April 2016 Passive Income Report: Dropshipping, Ecommerce, Affiliate, Udemy, Kindle

Whew! It's been another crazy month. I started the month on the island, went to two weddings in Taiwan and now I'm back in Chiang Mai and missing the crap out of being here. I've experimented by tripling my ad budget for one of my dropshipping stores this month to see if it produces a positive return on investment or if I just potentially wasted $3,000 in advertising. As always, I write these income reports live so I have no idea what the final numbers are going to be until I log in and screenshot them for these monthly posts.

On a side note, today is Sunday which is normally my no laptop Sundays. I could have just done this tomorrow instead as being late by a day isn't that big of a deal, but I've committed to writing these on the 1st of every month so here I am, sitting at PunSpace, the coworking space here in Chiang Mai, with not a single other person at my shared table. Let's see how this month went and what we can learn from it! You can also watch me explain this month in full detail on youtube here.

Passive Income: Books

Compared to the rest of my income, my books are actually one of my lowest streams of income but the reason why I continue to put them on the top of my list is because they are my first sources of income, as well as what gives me the most pride. Through word of mouth, more and more people read both of my books, leave reviews and keep the momentum growing. 

Seeing new 5 star reviews from the US, Canada and Australia pop up every month makes me realize how large of an impact these books make world wide. If you left one in Brazil, India or somewhere else I didn't check, please let me know so I can thank you!

Here are some of the reviews from 12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap as well as my 2nd follow up book, Life Changes Quick: how to get set goals, get rich, fit, and create the life you've always dreamed of.

Reviews from April:

Paperback Sales: $14.46 USD
PDF Sales: $37.95 USD
Amazon Sales: $150.44 +/-
PDF Hosting: -$5

Total Profit from Book Sales: $197.85

Free things to do in Thailand while working on your business!

Passive Income: Udemy Courses

This was the first full month where Udemy switched their pricing from $300 courses with 90% discounts to flat rate courses priced between $20-$50 without steep discounts. Generally it takes a few months for people to get used to new pricing and start purchasing again as normal, so this first month would be a fluke either up or down.

It looks like with the new pricing, I had the worst month ever selling courses on Udemy with far less sales than normal. I'm curious how other instructors on Udemy did this month. 

Udemy's Pricing Changes:

However, if you noticed I have zero promotional activity which could explain the reason why I had far less sales in total. But at the same time, I think it has to do with Udemy's sales tracking system, where if I link to one of my courses directly it counts as Udemy Organic. 

If I want to count the sale as my own and get full credit, I would have to create a coupon code like "bestcourse" and have people sign up through that, instead of just going directly to the course. This forces instructors to always discount their courses on Udemy which is a bit stupid as they were trying to get away from discounts in the first place. 

We'll see how it goes next month, before I have enough data to determine if the new pricing change was a good move or if this is going to cause instructors to start publishing their courses on their own or different platforms instead.


Just found out from Lindsey at Udemy that we can create full priced coupon codes which give the instructor credit and proper tracking without discounting the course.


I spoke to David Vu who currently has the #1 business course on Udemy to see if his numbers went up or down and good news is that his is still consistent making around $7,000 a month so the change didn't hurt him.

But after a call with Udemy they informed him that they expect it'll take around 90 days for students to get used to the new pricing model and give accurate numbers. 

Total Profit from Udemy Courses: $184.58

Semi-Passive Income: Drop Shipping

The reason why my dropshipping income is semi-passive as opposed to completely passive is because even though 100% of the sales happen completely passively, mostly while i'm sleeping because of the time zone difference, I still spend a few hours a week working on the store, handling customer service issues if they come up, and tweaking my ads to keep the store profitable.

This month I decided to do something wild and 3x the ad budget for some high priced items that don't often sell but have great profit margins. Look at my ads, I noticed that because I had set a $1,000 a month limit, I might have been missing out on some bigger sales. For people who are just starting out, I'd recommend being a lot more conservative and spending $300 a month or so like I did in my start here article. But now that I have extra money to risk, I decided to give it a shot. Let's see if it paid off!

Dropshipping Store #1: 

Total Sales: $37,626.32 (highest month ever!)
Products/Shipping/Etc: +/-
Advertising Fees: $3,801.01 (also my highest ever!)
Shopify Fee: $79.99
Phone Support: $150

Total Profit: $2,413.62

*Updated 5/9, my accountant finishing calculating the invoices and it turns out that the experiment of raising my advertising budget for the high priced items just broke even this month with a small extra profit. You'll notice the monthly total profit this month is similar to months with less total sales for this reason. 

