Ep. 301: July Income Report

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Welcome to my July 2020 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 I make it, how much I spend and lessons learned along the way.

To give you a really quick background if you’re new to the show:

I started by business doing freelance web design back in 2014 as a side hustle, burnt myself out on that, created a free training that teaches entrepreneurs how to DIY their websites and I make money from that through affiliate commissions. It’s called the Free 5 Day Website Challenge and you can get your hands on it at http://www.free5daywebsitechallenge.com.

In 2018 my side hustle replaced my 6-figure day job income and I quit my day job, and by then I’d also started teaching entrepreneurs how to market themselves online without ads or being on social media 24/7. If you want to learn more about how to do that, I have a free training for you called How to Market Yourself Online which you can get at http://howtomarketyourselfonline.com

I also started teaching web designers how to market themselves, get clients that don’t drive you crazy, and how to price + run projects in a way that actually makes them money. And I have a free training for you on that if you’re a web designer which you can find at http://startafreelancewebdesignbiz.com

You can find links to all of those courses in the show notes – if you’re in Apple Podcasts just scroll up on this episode and they’re all right there on your phone.

July 2020 Numbers

At this point in my business, five and a half years in, my monthly revenue comes from assets that I’ve already created, like:

  • Affiliate revenue from my Free 5 Day Website Challenge;
  • Affiliate collaborations with people I’ve created relationships with;
  • Enrolling new students in my Website Marketing Lab + Web Designer Academy courses,
  • Payment plans from current students in those courses;
  • My Site-in-a-Snap website templates;
  • And in July, a little experiment that I did that I’ll share a little bit more with you later.

I used to do client work, but I stopped doing that in September of 2019 to focus on growing the education and digital product side of my business. I still have few clients that I’ll service here and there, but for the most part I do very little client work.

If you’ve been listening to this income report for awhile, you know that I tell you every month that my minimum baseline revenue that I need to make to pay myself, pay business expenses and taxes is $10,000 month.

And I tell you that I pay myself two paychecks of $3000 each, budget around $2,000 a month in expenses and set the remaining $2,000 aside for taxes.

Well, I’m officially changing those targets this month.

Last month I shared with you that my husband’s job is ending, we’re not exactly sure when, and while he’d love to move to another role in the company, there’s no guarantee. So I’m officially going to be raising my minimum baseline revenue to $15,000 a month so that if he does stop bringing home a paycheck and providing benefits, we’re pretty well covered.

I’m also changing my expense budget to more accurately reflect my willingness to invest in the right mentors, get help and leverage the relationships I’m building.

So instead of $2000 for expenses, I’m upping that to $3500.

So I’ll still pay myself two paychecks of $3000, and just leave the rest in the bank for if my husband’s out of a job. And if he ends up staying with the company, awesome! I’ll have money I can invest back into the business, maybe outsource some more stuff, test some different marketing strategies, stuff like that. But I’m not gonna decide until it’s time to decide.

So we’re at $15,000 a month, pay myself two paychecks of $3000, $3500 a month for expenses and investments, and the rest stays in the bank to pay taxes and either for a rainy day, a bonus, or an investment back into the business (or all of the above!)

So with that frame of reference, here are my numbers for July 2020:

Total Revenue: $14,871.77

  • Affiliate Income: $3031.21 (pretty high for me)
  • Site-in-a-Snap Templates: $3627.23 (that’s my half of the total sales)
  • Courses: $6258.33
  • Done For You & Consulting: $682 (I had some prior clients that I agreed to help out).
  • Tech Masterclass Bundle: $1274 (that’s the sales that came in in July – the sale happened in July + August).

Total Expenses: $3297.89

  • Tools I use to run my business: $1067.94
  • Training, Coaching + Mentorship: $1782.20
  • Team: $375.00
  • Affiliate Payouts: $72.75

Get the full breakdown of income, expenses and net profit month by month here.

I’m gonna start reporting my expenses in these three categories now too – Tools, Training + Team because not every business expense is equal. If I have a goal to work less but I’m spending the least amount of money on my team, them I’m out of alignment.

If I’m investing in high end coaching programs at the level that I’m at, I wanna see that broken out so that I can make sure I’m getting a return on that investment.

And I wanna see how much money I’m spending on domains, hosting, plugins, services, subscriptions and stuff like that to see what I’m really using and what I can cut out.

And finally, I’m doing more and more partnerships with people where I’m paying out significant affiliate commissions, and I want to track those because it’s basically paid advertising, so if I ever do decide to test out scaling with Facebook or Pinterest ads, I can compare giving my ad dollars to Mark Zuckerberg or partner with people I know, like, trust and respect to get new leads and grow my business.

