If you want to make money online, don’t start a blog.
Blogs take time to grow and scale. Some say you need two to three years before you start seeing anything significant. If you want Internet money, you’re better off starting an online business selling stuff. Because if you’re like most bloggers, you won’t be making any serious money at all.
By my estimates, I’ve spent at least 2,600 hours of my life on mr-stingy, and I’ve made just RM 3,212 (USD 730) in Revenue. That’s RM 1.24/hour — about a quarter of the minimum wage in Malaysia. Way to go Aaron.
Of course, I didn’t start mr-stingy to make money. It was to spread ideas, and create art that I was proud of. I’ve not focused on monetizing and my main website is still ad-free.
So I’m not upset or ashamed that I’m such a poor online businessman.
I’m just an online businessman who likes to share. And I thought that some of you who have small businesses, are entrepreneurs, or even bloggers would find this post useful. Or at the very least, entertaining enough to laugh about.
Anyway, here’s mr-stingy LLP’s income report for 2015 and 2016.
WTF is mr-stingy PLT/LLP?
mr-stingy PLT (Perkongsian Liabiliti Terhad in Bahasa) is the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) through which I run all my business activities. If you’re not sure why I set up an LLP to run my business, this post has the details.
Officially, mr-stingy LLP is set up to run mr-stingy.com and manage all related business activities.
Of course, I’m still the guy behind the scenes — doing everything on my own. But a crucial difference is that mr-stingy LLP is a separate legal entity from me. So all the data I’m reporting here is official company data, not personal income. I love the idea of separating your business entity from yourself — it just draws the line and makes things easier.
Highlights from 2015-2016
- Period: 1st July 2015 – 31st December 2016
Moving forward, I’ll report performance on a yearly basis (2017, 2018, …). But since this is the first financial report, it covers half of 2015 too.
- Traffic Growth: 8,731 pageviews (July 2015) to 29,328 pageviews (Dec 2016).
- All-time High: 59,176 pageviews (Oct 2016).
I’m happy with how we’ve grown over the past 18 months. mr-stingy.com is now read about 30,000 times a month by >16,000 readers (measured via WordPress).
Moving forward, I’ll continue focusing on the intersections between time, money and relationships. And also more on career and life-lessons content — which have always been popular.
Thank you guys for all your support — and please keep sharing my stuff if you like it?
Total Revenue: RM 3,212
Breakdown of Revenue:
- Advertising: RM 567
- Affiliate marketing: RM 345
- Referral fees: RM 300
- Paid writing: RM 2,000
1. Advertising income is a new revenue stream for me. While mr-stingy.com itself displays no advertisements, when you guys read my articles via Facebook Instant Articles — Facebook shows advertisements there. I expect this revenue stream to grow in 2017.
For those of you who are curious: How much do typical websites make via advertising? A very rough estimate is 1 USD for every 1,000 pageviews. So if you’re pulling 10,000 pageviews a month — that should equate to about 10 USD of advertising per month.
2. Affiliate marketing revenue came through two sources: credit card referrals via iMoney and insurance referrals via (the defunct) Insurance-saver.my. I expect this to reduce in 2017 as I don’t have affiliate agreements with them anymore. But I’m always open to other affiliate marketing opportunities. Maybank and Fundsupermart — you listening?
What affiliate marketing niches are lucrative for Internet hustlers? Consider the unholy trinity of romance, money and health. As James Altucher says, three things people will always pay for are “to Get Paid, Get Laid and Lose Weight.”
3. Referral fees came via insurance and LLP consulting referrals. When I connect you guys to my friends for services — sometimes they give me a small commission. 🙂
4. Paid writing revenue was via a couple of writing jobs I did for another website. It’s actually the most straightforward way to get paid by writing. I don’t really do this (unless of course the price is attractive enough), so this will likely drop to 0.
Want to sell your writing services online but don’t know where to start? This article might be helpful.
Overall, revenue for 2015-2016 was pathetic compared to the amount of effort and time I put in. If I was doing it for the money, I’d have made a lot more cooking french fries at McDonald’s.
But since we’re already knee-deep in looking at how poor a business model mr-stingy.com is, let’s take it further: let’s examine the costs next.
