Clever Blog Income Report #7: How I Made $2,538.81 My 7th Month Blogging In September Of 2016

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Finally hit a milestone!!! This month I met one of my short term goals, which was to create a temporary income of $2,400/mo. I’m happy (ecstatic???) to report I’ve exceeded that goal slightly, although I honestly thought I would’ve gotten here much MUCH quicker. That said, I’ve been in Maine for almost two months now, and it has been an interesting experience to say the least. I’ve learned a ton about this process by going into seclusion, and putting myself in a position to figure this out. I’ve learned more about myself than I intended (lol) during this process, and being in a tiny cabin in the woods with no distractions has really exposed all of my weaknesses. (very interesting when you’re alone and there’s no one to blame but yourself… disconnected from the world, you don’t get those little hits of dopamine or daily interactions that distract you from noticing these things like you do when you’re attempting to do creative work in the middle of nowhere.)

This month’s income report is going to be a little different. I’ve taken notes during some of my hard days up here when I was struggling, and want to copy pasta all up in heeya’ (like “lobstah”… gotta say it the Maine way!) so I remember what it was like and hopefully it’ll help others in the future going through something similar. So if some of the sections sound chopped up from different time periods, it’s because they are! 🙂


Where I’ve Been


Clever Blog Income Report #7  – My 7th Month Blogging


Affiliate Income:


Affiliate Income Streams

Amazon: $728.60
  • I generate Amazon Affiliate income through several sources and product reviews. I explain how anyone can make an extra $200/mo by blogging about what you already buy in this article.
Bluehost: $120.00
  • Despite being owned by EIG, Bluehost is the only affordable shared host that I’ve tested that has really good phone support with native English speaking support techs. This is critical for newbies in case they run into a problem, and I recommend all beginner bloggers use Bluehost to setup their first blog. (note – if you’re setting up your blog/website for the first time, get your domain through them too so you don’t have to learn how to sync it up)
LiquidWeb: $100.00
  • LiquidWeb is where I host all of my mission critical needs. Their Storm servers offer good redundancy, and allow me to spool up clones or resize my servers within the hour. Most importantly, they have 24/7 – 365 phone support, which is my #1 requirement aside from data center & network preferences.
Namesilo: $2.70
  • Namesilo is where I buy all my domains when I want a domain without web hosting. Best pricing in the industry, but more importantly, the best interface in the industry with no bullshit up-sells like Ho-Daddy.
Shareasale: $1400.00
  • Where this income comes from: I’m an affiliate for something like 28 companies inside the Shareasale network, and promote products and services I like such as Freshbooks, Shopify, PicMonkey, Studiopress, Trek Desk, Template Monster, WpEngine, etc…  (not all of this income is generated directly through this blog, some is from YouTube channel & other Clever Leverage properties. Click here to read my tutorial on how to do this for yourself, and make money with ShareASale.)
Ebay: $36.51
  • eBay income comes from product reviews and listicles where old models aren’t available anymore, or people are looking for used items specifically… So I went back and added some eBay affiliate links to those old posts, and am getting a trickle here and there. (* note – I used to make a full time living with eBay when I was into it, and hope to do an eBay/Amazon niche site case study soon to test the waters again!)

Passive Income Streams

Youtube: A little over $76 (Adsense)
  • Even though this is chump change, I love the fact that this is passive income. I’m going to test some strategies to grow this to $500/mo, hopefully without becoming a viral clickbait strumpet. (we love you DurianRider)

Niche Site Income

*already accounted for above, does not contribute toward total… Simply documenting earnings history. Once earnings are more substantial, I’ll break each site out into it’s own section. I won’t add the others yet to avoid distraction for the time being, and stay focused on my main project. While not a single piece of content has been written on this blog by anyone other than me, I hope to change that on these niche sites and turn them into an investment strategy that the main blog’s income funds/grows.

Clever Vlogger: $82.39
  • This is puzzling to me… Site is barely set up, no content yet, so I did a database search to see if I accidentally used this tracking id somewhere I shouldn’t have. Came up empty, so I’ll double check this next month, and make sure there’s no overlap. (anything is pretty damn good for a niche blog that isn’t even set up yet!)

Total Income For September 2016: $2,538.81


If you’re looking to start a blog of your own, here’s where I buy all my stuff:

Other tools that might help you if you’re new:


Metrics That Matter

Instead of showing fancy traffic graphs that are fluctuating so much they’re pretty much meaningless to me at this point, let’s talk about what I think actually matters in the first year of blogging. It’s easy to get addicted to checking stats all the time (ask me how I know!!), but really none of that moves the needle forward. Just like the minute expenses I incur running this blog… Someone asked me why I don’t include expenses for a complete net income report? I said, “I’m lucky to be making anything, and it’s less than $100 bucks a month… Waste of time and energy, and doesn’t keep me focused in the direction I want to go.”

