Are you curious about a 3-month delay? I explained it in my first income report.
April 2019 started with a bang, but then it slid down. I did poorly with my previous 12Week Year and I was determined to do better this time.
However, I was also discouraged and frustrated because I didn’t hit my goals. It’s a normal state for me when I fail. This emotional mix didn’t help very much in turning things around.
I was about as productive as I should be for the first two and a half weeks of April. Then came the Easter holiday. The next week, I traveled to the States for my mastermind retreat. My routine was blown away for the next month. I was playing catch up and juggling for the next month. On the business front, I did almost nothing to create new processes and procedures.
CA and book sales
The good news was Canadian ads. Thanks to them, my sales went through the roof. I collected more shiny bestseller badges
I sold 1,664 copies of my books in April, 445 of them Kindle copies in Canada. My paperback sales in the US were 632, and I guesstimate at least half of this number was generated by Canadian ads.
That was a nice injection to my future cash flow.
I invited more of my customers to Canada. At the end of the month, I ran the ads for 10 of them – about 25 books. Thanks to the lack of competition and cheap clicks everyone was making money, even if their books had no reviews in CA or the conversion rates really sucked. Some of them had 40+ clicks-to-sales ratio and still made some money.
CA and experiments
I discovered that many of the long tail keywords I ditched in the past were working pretty decent when I gave them a chance. I used about 70k old long tail keywords and they generated about 40% of the overall sales. It encouraged me to try to do the same in the UK market. I ordered ads for those long tail keywords at the very end of April. Hopefully, they will bump my UK sales too.
Both in the UK and in CA, I ran one campaign ad for all of my books. So I have 10-12 books in one ad. I can do this either because I have the Advantage accounts there or because there are no custom text ads. Anyway, it drops the workload for creating the ads by 10x. To utilize those 70k keywords I needed only about 160 ads in each market.
To do the same in the USA would have meant creating 160 ads for each book, 1,600 ads overall. Not a good business. While long tail campaigns generated 40% of my sales in CA, they were only marginally profitable in the more crowded UK market. The US market is even more saturated, so it makes no sense to create 160 ads to get 10 or 20 more sales a month.
I also played with the new bidding options and I didn’t notice much of a difference in the performance of my ads. For me, they just complicate the whole process. My system is based on hundreds and thousands of ads. I need simplicity, not complexity. New team members have a hard enough time trying to wrap their minds around all the elements of the campaign – the name, budget, right book(s), bid, keywords, blurb – to bother with even more options to pick from.
I created a couple of campaigns based on product targeting. I created them and forgot about them. Only at the beginning of May did I review their performance and make a couple of interesting discoveries.
I created one campaign for my paperbacks and another for Kindle books. When creating the Kindle campaign I was lazy, I chose only the top-level categories. That was a mistake. The paperback campaign took off. It got half a million impressions in less than a month and generated $50 in profit. Not too bad for 20 minutes of work.
The Kindle campaign was a bummer. It got less than 3,000 impressions and not a single click. I created another campaign with more granular product categories to verify if the poor performance was connected with the Kindle format or my laziness in targeting niche categories. The verdict was clear: targeting top-level categories makes zero sense. The new ad got over 200,000 impressions in a few days.
Out of curiosity, I started ads for my free books in Canada. I used the lowest possible bid – two cents and they still were generating some downloads. I ended up paying less than C$0.08 for a download. The low bid provided only a few thousand impressions a day, but still enough to generate 1-2 downloads a day.
I created ads for my permafree books in the States too. I bid 5 cents for them and ended up paying about 20-22 cents per download.
My son helped me calculate profits for my customers at the beginning of April. My dad created new tracking sheets for new customers and for the new month for old customers on his own. My sister generated reports from the UK and CA markets and processed them in Excel. She also took over creating the formal orders for campaigns for my team. The only time I had to place the orders in our FB chat was when I had urgent tasks to do there.
I had more time for myself. With all the additional things that took place in April- Easter, the retreat in Nashville and so on- delegation shifted some burden off of my shoulders.
I had time for something new, for example creating training videos. I hired a sister from my church community and she needed supervision with almost every single order. Yet, I actually had time to teach her.
I recorded over a dozen training videos so far and the $60 investment into the video-recording software has already been taken back a few times in my time liberated from mundane tasks.
I had a lot of time for family and other non-business related stuff. We went to a cinema on Shazam! The Passover Triduum consumed my three evenings. On the second day of Easter (we celebrate it for two days in Poland) we visited my mother in law. The trip to the USA ate five of my days. The only additional thing I did on a plane over the Atlantic was keyword mining from manuscripts. I found about half a million keywords for testing.
I also had time for some errands – dealing with paperwork with the gas company, fixing my car, etc. My wife hates running errands to the degree that driving to a car mechanic to change tires is a headache for her. I don’t mind them so much and I actually had time to do them.
How people do all this stuff with a day job? They don’t. I remember when I was full time- every visit in a county office was a problem and I needed to shift my working hours or take a day off.
Nowadays, I can smuggle a few errands into every week and don’t even notice. And we have time for some family activities.
Advertising physical products on Amazon
On the mastermind retreat, I connected with a guy who sells some gadgets on Amazon. He created the editor’s account for me and I created some ads for him ASAP. I hoped to employ my existing book-advertising system for physical products as well. If I can squeeze profit from $2-$5 books, I surely should be able to do the same with 20-dollar items, right? Wrong.
It didn’t work. “Random” keywords I used got very few impressions. The advertising system for Seller Central is different from the one used for books.
It might’ve been a matter of low bids, but I’m not going to test that theory. My system works with low bids. High bids are only a way to bleed out my customers’ money very quickly.
I don’t care if it was a matter of bids because advertising in e-commerce must provide an immediate return. Those gadgets are not books that grow your authority and add subscribers to your email list.
If you cannot make money on advertising your products from the beginning because the competition is too fierce and you cannot generate clicks for 20 cents, you shouldn’t have been advertising. There is no justification for spending your money to donate to Amazon.
The Income Report Breakdown
Amazon royalties: €1945.93 ($2159.98)
Coach.me fees: $216.86
Draft2Digital royalties: $22.43
Audiobooks royalties: $49.15
PWIW personal coaching: $292.1
AMS service remuneration: $1557.05
PublisherRocket affiliation program: $46.31
One-time ads creation: $18.92
$49, Aweber fee
$67.5, royalties split with co-author
$1552.45, Amazon ads
$500, ISI mastermind
$218.62, RAs’ remuneration (RAs = Real Assistants; my team)
$52.52, 12WY coaching
$30, SiteLock fee
$212.55, my editor’s share
$95.09, an obligatory monthly fee for LLC
$70, my accountant’s monthly fee
Net Result: $1515.06