Ep 296: June Income Report

shannon side hustle to self-employed

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Welcome to my June 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 and zero social media presence. 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.

June 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; and now
  • My Site-in-a-Snap website templates.

I no longer trade my time for money, and it’s an amazing feeling!

My minimum baseline revenue that I need to make to pay myself, pay business expenses and taxes is $10,000 month.

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.

I’ve got $10,000 coming in pretty consistently, so last year I set a goal to up that to $15,000 a month consistently – which doesn’t quite replace my husband’s income – but it’s pretty close.

When I set that goal, it wasn’t because I think he’d ever quit his job and join the business – I know for sure that he won’t and that he’ll always want to do his own thing – but I just thought it would be awesome that if anything ever happened with his job, we’d be totally covered.

And now something HAS happened with his job.

He manages corporate office space… and with the pandemic sending everyone to work from home, his company has decided to move the majority of positions to work-from-home permanently and is closing the office that he manages. His job will be ending once that closure is complete. And while there’s the possibility of him finding a new position within the company, there's no guarantee.

If this had happened five years ago before I started the business, or even just two years ago after I’d just quit my job – I would be FREAKING OUT right now because we’re in the middle of building a house, and just the way that I grew up, with my mom living paycheck to paycheck and always behind on the bills, losing your job is like the worst thing that could ever happen to you outside of death. I’d always been afraid of losing my job, or Floyd losing his job.

But not anymore. Because the one thing I know for sure is that I know how to offer valuable solutions to my community in exchange for money. I know how to get in front of my ideal client online, get them back to my website and onto my email list, let them know how I can help them get what they want and make offers to work with me to help them solve their problems.

So we don’t need to freak out about his paychecks ending and the job market for facility managers who manage corporate office space when corporate offices are sitting empty being nonexistent, because I have a foundation in place in my business that’s bringing in consistent revenue, and if I need to bring in more revenue, I simply build more relationships and make more offers.

It’s a very freeing feeling, and it’s very different from where I was in 2018 when I had just quit my day job and I was totally freaking out about making sure I replaced that paycheck every month and I was off chasing shiny marketing objects trying to explode my traffic overnight and make all the money all at once so that I felt secure.

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 either.

Because we’re in it for the long haul. We’re not trying to make all the money all at once with a huge launch that costs us as much money as we made on it. We’re building sustainable businesses that bring in consistent revenue, that see us through the ups and downs of life.

So back to that $15,000 goal. I hit it in January, then I felt really guilty for making THAT MUCH MONEY like I was taking it from people and giving them nothing in return. So I got to work on my money mindset and if you’re curious about all of that you can check out Episode 288.

And then in my May Income Report, Episode 292, I shared with you that I updated my Free 5 Day Website Challenge for 2020, and that I decided to sell pre-designed webpage templates with pre-written strategic website copy and bundle them with my friend Kristin Rappaport’s “Mix + Match Brand Kits” that come with editable logos + graphics with font pairs and color schemes that are sized to fit my website templates.

So it basically replaces like 12 hours of work people would do on Days 3 + 4 of my Free 5 Day Website Challenge where they’re designing all the graphics and page layouts from scratch by giving them professionally designed pages, graphics and professionally written website copy prompts.

And I told you back in Episode 292 that we launched them on June 1st, and that you’d have to wait til my June Income Report to find out if it was a big win, or a big flop.

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

Total Revenue: $17,107.92

  • Affiliate Income: $3071.56 (pretty high for me)
  • Site-in-a-Snap Templates: $3679.96 (that’s my half of the total sales)
  • Courses $9091.00 (on par with May 2020)
  • Done For You & Consulting: $1265.40 (I had some prior clients that I agreed to help out).

This is the most money I’ve made in one month ever in my business, and I’m so glad I did the mindset work I talked about back in Episode 288 because I don’t feel guilty or scared, I feel confident and proud, like I’m making an impact and helping my customers get what they want – and I didn’t have to overwork myself to the point of burnout to make it happen either.