Lessons Learned: Even though I don't make it public on the blog, inside Anton's private member's area, I am super transparent about the details of running my stores as I really try to help fellow member's learn from my mistakes.

Dropshipping Store #2: 

Total Sales: $21,585.00

Costs of Goods: $10,256.00
Shipping Costs: $1,620.00
Credit Card Fees: $456.37
Advertising Fees: $1,340.85
Shopify Fee: $59.25 (with Shopify Discount)
Phone Support: $150

Total Profit: $2,591.29

*My 50/50 split with Larissa: $1,295.64 + $270 rewards

Total Profit from Dropshipping: 

Want to learn how to start your own dropshipping store? 

Follow the same course that I took when I started, sign up for Anton's Course and get my Jump Start Success course for free when signing up using my affiliate link and giving me credit for referring you!

Passive Income from Youtube Ads

One of my favorite sources of passive income is earning money from Youtube ad revenue. The reasons why I love it is:

1. I need a place to host my videos anyway, Youtube hosts and streams for free.
2. The income is 100% passive once uploaded. 
3. The income is evergreen as people are finding and watching my videos months or years later.

One video that brings in the most income is my ChromeBook vs. Macbook Review that Larissa and I randomly made one day while sitting in front of PunSpace. By the way, if you don't do any video or podcast editing, buying a Chromebook is by far the best value you can get for a laptop. 

Total Passive Income from Youtube: $67.78

Passive Income: Affiliate Commissions

Want to know a secret? The $11 a month or so I made each and every month from people watching my Chromebook vs. Macbook isn't the only money I made passively every month from making that video. I've also sell at least one or two chromebooks through my Amazon affiliate link that I include in the video.  The way it works is, people find and watch my review, they can tell is completely genuine, and packed with real world experience and value, then end up clicking my link in either the blog post or youtube description box and if they buy it, I get a 6.5% commission. 

The Chromebook is one of the 49 items that I sold through Amazon this month alone. If you want another example, the review I made of the Pacsafe Travel Backpack also sold three packs this month. Think this sounds too easy to be true? Well there is a lot more that I teach inside my affiliate training course that is now reopen and accepting new members. If you go through my Youtube channel or blog, you'll also find a lot of products that I don't recommend and never make any money from as I tell people specifically not to buy it. 

See more examples inside my course Earnest Affiliate

Another example of one of my affiliate income sources

If you want to know how to make money as an earnest affiliate yourself, sign up for my affiliate training course and get access to all five of my confidential case studies where I reveal my exact income sources, which products I promote and how much money I earn from each source.

You also get all of the tools to learn how to monetize your own blog, podcast, snapchat, youtube channel, instagram or whatever audience you have or are trying to build.

Total Profit from Affiliate Income: $11,483.68

Semi Passive Income: Earnest Affiliate Course

The reason why this one is technically semi passive, even though I already finished creating all of the training videos is because I still actively help new members in the forums as I want to see them succeed. Eventually I'd hope there will be enough senior members inside the course, so they can help out new members which is already starting to happen as there are a few superstars inside the course who are already profitable and really excited to be a part of this business model.

This past month I also switched from Clickbank to JVZoo and finally settling with SamCart as my payment processor for the course. Both CB and JVZoo seemed like they were built 10 years ago and never updated and have a ton of problems. Now that my payment processor is 100% working and new members are getting access to the course automatically and seamlessly, I'm reopening it up for everyone to join and eventually doing a relaunch with a new promo video and some new content.

Total Course Profit: $986.00

Grand Total: Passive Income

Looking back at my income growth over the past 3 years, I'm glad to say that it's been pretty steadily growing even though traditionally being an entrepreneur means you take a lot of risks and your income isn't as steady. If I were making $100,000 a year at a salary job, I would know take home $8,333 a month or around $5,833 after tax. By being an entrepreneur that number can go up or down but luckily it's been steadily rising or at least hovering above the $15k a month mark.

What I'm most excited about however is the fact that my income now comes from over ten streams if you include each drop shipping store as a separate stream which they are and each affiliate platform as a separate source. I just gave a free talk to the digital nomad coffee club here in Chiang Mai last week and the main take away from it was, you have to start with one. Then simply automate it, repeat it in a different niche and you now have two.

If you still don't know where to get started, here's a post I wrote when I started out that still holds true even today.

