As I have said earlier in this series of posts, I set out on Monday morning to write a blog post for this site. The words just kept flowing, though, and I soon realized that I was either writing a blog post that was going to be way, way too long, or I would need to split up what I was writing into multiple blog posts.
So, I started off the week on Monday explaining my feelings about “streams of income” in my article “Full Stream Ahead.” I followed up Tuesday explaining the “Ways I make money as a writer“. Yesterday, I dug a little deeper into the issue with “Why I wanted to turn writing and publishing into an income river“.
Today, I thought I would take a look at the results I have experienced with writing and self-publishing.
My journey of producing content online dates way back to the early 1990s. I had several online outlets where I published content back in those days. I started my first website of my own in 1994 and produced a lot of content there. In 1996 I bought my first domain name, and published my first “flagship website”. I still own the site, but it is not the flagship that it was back in the day.
2006 was my first foray into a site that really went to the next level, in fact over time it jumped up several levels from where I normally was occupying on the web. 🙂 But, in 2006 the site was just getting started, and thus had not achieved success yet. It was a good site, though, and it progressed nicely in terms of the statistics and such. Within a year I knew that the site would be a huge success if I continued to work hard, which I did. By about 2008 or 2009, I was still not really making much income from the site, but it was very popular, I just had to figure out how to monetize it properly.
What did I do to make money with the site?
- Google AdSense
- Considered making it a membership site
- Direct Advertising clients
Yep, that’s about it.
AdSense did fairly well on the site, but certainly not achieving the full potential in terms of income that I knew the site was capable of making. Direct advertising was limited in scope. The idea about membership did not go over that well when I mentioned it to my readers, so I opted to find other ways and not do the membership thing.
In the end, I decided that writing was what I enjoyed doing, and the obvious next step was to write electronic books and sell them through the site, so I embarked on that journey, and I am glad that I did.
Over the next couple of years, I wrote about 5 or 6 electronic books. Probably 2 or 3 of them were good sellers. The other 2 or 3 were not super sellers but did sell from time to time. No problem with that, not everything we do can be a huge success, we have to take the mediocre successes along with the failures (not many, hopefully) and the superstars.
In those days when I had a limited number of eBooks, say a dozen titles or less, my sales varied from $100 per month or so, up to maybe $400 per month. Around 2011 or 2012, I had built up those sales to where I was regularly selling $700 or $800 per month worth of eBooks.
In the 2012 time frame, I decided to get serious about self-publishing. I did three things:
- I built a much-improved online bookstore.
- I started writing a lot more books that were highly targeted to my audience
- I started doing some serious advertising for my books.
When I decided I needed a much better bookstore online, I did a lot of research and came up with a lot of really cool ideas, delivery methods, and ways of accepting payment. Previously, I had been using a company called e-Junkie to provide my shopping cart, and also the delivery of digital goods through their download facilities It was a pretty good system and was fairly cheap too – a good combination. My sales results were getting steadily and reliably better during this time. My good success was noticed too. I got an e-mail from e-Junkie asking if they could interview me for their corporate blog. I was pretty happy to be asked and quickly agreed.
But, during this time, e-Junkie made a mistake. In an e-mail from somebody in their corporate office, they told me in an off-hand remark that “all sellers in the Philippines are scammers.” Uh, hold on… I am a seller and I live in the Philippines. I was pretty highly offended and pointed out their slap in the face. They apologized, but I didn’t feel it was too sincere. It was at that time that I declined to do the blog interview, and I started searching for other bookstore solutions. I found a set of plugins for WordPress that would give me everything that I had with e-Junkie and even more. So, I built a whole new site based on these plugins which I found from WP Tips & Tricks, which included:
- WP e-Store Plugin
- WP Affiliate Platform
- WP e-Member
- WP PDF Stamper
With the combination of these plugins, I was able to build a fully functional e-Commerce site on the WordPress platform, with many great features! It was, in my mind, as good as any sales site offering digital delivery.
More prolific writing
After getting my bookstore in order, I started writing a lot more books! In fact, in both 2013 and 2014, I wrote and published more than 30 books each year! I also found a way to help me choose what books I should write, and virtually guarantee me of sales success. The way I did this was by analyzing my e-mails. I always found that in the hundreds of e-mails that I receive each and every day, there were certain questions that were asked over and over again. If so many people had the exact same questions, that probably meant that it was a good topic for a book. My theory was correct, the books that I have written based on the frequency of the questions that I get have all been, great sellers.
So, the combination of writing more books, and the right books, my sales have really skyrocketed. Without giving exact numbers, I will say that my eBook sales now produce more income for me each month than what I used to earn on my “real job” back in the United States, and it was a good job. I don’t say this to brag, I am only saying it to encourage those who are interested in writing their own eBooks, to show them how I did it, and give them a few ideas of how they may produce similar results. I know that during my quest to make writing and publishing a mainstay of my income, I read articles from those who had already succeeded in what I was striving for. It helped me a lot, and it is my goal to help you do it if that is what you are aiming for.
As I mentioned above, as I started getting more serious about offering a quality shopping experience, and offering more eBooks, I also started advertising my eBooks much more aggressively. However, it may surprise you to know that I have never paid even $1 for advertising. Instead, I advertised my book selection on my own websites. When I started this, my sales results started showing steady signs of increase.
So, over the past 2 years or so, my income from writing and publishing has increased greatly. I would attribute this increase to the 3 things that I have been discussing: improved bookstore, more prolific writing and advertising.
Tomorrow, I am going to tell you how you can also make money through MY writing! Yep, might be hard to believe, but my writing can help you make money! As part of telling you how you can do that, I am going to tell you a true story of something that happened that was quite a surprise to me and might serve as a little inspiration for you!