Welcome to my March 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 as a side-hustling solopreneur to my transition to CEO of a multiple six-figure business.
So today I’m gonna break down for you exactly how much money the business makes 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.
Here are all of the important things that happened in March:
#1 – My new Project Manager, Bree, and I finished up our business deep dive. I talked back in my February Income Report all about the decision to bring Bree onto the team so you can go back and listen to Episode 332 for the story on how that came to be, but we spent the first week or so of March wrapping up her deep dive into my business and then she went away and pulled everything into Asana with project timelines, people, dates, and deliverables so that we could start really getting ahead and fully utilizing the rest of team instead of me flying by the seat of my pants constantly, not delegating in time, ending up doing things I hired other people to do for me because I was so behind and taking on so much that I could never take a day off.
And I’m happy to report that since bringing Bree on, I haven’t worked a single weekend.
I’m not gonna lie, I do get anxious on the weekends sometimes.
I think things like “I should be working right now. It’s all gonna go away and I’m gonna lose everything. It’s all a fluke.”
And what I used to do to make those thoughts go away? Work!!!
Well, now I can’t. I made a commitment to Bree and to my husband that I would stop working weekends. So now I have to figure out how to enjoy my downtime and manage my anxiety, get used to other people on my team working when I’m not working.
More on that a bit later…
#2 – I finally finished the final modules for the Web Designer Academy.
I started working on the new curriculum for the Web Designer Academy back in August of 2020. August!!! That’s over 7 months ago.
The final piece of the puzzle that I promised to deliver to my Web Designer Academy students is what I call the SCALE module.
So once our students have gone through this transformation of understanding their value and how to communicate their value to their clients and start to confidently market themselves, have conversations with people, make offers, book new clients and knock their socks off with our high-touch, low time-investment web design process and they are bringing in consistent revenue, THEN it’s time to scale.
And by scale, I mean create a digital product or course to sell to their ideal client.
And why do we do this last? Because they need to build a WAY bigger audience to make the same amount of money to sell a digital product as they do to sell web design services.
Let’s be honest, it’s way faster to have 3 conversations in a week and book one $5,000 web design project than it is to build an audience of 1000 potential clients to be able to sell 20 $250 courses to make $5000 – assuming a standard 2% conversion rate for a digital product at a $250 price point.
But there comes a time in your web design business where you’re booked out, you know your ideal client's needs inside and out because you’ve seen the same thing over and over again, and you’ve learned the skill of marketing and audience building and it just all comes together so easily.
That’s what I did with my Site in a Snap DIY website templates, and so the SCALE module inside the Web Designer Academy teaches them how to strategize what their digital product is going to be, how to validate and test it, how to build the audience for it, how to make the offer, gives them all the sales page and sales email templates and everything they need to add a scalable offer to their web design business.
And creating this module was pretty much like creating a whole entire new course. In fact, it really could stand on its own as a course I could sell separately outside of the Web Designer Academy if I wanted it to, it’s that comprehensive.
But the reason it took me until March to finish it is that until I hired Bree, I didn’t have the bandwidth to get to it, and whenever I did have a block of time to work on it, I was so exhausted that I’d have writer’s block or I just couldn’t concentrate to get it done.
So I kept putting it off and putting it off… but then you get to the point where your students are like “So hey… when is that SCALE module you promised us gonna be ready?” And truly, the only way that was gonna happen was to take other stuff off my plate and to give my brain some downtime so that I could give my all to creating that module.
So even when I have anxiety about not working, I can tell myself, “You’re not working right now so you can be even better when you are working.” And I just am allowed to have time off just because… but I’m getting there.
Also, if you’re listening to this and you’re a web designer who’s undercharging, overdelivering, or you just struggle with your pricing, we’re hosting a live pricing workshop just for web designers on April 29, 2021, so you can go to shannonmattern.com/pricing to save your spot – and if you’re listening to this after April 29, you can still sign up to watch the replay.