I could show you my analytics, but that would be a waste of time. I could’ve not even installed Google Analytics or even glanced at the Search Console this entire time, and I would have been better off by doing everything in my power to focus on a higher production rate that would build my foundation faster.

Question of the day:  What happens to a house built on quick sand?

*hint – it’s too late for push piers buddy!

Site Age

Unless you’re really good at gaining overnight traction with viral content, or have connections for the top brass links, things take time without investing a considerable amount of moola. I haven’t noticed any upward trends just yet, but domain age is something will work to your advantage as time goes on. I haven’t done anything shady to manipulate this in any way to date.

Keyword Selection

Still testing a few things in this arena. The old saying still rings true thus far however… “Go commercial, or starve, Hershil.” Purely informational content that I wanted to create simply because I wanted to share it, hasn’t performed well at all. This is likely because I don’t have an audience, there isn’t any relational intent to help with a specific problem predefined, and it’s mostly self serving if you sit back and analyze this type of content/blog post. I do believe this style of content has it’s place, and at the core of wanting to share experiences and help via storytelling is a vital part of the DNA of a successful brand/blog. (but not until later if you have to survive off of this income source)

Total Words Published

In my opinion, this is the #1 thing that has changed the game for me. When I only had 30 posts published, I was making about $300/mo. As soon as I published 92, my income skyrocketed to over $1,000/mo. Sure correlation doesn’t equal causation, and I could sit here and explain to you what I think the root revenue drivers are and why for over an hour… But the bottom line is, as it always is with everything in life, the more times you swing at the plate, the better your chances of hitting a home run are.

total-word-count


Did you catch that?

I have 7 TIMES more draft posts than I do published posts. And that my friend, is why total posts published is all that matters. (“you can write in the backend till you’re blue in the face… nothing will ever happen pal!”)

100k words just sitting there, waiting to be used. *face falm cry*


If you’re a new blogger, this is the only thing I would focus on:

  • How many words have I published today?
  • How many posts have I published this month?
  • How much commercial intent have I woven in to my writing where applicable?
  • What percentage of my content published this month targets a specific high buyer intent keyword, problem, solution, etc…
  • How many Q&A posts did I reverse engineer and publish this month?
  • How many of the major problems people face in my industry did I target, and work toward providing a solution to this month?
  • How many of the areas of my life that contain untapped leverage (experience, struggle, unfortune, etc…) did I use to cleverly build assets (brand, blog, media, etc…) and help others in the process?

Popular Posts Of The Month:


Content Experiments:


Past Income Reports


What’s Working

Income Wise

Well the biggest contributing factor toward positive income growth, has been production like I was talking about earlier. When I mentioned in the past income report that the growth you’re seeing now is a result of the work I did months ago… I wasn’t kidding.

This content production graph is in direct alignment with my income graph:

direct-correlation-of-content-production-to-increased-income

You can also see my post length trend climb because during my testing, I found long form content performs better than the short stuff. (I would argue, that if I had the domain authority of say Forbes.com, this would be a whole different ballgame)

My average article is 1,700 words, and I anticipate that to climb as well now that I’m testing new post structures to simmer down the on page SEO tests I’ve done. (note – disregard the dates… I didn’t even own this domain in 2013-14… I installed some stupid theme demo content that had back dated authorship, and haven’t removed those database entries yet)

content-production-to-date-avg-post-length-1700-words


Content Production

What you’re seeing now is income from work I did from a month or two prior. You can see by the graph above that I busted my fucking ass churning out content in a couple month period. What you don’t see is the part where I started questioning whether it was going to work or not and slowed down. This is a big no no, and I knew better… So now I’m playing catch up, and it looks like there might be a dip in next month’s income report unless I can pull something out of my ass the last few days of the month.

I will say this again though… what type of user intent you target makes all the difference in the world if you’re trying to create dollars from thin air.

What type on content should I be writing?

Well I have a process I follow, but really you should just get after it as hard as you can, and see what sticks for starters. I have a long winded example for you, but I think it’ll really help explain or at least give you a good idea for something you can do that’s similar…

Before I drove from Florida to Maine, my cousin helped me change the struts and wheel bearings on my 4Runner, and I documented the whole process since there wasn’t a “great” tutorial for it on Youtube that we could find at the time. Now of course I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to test whether or not I could massage that into my brand here… and monetize it with affiliate products after the fact. I finally said fuck it and did both. I’m not going to start a new website or blog every time I want to post test ideas or do content experiments, so I changed the site structure so I can hide stuff like that when I want to from the main navigation.

