June 2017 Unconventional Income Report for Dietitians

This post has been a long time coming…

June 2017 is a momentous month in the story of my entrepreneurial life.

It's the month that I finally stopped playing small, and decided to launch a real passive income product.

I say “real” because this was not my first time at the passive income rodeo.

I had tried (and failed) to launch passive income products in the past.

Want some examples?

Example #1: In the summer of 2015, I paired up with a friend from B-School & created a 3-month online program.

My friend was a pilates/fitness instructor, and I was a dietitian, so it was a natural partnership.

She created at home workout videos, and I created a bunch of delicious recipes & inspirational nutrition coaching videos/worksheets, and we WENT FOR IT.

I think we charged a couple hundred bucks for the program, and had really high expectations for our first BIG project out of B-School. (Livin the Marie Forleo dream, right??)

WELL, we worked our tushies off creating that program, and guess how many people signed up??

.

.

Five.

.

.

YES, FIVE!!! With the earnings split between the two of us. {insert sad face}

We definitely did not earn our money back on that one, but we sure did learn a lot of valuable lessons!

Example #2: Fall 2015 – I was already back on the horse. This time, I tried to build my own passive income product.

My grand idea? “The Dinner Club” – an online subscription where people could sign up for weekly meal plans and shopping lists to be emailed to them.

Yes, this already existed all over the internet (which is not actually a bad thing. At least that means there was a market for it!).

My special differentiator was that I wanted to feature (and PAY) food bloggers for linking to their recipes (and hopefully have them help spread the word).

I still don't think this was a bad idea, but once I got it up and running, I ran into all sorts of roadblocks.

One, I was charging way too much. I think I was charging $19.99/mo for the service, while most other meal planning services were $10/mo or less.

Two, it should have been able to be more customizable, where people could select the recipes they wanted & auto-generate a shopping list, but I lacked the ability & funds to build this type of feature.

Three, it wasn't niched down enough to serve a particular audience (paleo, GF, DF, vegan, etc.). It was just… food.. that I liked.

So what happened was, I had a few people sign up (mostly friends and family), but they weren't actually using the service I was spending so much time creating.

The feedback I got was that most people weren't cooking dinner from scratch 5x per week, and so they weren't using all the recipes. But if you don't use all the recipes, then the shopping list is useless! #fail.

I soldiered on with this project for 4 months before throwing in the towel yet again. Sigh.

At this point, I felt totally sad and dejected, and decided to take a break from creating digital products. 

You see, I had been putting the cart before the horse. 

I saw all these successful online business owners making a living on the internet, and tried to replicate their business models, when in reality, I was not at that same place in my business. I was only on square one.

I needed to do some soul searching, and figure out my message.

Who was I? What did I bring to the table? How exactly did I plan to HELP people (because the root of all businesses involves offering a solution for a pain point).

In 2015, I couldn't answer any of these questions. This is why I was throwing seemingly random business ideas at the wall & hoping something would stick (but nothing did).

So, in 2016, I attempted to start over & figure out what the heck I wanted to do. 

During that time, I became a Certified LEAP Therapist & learned all about adverse food reactions. I spent TONS of time (like, multiple full work days each week) reading and self-educating.

I started seeing clients 100% virtually rather than wasting $$ on an office space.

I started posting recipes on my site 2 to 3 days per week, and strategically sharing them on Facebook and other places to actually get the word out about my blog.

Most importantly, I started finding my voice, & discovered a passion for functional nutrition.

By June 2017:

  • I had been featured on a popular podcast, talking all about food sensitivities.
  • I gave a talk at a conference about inflammation (& food sensitivities) in relation to perinatal depression.
  • Had been a speaker at the first ever RD Entrepreneur Symposium (affiliate link), talking about the importance of finding your niche.
  • Grown my blog traffic to a consistent 10k pageviews per month.
  • Built up my part-time nutrition private practice to the point where I started getting referrals from past happy clients.
  • Started getting kick-ass testimonials because I was actually helping people! (Pssst – want to grab a free copy of my testimonial form? Grab it on RD2RD! *affiliate link, if you choose to become a vendor or purchase anything)

I had finally found my identity as a dietitian. 

I had finally built up a following. 

I had finally nailed down exactly how I could help people, which brought me 1:1 clients & speaking opportunities.

In sum, things were LOOKING UP!

It finally felt like the right time to jump back into the world of passive income products.

At this point, I was managing The Unconventional RD Facebook Community (it had around 330 members), and I felt very connected to my RD peer group.

