Welcome to my May 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.
May 2020 Numbers
My minimum baseline revenue goal 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.
And my next 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 not only what I need to DO to make that happen, but also I know what I need to THINK + BELIEVE to make that happen – because in Episode 288, my April Income Report, I shared with you guys the work I did on my money mindset to help me figure out how what I was thinking about money was keeping me from reaching the next level that I want to reach. So you can go back and listen to Episode 288 if you wanna hear more about that.
So with that frame of reference, here are my numbers for May 2020, and then I’ll break down for you how it all happened and what I learned along the way.
Total Revenue: $10,948.10
- Affiliate Income: $1100.77 (pretty low for me)
- Courses: $9847.33 (pretty high for me)
- Done For You & Consulting: $0
Total Investments: $3549.21
- $1000 for a high-end coaching program
- $575 for a coaching certification program, which I’ll tell you about more a bit later.
- $100 donation to a local charity for membership to a local mastermind.
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 about $1875.
And I’m so glad I invested in my own professional development when I did this year because with everything that’s been happening personally and professionally… I’ve really needed the extra support – as you’ll see in upcoming income reports!
Net Profit: $7398.89
Month in review:
A few key things happened in May that I’ll talk about in this episode.
- I host a paid live workshop called the Shareworthy Freebie Workshop.
- I updated my free DIY web design training, the Free 5 Day Website Challenge.
- I started learning about racism + anti-racism and creating an anti-racist business.
Shareworthy Freebie Workshop
I mentioned a little bit earlier that I’m a member of a high-end coaching program called the Accelerator that teaches a lot of different strategies for online course businesses like mine, and one of the strategies that a lot of the members inside that program have been trying out in their businesses and having a lot of success with are paid live workshops – the premise being that it’s an offer that’s a hybrid of a full-on coaching program and an online course where the participant signs up, shows up live, does the work during that time and walks away with a result, and then has the opportunity to continue working with you inside of your paid program or course if they want to continue the work. So they don’t have to make the full commitment of working with you long to term to get the benefit provided by the workshop, and they don’t have to go it alone like many courses that don’t have a component of support.
I decided to try out this strategy by offering a two-day paid live workshop to teach my Shareworthy Freebie methodology so that participants could walk away with a freebie idea, name, outline, format and irresistible call to action and all they had to do once the workshop was over is go actually make the thing – because after doing several free 5 Day Freebie Challenges I know that what holds people back the most from list building and marketing is that they don’t know what to create for a freebie or they create something that they can’t really leverage for bigger results.
I spent four or five days in early May setting up all the logistics to run this workshop: writing the sales page, creating the order form, writing the marketing emails, creating the outline, setting up the workshop tech, making the workbook, writing the confirmation emails and so on, and I opened up 30 spots in the workshop at $97 each for a two-day workshop, 4 hours each day.
Which in hindsight was way too many spots and way too low of a price. In my defense, I hadn’t completed my money mindset work when I planned this workshop…
Don’t get me wrong… I had a total blast running that workshop!
I had 10 people sign up, and I’m glad only 10 did because I could not have given the level of personal attention to more than 10 people that I gave to them.
What I should have done was limited it to ten people and tripled the price because it wasn’t just me delivering the content of the workshop and that’s it – I gave every participant personalized feedback on their work.
Was it worth it to me to do it?
Absolutely. 1000%. Because what I learned is that what was holding a lot of them back from create a freebie that resonated with their ideal client and got them to sign up for it and share it wasn’t tactics or strategies – it was mindset.
We dug into things like perfectionism, imposter syndrome, how to market ourselves while staying true to ourselves and our identity, fear of giving away too much for free, fear of not giving enough away for free, overdelivering, not being good enough, worrying that people won’t pay, worrying that too many other people are doing this too, etc.
We spent more time on those things than on my planned content because those were the things that needed to be addressed to get to the point of action on the planned content.
And so while I won’t be offering the Shareworthy Freebie Workshop in that format again because logistically it doesn’t work for where I want to take my business, I’m SO GLAD I did it.
Because it helped me realize something that I think has always been a thing for me but I’ve just hidden it behind teaching people to DIY their website or being a web designer – but what I really love to do is help people actually build their businesses, and I like to help them overcome the mental obstacles that get in the way of their goals and dreams.
