Friday, September 13, 2013

How much does learning to earn money online cost?

I'm going to stop reporting monthly, but I wanted to show you an overview first. 

Below you can see the costs of learning to make affiliate sites and the revenue from them.

It takes time to get money

At first I used money to courses that I needed to learn online business. After the courses were over, only thing that was left was the cost to run the business, $30 per month. And before my site had enough traffic to start earning, I had used over $500 to courses and keeping the site up.

It took until July 2013 to cover all the costs of learning. But as you can see, when I got to the point where the site started earning money, it paid back the costs in just a couple of months. And now the line is heading nicely upwards!

What many people who talk about doing online business don't tell you is that it takes time to see the results of your efforts. Even if you would start a perfect business, it will still take months for people to find it. You can't get high search engine rankings overnight.

So you shouldn't quit your job thinking that you are able to replace your income fast. It's much better to start learning things while you still have a stable job and wait until you see the money really coming in.

How to get started?

A good option is e.g. to learn SEO, keyword research and marketing from SiteBuildIt course and then write your own ebook that you sell through those same pages. After you have learned how to get traffic, market & sell your products and to charge people, you can start to think about building bigger, more expensive products. Things pile up, and if you get a good start, you can grow up your business.

What am I doing next? 

The affiliate sites that I've built are still chugging on. Thanks to SiteBuildIt's SEO approach, I haven't been affected by any algorithm changes or anything. 

My main focus now is to continue to build my own products - which already earn me more than these affiliate sites. I feel that I made a good choice in learning different aspects needed to run online business slowly, one-by-one. If you want to follow up how I am doing, I'm reporting my SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) business building efforts at Happy Bootstrapper

Thursday, August 1, 2013

July 2013 - Hustling, Hustling and Hustling

Passive Income: $124 
Costs: $30

I updated the stats from last month too. I guess I took a minor Penguin 2 hit, looking at my traffic.

I've been hustling with my non-passive online income

Last month went in a breeze while hustling to get my first product out. I did that and launched at 17th July. 

I did get a nice pile of pennies, more than I'm getting here. Unfortunately there's not enough organic traffic yet to make any passive income though. 

The income that I report here is pretty much passive. I didn't spend huge amount of work to create the SBI site and it's running on it's own. Of course it's not earning me much, but it frees my hands to do other things.

The 30x500 way of doing online business on the other hand needs continuous hustling for longer. I have my plate full of work and at the moment I see no end to that. 

I love having my own product 

All that hustling doesn't bother me. I love finally having my own product online, especially when it's one that people really need and want. 

Even if it does require more work, I think it has just as much potential and it makes me less dependent from Google or the affiliate program providers. I don't like the idea that a simple change in algorithm can ruin my business or someone can just stop offering a product and all my work is wasted. 

Launching was a great thrill too. It was one of those moments that I'll remember the rest of my life. 

Yup, things are going fine :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

May 2013 - Yet Another Record-Breaking Month

Passive Income: $233 
Costs: $30

Yay - This is f**cking awesome! You guessed right, this money is coming from SiteBuildIt (SBI). If I shop in the right places, this $200 is going to go a long way.   

Actually, I didn't rush to a thrift shop - I rushed to GoDaddy shop. I bought yet another domain and the cheapest hosting to go with it. And... I started another niche website. I used the SBI tools for the keyword research and I'm super happy with my baby site. It has a much greater potential than the old one.

Getting this sudden burst of income also motivated me to work on my SBI site again. I added a couple of articles and did some back-linking.

I'm monetizing with affiliate marketing. That means I forward my traffic to people who sell interesting things and when they buy something, I'll get a share. This month one of my affiliates made $700 on the traffic I sent, and another made $500. This motivates me to work on my own products so that I can be the one at the end of the virtual food-chain.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

WP Engine Review - Is It Worth It?

There are plenty of WP Engine reviews from people who have large WordPress sites with massive following, but what about people who are just starting their blogs? Is WP Engine still worth the splurge?

WP Engine is hosting my first ever WordPress blog,, and I thought to share my experiences.

I've been using Blogger for ages and I love it. It wasn't until SiteBuildIt that I understood why one shouldn't keep business blogs in Blogger, Tumblr, or any other freely hosted services. Free blogging services are great for hobby blogs and diaries, but when it's about your business, you'll want the full control over your site and possibilities for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

I first thought I'd just get $2.99 hosting from GoDaddy and press that "Install WordPress" button, but I had read some horror stories.

Horror stories of business blogging

Pat Flynn's sites were attacked in February and he lost $12,000 as a result.

