Welcome to my December 2021 Income Report and 2021 Year In Review!
Each month I publish an income report to take you behind the scenes of my online business and reveal how much money the business makes each month, how we make it, how much we spend, and all the lessons I learn along the way.
Watch the replay of this live episode!
So I have a big announcement – a really bittersweet one…
This is the FINAL episode of Pep Talks for Side Hustlers.
The podcast is going on hiatus for awhile.
I know, I know! It really is awesome to hear how much you love the show and how much it’s helped you on your own journey, and the podcast itself will still be available, I’m not taking it down or anything, I just won’t be publishing new episodes for the foreseeable future.
And I’ll talk about WHY I made that decision here in a little bit, but first I wanna let you know what we’re going to be talking about today – AND what you can expect going forward.
And today I’m gonna share a little bit about my backstory and some pivotal moments that led me here, I’m gonna recap what happened in the business in 2021, I’m gonna break down December’s income + expenses and then I’ll reveal how much we made and spent in 2021, all the lessons learned along the way, what’s next for me and the business and then I’ll answer any and all questions you have for me whether it's about my business or your business or whatever.
In 2018, I talked about the shift from side-hustle to self-employed.
In 2019, I talked about the shift from client work to courses.
In 2020, I talked about the shift from going it alone to investing in mentorship.
And in 2021, I talked about the shift from solopreneur to CEO.
At this point, I’ve shared with you all the strategies. All the lessons. All the risks. All the flops. All the wins. All the rewards.
And in this final episode, I’ll recap all the marketing and sales strategies and mindset shifts that got me from $0 to $500K.
(Those are the ones I’ll continue to do over and over again to get to a million dollars in revenue and beyond, btw).
I have had an absolute blast interviewing hundreds of incredible guests on the show and making lifelong biz-besties.
It’s been therapeutic and cathartic to write income reports every single month and reflect on the journey.
And I’m honored that you’ve followed along with me for the past 4 years. It was a really tough decision to make because I know how much everyone loves the podcast and my income reports.
But there comes a moment in every business journey when it’s time to pivot.
(Cue Ross, Rachel + Chandler moving the couch…)
To wrap up the podcast, I’m sharing my final income report of the year and a full review of 2021, and the few key things that even if you’ve never listened to the podcast that I want you to know about what it takes to go from $0 to $500K
So, grab your favorite beverage to celebrate with me… and sit back and enjoy the final episode of the Pep Talks for Side Hustlers podcast.
Before we dive into the numbers, for those of you who are new around here I just wanna recap my biz journey and how we got to where we are today – because there were a few pivotal moments along the way. Remember, I’m just a few steps ahead of you, that the path isn’t a straight line, and I just hope you can see yourself somewhere in my journey and know that if you just keep going and never quit when it feels hard, you’ll reach your goals.
Way back in 2014 when I was 35 years old, I was working in marketing and IT at a nonprofit professional association here in Columbus, Ohio… I sitting in my beige, windowless office under harsh fluorescent lights and I was working on this financial report I had to do every month that I dreaded doing.
And I remember overhearing this conversation outside the door of my office where one of my coworkers was listing the ingredients of something called 7UP Salad… and I hear her going “It’s got lemon jello, lime jello, marshmallows…” and I just started having these racing thoughts like “OMG, I cannot do this for the rest of my life, this cannot be all there is!”
It was in that moment that I decided that I was going to start my own business and become my own boss. I had built an online course website for professional recertification using WordPress for the nonprofit that was bringing in about $100K a year for them (that was the financial report I was working on was reconciling those transactions) and I was like “If I was able to build this website for them, why can’t I build sites like this for other clients and get paid for it?”
Long story short… knowing how to build a website and knowing how to market yourself, how much to charge, get clients, manage clients and run a business are two completely different skillsets… and my freelance web design business was a hot mess. I undercharged, I overdelivered, I jumped when my clients said jump, I jumped even when I thought they might say jump, and I was working 24/7 and totally burnt out. I’d actually created a worse situation with my side-hustle than what I’d had just doing that stupid financial report in my cave of an office.
And just when I was about to throw the towel in on being my own boss, I heard Pat Flynn from the Smart Passive Income podcast talking about how he earns affiliate commissions by teaching people how to set up WordPress hosting.
That was the second pivotal moment, the one where I decided to quit freelancing and teach people how to DIY their websites with WordPress instead, and I would give the training away for free (because my money mindset was still totally busted, more on that later) and the way I’d make money on it was from affiliate commissions from the products and services I recommended in the training – because just like any DIY project, you gotta buy the tools to do the project, and where you save money is the labor, right?
