Today I want to talk about income reports.
I have been meaning to document my thoughts and feelings about the practice of publicly disclosing one’s income or earnings but just have not had the time. I am glad that I am finally getting around to it today.
Many of those who generate income online like to publish what is commonly known as an income report, which is often broken down by the particular product or service that generated the income. These have become so popular that they have propelled many blogs on the success trajectory.
I was debating whether to use the word hate or dislike in the title of this post. I chose dislike because hate is too strong of an expression. After all, many bloggers who I personally know, respect and admire publish income reports. Just as every coin has two sides to it, income reports have their benefits as well.
For example, honest income reports inspire, motivate and compel readers to take action. It gives them the confidence that IT can be done. On the other hand, constantly being exposed to such reports can paralyze readers from taking action, leaving them with the feeling that they are too behind, there is too much to do and that it is too late.
Then you have a totally different yet very realistic angle on income reports, one that exaggerates or flat out lies. This is the one that just kills. Sometimes it takes one bad apple to ruin the good ride for everyone else.
Not all that long ago, A List blogger Tyrone Shum released a public video confessing his misrepresentation of his income reports. He mentioned that the guilt was getting to him and that he couldn’t face his family and friends without coming out and confessing.
You can view his public apology here:
I guess the link to the original video has been removed, so I dug up the second closest I could find…
Needless to say the video went viral, and every other blogger, from A to Z list was talking about this public confession.
Why am I bringing this up? I am bringing this up because I was completely turned off by income reports after having viewed this video.
Now I don’t know Tyrone personally but he appears to be a good, like-able guy from what I can tell and what those who I know who know him tell me.
What this situation does reveal however is how easy it is or can be to get carried away in the moment. One dynamic of the industry we participate in is social proof. People want to listen to and follow those who have proven results. The space is too saturated and it takes an exceptional case to stand out. One way to do that is by boasting large income figures.
The pressure, or the desire to succeed sometimes overwhelms one’s sense of integrity. What happened in Tyrone’s situation can happen to anyone. It doesn’t change him from a nice guy to a bad one, but it certainly tarnishes his reputation. But like I said, his true character clearly showed later when he confessed publicly.
Do not take this action for granted. This is a very difficult thing to do, especially knowing that the public apology will be talked about everywhere, by everyone and will be accessible forever as long as the internet exists.
Tyrone could have very well kept going on and no one would ever have known. But no, he decided to come out clean. My respect for the guy today is more than ever before. But does this change my perception of income reports? No.
I have contemplated documenting income reports, but I’ve heard enough times now that “anyone can write about anything they want”, or that “anyone can claim to make a certain amount of money online”. Yes, that is true, and no one will ever know unless they decide to run for President someday – I cannot because I wasn’t born in the USA so you’d never know!
For that, and several other reasons, I chose not to publish income reports, although I know that doing so will certainly boost my blog’s traffic, readership, engagement and other things. My friend Pat Flynn does this remarkably well with his income reports, which are the most read content on his blog.
Pat’s one of the nicest guys I know on the blogosphere, and I’ve had people ask me in discussions whether his income reports are real. While I am 101% confident that they are simply because of the man Pat is, this point demonstrates the entire essence of this post – fact or fiction.
For me, I feel images demonstrating income proof are better. A picture does speak more than a thousand words. So in the few occasions where I have disclosed my income, I have done so by displaying images of checks, Paypal payments or direct deposits to my bank account. You can see an example of that here, here, and here.
That, in addition to a lot of open and revealing facts about my business can easily allow a reader of my blog to reasonably and accurately extrapolate how much income I generate online every month or year. So clearly, it is not that I don’t want people to know how much I am earning, rather, if I do disclose, I want to ensure that I am able to back it up and convey my results with full confidence.
I am not oblivious to why others publish income reports and more importantly why they do it the way they do it.
It takes time to snap a picture or screenshot and then upload it and write about it. I know because I do it. It may not sound that onerous, but for a busy blogger / entrepreneur, it is more time than they have to invest in this endeavor.
Documenting or typing results is much more convenient and less time consuming. Look at it this way – something is better than nothing. But if you start to generate thoughts in your subconscious regarding whether or not what’s being reported is true and accurate, just know that those thoughts will always be there. Heck, one can even embellish check images if they wanted to, so who’s to say that images are accurate?
The point here is that income reports should really be viewed as a source for inspiration and motivation. Sure, people might get carried away here and there, and others might be out there blatantly and deliberately lying, but what can you do? Absolutely nothing. Don’t attach yourself emotionally to income reports or you will end up broken-hearted and hurt.
I currently don’t publish income reports for several reasons, including the fact that my entities (businesses) are set up in a very complex manner, and it wouldn’t be easy or quick for me to segregate income from each site and the cost structure of my business. I certainly don’t want to report income without representing the cost of doing business to reflect true profitability. It’s only fair.
It’s a lot of work just thinking about it 🙂 but I know this initiative comes with tremendous benefits so I may slip over the tipping point in the future. I have however, and will continue to in the future, publish income updates haphazardly here and there. See the links above for example.
To conclude, income reports can be a double edged sword, both for publishers as well as the consumers of content. Like anything else is life, let’s continue to take inspiration and motivation from these. Let’s take the positive attributes of what we come across and try to implement those in our lives. This is really what my view boils down to.
On an interesting note (and you can now call me a hypocrite), I will be reporting on my authority site earnings, although I may not publish images unless a particular income stream becomes HUGE. If it does, I will be happy to snap up an image and attach it along. This way I would be able to document my income reports without feeling that I am being unfair – I reserve the right to renig if my workload becomes overwhelming 🙂
You can follow my authority site’s progress and income reports via the Authority Site Duel Portal here.
Are you in favor of income reports? Why or why not? Does skepticism linger in your subconscious as you digest them? Why or why not? Do you read income reports with full confidence, or do you take them in with a grain of salt?Previous: July Income Report: $1,982,137.92/Year? New Site, New Income Report