In the workshop, we’re gonna figure out how much you actually need to be charging to make a full-time living as a web designer,
And then when you see that number, we’re gonna bust through all the reasons you think you can’t charge “that much”…
And I’m gonna share with you the top 3 mindset shifts my clients have made to raise their prices from 4x to 18x what they were charging before they started working with me.
#3 – I gave a presentation for the Simply Profitable Designer Summit all about how to get your first web design client.
This is one of my FAVORITE topics to talk about, and I was so honored to be included in this summit. It was hosted by Krista Miller who I interviewed back in Episode 321 – if you haven’t heard it do yourself a favor and go back and listen to it – it’s such a good story!
Krista was already working in tech for her day job, but then she took my Free 5 Day Website Challenge and ended up starting a freelance web design business where she did web development for other web designers – so when they needed something more technical than was in their wheelhouse, they’d hire Krista to do that part for them.
And then one day she decided to host a summit for web designers so that she could build an email list of her ideal client – web designers – and the summit was so successful that people started asking her how to run their own summit.
So she packaged up everything that she did for her summit, like, everything, the website, what should go on every page on the website, the speaker management processes, scripts, templates, how to market the summit and sell all-access passes and turned in into what is now called “Summit in a Box” which became an insane success for her (AND which I totally bought to run the Side Hustle to Self-Employed Summit, by the way)
At the time of this recording, she still hosts the Simply Profitable Designer Summit even though the majority of her work is on the Summit in a Box side of her business.
And I tell you all of that to tell you that if you’re listening to this, and you’re a web designer, there is zero shortage of creative ways that you can apply your skills to to grow your web design business! Krista’s not a client of mine in the Web Designer Academy, but her path to Summit in a Box is totally something that we’d help our clients with in that SCALE module I was talking to you about.
I got to speak at her summit, and typically you get to give people a link to a freebie and the link I gave people was to fill out a no-obligation application for the Web Designer Academy, and anyone whose application is accepted gets invited to watch a free training all about how to make a full-time income as a web designer.
We got FLOODED with applications for the program, and in hindsight, I probably should have been more prepared for that, so I ended up spending WAY more time than I’d planned vetting applications and talking to applicants about the program.
And yes, participating in summits like that is a lot of work for speakers… we write presentations, make slides, record presentations, promote the summit. It’s HOURS of work… but it’s totally worth it!
I had one person who saw my presentation apply for the Web Designer Academy, I looked at her website and her services and saw all the things I typically see web designers do on their websites because they all copy each other assuming that it works when it actually doesn’t (and it actually works against them) and after seeing all that I was like “okay, she’s a perfect fit for the program.
So I invited her to join the Web Designer Academy and sent her a link to the private training only for accepted applicants, and after watching it and she was like “Okay, so I have a consultation with a potential client TOMORROW. Is that something you can help me with if I join?” And I’m like “Please let me help you with that!!! We have a whole process for how to make offers and follow up, and I would love to help you book this client so you can get paid while you build out the rest of the processes we teach.”
So she decided to join, and I’m like “Oh, we’re getting her this client! We are making this happen!” So I made her a video telling her exactly what modules to watch to prep for her consult, gave her some tips and then let her know how to connect with me for any questions as she was preparing, and guess what? She booked the client! And she was like, I wasn’t gonna do ANY of what you taught me to do! I don’t think it would have gone the way it went had I not joined and learned all of that!”
That’s the level of attention I’m able to provide with a $5,000 program, because now I can afford to pay a team to do things for me to keep my business running.
That ONE NEW CLIENT was totally worth all the work I put into that summit. Plus I got a ton of new applicants who I’m building relationships with and helping them decide if working with us is the right fit for them.
I mean, I know they’re better off working with us, every single one of my students knows they are better off with us than going it alone, so it’s just me doing things like the Simply Profitable Designer Summit, inviting them to work with us, and helping them get out of their own way and let us help them reach their goals!
And just me believing that with my whole heart because I’ve done the work on my side to believe that I’m capable of helping people at that level and continuously investing in myself and my leadership and my team.