Total Expenses: RM 8,098.10
Breakdown of Expenses:
- Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): RM 0
- PO Box Rental: RM 53
- Mobile Phone: RM 849.11
- Mobile Phone Repairs: RM 118.18
- Web Hosting: RM 107.68
- Car Insurance: RM 2,180.06
- Car Depreciation Expense: RM 3,600.11
- Car Road Tax: RM 283.00
- Office Supplies: RM 26.50
- Incorporation Expenses: RM 578
- Advertising & Promotion: RM 302.46
1. COGS is 0 because I don’t incur any direct costs for any of my revenue. Feel free to challenge my DIY accounting, but I must warn you that my girlfriend is a Chartered Certified Accountant. 😉
2. PO Box rental is RM 53 per year at my local post office. It’s the cheapest PO Box I can find here in Malaysia.
Why on earth do I rent a PO Box? Strictly speaking, the CAN-SPAM Act 2003 requires every marketing email to include a valid postal address. And since I’m scared of bullets showing up in my home mailbox, you’ll see my PO Box address instead at the bottom of my marketing emails.
3. Web Hosting expense is artificially low here. I’m actually paying about 10 USD per month for Bluehost Pro Shared Hosting. But the majority of the cost was paid upfront before I started mr-stingy LLP — so it’s not accounted for here.
As traffic continues to grow and since I want mr-stingy.com to load faster, I’m actually considering moving to affordable Cloud Hosting (either via Bluehost or Cloudways). I’ll let you geeks know if I do this.
If you’re interested in starting your own professional .com website/blog online, consider signing up with Bluehost using my affiliate link — from only USD 3.95 per month.
4. Car-related expenses were by far the biggest expense for my business. Remember when I wrote this almost-famous article about buying a second-hand car? Technically speaking, it’s mr-stingy LLP (the company) who bought the car. Serves you right mr-stingy — now you get to bear the full costs of owning that car too.
5. Incorporation Expenses were the costs incurred to set up the company. Pro tip: an LLP costs about RM 500+ to set up and RM 200 yearly to maintain. In contrast, a Sdn. Bhd. Corporation costs about RM 1,500 to set up and RM 2,500 yearly to maintain.
6. Finally, I spent a little on Advertising and Promotion. What on? I paid Facebook to do a sponsored post once. But mainly it’s from buying books to giveaway to you lucky people.
Net Loss: RM 4,876.21
Ouch! Don’t you just hate losing money?
But since we’re already chest-deep in analyzing the ugly numbers, why not take it another step further?
Since I’ve been accused of being an exhibitionist before, here are my detailed financial statements for 2015-2016. These are the same documents I submitted to SSM when doing my LLP Annual Declaration. I’m not sure what you’re gonna do with them, but I thought it’d be fun to share anyway:
What software do I use to manage my small business accounting? (I might be old, but No — I don’t record transactions using pen and paper.) I actually use an amazingly-smart piece of software called Wave Accounting. It’s directly connected to my Malaysian bank account so any bank transactions automatically get recorded. (For you Malaysians reading this — the big banks like Maybank, CIMB, RHB and HongLeong can all be hooked up to Wave.)
To get the two financial statements above, all I had to do was make sure all transactions were properly recorded — then click a button to instantly generate the reports.
Did I forget to mention that Wave is free?
God bless the Internet.
What’s Next for mr-stingy?
18 months in and deep in the red. Luckily I don’t brand myself with one of those cheesy “Online Marketing Expert” or “Passive Income Guru” titles. Poof! There goes all the credibility.
Of course, sometimes making a loss in a business isn’t the worst thing ever. From a tax perspective — businesses can carry forward losses indefinitely to offset future profits. Hint: that’s one of the benefits of running everything via a company.
“But seriously Aaron, what’s next? And don’t you want to at least make some money online?”
Well yes. And the easiest revenue stream for me would be to write for other people. But writing is painful for me when I don’t care about the topic. This inevitably happens when you get paid to do things — sometimes you have to do things you don’t like.
I often get requests to do sponsored blog posts too — but I get the feeling that you guys wouldn’t enjoy me promoting specific products and services for money. And that you’d rather read about ideas, stories and life lessons. So I’ve always said No.
Besides, I’m currently too busy writing about things I’m passionate about and planning my first book.
“What!? Did you say you’re writing a book!?”
Yes. And if you’d like to support me — please buy it so I can actually make some money online and won’t starve to death.
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p.s. Let me know if you have any questions about DIY accounting, blogging or even McDonald’s. Would be happy to answer.
p.p.s. Please, please, please buy my book when it comes out. I’ll keep you updated here on the progress! 🙂
Pic from Pexels.