I will admit that I googled around for a while last month see if there were any expert opinions on the subject of multi-topic blog content. Of course they all suggested running a personal blog for that kind of stuff, and then having your business blog separate. Long story short, this is my lifestyle blog, so I decided to do it my way.

So what happened?

Well I uploaded the youtube video and never got around to writing the post for it. Despite that, every month I get a few sales from people following the strut replacement guide, and purchasing the struts I recommend and used myself. While I’m not going to get rich off of $5 dollar strut commissions, it’s kinda cool to be able to take something from your own life and create extra income out of it!

amazon-affiliate-income-4runner-strut-video

I have about 15 – 20 other examples just like this 4Runner strut example that earn amazon affiliate commissions month after month. I hope to use those to illustrate this in more detail in future income reports, because I’d like to see some of my friends and family create something like this for themselves. If I can make it super easy to follow and understand, I think they can duplicate what I’ve done thus far fairly easily.

I think what makes this work well is A) knowing how to set things up in a fashion where you can monetize and maintain authenticity, and B) staying genuine and putting out real life stuff, mistakes and all. (adds a human element to it that is beginning to lack in the world of tabloid perfection) At first I was wondering if people would care that I use affiliate links in all my stuff, but it turns out if I mention it out loud in a video, I get messages saying they’ve bought, thanks for my review, and they hope I get credit for the sale! #effingawesome #winwin #grateful #humbled


So how did I decide to try this stuff?  I had a simple realization…

Even the best content producers in the world can’t tell you all the little nuances and instances where you might find success on your own. I believe we are all unique beings, and there are small groups of other people that have similar personality traits as we do, and will resonate with us in our own way. (meaning, there’s 8 billion people on this planet. There are AT LEAST 100k of them that will not like you and immediately click away from your stuff because you talk funny… You what that spells right? Opportunity! – – because there’s another 100k right behind them that love you over the next guy)

You need to be willing to experiment and go outside of the norms with your blog content, and test what’s in your gut and creativity. You absolutely need to learn about commercial intent, on page seo, and market/product research for sure… But at the heart of all of this, is you.

Anything can work, you just have to try it until it does.

For instance, I grew up playing with little tractor toys playing in the sand. I loved heavy equipment and machinery, and still do to this day. I remembered about some of the remote controlled excavators and John Deere toys I had as a kid, and decided to write a few experimental posts about the models available today.

Now if I had asked a blogging coach or content marketer about doing that, 90% of them would’ve flipped their fucking lids. Sure, it’s not a healthy choice for topically theming a site’s content direction or relevancy toward a particular market, but hey if I muddy the waters a bit what do I have to lose? I’m now making tiny commissions on that work, and most likely will for a very long time. (I’m super interested to calculate my hourly rate over a 12 month period on this!!!)

That, in my opinion, is what Clever Leverge is all about.

P.S. – what you also might not know, is I have an interest in starting two or three other niche blogs that I can hire people to write/write for me. I wanted to test the waters on several ideas before actually committing to a larger workload, setting up more sites, etc… So I just took all of my interests and setup draft posts for them and started testing them out. Some flopped completely, but others are still producing a positive ROI on my time investment. This helps me justify sending my blog’s topical theme into a tizzy, since it should really be comprised of 5 core pillars in my opinion.

my-5-pillars-of-strength


Wiring & Creativity

By far, the best decision I’ve made for my writing and creativity was to come to Maine and stay in a tiny cabin in the woods, free from all distractions. No cell service. No TV. No bullshit.

It’s now 20 degrees every day, gloomy as shit out, and I’m getting more done than I ever have in my life. It’s lonely, but productive as all hell. I learned about all the little distractions in daily life that start first thing in the morning and continue to pull me away from my core creative work throughout the day. So I removed them.

One thing that has helped my creativity is keeping an almost blistering pace. I get up around 5:15 AM with no alarm most days, and purposely don’t bring any fire wood inside the night before. I go out to the woodshed in shorts, a light fleece, and flip flops. I also take a morning pee outside when the sun is coming up if possible. (don’t ask, it’s a guy thing.) Point being, I think the surge of cold air, linked to “I must go outside and get fire wood if I want to stay warm!” has definitely boosted my morning ritual of creative writing straight away. Afterward, I’m what you’d call AWAKE!