#4 – I recorded my presentation for Freelance University’s Virtual Skills Summit. Last week in Episode 335 you heard from Craig Cannings from Freelance University. Craig’s wife Kelly pitched me for him to be on the podcast for two reasons – one, they came across me in an article I was featured in by Growth University as a case study/success story for that program, and two, Sarah Noked who spoke at my summit and who has also been on this podcast shouted me out. At the time of this income report coming we’ll probably totally be promoting the Virtual Skills Summit to our audience because Craig and Kelly are amazing so you should totally sign up to attend if you haven’t already – but one of the things I teach in my Website Marketing Lab course is RELATIONSHIP BUILDING.
All of these opportunities that are coming my way NOW are a direct result of the work I’ve done to build relationships with other people who serve the audience I serve.
Is it slower than running Facebook Ads? Yes. Does it have a way higher return on investment? Yes! Would I ever stop doing the same tactics I teach inside the Website Marketing Lab and just dump all of my money into ads? Heck no!!! And I’ll tell you why not later on in this income report.
#5 – We moved our Free 5 Day Website Challenge group back to Facebook.
I’m all about doing experiments, and so about a year ago, in May of 2020, I decided to move my Free 5 Day Website Challenge Community off of Facebook to a platform called Mighty Networks. I did this for a couple reasons – one, I was the one managing the Facebook Group, answering everyone’s questions and I was completely, utterly overwhelmed with hundreds of Facebook notifications every day from that group and all the other groups I was in, plus the paid groups my students are in.
I literally could not keep up, and it got to the point where I dreaded opening up Facebook. My family would say things like “Didn’t you see that on Facebook?” And I’m like “Nope, I don’t even open it up anymore unless it’s the end of the day and it’s time to answer questions in my Facebook Groups.
People’s questions fell through the cracks, their responses to my questions on their posts got lost in a sea of Facebook notifications, so when I discovered Mighty Networks, I was like “This is the answer to all my problems! Move this community off of Facebook, the only thing that’s here is the 5 Day Website Challenge, everything’s right here and nothing gets lost.”
And it worked exactly like that.
But with every tech platform comes a tradeoff. We’d have little techie issues with people getting their invitation to join the group after requesting, but other than that it worked GREAT for me, and then I decided to hand over responsibility for asking questions to two of my team members, Wendy and Laura.
And then one day they asked me… “Hey, can we move the group back to Facebook?”
They told me that they noticed that the community engagement and support that happened in the old Facebook group was nonexistent on Mighty Networks. In the Facebook Group, people would jump in and answer each others questions, connect, make friends, collaborate. But in Mighty Networks it simply became a support forum, which is NOT what I ever intended.
So we made the decision after testing Mighty Networks for a year to move back to Facebook.
I loved Mighty Networks, by the way. I can totally see it’s value for paid content, paid groups, but it simply didn’t work for our purposes. And so we’re back to Facebook, the engagement is awesome, I can go live in the group again, and the response from our community is overwhelmingly positive.
#6 – I took the last week of March off.
So I’d decided at the beginning of 2021 that every month that had a 5th Tuesday in it, I was going to take that week off. Tuesdays are when I do my strategy calls for my programs, and so I figured that we’d have 4 calls a month, and whenever there’s a 5th week in the month, we’d take a break, they could do co-working, whatever. The Web Designer Academy students got together on Clubhouse which I thought was such a cool idea.
So I’d decided to take this week off before I’d brought Bree on, but I was even more excited to take it off AFTER bringing her on because I knew things would keep moving while I was away and I’d just be able to take a week off, and come back and not have a giant pile of stuff to do.
Because there’s still a pandemic going on, and I’d only had my first vaccine shot at the time and didn’t feel comfortable traveling yet – plus my husband couldn’t take the time off anyway… I decided to do a staycation and just do pretty much nothing for the week!
And for the most part, it went really well! Yes, I had some anxiety about not working. Yes, there were some days that I “worked” – but not because I had to, or not because there was a deadline looming, but purely because I’d have ideas come into my head and be inspired to get them out on paper.