And I also had heard from listening to online business podcasts like Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income and Chalene Johnson’s Build Your Tribe that I needed to build an email list. I had no idea what I was gonna do with my email list, but everyone I’d heard on those shows talked about how they wished they would have built an email list from day one, and that the best way to build an email list and create raving fans who will eventually become customers is to give away something amazing for free in exchange for the email address.
So I created my Free 5 Day Website Challenge and set it up so that people would get free access to it by signing up with their email address – and it’s my flagship course, the one I’m best known for. It has helped over 25,000 people to date DIY their website and is still going strong – and it isn’t going ANYWHERE – and you can get still instant access to it for free at www.free5daywebsitechallenge.com
But back then, I made this whole free 5-module online course and then I was like, “Okay… now how do I get people to find it and sign up for it so that I can start generating these affiliate commissions?”
And that’s when I started coming up with organic marketing strategies that actually worked really, really well, and still work incredibly well for me to this day. I wasn’t spending all this time blogging, I wasn’t doing search engine optimization, I wasn’t posting on social media or going live, I wasn’t running ads – I was just being a real person, connecting with other real people directly and serving them, building relationships and planting seeds that resulted in website traffic, subscribers and affiliate commissions.
Let me say that again – if you take nothing else from this podcast episode, please hear me when I say this:
——-> The way that I successfully marketed and grew my business from $0 a year to half a million dollars a year was not blogging, I wasn’t doing search engine optimization, I wasn’t posting on social media or going live, I wasn’t running ads – I was just being a real person, connecting with other real people directly and serving them, building relationships and planting seeds that resulted in website traffic, subscribers and affiliate commissions.
Okay, so the third pivotal moment in my business occurred shortly after launching the Free 5 Day Website Challenge.
A woman named Vicki Fitch who also happened to be a sales coach signed up for the training, and she was like, “This training is great, thanks for showing me how to do it… but I don’t want to do it, I don’t have time to do it, can I hire you to do it for me?” And I was like, “Nope, no way, my experience working with clients was traumatic, I don’t do 1:1 client work, you can’t hire me, thanks, bye!”
And she was like, “Hey, I’m a sales coach, I’d love to gift you a 20-minute consultation as a thank you for the Free 5 Day Website Challenge.”
And I’m like “AWESOME! I’ve been trying to sell this marketing tech course I created called the BFF Academy to my Free 5 Day Website Challengers and no one is buying it! I bet she can help me figure out how to sell it.”
So I accepted, we talked, I shared with her the story I just shared with you guys, and the call took what I thought at the time was like a total left turn.
She was basically like, “You want to quit your day job, right? And you aren’t going to do it until you’ve replaced your paycheck… So you can do it $65 at a time with these affiliate commissions, or $97 at a time with this marketing tech course no one wants, OR you can streamline your web design process, start doing it THOUSANDS at a time by fixing your pricing, creating boundaries and teaching your clients how to treat you and taking control of your projects. Let me ask you a question, if your car broke down, would you just abandon it on the side of the road and get a new car? No, you wouldn’t, because it’s still valuable, it just needs to be repaired. What you’re doing by abandoning your web design business is basically leaving your car on the side of the road. Once you fix your broken web design business so that it starts making money for you in a way that’s sustainable, you can teach other web designers how to do it because I can promise you, you’re not the only one struggling.”
And I’m like… “But, but, but… I don’t wanna work with clients, I want your help selling this course!”
And she’s like, “I see so much more potential for you, and I’d love to work with you as your coach in exchange for you re-doing my website, and we can use that to get you set up for working with other clients – and I’ll also help you with sales, etc..”
So I said yes. And I starting taking on clients again. I worked with my coach on boundaries, on mindset, on packages, on pricing… I hired a systems expert to help me map out the entire project management process and map out all the places where it could break down and create solutions ahead of time… and I was STILL way undercharging despite my coach’s pleas to charge more, because my money mindset was still super messed up…
…which by the way, if you are a web designer, please, PLEASE do yourself a favor and go watch my free pricing workshop for web designers at https://shannonmattern.com/pricing so that you can stop undercharging for your massively valuable services + skillset…
So I started doing 1:1 projects again, and I got to the point where half my revenue was coming from affiliate commissions + my online marketing tech course, and the other half was coming from 1:1 client work.
