Ep. 284: March 2020 Income Report

Welcome to my March 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 2015 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.

March 2020 Numbers

My minimum baseline revenue goal is $10,000 month. I pay myself two paychecks of $3000 each, pay around $2,500 a month in expenses and set the remaining $2,500 aside for taxes.

And my big goal is to consistently generate $15,000 a month exclusively from assets that I’ve already created – affiliate revenue from my Free 5 Day Website Challenge and collaborations with people I’ve created relationships with, and from enrolling new students in my Website Marketing Lab + Web Designer Academy courses, plus revenue from payment plans from current students in those courses.

I’ve so far hit that $15,000 goal once, in January of 2020, so I know it’s totally possible and I know what I need to do to repeat that… but with some key changes, because like I said, the world has changed, which I’ll talk about a little later.

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

Total Revenue: $8908.57

  • Affiliate Income: $2144.90
  • Courses: $6763.67
  • Done For You & Consulting: $0

Total Investments: $2946.21

Out of the ordinary investments:

  • $1000 for my new coaching program.
  • $572 in affiliate payouts to my affiliates
  • $213 for the the annual renewal of Vimeo where I host all the videos for my courses.

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

Net Profit: $5962.36

Important things that happened in March:

#1 – A global pandemic swept the world.

So, I’m actually writing and recording this March income report on April 14, 2020. Normally I would have sat down on the first of the month to run my numbers, review the prior month and write this income report, but I just… couldn’t.

Everyone everywhere has been affected by this global pandemic in some way. You may have gotten sick or have a friend or family member that got sick or even passed away. You may be on the front lines or have friends and family on the front lines. You or someone in your family may have lost a job and are struggling financially. You may have found yourself homeschooling your kids and while trying to work from home to keep your own job. You may have elderly friends and relatives that you’re worried about… I couldn’t possibly list all the ways someone listening to this podcast may have been affected.

At the time of writing and recording this, practically the entire United States is under a stay-at-home order and while that means different things in different states, what it ultimately means to me is that a lot of people are making huge sacrifices for the greater good of humanity.

So one one hand, for me to write this income report just seems trivial in the grand scheme of things… and if it’s trivial now, then it always was trivial – and I don’t really believe that.

On the other hand, our lives are still happening… even if they look completely different than they did 6 weeks ago.

And if I make something that’s completely out of my control, like a global pandemic, mean that what I do isn’t still valuable and helpful to people, that’s on me.

And I had to come around to the idea that sharing the behind the scenes of my business, including all of the numbers, is especially important during this time.

I don’t yet know how this global pandemic is going to affect my business in the long-term, but I’m gonna take you on the journey with me and show you what I’m seeing in my own life and business and what I’m hearing from fellow entrepreneurs and my community so you can make your own decisions about how you want to run your business during this time.

So before I continue on with the important things that happened in March, I just want to highlight a few things I’ve been hearing from my audience and in conversations with other entrepreneurs, and things I’ve thought myself – things that I think are poison thoughts that will kill our businesses – and share what I’m thinking and seeing and experiencing to help you see that those thoughts might not be true…

Poison Thought #1: What I do is not important anymore.

You, me and everyone we know is scrambling to adjust to the new normal of social distancing, staying at home, working at home, homeschooling, washing our hands for 20 seconds (which I now realize I've been washing my hands for way shorter than I should have been my whole life) and just managing the anxiety that comes with economic uncertainty and protecting ourselves and the most vulnerable members of our families.

For me, my day-to-day hasn't really changed… yet.

I already work online from home, I rarely leave the house anyway, I coincidentally bought a giant pack of toilet paper two weeks before all this started, I don't have kids that are suddenly off school. I do realize from talking to my friends and family that I am not the norm.

But I still felt a lot of uncertainty about how to move forward…

Is what I teach no longer important in the grand scheme of things? Should I stop sending out podcast episodes and trainings and pre-scheduled emails? Should I stop sharing my podcasts on Instagram and answering questions on Facebook and take a wait-and-see approach while we all process what's happening?

Or is empowering people to understand the tech and the strategy for making a living online more important now than ever?

I don't know the answer to that question…

But I do know that if you're listening to this podcast, you're probably a business owner (or an aspiring one).

Maybe like me, it's your full-time gig. Maybe it's your side hustle. Maybe you're still trying to get it off the ground.

Maybe it feels pointless to you to be working on your business at all right now because of thoughts like “Who would even care what I do right now…?”

That's how I feel when I read the news and all the stories of people getting sick and dying.

But the more I thought about it, the more it didn't feel right.