In 30x500 community, sites have been down when people have had traffic spikes. If your blog is down during a traffic spike, it's a lost opportunity. So many people wanting to read what you have to say and none being able to see the page. And when people try to fix the problems, anything can happen. Just couple of days ago I heard how someone got all his images corrupted because he tried to improve his blog uptime and security.

On top of that, WordPress sites are hacked all the time. You'll wake up one morning and all your articles are gone.

That's how I found WP Engine too. I read a tweet by someone laughing at the hacker who was trying to break in to her business blog that was hosted by WP Engine. And after reading about their services, I was ready to give WP Engine a try.

What did WP Engine promise that got me interested?

Top security and uptime. They are experts in what they do and they have set up a multi-level protection system to make sure your data is safe and always available. They'll even promise to fix your blog, if someone really is able to do any damage to it! With them, your blog should stay up even when there's massive traffic.

Automatic backups. This was a biggie for me. After working so many years in IT industry I know how important backups are. There are services and plugins for doing this, like and Backup Buddy. But they cost money too and making different services work together is always extra work that keeps me from doing my business.

Service. Whenever you have a problem, just make a ticket. At first I thought "Gee, running a blog is so easy that I probably won't be needing this much but it's nice to have". But… I was so wrong.

My first experience

Setting up the blog was super easy. I bought the domain from GoDaddy and just followed the instructions on linking the domain to my new WordPress blog and I was online. What a happy moment!

Then my problems started. I broke up my WordPress installation within the first hour. The whole thing just stopped working and my blog didn't load. I was just hacking along to customize my theme so I was pretty dumbfounded. At first I thought I'd just revert back to the default theme and load my custom theme again, but to my horror the WordPress remembered the changes I had done.

WP Engine backups saved me. On the very first day, just after couple of hours after getting my blog up, I used a backup to restore my blog back to normal. I hated WordPress from all my heart.

Next, I needed support

One of my readers contacted me to say that my comments form is broken. I soon found out that I wouldn't be able to find the fault on my own without reverting to the default theme. As I had spent so much time customizing my theme I didn't want to do that. So, I contacted the support.

Pretty soon, I got a happy mail from the support telling me that the support person had reverted my blog to the default theme and it was obvious that the theme was to blame. All my customizations were gone!

WP Engine offers manual backup points, but I hadn't taken one before contacting support. They also take automatic backups once every day. Unfortunately, I had just published a post and it wasn't in the previous backup. Now, I click the "manual restore point" always before contacting support.

After that grim first acquaintance, the support has never failed me since. And I've contacted them more than my share. It seems I'm getting into problems with WordPress all the time. It's embarrassing - I've been dealing with software all my life!

When I started with WP Engine, I thought the security and uptime would be the things I'd need the most. But now I know it's the support. I would have wasted countless of hours trying to solve my WordPress newbie problems myself. Now I've been able to concentrate on my business.

Then, I got some traffic spikes

The traffic that I get using 30x500 methods is not similar than I get to my other sites. I've never had this type of traffic profile before. Here's a snapshot from Google Analytics:

Just look at that! Crazy. And… I'm happy to say that WP Engine had no problems with this spike, hundreds of people rushing to the site at the same time.

Are there any downsides?

WP Engine does not host your mailbox. So you'll need to set up the mail addresses and mail forwarding using some other service. I'm using free ZohoMail to forward mails to my Google mail.

The search engine indexing is off by default. It's just a single check box that you need to uncheck. But it's a kinda important checkpoint if you are doing business online. I only found out when I installed the SEO plugin and my site still doesn't show in Google like it should.

Well, do you recommend WP Engine?

Yes, I happily recommend WP Engine. I know there are cheaper options, but what kind of business you are running if you can't afford $30-$100 to the maintenance and security of your most important business assets!

In addition, it makes me happy to support small online companies instead of large giants. More power to us small guys!

WP Engine has a 60 days money-back-quarantee and they are currently running a campaign where you can get several free months if you pay the whole year's hosting at one go.

Isn't it time to stop reading review and get back to business? Visit WP Engine and get your blog posts out to the world!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

April 2013 - Showcase of Affiliate Business Realities

Passive Income: $65 
Costs: $30

April reminded me once again why I want to create my own products. The product I'm affiliating with decided to have a sale. They probably got more sales than normally, but I didn't.

I didn't know about the sale so I couldn't tell about it to my readers. Even if they had, I've not been actively updating the site.

PS. Sorry for neglecting you guys! I've been traveling in Italy for the last month.