The fourth pivotal moment happened when one of the businesses I’d built a relationship with, One Woman Shop, connected me with a company called Skillcrush that teaches women coding and WordPress development.
They were looking for a speaker for a virtual conference they were hosting to talk about all the opportunities available to generate income with web design skills – and I got to share my store with thousands of other female web designers and I’m SO glad I was working with my business coach at the time because when I told her about that opportunity, she was like, “You need to put together a coaching program for web designers to teach them everything you’ve learned about running a web design business, and you need to create a webinar that you’ll invite these people who watch your Skillcrush presentation to, and just make the offer for the coaching program. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
And so I did. And I had about 600 people take me up on my webinar invitation, and 6 people join me inside what I called the “Group Coaching Program” that I sold for a whopping $600, (which I thought was highway robbery at the time, by the way).
That program has since evolved into the Web Designer Academy, it costs 10 times as much now as it did then, and our students get incredible results that absolutely blow my mind.
So if you’re a web designer who’s serious about making a full-time income, and you’re ready to go all-in on yourself and invest in coaching that’s going to support you to make it happen, I wanna invite you to fill out our no-obligation application at www.webdesigneracademy.com – after we review your application, if we think you have the potential to be successful with our strategies, we’ll invite you to watch our free training that breaks down our 3-part full-time income framework for web designers and shares more with you about the program.
So by early 2017, I’m teaching people how to DIY their website, I’m doing 1:1 client work, I’m coaching web designers on the business side of running a web design business and I’m finally, FINALLY matching my day job paycheck.
So I put in a 7-month notice at my day job – because I had been promoted to an executive role by then, I had a project I wanted to see through to the end, and wanted to be fully vested in my 401(k) and get paid out a higher percentage of accrued sick time – and I quit my day job on January 2, 2018.
So remember how I said that I had this marketing tech course that I kept trying to sell? I mean, I cannot even begin to tell you how much time and money I invested in making this thing work. It started off as WP+OMG (Operation Marketing Genius) because I was trying to be all clever, then it became the BFF Academy (because my business name back then was WP+BFF and Chalene Johnson was calling all her stuff “Academy”). And then after I quit my day job I changed it to a membership called “Serious Side Hustlers” and tried to launch it with an Amy Porterfield-style webinar.
While the launch wasn’t a total flop, I was still massively undercharging for all the value I was providing, and my $29/month price point was completely unsustainable. I’d think things like “$29 a month is a total no-brainer price, all I need to do is get 200 people to join and that’s $5800 a month and I’m golden.”
But what I didn’t know is the sheer number of people I’d need to have on my email list to get 200 people to buy, the size of the launch I’d need to have to get 200 people to buy, and that’s it takes just as much effort to sell a $29 product as it does to sell a $10,000 product! So when just 25 people joined my membership, I was just like “What am I doing wrong????”
And the truth was that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I just didn’t know what I didn’t know about what to expect, I was being impatient and I was putting my focus and effort all in the wrong place because I was totally freaked out about being on my own without a paycheck!
So by February of 2019, I’m hustling again, and I’m freaking BURNT OUT. I’m a year and a half into being solo, I’d actually been doing consulting for my old employer and that month-to-month contract could go away at any moment… and I’m banging my head against the wall trying to build my email list and sell this course.
And thank goodness the 5 Day Website Challenge, my 1:1 client work and the Web Designer Academy were making money for me because I spent WAY more time and money on trying to make that online marketing tech course work than I ever made from it up until that point… and it’s because I was making the two biggest mistakes any business owner can make – assuming that I know what my audience needs and trying to sell it to them, and expecting it to be a huge success the first time I made the offer, and then when only a handful of people bought it, I decided it was a failure and that I needed to rebrand, redo it, buy another course and start over.
So I decided to make my biggest investment in coaching yet ($5,000) to work with Growth University to get their eyeballs and expertise on my business and put together a personalized plan for ME.
I had a couple of goals: make enough money to cover that contract with my old employer if it went away AND shift all my revenue from 50% client work/50% courses + affiliates to 100% courses + affiliates. I needed them to tell me what I was doing wrong with this online marketing course!
It was a HUGE risk for me at the time to spend that much money, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would do the work, I’d do everything they said, and I’d make my money back and then some. I did everything they said, and within 9 months I’d reached my goal, and I stopped working with 1:1 web design clients so that I could go all in on my courses + trainings.