Blogging Revelations

Probably not a monumental learning for a lot of folks, but I want to make damn sure I remember this…

Realization: Informational & Commercial Intent
Is Not Always Indicative Of Buying Temperature

I talk a lot about the “type” of content you’re creating, based on my experiences thus far. Well for the second time now, I’ve been re-exposed to what I refer to as buying temperature… Better explained as, how urgent or important is a product or solution to an individual? The hotter it is, the more money is on the table and opportunity to help, profit, and in general make an impact. (of course you must consider mass appeal, volume, etc…) In a past life, a good example of this in the local lead gen space would be comparing landscaping services to a locksmith or towing company. When a couple wants to re-landscape their backyard, they’ll get to it when they get to it. When the same couple is stranded on the side of the road, or locked out of their car, they’ll pay what I like to call “whater-the-fuck-it-costs-pal”!

How does this translate into the blogging / content marketing world? (it’s all the same really…)

A perfect example of this is my highest trafficked post to date: Vlogging Cameras. It gets the most traffic, but doesn’t earn the most income like you’d think. My analysis of this compared to other types of content only leads me to one conclusion: wanting a vlogging camera is not a necessity. It’s a luxury. A casual “it would be cool to do some youtube vids one day…” type of thing. It’s not must have item, and it’s not solving an immediate need or “must have” solution to a particular problem either. A better example would be something health related, where someone is motivated much higher on the hierarchy of needs scale. (supplements, sleep, life improvement devices, etc…  All the things I have yet to write about! Jesus Matt, get with the program!!)

So while informational interest is very high compared to some of the other things I’ve written about as a test, transactional frequency is MUCH lower. This isn’t what I’d called definitive either, just my opinion… Primarily because I’m not comparing equally priced product verticals (good cameras are $500+ dollars compared to $100 common items we normally buy on a whim).


Tips & Tools That Helped Me Earn This Income

Well I can tell you right now, I wouldn’t make the Youtube passive income I do without TubeBuddy. It helps me tag videos in such a way that generate more traffic than doing it manually. For instance, I had videos that have been up for a while as a test, and went back and optimized them with TubeBuddy and now they make $5/mo.

*note I need to write two posts about free wordpress plugins that have helped me

  • The WordPress Plugins I Use & Why
  • The #1 Thing You Can Do To Speed Up Your WordPress Blog That Doesn’t Cost Any Money

Site speed improvements look like they’re showing signs of higher CTR/impressions. But nothing definitive yet, even though I should’ve been paying attention all along. My blog was loading at over 4 seconds, which is way to slow. All sites should load at under 2 seconds, even image rich homepages. I’ve since fixed this, and all pages on my site are loading in around 1.5 seconds which I’m happy with for now.

  • Click Here To Read My Site Speed Optimization Tips For WordPress (And how to speec up wordpress on shared hosting!)

Blog Post Template & On Page SEO That’s Working Well Currently

I did a bunch of over-optimization tests the last few months to see what I could get away with. Not having a control to compare it to sort of defeated the purpose, but I still get a feel for what’s going on by trying different things. While I love the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, I believe in some cases the green lights are steering bloggers into an over optimization frenzy without realizing it.

What I’ve been testing lately is:

  • no green light in Yoast to prevent being overoptimized for a single term
  • if it is hit the plural, long tail, and subs in same article
  • increase marination time between content changes
  • change wordpress published on to last updated (I’m not using a rank tracker, but it’ll be interesting to spot positive movement for select queries in my month end analytics)
  • Short urls
  • NO FULL KEYWORD IN URL <——-

No new tools this month, and I’m still using the same ones that have been helping me make more money as the past few months:


Health

I’ve experienced quite a bit of changes health wise, the biggest being mental clarity. I’ve tried a lot of stuff to boost brain performance, and I’ve just felt like I’d been in a massive cloud of brain fog the last few months. I did a ton of research, bought a bunch of supplements, and finally found a combination that has worked very well the last month. I’m going to have to write a separate post just about the supplements I’ve used for brain fog, because it would be way too long to add here.


What’s Not Working


My Biggest Struggles Starting This Blog & In My 7th Month Blogging

Analysis Paralysis & Avoiding Doing The Work.

I’ve tried to come up with so many different ways to streamline my workload for writing blog articles… I’ve bought dictation software, mice, microphones, and on and on and on.If they sell, I’ve bought it. But why? Well the only thing I can come up with is simply to avoid doing the work.

