In April I busy with life, and didn’t get much business done. I had big plans but didn’t manage to do half of what I had hoped. The time I did spend working was mostly spent on Pipehouse Gin, which should be available to buy this month!

Here are the scores for April:

%

Hours Worked

%

Productivity

%

Profitability

%

Optimism

  • Work Rate: The raw number of hours I’ve spent working. I put in quite a lot of hours but mainly around meetings and networking to do with the gin.
  • Productivity: How much I’ve managed to achieve. Pretty similar to the hours I put.
  • Profitability: How much money my businesses have made. April wasn’t a great month. We hit problems in every business that caused a dip in earnings across the board.
  • Optimism: How happy and excited I feel about the future. I am a bit less optimistic than last month because we’ve hit a few stumbling blocks with the gin. Still pretty excited though!

Ok, let’s dive in.

Pipehouse Gin

There was a million and one things to do in April to get our gin ready for launch. One of which was to plan our launch strategy.

Very simply we are going to really target our local area and build up as much of a buzz as possible. Then we will encourage that local audience to purchase on Amazon which should build momentum and reviews and translate to national sales. What we spend marketing locally we hope to recoup from the national market.

One part of targetting our local Tunbridge Wells is to throw a launch party. It is on 7 June at Chapel Place Gin Bar.

There will be free samples and cheap cocktails.

If you fancy it please click attending on the Facebook launch event. Hopefully, all the gin lovers in Tunbridge Wells will hear about it and be there.

But it wasn’t all fun and games. We did hit a few problems.

One of which was that we discovered you need to pay VAT on alcohol duty. I had just assumed alcohol duty would be exempt because a tax on a tax is ridiculous! But apparently not. To put that into perspective, alcohol duty is a little over £8 a bottle. With VAT we’re now talking £10 per bottle just from the alcohol duty. Let alone all the other costs.

As we are not VAT registered yet the extra VAT is coming straight out of our profits. That and a couple of other surprises may mean we need to raise our price by a couple of quid. We’ll see… either way it has hurt our projections.

We also spent a lot of time meeting local business owners and telling them about the gin. I have been really amazed how supportive and excited everyone is. We’ve yet to be told by a bar that they won’t stock us and a lot of people have really gone out of their way to put us in touch with their distributors. Coming from an online business world where most people are out for themselves, it is really refreshing.

May will be another big month for the gin. If everything goes to plan we are going to be distilling our first 500 bottles this week. Exciting!! Hopefully you will start to see it on sale in a few places towards the end of the month.

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Table Tennis Brands

I run two table tennis brands. Palio ETT (aimed at beginner/developing players) and Eastfield (a more high-end/professional brand). April was a bit of a meh month for both.

Firstly Palio: We saw income dip a bit in April.

The drop was because Amazon messed up and mislabelled some of our products and sent out the wrong ones to our customers. We only realised their mistake once we started to get complaints and refund requests. And by then they had already shipped to a lot of customers. To make up for it we had to reimburse or send out replacements which cost a lot of money and damaged our reputation. 

Apart from that sales were pretty consistent. In the UK, we continued to dominate the bestseller rankings. Currently, we are number 1,2 and 3 on the bestseller list. Which is awesome. But it doesn’t leave us with much room to grow.

Instead, we have been focusing on other countries. Sales continue to grow in India since our launch their in February, but we are quite short of ideas on how best to push that market. Any ideas? 

We have also started to target Germany a bit more which is a large but untapped market. 

One thing we did was partner with someone to launch a German table tennis blog, ttschlaeger.de:

It is independent and sponsored by us. The plan is for them to build it into a good quality blog with regular content. Then we will pay to drive traffic to articles which we think will convert to sales for us. They will earn money from affiliate advertising and we will get more sales. Win win. 

We will drive sales by using the tactics outlined in this post: The Great Marketing Experiment – PPC Update 

That’s the idea anyway! We’ll see if it works.

And on Eastfield,

We did hardly anything in April. Sales ticked over, but we have stock issues with our professional bat that is taking time to sort out. And we don’t want to do a big marketing push until we have the stock to fulfil an increase in orders. Our new bat cases have been a bit of a hit, but we haven’t really pushed them because we want to market all our products at the same time.

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Automatic Betfair Trading

In March I started a project to try and create some automatic trading strategies that would work on Betfair. I am afraid I haven’t done much more in April! I think this will have to be sidetracked until after the gin has launched. I just don’t have the time for random side projects like algo trading on Betfair at the moment.

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Blog

Both blog traffic and income are down. The blog made £3,740 in April, down from £4,451 in March and well down from the £5,000 a month average it did in 2017.

SamPriestley.com is, unfortunately, suffering from neglect. I stopped marketing it at the end of last year and have released very little content in the last few months. 

Which is annoying! I have a lot of posts in my draft folder waiting to be finished and had planned to publish a few in April, but it didn’t happen. Life and the gin project got in the way.

One thing I did do was create a resources page which is linked to in my main menu. The plan is to list of every product that I am affiliated with and make money from.

That way it is 100% transparent what is going on and any potential bias is declared. Plus people don’t really understand affiliate marketing or how sites like mine make money so I wanted to lay it it all out. To quote from the top of that page:

This page is also how this site makes money. All my guides and articles are available for free. I don’t accept advertising and I don’t accept paid for submissions. Instead, I make money through refer-a-friend deals to some of the resources below. These refer-a-friend commisions come at no extra cost to you. In fact, I am often able to negotiate discounts for my readers. So, if you plan on using any of the resources below please click through my link.

It is still being built out, but so far every resource that earns me more than £50 a month is on there.

Hopefully, it will be both useful and add transparency.

In May I hope to get back to regular posting. Let’s aim for 4 articles (including this one)!

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Books Sales

Sales continued to tick over despite not being marketing in over a year. Lovely passive income.

There are two books.:

Expert In A Year: The Ultimate Table Tennis Challenge. About my attempt to get really good at table tennis is one year.

The Empopath: What is the opposite of a psychopath? A terrible novella I wrote and published in three days to see how self-publishing works.

Neither of them sell a lot. But they also take no work to maintain and have no stock to manage. Pretty cool really and something I want to look into again in the future.

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Investing

In April I actually took money out of my investments in order to lend money to Pipehouse Gin and pay some bills.

More specifically I withdrew £5,000 from the peer-to-peer lending company Ratesetter (<- my refer-a-friend link). I had it invested on the 5-year market so had to trade out my loans.

This was the first time I’ve had to withdraw early, so was interested to see how painful the experience would be. It came with a fee of 1.5% and took about a day to trade out and get the money into my bank account. In other words not painful at all.

It would have been free to withdraw if I’d put my money in the Rolling market. Which I seriously considered doing when I signed up as you never know when an opportunity will come up that requires some cash. But that was years ago now and the extra interest earned from the 5-year market has far outstripped the 1.5% withdrawal cost.

When I get round to putting money back in it will go back on the 5-Year market.

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Summary

I’m starting to see a pattern with these monthly reports. I write one and then get really excited and fired up and the first half of the month is really productive. But that excitement slowly dies off until I am doing hardly anything by the final week. Then I write another report and get fired up again. Cool ehh?

The Good:

  • Gin is coming along and is almost ready.
  • I may not have got much work done, but I had a lot of fun!

The Bad:

  • Made some mistakes with pricing the gin.
  • Had some mislabelled stock which cost a lot of money in returns and refunds.
  • Continued low blog traffic.

Thanks as always for reading. If you have any questions or opinions then chuck them in the comments below.

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