It was a totally different experience than anything I’d invested in previously. I had a coach that looked at my business, asked me tough questions, assigned tasks to me based on what was not working in my business and helped me re-set my expectations on what was possible and where to focus my efforts.
The Website Marketing Lab was born out of that experience, and I finally had created what I call a “proven offer that converts”. I knew how to talk about it in a way that resonated with my ideal clients, I tested out my pricing, I knew exactly what percentage of people who saw it would buy it, and I knew how to market and sell it.
I went through that same validation process with my Web Designer Academy which was more like an online course just teaching the business aspect of running a web design at the time and not the high-touch group coaching program that teaches how to charge and get premium prices, but the process was the same.
And then because I knew how to validate my offers BEFORE making and selling them, I decided to go through that process with an idea that had been percolating in my mind for awhile – which was making and selling templates to go along with the Free 5 Day Website Challenge.
That was the fifth pivotal moment in my journey was actually validating one of my product ideas before just going off and making it and trying to sell it.
So I did what I teach my students to do – I wrote up a sales page which basically said, “Hey, I teach you everything you need to know about how to build a website in the Free 5 Day Website Challenge, but where everyone gets stuck is the branding, the actual page layouts, and their website copy. So what if I did all of that for you too? If I gave you pre-designed logos, colors, fonts and graphics that you could edit in Canva, if I gave you pre-designed website page templates that you could just import into your site in a few clicks and voila you have all your pages already laid out, AND I gave you website copy templates to customize to your business so you knew what words to use and where to put them and all you had to do was edit everything instead of doing it all on your own from scratch, and it cost $497, would you buy it? And if you said yes, do you want to go ahead and pre-order and I’ll give you a special price? And if you said no, what would have to change about it to make it a yes?
And people overwhelmingly said yes, and so I reached out to Kristin Rappaport of Applecart Lane who I’d already been sending people to for her DIY graphic design training, and said hey, will you partner on this with me? Will you make the graphic part of this and we’ll split it 50/50 because my idea doesn’t work without you? And she said YES, and I said, “What should we call it?” And she goes “I don’t know, Site in a Snap?” and I’m like OMG YES! And we built the thing, launched it to my email list and I PERSONALLY have made over $50,000 from that product.
So it’s early Spring of 2020 we’re plugging along, I quit working with 1:1 clients in September of 2019 of that year because I’d replaced that revenue, I’m doing a bunch of marketing and collaborations and I come across Mariah Coz’s Accelerator program where she was teaching how to market + sell programs on evergreen with webinars. And it’s not like I hadn’t been down the webinar road before…but this time, I’d done the validation. I had proven offers that were converting.
And there was something about how she taught things that was a lightbulb moment for me, like OHHHH… people need to see my offers more than once. People need to be incentivized to make a decision. Some people are ready now and make quick decisions, some people take longer to make decisions and the way I’ve been doing things disempowers and disincentivizes people who take a longer time to make a decision.
Mariah’s program was called the Accelerator, and it cost $10,000… and it was application-only. You were only accepted to join and work with them if you met certain criteria. You had to have an email list of a certain size, you had to have sold your offer before, stuff like that. So I applied, and I was invited to join, and I was ALL IN. And when I committed to paying $10K for that program, you guys, something in me shifted. I was like, “I’m willing to invest way more in myself and my business than I’d ever ask anyone to invest in me, so I’m not gonna feel bad anymore about charging a thousand or two thousand for my stuff, which is worth WAY more than what I’m charging.”
I go all in, I spend $10K – the pandemic happens and the world shuts down and I’m just like “Perfect timing. I’m all in on helping people make the pivot to running their business online.”
You guys, the coaching that was available to me at the $10K level was far and away beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. Talk about expert eyes on my business AND help with my mindset? That’s really when I started to see how much my internal belief system was running the show.
I implement her strategies for my programs, and they’re working really well, I’m making consistent revenue and profit, and then in November of 2020 I had the opportunity to join Mariah’s High Ticket Hybrid for $20,000 – and again, I’m all in. I’m like, if I had this much success at the $10K level, I can’t wait to see what I create at the $20K level.
And I saw the opportunity to convert my Web Designer Academy program into the kind of coaching experience I’d experienced during my time in the Accelerator. I was like, “I want to create this for my students. I see so much opportunity to help them get even bigger results with a program structured like this.”
So I joined High Ticket Hybrid, got to work learning + implementing and building out the new Web Designer Academy, launched it in December of 2020, priced it at $5,000 for a year of access and we made over $30,000 that month – with over $100,000 in sales of the Web Designer Academy. It was insane.
