Alright, another great month in the books for September!

This month, a large portion of my income came from affiliate sales and collaborations.

In this blog post, I'll share more details about these endeavors and hopefully inspire you to utilize some of the same marketing strategies in your business!

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. This means that I will earn a percentage of any sales made through those links, at no extra cost to you. 


SEPTEMBER 2018 INCOME SOURCES

1. Affiliate Income ($3,867.41)

2. Recurring Revenue ($3,398.35)

3. Virtual Services ($700)

    • Freelance Writing ($700)

4. Products ($86.28)

5. Advertising ($21.68)

    • Google Adsense ($21.68)

Total Income: $8,073.72


September 2018 EXPENSES

  1. Payments to Freelance Writers: $350
  2. Payments to Research Assistants: $175
  3. FNL Affiliate Payouts: $81.72
  4. ConvertKit: $78
  5. Business Banking Fees: $37
  6. Hiscox Professional Liability Insurance: $33.33
  7. Website Hosting with Cloudways: $21.15
  8. Business Email with G-Suite$20
  9. Website Hosting with WPopt: $19.99
  10. Domain renewal: $18.34
  11. Tailwind: $14.99
  12. KeySearch: $13.60
  13. Vimeo: $12
  14. Adobe Creative Cloud: $9.99
  15. Dropbox: $9.99
  16. SendGrid for Transactional Emails: $9.95

Total Expenses: $905.05

Net income: $7,168.67


INCOME OVERVIEW

Okay, I'm excited to dive into my income streams this month because they're really cool!

My top 2 sources were affiliate income and a collaboration that led to a boost in Functional Nutrition Library sign-ups.

Let's start with affiliate income.

It's no secret that I LOVE being an affiliate for my favorite products and services.

{Not sure what an affiliate is? Learn ALL about it in this blog post: 7 Passive Income Sources for Dietitians.}

Long story short, being an affiliate means that you promote someone else's product to your audience and earn a commission whenever someone buys.

You can be an affiliate for many many products and services, but you probably won't make a significant amount of money unless you approach that affiliate relationship with some strategy.

We talk ALL about this in my “Make Money Blogging” course, so definitely check it out if you want a step-by-step guide to earning a substantial amount of affiliate income! I personally earn ~$20k/year in affiliate income, so it's definitely a potentially lucrative income stream.

One of the most effective ways to promote a product that you're an affiliate for is to treat it just like your OWN product.

Yep, that means creating a promotional plan to formally offer the product to your audience (not just a random link posted here and there on social media).

And yes, I have learned this first hand!

I have been a speaker at The RD Entrepreneur Symposium for the last two and a half years – in fact, I spoke at the very first one back in the spring of 2017!

As a speaker, I had the opportunity to promote the online event to my audience and earn a commission on any sales.

The very first time I spoke, I didn't know much about affiliate marketing and had almost no audience to share the news with.

(I had an email list of about 1,000 people who read my food blog, but those weren't exactly the same people who would sign up for an online symposium about dietetic entrepreneurship.) 

For that first symposium, I sent out one email to my food blog email list and posted about it in two dietitian Facebook groups and just hoped that maybe one or two people would sign up.

Oh yeah, I also was too scared to market and only shared this info on the LAST day to sign up! {face palm}

To my surprise, over a dozen people signed up and I earned $834.75 in affiliate income in one day. That was by far the most money I'd ever earned in one day at that point, and my mind was blown!

Of course, then my brain started turning and wondering if more people might have signed up if I had put even one iota of energy into actually marketing it…

So, from then on, every time I spoke at the symposium, I tried to tweak and improve my marketing. 

Symposium #2:

In the fall of 2017, when I spoke at the symposium for the 2nd time, I more than doubled my sales, earning $1,866.63 in affiliate income.

I still didn't do a great job marketing, but this time I posted about the event in The Unconventional RD facebook group (had ~1,000 people in it at the time) and sent out one email out to my very small list (I had 120 subscribers on the TURD email list at that point).

I also offered a bonus incentive for the 1st time.

This meant that anyone who signed up for the symposium through my affiliate link would get an exclusive bonus – 6 months free membership to my new membership site, The Functional Nutrition Library.

My slightly bigger audience combined with the bonus offer really helped boost my sales!

But I could still improve A LOT on my email marketing.

Symposium #3:

In the spring of 2018, I was ready to take my marketing to the next level.

If I'm being quite frank, I was behind on paying my taxes and needed to come up with $7k to pay them by the April deadline.

I didn't think that would happen by promoting the symposium alone, but I would have been happy to get halfway there with affiliate sales.

At this time, my Facebook group had grown to 2,800 people and my email list had about 860 people on it (although I hadn't been emailing my list AT ALL – the last email they got from me was in November when I did a Black Friday sale! Whoops!)

