Welcome to my February 2021 Income Report!
Every month since I quit my day job in 2018, I’ve published an income report to take you behind the scenes of my online business and reveal exactly how I started my business from scratch at the end of 2014 to today where right now, we’re on track to reach half a million dollars in revenue… and I break down exactly how much money we make each month, how we make it, how much we spend and lessons learned along the way.
I feel so compelled to share this journey with you, with the benefit of hindsight, so that you can follow in my footsteps and see what’s possible for your business.
Because if someone like me can do it…
Someone with no entrepreneurs in her family, no business education, no startup money or investors…
…you can do it too.
If you listened to last month’s income report back in Episode 327, you’ll remember that we had our biggest revenue month ever at just over $38,000 – and on the flip side we spent more in expenses in one month than ever before, at just over $22,000 – which now includes my salary plus my team, and I’m testing out Facebook Ads for my Web Designer Academy which I’ve never done before.
We still made a profit of nearly $16,000 which feels incredible, and which I leave in my business bank account for rainy days – or for sunny days, which I’ll tell you more about in this month’s income report!
So where we left off at the end of January is that I was working overtime on the Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit that was happening the first week in February.
We had nearly 2400 people register, over 20 amazing speakers who have all been guests on the podcast, and I hosted the event live on Zoom for 4 days.
The event itself was INCREDIBLE. We had hundreds attending the sessions live, tons of engagement in the chat and the Facebook Group, people showing up, getting inspired, taking action, and planning out their roadmap to go from side hustle to self-employed in 12 months or less.
I’ll break down the exact revenue, expense and profit numbers for you later, but I was really, really proud of the event and how it turned out.
But afterward… I was freaking exhausted.
I hadn’t taken any time off in months, if I’m truly being honest, I don’t think I’d taken more than 7 days without working on something in my business in the past year.
I was working every single weekend. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was living on coffee to get me through the morning, and a couple of glasses of wine in the evenings to help me sleep. I was overeating again, to feel better from being so tired or to relax or get relief from a long day. I had this jaw/ear pain that had started around Thanksgiving that was just getting worse and worse, but I kept putting off a doctor’s appointment. I wasn’t working out, or walking my dog, I was just working, constantly.
And if you’ve listened to this podcast for a while, you know that overworking is something I struggle with, and I say I’m gonna make changes and get help or stop doing things, and then even if I do make those changes, I just fill my time right back up with different stuff.
And after the Summit, even with how amazing it was, again, I found myself thinking… “The way I am working is not sustainable…” I was looking at my numbers for January, and I was just like “Is this really worth it?” And then I was looking at the revenue brought in just by the Web Designer Academy in comparison to everything else I was doing… and I honestly started thinking about shutting everything down except the Web Designer Academy.
Even this podcast, you guys.
In looking at the numbers I was literally thinking, “If I just went all in on the Web Designer Academy and stopped doing everything else I do, then I could breathe again. Then I could take time off.”
Because when I let myself get that burnt out, I start wanting to make changes from a place of protecting myself instead of from a place of curiosity and possibility and abundance.
But now that I know that about myself, I decided that before I made any decisions, I needed to seek counsel from my biz besties.
So I texted my friend Bree Pair, who I’m in a mastermind group with (and you can hear the whole story of how that even came to be way back in Episode 177) to see if she can hop on a call with me to talk about what it would look like if I sunset all these other parts of my business… the 5 Day Website Challenge, this podcast, my Website Marketing Lab, the Summit… and just 100% focused on growing the Web Designer Academy.
So we hop on this call and I’m just word vomiting about how exhausted I am, and how behind I am because I put 100% of my attention into the Summit that I literally had no plan and nothing ready for the rest of 2021.
And she goes “You just need to hire me.”
And I was like “Seriously?”
Because to be totally honest… I was secretly hoping she would say that.
I’ve known Bree since I spoke at her Thrive Conference for Bloggers back in early 2018, we’ve gone on a couple of mastermind retreats together and we’ve met monthly in our group for the past 3 years, and if there’s one thing I know about Bree, she’s masterful at marketing strategy and project management.
And I was just doing everything on the fly, not taking full advantage of my team, saying yes to every opportunity and every idea, and creating a situation where I was so behind it felt like I would never catch up.
So we talked about what it would look like, about how we’d meet a couple of times a week so she could take a deep dive into my business, inventory all my content and my assets, take a look at my team, my schedule, my numbers and not only put together a plan but take as much off of my plate as possible and then work with us on an ongoing basis to manage our projects + delegate to the team.
And I cannot even begin to explain to you how relieved I was at that moment.