Total Investments: $3683.21

  • $1000 for a high-end coaching program (It’s $1,000 month for 12 months, and I’m well on my way to recouping my entire investment in the first 4 months of joining)
  • $575 for a coaching certification program (for a new program I plan to offer later this year/early 2021)
  • $100 donation to a local charity for membership to a local mastermind.
  • $334.25 for paying out my affiliates.

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

So my expenses are significantly higher than what I originally budgeted for 2020, but if you subtract out the investment in my own professional development which is about $1675 a month right now, my operating expenses are right at that $2,000 mark.

And next year, I’ll actually budget separately for my own professional development. This year when I did my budget, my mindset was “No new courses.” And so I budgeted $2000 purely for operating expenses, the bulk of which goes to pay my amazing VA who makes this podcast happen each month and does so many other things for the business.

So just to give you a frame of reference, if I didn’t have a VA, if I wasn’t spending money on professional development, and I wasn’t paying out affiliates, my expenses for all the tech I use to run my business and pay my bookkeeper, stuff like that, would be about $1000 a month.

Net Profit: $13424.71

I pay myself out of that profit, literally by transferring money out of my business bank account to our personal checking account on the 1st and 15th of every month, and then I also transfer around 25% of it to a checking account specifically dedicated to paying taxes. Sometimes I need to transfer more than 25% to make up for months where I didn’t transfer as much as I needed to for taxes because I choose to pay myself first, but I’m always keeping tabs on that profit amount, knowing that I need to pull together between 20% and 25% of that to send to the IRS for quarterly tax payments.

Month in review:

So some key things happened in June that led to my best revenue month ever:

  • The addition of the Site-in-a-Snap Template Pack to my offerings.
  • Two free trainings I did for other people’s audiences that came to fruition as a result of relationships I’ve been intentionally building that led to sales of my Website Marketing Lab and Web Designer Academy.

Site-in-a-Snap

So I wanna talk about Site-in-a-Snap for a minute and why I think it’s selling so well. In my last income report, Episode 292, I talked about how I validated that it was something that people actually would buy before I made it, but I took a bit of a risk by making it before actually pre-selling it.

Because someone saying they want to buy something is very, very different than them actually parting with their money.

However, the feedback I got from going through my validation process validated my gut feeling that Site-in-a-Snap solved a real pain point for DIYers beyond what my Free 5 Day Website Challenge could solve for them.

Here’s what I mean:

My Free 5 Day Website Challenge solves the pain point of “I need a website, I don’t know what I don’t know about how to build one, and I’m not techie, I’m worried I’ll do it wrong and I just want someone to tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

And then my Website Marketing Lab solves the pain point of “I have a website, but I have no idea how to get traffic to it and make offers for my programs and services – and I really want to start making money.”

And that customer journey assumes that people actually finish their website so that they take the next step with me to start marketing their business.

But what I learned after 5 years of answering questions in the community I created to support people taking the challenge is that they were still getting stuck on graphics, page layouts, and copy – that design piece that’s part art and part strategy.

That’s the part of building a website that takes the longest, and it’s the part that really presses on people’s insecurities about their ability and qualifications to run their business.

And that insecurity manifests itself as perfectionism in their website design and in their copy, so they’d just stay stuck on the website design forever – as if having the perfect website would magically make them feel qualified, and the perfect website would magically compel people to buy their programs and services without them having to sell and get over the hump of being uncomfortable with making offers.

They’re never finishing their website – or they’re constantly redesigning it because they think it’s not good enough.

So they’re never ready to take the next step with me to start learning how to market themselves and authentically make offers and actually make money.

So yes, I created Site-in-a-Snap to help people get their websites done and to be able to have a professionally-designed website for a tiny fraction of the price of hiring a pro.

But also I created it because I know that in order to get you to move from designing your website to putting yourself out there and marketing, you have to feel good about your website.