I liken it to when I’d try diet after diet after diet and be so frustrated that nothing I was doing was working and beating myself up because I knew what I should be doing, or what the diet industry was telling me I should be doing anyway, but I just wasn’t doing it. Or at least not consistently. And what I didn’t understand was that I wasn’t doing it not because I was lazy or had bad genes or was too busy, it’s because I had an underlying belief that losing weight wasn’t possible for me because I’d never not been overweight and never been successful at losing weight before. And until I uncovered that belief and challenged it, and challenged my beliefs about what it really takes to lose weight that I was able to actually start making some progress.
And that’s what I see with so many people in the online business space – and I used to do this too so I’m not knocking you guys – but we jump from course to course to course thinking that the answer is outside of ourselves. That we just need to learn a new tactic or strategy and that what we learned in this one course didn’t work or make sense or we didn’t finish it and the next new thing came along and so we jumped on that bandwagon that promised us overnight success.
The answer is not another online course to teach you the latest tactic.
It’s figuring out what you believe and think about your ability to be successful, figuring out if that’s helping you or hurting you, helping you question the beliefs that are holding you back and working on thinking new things that move you forward in your business with confidence, consistency and commitment for the long-haul.
So what I’m currently working on is a coaching certification to help people that want to do that work with me on a deeper level beyond the strategies + tactics I teach in my Website Marketing Lab + Web Designer Academies – which I mentioned in my expenses above.
Getting that level of coaching has had a huge impact on me, and like I said earlier, I do feel like as I’ve grown and my confidence has grown and I’ve hit certain milestones in my business where I used to feel like, “Who am I to teach someone how to run their business? But I can teach them to build their website for it…” now I feel like “I’m totally the right person to teach you to run your business” and that the website for me is the easy part once all this other stuff gets figured out.
So if that’s something that’s interesting to you that you want to learn more about, I invite you to go to www.businessmindsetmakeover.com and get on the list because to get more information.
So while I really, really, really wanted to stop everything I was doing after finding this certification program and dive into it… I still had a business to run, and May is when I update my free DIY web design training.
Free 5 Day Website Challenge Update
I launched the Free 5 Day Website Challenge for the first time back in 2015 and I update it every year as technology changes and tools change.
It’s evolved from being 5 one-to-two hour long videos that I put on my website and dripped out to people over 5 days via email to a full-fledged online course with instant access to all 5 days over 50 short video modules, progress tracking and a community where people can get support.
Over 15,000 people have gone through the training, which totally blows my mind, and the 2020 version was the best yet.
But it’s a freaking big project, and I’m a one-woman shop. I do have a part-time contractor for about 30-45 hours a month who’s amazing who helps me with tons of stuff, but the Free 5 Day Website Challenge is one I always tackle alone every year.
It’s one of those projects that is a labor of love, but I also dread it because it seems SO DAUNTING.
It’s no longer just record these 5 hours of training videos showing people how to build a website for their business and set up a 5 email sequence and send it out.
No, I had to go and make it “better” over the years and now it’s “record these 50 modules of training videos breaking down how to build the website and the marketing strategy behind the design” and 50 modules means 50 videos produced and uploaded and 50 video thumbnails created and 50 pages in the online course website… So basically ten times the work.
But this year I was more excited to do it that ever before because I had this new idea…
I’d been listening to my audience for 5 years about how they were so grateful for the Free 5 Day Website Challenge because they didn’t know what they didn’t know about the technical side of building a website, and they were afraid to do it wrong or worried they were missing things and now they’re super confident that they’ve got their foundation set up right and it’s the best course they’ve ever taken, better than anything they’ve paid for and so on.
And I’ve even had people come on this podcast and tell me that they took my Free 5 Day Website Challenge when they first started to DIY their first website, and then they went on to sell their blog for 6 figures like Carrie Smith Nicolson or build a 7-figure business like Monica Froese.
So with that feedback you’d think that people’d be launching websites left and right!
But they weren’t. A lot of people finished and went on to marketing + building their businesses, sure, but just as many didn’t.
They got stuck on the content part. On the design part. On the perfectionism.