I struggle with typing, and am still to this day somewhat of a hunt a pecker. I always hated typing, and don’t like writing away if I don’t have to! Especially for some of the content experiments that I’ve wanted to test. Trouble is, I don’t believe you can just write one article of a certain type and come to any definitive conclusion on whether it works or not. On the contrary, writing several articles of the same type is just plain boring and monotonous.

And therein lies the first problem… Always looking for an easier way today, to do less work tomorrow.

Well the cold harsh reality is, sometimes if you don’t have money to invest, or put in the time to gain the experience to know when to outsource, you have to simply get on a schedule and get down to business repeatedly.

I have struggled with this immensely, and perhaps my own personality or ego is getting in the way. In some ways, I feel “above” this level of repetitive work, yet the cold harsh reality is even though I have some internet marketing and affiliate experience form years past, I’ve never created a blog like this. I had to get really honest with myself about this, and finally succumb to the fact that unless I struggle through it, and even be willing to try shit that might not work out, eventually it’ll snowball and I’ll have something.

The point?

I’ve wasted SO MUCH TIME!!! trying to find solutions for typing, recording, blah blah blah… all because I was trying to avoid the work I didn’t like. The reality is, it’s faster to work through it than to find some other gimmicky solution.

But I had to make a choice: sit back and let it happen slowly, or get off my fucking ass, and set and accomplish a daily production goal. This is the one thing that has made all the difference.

Everyday now, I ask myself one simple question: “What do I have to do to get a post out the door today”?

That is my only goal for the day.

Then it’ll compound… What do I have to do to get a blog post AND a video out today. How about two blog posts?

Then further…


I’m Struggling With My Writing

I’m very conversational, and my writing tends to flow as if I were speaking in person a lot of the time. I’m very grammatically capable, but I don’t speak grammatically correct which makes it challenging.

I struggle with keeping first person throughout my writing, and find myself often switching to the 2nd or 3rd person intermittently. I know what I’m trying to say, but I don’t have an audience yet to know if this will pose a problem with understanding later on. I still struggle with what tone to write in, and how to explain things that I want to document along the way of starting this blog. Half the time I go from talking about myself or what has happened thus far, to then switching to the reader’s mind, and exemplifying certain points as if they were trying to do the same things themselves. In my mind, it’s almost as if I automatically document and write in a way that reads like this is what I wish someone would’ve told me when I was in this situation. My only concern is that it’s “teaching” style instead of “documentation” or conversational. The latter has a tendency to come off as a know it all sometimes, especially if you don’t know someone’s character and so on.

Maybe one day I’ll get some blog comments to provide me with a bit of feedback, and continue to improve that way.


BTW, that brings up another point that has been the single hardest thing about building this blog from scratch…

This guy explained this more succinctly and eloquently than I’ve been able to in the last 100 years! Respect.

resepectSrc: http://www.buildersociety.com/threads/creating-a-hustler.2212/#post-22349


I Struggled With Coming Up With A System To Write About The Same Topics

We already established I didn’t like writing about things I wasn’t passionate about when I first started. But the fact of the matter is you have to do it initially in order to figure things out for yourself. So when I set out to test a couple off the wall topics, I knew I had to write at least 5 posts on each one to give it a fair chance right? I mean after all, these might become sister sites later on all on their own, so it was important to validate the best way I could at the time.

Bottom line though, writing about the same thing over and over, even if it covers different nuances wears on you after a bit. So I took a few pages out of my keyword research experience, and put together a blog post template that allows me to easily get to the meat of the content and not have to worry about the structure as much. It’s very flexible, but it goes something like this:

  • Plural keyword, listicle, or best-of headline
  • Sub heads are all the nuances of the product, problem, or solution
  • Review / media curation
  • FAQ section using my Q&A long tail tricks
  • Conclusion

Mistakes So Far

  • Not listening to my intuition and my body

I knew exactly 4 months ago that I needed to go into seclusion, and emerge with a new (insert my whole life here!!! – – new business venture, new habits, new writing habits, new everything.) I could feel it in my body, the need and desire to go away and get lost in building something new. I felt an immense draw to it and resisted for many many months. I asked close friends and family for advice on what I should do, but deep down I knew exactly what I should do. I don’t know why I didn’t pull the trigger right away… I procrastinated, wasn’t sure of myself, didn’t know if the vision I had would work out, I was uneasy about tapering off my main job/business, I clenched up at the thought of deliberately putting myself in a situation of financial strain. (knowing you have XX months of savings to live on, and intentionally turning down work so you can work on a new venture that you don’t know will work out or not… Holy fuck man. Not comfy at all to say the least!)

