Welcome to my April Income Report! Every month I publish an income report to take you behind the scenes of my online business and reveal exactly how much money I make, how much I spend and lessons learned along the way!
Important Things That Happened in April
- We kicked off the Website Marketing Lab with a new round of students going through the 8-week program. Later in this episode I’m gonna break down my entire launch strategy for you and give you all the stats and numbers so you can see what that looked like.
- I started working on my Growth University Roadmap
- I completed the AccessAlly Advocate training.
Review of Goals
My goal for the month of April was quite a bit different from my typical goal of making $10,000 in revenue and paying myself $5,000 and setting aside the other $5K for taxes and expenses.
And that’s because I made two pretty big investments in the future of my business in the first quarter of 2019:
#1 – Becoming an AccessAlly Advocate for Nathalie Lussier’s AccessAlly membership plugin.
That’s the online course plugin I use to run my Free 5 Day Website Challenge, my Website Marketing Lab and my Web Designer Academy, and it’s the online course platform that I recommend and implement for some of my clients.
So basically I paid $1500 for a certification program, and I went through an 8-week training course to learn the ins and outs of the plugin.
I completed the program, I’m waiting for my evaluation and then once I’m certified, I’ll be listed in the directory of AccessAlly experts for their customers who want to hire an expert to set up membership sites. I’m super excited about it because I really love the platform, I’ve seen huge success with it in my own business, and I know I’m uniquely positioned as both a web designer and someone who’s had great success with my own online courses to bring massive value to my clients.
So that investment was a total no-brainer, I’m 100% confident that I’ll make it back and then some, but it was a short-term outlay of cash out of my bank account make it happen.
#2 – Growth University
The second big investment I made was in Growth University, a coaching program run by Bryan Harris from Growth Tools, formerly known as VideoFruit.
The cost of the program at the time I enrolled was $5,000, and if you listened to my March income report, you know that I had a conversation with my husband about investing in this program, because it meant that instead of writing myself a full paycheck every month, I’d be shorting it by $1000 a month for 5 months to pay for this program, because my husband was a little iffy on me paying some random guy on the internet $5,000 for training (which cracks me up because my business is that I’m some random girl on the internet that people pay thousands of dollars to for training)!
My husband is starting to understand that I do lot more than just build websites for clients I find online…
Anyway, I opted for the payment plan option, but halfway through April I thought, I’d really just love to pay this off and be done with it and not drag it out, but if I do that, it means that I’ll have to short myself like a paycheck and a half.
So again, I had that conversation with my husband, because really what I’m asking is for our personal bank account to pay for this training without it actually commingling our funds – knowing that I’ll do the work and do what it takes to make back the investment and then some.
So we did. I paid off the Growth University investment in April, $4000.
So, I think about myself in the early years of my business and my mindset around paying for coaching and training vs. my mindset now, and there’s a huge difference in my thought process – and my results.
It’s not “I’m gonna spend money on this course and I hope this works for me, I hope I get the results they are promising…”
It’s “I’m gonna spend money on this course, and I’m all in. I’m gonna make time for it, I’m gonna do all the steps and I have no doubt that I’ll get results because I’m not going to stop until I reach the goal I set for myself. And if I get stuck or need help, I’m going to ask for help.”
Like, the way I used to think about it, it was like the results were out of my hands. And that’s why I kept thinking that things I was doing weren’t working. I’d try them once and if they weren’t a massive success, I’d declare it a flop and try something totally new. I’d think “That strategy doesn’t work, I gotta try something new.”
But that’s totally not true, that’s just how I was thinking about it.
And that’s not how I’m thinking about my Growth University Roadmap at all. The results are totally in my control. I’m thinking, “Everything I’ve done to this point has led me here, and my only job is to follow the plan we worked out together, and never stop until I reach my goal.”
So you’ll see later on when I share my revenue and expenses that I had a HUGE outlay of expenses this month – something I may have thought about in the past as a risk that may or may not pay off.
But now I think about them as a bet on myself, and those pay off for me 100% of the time. And they were planned, and I feel good about my decisions, and I am confident that I’ll reach my goals.
What I Focused on in April
So you may recall from my March income report that I launched my Website Marketing Lab course, which teaches you how to market your business online and get traffic to your website in authentic and algoritim-proof way.
So in this income report I’m gonna break down my launch strategy and results for you so that you can do this yourself in the future.
For anyone that’s new to the podcast, I have a free training called the 5 Day Website Challenge which teaches people how to DIY their website – and it teaches EVERYTHING.