And I’ve been TRYING to convince you to change your thoughts about it – to convince you that your website doesn’t have to be perfect for you to go live and market yourself and make money… but honestly that’s a harder road for me to go down than it is to just offer you something that will change your thoughts about your website so that you FEEL confident enough to move on to the next step of marketing.

But the truth is… your website can’t make you feel good about marketing yourself. YOUR THOUGHTS have to do that for you – just so we’re clear.

And that’s why I created Site-in-a-Snap. Because it’s that missing piece in my customer journey of you actually getting your website done so that I can teach you how to market yourself, get traffic, get subscribers and make offers, and get that going on autopilot so that over time – not overnight – , you can have that first $1000 month, then $5,000 month, $10,000 month, $15,000 month and so on.

And it clearly solves a pain point.

The offer converted at 3.2% – meaning for every 100 people that see the offer, 3.2% take me up on it, which is on the high end of what I expected for a product of its price.

And the best part of knowing that? I know that my job now is to get as many eyeballs on that offer as possible, which means I know exactly how to spend my time: Marketing the Free 5 Day Website Challenge!

And I know that should I ever choose to run paid ads to it – which I currently have no plans to do, but I’m maybe possibly considering testing out some Pinterest Ads in the future because I bought a course last year created my friend Monica Froese of Redefining Mom called Pin Practical Ads – I’ll know what to expect as far as return on investment because I know that for every 100 people that click through to my offer, 3 people will buy.

I feel like Site-in-a-Snap has been the missing piece of my customer journey – and I’m happy that I have my own product within the Free 5 Day Website Challenge and that I’m not solely relying on affiliate commissions to make money from it. Because what I’m hearing from a lot of my blogger friends who do things like fashion and Amazon affiliates and paid sponsorships is that programs are shutting down, not paying on contracts, Amazon reduced its affiliate commissions – and while I have no indication that anything’s gonna change with my affiliate partnerships, I like having my eggs in lots of baskets and being able to make money from my own intellectual property.

Free Trainings

The strategy I teach inside my Website Marketing Lab to get traffic to your website and sell your programs and services is to create a Shareworthy Freebie that you leverage to get in front of other people’s audiences to grow your email list so that you can make offers to your subscribers for your products and programs.

It’s the strategy I’ve been using since Day 1 of my business, and it’s the same strategy I use today – but for me, I’m at the point in developing these deep relationships with people where we are doing live free trainings for each others’ audiences and then making offers for our signature programs at the end of the trainings.

So I have my Free 5 Day Website Challenge which anyone can sign up for any time, but I also have a free marketing training called How to Market Yourself Online and a free training for web designers called How to Get Your First Web Design Client – and I have those set up on my website so anyone can watch them on demand, but I also do those trainings for other people’s audiences so that I’m there live, I can answer their questions and stuff like that.

Five years ago it would have TERRIFIED me to do a live presentation online to someone else’s audience, and I had my share of fits and starts, but I’ve worked my way up to it being one of my favorite things to do, because I just get to show up and teach, tell people how they can work with me on a deeper level if they want to, and answer their questions.

It feels effortless now, but that feeling didn’t happen overnight. It came with lots of practice, and really owning my expertise and thought-leadership – and that didn’t happen magically either. It’s really started to solidify as part of the coaching programs I’ve invested in over the past couple of years.

So I did a free training for Sarah Masci of Bracken House Branding’s audience all about how to market yourself online, and another one for Krista Miller’s audience on how to get your first web design client – and yes, I make offers for my programs, but the biggest benefit to me is getting introduced to a whole new audience who I can develop a relationship with over time.

I tell my Website Marketing Lab students this all the time – we are not here for overnight success, traffic explosions, 10xing everything and windfall launches.

We are building a solid foundation and implementing strategies that do require effort at first, but then start to take on a momentum of their own.

For example, when I first started my business, for months I was the one who shared my Free 5 Day Website Challenge in every Facebook Group’s freebie thread every single day. Now people who take the training and love it share it for me.