I have an incredible team, but as cliche as it sounds, I’m the bottleneck in my business. They can’t do what they do best when I’m always in the weeds because I’m trying to do everything.
Because there have been times in my business where I’ve just wished I could clone myself, like if I just have one of me that creates the content and serves my students, and the other me that plans and executes marketing strategy, then I could breathe.
Well, bringing on Bree is pretty much like cloning myself. And I already trust her 1000% because I’ve known her for years, I know her strengths, and I’ve seen her grow her own business – and the strategy she’s executing for me is exactly what she teaches her community to do start, grow and scale their business (which their business happens to be blogging).
When I paid that first invoice, instead of feeling scared like I know the version of me one year ago would have felt, I felt like I had given myself a raise and bought my life back. Truly.
Because one of the first things Bree implemented in my business was that I was no longer allowed to work weekends. And now I have someone other than myself to be accountable to. She also made me tell my husband that I’m not allowed to work weekends, and he just looked at me like, “Okay, I’ll believe that when I see it…”
But I haven’t. Since Bree joined the team the week after the Side Hustle to Self-Employed Summit, I haven’t worked a single weekend. And guess what? I’m sleeping again. I’m back to my healthy eating habits. I’m not drinking alcohol during the week to unwind because I’m not wound. I’m taking my dog for walks again. I’m exercising again. And that jaw pain? It’s almost completely gone. Stress-induced TMJ – from clenching my teeth and resting my head on my hands while working.
So we’re at the point now where Bree spent a month taking a deep dive into my business and creating the plan, and in March we started executing so I’ll tell you more about that in my March income report.
So those were the biggest things that happened in February – the Summit, and adding Bree onto my dream team.
Because after that it was just business as usual – I’d meet with Bree Monday + Friday for our deep dives, and I’d spend the rest of the week serving my existing students, doing my Live Q&A for my Website Marketing Lab peeps and answering their questions in the Facebook group, but mostly on the Web Designer Academy because that’s a completely different program format than the Website Marketing Lab.
The Website Marketing Lab is an online course that teaches any kind of online business owner how to get traffic, subscribers and customers, and currently there’s a weekly live Q&A and a Facebook group for students to get their questions answered.
The Web Designer Academy is a high-touch group coaching program that’s application only. So not just anyone can join – I only accept people who I think have the potential to successfully implement our strategies.
So I spend time promoting the application, reviewing applications, approving some, rejecting some and asking for more information on others. I spend time following up with accepted applicants answering their questions about the program to help them decide if its a good fit for them. For those who do decide to join us, I onboard them by making them a customized program roadmap and hosting a live orientation call, and then every week inside the program I host a live strategy call and I’m reviewing and giving feedback on student’s work – for example, they submit their packages, pricing + marketing and I review it to make sure they’re not undercutting themselves and that they’re correctly implementing our strategies.
I used to get lost in time building websites because I loved that so much, now I get lost in time mentoring Web Designer Academy students. It’s so rewarding when they get just enough courage to make bold moves like 5xing their price and making the offer anyway and getting the client and just blowing their own minds.
If you’re interested in working with us to create a full-time income as a web designer, you can apply at http://www.webdesigneracademy.com
The other thing I did in February that felt like a boss move was finally hiring a lawyer. My business is growing fast, my team is growing fast, my audience is growing fast, and especially after watching the presentations from both attorneys who presented at the Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit, Autumn Witt Boyd and Girija Patel, I thought it was probably time to have someone come in and do a legal audit of my business and just get a relationship established for whatever it is I’ll need in the future. I’ve known Autumn Witt Boyd for years, I’ve listened to her Legal Roadmap Podcast for years, we’ve been on each other’s podcasts and collaborated on a few things over the years so it was the natural next step in our relationship for me to hire her. We’ll dive into everything in March, so I’ll tell you all about that process when we get there, but for now, you’ll see that fee come up in February’s numbers.
Okay, so let’s dive into February’s numbers.
I still have weirdness about money, it doesn’t just go away overnight, and as I was pulling together the numbers for February I was having all kinds of what Jasmin Haley (who spoke at the Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit) calls MINDTRASH, thinking things like… “I spent SO much freaking money in February, hiring Bree, hiring Autumn, paying my CPA to have my taxes done, all these other little things here and there…I bet this is the first month I’ll have a loss.”
But then I had to stop myself and remind myself that the money I’m spending now is an investment in the future of my business. Because the last thing I want to do is bring on team members for the wrong reasons, which I’ve done in the past, to take things I was doing off my plate that weren’t profitable in the first place, and not be able to sustain paying them and have to end contracts and let them go.
That’s really hard, and it sucks, and I’m trying to make the right decisions now so that I can do my best to prevent that in the future.