For example, Bree and I were planning on me hosting a new free workshop for web designers all about pricing – and one morning on staycation I was walking my dog and and the best ideas just kept coming – so after her walk, and after I grabbed at latte at the cute little coffee shop by where I walk my pup, I went home, opened up my laptop and the content just poured out of me.
That work didn’t feel like work. It felt creative and restorative, and didn’t come from anxiety AT ALL.
And for the most part, I was pretty lazy and chill that week. I did get restless, I kinda ran out of things to do, I got a little bored of Netflix and started day-dreaming about when we could go on real vacations again, but I’m so glad my first vacay with a team was one when I was accessible because we found all the holes in our process of what happens when I’m not working.
And whereas the old solopreneur version of me would have seen those snags as reasons why I should do everything myself to ensure there are zero mistakes (as if I don’t make mistakes? HA!) , the new CEO version of me saw them as opportunities to document a process for future vacations.
OF COURSE we’re going to find the gaps and the holes the first time we do anything – whether it’s launching a new product or taking time off the first time with a new team.
I also had the opportunity to work on my mindset about it being okay to be lazy while other people work… that’s another one of the beliefs that keeps me hustling… like, it’s only okay to get help when I’m so maxed out that I can’t possibly take on more… and that if I’m asking someone else for help, I gotta be working too, because I’m a TEAM PLAYER.
That’s not a CEO mindset, and it’s not a growth mindset. It’s sounds great in theory, but it’s totally been holding me back from designing the life I really want. More on that later 🙂
So let’s talk numbers for March 2021:
But before we dive into March’s numbers, 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 was leftover as profit, and then I’d pay myself and pay taxes out of the “profit” – which honestly isn’t really the definition of 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 bills and make other important investments into the business and being able to cover any low months should we ever have to, stuff like that.
Total Revenue: $29,760.30
Affiliate Income: $8010.89
Site-in-a-Snap Templates + Trainings: $3482.14 (that’s my portion of the total sales after paying out my partners and affiliates)
Web Designer Academy: $15167.00
Website Marketing Lab: $2753.00
Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit: $347.00
Total Investments: $27,987.78
Tools I use to run my business: $1610.76
Training, Coaching + Mentorship: $2575.00
CEO Salary (that’s me!) $7216.66
(includes payroll taxes – $6,000 is my monthly take-home pay, and then I pay quarterly income taxes on the quarterly business profit)
Affiliate Payouts: $5956.51
Facebook Ads for WDA: $1802.92
Net Profit: $2408.18
Get the full breakdown of income, expenses and net profit month by month here.
Other Investments Made in March: $14,279
High Ticket Hybrid Payment Plan Payoff $10,000.00
Leadership Training : $3,700.00
Pleasure Rebelle Membership $579.00
First, I debated whether or not to put this $14,279 into my spreadsheet as expenses, because if I did, then we would have shown a loss of $11,000 in the month of March.
And I don’t know whether I’m separating it out because of my ego not wanting to show a loss, my money mindset issues being afraid of seeing it as a loss and wanting to justify the spending, or if it’s simply like, these aren’t normal expenses, and for planning purposes and looking at the health of the business, I want to see what the numbers look like without them in there?
I think it’s a little bit of all three if I’m being totally honest, so I decided to pull these out separately and not count them as coming out of my bottom line in March even though the money came out of my bank account in March.
Now, I’m not talking about this from an accounting standpoint like what a CPA would say I should do, I really have no idea what they would say and honestly, it doesn’t matter to me because I look at these numbers in a way that I understand them and can make sense of them to make decisions for the business.
So remember how I said that after I pay myself, my team, my expenses and taxes, I just leave the rest of the money in my business bank accounts so that I can weather any highs and lows or make investments into the business, like hiring?
Well in Q1 we had made $30,000 in profit, so I decided to take some of that money and do a few things with it.
First, you may recall if you’ve been a long-time listener that in November I joined Mariah Coz’s High Ticket Hybrid program so that I could learn how to scale my Web Designer Academy program so that I’d be able to give high-touch support to my students in a group setting?
Well, that program was $20,000 and even though I had the money in my business bank account at the time I joined in November of 2020 to pay in full, I opted for the payment plan, just because I know myself and my money issues… I historically have felt more secure when I have money in the bank, so for purely cash flow reasons I opted for the payment plan.