For the first year, I was the one who reached out to people who served my ideal clients and make the first move, and plant the seed that would grow into a relationship, so to speak. I still do the outreach, but now I have people reaching out to me too.

When I decided to have guests on the podcast, I was the one who had to reach out and pitch people – now people are pitching me and I have a huge waitlist.

And I’m still making the first move on asking people to collaborate with me the majority of the time, but that’s starting to shift too where I have people reaching out to me first.

It’s like a train getting up to speed – it requires a ton of energy up front, but then it’s carried mostly by momentum, and you give it more energy as needed.

The best part is that it doesn’t require anything more than your website, an email list and your time.

If you’ve ever listened to Smart Passive Income with Pat Flynn – which is how I discovered online business – you know that the intro goes “Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later.”

In June, for the first time I was really feeling like I was reaping the benefits of all of the hard work I’d done since I first heard that podcast back in 2015.

And not just money, but the feeling of certainty during a really uncertain time. Like finding out the day before you start digging the foundation for your new house that your husband’s job is going away, and not freaking out because you know deep in your bones you’ll be okay.

I think that’s been the thing I’m most grateful for in all of this, and it’s truly an amazing feeling – and it’s one that I want for everyone listening to this podcast.

And if I can do it as someone who didn’t grow up around entrepreneurs, didn’t grow up in a family that ever had financial security, who didn’t know anything about running a business or sales, who didn’t have any personal money to invest and started it completely from scratch by offering my time and expertise in exchange for money and marketed it from scratch with free tactics and just figured it out along the way – if I can do it, you can do it.

So just a couple more things that I wanted to update you on that happened in June that I’ve mentioned in previous income reports:

Building a New House

I mentioned back in my March Income Report in Episode 284 that we’d closed on the construction loan, smack in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic. Long story short, we bought 4 acres of land back in 2018, chose not build on in it 2019 because my business didn’t average enough revenue in 2017 + 2018 to get the terms we wanted for the loan, started the process again in 2020 and with the average of my 2018 + 2019 revenue we, got the terms we wanted.

Construction started in June, and it’s going really well, and I’m so glad we moved forward with it even in light of what’s happening with my husband’s job. Except that we found out that the property does NOT have access to high speed internet access like we thought it did when we bought it… So we’re figuring out options for me to be able to run an online business from home with less than ideal internet access – and I’m pretty confident we’ll figure something out.

My Weight Loss Journey

The last time I mentioned anything about my progress in my weight loss journey was back in March, so to give you a little background if you’re new to the show, I joined Corrine Crabtree’s NO BS Weight Loss program back in September of 2019. If you want to learn more about it, go listen to her podcast – Losing 100 Pounds by Corinne Crabtree – I cannot recommend this to you enough if you’ve ever struggled with your weight.

One of the reasons I wanted to become my own boss when I started the business 5 and a half years ago is that I blamed the stress and time commitment of my day job for why I couldn’t lose weight. I figured if I just worked for myself, I’d have time to eat healthy and work out.

Which is total BS, because I’ve been overweight since I was a kid, and I never was able to lose weight before that last job either, and I gained another 15 pounds after I quit.

What I’ve learned is that just like in my business, it was my thinking preventing me from doing what I knew I needed to do to lose weight – and by March I’d lost 34 of the 50 pounds I wanted to lose without crazy diets and weird crap like I always tried and failed to do in the past.

By April I’d lost 3-4 more pounds, and then in May I started maintaining. Not gaining, not losing, just hanging out at the same weight.

Not on purpose though.

I still had 12 more pounds I wanted to lose, but something really interesting happened…

The weather started to get warmer, and I started just wearing shorts without even thinking about it. I know, that probably sounds not earth-shattering, but my whole entire life I hated wearing shorts, hated my legs and kept them covered as much as possible. I wore jeans even in the hottest heat of summer until like last year, and even then I felt really self-conscious about it. But this year I was like, “It’s hot out, I’m gonna wear shorts.” And that was it, I didn’t think another thought about it.