And that’s something that’s always been in the back of my mind. My inner imposter would think “This training can’t be as good as people say because I see the other side. I see all the people who don’t end up going live. There must be something wrong with it (i.e there must be something wrong with me).”
And then I had that coaching call I mentioned back in Episode 288 all about how I can’t control anyone’s results ever because I can’t jump in their body and do it for them – but I CAN create a “luscious” circumstance for them.
So I thought, okay, “The Free 5 Day Website Challenge is really good at giving people that solid foundation, but where they are floundering is the actual design + branding, the layout of the pages, what pages they need at this stage in their business and what to say on them to get website visitors to become customers.”
And that’s all stuff that I expected them to have learned in other trainings before they got to the point of building their website. Because in the beginning, I was targeting people who had taken online business marketing trainings ALREADY and needed me to teach them how to IMPLEMENT.
But after 5 years, what I’ve found is that they want explicit instruction on not only how to build the website, but how to build it in a way that sets them up for success with their marketing and their online business as a whole.
So this year, as I was contemplating the update of the 2020 5 Day Website Challenge I thought…
“How can I help people get over ALL of the hurdles preventing them from getting their business online so that they can create the freedom, flexibility and financial independence that they’re here for?”
Give them the strategic design. The fill-in-the-blank website copy. And graphics and branding that they could customize to their own business.
With one of the themes that I was teaching in my 2019 training, I knew it was possible. I could design templates, I could add all the strategic marketing + copywriting stuff I knew into the design and export them in a few clicks, someone could import them in a few clicks onto their site and customize it to them and have their design done for them too…
So I wrote up a sales page of everything I thought I’d like to include in this dream-life template bundle scenario, and I went into my email list and I exported the email addresses of the 100 most recent email list subscribers and my team member Laura helped me reach out to them personally one-by-one and ask them to read the sales page and answer a few survey questions about it – most importantly: if this existed would they want to buy it?
Out of 100 people we contacted, 7 people agreed to answer my questions and 6 of them said they’d love to buy it at the price I put on my sales page if it existed.
Now some people might think “Only 6 people? No way, that’s not enough, I’m not doing it.” But that’s a 6% conversion rate and at the price point I put on my sales page, that’s double what I expected to say yes.
So I’m like, “Okay, let’s do this. I’m making this template bundle, and I’m gonna talk about them throughout my Challenge videos too when it makes sense.”
And normally I would have said to those 6 people: “Awesome. I’m pre-selling these, so since you said yes you’d totally buy these, if you want them you can pre-order and they’ll be ready by this date.”
But there was a piece of this package that I wasn’t sure I could deliver on… the branding and graphic design part.
It’s not my forte. I struggle with my own and I really didn’t know how I’d design decent graphics that I’d feel confident selling – let alone in a format that would be easy for any layperson to edit.
But I just had a gut-feeling about it, and it also got me excited to start recording the 2020 Challenge, to take on that daunting project because I had a really good compelling reason to update it other than “Well, I update it every year, so…”
I went ahead and started recording the 2020 Free 5 Day Website Challenge, chunk by chunk, and every time I got to a point where I was gonna teach the DIY part of something that would be taken care of for them in the templates, I’d say something like, “If you decide to get the template bundle, you can skip this lesson because I’ve done all this work for you.”
Like, I didn’t even have a name for this thing, it didn’t exist yet, I didn’t know if I could pull it off, but I just had a gut-feeling it would work and I figured I could edit that all out of my videos if I changed my mind…
And then I had an idea.
One of the things I do to reach new people is to build relationships with people who serve a similar audience as me – and one of the people I’d
lightly stalked connected with online teaches entrepreneurs how to DIY their graphics and sells Pinterest Pin design training and templates and I already recommended her DIY graphic design fundamentals course inside my 2019 training.
I’ve had her on the show as a guest – her name is Kristin Rappaport and we talked back in March of 2019 in Episode 221 – and after that episode I said something like “Please let me know if you ever do any trainings on graphic design for website graphics because I know that’s what my audience struggles with the most after the tech.”