Yes, I know, it mathematically does not make sense for me to pay $24,000 in payment plan payments when I could pay $20,000… but I guess that peace of mind was worth $4,000 to me at the time.
It sounds silly now that I say it out loud… but even though I was ALL IN on joining that program and ALL IN on doing everything they told me to do even when it scared me and I’d want to revert to doing it “my way” I resisted the temptation and did it their way (which in reality “my way” is the way that causes me no discomfort, but also doesn’t lead to the outcomes I want) – I still had that little voice in the back of my head that said “If this doesn’t work out, at least you’re not out twenty grand right out of the gate. At least it’ll be easier to cover two thousand a month…”
I didn’t take advantage of the payment plan because I couldn’t afford the pay-in-full option.
I took the payment plan because even though I believed in my ability to do the work and implement their strategies, to do it THEIR WAY and ask for help and submit my work for review and get feedback and make changes and truly create the best program out there for helping freelance web designers create full-time incomes…
I feel like I still doubted my ability to be successful. If I had to put a number on it, I’d say that I 90% believed that I would make my money back within the first 6 months, and I 10% believed that I wouldn’t, so I took the payment plan to get that 10% to shut up.
Literally, the program would not be what it is without me investing $20,000 to learn what I needed to learn to make it happen.
And I’m so, so proud of the results our clients are getting. They are blowing my mind. I mean, they shouldn’t be, but they are.
And it’s because I needed to go through the experience of making that investment in myself, the program and my business so that I could better coach my clients when they come up against all the money stuff that INEVITABLY comes up when they go through the transformation of going from undercharging and overdelivering for web design because they don’t believe in their ability to deliver and they don’t value their skills – to booking clients at higher rates than they ever thought possible because they believe deep in their bones the value they are bringing to their clients and know how to communicate that value.
I had to go through that entire transformation myself before I could teach someone else how to do it, otherwise how else could I know that it’s their money blocks that are keeping them stuck, not their ability to market themselves or get clients?
And in hindsight, it seems silly to think that I needed to just dip my toe in just in case it didn’t work out, which was what I was doing by paying $2,000 a month for 12 months instead of just $20,000 all at once.
So when, at the end of March I got an email with the opportunity to pay the balance of the program in full at the pay-in-full price, not only would I be able to save $4,000 on the payment plan price, it was a chance for me to test this assumption that I have that security comes from something OUTSIDE of me, like money in the bank, rather than from INSIDE of me, like the belief in myself that I will figure it out no matter what happens, and that I don’t have to hold on so tight to every penny to feel secure.
Yes, as the CEO of this company it is my responsibility to make financial decisions that help us thrive and continue to be able to do the work that we do and have the impact that we have… and to do that, sometimes I gotta get outside of my comfort zone to do it.
So I decided to go ahead and pay for High Ticket Hybrid in full – and I sent a $10,000 payment on the last day of March. And yes, looking at my bank account balance after doing that tapped on my insecurity, but I know that’s just what Jasmin Haley who spoke at my Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit calls MIND TRASH.
Parting with that $10,000 in reality was act of faith, a big bold statement that I believe in myself, I believe in the Web Designer Academy, I’m seeing the transformations our clients are going through, and when I make a bold move to prove it to myself, it’s only going to help me be a better coach, which helps our students be more successful, which helps their clients be more successful, and THEIR clients be more successful, and it’s just this huge ripple effect.
The next thing I decided to do with the surplus was to invest in Leadership Coaching.
I’m in a group coaching program with Alecia St. Germain from The Conscious Edge who you may have heard back in Episode 228 or at the Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit.
The work she does is called Immunity to Change, and it’s a process that basically uncovers your limiting beliefs, or Big Assumptions as they’re called in the Immunity to Change Framework, and walks you through a process to challenge those beliefs and basically get out of your own way so that you can achieve your big goals.