I really wanted to create something to serve them but wasn't quite sure what product or service I should create…

One thing's for sure, I was NOT about to make the same mistakes I made in 2015.

There's no way I was going to sink a whole bunch of time into creating a product, only to have it flop right in front of my eyes. Aint nobody got time for that!

So, I decided to take a cue from Pat Flynn and actually VALIDATE my idea before building anything. 

What does it mean to validate?

To validate your product is to determine whether there is actually a viable market for it BEFORE you build it.

Typically, validation involves surveying your audience, figuring out what needs they have, and then brainstorming a possible solution.

THEN (and this is the most important step), you PRE-SELL your product before you've actually built it.

Yep, you ask for money for a product that doesn't even exist yet.

If people buy it, then GREAT! You can take that capital and put it towards building your product.

If no one buys it, that's not a good sign, and you should probably refine your idea a bit more.

If only one person buys it, and that's not enough validation for you, no harm no foul, just refund that person's money, explain what happened, & try again.

In June 2017, I pre-sold my 1st product.

I had been brainstorming ideas with my boyfriend, trying to come up with a good idea that would actually help people.

I randomly threw out something that had been floating around in my head for the past few months: “What about a website where I share all of the nutrition notes that I use in my own business?”

“Hey, I really like that idea!”, was my boyfriend's response.

And so The Functional Nutrition Library was born.

I thought a bit about how I would want to structure my library of notes, and built a landing page with a description of the service & a link to purchase a discounted annual membership.

{If you want to check out the landing page, which is not too different from the original, click here.}

On June 27th, I sent out an email to my Unconventional RD list of 70 people (yes, just 70!!), and waited with bated breath to see what would happen.

I was offering the annual membership for a super discounted price of $67, just for members of my email list. I was testing the water to see what would happen and see if there was any interest whatsoever.

I was very clear in my email that this was a PRE-SALE offer, and that the actual product wouldn't be available until the end of July. But by buying now, they could get an exclusive discount that wouldn't be available again after the product launch

And guess what?? 

ONE PERSON BOUGHT IT!! 

Now that I had a little boost of confidence, the next day I posted about it in my Unconventional RD Facebook group (which had just over 300 people in it at the time).

This time I was offering the annual membership for a slightly higher price of $95/year (since the super duper discount was only for people on my email list).

TWO MORE PEOPLE BOUGHT IT!

Say whaaaat??? I JUST MADE $257 IN TWO DAYS on a product that didn't even exist yet.

a) That was way more than I had ever made on my past passive income products.

b) These people really trusted & believed in me (probably from the free value I had been providing in the FB group), and were willing to pay for a product that I hadn't even built yet. They were operating on the assumption that it would be high quality based on their interactions with my content up to that point.

OH MY GOSH, I WAS SO HAPPY!!!

I think I sprinted around my living room, doing a happy dance, squealing with delight, and babbling on and on about the FNL to my boyfriend (who listened very patiently :P).

I honestly wasn't sure if even one person would buy, so the fact that 3 people bought in the 1st 24 hours just blew my mind.

I figured if even just 1 person signed up for an annual membership each month, that would be motivation enough to keep going.

Heck, $100/mo was more than I was making in ad revenue from my food blog that I was spending hours and hours on each week, so this seemed like a great investment!

So, I spent the next month building The Functional Nutrition Library in preparation to launch at the end of July 2017 🙂

During that time I continued to pre-sell the annual membership at a discounted rate (spoiler alert – even more people bought!!) and worked my butt off to get everything done in one month.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. That will be in next month's income report!

For now, let's focus on my income sources for June 2017.

June 2017 Total: $2,077.63

Woooo – a small jump from May 2017, but pretty consistent with the amount I had been earning in the previous months.

At this time, I was still doing some private tutoring to make ends meet, and my nutrition business was still part-time. BUT, I had grand plans to change that in the coming months.

Step 1 was launching The Functional Nutrition Library!

Alright, so let's break down those income sources.

June 2017 Income Sources:

1. Virtual Services ($1,689.17)

  • Virtual Private Practice ($1619.17)
  • Consulting ($70)

2. Recurring Revenue ($257)

  • Functional Nutrition Library ($257)

3. Products

  • Fullscript ($73.02)

4. Advertising ($48.86)

  • Google Adsense ($36.47)
  • Gourmet Ads ($11.92)
  • Sovrn ($0.47)

5. Affiliates ($9.58)

  • Amazon Associates ($9.58)

As per usual, the bulk of my nutrition-related income came from seeing clients 1:1 (virtually).

