at 3%-4% every month and raises in that month based on total sales volume)
  • Not enough commission earnings to be able to run paid traffic easily and make a profit (meaning mostly only free and slow traffic methods are the way to go)

Selling Online Courses (Marketplaces such as Udemy)

Background:

When I started seeing success with my Amazon sites I also started getting into creating online courses teaching other people how to do the same.

My motto was if I could show someone else how to make $100 and charge them $10 to learn how to do that, why not right?

I saw a surge of initial sales in November 2014 teaching people about the Amazon earnings I’d made over that past year.

After earning nearly $1000 in a month I decided to hit Udemy hard and began producing tons of online courses. Eventually producing over 40+ courses (teaching a lot of the things I mention in this article)

I also got onto other marketplaces such as Skillshare, Stacksocial, Amazing.com and many others.

Time Committed:

4+ years – Very consistently from 2014-2018. Once I had success happening on Udemy I started really going crazy with teaching and it became one of my absolute favorite things to do online.

Revenue Generated:

Total rough earnings from Marketplaces: $98,900~

Udemy Lifetime Income:

Skillshare Lifetime Income:

Stacksocial Lifetime Income:

Amazing.com Rough Estimate Lifetime Income: $7300~

Other Marketplaces much lesser known – $3000-4000~

Pro’s:

  • These marketplaces promote your courses
  • Literally passive income once setup. I’ve sent out maybe 25-30 emails this entire year promoting courses internally and have made quite a bit while doing nothing.
  • I personally think creating courses and teaching is very fun and enjoyable. I enjoy seeing others get value by showing them how to do something they didn’t know before.

Con’s:

  • Marketplaces SEVERELY diminish the value of my content by selling most courses within a membership or for $10.
  • Income on these platforms has seen a huge decline for me in 2018 (Udemy went from $1000-1500 months to $500, Skillshare from $300-500 months to $50-100)
  • It’s not a simple endeavor of just “throwing up a course” people will review and be very critical on marketplaces in regards to reviewing your content

Selling Online Courses (My Own Sales Funnel/Website – No Joint Ventures Or Affiliates)

Background:

Given the circumstances of marketplaces really undervaluing my content I decided to get serious about marketing my products on my own in 2017.

I took my best selling program, revised it and improved it vastly and then spent the bulk of my time learning how to market it properly.

This mean’t learning a thing or 2 about sales funnels, copywriting, Facebook ads and a lot of technical know how.

Time Committed:

1-2 years – I hired a mentor last year for $2800 and really took this very seriously. I got to a point where I was spending $50-100/day on Facebook ads but I struggled to figure out how to scale this without the scary thought of spending $500+day.

Part of this likely being mindset and partly also being a lack of help I think I needed for my ads.

In 2018 I hired someone else to help me out with ads and improvements were made to my lead cost, but overall I wasn’t seeing any massive changes.

I decided for the moment to table the project and come back to it once I had more income coming in from other sources.

Revenue Generated:

$17,000~

From 2017-2018 I managed to pull in $17,000~ on my own to a single course without any promotions from anyone else. All of the income was earned from spending money on ads, posting in my Facebook group and using my own email list.

I tested price points from as low as $97 up to $997 for the same product. Ultimately settling on a 50% discount on $997 allowing most people to purchase for $497 or via multi-payments for $600~ over time.

Some traffic likely came from Quora but the bulk of sales came from running Facebook ads and about $1100~ from students upgrading from my Udemy version.

Pro’s:

  • Much more income generated in a short span of time vs. Udemy and marketplaces
  • I did not rely on anyone else for earning this income, all of the assets were on my own websites properties, email list etc.
  • I learned a ton about sales funnels and seeing what it’s really like to spend a lot of money on advertising. I spent more on ads in a single month than I used to make from 2 pay check’s at my old 9-5 job.

Con’s:

  • This took a ton of time to learn and I still don’t think I really figured it out 100%. Most months I’d spend $1500-2000 on ads and either break even or profit at most around $1000.
  • It’s all up to me to make sales, I had to run the ads, make the sales page, the course, literally everything was on me to create. You could hire people for some of these things but I chose not to.

Selling Online Courses (Webinars)

Background:

This really ties heavily into what I did with my own sales funnel above. The reason I made it it’s own category is because the $17k~ I made was without using webinars. (I had only used email and a sales page)

Pretty much all of the webinar projects I’ve done were with Paul James and some affiliate partners here and there.

This has been a MASSIVE source of income but I’ve always looked at it as one of the most challenging things I’ve done of all the categories.

The time to build a good webinar can take a long time to master and get it converting at a good price point.