Like, all of the things that I do for my paying clients, I put that process together in a free training to teach people who are in the beginning stages of starting their business and really shouldn’t be investing in a professionally designed website yet how to do it themselves so they can start marketing themselves and getting clients.
So I love web design, but websites are really a means to an end, and my real passion is online marketing, and creating websites that help people market themselves, and I love teaching all of those tactics to people, and showing them how to set up the tech to market themselves, because again, when you’re just starting out, you shouldn’t be hiring people to do this stuff for you because you’re testing out a lot of things, and so many things are going to change and you need that flexibility to be able to set that stuff up and make those changes yourself.
So people sign up for my 5 Day Website Challenge, and they really just think of me as the tech girl, you know, their WordPress BFF.
And the mistake that I’ve made in the past is to just jump straight from “here’s a free training to teach you how to build your website,” to “want to pay me to learn how to market yourself?” and there’s a disconnect.
They either don’t look at me as their go-to marketing person, or they don’t realize that they have to market themselves because they think having a website will automatically bring them traffic.
So I needed to do something to bridge that gap, the gap from having a website to actually getting traffic to the website, and the gap from thinking of me as your website person to thinking of me as your online marketing person.
So that’s why my whole Website Marketing Lab launch strategy starting out with another free training called 5 Day Freebie Challenge where I taught my method for creating a freebie that helps you grow your email list on autopilot, and then at the end, I invited anyone who wanted to continue on with the process of learning how to market that freebie to join the Website Marketing Lab.
Behind the Scenes of my Website Marketing Lab Launch
So here’s how it worked – and I teach this strategy in depth in the free 5 Day Freebie Challenge – which by the way I’m actually hosting another free 5 Day Freebie Challenge on May 13 if you want to get in on it – just go to www.wp-bff.com/freechallenge or click on the link at the top of the show notes to save your spot.
First, I have a bit of an advantage because I already have an email list, and last year I did a survey asking them what their biggest struggle has been when it comes to their business and what they want to learn next – and there were 2 things that kept coming up: how to market myself and how to get traffic.
And I know that the answer to how to market yourself and how to get traffic is not what people typically think it is, like search engine optimization or blogging or social media.
Those are tactics, not a strategy and I think that’s why people get so frustrated is because they go straight to tactics without having all the right pieces of the strategy.
The answer to how to market yourself is building an email list, and the way you build an email list is by giving away valuable free content in exchange for an email address. And the way you get traffic is by sharing that free thing online with an irresistible call to action that makes people want to go to your website and get the free thing.
I knew that what was going to move people from having a website and not getting traffic to having a website that gets traffic is to teach them how to create the freebie that they need to be able to execute all of the marketing tactics that are supposed to bring you traffic.
And I also knew that the freebie is just one part of the overall equation, so I could deliver massive value by teaching them how to do that part for free, and then the natural next step for anyone that wanted to then learn how do all the tactics to actually get that freebie in front of their ideal clients would be to join me in the Website Marketing Lab.
And if they didn’t join me, that’s okay too, they walked away learning a ton and they might decide to join the next time around, or tell other people about it.
So to put together the free training, I outlined the 5 things people needed to learn to create their freebie, and then I decided I wanted to deliver the training live in a Facebook Group where I could interact with people and answer their questions instead of doing via email or prerecording it.
I also created a workbook, because I wasn’t just teaching them concepts, I wanted the training to be really actionable, and I wanted them to walk away with something tangible – because I really wanted them to get a taste of what they’d be doing inside of my paid program.
So here are the stats:
I had 2500 people on my email list at the time.
Starting about a week and a half before the 5 Day Freebie Challenge I sent out an email inviting my list to the free training.
I sent three more invitations over the course of a week to anyone that didn’t sign up.
I added a HelloBar across the top of my WP+BFFs site and my courses site so that any visitors there would see it and sign up. I totally forgot to put it on my Pep Talks for Side Hustlers website.
I posted about it on Instagram a couple of times, and I created a pin on Pinterest about it, and I posted it in my Facebook Group a few times.
And I mentioned it on a few podcast intros leading up to the start date.
I didn’t run any ads for the training at all.
I had 600 people sign up for the free training.
So then, when people signed up, they got an email letting them know the details of the Challenge and what to expect, that I’d be sending them a workbook the day before the Challenge, and to join a special Challenge-only Facebook group that I created just for the Challenge.
Then I’d go live each night at 7PM, and I’d send out the replay to them the next day if they couldn’t join me live.
Out of the 600 that signed up, 350 actually joined the Facebook group, and I had about 40 to 50 people join me live every night, which was SUCH a blast.