  • It’s hard to leave people you love
  • It’s hard to get comfortable with the idea of going away into isolation (ok not really lol)
  • It’s tough to swallow putting yourself into a situation where you don’t have access to money if you need it (in the fucking boonies in a cabin in the woods, there’s no resources!)

But ultimately, all of that is what I needed to do.

It took about 2 weeks of being out in the sticks with no cell service, quietness, and beginning a daily battle of Resistance. Noticing immediately that it’s not necessarily the environment that determines your output, but habits that are attached to them, is a tough realization to come to. Once you see clearly that it’s your excuses stopping you from doing what you “say you want,” where the fuck do you go from there!?!?!

I noticed right away that I haven’t been giving this “blogging thing” my all… and I was half way “talking it out” instead of “going all out.” Shitty feeling when you’ve been saying all along that this is what you really want.

So, now that some of my labor is starting to bear fruit, and a tiny sliver of my vision is starting to come to fruition, it’s time to go back into seclusion and “giver’ hell!”

Until next month…


My Only Regret:

That I didn’t start sooner.

It’s crazy to me that anyone with a fucking internet connection can make a full time living online… And in a lot of cases in less than two years! Shit man, the hell with college! Pave your own road!!!

If that isn’t the new gold-rush I don’t know what is. Seriously, this is a golden era upon us, and even I don’t fully understand the scope of the great opportunity before us.

All I know is, I should’ve started sooner, because it takes time to fail your way to success. <– (And this is ME saying this, with YEARS of online experience prior to starting blogging)

Saying “I didn’t have time” to get my blog going sooner. Are you fucking kidding me!?!?!?!

I made every excuse in the book:

  • I need to focus on what brings me income now.
  • I need to spend time with friends and family.
  • I need work life balance so I’m not so stressed.
  • I need to enjoy life now.
  • I don’t feel like it.
  • It might not work out, I should put my time into something more tangible.

Holy fuck man. What a short-sided viewpoint with those excuses I had. My life will forever be changed if I stay the course in the blogging world. I regret not being willing to make short term sacrifices sooner, in order to alter the course of of my life, for the rest of my life. It doesn’t seem real yet (which is good at this moment, it’s time to work), but I can taste the blood of success as we speak. I think I have a shot at creating my ultimate vision, but I can’t talk about what that is. For it will diminish the work I need to do to begin making it a reality, and merely talking about it makes you feel like you’ve done something… When you haven’t.

What this all boils down to?

I love the idea of working myself out of a normal job. I love the idea of being bale to make money from anywhere in the world, with no ceiling, and with no boss. Sure I’ve been self employed for a long time, but it’s always been tied to a single geographical location. Now I realize the importance of being able to change my environment and I want to earn that freedom. Gone are the days of the traditional thinking… And I have to admit, it’s hard to have this conversation with some friends and family. It’s outside of their comfort zone of what they think is possible, and I’m looking for inspiration and have the desire to bounce ideas off of others that want this too… Not bring me down a notch.

Which brings me to my next point…


“Show Me Your Friends And I’ll Show You Your Future”? – Dan Pena

Could it really be?

Can little tiny influences really create patterns and habitual rituals that keep you from attaining what you say you want? I don’t know, but what I do know, is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do yet is easily sabotaged.

By going into seclusion up here in Maine, and having been alone for over a month now, some daily rituals are really starting to stand out to me. (or really, the lack thereof) I notice a huge difference in what I’m trying to learn how to accomplish and what normal people do each day. It takes immersion, sacrifice, and a little obsessions. (ok, it doesn’t feel much like sacrifice to me… once my brain gets going in this direction, I’ll admit I have a hard time turning it off! Gift and a curse?) For instance, most people get up everyday and check facebook while they have their coffee. They turn on the news to see what’s going on in the world, while reading the paper over breakfast. I check stats to see how my stuff performed the day before (and HOPEFULLY!! how much money I made while I was sleeping), and immediately digging for opportunities on how I can improve performance, conversions, and fill gaps I’m currently not serving in the market. (I do this by fielding questions from blog and youtube comments, emails, researching the net, etc…) It’s an obsession, because currently, I’m not earning enough to live off of. I don’t care what’s on the news, facebook, nothing. I can’t care! You only have so much brain power for creative thinking and uncharted work territory per day. My #1 goal is to learn how to make this work, and if I don’t make that a priority, but nothing will ever happen.

I don’t know where I read it, but a meme quote I saw somewhere said: “You want to be successful? Focus on your own shit.”

Why does this matter so much to take up yet another paragraph on the matter?

Because I want to look back on this when times get tough, and I go back to “a city of influence” and be able to reflect on times of realization and epiphany. Now I understand why many times when millionaires are interviewed, their story isn’t sexy.