Net Profit: $11,573.88

And I just want to take a moment to mention… I started this business from nothing. No investment, no debt, no personal money contributed. I started it back in 2014 with one client paying me to do one web design project for them, took that money and used it to buy my domain and hosting and build my own website. Then another client, and another, and then I bought the Macbook I still use today.

And I tell you this because I want you to know that you don’t have to have all the techie stuff done and built before you can get clients and start making money! You can get clients and make money while you’re building the foundation you need to grow and scale!

Month in review:

Web Designer Academy Update

I spent most of the month of July working on the re-write of my Web Designer Academy training. I blocked close to two weeks on my calendar at the beginning of the month with no meetings, no Live Q&A sessions for my Website Marketing Lab and Web Designer Academy students, no podcast interviews, no collaboration calls, and just immersed myself in completely re-doing my program that teaches web designers how to market themselves, price their services, get and manage clients and get projects done fast.

And after having been in at least three high-end coaching programs myself since the last rewrite of the Web Designer Academy, I knew exactly what I wanted to change so that students could get results even faster.

I wanted to help them more with niching down and branding, and so they can attract their ideal client and all that – but on a deeper level that really gets them to buy into the value that they create for their clients so that they don’t hold themselves back from marketing and they don’t undercut themselves on pricing.

Because what I’d see from people is that they’d choose a niche to serve as a web designer but still have TONS of imposter syndrome around it, not market themselves, undercharge and overdeliver.

And what I’d done up until this rewrite was give them the framework and the strategy, and then they’d go off and set it all up themselves, and then as they ran into issues or questions, I’d support them through it in our Facebook Group.

And don’t get me wrong, my students get great results, but I want them to get great results faster and easier.

So for this rewrite, I’ve literally done it all for them. Because everyone had the same questions and needed the same thing and was creating the same things!

I’ve given some students the beta version and they’re already like “This is a game-changer.” I’m like, “Here’s exactly what to put in your web design packages, how to structure them and how to talk about them. Here’s exactly what to make as a freebie, and here are two done-for-you options to take and make your own. Here’s a template for every email you could possibly ever need to send for every scenario and exactly what to say. Here are templates for every contract you’d ever need, and what to say if a client asks you this or that.” No guessing or figuring it out on your own.

I just finished up the core content and all the templates and swipe files, now I just gotta record the modules that explain the strategy and how and when to use the templates and swipe files. So I’m continuing that work in August for a September launch.

Site in a Snap Template Pack and Tech Masterclass Bundle

So what I’m about to tell you seems very obvious, but I think it’s so obvious that we don’t think it can possibly work.

The more offers you make to your ideal clients, the more money you will make.

I know, right? Earth shattering.

But seriously, I feel like we have this idea that we can sell too much, or it takes a really long time to build know, like and trust and earn the right to make an offer.

Know like and trust can be built in an instant, especially when someone that you already know, like and trust is telling you about someone else – which is why I teach marketing the way I do – building relationships and being introduced to other people’s audiences by someone they already know, like and trust which gets instantly transferred to you.

When you do it authentically with a client-focused solution in mind, you can present your offer as early in the relationship as you want. The more offers you make, the more money you will make.

But you need people to make offers to!! And that’s why you gotta build your email list.

And that’s what I did in July.

In June, I deleted 900 cold subscribers from my email list – that’s people who hadn’t opened up an email in several months, and ignored my re-engagement sequence too. But I also added about 845 people to my list – 300 of those came organically from people finding me and the rest came from me doing webinars for other peoples’ audiences.

To give you some perspective, I have about 4200 people on my email list and I get an average of 2000 visitors to my website each month. Those are not huge numbers.

But when I don’t make offers to those people, I don’t just magically make money. I have to let them know what I have for sale that can help them!

So I did that twice this month. I made two offers to my whole entire email list.

The first was a sale on my Site-in-a-Snap Template Pack. So last month I talked about how I partnered with Kristin Rappaport to create pre-designed website + graphic templates that go with the 5 Day Website Challenge.

I got to know Kristin very strategically through what I call the 111 Method that I teach for marketing yourself inside my Website Marketing Lab, and when I had the idea to make these templates but I needed someone to do the graphic design part, she was the first person who popped into my head because she teaches DIY graphic design.

So we launched the templates in June, they were massively successful, and we did a Flash Sale over 4th of July weekend for them where we offered them at $100 off for just a few days, and that was also massively successful. My cut of template sales in July was about $3600 which freaking blows my mind.

And now I’m working with my right-hand woman, my team member Laura Kamark who’s a Divi Developer, to make the Divi version of Site-in-a-Snap for me.