And that was when I knew that this program, the one that was always SO EASY to sell at every price point, was where I needed to focus my efforts.
And that leads us to 2021 – so let’s dive into the 2021 Year in Review…
I kicked off January 2021 by turning my live promotion of the Web Designer Academy into an evergreen webinar, tested out running Facebook Ads successfully for like, the first time ever, and I was also hosting my first Summit called the Side Hustle to Self-Employed Summit for the first time ever.
I should mention that at this point, I have a small but might team of myself and 3 awesome contractors – my tech VA Laura Kamark my marketing + admin VA Nat and my community manager Wendy Coop – and they are helping me with my inbox, podcast production and stuff like newsletter and social media scheduling, answering questions in my Free 5 Day Website Challenge and Site in a Snap Facebook Group – so I’m not going it alone, but I’m also in charge of delegating and making sure they have what they need to do their job.
We have another record month in January of over $38,000 in revenue, mostly from summit ticket sales and Web Designer Academy payment plans.
In February, we host the Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit and it is an amazing experience and it grows my email list a TON, but I leave it completely burned out and behind on everything else in my business.
I realize how much time and expense and effort it was to run the Summit, which made almost $20,000 in revenue… and I think, “That’s 4 enrollments in the Web Designer Academy in a month, which I did last month…”
I talk to my mastermind friend Bree about how burnt out I’m feeling and about how I want to shut everything down in my business except the Web Designer Academy because I can’t sustain the pace maintaining the Free 5 Day Website Challenge, the Website Marketing Lab, the podcast, the Summit and the Web Designer Academy…
And Bree was like, look – all this stuff is making good money, how about you hire me to manage all of it so you can get your life back and focus on the Web Designer Academy?
And so I bring Bree on, because I still love WHY I do all those things… I just don’t have the bandwidth anymore to be the one doing them, and I feel have a big commitment to fill for my Web Designer Academy students who just paid me $5,000 for a year of coaching – which seemed like an EXORBITANT amount of money at the time…
We have another record month in February of over $40,000 in revenue, again, mostly from summit ticket sales and Web Designer Academy payment plans.
In March, I start taking weekends off again. I hand a bunch of stuff over to Bree and my team, like, everything including writing my newsletters, and I got caught up on some projects for the Web Designer Academy, and I spoke at a few summits. My Web Designer Academy Facebook Ads are still doing a great job of bringing in qualified applicants, and I’m enrolling new people on evergreen every month.
My friend and coach Alecia St. Germain invites me to enroll in an intensive leadership program that she’s doing, and I’m like “Yep, if you think it will help me I’m in.” And I enroll, no questions asked.
We don’t do any new sales or promotions, and our revenue is about $30,000 from Web Designer Academy payment plans and 5 Day Challenge affiliate commissions + Site in a Snap sales.
In April, I started to freak out about money again. Now I have 4 contractors I’ve committed to paying, and in hindsight my overworking starts to creep back in. Facebook Ads just stop converting and I have no idea why so I shut them down and stop giving Facebook my money.. I decide to start writing my own newsletters again.
I joined my friend Crissy Conner, the Visibility Queen’s Visible CEO program and learned how to do what she calls a content explosion where you make one Facebook Live video and turn it into a million pieces of content so I can try to get some organic social media marketing going since my paid marketing is tanking.
I also created, market and host a free pricing mindset makeover for web designers on the last day of the month and I invite the people who attend the webinar to apply to work with me in the Web Designer Academy.
That webinar brings me lots of new applicants and students, and we generate over $34,000 in revenue in April, mostly from new Web Designer Academy students and payment plans.
The pricing webinar we did in April continues to bring in new Web Designer Academy students unlike anything I’ve ever done before… the Web Designer Academy generates over $46,000 in revenue alone in May for a total of over $70,000.
Our students are starting to also share mind-blowing results like their biggest revenue months and quitting their jobs.
This is the moment I realize that I have all of the pieces I need to have a million dollar business… and I also start to become aware all the mindset pieces that are holding me back – needing people to like me at all costs, feeling guilty and greedy for making money, worried that I won’t be able to sustain it… and I start to fill up all my free time with leadership coaching + mentorship.
After the record month and really seeing what’s possible with the Web Designer Academy, I feel like I’m at a fork in the road with my other program, the Website Marketing Lab.