Expenses for April 2016

Having $17k in profit doesn't mean anything if I had $10k in living expenses and spent $7k on my credit card going out drinking Dom Perignon. Here are my actual living expenses along with my travel expenses for the month which were quite a bit higher than normal but will be lower for May as I don't plan on leaving Chiang Mai this next month.

Looking back at April, most of the activities I did in Taiwan and Thailand were free and just needed transportation and costs of food, which we ate a lot of. Luckily food in both countries are super delicious for being ultra cheap so it didn't affect the budget.

Here are some of the photos of the things I did over this past month including going to my cousin Jacob's wedding in Taiwan and hanging out with them back in Thailand on the first part of their honeymoon. Don't worry, I let them go to the islands by themselves to have a proper one alone afterwards!

Hanging out with Jacob and Queena for their wedding!

Living Expenses: 

Rent in Chiang Mai: $342 a month
Utilities: $15.62 a month
Internet/Phone: $16.85 a month

Food: $500 +/-
Other/Misc: $270 +/-

Coworking Space: $100 (Punspace Chiang Mai)

Indoor Rock Climbing: $8 (1 class)
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: $25 (3 classes)

Travel Expenses:

Koh Lanta to Chiang Mai: $100
Thailand to Taiwan (return): $215
Travel within Taiwan: $100

Hotels in Taiwan: $800
Motorcycle Rental: $45

Total Living/Travel Expenses: $2,437 +/-

Renting 500CC Motorcycles for the weekend trip

Other Expenses:

Donation to Muay Thai Isaan (monthly recurring for children)
Donation to Warm Heart Worldwide (monthly towards Biochar Project)
Monthly Check to Parents ($1,000)
Wedding Gift to Jacob/Queena: $1,000 (towards their honeymoon)

Grand Total Expenses: $5,000 +/-
Total Bootstrapped in April: $12,579.09 +/-

Full Video Explainer: 

Every single month, I get a tiny bit of anxiety not knowing what the heck I earned for the month if anything. I think the lesson to take away that I wish I would take to heart so I could chill out and relax is that with enough varied streams of passive income, even though there will always be fluctuations in general your income will steadily increase as long as you are putting in the work.

It's now Monday morning and this month's report took me two days to write so I hope everyone actually reads these and gets some type of value from them.

If you did, want to know more, have questions or just want to say what's up, please leave a comment below.

Warm Regards,

Johnny FD

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Post a Comment

  1. Thanks for spending the time to make the report Johnny..

    It gives me hope seeing someone who has escaped the rat race and is living the way they want to..

    I've been stuck in this job for almost 5 years, leaving at 7 am and getting home at 7pm. I couldn't see a way out until I randomly found you and Anton on YouTube.

    Now ive just got my computer fixed and updated, tomorrow I'll be joining Antons course ( with your link) and I've set my self a "90 days to freedom" challenge .. From May 4th- August 1st..
    I know you had a sale in 60 days on your first store and 30 days with your lastest store but with my lack of computer skills, full work week and a 9 month old son I'm sure it will still be a huge challenge to make a sale within 90 days...

    Thanks again for the motivation. I'll send you a message on the DSL members page once I join...

    1. Nice Jay! Good stuff man! That's hardcore motivation to dedicate to working on your store even after a 12 hour workday! I think 90 days is a very good time line and you may surprise yourself by getting it done sooner.

      Best of luck and see you inside the member forums!

  2. This is an awesome update Johnny! I'm blown away by how much money you're making with affiliate marketing. I'll definitely be signing up for your course soon. Thanks for the encouragement in your Facebook group!

    1. Hey Trevor, really happy to be able to share and help out in the group whenever possible. For anyone who hasn't joined it's:

  3. Nice job man! Appreciate your commitment to keeping your expenses low despite your upward trend

    1. Hey Kevin, i'm super fortunate to have been broke for so many years so it's really easy to keep my expenses low even when i start making more. =) Daymond John from "The Power of Broke" would approve =)

  4. When you say motivated and inspired do you mean that there isn't any people around that island to keep you on the straight and narrow?

    1. Yup. Most people there are working on web development or freelancing and not building the same type of entrepreneurial businesses that I'm currently focused on. That and it's the island mentality where it's hot, and you just want to relax.

  5. Hi Johnny,

    What are the 2 dropshipping stores that you have?