Divi’s pretty different from Elementor and I had so many people asking me for a Divi version, and Laura was like, “Hey, I know you’re not teaching Divi anymore but I’ll dive in and figure out how to make these templates for you the same way that you made the Elementor ones so it’s really easy for people to install themselves, and I’ll answer Divi customer questions.”

And I’m like, well, that’s a no-brainer. So she started on that in July and we’ll be putting that out sometime in August.

The other offer I made was totally on a whim.

When I started my business back in 2015 the only tech training I offered was what I teach in the Free 5 Day Website Challenge.

People would take it and then ask me, “Do you have a course on this? How about that? Can you teach me how to X?”

So I started selling in-depth tech masterclasses on SEO, analytics, video creation, social media, advanced WordPress stuff, graphics – stuff like that.

And through teaching the tech, I'd also teach the marketing strategy behind why you set it up that way, and I became known as everyone's techie WordPress BFF.

But I had bigger dreams.

I didn't want to teach just the tech…

I wanted to be the one that empowered you to leverage tech to quit your freaking day job!

So I pivoted.

I began talking more about marketing strategy + mindset and less about the tech.

I even changed my website URL + business name from WordPress BFF to Shannon Mattern.

But I still get asked ALL THE TIME if I have a course on that or a training on this or if I can teach you that.

And I say no…

…but the truth is…

Yeah, I do.

Over the years I've created 20 Tech Masterclasses that teach budget-friendly tech tools + strategies for mastering WordPress, create captivating content, building your email list, getting more traffic and monetizing.

And they've been literally just sitting there on my website, not for sale, collecting digital dust.

The reasons are two-fold (which makes me think of that episode of Friends with Chandler in the box, but I digress…)

  1. A) After I redesigned my website last year, I didn't want to create 20 automations to sell them as individual courses again because I was moving my business in a new direction! So I didn't.
  2. B) I kept thinking I needed to redo them all if I ever made them available again. (Not true. That's my “I'm not good enough” inner impostor popping up again…)

If there's one thing I've learned throughout the years, it's that when your customers are asking you for something over and over again, it's a CLUE.

Pay attention, Shannon! ????????Give the people what they want!!????????

So after being asked for the bajillionth time if I had any trainings on WooCommerce or SEO or analytics or making videos…

…I finally was like, “I'm gonna just spend one day to bundle all these masterclasses into one big techie bundle and sell all 20 for the price of one.That way I save myself a TON of work, it's a no-brainer offer for anyone that wants just ONE course!”

​And I did that because I literally had no idea what would happen, if people would buy it, if they’d love it or hate it or demand their money back.

Because some of the Tech Masterclasses are a little out-of-date and you can't follow along EXACTLY step-by-step – but you can still figure it out – so I added a three day no questions asked refund policy so you could check out the courses you wanted and make sure they meet your needs.

And I figured if anyone questioned why I was selling these old masterclasses, I could explain to them that it’s a total steal for them because everything I teach now inside of my signature course (the $1297 Website Marketing Lab) has been distilled down from what's inside these 20 Tech Masterclasses that I was selling for $49.

My Website Marketing Lab is way better, much more focused, concise, succinct and effective – and I'm mentoring you the whole way through it – whereas with these Tech Masterclasses, you're on your own. I figured they were perfect for the enterprising entrepreneur who doesn't need their hand held, or for the person on a micro-budget who's got more time to spend than money.

So, this offer was a test – just like I teach my Website Marketing Lab students to test their offers.

I figured If I sold the number of bundles I would expect to based on the price, I might offer it again without changing a thing.

If sales didn’t meet those expectations, I'd do some research to figure out why not, and then decide whether or not I'll try it again.

If there's a big demand for more trainings, I might add to it and update it and raise the price.

The only way to know though, is to put it out there and see what happens and make a decision based on data – instead of how I used to make decisions which was expecting overnight success and when it didn't happen thinking, “This must suck, I must suck, let me start completely over.”

When I stopped doing that, everything changed.

So I spent literally one day pulling it together, I waffled between offering it for $97 or $49, and I thought I’ve got so many things that start at $97, how about I test a lower price point for this and just see what happens.

It’s not like I’ve been doing anything with these courses anyway.

So I made it available for 3 days only, and you guys, it blew up!!!

I made the offer on the last day of July, the 31st at 10AM.

I clicked Send on the email with the subject line “Get 20 Tech Masterclasses for the Price of 1” and then I put on my tennis shoes, queued up a podcast and took my doggo for a walk.

When I got back, my inbox was flooded with sales and a note from Amanda Genther who I totally look up to and I’ve had on this podcast with simply “This could make some GOOD money in a low ticket offer funnel! ????”

Note to self – figure out what a low-ticket offer funnel is…

But seriously, it made $1274 in one day.