In fact, sometimes it downright sucks. You hear a ton of common themes that I totally relate to:

  • “no one knows all the times I had to say no to friends to go have beers and work on my project instead”
  • “nobody sees all the times I’m secretly jotting down notes on my phone or running out to my car to record an idea video on my ipad during thanksgiving dinner”
  • “nowhere does it mention that people will test you in the middle of trying to create something great”
  • “no one knows how difficult it is to give up all your hobbies and focus your brain power on your vision obsessively”

This has plagued (blessed?) me for quite some time now. I can’t shut it off. I know if I’m going to be successful at this, I must focus my brain in the direction I need to go. I’ve also struggled with this greatly as well… I want to have fun and share time and experiences with friends and family.

Unfortunately, a lot of the time, I just cant get present during precious time when I should be in the moment. In the back of my mind at all times, I know I’m not where I want to be, and my mind is constantly thinking of ways to make that happen. Borderline obsession? I don’t know, but I have a vision for my “ecosystem.”

That nags and nags at me, and I often wake up or get out of the shower and have to run to my notepad and jot down the next formation to come. You never know when an idea is going to strike. They’re not all winners, but if you get after it, some are bound to hit.

I love this journey, but I want to document what I struggle with, so in case a time comes when I forget, I can look back on this, and reflect. (and possibly learn new ways to improve these circumstances for myself and others)


What I’ve Done Up Until This Point

  • Created a vision for a blog ecosystem I wish someone would’ve created, I want to see, and that resonated with me lifestyle wise
  • Compiled a list of areas I have experience in based on life experience that I can help others with
  • Started writing content around a few of those topics
  • Was open minded and willing to experiment, test, and write content I didn’t think would do well or wasn’t sure would work
  • Applied to be an affiliate at more networks/ programs, and started promoting products and services I know well
  • Continued to review products I buy, and promote the winners as an affiliate for additional income. (this has worked very well, although I must say unfortunately trying all these other things has caused me to slack off on this. I haven’t published nearly as many reviews compared the number of things I’ve bought in the last few months… I need to be reviewing ALL OF THEM!)
  • Started figuring out the pain points of creating a lifestyle blog firsthand… Hopefully once I create a full time income, I’ll be able to also create a product that will both help others replicate the same success for themselves, and also create my first product based income stream from my blog. (something I’ve always wanted to try: becoming a product creator that is)
  • Eased up on my high standards for content production, and tried a few “best of” and “product listicle” style posts to test the waters in some sub niches. (I eventually want to create a second niche blog as a case study to replicate my model/way of building blogs that anyone can replicate, because I see so much opportunity for those around me to duplicate what I’ve done thus far)

So What Can You Take Away From This?

  • Be flexible
  • Test your interests
  • Follow your gut
  • Remove distractions and things you think are important in daily life, blocking you from tapping into your creativity (I have to go into isolation somewhat to enhance this… I.E. – I’m in Maine right now in a little cabin in the woods 😉
  • Get a site up right now!!! The longer you wait, the more you’ll have to wait. (there’s a marination period once you start, you may as well not prolong that any more than it needs to be! Setup your own blog in 20 minutes here)
  • Ask questions from people who’ve done what you want to do (use my comment system below if I can help you)
  • Stop getting advice from people who haven’t done what you want to do, or at the very least, can’t envision themselves doing what you want to do (secret: you already know better than they do anyway, you just want outside permission to break through your self imposed barriers)
  • Strive to fail as fast as possible so you can learn what works for you (we all have different skill sets, experiences, and tones of personality. What resonates with others for me, might be different for you. A good example of this is Pat Flynn from SmartPassiveIncome.com… I can never be him, simply because I use the word “fuck” too often. 🙂 BUT, there’s a certain percentage of the population that is turned off by him, and might resonate with me and vice versa… I’m never going to appeal to a certain audience either. You know what that spells? Opportunity! Opportunity for you to jump in and carve out your unique voice too! 8 billion peeps on the planet my friend, get after it!
  • You want to satisfy your ego, or you wanna make money?
    • Not everything you post has to be a fucking masterpiece
    • You don’t have to be the next “xxx famous writer” in order to make a living blogging online. (I’ve struggled with this immensely, and I believe it was part of the reason for analysis paralysis last when I took 7 months to “mull this idea of starting my blog” over. What a waste of time!)
    • But I know there is greatness inside of me, and getting those ideas transpired on paper in the nick of time when they come to me is a challenge. Not to mention not having an existing platform to express them on, which ultimately “everything has to be perfect” when you don’t have it.
  • A mediocre platform to spread your genius when it comes to you, is better than starting a platform from scratch when you get an idea. Capiche? Good.
  • The only thing that got me out of it was content experiments. I saw a little bit of success, and immediately lifted my expectations/strict standards quite a bit. I would imagine this keeps a lot of people from succeeding as well, so find something that works for you to blow past your limitations.

