This is an entrepreneur diary-style post I wrote back in 2011 during a transition period with my business. While this content is very old now, you might still enjoy reading through my thinking process and all the amazing comments people left in reply — Yaro
The last few months have been interesting. I’m currently going through a transition phase. While I experience this process I think about my business goals, what kind of money I want to make, how I want to make it and what roles I specifically want to do. This takes time.
It’s an exciting process, one that very much appeals to my entrepreneurial side as I get to start new projects and think about what kind of business I want to be in charge of for the next few years. The downside of this process is the direction change has an impact on my income in the present.
Many of my current projects are winding down, and because I’m not launching new projects just yet, I rely on ongoing cash-flow from my more consistent income streams like blog advertising and affiliate income. This means I’m not making quite as much money and I’m also spending money to invest in new projects.
I’ve seen the signs of these changes coming for a while now so I’ve been preparing for it. Previously I spent money easily and didn’t worry if I was “wasting” money here and there because my focus was on generating revenue. Since my new projects won’t generate revenue for a while, I’ve reduced costs, an activity many business owners neglect, which is a real opportunity to increase profit.
A Changing Environment
There are many changes occurring right now that are impacting my business. Here are some of them –
- The US dollar has dropped in value significantly. I’m in Australia and pay for my life in Australian dollars. In the past I’ve earned as much as 50% extra when converting USD to AUD. If I made $1,000 USD, that would go into my bank account as around $1,500 AUD. Today as I type this that ratio has changed dramatically. Now for every $1 US I deposit I receive about $0.90 Australian – I lose 10% on the currency exchange.
- The amount of blogs and information products out there in the make money online and internet marketing niche has exploded. A lot of people are doing good work, and that means people have more choice with whom they choose to spend their educational dollars with, or even just whom they pay attention to. If you’re not constantly over-delivering, then you are losing your audience to other, better content producers.
- What works in my market has changed. For example, when I wrote the Blog Profits Blueprint, Blog Carnivals were a traffic tactic that still had some merit. Today people want to know about Twitter and Facebook. Fundamentals never change, but some tools and techniques grow old and new ones emerge, and people want to know what is the latest and greatest.
- You personally need to remain current in your knowledge. With all these changes going on to technology and marketing techniques and media formats, you need to at least stay aware of what is going on. If you truly want to remain at the top of your field, awareness alone is not enough. You have to study and implement these new options so you can speak with authority that only comes from actually doing something. You need to be your own case study.
These are just some of the changes. Not all of them affect every industry, but from my point of view based on the business model I have followed for the last few years, they are all very relevant.
Responding To Change
I’ve had to make some changes to respond to the current market conditions so I can ensure I have enough ongoing cash-flow to keep things running smoothly while I am in an investment and development phase. I’m also considering how my current projects will evolve to deal with these changes.
Here are some examples of the kind of changes I’ve been making to my business –
The Currency Issue
The weakening US dollar combined with a transition period in my business direction has seen my income fall compared to previous years. I’ve already begun to make some changes, switching some of my income streams, such as advertising prices on this blog, to Australian dollars. I am also changing the price to AUD for my products, but I have to be careful with that because the majority of my customers are from the US. If the currency exchange results in a significant increase in cost for Americans, sales will drop.
This problem is difficult to judge because I don’t know where the dollar is going. If the USD collapses completely then focusing on the Australian market may be my best option (selling to Australians in AUD is sustainable while I live here, although a significant reduction in market size because Australia has a much smaller population). If the USD stays around where it currently is, or doesn’t get much worse or improves, then charging in AUD or USD won’t have much of an impact. For now I’m adjusting on the fly based on what the exchange rate is.
I’ve cut the cost of some of the ongoing expenses I have in my business, for example –
- When I built my training programs I initially used Cachefly CDN to host my media, including videos, audios and PDFs, which provide a server specifically set up for delivering large files. When Amazon S3 came out (another service specifically for delivering large files based on Amazon’s cloud hosting technology) I switched over to that service. Amazon charges by how much bandwidth you use. Cachefly charges a flat monthly fee for a set amount of bandwidth, regardless of whether you use it.My hosting bill was significant because I had purchased so many Cachefly accounts. I continued to pay the fee for a long time because I couldn’t be bothered moving all the files to Amazon and updating the links. Finally at the start of this year I made the switch, I moved the files and my assistant updated the links. It took a couple of hours all up, and reduced my hosting bill by over $2,000 a year.