I’m seeing the huge transformation my Web Designer Academy students are having when they invested in themselves at a high level, I saw and felt it in myself, and I want that for my Website Marketing Lab students as well… but that program wasn’t providing nearly the level of coaching, strategy + support we give in the Web Designer Academy – plus I had learned SO MUCH since launching that program that I wanted to teach to those students.
And personally, even though I have incredible help with the administration side of my business, I’m still the sole person responsible for marketing strategy, sales and program delivery of ALL of my programs.
I was at capacity and feeling like maybe it was time to let go of teaching marketing and business to ANYONE and just go all in on web designers…
…but I was also having so much success in my business that I wanted to distill down for all the non-web designers in my world, which like, 85% of the people on my email list and who listen to my podcast are NOT web designers.
So I’m at this fork in the road… and I decide that what I have to share with non-web designers still has a ton of value, it just needs an update, and we already had a bonus inside the program called Subscriber to Sale Blueprint which is the formula I’ve used over and over again to market my business and sell my products and services – and so I decide to update the program to re-open in July.
I also brought in another contractor, Skye, to help with customer service + inbox management.
I bought my dream car, a Jeep Wrangler, as a reward for all my hard work over the past several years.
We made over $35,000 in June, mostly from Web Designer Academy payment plans.
I spend July updating the program. I outsourced as much of it as possible and only did the things I could do.
My calendar in July was filled with my own coaching calls with my coaches and people in the leadership programs I was in, visits with friends and family and just lots of activities that we hadn’t done for a long time due to the pandemic.
It was magical. I was like, “Oh, I could get used to running my business like this!”
We made over $42,000 in July, mostly from Web Designer Academy payment plans.
In August I hosted a free Create Your 12 Month Marketing Roadmap webinar where at the end I pitched 3 options of the Subscriber to Sale Blueprint program – a full-on high touch coaching version with the same level of support that I give in the Web Designer Academy, a hybrid level where you got group coaching and community, and a self-study level where you get the curriculum, and each level was 12 months access instead of lifetime.
The whole time I was going through this process of updating the curriculum and having a blast working with my team to put this whole thing together…
I was secretly hoping that no one would enroll.
Deep down I knew it wasn’t sustainable to run two high-level coaching programs. I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t matter how much you SAY you want something, if deep down inside it doesn’t feel SAFE to do it, you’ll sabotage yourself every time.
That’s why I see my web designers do everything BUT market themselves, like work on their systems and their websites and all the things that feel like work but aren’t actually going to create clients – because they’re scared they can’t REALLY deliver.
For me, it was “I’m already THE ONLY ONE supporting these 100 web designers, I can’t be THE ONLY ONE supporting another 100 business owners.”
And I got what I wanted.
So just like I’ve done after every offer, I follow ed up and ask people why they didn’t buy, and what I overwhelmingly heard from people was they really, really wanted to enroll but a) the timing was bad, b) they couldn’t start now, and because it was only a 12 month program they just didn’t buy because they didn’t want the clock to start ticking, and c) it wasn’t in their budget as a new business owner.
That feedback was super enlightening. 2017 Shannon would have taken it all personally, decided it sucked, she sucked, the name sucked, the brand sucked, the course sucked and scrapped it all and started from scratch.
In August we made just over $31,000 – mostly from Web Designer Academy payment plans.
September was a blur, my little sister got married and I planned her wedding, I wrapped up my intensive leadership training and I also traveled to Seattle for my annual mastermind retreat where I made the decision to go all-in on the web designer side of my business and never offer Subscriber to Sale Blueprint for sale ever, EVER again.
In hindsight, I can see how overwhelmed I was with all of my commitments and obligations. I just didn’t have the mental capacity to even think about doing anything else.
The business makes over $30,000 in revenue, but the profit is less than $500. I see the writing on the wall, I need to hire full-time help, and I need someone to help me figure out Facebook ads because I’m maxed out on my organic marketing too.
In hindsight, September was the start of a frantic period of overwork because I wasn’t taking care of myself mentally or physically and even though I logically know I’m making investments in the future of my business with ads and hiring, that primal, cavewoman fear is still running the show in there.
In October we do no new promotions, we don’t get any new enrollments in the Web Designer Academy and for the first time ever, we spend more in a month than we make.
Our revenue is just over $22,000, our expenses are almost $40,000, and even though I have the money in the bank to cover that gap because we’ve been profitable every month all year, I’m like, “This is not sustainable, something has to change, I’m working WAY too much and have way too much money going out the door.”