But, even though my list was totally cold, I thought hey, what do I have to lose? Might as well give this email marketing thing a try…

I vowed to actually make an email marketing plan, rather than just sending out 1 last-minute email right before the cart closed.

Soooo, this time, I sent out the following emails:

  • Open Cart Email – An email announcing that people could sign up for the symposium & revealing my bonuses (I offered a 3 month free trial of The Functional Nutrition Library and access to a 90-minute “Ask Me Anything” webinar). I also did a much better job explaining what the symposium was, the type of information they would learn, and the fact that they could earn 22 CEUs. This email had a 52% open rate and 6% click rate. Of the people who clicked, nearly 25% bought and I earned over $1,000 on the first day!!!

 

  • Discount Period Ending Email – Anyone interested in the symposium had the opportunity to save $100 off the enrollment price if they signed up within the 1st four days. Of course, I thought my audience would like to know this, so I sent out another email, 3 days after the cart opened, letting them know there were just 24 hours left to nab the discount. I also re-sent this email to anyone who didn't open the first one 12 hours later. Combined, these emails had a 57% open rate and 7% click rate. 

Are you ready to have your mind blown???

That “discount ending” email resulted in over 40 sales in 24 hours. 

Yes. You read that right. At this point, I had now earned over $6,000 in affiliate sales from this promotion.

HOLY MOLY. HOT DAMN. NO FREAKING WAY.

And it wasn't even over yet!

  • Cart Closing Email – One week later I sent a final email reminding people that enrollment for the symposium was officially closing. That email had a 39% open rate and 5% click rate. Eight more people enrolled at the full purchase price.

All in all, over 70 people registered for the symposium through my affiliate link and I earned $7,345.

Almost exactly the amount I needed to pay my taxes. UNREAL!!!

Oh, and did I mention, the entire time I was making these sales, I was freaking on a camping trip in Joshua Tree with my family?? That's the power and flexibility of running an online business!!

And yes, in addition to sending out emails, I also posted in my Facebook group. But guess what? 65% of my sales came from my email list, NOT social media. 

That means if I had ONLY posted on social media and not taken the time to email my list, only 1/3 of the number of people would have registered.

My conversion rate for my email list was over 5%, while the conversion rate for my facebook group was only 1%.

THAT IS THE POWER OF EMAIL MARKETING.

Point blank period.

Yes, all of the people on my email list were also in my Facebook group, but the fact is, NOT everyone who follows you on social media sees your posts.

In contrast, 50 PERCENT of the people on my list opened my email and read about the symposium. That's an amazing reach that just cannot be matched by social media.

PS – If you want to learn more about email marketing, STAY TUNED.

I will be coming out with a free webinar on this topic in a few weeks & will be opening enrollment for my “Email Marketing Magic” online course at the same time 🙂

That course will take you step-by-step through getting set up with an email service provider, growing your list, communicating with your audience, and using email to automate your sales/sign-ups.

It will even include behind-the-scenes examples of my most successful sales emails and tips on how you can do the same in your business.

SYMPOSIUM #4:

Alright, now we are back to the current time-period of this income report.

In September 2018, I was speaking again at the Fall symposium and was ready to promote it to my audience.

Since my last set of emails did so well, I decided to follow pretty much the same format…

My Facebook group and email list had grown since the last symposium (FB group had nearly 3,800 people in it and my email list had about 1,500) and I had been doing much better with consistently communicating with my list (sending weekly newsletters with helpful information).

Since the Spring was the first time I had actually put in a conscious effort to promote the symposium, I wasn't sure what would happen with this next event…

Did all the people who were interested already sign up in April?

Would people be tired of hearing about this event and not sign up?

Would even MORE people sign up since my audience had grown?

I really didn't know, but we were about to find out!

In September, I sent out the same framework of emails as I did in the Spring.

Email #1 – Cart Open. For this round of the symposium, I switched my bonuses up a bit. I still offered a 3 month free trial to the FNL, but also added 1-month free access to my business bootcamp courses that would be launching in January. I did not offer any direct access to myself (last time I did a webinar). This email had a 28% open rate and 2% click rate. That was half my usual rate! And it only resulted in 3 sales. 

Okay, hold up, that's a HUGE decrease from April, where the same email had a 50% open rate and generated 12 sales on the first day. What gives??

Well, I have some theories….

#1 – Promotional Fatigue: Just ONE WEEK earlier, I had been promoting my own product, The Unconventional RD Business Bootcamp! This was the first time I had created a product for my audience (instead of promoting other people's products) and did a quick 72-hour flash sale. I ended up enrolling 18 people in my program and earning just over $5k in sales, so I think there was some amount of promotional fatigue for the people on my list. I had JUST offered them something for sale a week prior, so they may have been less excited to hear about signing up for the symposium.