None of us knows what's going to happen in the future. We never really have known…

And after journaling about it, and looking to my peers and others in the online business space that I look up to, I decided that I don't think it's pointless to continue talking about business right now.

I think it's more important than before.

Some of you might feel a greater sense of urgency to move an offline business online, or start seriously marketing the business idea you've been dabbling in, or grow the business that's doing okay but you know it can do better so that you have more control over your time + money…

And because of that, I'm not going to stop showing up to talk to you about helping you with your business out of fear that it might not be the right time, or that I might say something stupid that I'll regret later, or that I might come off as insensitive.

I'm not perfect, I'm going to make mistakes and say dumb things, but my heart is always going to be in the right place: empowering you to build the life you want no matter what's happening outside of our control.

I heard a quote from entrepreneur Mariah Coz right after all this started. She said:

“Please don't think your work is not important enough right now to put it out in front of the people who need it.”

She went on to say that right now, people need what you have to offer more than ever, especially if it's going to help them create a living online, or a healthier lifestyle, a better relationship with their family that they're now stuck with under the same roof for who knows how long, or improve their finances in a time of economic uncertainty, or simply keep them entertained and keep their mind off being scared as we wait for things to unfold over the next few months.

I personally needed to hear that, and I didn't want you to miss out on that message either.

What you do is still important.

Poison Thought #2: People aren’t spending money right now.

My personal experience in my business is that people ARE spending money right now. I’ve been enrolling new students in my courses.

I personally just joined the most expensive coaching program I’ve ever joined that seems to be bringing in new students every day. My Web Designer Academy students are booking web design clients.

And I truly believe that it doesn’t matter what’s happening in the world, there are people that ARE ready to buy from you and there are people that aren’t, and it’s your job to be there for the people that are, and build a relationship with the people that aren’t ready yet, because eventually they will be – or they’ll tell other people about you.

Either way, it’s a win.

Poison Thought #3: People will judge me if I sell during this time.

Yep, they might. Are you going to let that stop you from making a living for yourself and your family?

I struggled with that fear for a hot second and then decided that it’s none of my business if people are judging me for making money from selling things I’ve created.

Would they judge and shame me if I had a traditional job and someone was giving me a paycheck? Would they  judge and shame me if I were on unemployment or taking a government loan? What’s the difference?

Paycheck money comes from somewhere – it comes from a company selling things to people in exchange for money, and the people that bought them made the choice to buy them.

Unemployment + government loans come from people and companies paying taxes on money they’ve made selling things to people or selling their time to their employer.

Whether that’s voluntary is debatable and I’m not gonna get into that on this podcast, but what I will say is that I am so fortunate to have the freedom to make a living how I choose to make a living, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Other people in this world do not have that freedom. And whatever anyone else chooses to think about how your or I make our money is their choice, and it’s none of our business.

So if you’re having any of those three poison thoughts about your business right now, I’ll leave you with this:

What you do is still important, your customers are adults and they can make their own decisions as to what they can and can’t afford and it’s not up to you, and you’re allowed to make money however you choose no matter what is going on in the world.

I’m telling myself that just as much as I’m telling you.

Okay, moving on.

#2 – I joined a new high-end coaching program.

If you’ve been a listener for awhile, you know that in 2019 at about this time I made what felt like a very large investment in a business coaching program called Growth University and it was amazing. They created a custom business plan for me, gave me the exact steps to implement it and I learned a ton and I had a lot of success implementing what I learned in there.

And with that success I found myself bumping up on some mindset gremlins, some thoughts and beliefs that were keeping me from implementing some of the key things I was learning in that program. I knew it, I could see it, but I didn’t know how to get out of my own way and I knew I needed more emotional, hands-on support than what that program is designed to provide.

So in early March, I decided to join Mariah Coz’s Accelerator program, which is a much bigger investment than Growth University and also a much different type of program…and it’s also full of massively successful women entrepreneurs that are already at the level I want to be at, and as they say, it’s important to surround yourself with the people who are where you want to be.

When I make these big investments, I’m all in. I make use of the resources, I follow all the steps, I ask for help when I get stuck, and I’m totally open to new perspectives and critical feedback on how I do business.

So about two days after I make this big financial decision, my husband and I are supposed to go to a hockey game with my stepdad, and I’m starting to feel really uneasy about being in a crowd of people with everything I’d been seeing in the news about this virus.

And I’m thinking “I hope the game just gets cancelled… they should cancel it, shouldn’t they? And the NHL at that point is saying they aren’t cancelling, and so I tell my husband, “Look, I have asthma, and I don’t care about this hockey game enough to risk it and to have my stepdad taking home crud to my mom… I don’t think we should go even if it’s not cancelled.”