Not only did I sell my own program with a webinar, I also did several others with Paul for different products we created together.

Time Committed:

2 Years – 2016-2018. I started in October of 2016 and most recently did a webinar in late 2018.

Revenue Generated:

Total Webinar Sales (My Earnings) $36,114.25 (Could be slightly more)

Total Webinar Sales (With Partner Sales Included 50/50) $72,228.50

I did my first webinar also promoting the same course I sold on my own site back in October of 2016. (I also did this prior to trying to do my own “Sales funnel” in 2017 for this product)

What’s crazy about this is I sold my “enhanced” copy on the webinar and the original Udemy version had taken me almost 3 years to profit $10k~ with.

(This was due to all the small $10 sales Udemy makes me, after affiliate payout and Udemy’s cut sometimes this means I only earn $2.50-5 a sale!)

Doing a webinar selling the enhanced version at $197 I did over 50 sales resulting in $10k in under 5 days with Paul as a partner on the webinar. Absolutely insane in comparison!

PayKickstart Screenshot from my 50% commission split from my October 2016 Webinar:

I continued over the next 2 years doing several more webinars with Paul using the Zaxaa platform.

Most notably launching my SaaS – Evolutly and a program called Agency Scaling Accelerator which also included that software.

The best part about a lot of these offers was I revised a lot of my existing Udemy content and would improve it, come up with a new name and put a lot of energy into making a good webinar for the program.

This resulted in some amazing income doing numerous webinars over this 2 year span:

*Since these were partner products, I earned 50% of these numbers. 

Pro’s:

  • The amount of sales you can make is absolutely awesome
  • Can be automated if done right
  • Lots of scaling potential with paid advertising
  • Can be done alone without talking to the people who buy from you (JV is not required nor is a “phone sale”)

Con’s:

  • It takes a lot of work to get it converting properly (Just compare the online course mastery program and SaaS evolution to the agency scaling accelerator for stats)
  • Creating the slides, coming up with the right offer is one thing but results is another. You need a solid product that people will get value out of
  • Higher cost to get people into a webinar vs. other traditional forms of marketing (This can easily be offset if your price point is generating you a positive ROI)

Selling Online Courses (Product Launches – Jvzoo/WarriorPlus)

Background:

After having some success with the podcast I launched my first “eBook product” for $7. I then went on to “launch” many more products on the Jvzoo and WarriorPlus marketplaces.

This is different from affiliate sales, as these were my own products.

I managed to use some of the launch products as a cross selling opportunity with Udemy/Course marketplaces and make money from multiple sources all in the process.

Launches take a ton of work but can be very rewarding.

Time Committed:

4 years – March 2014 – 2018.

I did my first launch in March of 2014 and have done them up through 2018. This has not been something I’ve done as consistently as some other things I’ve worked on.

Revenue Generated:

Total Launch Revenue: $30,000~

Some general insights on each product launch:

My 1st launch – Fiverr Untapped (Solo) Over $2k in sales with affiliate promotions

Video Course Cash Kit (With Mike Thomas & Brett Rutecky) $65k~ in sales, my cut was 15%

1k SEO Freelance Challenge (With Paul James) $6700~ in sales

Pay It Forward Method (With Paul James) $8000~ in sales

Affiliate Profit Loophole (With Paul James, we considered this a big failure) $700 in sales

Barter Profits For Cash Confidential (With Jim Mack, we considered this a failure vs Jim’s past launches) $1600 in sales

Passive Profits Masterclass (With Stefan Ciancio & Mehdi Tihani) My cut was about $4000~ including a webinar promotion

Simple Novice Profits 2.0 (With Vinny Bock) I made about $300~ in sales and we eventually moved it to Udemy as a JV there. This was one of my first launches.

Pro’s:

  • Very rewarding if done properly in terms of profit
  • Huge potential to build your email list (every sale is also a lead, and a “buyer” lead)
  • Mainly how I built an email list outside of Facebook ads and my blogs
  • Tons of affiliates looking for cool offers and lots of people doing this regularly

Con’s:

  • It’s a ton of work as you have to constantly come up with new and exciting product ideas, ultimately leaving your “old ones” behind
  • Lots of time and energy into “recruiting” affiliates as a means to making more sales for a small window of time (generally 4-7 days)
  • Once the “launch” is over the dust settles and sales are pretty much gone, the price has gone up and the excitement is over.
  • A lot of “low ticket” mentality buyers. Lots of people just scooping up the next latest and greatest magic pill hoping for something different to happen. I don’t promote a lot of these offers because of this very reason.
  • Generally a lot of garbage products in the space that get abandoned while vendors move onto the next launch. Generally feels though I should be charging more for the content I’m selling.