#2 – The Holiday Curse: It turns out that I sent my 1st promotional email smack-dab in the middle of a holiday weekend here in the US. Many many families go out of town or have social events on Labor Day weekend, so I think that played a role in the low open rates and sign-ups.

#3 – Lack of Repeat Buyers: Since A LOT of my followers enrolled in the Spring symposium, I think the reality was that they were not ready to attend another symposium in the same year.

#4 – Change in Bonuses: I'm not sure whether taking away the AMA webinar bonus impacted people's purchase decision, but it might have. There were also a lot of other speakers with overlapping audiences who were offering their own bonuses, so that may have played a role as well.

Since the open rate was so low for my initial cart-open email, I decided to re-send it to anyone who didn't open (which was like 75% of my list lol). That 2nd email had an additional 20% open rate and 1% click rate, so by the end, I had ~ a 40% open rate and 3% click rate.

This time, the discount promotional period ended 6 days after the cart opened, so I sent out another email reminder about the last chance discount. By the end of the first week, 31 people had enrolled in the symposium

I sent out two more emails in the final 24 hours of the sale and a handful more people enrolled, leading to a grand total of $3,865.61 in affiliate earnings. 

I was honestly happy with that, especially since I had JUST advertised my own product a week prior.

And yet again, email marketing proved to be the real winner.

70% of my sales came directly from the emails I sent vs 30% from posts in my Facebook group.

(I know this because the affiliate program tracks where someone clicked from before they purchased)

So please please please – if you have an online business, DON'T ignore the power of email!


Okay, let's switch topics & talk about collaborations.

Although the RD Entrepreneur Symposium promotion went well, I also had nearly the same amount of earnings from The Functional Nutrition Library!!

In September it earned $3,398.35! More than double the usual amount 🙂

Why the sudden increase?

Collaboration, baby!

This month the amazing Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy (IFNA) added me to their list of partners who provide exclusive discounts to IFNA members.

They sent out a few email blasts about it to the IFNA listserv and posted on social media.

With this collaboration (which is still ongoing today), all IFNA members get 50% off monthly or annual memberships to The Functional Nutrition Library. How amazing is that??

And it's totally a win-win. I always offer a 50% commission to my affiliates anyways, but rather than take that 50% themselves, the IFNA founders decided to pass it on to their students.

The discount is a massive incentive for anyone who might have been on the fence about joining the FNL and the extra promotion exposes my brand to a whole new crop of people who may not have heard of it before.

{PS – If you are an IFNA member and want the coupon code, simply shoot me an email – erica@functionalnutritionlibrary.com to save 50%!}

Because of this cross-promotion, we received 14 new signups in September! Woohoo!


Other Income Streams:

In addition to affiliate income and my membership site earning, I also:

  • Wrote one paid article for Healthline.com
  • Earned $$ from supplement sales from past clients (via Fullscript)
  • Sold one handout on RD2RD
  • Made about $20 in ad revenue from Google AdSense
  • Earned $1.80 in affiliate revenue from Amazon (lol!)

September 2018 Expenses Overview

This month my expenses were 11% of my revenue. That's really not bad!

Low overhead is honestly one the best perks of running an online business 🙂

My biggest expense this month was paying Amy to create content for the Functional Nutrition Answers blog.

Honestly, this was a relatively new expense and also sort of a gamble, since it's money spent on a new advertising channel (blogging) that likely won't make any money for at least 6 months!

However, now that I'm creating my own products for The Unconventional RD community, I just don't have the time to do ALL. THE. THINGS.

Running one business/brand is hard enough, let alone two!!

So, in August, I finally bit the bullet and hired out 🙂 Thankfully, Amy is an amazingly skilled writer and I can trust her to create really high-quality content for my site.

We officially launched the FNA blog in early September with a post on The Low Histamine Diet.

The site got 812 sessions in its first month and 1,657 pageviews. Not bad for launching with just ONE post!

Here's where that traffic came from:

September 2018 FNA Traffic Report

Most of the visits came from social media (Facebook and Instagram), since that's where I was heavily promoting it, followed by direct visits via clicks from an email I sent out about it.

A smaller amount came from referral traffic (people clicking on the blog tab from the FNL website) and we got just 3 visitors from Google 🙂 (VERY normal since new websites are pretty much invisible to search engines right after they launch).

But all in all, I was super stoked to have a NEW blogging outlet to focus my attention on and put all my SEO skills to the test!

So that's it for September 2018! I hope you enjoyed this income report and learned something that you can implement in your own business as well <3

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