I’ve made some huge strides since joining Alecia’s program, most notably going from being a solopreneur with one part-time contract team member who I didn’t allow to thrive in her zone of genius because of my fears and limiting beliefs, to building this incredible team of 4 powerhouse women who are amazing at what they do so I can focus on the things that TRULY only I can do.
So in March, Alecia hosted a game-changing half-day bonus mindset workshop for my Web Designer Academy Students, which I attended and which again, even though I was attending to be there to introduce Alecia to my students, was completely mind-blowing for me personally – and I was texting her after the training about some things and she’s like “Hey, do you want to have a coffee chat on Saturday? There’s this training I think would be huge for you and I’d love to talk to you about it.”
I think of Alecia not only as my coach and a mentor, someone who’s where I want to be in business and in mindset, but also a friend, and so I’m like OF COURSE I want to hear about anything you think will help me reach my goals!
And can I just say, that aside from making investments of money into specific programs that help me level up how I run my business, making investments of TIME into building relationships with other entrepreneurs has been the biggest driver of my success. If you look at my calendar these days, I have more time booked for masterminds and conversations and coaching than ever before. I’d say I spend a good 20% of my time in that space, and the return is far, far greater than that!
So Alecia told me all about this Leadership training that she’s been taking, and it’s pretty intense not only time-wise but also like… push you out of your comfort zone-wise, and she was telling me all the ways she could see it impacting me and being transformational for me.
And it's not her training, she’s not an affiliate, she gets nothing for spreading the word, she’s the kind of person who just sees the best in everyone and wants to help them reach their full potential. And I totally resonate with that kind.
So I decided to go for it!
Finally, I decided to join my friend Dr. Lee Cordell’s Pleasure Rebelle membership.
I cannot wait for you to meet Lee coming up in Episode 338, she’s in the local Columbus Change Agents Mastermind with me and Alecia St. Germain, Sales Queen Nellie Corriveau from Episode 331, and Visibility Queen Crissy Conner from Episode 332.
We meet once a month, and Lee has led our meeting a couple of times, and of course, they were these breakthrough moments for me that I’ve talked about in past income reports, and you know how you just meet someone, and you’re like “I want to be more like her?” That’s how I feel about Lee.
One of the things that I’ve been feeling lately and talking about with my different masterminds + my coaches lately is that I’ve created all this success in my business, but I don’t know how to enjoy it.
You guys know how I’m all about freedom, flexibility, and financial independence? Well, the truth is, I have flexibility, I have financial independence, I know theoretically I have freedom, but I don’t let myself stop working long enough to actually enjoy it.
Like, I would NEVER want any of my students to create the situation I’d created for myself in December, January + February. In hindsight…I 1000% could have made the revenue we made those months without doing what I did to myself physically and mentally… I mean, awareness is the first step on the path to change, right?
So anyway, one day in our mastermind Lee’s talking about her new membership called Pleasure Rebelle and she sent us over the sales page copy and it said:
“If you're a woman-identifying human who deeply desires to create a life that feels aligned, fulfilling, and exciting…
If you're ready to release the patriarchal, puritanical beliefs that your happiness can only come when you’ve “worked hard”…
If you no longer believe that your productivity is tied to your worth…
Then I am calling you in, my dear.
It is officially time for you to start focusing on YOUR pleasure, instead of how pleasing you can be to others.
Because living a pleasure-focused life is the greatest act of Rebelle-ion.
A Pleasure Rebelle is a woman who knows who she is and how she feels.
She knows what she wants, and trusts herself to intuit the path to getting it.
And she doesn't apologize for a single fucking bit of any of it.”
First, that sales copy struck a chord in me so strong that it physically resonated, like a twang, throughout my body. When that happens, I know that I need to trust whatever that feeling is trying to tell me, which in this case is “Shannon, this is the part you haven’t learned yet. You know how to run a business, you know how to market yourself in a way that feels amazing, you know how to make offers, you know how to help people transform their lives, you know how to set boundaries, you’re even learning how to lead a team and transition from solopreneur to CEO. But if you don’t learn to experience joy and pleasure along the way, you’re gonna find yourself right back where you were in 2014 when you were sitting in that beige, windowless office at your day job thinking… “IS THIS IT? Is this all there is?” And you distracted yourself from learning how to experience true pleasure and joy by starting a business and putting all your time and attention into that, and yes, you love it and yes, it’s rewarding… but you didn’t actually solve the underlying issue.”