So I still have that mind trash come up… but I know not to believe it. I know to tell the other side of the story.
That bringing on Bree is actually going to allow us to increase our revenue more than I could do on my own. That paying Nacondra Moran to do my taxes is an investment in the future health and stability of the business. That hiring Autumn to do a legal audit + make sure I’m fully protected is an investment in securing the future of my business. That investing even more in my team will help us grow exponentially.
I have to constantly remind myself of this as I make the transition from solopreneur who’s only responsible for herself, to CEO who’s responsible for the company.
So with that, here are the numbers for February 2021:
Total Revenue: $41,422.88
Affiliate Income: $5205.40
Site-in-a-Snap Templates + Trainings: $3449.88 (that’s my portion of the total sales after paying out my partners and affiliates)
Web Designer Academy: $19167.00
Website Marketing Lab: $2076.00
Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit: $11,524.00
So before we dive into the expenses, I just wanna remind you that I’m changing the way I’m reporting these. I used to just report income and expenses, and then whatever leftover as profit, and then I’d pay myself and pay taxes out of the “profit” – which honestly isn’t really the definition profit. Profit is what’s left AFTER I’ve paid everything, including myself.
So I’m now including my paycheck in the expenses, and then my profit is what’s leftover after that, which is what stays in my account so that I can pay my tax bill, make other important investments into the business like being able to hire Bree and Autumn, be able to cover any low months should we ever have to, stuff like that.
Total Investments: $27,987.78
Tools I use to run my business: $1203.70
Training, Coaching + Mentorship: $3700.00
CEO Salary (that’s me!) $7737.29 (includes payroll taxes)
Affiliate Payouts: $734.30
Facebook Ads for WDA: $903.18
Net Profit: $13,434.50
Get the full breakdown of income, expenses and net profit month by month here.
We had another record-breaking month, and not only in terms of revenue, but also expenses. We made more in one month than ever before, but we also spent more too.
But I’m paying myself a steady paycheck, we’re profitable, and I’m really proud that this is the business I literally started from zero and to see the impact it’s having in so many different ways is honestly hard to conceptualize sometimes… to think about the number of people and lives we’re impacting all along the way not only with our paid products and programs which is how we make this money, but with all of our free content as well.
I’m really starting to step into the CEO role – and it’s a mentally-challenging transition. It’s a whole new personal development journey. I don’t think I’ll ever be done leveling up my thoughts on money, on how I build and lead a team, on what my role is and how much I’m working and how it’s okay to not work 24/7 and have other people doing work for you that you’re perfectly capable of doing.
I used to think that I could just go it completely alone, without a team, and that there was a place I’d get to in my business journey that I’d just be like, “Okay, here’s good. I can stop here and chill out and reap the rewards.” But I don’t think it works like that. At least it didn’t for me. And I can tell you that it’s much more fun and rewarding taking the journey with other people – mentors, team members, biz besties and students – than it was doing it all on my own.
So before we wrap up, I just wanna break down the final Side Hustle to Self Employed numbers for you.
To give you a little background, I interviewed Krista Miller of Summit in a Box back in Episode 321 – and if you’ve ever thought about hosting a virtual summit I highly, highly recommend going back and listening to that episode.
Krista teaches people how to host virtual summits and gives them all the tools they need to host successful summits. I bought it, it’s incredible, I highly recommend it because the amount of work it takes to pull off a summit is pretty intense and I don’t know what I would have done without her workflow and templates and all that.
I wanted to host a summit first and foremost to grow my email list, and I started my summit planning way back in August of 2020. I was also building a new house, selling my house, moving and re-launching the Web Designer Academy at the same time, you know, no biggie. I’m superwoman, I can do it all, right? You already heard how that went – yes, we successfully did it all, but at the expense of my mental + physical health, and I’m fixing that… but I digress.
I’ve had so many incredible guests on Pep Talks for Side Hustlers over the years that it felt like a total no-brainer to me to pull together the Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit and invite a bunch of my guests to teach something that would help my attendees go from side hustle to self employed in 12 months or less.
And all of the attendees are pretty much my ideal client depending on where they are at in their business journey.
If they’re brand new and just getting started and need to learn how to build a website that converts – Free 5 Day Website Challenge and Site in a Snap.
If they already have a website but need to learn how to market themselves, get traffic and turn it into email list subscribers and customers? Website Marketing Lab.
And if they’re a web designer who wants to stop undercharging + overdelivering and create a full-time income as a web designer? Web Designer Academy.