Polignano a Mare, La Puglia, Italy
Polignano a Mare in La Puglia

We had a little round-trip in La Puglia, in southern Italy. In Italy it's pretty easy to buy prepaid mobile broadband, so I had a good internet connection. But... I concentrated on advancing the Happy Bootstrapper.

I don't have problems working "on the road". In fact, sometimes a little distance from your regular environment is just what you need. However, I can't work in the active travel days. Being in a new place, trying to find a place to stay and finding my way around uses so much battery!

We often stay in one place a little longer. Renting an apartment for a week is also a good way to bring down the costs. Our apartment in Lecce cost about 20€ per day ($25) and when you have a kitchen, you can cook at home.

I had really good time and we skipped the spring street dust in Finland. Now it's late spring here and the colors outside are lovely.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Happy Bootstrapper Is Here!

I'm proudly presenting my new blog, The Happy Bootstrapper.

Grow Your SaaS Customer Profitability will be my first 30x500-style product. I'm pretty excited about it, but there's a lot to do before it's out.

I'll be using Happy Bootstrapper to publish nice educational material that runs traffic to the Grow Your SaaS Customer Profitability pitch page. When the book is finally ready, I'll transform the pitch page into a full-fledged sales page.

How will this affect Passive Income Stream Creator?

From now on The Happy Bootstrapper will take priority to this blog. The Happy Bootstrapper is all about finances and profitability of a SaaS & online product business. Stuff that you need when your business is up and running and you have customers.

However, I'm not closing down Passive Income Stream Creator. I'll keep on writing every now and then, just as I have previously. I'll keep my reviews and how-to articles here. They are more suitable for beginner passive income learners and would not fit in the Happy Bootstrapper theme.

I'm probably going to manage the new project separately so you won't be seeing it in the status reports.   I'm not planning to stop being transparent, but there's nothing but costs at the moment. As I want this project to pay back both 30x500 and my new MacBook Air, the costs are running over $4,000 already. I'll publish my stats when there's something on the plus side too!

In the meantime, check out The Happy Bootstrapper!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

March 2013 - 99 Dollars

Passive Income In March 2013: $99 
Costs: $30

Nothing much to tell this month. SBI is starting to bring money home. I'm happy with that, taking into account I abandoned working on that site about 5 months ago.

Now, I've been preparing my new site, ready to take action based on what I learned in 30x500. It will probably be out in April, depending on my travels. And it definitely needs its own blog post.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Feb 2013 - I've Got Money And I've Got Business Ideas

Passive Income In February 2013: $45 
Costs: $30

Another great month is behind. My course investments are starting to pay off.

Both SBI! and 30x500 have been winner's choices for me. If you don't know these courses, there's more info in my Resources Page.


Most of the money in February came from my SBI! site. The one I've neglected since 30x500 started.

The SBI! does say that it takes about half a year to make any money with it. Even though I've completed only 8/10 of this course, it has still kept its promises.

My site has only 16 articles and I've done no link-building for a long time.

For some reason unknown to me, I jumped up in Google ranks 2 weeks ago. I now have 1500 unique visitors per month and several of my long tail keywords rank in the first page.

The best thing is that these new visitors don't bother mailing me before they buy. So I'm concentrating on 30x500 and just watching the money flow in.

Admittedly, this stream is small and it's potential is not very big. But I'm proud of every penny I make online and SBI! was a good learning experience that prepared me for 30x500.


Business ideas are flowing in, thanks to 30x500 process. During the last couple of weeks, I've had several good business ideas. The best thing about these ideas is that there is a high probability people want these products and they are willing to pay for them.

I have not yet selected the final business idea, but I've selected my audience and my business "theme":

I'm going to help bootstrapped micro-businesses with their financial and accounting problems.

I had "forgotten" that I have BBA and several years of experience in small biz accounting. Truth to be told, I didn't think those skills would be of much use - except for taking care of my own finances. Fortunately, 30x500 dig them up and pointed out that small businesses often need help in that area.

I have to refresh my old skills so I'll not be able to start by creating a SaaS as a hoped. But I'll be happy to start by creating info-products for this awesome audience. That will also show me what the demand for extra services really is.

I'm looking forward to what happens in next month. I hope you had a good biz month too!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Jan 2013 - My First Positive Month!

Passive Income In January 2013: $30.60
Costs: $30

Time to celebrate again! SBI is finally paying for itself.

To tell the truth, AdFly and Adsense helped a little, but most of the money came from SBI. If you don't know what SBI (SiteBuildIt) is, take a look at my Resources page.

I'm laughing at the 60 cents I earned, but at the same time I'm pretty proud of it.

The best thing about this SBI income is that it shows me a hint of the site's potential. I've got just a fraction of the possible traffic, but it is enough to see that my conversion rate is better than I hoped for.

