December’s Billfold LLC Update

It’s time for another Billfold LLC update, and let’s start with a number: $200. That’s how much Frugal and the Beast has earned in royalties since it published on November 28. We’ll need to earn $318.28 to pay back the cost of producing the book (that cost does not include my labor, but also: wow, this was an inexpensive book to put together), which could happen by the end of the year but probably won’t — and this isn’t me saying “hey y’all should buy this,” because many of you already have, it’s just me being realistic about what you can actually earn from a published book.

As a point of comparison, both volumes of The Biographies of Ordinary People had earned a combined $2,337.19 in royalties the last time I added it all up for, and the two volumes published in May 2017 and May 2018, respectively.

As another point of comparison, The Billfold should bring in around $400 this month just on affiliate payments from Billfold Recommends stuff. (Starting the Billfold Recommends column was an excellent idea, and thank you for both enthusiastically accepting it and taking the recommendations.)

I am pretty sure I didn’t handle the Frugal and the Beast launch as well as I could have; I didn’t pay for Kirkus and other industry reviews because I wanted to keep our costs low, and I didn’t have a lengthy preorder period where I sent ARCs to all the other financial bloggers because I wanted to make sure the book was done in time for the holidays. (I did reach out to a bunch of media and personal finance contacts, but I didn’t get a lot of response — and I think I need to do some more thinking as to why.) There were some aspects of the process that I wasn’t expecting, like when Amazon decided to make the paperback available for sale before I had the chance to proof it, but all in all it was a rushed launch and I think that hurt its initial sales.

Of course, the good thing about having a book is that people can buy it at any time, and one of my goals for 2019 is to reconfigure the website so the book and Billfold Recommends and our Patreon and all that stuff are more visible — probably on the sidebar, because that’s generally where those things go.

My other big Billfold goals for 2019 are to increase the amount of money we pay writers (which is going to happen, it’s already in the budget), increase the amount of money we pay me (which might happen, it’s in the budget but it’ll be the first line to go down if other expenses come up, #smallbusinesslife), and publish an anthology of classic and new Billfold writing, sourced from contributors. Probably in combination with some kind of Billfold LIVE tour.

Also, I should probably go to at least one “how to do media and money” convention. Maybe FinCon.

Based on our current budget and The Billfold’s YNAB account, pitches accepted starting Jan 1, 2019 will pay out at $50 per piece, I’ll earn $1,700 per month, and we are fully funded through mid-April even if we don’t earn another penny. That’s where I like to be with a budget: lots of financial runway ahead of us. To be fair, none of that budget is currently allocated to stuff like “do a Billfold tour” or “produce a book that costs more than $300 to put together.” Which means I should probably ask whether you all want that, or whether you’d be happy with our daily round of posts and comments.

We’ll be running some more sponsored content in January, and if you have any suggestions re: companies/products that might be interested in becoming Billfold sponsors, please let me know. (I’m always on the hunt for new sponsors.) We’re also doing really well with ad revenue; ads and Patreon are the two biggest chunks of our financial pie, so thank you for both supporting the Patreon and being cool with the ads, LOL.

In fact, if you’d like to imagine a nice tasty Billfold pie, cut out two large slices for ads and Patreon, then three smaller-but-roughly-equivalent slices for sponsored content, one-off PayPal donations, and Billfold Recommends affiliate revenue, and then take the little sliver that’s left and call it Frugal and the Beast.

Then look at all the pie slices and note that four of them are directly funded through reader support. In other words, we couldn’t do this without you.

Thank you. I know I often end these by saying thank you, but at this point there’s not much else to say. ❤︎

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