Also while not directly a course or software, I did a partnership SEO service in 2014 which generated over $20,000 in sales with a 50/50 partner. We called it Lightning Rank:

Selling SaaS (Software-As-A-Service)

Background:

I started Evolutly in 2017 based on an idea I had from a pain point I discovered while working for a marketing agency. A project management tool for agencies.

The idea of this is basically building a software and selling it.

A lot of people do this as well in the Jvzoo/WarriorPlus marketplaces and even outside of that with huge success.

This one I did with Paul James and we promoted it via a webinar, so despite this category being it’s own the revenue I won’t include as really it was part of the “webinar” income.

I also attempted a 2nd SaaS with 2 other partners that never even launched, we never made a dime and ultimately I wasted a ton of time on it.

Time Committed:

6-7 months in 2017. I took a ton of time working with a low pay developer to build out our Evolutly software. This was a painful experience but overall we made over 15x out investment it was likely worth the efforts.

4-5 months on the failed software working on it very part time.

Revenue Generated:

This software was included with the “Agency Scaling Accelerator” offer and as a primary offer within the webinars category.

Pro’s:

  • Can be really amazing in terms of sales once it’s done if you know how to market it
  • Can be unique from anything else your competitors might have
  • Lots of growth potential
  • Feels like it could be a “real business” vs some of the other things I’ve done

Con’s:

  • Tons of time doing QA, finding bugs, testing etc.
  • Tons of competition in the space depending on what you build
  • Very expensive upfront even with cheap developers (We spent $2k but this might be a lot to a newbie)

Blogging

Background:

This is basically where I started, likely in 2010-2011 when I built a fitness website for the first time. It’s kind of a “link” to everything I do.

While it’s aided in the income process and helping me with affiliate offers, branding etc I’ve felt it’s not been a huge way to drive revenue for me.

Time Committed:

On and off – 2010-2018 – I’ve mainly had 2 blogs I put a lot of time into. This one I started in February of 2015, where as my original Podcast blog Voices Of Marketing I started around 2013.

Revenue Generated:

While the blog has helped me generate a lot of income online, it all pushes into my own sales for affiliate offers and courses for the income source being produced. It’s already been covered above.

Pro’s:

  • I enjoy writing, if you do it’s perfect for you
  • It can serve as a “hub” for everything you do online
  • Great for doing just about anything, selling affiliate products, reviews, information, courses etc
  • You own it as your own asset
  • Can be amazing for building an audience and your email list

Con’s:

  • Overall has felt like a lot of work for little reward based on the revenues directly created from it for me
  • Writing sometimes can really feel like a daunting task (I’ve been doing this blog post going on 3+ hours now)

Email Marketing

Background:

Email directly ties into everything else I’ve done. I wouldn’t have made the money I did from affiliate income, courses and everything else if it wasn’t for email marketing.

The idea here is to build a list of fans and followers and engage with them, offering value while also selling products and services.

Time Committed:

5 years – 2013 – 2018 I started building my list with my Voices Of Marketing blog.

Revenue Generated:

I can’t tie back the direct impact of income made from email, but it definitely is a large portion of my affiliate and my own course sales.

Pro’s:

  • You own the asset. If everything on me shut down today and all other income was gone, I could still take the emails on my list and create promotional offers to make income.
  • You honestly don’t need to talk to anyone (people will buy who may never even ask you questions or speak with you)
  • It can be automated entirely. You could setup emails to go out to someone for months on end while they get to really know you.

Con’s:

  • Open rates typically are not the best, even for the “best” marketers.
  • Sometimes it can be rough to gauge how much people are paying attention despite metrics

SEO, Facebook Ads and Web Design Clients

Background:

In 2013-2014 I started working with local businesses to help them with web design. This eventually led to offering SEO and then ultimately other digital marketing services like Facebook ads.

I’ve worked with 3 different agencies, attempted commission based sales with 3-4 companies and done a ton of sales on my own.

This has been a very much “up and down” road with me, it’s mainly the topic I teach and make money from with my courses and products.

I’ve continued to work with clients over the years and have learned a ton in the process.

Time Committed:

5+ years 2013-2018. Pretty much 50% commitment I’d say on this, some months nothing and others a ton.

Revenue Generated:

Rough Estimate Of Lifetime Earnings: $90,000-100,000

Some stats:

Client websites built: 16~

SEO Clients: 25~

Facebook ad clients: 4~ (Mostly trying it out)

I charged around $400-1000 for most websites I built, most SEO clients anywhere from $500-1500 or more per month and a lot of the Facebook work I did was for testing/barter.