- Like most internet marketers I’ve registered a lot of domain names for ideas. Most of the domains I will never use, and even though they cost about $10 a year to maintain, if you have enough domains doing nothing, the bill can add up. I’ve saved almost $500 this year simply by not renewing the domains I’m not going to use.
- AWeber, my email autoresponder, is vital to the success of my business, however it’s long time overdue for me to “clean” my list. Cleaning simply means taking some steps to cull people from your list who are no longer reading your emails. I’ve got over 80,000 people on my lists collected over five years now, but I know a proportion of these email addresses are dead. Aweber charges by how many people subscribe and my bill has been over $500 a month for a while (even after culling deleted subscribers regularly).In the near future I’ll send notices to everyone on my email list letting people know that if they want to continue receiving my messages they have to confirm their intention. I’ll do this a few times to make sure everyone gets a chance to keep their account active, but if they don’t respond to any of the notifications they will be removed from my list.I expect I might lose as many as 50% of my subscribers doing this, but the end result will be a list of more responsive people and I won’t be spending money to keep dead email addresses on my list. This will save $2,000 to $3,000 a year.
Just making these changes has “found” about $5,000 I now get to keep instead of spend on things I don’t need. There are many other things I am cutting out too that I no longer need or never needed in the first place. Cutting costs is worth taking the time to do, so think about it for your own business.
Renovating My Products
I’ve got some great training materials in my courses. Most of it is relevant and valuable, although some sections need to be updated or removed, and a few new topics need to be added. I also need to restructure what content goes in what courses and consider where I want to expand out into new training resources.
In short, my entire sales final needs renovating, which is something I’d like to complete this year. I also have the 2-Hour Work Day report (finished) and program to release, and consider how it will fit into my business as well. There are branding decisions to make, as well as pricing decisions, which are critical when it comes to structuring a solid front and back end sequence of products.
What Floats My Boat
If you are anything like me, despite knowing there are some great opportunities in front of you doing what already works, sometimes you want a change. In my case although I love running an information publishing business I’m more excited about two things I am working on right now.
They are –
- A software service for bloggers that will be released in the second half of this year.
- Switching to the magazine model for this blog.
These two things are my main focus and heavily interlinked. These are the projects that excite me the most.
I’ve always wanted to get into software and I’ve had an idea for a long time that has finally started to come together with the right people helping me make it happen. I like this project because it’s not about me, my personal brand, and has significant potential for leverage if it works. I see this as a true Internet start-up that could go big, and I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how you respond once I release it. It delivers a service I want as a blogger, and I expect lots of other bloggers will want to use it too.
This blog for a long time has been a front end for my information publishing business, but that is changing. I’ve always loved the idea of having my own magazine, and running a blog that is focused on being a true “media” site, is pretty much the same thing.
There are so many great blogs out there today that are larger than the biggest newspapers and magazines in the print world based on how many people read them. They run a model that isn’t about selling ebooks or courses, instead they deliver a stream of content that people check in every day to consume. The model is about audience size and advertising revenue, and owning a “content channel”. The focus isn’t on one individual personality.
You may have noticed that both these focuses are similar in one aspect – they remove me from the equation. While I will be heavily involved with the development of these projects, and I will continue to write to this blog, the goal is to make everything less dependent on any one person. This means they are businesses that deliver value because of the system in place and/or a group of people are responsible for success, with no one individual responsible for any critical component. If someone leaves, the value doesn’t, so the business continues.
This is a deliberate choice because I want to create businesses that are sellable and income streams that don’t rely on me. I’ve done a pretty good job of this already in the information publishing world despite basing it on my own brand, but this can only take you so far. I want to move beyond me.
You can already see evidence of these changes with all the great columnists coming on board here at Entrepreneurs-Journey. Obviously for this to work we have to continue to deliver value and that is my primary goal. I realize some people come to this blog specifically for my work, which will still be here (this article is yet another example of me continuing to write about my own entrepreneurs-journey), but now you will get more.
What Do You Want?
I have no idea if any of these changes will pay off, but it’s exciting to be doing it. It’s a new phase for me and I enjoy the challenge and the potential.
I value your feedback throughout this process and I’d especially love to know what you would like to see more of on Entrepreneurs-Journey. You come here for a reason and face challenges of your own. The more awareness I have of what you are striving for, what problems you need to solve and what goals you have, the better job we can do providing solutions here at this blog.
I’d love to hear your feedback as comment replies.
As always, thanks for reading,