And then it’s off to cover up that anxiety with more work, as I start planning my year-end promotion of the Web Designer Academy and get to work on upgrading the curriculum to align with the amazing results my students are getting.
Again in November, we spend more than we made. We made $21,000, we spent $33,000 and I worked like an insane person on the Web Designer Academy upgrades, relaunch and Year 2 curriculum and I can no longer ignore that things are completely out of alignment in my business, and that it’s time to make some big girl CEO decisions.
Except I have no time to even think about making them in November, because I’m launching the updated, upgraded NEXT LEVEL version of the Web Designer Academy in December.
Which I was SO freaking excited about because I’d done client experience interviews with around 10 of my students, and their successes blew me away… and in order to keep serving them at that high level, I needed to raise the price and restructure things so that students got bigger results faster – so I increased the price of the program by 50%.
We set an audacious goal to help our students create an 100% ROI within the first 90 days of the program, and to help them to collectively create $10million in revenue in 2022, and so I spent November re-writing curriculum and planning the new live private training to introduce my new framework.
Which leads us to December 2021.
I hosted a live, private application-only training on December 9 where I rolled out my new 5P Framework, which is what we teach inside of the Web Designer Academy to help our students charge and get premium pricing, market their business and get what we call dreamium clients.
We invited accepted applicants to join the program, we had over 20 new students enroll – and we had a lot of current students decide to renew with us for Year 2 of the program.
And we created…
Wait for it…
$89,554.80 in revenue!
$83,600 of that was Web Designer Academy.
And that’s just what we collected. The rest of revenue from that promotion will come in in 2022 in payment plans.
Our expenses in December were $30, 960.54 for a net profit of $58,954.26 in December 2021.
Our total revenue for 2021 was $490,540.65.
Our total expenses for 2021 were $358,500.13.
Get the full breakdown of income, expenses and net profit month by month here.
Included in those expenses are my paycheck, which I paid myself a total of $101,643.06 – that’s my paycheck BEFORE payroll taxes come out of that – so what actually went into my personal bank account was probably around $85,000.
And the net profit of my business was $132,040.52.
So what do I do with that money?
- I’ll pay taxes on it, so a big chunk of it has ALREADY been sent to the government in the form of quarterly estimated taxes, and another chunk as yet to be determined will go to the government after I do my 2021 taxes.
- The rest is staying in my business bank account to fund hiring full-time employees.
But seriously, I’m so, so proud of everything I did to create that result. One million dollars divided by 12 months is $83,333 dollars… and I’ve proven that it’s possible.
But it’s not possible with how my business is currently structured today… and that’s why in December I had to make some big, CEO decisions.
One of the biggest things I did right in 2021 was building a team to support me… and one of the biggest things I did wrong was building the team entirely on the administrative + marketing side of my business with zero support on the program delivery side of my business.
We killed it with our marketing, which left it all up to me to deliver.
It became very clear to me as early as September that I needed full-time, non-contract help… I LOVE my team, they are amazing people… but they are contractors. They have other businesses, other clients, and they can’t just drop everything on a whim to work full-time on my stuff.
And again, I stretched myself so thin that I couldn’t delegate far enough in advance to them to keep up so I was just doing ALL the Web Designer Academy stuff myself.
I just kept thinking that I could outwork and out-earn the problem… And while the numbers in December show that yep, I’m pretty powerful and yep, I’m a total badass… my health, mentally and physically, suffered MASSIVELY.
So we had these incredible results in December, and I also knew I had to make some big changes.
Which brings us to today, January 2022
So in January 2022, I started the process of hiring a full time W2 operations and client success coordinator to support the business and the Web Designer Academy. We’re also looking at adding a client success specialist because if there’s one thing I’ve come to realize, it’s that I cannot be the only one delivering and supporting the Web Designer Academy.
It’s the biggest liability, it’s not good for me, and it’s not fair to my students to not have me at 100%, and it’s not good for the team or the business. I always say i have to touch the stove to make changes, well, in December I touched the stove big time. And in a really good way – I saw what we were capable of creating, and I also saw that it really can no longer be just me.
I had to have the really really difficult conversation with 3 of my contractors that I’m consolidating their roles into one full-time employee, and we’re right at the end of the interview process with some incredible candidates and I hope to make an offer this week.
And I decided it was time to end the podcast.
For a lot of reasons… full transparency – producing a weekly podcast is time intensive. We had it down like a well-oiled machine, but with the change in contractors to full-time employee, I need their efforts focused elsewhere.