I’ve earned just shy of $30,000 through the freelance site UpWork. The majority of this from SEO jobs.

I switched over my invoicing software in 2017 to Billyapp.com and have invoiced around $45,000~ through that platform.

If I were to do a rough guess I’ve likely done around $10,000~ in websites. Some were for barters as well which otherwise would have been very expensive services I’d have had to pay for.

Pro’s:

  • You can make a lot of income very quickly if you are good at selling
  • Tons of scaling potential
  • Many viable ways to go about it in terms of your niche and what you offer for digital marketing services
  • Businesses need these services badly, no shortage of work
  • I have outsourced a ton which allows me to profit with out a ton of time commitment

Con’s:

  • Some clients can be a real pain to work with
  • It’s hard to convince people sometimes you are the person to work with given all the competition (many people have been burned from other companies)
  • If clients leave you have no continued asset to build income from
  • You need to find the right team or providers to make sure the work is being done right (or you do it all yourself)

Local Lead Generation

Background:

This is a new endeavor for me. Instead of building a website for a business and convincing them to pay me to work on it, I’m building websites as if they were a “real” business and selling the leads to another business in the area for a small fee.

An example might be I build a tree service business in a town of 70-100k people, I rank it with SEO then sell the leads to a real tree company. Every time they complete a job they pay me a percentage or a flat cost per lead.

Time Committed:

2-3 months so far – This one is very new for me in 2018. So far I’ve managed to build 3 websites, one of which has already generated around 30+ calls which is exciting.

Revenue Generated:

Only $100 so far from a deal I closed, this one is one that will take time to build but will ultimately allow me to build “passive” assets without the need to speak with anyone once they are sold.

Pro’s:

  • All the benefits of client work without actually dealing with the client hassles of expectations
  • Get paid based on what you produce
  • Can be scaled massively
  • I enjoy basing results on actual work being generated vs say a keyword ranking on Google

Con’s:

  • Takes a ton of time to see results with
  • Selling to business owners can still be challenging and a lot of trust is involved
  • Google and Bing are not in favor of this as I’m “posing” as a business when indeed I’m not. This in my opinion puts a lot of risk on the whole model.

eCommerce

Background:

I attempted 1 store on Shopify which I never got off the ground. The idea would be to generate income selling “Dropshipped” or physical products. I loved the concept but found it challenging to get it going.

When I attempted it I didn’t put any effort into paid traffic which now a days is basically a requirement.

Time Committed:

1-2 years – I worked for 2 companies in a 9-5 doing this from 2013-2015. I wasn’t doing it mainly for myself but I learned a ton about Amazon FBA and selling online.

Eventually leading me to want to try it myself.

I put a ton of time into my niche site doubling as an eComm site and hardly made any money doing so.

Had I tried this again I’d definitely have done things differently.

Revenue Generated:

Technically whatever I made from my affiliate sites was part of this.

Pro’s:

  • Tons of opportunity to sell physical or dropshipped goods on behalf of others or yourself
  • Unlimited niche potential
  • Lots of opportunity to scale
  • Can become a predictable income source

Con’s:

  • Competition is fierce
  • Hard to do well unless you have your own unique product in my opinion
  • Really requires paid advertising at this point
  • Relying on dropship products can be scary if products go out of stock or become unavailable

Notable Mentions:

  • Kindle Books – I published a few but hardly made a couple hundred bucks
  • Coaching/Mentorship – I’ve charged a few people for this and have made around $4000-5000 doing it.

Very Rough Estimate Of Internet Earnings Since 2012: $320,000-$340,000

(I’m definitely forgetting stuff)

For some context I worked a full time job until 2016.

  • 2013 I was earning 45k/year at a tech support and
  • 2014 I was earning 40k/year at an eCommerce job
  • 2015 I was earning 50k/year at a 2nd eCommerce job
  • 2016 I was earning 40k and left in August 2016 right around 50k/year

The bulk of this new revenue for me was generated once I finally went self-employed and hit categories like webinars really hard.

Looking back, after spending near all afternoon on this post. Webinars seems to be the best revenue generator of everything I’ve done given the span of time (I wasn’t even 100% focused on it either).

Lately I’ve had some feelings of “Am I doing the right thing, right now for my life?” and that’s been a hard question to answer.

If you read my long 6 year story, you’ll know how much I already went through. This only really shows the success without all the failure along the way.

Hopefully this article will help you on your journey if you are still trying to “figure it out”. It’s been a tough road for me but I’m not planning to stop anytime soon.

John Shea
 

I'm John, I'm just an honest entrepreneur here to speak the truth about internet marketing.