The only monetization option I'm using is affiliate marketing. I still haven't studied the days 8-10 of SBI so I don't have, for example, mailing lists in my use yet. I see potential in this site if I can get back my motivation to work on it again. The site would definitely benefit from getting more back-links, a mailing list and a couple of more articles.

I also really enjoy the fact that I've just let it be for couple of months already and it's still doing just fine and getting more traffic every month.

To Move Or Not To Move

I have been pondering if I want to move my SBI! site to external hosting. If I would move my site away from SBI!, I could save on the hosting  costs. But I have finally decided against it.

Last month I learned about the real expenses for making business online. That made me realise I'm still a cheapskate, trying to save in a wrong place. I understand the concept of needing to spend money to earn money, it's just hard to actually implement it.

If I think only about the hosting, yes, I could pinch some pennies. But hosting (with unlimited traffic!) is not the only thing SBI offers. I get free mailing lists, pretty nice statistics, forum etc. The value I get is well over $30, even if the tools are a bit outdated and clumsy. Plus, I'd need to waste time to actually move the site.

So, I got reasonable and decided to keep my SBI! site where it is. I rather try to inspire myself to work  for it again to get couple of more sales in per month in order to make it continue to pay for itself.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why I Don't Fear That My Product Idea Gets Stolen

After seeing how much leverage the 30x500 online community has given me, I though it would be fun to meet great people also offline. So I visited the local startup accelerator called Protomo with hopes to meet like-minded people from other startups.

Protomo is not only for applying to accelerator programs. You can connect with other startups, share resources and get free (government supported) help and instructions. The personnel is super-friendly too.

But I soon found out I think differently than most of the people I met there. Thanks to Amy, my teacher in 30x500, I'm free of several common startup fears.

Grateful for that, I thought I'd share how I learned not to fear that someone steals my product idea.


Startups Fear That Someone Steals Their Idea

Being around 30x500 guys I'd forgotten how idea-driven the startup scene is.

You'll put on your thinker hat and you come up with a novel product idea. Then it's just a matter of building that never-before-seen product and becoming a multimillionaire.

But right after you come up with your product idea, new fears follow.

You'll need feedback and you'd really like to talk about your business and your idea. At the same time you fear to talk about it. If you tell your idea to people they might steal if from you.

You also fear that someone comes up with the same idea, and that puts extra pressure on you. You need to be stealthy and you need to be fast. You need to beat your competitors with a similar idea.

So you work on your own and avoid talking about your business and your ideas.

Sadly, that's how many people think product creation must be. Doing so they take extra risks and give away lots of their power. But there are other options, other product creation processes.

30x500 teaches a fear-free approach to product creation

I can honestly say 30x500 was the best thing I bought last year. It makes my little bootstrapper life so much easier. I can now concentrate on building my business without high risks, high stress and emotional roller coasters. Working towards my new business is still exciting, but there's no extra hassle.

It's like my brain is re-wired now. I have a completely new approach to product ideas.

Ideas are not a rare commodity

With 30x500 process I can now generate new product ideas when I need them. Seeing the vast ocean of ideas, I'm not helpless if someone copies my idea. There's more where it came from.

I love the serenity I get from knowing this. And yes, that sea is not bottomless, but there's room for little o' me and my humble product.

My product will be superior to copycat's product

In the "normal" product creation process, ideas come at the beginning. They come when you are alone and vulnerable, weak against competition. At start, your idea is all you have.

Now, that does not happen with 30x500. In the 30x500 process ideas are just one of the results. They appear later in the process. In addition to an idea, I'll have a ton of research behind me and a plan for carrying my idea into final product that customers will love. I'll have deep understanding about my customers - something a person just copying my idea does not have.

To really steal from me and benefit, one would need to get all my material, my conclusions, my product plans plus my vision. Not so easily done. Equipped to build the best possible product for eagerly awaiting customers - and with a head start, I just don't need to worry.

My product will have unique personality

Last month I have been data mining the same resources with 50 other people. We all wrote articles based on that data and they were all different. Some people did share the same topic, but the articles were all different. They had different viewpoints, appealing to different types of customers.

People don't buy ideas. They buy products that bring them value. And they prefer to buy products that fit their personality.

If you base your business on an idea, anyone can copy you. Just implement an idea and you have a product that is faceless, tasteless and odorless. But what makes a successful business is not the idea. The core of your business is what makes people come to you, the softly spoken promise that you'll give them exactly what they desire. You kill their pains and you make them feel special, like your product was tailored for them.