And when my best friend opened up her pool and it was time to put on a swimsuit, I didn’t dread it and shop for a bunch of coverups. I was actually looking forward to pool time and I wasn’t even thinking about having to wear a swimsuit.

My clothes weren’t fitting. Everything was too big, so I ordered some new stuff online and I kept ordering things that didn’t fit, that were too big.

It was like I couldn’t believe that I’d wear a medium pair of underwear when I’ve only ever worn extra large my whole life or a small top when it’s always been a large.

I was finally feeling like how I’d always wanted to feel, even thought I wasn’t at my “goal weight” yet. And it felt effortless, like I didn’t even have to try!

So I started slowly, slowly, slowly backsliding on some of the health habits I’d created. And the really interesting thing about Corrine’s program is that the changes you make are so small and easy to make that they feel effortless after a week or two… you still have to be intentional about them. And I stopped being intentional because I was just like “OMG this is my life now, this is awesome I feel so free!” and it was just as easy to finish those last few bites or eat the unplanned chips at my friends’ pool or drink that extra beer.

And in the back of my mind I’m thinking… “Why not just stay right here? Why bother losing those last 12 pounds? I get to eat what I want when I want, drink what I want and I’m not gaining weight. This is the LIFE!”

And then in June, I gained a couple of pounds. I noticed that it wasn’t just “Life is good, I feel great…” it was more like “I have this going on and that going on and if I don’t eat now I won’t get to eat til late so I better pre-eat so I don’t get hungry and that’s not gonna be enough food to tide me over” and all the same stuff I used to think when I was 50 pounds overweight.

And then thinking about starting to lose again, I’d have the same thoughts I had before – “That’s not enough food, I want more, losing weight is hard…” and I’m like “OH! I see. I took my eye off the ball last month, and now I’m seeing the results of that. So if I want to maintain, or lose I actually can’t stop being intentional and do whatever feels good in the moment. I need to make decisions ahead of time again, intentionally think thought that are going to lead to weight loss, and clearly the reason I want to lose 14 more pounds now is that I still have lessons to learn about how to dig deeper and keep my commitments to myself and put my long-term well-being ahead of instant gratification so that I can keep this weight off for the rest of my life.”

Just like business, it doesn’t just happen. It requires attention and consistency. But it’s not hard if I don’t think things that make it hard. And it’s SO worth it. So I’m continuing on the journey. I have more to learn.

The work I’m doing now is how I talk to myself about work. When I say “I have to do this and I have this and I gotta get this done, and I’m behind and there’s not enough time…” it’s no wonder I want to numb out with a big delicious plate of dinner at the end of the day. Eating turns my brain off.

But when I say “I’m choosing to do this, here’s why, and I can choose to change it if I don’t like it and I don’t HAVE to do anything, and I’m a total rockstar for getting this done and there’s plenty of time” then I’m calm at the end of the day and I’m not compelled to numb out.

Ultimately, I feel compelled to accomplish things I’ve always believed were not possible until I learned that all I have to do is change how I think about it to make it possible.

I feel like the 50 pound weight loss is one of those things, like when I do that, I’ll have proven to myself that I can do anything.

But I’ve already proven to myself that I can do anything as long as I’m consistent and never quit, so I already know that I’ll get there, so it’s basically a foregone conclusion.

So I know I’ve talked a lot about mindset in this episode –  about the things that hold us back from marketing, about money mindset, even about mindset when it comes to weight loss or just accomplishing those things in your life that you really really want, but for whatever reason you’re not doing what you know you need to do to make them happen.

Mindset is EVERYTHING. It’s more important than any tool, tactic or strategy.

And I also mentioned that I’m currently working on a coaching certification so that I can help you with all the mindset stuff that prevents you from having the business you want – and later this year I’ll be opening up a coaching program to help you identify what’s holding you back and reframe it so that like me, you can reach those goals.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can head on over to http://www.businessmindsetmakeover.com and sign up to get on the list for when that program is opening up.

That’s all I got for you! Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next week!