How much I've made selling ebooks and videos

FUN FACTOID — Did you know the standard human, fresh off the baby assembly line, does not know how to sleep correctly? You go to the hospital, pick up the latest model and then for MONTHS the kid sleeps in tiny, two hour increments and spends his awake time eating and pooping and demanding you hold him constantly. (Also they have a 'new car' smell, no joke).

Isaac is our first and he's awesome. Given my short term memory is riddled with holes burned-in by sleep deprivation, I figured this is not the best time for me to attempt technical writing. Instead, l will tell you a little about my business and perhaps be persuade you to start your own. It's not as crazy as you think.

Roughly 11 months ago, on September 12, 2013, I began to sell pre-orders of Sketching with CSS. This was the first day I have ever made a single dollar from selling a product and it marked the beginning of a new epoch for my little family.

To date I've made $32,400 in revenue from sales of Sketching with CSS and my Angular training series. Costs have been pretty minimal, so it's mostly all in my bank account. At the end of 12 months I fully expect to be closer to $40,000, probably more once I launch the finished version of the Angular course. I have my fingers crossed.

Not bad right? It's way, way less than what I made as a full time developer but more than what I expected and I've made more than cash. I now have appreciable search traffic to my articles and an email list, with well over 5,000 people on it and over 400 happy customers.

Each of these things is an asset I can build on. Compare this to a salaried position or even a consulting gig: once you've collected a paycheck you start at zero again. And all of this was done in, ahem, significantly less than 40 hours a week and I took 2 months of vacation. I should probably work harder, but that's neither here nor there.

I decided to talk a little more openly about my (tiny) business because of something my friend Sara Soueidan said recently. If you don't know Sara, you really should. She's a badass. She writes huge, amazingly valuable articles on complex, challenging topics. (Most recently she completed an amazing series about SVG). She also speaks at conferences. Sara makes massive contributions to the web design community for free, on the regular.

The other day Sara said, "I'm currently in a 'is this all worth it?' phase about my writing."

NOoooooOOOOOooo!! I don't want Sara to stop writing and you don't either, trust me. But I can understand where she's coming from. I'm sure her writing and speaking have netted her some amazing clients, but when you're looking at a pipeline exploding with endless projects, (I don't know anything about Sara's business, I'm just assuming), it's hard to justify continuing to write essays.

How can Sara spend days or even weeks doing research for her amazing articles when she could be billing a client the entire time? Here is what I propose: Sara should create a product that she sells for money and then sell it whenever she writes one of her awesome articles.

This is how I justify the time I spend on free stuff like my blog and guest posts and podcast interviews and open source projects and the interactive flexbox videos and the free Angular lessons. Because whenever I blog about a web design/development topic, I make sales of Sketching with CSS.

The BETTER THE QUALITY of the freebie, the more money I make.

This is the best alignment of incentives ever, for you and for me.

I love the fact that my job is to figure out what you need help with and then create articles and software to help you out. Maybe you can see why I think more of us should write little ebooks on niche topics or bundle up a few screencasts into a class or write a helpful bit of software and charge money for it. It means better quality free stuff for all of us.

Have a great day, and enjoy your precious, precious 8 hours of sleep tonight while I'm changing diapers. :-)

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Hey there, I'm Sean.

I'm probably a lot like you. I make stuff for the web. I have a CS degree, but the last 8 years of my career have been a more potent teacher.

Sean Fioritto

Recently, I wrote a book on web development called Sketching with CSS. I also run a training company for developers. I'm an author in Smashing Magazine and I've written some cool open source projects.

Today, I'm an entrepreneur. In the not so distant past I did the usual 9-5 thing doing web development for a couple of big companies.

I'd love to meet you on Twitter.

You can also email me: [email protected]