    1. Here you go:

  6. Thanks for the info Johnny! Always enjoy reading your stuff and watching your channel. I

    'm moving to Chiang Mai from Northern Ireland this September, looking forward to it. I was wondering what you're main advertising platform or source of traffic is for the dropshipping? I'm dropshipping using adwords, I tried seo but I'm not that knowledgeable and after a while it didn't seem like I could automate it. So I'm trying to learn as much as possible about adwords through udemy etc. Only started it, working well, I just need to scale it up.


    1. Hey Kieran, it really depends on what type of dropship model you are following. For some people Pintrest, Instagram or Facebook marketing would be best for them. For others it would be google or bing ads, others Taboola.

      Since I'm following Anton's method, I only use what he suggests inside his course.

  7. What inspired me was that at one time you were making about $100 per month and now you are doing $15,000 and you have also been very transparent with your progression which allows us to visualize ourselves going through that same journey.
    I am currently doing about $1500 per month and most of that is from Freelance writing and about $250 is passive income from eBook sales. My progression is currently quite slow because I am focusing on eBooks which is the only model I know. I am deeply interested in dropshipping and affiliate marketing as it seems to be where the “big game” is, the place to make serious money online. I am learning and your blog is a constant daily inspiration to get me going.

    1. Hey first off, congrats on making it to $1,500 a month already! That's more than enough to start bootstrapping in a place like Chiang Mai where your money will go a lot further.

      I'm really glad to be able to share my journey, and keep inspire you to keep up the work! Hope to see you inside one of the courses soon! Let me know how it goes!

  8. Thanks for all the great posts, Johnny!

    I believe I have just decided on an exciting and promising niche; and I'm just about ready to kick things into gear. I would actually very very much love to glean from Anton's course, but I don't have anywhere near $1000 of disposable income right now to purchase it (which is why I am working so hard to bootstrap this first drop shipping business myself, learning and reading and listening and researching as much as possible).

    If things go well, I will very likely buy into the course eventually, probably a long while from now. But, for the time being, is there any additional hard-fast advice you might have, which I haven't already read in all your posts and emails (I'm pretty sure I've read almost every single one)?


    1. Hey Wesley, inspired by your comment I wrote a post just for you buddy!

  9. Hey Johnny! I think your results are amazing, I would love to be able to make my niches and ecommerce for the English market instead of the Spanish.

    I found your blog through the Facebook group of digital nomad community in Chiangmai, as I am here to spend a month in my first digital nomad trial :)

    Hope we can have a beer or so, here in cm.


    1. Hey hope you're enjoying Chiang Mai! Make sure you come out to the weekly Nomad Coffee Meetups so you can meet everyone!

  10. I found your site very randomly and have decided to alter the model of the business I was about to start. I have 5 months left on my contract and by the time it's up I hope to make $1500 per month using YouTube, Amazon affiliate links and Udemy. I have a great niche. I'll let you know how it goes (I have 3 kids to feed so I'm pretty motivated!)

    1. Hey awesome David! Glad you stumbled on my blog! Keep it up and best of luck getting to your $1,500 goal!

  11. I want to be a digital nomad just like you man. Your blog, podcast etc. proves that this lifestyle is AWESOME!

    I have a question. When you read your income report of your dropshipping store,you said 37K revenue and you said you spend 3,8K this month. You have to have 34K net profit. How is your profit is 2,4K?

    I don't understand.

    1. Hey really glad to share the journey Izzet! For dropshipping you have to factor in the costs of goods sold, shipping, and other business expenses.

      For my stores my average profit margin off of retail price is 30% but since we always match the lowest priced competitor's pricing and give free shipping, our profit margins end up being lower, especially with heavy items that cost a lot to ship. That's why the net profit is usually $2,000-$4,000 a month even though we sell $20-$35k in total sales.

      If you sign up for Anton's course, he goes through everything in detail as there is a lot to learn: is the course I took to learn all of this.

  12. What I find interesting is how your affiliate marketing earnings BLOW AWAY what you're making via drop-shipping!

    It's kind of funny, because dropshipping has always been the main focus of your site.

    But I suppose the margins are a lot better with affiliate stuff..

    1. Yup for sure, my revenue for my dropshipping stores were over $50,000 this month but profits are a lot slimmer as we're shipping physical products that cost money to buy and ship. With affiliate commissions it's pretty much 100% profit which is why I'm so excited about focusing my time on my Earnest Affiliate course.

      Although, if it wasn't for my dropshipping stores, I never would have gotten this far, so it's still the best thing I did when starting out and would go the same route again if I had to start all over again.


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