This is an interview with Winnie MD at Million Dollar Winnie.
Hey, Winnie. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m a regular girl who just so happens to create passive income streams online. I run a personal finance blog MillionDollarWinnie, where I sometimes sprinkle in travel advice I pick up from my adventures.
I currently have 6 streams of income online, 4 of which are passive.
What inspired you to pursue lifestyle design and passive income?
Just before entering University I was diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder. I started reading up on it, and the statistics were…demotivating to say the least.
Study after study painted a bleak future of not being able to hold down a job, keep a marriage or even graduate from school.
And so I used my time in University as a way to prove the studies wrong. I graduated with first honours in BSc International Business (on-time might I add) and did 1 internship, as well as get 3 graduate job offers.
I did it. I proved to myself I could have a successful life like everyone else. This gave me the emotional freedom to start thinking more critically.
Just because I can be like everyone else, doesn’t mean I should.
Which was when I stumbled on the concept of “lifestyle design” coined by Tim Ferris, which led me to passive income soon after.
What was your first online side hustle and how did it go?
My very first side hustle online was actually selling things on Ebay while I was in school living in the UK. Though I don’t tell people that because I stopped once I was able to afford a Playstation 2 and a few games.
Though, I suppose my first proper side hustle after graduation was an Etsy printable store. I was selling digital designs on Etsy and it was actually my first experience of passive income.
I got shut down overnight though. I still don’t fully know the exact reason why since Etsy never replied back to me, but it was a great learning experience.
When did you start Million Dollar Winnie and why?
I started Million Dollar Winnie back in 2017. By then, I was already making $2000 most months with Kindle publishing and my vision of lifestyle design was materialising.
The blog was just a way for me to talk about what I know, the mistakes, the successes along my life-by-design journey.
Since then, it has evolved to be more of a knowledge source to help others on their pursuit for financial freedom and life by design needs.
How did you bring traffic to your blog in the first years?
I honestly don’t know! I didn’t know much about blogging but I’ve always been a bit of a computer geek so creating a website was easy.
I wrote about things I wanted to write about and a few ended up doing ok on Google.
Then I took blogging more seriously after my first year and used Pinterest to drive traffic. Pinterest still forms the bulk of my traffic till this day.
How are you currently monetizing the blog?
My blog acts as a traffic driver to my digital products. I used to have ebooks and small crash courses on specific topics for people, but currently I only run ebook Academy.
I also get a decent amount every month from affiliate commissions and some sponsors. On an occasion people also reach out for business coaching.
What are your passive income streams and which one is your favorite?
I currently have 4 passive income streams. Amazon royalties from ebooks and paperbacks, ACX royalties from audiobooks, affiliate commissions from products I use and vouch for, and digital product sales.
My favourite is definitely from digital product sales because the proximity between myself and the user is the closest compared to everything else.
I remember getting my first email from a student telling me about their first $300 from ebooks and it made me feel giddy for the rest of the day.
It feels good to know you’re helping.
Read also: What is Passive Income and How to Get Started with It
How did you earn your first $1,000 online?
I made my first $1000 online with Etsy sales. I was selling digital files.
It took me a few months to reach a $600 in profit each month. I was making around $1500 per month before I got shut down.
Read also: How I Made $3,440 Blogging Last Month
When and why did you start diversifying your online income?
I started diversifying my online income by 2017/2018. The blog wasn’t getting steady traffic and ebook Academy didn’t exist then, but people somehow still found me online to ask for Kindle publishing help.
At first it was just answering emails, but then some asked for mentoring and coaching, and then I decided to record video lessons for people.
Things just naturally evolved and I decided to “go with the flow”.
When did you decide to start publishing books on Amazon and what steps did you take first?
After my Etsy store got shut down I was lost as to what to do next, and I stumbled upon Kindle publishing by accident from reading an article back in late 2016.
I started reading everything I could find on the topic, and was trying to learn for free with information online. It worked at first but I was making mistakes that prevented steady, stable growth.
After about 6 months, I got a course and it helped a lot in understanding basic Amazon SEO and online marketing.
The course closed down soon after I got it, which I think was why some people found me back in late 2017.
Is Kindle publishing a profitable side hustle and can anyone do it?
It’s definitely profitable. I still make around $2000+ a month from it with only minimal maintenance work. My results aren’t unusual or outstanding. My results are actually very average.
I have many students that make more than me and make it their full time job. Just last week a student sent an email saying he made $4000 from his portfolio of books. Here’s the screenshot.
I love getting these sort of emails from people!
I’m a big advocate of publishing content on Amazon. I think Kindle publishing is perfect for people who have no experience with business or online marketing.
Anyone can do it as long as they are willing to learn.
A lot of people get the wrong impression once they read “self-publishing” or “Kindle publishing” thinking you have you be a great writer. The truth is Kindle publishing doesn’t focus on the writing aspect because that’s commonly outsourced to ghostwriters.