I taught my concept for 20 minutes or so, and then I spent the last 40 minutes answering questions.
And by doing it that way, I learned a ton about what their needs were, and when it came time to invite them to join me in the Website Marketing Lab at the end, it was a natural next step for me to make the offer because I knew I was right on track, I wasn’t doing a hard sell, i didn’t feel like an informercial.
Throughout the Challenge I let people know that on the last day I was going to let them know how to continue working with me, so it wasn’t like a bait and switch, and then I talked about the Website Marketing Lab at the end of Day 5, and then I also did a followup email sequence to everyone that signed up letting them know what kind of results they could expect by following the marketing roadmap I created for them inside the Website Marketing Lab.
So out of 600 people, I had 8 new people join the program at $297 for the first month, and then $49/month ongoing – and that revenue was actually part of my March income report, it’s the $49 ongoing that you’ll see in this income report.
And that’s actually in line with what I was expecting based on the price of the program.
And then after it was over, I surveyed everyone who signed up but didn’t purchase and asked them what influenced their decision to NOT buy, and over 95% of respondents said that they wanted the program – and that their decision to NOT buy wasn’t motivated by price, which totally validated that I’m marketing it effectively, and that my price isn’t too high.
So the key takeaways here are that when you can do something to provide massive value to your ideal client, but that’s also going to give you tons of insight on whether you’re on the right track or not, that’s always a good use of your time.
I’m about to break down the revenue numbers for you in a sec, but I want to point out that when I sold the Website Marketing Lab, I hadn’t created any of the content yet.
I did that for a few reasons – one, I’ve created programs before that no one purchased, and it’s a total waste of time.
Two, doing a Live Challenge and interacting with the people I was going to offer my course to BEFORE I built it helped me make sure that I was creating exactly what they needed, instead of what I thought they needed.
And three, it’s totally keeping me accountable to getting all the course content done, because that’s what I spent all my time on in April, was recording the modules I’d outlined, and setting them up in AccessAlly and releasing them to my students, week by week.
And like I said, I’m opening up the program again in May and testing a different pricing structure – with the added bonus for new students that all the content is done so they can work at their own pace!
I’m also working on some new techniques to validate the pricing and my offer as part of Growth University so I can get that dialed in – because as those of you that listen to the podcast, I’m always worrying about my pricing.
But when your students tell you they can’t believe what they’re getting for the price and that they would have gladly paid more, that’s a sign that you’re on the right track!
So with all of that, here’s how much money I made and spent in April of 2019:
Total Revenue: $6529.44
Affiliate Income: $1973.80
Done For You & Consulting: $2664.64
Total Expenses: $6753.60
Net Profit: -$224.15
Biggest Lessons Learned
This is the first time I’ve posted a negative profit, but I totally expected it, so it didn’t throw me into a panic like it might have had I not started actually planning out a monthly budget before the month started, Dave Ramsey style.
I have an extra $4500 in expenses in April due to Growth University and AccessAlly Advocate training, which I totally planned on and knew I wouldn’t be paying myself for the second half of April – but what I didn’t plan for is a Done For You web design client not paying their invoice on time, which is why I have negative profit in April. I did get that payment, just not until May.
So right now, I feel like I have a total clean slate.
Everything is paid for, I’ve actually reduced my baseline expenses significantly, which you’ll start to see in my May income report which means I get to take home more profit, or bring in more help or whatever needs to happen as my partnerships start to bear fruit and my email list grows and I get more and more successful students coming out of the Website Marketing Lab and Web Designer Academy, and I start booking more lucrative Done For You projects.
So my biggest lesson learned this month – and it’s one that I know I’ve mentioned before but it keeps proving itself to be true – is that how I think, and what I believe about what is possible, is 100% responsible for my results. It’s what drives my action or inaction.
It’s not that I signed up for this coaching program or that certification program, it’s that I believe that I will do what it takes to take action on what I learn inside of those programs and that I know I won’t stop until I’ve reached my goal, and that I believe that it’s possible for me.
And so if you can start cultivating that belief in yourself too, that you’ll never stop trying until you get what you want, then your success is guaranteed.
So if you want to sign up for my next 5 Day Freebie Challenge, even if you’re listening to this months after it was published, head on over to www.wp-bff.com/freechallenge and save your spot in the next one – I’ll teach you everything I can pack into 5 daily lessons about how to create the kind of freebie that helps you market yourself online.
And if you need a website but have no idea how to get started, go to shannonmattern.com/5day and sign up for the 5 Day Website Challenge and learn how to create a website for your side hustle.