Regular readers will know, I’m a lucky guy. I hardly ever had a proper “job” and I stopped working for other people over a decade ago.
I have run a business since 2005. I started in London, UK, providing web and graphic design services for clients but then branched out. Now, in 2019, I live in Thailand selling e-books, video courses, paperbacks, t-shirts, and other products online.
There have been ups and downs though. I’m always trying to evaluate what went wrong and what went right in order to build a better business.
Loosening Udemy’s “grip” on my business
Back in 2015 my business was bringing in around six figures. This was largely because of selling online courses on Udemy. Good? Well, yes and no.
Money comes and goes. Unfortunately, you learn the best lessons about how to make money when you’re losing it.
The worst thing about my years of plenty was that a majority of the money was coming from one source – Udemy. And, even worse, Udemy was on a desperate “race to the bottom” with its prices. You could only sell courses for $10.
If your business is making most of its money from one source, you’ve always got to worry. If something happens to the cash cow, you’re in trouble.
I’m now making more money from my own Teachable school than I am on Udemy and all the other online learning platforms combined.
If you’re interested, you can read: how to sell courses on your site using Teachable which is a great platform for selling courses.
My new course: Selling Notebooks and Low Content Books On Amazon made over five figures on my Teachable site in its launch period alone.
How did I do this?
- I put quality courses on my site for $50-200
- My courses on Udemy are shorter and lower quality without access to private Facebook groups and the like
- I’ve opted out of the $10 discounts on Udemy
- I’ve increased my email subscribers by offering courses in bundles with various partners
So, people get a better deal on my site than on Udemy.
New business: selling notebooks and low content books on Amazon
But I am ten times more excited about my new business of selling notebooks and low content books on Amazon.
I’m really pleased that this new business, only started in May, brought in $3700+ in December alone.
This, of course, was due the pre-Christmas sales hike. But I’m also particularly pleased to see how sales continued post-Christmas as well. This was because I sell a lot of planners and diaries which tend to do well at the turn of the year.
This is with 800 or so titles live. My goal is to have 4000-5000 titles live and bring in $4k-$5k a month by October 2019. The Christmas craziness tends to start mid-November. I’m looking forward to it already!
If you’re interested in starting your own notebook and low content book business check out my new course: Selling Notebooks and Low Content Books On Amazon: GET OVER 55% OFF WITH THIS LINK!
Old business: Merch By Amazon and Print On Demand
I seem to have a love/hate relationship with Merch! The year was frustrating as I continued to upload t-shirt designs but monthly income spluttered between the $250 and $600 mark.
However, with Merch as well, there was a Q4 increase that was encouraging.
On the other hand, Merch By Amazon has huge disadvantages versus Amazon KDP. For example, you can lose your Merch By Amazon account so easily by inadvertently using a trademarked or copyrighted word or expression. Whereas account issues with Amazon KDP are extremely rare.
Get over 50% OFF my new course on Merch By Amazon, an Introduction to Selling Print On Demand Products. The course covers everything about Merch, applying, niche selection, design, and more!
New course ideas
I want to create another online course in the next month but I can’t decide from the following what the course should be about:
- How to design book covers
- How to use Affinity Photo (cheap Adobe Photoshop equivalent)
- How to use Affinity Designer (cheap Adobe Illustrator equivalent)
Please let me know in the comments what you’d like me to do a course on. Maybe you’d like something more specific like “Designing with Affinity Designer for Merch and KDP”, for example.
What do you think?
Taking a break from social media
I take my happiness very seriously! I try to practice meditation, take supplements, exercise regularly, and generally indulge in activities to promote happiness in myself and others.
I tend to naturally avoid negative situations and negative people. I don’t watch TV, I don’t read or listen to news, and I try not to have conversations or thoughts that involve judgments or negativity.
This seemed to be alright before social media took hold! Now I find my newsfeeds awash with hatred, anger, and ego. It’s nobody’s fault really. It’s just that computers have worked out that humans thrive on conflict.
Another thing I didn’t like about social media is that I found myself posting photos of me having a good time in exotic surroundings. Here’s a pic of me living the dream! 🙂
OK, so I thought that increasing my presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc., would help my business. But what was I really playing at?
Am I saying, “look at me I’m happy, you can be happy too if you take my courses”?
So, I stopped doing updates like that a year ago. I hardly ever post on Facebook or Twitter now. I do the following to minimize my exposure to the evil newsfeed:
- Installed Chrome extension News Feed Eradicator for Facebook
- Deleted the Facebook app from my phone
- Installed Chrome extension Block the youtube feed
- Don’t use YouTube on my phone
- Hardly look at Twitter or Instagram anymore
I’ve got to say: the above things have made me a happier and more productive person. But maybe my business will suffer as a result.
But I still get the benefits of social media. I’m very active on Facebook groups that are to do with the businesses I’m interested in, for example.
What I’ve learned about writing this blog post
I could have written a whole blog post about any of the following!:
- Pricing strategies on Udemy
- Pricing strategies on my Teachable site
- Email marketing to my Teachable site
- Q4 on Merch and KDP
- How I’m moving forward with my notebook and low content book business
- The evils of the newsfeed and how to avoid them
Maybe I need to blog more. What else would you like me to write about?
It’s not about making money! My business makes me happiest when I honestly try to help other people and don’t focus on the money.
I look forward to a happy and productive 2019 with you. Help me to help you and let me know in the comments what you are struggling with right now.