Kindle publishing is about creating a publishing business by learning how to identify market demands currently underserved…and well, you serving them by creating a product that meets their demand.
How long did it take you to learn the skills and make your first money selling eBooks?
I made money in my first month and I was profitable by my 3rd month. This was before I even got a course and was purely doing everything out of instinct and basic research.
To this date, Kindle publishing has given me the highest and fastest ROi.
Read also: How to Turn Your Blog into a Book
What goes into publishing an eBook on Amazon that makes money forever?
Essentially there’s 2 parts. The first is the product creation and the second is the marketing.
Production isn’t hard and most people don’t need much help with that.
The part that people struggle with is the marketing part. The act of selecting a niche, researching the market, identifying an opportunity and then creating a product that fits the gap.
That’s pre-production marketing work. Post-production marketing focuses on ranking and leveraging Amazon’s organic traffic with it’s in-house search engine.
This includes Amazon SEO strategies and Amazon’s internal advertising platform.
There’s a lot of factors that make earning royalties on Amazon reoccur every month. However the main factors include the size of Amazon and it being the biggest English ebook distributor in the world, as well as the stability in product search rankings.
Once a product is ranked with Amazon SEO, you can effectively maintain its rank with an internal ad campaign.
Amazon ads are extremely cost efficient because you’re only showing your ad towards people ready to shop, and you only pay when people click.
I won’t go into too much detail since it’ll turn into an essay, but that’s the gist of things.
Read also: How to Make Passive Income from Amazon
How important are keywords in your Amazon publishing strategy?
Very important. Each step of publishing on Amazon is important towards your income, but it all starts with a keyword.
A keyword represents the quality of your pre-production marketing efforts.
Keyword research done well represents the market demand, Amazon’s algorithm and the actual product. All three facets need to be inline with each other to be able to rank well with SEO. And they’re all connected by the keyword.
Why did you create eBook Academy and who is it for?
It’s a bit of a long-winded story, but there’s a few reasons why I created ebook Academy.
I created video lessons in 2018 but I did it as an afterthought when people were emailing me for Kindle publishing help. I threw it altogether within a week with very long over-the-shoulder video lessons.
Basically a knowledge dump of everything I knew.
When more and more people started enrolling, I decided I needed to redo everything and create a proper learning experience that focuses on the delivery of information and not just providing information.
So I started planning it out at the end of 2018. It took me a whole year of planning, structuring and creating to launch ebook Academy at the end of 2019.
I made ebook Academy for people who want better financial security. You won’t get rich with Kindle publishing but Kindle publishing does work and it’s easy for anyone to start and master.
It’s for people who need to work from home, or people who want an alternative way of earning money to build a life they’re happy with.
What makes your course different than others in the same niche?
I created ebook Academy with the aim to serve anyone wanting to create a passive income business online. This means ebook Academy is extremely comprehensive. I don’t take the student for granted, no assumptions on your experience, knowledge is made.
Everything is explained, and every effort has been made to make your experience of learning as well as starting your publishing business as frictionless as possible.
I chose the name ebook “Academy” very deliberately, because it’s an academy more than a course. We provide free on-going support, life-time access and life-time free updates.
Members enrol once and confidently know they have all the knowledge they need in one place. (I actually scheduled a new module to be added in a few months)
We’re also very learner focused compared to others. I structured the material to ensure learning is optimized with assignments, quizzes, workbooks and lesson notes.
What does financial freedom mean to you?
Financial freedom to me means several things.
- Being debt free with no forecast of ever needing to be in debt in the foreseeable future.
- Have no immediate financial worries or stress.
- Have enough financial resources to plan for the future and dream.
How many hours per week do you spend working on your business?
For my books, it’s around 2 hours a week at most so 8 – 10 hours a month. However I still publish a new book from time to time and that adds a good 10 hours.
I work on my blog for about 12 hours a week to create content and schedule everything with various services. I normally spread that across 2 days.
Last year I spent most days working on ebook Academy, but now it doesn’t take more than 1- 3 hours in the morning. Mostly checking assignments, sending feedback and answering questions in the discussion areas.
What are your top tips for people who want to earn passive income from Amazon?
Dive in head first and don’t hesitate to start. I hesitated when I first started because I wasn’t sure about the business model and I wasn’t sure about myself.
I wasted a lot of time and money because of that.
The best way to succeed is to not be afraid of making mistakes. The goal is to avoid big mistakes that might end your business, but make many many tiny ones to learn from.
What’s next for you and Million Dollar Winnie?
Currently I’m focused on making sure ebook Academy is the best training program in the industry and members are getting results from it.
Kindle publishing is still unknown to a lot of people and I was simply very lucky to have read a random article on the topic all those years ago.
That’s why I also really want to bring Kindle publishing into the mainstream and introduce it to people who have never heard of it but would benefit from it the most.