And here comes Lee at the perfect time to lead the way. There are no accidents, my friends.
Oh, and at $579 for 6 months, this was a total no-brainer. I’m so excited to start that journey.
Next, I want to dive into what went well in March, and what didn’t go so well.
I’m always giving you guys the real deal, and we’ve had a lot of big wins over the last few months, but that’s not to say that there are no challenges.
And we had some things not go the way I expected in March:
What went well…
I’ve already talked a lot about what went well…
- Speaking Engagements
- Onboarding + training my team
- Taking way more time off + not working weekends.
- Breakthroughs + wins for students in the Web Designer Academy and Website Marketing Lab courses
But let’s talk about what I want to improve upon for next month and beyond.
What didn’t go so well…
- Facebook Ads for WDA
- Site in a Snap Flash Sale
- New enrollments in the Web Designer Academy
- My health + wellness commitments
I spent like $1800 on Facebook Ads to invite web designers to apply for the Web Designer Academy in March, and my return on investment in March. ZERO! A stark, stark difference from the ads I ran in January and February which paid for themselves and then some. It’s like they just stopped working. And I don’t know enough about Facebook Ads and the algorithm and all that to really understand why.
So I’m still testing a few things, with my limited knowledge, because while Facebook Ads have brought me some INCREDIBLE students inside the Web Designer Academy, I don’t want to rely on them which is why I’m doing things like summits and the same strategies I teach inside the Website Marketing Lab to market that side of my business.
And I know this is one thing that I definitely need a mentor to figure out, but I’m definitely not in the place yet where I’m willing to hand it over to an ads manager. I understand that I’m probably playing small, and it’s very likely a mindset issue that I have, but I prefer to be empowered and understand how it all works so that I CAN be self-sufficient if I need to be.
And as I’m writing that, I totally see how that plays out in other areas of my life… so note to self to talk to my coaches about THAT one. Perhaps the solution is to find an ads manager who will also educate me… but for some reason, in my mind, I feel like if I hired someone they wouldn’t explain everything to me and I’d be totally in the dark about whatever sorcery they were doing behind the scenes. Trust issues, anyone?
Site in Snap Flash Sale
Our email list grew like crazy from the Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit and in the past when we’ve done flash sales for Site in a Snap we’ve done between $7,000 and $9,000 in sales – and remember, I have a partner on that which means I’m keeping 50% percent of that so I’d make anywhere from $3,500 to $4,500 in a month just on a 3-day flash sale of Site in a Snap.
So when we decided to do one the last week of March because the last time we did one was for Black Friday, I thought there would be a TON of people who’d be super excited to get their hands on Site in a Snap for 60% off the regular price.
But the sales weren’t anywhere close to what I expected.
In fact, our sales for Site in a Snap in March were the lowest they had ever been (except for in December when I totally forgot to turn our limited time offer to new 5 Day Website Challengers back on after our Black Friday sale).
I think there could be a lot of reasons for this, but it’s really hard to tell, but here’s what we did differently than last time:
- We were sending out a ton of emails that week already because we were also moving the Free 5 Day Website Challenge group from Mighty Networks back to Facebook, so people may have gotten email fatigue. We got a lot of unsubscribers that week – which I totally get, but they are SO missing out on the incredible stuff we have in the works for our community).
- We did it the last 3 days of the month on a Monday Tuesday Wednesday. In the past, I’ve done this on the last week of the month on a Friday – Sunday.
- The flash sale fell during the time that falls over spring break.
- People who didn’t take us up on our offer when they first joined the Free 5 Day Website Challenge may have already finished their website by the time this flash sale came along.
- We sent out the first flash sale email with an expired link. Oops!