So the #1 goal for me in putting on this event was to get in front of a totally new audience, which is one of the reasons that I decided to host the whole thing live on Zoom instead of the other alternative which was to unlock the sessions daily and let people attend on their own time. I wanted to interact with this new audience, get to know them and let them get to know me too.
It was a really easy ask for me to get speakers because I already had relationships with almost everyone through the podcast. Almost everyone I asked said yes, and then I was referred an incredible guest from one of my other speakers who will be on the podcast in the future and I cannot wait to introduce you guys to her – and my speakers were all amazing, they all got everything to me on time, and the whole process was just super smooth.
But there’s no getting around it being a lot of work the first time you do it. If I do it again in the future, which now that I have someone on the team to plan + coordinate it I very likely will, it won’t take as much time.
The #1 marketing strategy I teach is relationship building, and hosting a summit is basically doing a year’s worth of relationship marketing condensed into just a few months, and I’m super happy with our results.
You can get the full breakdown here, but here are the numbers for the first-annual Side Hustle to Self-Employed Summit:
|Total New Subscribers||1589|
|Total # of Sales||205|
|All-Access Pass Sales (LTO)||53|
|All-Access Pass Sales (Full)||3|
|Power Pack Sales (LTO)||137|
|Power Pack Sales (Full)||12|
|Summit Website Hosting||$240.00|
|Private Podcast Hosting||$185.96|
All of those numbers are included in my January and February income reports, but I wanted to break it down as its own thing so I could evaluate it on its own.
So you can see why in my burnt-out state, looking at the Web Designer Academy bringing in $20,000 a month with not that much work from me now that I’ve built it, to me looking at the hundreds of hours of work we put in that resulted in $18,000… but that’s a very short-sighted, non-CEO way to look at these results.
I now have 1500 new subscribers to nurture and make offers to so that I can help reach their goals. The Summit paid for itself and made a nice profit the first time I ever did it. Nothing has ever worked that well the first time I’ve done it and it can only grow from here. The relationships built planted so many seeds – and if you attended the Summit you heard Deonjala Williams of Heart and a Heat Press say “Don’t go digging up your seeds after you planted them.”
For me to not do this summit again, for me to sunset over half of my business would be me digging up the seeds I’ve planted over the past 6 years that would have grown into my multi-million dollar business.
And yes, I said multi-million dollar business, because I know that I’ll be able to grow the Web Designer Academy into a million-dollar revenue stream at least because there are so many people who need web designers and there are so many web designers out there who need help to be able to serve those clients… and then we’ve got some exciting things planned for those of you who aren’t web designers to help you grow your business too… but I’m taking things slow right now so that we can grow sustainably.
So that’s all I got for you this week – I’d love to hear from you about this week’s episode!
I just finished this episode and had to leave a comment after you said to at the end. 😉 I wanted to say that I am one of those new emails you have from the Summit. As a subscriber to Autumn Witt Boyd’s I was sent the info for the Summit. It sounded like something that I would be into and it really panned out. I ordered the Power Pack on the 7th, just recently having the time to go through them. Along with signing up for your 5 day website challenge, where I then purchased the workbook and website copy, then was upsold on the Tech Masterclass Bundle. As you can tell I am all in.
So, its a good thing you didn’t dig up all those seeds of yours! All of this because you actually answered my questions during the summit and did such a tremendous job hosting it. There have been many times I’ve opted into “challenges/masterclasses/workshops” and such and not felt the connection or even had my comments and/or questions unaddressed.
Keep doing what you are doing. For someone like me, it’s a wealth of knowledge that you offer and I especially appreciate these income reports. It’s hard to be so transparent and you seem to do it effortlessly. Big thanks!
Gwendolyn!!!! Thanks for taking the time to listen and leave me a comment! And for your kind words about the summit 🙂 I’m glad you love the income reports! You know, you say I seem to be transparent effortlessly… on one hand, it’s just easier to be myself and share everything than to hold back, and then on the other hand I often feel really vulnerable after they get published, and then comments like yours remind me to keep going because it really does help people. So thank you!
I love reading these Shannon. It makes it so real for me as I push through the website marketing lab. I watched a video the other day and you talked about service and helping people as what drives you. It was in one of what marketing is and what it isn’t videos. It resonated so much with me. My favorite book is the Go Giver and this is right in keeping with that philosophy. Getting to know you on the Zoom call on Tuesday and reading about your journey in these Income Reports makes you vulnerable and real. I so appreciate this. Thank you so much!
Lori!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to listen and leave a comment! You are taking massive action in the Website Marketing lab and I love seeing your progress! I’m glad you like the income reports… Many times I’ve considered stopping writing them but I get comments like this and it makes me think it’s probably one of the most valuable pieces of content I create – so thank you!