So we make the call not to go. The next day, the game gets cancelled. Then Ohio orders schools closed, and I’m like, “Okay, this is getting serious…” Then a couple of days later, our governor shut down all bars and restaurants, the stock market takes a nose and now I’m freaking out, like “OMG I shouldn’t have spent that much money on the Accelerator!! What was I thinking? I’m gonna lose everything!”

Yep, that’s exactly where my mind went.

And then my very first interaction inside that group was worth every penny I invested.

I left knowing exactly what to do in my business next and feeling more confident than I’ve ever felt. I could see the pieces of the puzzle that I’d been missing. I could see why reverse-engineering what the successful business owners I looked up to never worked for me. And I knew exactly how to market my business during a global crisis.

Had I not joined the Accelerator program when I did, I know that version of me. She wouldn’t have joined at all because she’d be afraid of letting that money go because she believes money is gone forever once it leaves her bank account. She would have freaked out, totally stopped marketing or selling, then she’d feel ashamed because she’s supposed to be leading her students and being an example for them so she’d still keep showing up but she’d feel like a fraud and resentful. And eventually she would have lost everything, just like she feared she would because all of her thoughts and actions would have led her right to that result.

So the timing of me joining… I can only think of it as divine intervention. I’ve been in for a month and I’ve made massive shifts in my mindset and how I structure my business and I’m predicting that my future revenue reports will reflect that shift.

My students are also benefiting from my updates to my thinking because I’m able to guide them in a way that I didn’t have the vocabulary or capacity before getting the help I needed for myself.

#3 – I made a strong pivot in how I market and make offers in my business.

After my first coaching call in the Accelerator, I felt like I had a new brain almost, and I just felt a strong urge to step up and share my new thoughts with my community.

I figure if I immediately went to “I’m gonna lose everything…” their brains might have gone there too.

So I sent out a few emails with what I felt compelled to tell them each day: that it was okay to market themselves, and that because I teach them how to market authentically that nothing really needs to change about their marketing and so on – and I got more responses to those emails than any that I’ve ever sent before.

Another thing I realized is that I’ve been making it hard for people to buy from me by burying my offers and not letting people know right away how they can work with me on a deeper level.

People don’t just happen upon my website. They intentionally go there to get a solution to their problem, whether that problem is needing to know how to build a website, or how to market themselves online or how to get web design clients.

And while I give away a ton of stuff for free to earn people’s trust and build credibility, I also had this belief that I had to earn the right to make an offer.

So let’s think about this for a second:

Someone comes to my website because they need someone to help them market their business, and I make them go through a 7 day email series before I’ll even tell them I have something that can help them because I believe I don’t have the right to tell them about it until they’ve gone through my whole funnel? It doesn’t make sense.

I thought I was building up trust and delivering value ahead of time so that the natural next step is working with me – and that’s true – but I also had this belief that I can’t make an offer too early, that it would be rude and off-putting.

But the truth is – that’s just me trying to control what people think of me by trying to take control of their decision to buy…

And when I take away their ability to make decisions for themselves, they’re gonna go find someone else who will let them do what they want to do when they want to do it.

Some people don’t make decisions fast, they may need to see my offer two, three, four, five times before they’ll even make a yes or no decision on it! But other people are ready right away.

Their timeline on making a decision is none of my business. It’s my job to let them know what I have, give them all the information to decide if it’s right for them and if the timing is right for them or not, and for those people who decide the timing is right for them, give them my all.

I’ve been taking on way more responsibility for things that aren’t my responsibility… because I’m trying to protect myself. From my own negative thoughts about myself.

I can only see all of this because of the mindset work I’ve been doing on my weightloss journey, which I’ll talk about in a little bit, but It’s truly fascinating.

So I made some changes behind the scenes on timing of when I let people know about how they can work with me, and I’ve already seen an uptick in sales from that.

#4 – I launched my Web Designer Academy at the end of the month as planned.

Back in September when I planned out my 2020 promotions, I’d planned to open the doors to my Web Designer Academy at the end of March. Thankfully I got the mindset help I needed to pivot my marketing and I still did the promotion.

And while I had way less signups and attendance to my webinar than I’ve had in the past, which I totally expected due to the timing, it did convert at 2% – meaning 2% of people that signed up for my webinar became students – which is right on target for the price point.

People still need web designers, people are still hiring web designers, and just because everyone CAN DIY doesn’t mean they want to DIY forever, and some people don’t want to DIY at all. Shoot, I’m not gonna DIY forever either, and I’m a freaking web designer!