There’s also an element of selfishness, or at least the ability to express things that I don’t normally, just through writing and journaling/blogging this journey. I think that creates a certain type of evolution in and of itself, and you can see evidence of this in many different entrepreneurial professions as well. Key takeaway is it might be uncomfortable to start incorporating some of your personal life on a public blog. I know it was for me… But do it anyway, it gives your content character and readers something to connect with.


What’s Next?

It makes sense now why the selling products to people who want to make money online is so profitable… There really aren’t any secrets, sure there is a certain type of knowledge you need to succeed, but it’s available free all over the internet, or you can pay less than $1k and get everything you need distilled much quicker.

So why so profitable? Why so many “tricks” and “systems”? Well from my experience learning how to become a blogger, one of the biggest hurdles I’ve encountered is basic disciplines. I’ve talked about it many times (the difficulty in perusing something you don’t see any results with initially for quite some time), and I have past experience so I know what’s possible… Yet I still struggled, and AM STRUGGLING with it… I can only imagine what it would be like for someone who doesn’t know, or who has never been exposed to this before.

So what am I getting at here? Well I’m starting to wonder if what stops the majority of people from succeeding, is the monotonous disciplines that are required when embarking on something new without a roadmap with a quantifiable destination. There’s daily distractions, self doubt, and everything in between. Not to mention, if you’re not healthy and aren’t feeling well, this gets increasingly difficult. (I haven’t talked about it much up until this point, but the last few months have been extra challenging for me… Some brain fog, anxiety, and generally feeling down and whatnot, making it hard to concentrate on a lot of days. Could be a mixture of stress, starting a new path in life… I’m not really sure. I’ve tried tons of supplements and other techniques to improve this that past few months, but it’s taken what feels like a LONG while to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. (reminder to write an updated supplement post on what stack has been working really well)

All that, and it’s easier to watch someone else do it, than to do it yourself. This is perpetuating the spectator vs player dilemma, and I think it goes unnoticed until you get fed up with your current position in life like I have. That’s why income reports and other blogger’s info is so popular I’m thinking? (who am I kidding, I haven’t had a single person comment on my income reports lol) I too have fallen into this trap, and still do from time to time. It’s tough to find just the right amount of information/guidance (which I’m happy to pay for, no problem at all buying products… In fact I’d rather purchase something to save me time, than look all over the internet trying to find it free from different sources), but not become stuck in an analysis paralysis loop pattern and never move the ball forward.

Some product ideas come to mind, but I’m not sure there is a market/need for them:

  • How can I document this journey, provide content or maybe even make products one day, that will give others an edge when it comes to this troubling aspect of starting their blog? How can I create products that take the guesswork out of content production, so all they have to do, is do the work?
  • I can teach keyword research, onpage seo/blog article optimization, smart ways to create affiliate content that makes you money, how to set yourself up for success, and so on

A list of things I still haven’t figured out yet is top of mind next:

  • How to document better, show humility, and accept that I don’t know the best way to create a successful blog instead of thinking I knew how to do it like when I started?
  • How to start start asking the right questions that lead to accomplishing my goal, come back and answer after I figure it out?
  • How can scale this?
  • How can I systematize my blog building process, start subsidiaries, invest in authorship and leverage my knowledge in other areas that require minimal time commitments from me?
  • How can I create a full time income blogging a meet or exceed my long term monetary goal now that the short term goal has been met?
  • How can I leverage other assets I already have in my arsenal?
  • How can I teach others some of the stuff I already know and graduate to becoming a product creator and move up the food chain so I’m not constantly relying on affiliate income?
  • How to leverage pinterest with the automation tools out there, but in the least amount of time per day?
  • How to change my own story in exchange for relinquishing ego and faster success?
  • How can I document this journey, provide content or maybe even make products one day, that will give others an edge when it comes to troubling aspects of starting their blog? How can I create products that take the guesswork out of content production, so all they have to do, is do the work?

How can I make these income reports more helpful / useful for you? Comment below and let me know!

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Join the conversation on Matt’s case studies at CleverLeverage.com as he discovers and tests new ways to earn more income, learn alternative investment strategies to net >10%, maintain good health, and turn passions into online businesses.

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