From my current perspective only identical products compete from the same customers. As long as product differentiates somehow, there is room for it. There is a sea of customers, all slightly different, reacting to different triggers.

My idea is not one-in-a-kind unique, so copycats are not interested

I do admire people coming up with unique ideas. But if I'd had such an idea now, I'd file a patent application and forget it for a while. Or maybe I'd try to sell the idea.

I'm not ashamed to admit I'm green in business. Starting up with an unique idea with no business experience is a huge risk. What if the idea is not yet commercialized because there is some showstopper implementing it? What if dozens of people have already tried and failed? What if there just isn't audience for the idea?

Picking up that kind of idea would take me back into situation where I'd have extra worries. I'd have no knowledge of my future customers, I would not know how to appeal to them. I'd lose my best advantage, my product would have no edge and anyone with more resources could take me out.

With 30x500 process I can infiltrate into saturated-looking markets and do fine there. I don't have to come with something only masterminds of the human kinds can invent.

Doing something extraordinary or brand new might be fun. But it's not something I'd pick as my first project now.

I choose co-operation over competition any day

The fun thing about my change of attitude is that I don't feel the urge to compete with people now. We have a great community in 30x500 and we can openly share our ideas, thoughts and fears because we don't have to wall up. I can trust that my fellow students will not steal my ideas or otherwise harm my business. It's a refreshing change and I don't want to go back to the secretive "I don't trust you enough to tell you my ideas"-mode.

In my visits to Protomo I saw a lot of people who had a great urge to network and discuss things, yet they were unable to do that. They were holding back. I had some great discussions, but they were not the type of discussions that would have brought value to my business or take me forward.

It really leverages learning when we can openly speak about everything. I'm so sorry to see how lots of people throw away that advantage.


As I'm writing this we are in the mid-point of 30x500. We have gone through the process once in test mode and we are gathering strength and momentum to run it all again - but now for real. It is exciting, but I have already seen what this powerful process is capable of. I can't wait to get started!

After seeing how much leverage the 30x500 online community has given me, I feel that some kind of community or mentor is essential in speeding up lone entrepreneurs at the start. I'm so glad to be part of 30x500 community and have Amy, Brennan and Alex as my teachers!

There are no affiliate links in this post. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Year 2012 In Review

December 2012 saw me earning $5.5 and paying $30. My best month this far was August, with $25 incoming.

My total passive income this year was $85 - and I worked pretty hard to get it. Compared to my goals, I already claimed failure in October.

Let's say it out loud - I don't have a business yet. In fact, I've spent $650 on this fine "hobby" of mine. And that's NOT counting $2.500 I spent on 30x500.

But Oh Boy, Have I Learned!

I must admit I had no idea what I was about to do when I started in May. I saw only a fraction of the opportunities possible and I was not effective in processing information. Still, I learned a ton.

  • I learned web style article writing
  • I learned about different ways to make money online
  • I learned how to do keyword analysis
  • I learned different ways to get traffic
  • I learned the process of publishing eBooks for Kindle
  • I learned a new programming language
  • I learned how to install new habits (that get stuff done)
  • I learned how to mine data in the internet 
  • I learned how to create mailing lists
  • I learned how reversing pains and creating value is what sells
  • I learned all business starts from exchange - from the audience 

I Have Gained A Lot Too

Although I did not proceed with the speed I hoped for, I still created and published things. I'm grateful for everything I've achieved this year.

  • I created my first web app (even though it never saw daylight)
  • I've met wonderful people through this blog
  • I belong to a community of like-minded people (in 30x500)
  • I have been given a donation
  • I have my SBI site with over 700 visitors per month
  • I still keep getting YouTube subscribers for the programming video I made
  • I have this blog, with 1.300 visits per month
  • I have grown my favorite hobby blog to 15.000 visitors per month
  • I feel great for creating stuff people like

Best Of All, I'm Free!

Actually, my husband resigned last month so we are both free now. And we are enjoying it!

I haven't regretted resigning for a second. Fortunately for us, we are minimalists. No car, no TV and small expenses. That means we don't struggle financially for a while yet.

This year, we saw the Geiranger Fjord in Norway and Piemonte hills in the Italy, riding though the scenery with our motorcycle. I've again found out I love slow travel. We've met wonderful people on our travels. 

I was pretty amazed to realize how my mindset has started to change with the freedom. The truth is, nothing prevented me from pursuing my goals before. This year, I have not done anything I could not have done while I was working. But I did not. I had a slave mindset - a worker mindset. It will still take me some time to fully grow to the entrepreneur mindset, but I can see myself getting there.

I wish you all happy new year 2013! 
Let's make this year unforgettable!