And after the offer expired in 3 days, I had a ton of people emailing me sad that they missed it and asking if they could get it, so I opened it up for 24 more hours and made another $1000.

The offer in total made over $6,000 but the rest of that happened in August so you’ll see that on my August income report.

So I was really, really tempted to stop everything I was doing and focus on that and build a low-ticket offer funnel like Amanda suggested…but I’m like NO, stay the course, you don’t have to make all the money at once, do your due diligence, find out why people bought, why they didn’t buy and then talk to your coaches to strategize your next move.

You pay good money for help, use it to your advantage.

Sometimes I just get too excited.

I’m like “Well heck I could make 20 more of these on different topics because I do EVERYTHING for everything in my business from podcast production to online courses to the private, password protected podcast that my students get access to through Apple Podcasts, like, tons of things I’ve figured out how to do that no one else is really teaching…”

But I gotta make sure it’s what I really want – because I also REALLY want to offer more in-depth coaching at a deeper level to people who are ready to level up like I’ve been leveling up this year.

I’m rewriting the Web Designer Academy, it’s time for a rewrite of the Website Marketing Lab to do the same thing – get people to results faster…

And I’m building a house and moving, so i just gotta keep reminding myself:

“You don’t have to strike while the iron is hot. That’s a myth. You did a test, you liked the results, hang tight and when you do your strategic planning with your mastermind girls next month, come prepared with your data and advice from your coaches to figure out your next moves while leaving space for your personal goals and family and so on.”

I needed to coach myself to SLOW DOWN.

Because that’s what I used to do… just be all over the place doing everything, and that leads to disorganization, overwhelm and burnout and I DO NOT WANT THAT.

There’s plenty of time.

I said this last month, but it bears repeating here:

Now I understand that I don’t have to make all the money all at once, that my time is best spent doing these four simple things:

  • Building relationships with people who already serve my ideal client,
  • Leveraging my Shareworthy Freebie to build my email list,
  • Making offers for my courses + templates to my email list
  • Showing up and serving the students who choose to join my programs.

It’s not blogging or creating content or Instagram Stories or SEO-optimizing my website or spending all day on Pinterest or posting in Facebook Groups or paying for ads.

I don’t do any of that, and I don’t teach my students to do that to market themselves either.

And it’s not even making more courses or content or funnels.

I have existing offers I can make to my audience. I don’t need to create anything new right now. I just need to make the offers that I have and do that consistently and the revenue follows.

So just a couple quick personal updates:

I mentioned in my last income report that we’re building a new house, that’s going well, we’ve figured out an internet solution thank goodness, and my next challenge is navigating showing my house while also having lots of collaborations scheduled, including a really really exciting one that came to fruition in July which I can’t really talk about yet because we haven’t nailed down all the details.

So I might be turning my camper that we’ve got parked on our property into a temporary office and just planning to work from there!

I also mentioned that I took my foot off the gas on my weight loss efforts. I was feeling GOOD, and started thinking… “Why not just stay right here? Why bother losing those last 12 pounds?”

And then I gained a couple of pounds because I starting letting little old overeating habits creep back in, like cleaning my plate instead of leaving a few bites behind, or serving myself bigger portions when I heard that little voice say “That’s not gonna be enough”…

In July, the NO BS Weightloss Program had a 3 day virtual event that I attended, and it changed everything. I left there knowing that I’d have to have a different conversation with myself all day every day if I’m gonna get my goal.

And the first thing is that I’m not gonna use feeling good in my body now as an excuse for not putting in the effort to reach my dreams. I can feel good now and keep going. It’s just a different experience wanting to lose weight not because I hate my body so much, but because I love it so much. That’s been a huge transformation.

If you wanna learn more about this program I’m in, you can search for the podcast Losing 100 Pounds with Corinne Crabtree and go to PNP411.com to sign up for her free course.

I’m not an affiliate or anything, it’s just that this is different than anything I’ve ever done and it’s working, and I know I’ll get to the end and I know I’ll never go back, and it’s a weird feeling, that calmness and certainty about something that I’ve obsessed over negatively pretty much my whole life.

So I got intentional again, but this time not in my actions, although they did change, but in my thoughts and how I talk to myself all day. So I basically cheer myself on all day, tell myself what a great job I’m doing, how awesome I am, and at the end of the day I’m not exhausted and don’t need to numb out with a big plate of dinner that I inhale and don’t experience and want more because I’m not done distracting myself from being tired.

So that’s about it. I’ve got a lot of ideas for you guys for 2021, I just need to think through all of my options, get some expert advice, choose what I’m gonna do and plan them out so that they work for you guys and for me too!

So I’m sure I’ll be sharing more on that in the next few months.

That’s all I got for you!

Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next week!