BUT, the Functional Nutrition Library earned me the 2nd most amount of money!!! Woop woop!

Let's break down each of these sources a little more.

Virtual Services

1. Virtual Private Practice ($1619.17)

This month I was working with 7 virtual LEAP clients, guiding them through elimination diets to conquer their food sensitivity-related symptoms (mostly IBS, but also some reflux and joint pain).

5 of those clients found me on Healthprofs.com, and 2 came from my personal sphere.

I find it overwhelming to work with more than 10 clients at a time, so 7 was really in my sweet spot. Enough of a client load to make rent money, but not so much that it took over my week & drained my emotional energy.

2. Consulting ($70)

I was also wrapping up my consulting project for a local school district, helping them revise their Local School Wellness Policy to meet the new standards.

Since the school year was coming to a close, I was almost done with that project & just had a few final edits to make!

PS I got this gig just by reaching out to past preceptors when I was looking to pick up some extra work!

Totally worth staying in touch with your RD friends and colleagues. You never know when they might have the perfect opportunity for you!

Recurring Revenue

1. Functional Nutrition Library ($257)

Alright, so I already explained this above, but can I just say again how exciting it was to earn this money???

This is also a NEW income category for me.

For the first time, I was offering a recurring payment option for a product.

During the pre-sale, it was only available as an annual membership (that recurs every year), but I had plans to make a monthly membership available once the product was finished.

My goal was to grow the membership site to 100 members in the 1st year, bringing in ~$1,000/mo in passive income. STAY TUNED to see if I made it!

Products

1. Fullscript ($73.02)

When my clients work with me, we often discover that they have nutrient deficiencies or other issues that warrant supplement recommendations.

When that's the case, I create electronic recommendations through my Fullscript account and my clients can place orders quickly & easily online.

I pass on some of my discount to my clients, so they save money & I make a few dollars as well (and yes, this is clearly explained both verbally and in my new client paperwork & there is no obligation at all to buy through Fullscript!).

Curious about recommending and selling supplements in your practice? Check out my mini e-course on the topic!

Advertising

1. Google Adsense ($36.47)

This month I earned nearly $40 in ad revenue, with 10,568 pageviews. Not bad. I'll take it!

I also had my Seared Pork Chops with Mustard Pan Sauce featured in Yummly's newsletter, which brought me over 2,000 pageviews (!!).

I got that feature by posting my recipe on a recipe request roundup in the Dietitians on the Blog Facebook group. If you're a dietitian recipe blogger, you need to join that group!! There are so many great sharing opportunities posted that can drive some mega traffic to your site.

2. Gourmet Ads ($11.92)

I know, I normally make roughly the same from Google Adsense & Gourmet Ads, but I actually took a brief hiatus from Gourmet Ads this month!

Back in April, I switched my website hosting for ericajulson.com away from GoDaddy and over to Wpopt to see if I could improve my website's loading speed.

My site was having horrendous loading times, and sometimes weird spammy redirects when people accessed it from mobile phones.

I read some threads on the Food Bloggers Central Facebook Group (another group you MUST join if you're a food blogger) about Gourmet Ads being at the root of BOTH of these issues… so I decided to temporarily turn the ads off & see if my site speed or traffic would improve.

Stay tuned for a discussion of those results!

3. Sovrn ($0.47)

Remind me again why I still have this ad in my sidebar??

Affiliates

1. Amazon Affiliates ($9.58)

This month 3 people bought digital thermometers after clicking on one of my affiliate links (probably due to my mention/link to a digital thermometer in that pork recipe post that did so well this month).

Someone also bought a book about writing bibliographies (cool?), some perfume, a spiralizer, a BBQ brush, and a nut milk bag, all of which I earned a small commission on, for a grand total of almost $10. BALLIN.

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What else happened in June?

So aside from pre-selling the Functional Nutrition Library memberships & validating that idea, I also did some other fun stuff in June!

  • Went camping with old friends in Big Bear for a 30th bday celebration 🙂
  • Tried to network with physicians in the LA area to increase my referrals… I met with a few in person, but nothing ever came of it. I'm sure I should have followed up 983792854 more times to nurture those relationships, but my heart just wasn't in it.

Okay, so that's only 2 cool things. Maybe next month will be more exciting 😛

No other major updates for the sites, starting the FNL was the main one!

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I totally recommend joining The Unconventional RD Community on Facebook, signing up to get my 25 Must Have Resources for Online Entrepreneurs (seriously, this list will save you hours of googling), & connecting with me on social media! (FacebookInstagramTwitter)

Best,
Erica