It takes me a TON of time to write these income reports. And now that I’ll have employees on the team… I feel like I haven’t quite figured out how to be this transparent as I’m navigating this next level of my business without protecting their privacy and making sure they feel safe and secure. There probably IS a way to do it, I just haven’t figured it out yet.
And like I said earlier, At this point, I’ve shared with you all the strategies. All the lessons. All the risks. All the flops. All the wins. All the rewards. All the mistakes. And all and marketing and sales strategies and mindset shifts that got me from $0 to $500K – in one year, by the way. I know it was $490K, but I’m counting that as $500K, and I’ve generated over a MILLION dollars in revenue since I started my business by the way. From my IDEAS. It blows my mind.
So that leads me to what’s next.
First, I’m not going anywhere.
I’m not shutting down my business, the Free 5 Day Website Challenge will still be available.
The podcast episodes aren’t going anywhere – I’m just not creating any new ones for the foreseeable future.
I’ve made many pivots in my business journey.
And now my time is shifting from being the one delivering and supporting and teaching to hiring and training my dream team.
So 2022 is the year I’ll go from running the business to owning the business.
I’m hiring my first of many full-time employees. I’m going to create the kind of company I wished I would have worked for (and I’m so glad I didn’t work for the kind of company I want to create because I never would have been inspired to go on this journey).
Building this company in a sustainable way will take a new level of mindset work, time, and revenue. My role is changing. What I spend my time on is changing. What I spend money on is changing.
And in order for that change to happen in the most healthy way possible (for me and the business)… I needed to clear the runway and make some big girl CEO decisions.
Ending new episodes of the podcast is one of those decisions.
Ending relationships with incredible independent contractors is another one of those decisions.
Breaking out the Web Designer Academy as its own brand is another one of those decisions.
Saying no to continuing on with masterminds and interview requests and collaborations that would be a total blast but take me away from my new employees in these critical early stages is another one of those decisions.
And ending monthly income reports is another one of those decisions.
Does that mean you’ll never see another fully-transparent income report from me ever again?
No! I intend to at least write a year-in-review income report in 2022 and beyond. Ya know, I gotta tell you the story of how I got from $500,000 to $1,000,000, right??? You’ll need to know what worked and what didn’t work so you can avoid as many of the obstacles as you can on your way there!
The most popular content I’ve created are my income reports.
So I had this idea…
Just because what I’m spending MY time on every day is changing doesn’t mean what I’ve created isn’t needed or valuable.
So starting next week, we’re getting in our DeLoreans and going back to January of 2018 and you’re invited to follow along on my journey from $0 side hustle to CEO of a half-million dollar company. So if you’re on my email list, every week I’ll be in your inbox with an income report detailing that months journey and all the lessons learned.
And it’s my hope that you’ll learn new things, you’ll be inspired, you’ll make big moves and take risks.
And there’s just one more thing…
I also decided that just because I’m not offering it as a coaching program doesn’t mean my Subscriber to Sale Blueprint program isn’t valuable or valid and that it should sit on my shelf collecting digital dust.
It’s the entire step-by-step strategy I’ve used to grow my business from a $0 side hustle to a $500,000 company, and it’s available to you right now as a self-study program.
And you can get access to a self-study version of the program for a limited time for 70% off the regular price.
The self-study version is normally $997…
But for a limited time you can get your hands on it for just $297.
Just go to subscribertosaleblueprint.com to get your hands on it.
I don’t know when or if I’ll be making this offer again…
…so if you’ve been wanting tried + true marketing and business strategies that don’t rely on ads, algorithms or being on social media 24/7, now’s the time.
So I wanna wrap up with a few of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on the journey from $0 to $500k…
- My business grew at the rate my money mindset grew.
- My business grew at the rate I was willing to invest in myself, which meant I had to believe in myself and trust myself.
- My business grew at the rate I was willing to get help – whether it was mentorship, support or both.
- I am capable of creating whatever I decide to create.
- I don’t have to BE the business.
So that’s it for my December 2021 Income Report.
I hope you heard something in here that was helpful to you, and if you did I’d LOVE to hear about it – you can head over to my Instagram @shannonlmattern and leave your biggest takeaway on this episode or you can go to shannonmattern.com/376 and leave a comment on the show notes.
And if you haven’t already, I’d love for you to go to shannonmattern.com/review and leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It helps our show get found by people who need to hear our weekly pep talks for side hustlers!