So once people overcome the belief that no one’s gonna hire them or pay them well, it makes joining the Web Designer Academy a no-brainer. The big change I made to that program is that people can join any time now, whereas in the past I opened enrollment only twice a year.

That’s another step towards letting people make the decision to work with me when THEY’RE ready, not when I feel like they’re ready.

#5 – We closed on our construction loan to build a new house.

One of the things that was keeping me up at night once the scope and impact of the global pandemic became clear to me was the pending construction loan application we had for building our house.

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 and were waiting on the final approval a closing date when the world stopped.

So I’m freaking out, thinking we should not be building a house right now, we should just stop doing anything but sleeping, breathing and eating and stay put in our current home and hide out and wait until it’s safe to come out.

And my husband is like, “Shannon, we don’t even have a decision to make yet. We’re waiting on an appraisal that might not even come back where we need it to come back. So how about we make a decision to make no decisions for the next two weeks.”

It worked wonderfully. Every time I started down the path of “what if” I reminded myself, “There are no decisions to be made right now.”

And then our lender called and said we could schedule our closing date on March 31… and I started panicking again. I called my best friend and told her I was freaking out – what if we do this, it’s a huge mistake and my husband loses his job and my business tanks and we burn through our savings and end up penniless?

And she goes, “Oh my gosh that would be so amazing you could move in with us!!!!”

And I’m like, “OMG that would SO MUCH FUN! If that’s the worst thing that happens, I’m in!”

She just snapped me right out of my catastrophic line of thinking. Sometimes that’s the worst part of spending so much time by yourself when you’re a solopreneur and you don’t see anyone all day… you can get carried away and believe what you’re thinking.

So yes, all those things might happen. But what’s equally as likely is that everything will be fine, we’ll figure it out no matter what, and I’m certain that I can handle whatever does happen. I don’t need to pre-protect myself from things that MIGHT happen. That’s not living. And I’m learning that and I’m changing it.

So we did it. We closed on the loan. And I decided to be excited instead of scared.

I’m sure our builder is thrilled because he’s an independent local guy, and now he gets to make money and his subcontractors get to make money and it’s just a good thing for us and for our local economy. We’ll start digging the foundation at the beginning of May, and I fully expect some interesting delays and things to happen – but I’ll deal with them as they happen.

#6 – I’ve continued with my weight loss journey, losing about 4 pounds in March.

Finally, if you’re new to the podcast, one of the reasons I wanted to become my own boss when I started the business 5 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 my whole life and I never was able to lose weight before that last job either, and I gained another 15 pounds after I quit.

It was my thinking preventing me from doing what I knew I needed to do – just like it’s my thinking that’s responsible for how much money I receive too.

It’s been in my power the whole time, I just had to learn how to think different, which thanks to Corrine Crabtree’s podcast, Losing 100 Pounds and her membership program, I’ve consistently been losing weight, over 30 pounds now, without crazy diets and weird crap like I always tried and failed to do in the past.

I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished. It’s been one year since I started really implementing what I learned first from her podcast, then later by joining her tribe and I’ve lost 34 pounds, I weigh less than I ever remember weighing even in middle school and high school… but it’s not even about that for me anymore… it’s about the person I’m becoming on the way to reaching my goal. I’m kinder to myself, I’m more patient. I believe in myself more. I’m seeing the parallels in how I think about myself and how it affects my business.

And now I know there was a reason that I never gave up on the goal weight loss – it was never about what size jeans I wore, it was always about learning these things I needed to learn to become the person I’m capable of becoming. And that’s why I’m committed to losing the last 16 pounds. It’s not gonna change much about me externally… I’ve never been super motivated to change myself externally, but when I see the mental shifts I’ve made and see the opportunity to have more of that? That’s what motivates me to keep going.

If you struggle with losing weight, I cannot recommend this podcast to you enough. It’s calling Losing 100 Pounds by Corinne Crabtree. Maybe I’ll have her on the show someday…

So that’s it for my March Income Report.

If you have any questions for me, leave a comment below!

And if you need a website but have no idea how to get started, go to http://www.free5daywebsitechallenge.com and sign up for the 5 Day Website Challenge and learn how to create a website for your side hustle.

If you already have a website and you want to learn how to market yourself and get traffic to it, go to www.howtomarketyourselfonline.com and sign up to instantly watch a free video training all about marketing yourself and getting traffic.

Finally, if you wanna be a freelance web designer and you want to learn how to market yourself and get clients that actually want to pay you, go to www.startafreelancewebdesignbiz.com and sign up to instantly watch a free video training all about how to book your dream clients even if you don’t have a portfolio.