So I can either take all of those facts, those variables, and make them mean that we messed up, that we aren’t doing a good job, that I shouldn’t go on vacation when we’re doing a flash sale, that no one wants Site in a Snap anymore, that we need to make something new, rename it, redesign it, rebrand it…
Or, we can test those variables and make sure the next time we do one, we do it the same way we’ve done it when we were hitting our sales targets.
I could use the results to beat myself up or as an opportunity to learn and coach my team. I choose the latter.
New Enrollments in the Web Designer Academy
Like I mentioned before, I spoke at the Simply Profitable Designer Summit, and we got a TON of new applications for the Web Designer Academy as a result… but they didn’t turn into clients at the same rate as my Facebook Ads or my email list.
And again, I could blame the quality of the applicants, or I could be like “I’m never doing that summit again, it wasn’t worth it, I only got ONE new student…” OR I could look at how I can improve with my sales process.
Where am I letting my own ego get in the way?
Where am I not helping people who tell me they want so badly to make a full-time income as a web designer and would LOVE to join my program, but they just can’t afford to get out of their own way because I’m afraid of what they might think of me?
As it turns out, there are LOTS of ways I’m letting people repeat the pattern of getting in their own way, there are lots of ways I’m enabling them to continue to not believe in their ability to be successful and tell themselves that they can’t afford it when really, just like me and my little cop-out of choosing the payment plan for High Ticket Hybrid JUST IN CASE it didn’t work out… they’re simply afraid they will part with their money and never see it again.
Because the thing is, with the Web Designer Academy application process – which is totally different than how I used to run it where anyone who wanted to enroll could – I don’t invite anyone to join that I don’t truly believe I can help and that I don’t think will not only make their money back but make at least 10x their money back. Not everyone who applies gets invited to join.
And so if I know without a shadow of a doubt that I can help you get your first client and so you can start seeing that return on your investment with me – because that’s truly what it is, it’s not money that disappears and never comes back, it’s money you invest to learn a skill that’s going to empower you to make more money if I’m not explaining to you why if you’re number one reason to NOT join us is the very reason you SHOULD join us…
Then I’m not doing my job.
And I’ve totally been avoiding that conversation with my potential clients because I haven’t felt equipped to have it. But thanks to my work with Alecia St. Germain and Mariah Coz, I now understand that I owe it to them to give them the opportunity to get out of their own way.
So I had to take a hard look at myself when I see that hey, we have the same number of applications coming in, but fewer clients taking you up on your invitation to join. That’s on me and no one else.
And finally… my health and wellness commitments.
I didn’t let things slide in March… but I certainly didn’t take advantage of having this extra time with Bree and the rest of the team on my side to take better care of myself. Like I mentioned before, I gained a few pounds since November. And if you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I’m a member of Corinne Crabtree’s No BS Weight Loss Program, I’d lost about 39 pounds by this time last year, and then I let about 8 pounds slowly creep back on over the past year.
That’s less than a pound a month, but it adds up. Imagine if I kept up this rate over the next 5 years? And it’s the smallest of changes. Overeating just a little more at dinner. Having one more drink. Having a snack after dinner that I’m really not hungry for. Not walking my dog for 3 miles every day because I live in the country now and there are no sidewalks and I have to drive to the bike path to walk her.
And those are also the things that I can change again, and they are the smallest of changes. So that’s where my work is currently – working my way back to the habits that had me losing ¾ lb a month instead of gaining. Oh, and if you haven’t checked out Amy Porterfield’s new podcast series called Talking Body, I highly recommend it.
So that’s it for my March Income Report. I hope you heard something in here that was helpful to you, and if you did I’d LOVE to hear about it – you can head over to my Instagram @shannonlmattern and leave your biggest takeaway on this episode or you can go to shannonmattern.com/336 and leave a comment on the show notes.
And if you haven’t already, I’d love for you to go to shannonmattern.com/review and leave us a rating and review on iTunes. It helps our show get found by people who need to hear our weekly pep talks for side hustlers!
As usual I really enjoy these reports. Your honesty about what doesn’t go well and your personal journey with health and wellness makes you relatable and gives me the motivation to keep going but with a balanced perspective. Thank you Shannon!