So I reached out to Kristin and I said “Hey, I have this idea, I’d love to create and sell these templates that go along with the 5 Day Website Challenge and replace the days where I teach them how to DIY their branding and DIY all their page layouts and leave them to write all their copy on their own, and give it all to them – pre-designed page templates, pre-written website copy, and editable logos + graphics with font pairs and color schemes already picked out for them but that they can easily take and tweak to customize to their business and personality… I’ve already done some research to validate that people would buy it, and I’d love to have you do the branding part for me because I suck at that and it’s what you do. I mean, it is kind of a risk because I haven’t actually gotten anyone to give me money for them yet, but I’m pretty confident it’ll be worth it to spend the time to make them. And then we’ll split everything 50/50. What do you think?”
And she’s like, “It’s so funny that you reached out to me because I’ve been wanting to make something like this for awhile, and I even have a list of everything I’d include in them. I’ve just been putting it off. When are you wanting to launch this?”
And I’m like… “3 weeks?”
And she said yes!!!! I couldn’t believe it, I was so excited!
So I got back to work on the 2020 Challenge, and then I started working on the templates and designing them and making them mobile responsive and adding all the strategic copy prompts and Kristin and I would text and email about the graphics and the dimensions and how many different options should there be and how do we imagine people will use these, and all the things.
Then I moved on to designing the sales page for the “bundle” and creating all the graphics to show people what they’d be getting when they bought, but I still didn’t have a name, in fact, one of the pieces of feedback I’d gotten is that the name I’d put in my demo sales page, the “Done For You Template Bundle” was lackluster.
So I asked Kristin if she had any ideas for names and she came back with “Site-in-a-Snap” and I’m like, that’s brilliant, you’re a genius and we’re calling it the “Site-in-a-Snap Template Pack.”
So the last week of May, I was putting the finishing touches on Site-in-a-Snap and the Free 5 Day Website Challenge which I’d planned to launch on June 1st and ended up launching on June 3rd…
And you’ll have to catch my June Income report coming up in Episode 296 to find out if it was a success or a failure!
So I’ll leave you with that cliffhanger…
The last thing I wanted to talk about is what I’m learning about becoming an anti-racist.
As protests against racism + police brutality were happening all over the world, I was in the thick of working on the 5 Day Website Challenge and Site-in-a-Snap.
And every morning before I’d start on the Challenge, I’d read every headline + most of the articles in New York Times while sipping my coffee. Just like I do every morning.
I’d read articles about George Floyd’s murder, the latest in a long list, and thought “OMG that's horrible…”
And I’d go right back to work.
And then I started seeing emails coming in from other business owners about how they are pausing their marketing because there are more important things going on in the world, or they're donating a portion of their proceeds to organizations that support justice and sharing resources to educate white people on how white people can support black people and people of color.
And I'm sitting there thinking, “Should I be saying something too? What if I say the wrong thing? Sending an email to my list right now feels like jumping on the bandwagon in a thinly-veiled way to promote my business and make sure people know that I'm ‘not racist’.”
But in one of those emails I’d gotten was a link to a video from entrepreneur Rachel Rodgers about the “good white liberal response.”
I watched it, and it exposed to me my ignorance about what racism truly is – and I now see why I was so ignorant about it – because I’m privileged enough to be ignorant about it.
When I’d hear the word racist, I'd think KKK, confederate flags, and people that legit think black people are not equal to white people – and “that’s not me, I’m not racist.”
When I’d hear the word privileged, I'd think of white dudes born to rich families who’ve never had to work a day in their life and get their Ivy League tuition paid have everything handed to them – and I’d think “that’s not me, I’m not privileged.”
In her video, Rachel explained what racism is and what privilege is in a way that made me understand that I am privileged, saying “but I’m not racist” is ignorant and offensive, and how if I’m not actively part of the solution, I’m part of the problem.
I understood after listening to her video how staying silent because I'm scared to take the risk of being called out as racist and tone-deaf or because I don’t have the tools or confidence to create a safe space for people once I’ve opened up the conversation or that I don’t know what I don’t know about creating an inclusive business… is part of the problem.
Rachel called out those of us with an online business as a platform to do more. To take risks. To be more than “not racist,” to be “anti-racist”.
Since I watched her video, I’ve immersed myself in watching, reading + listening to justice, equity, diversity + inclusion experts like:
- Trudi Lebron – who put on a workshop called “Show Up and Serve for White Coaches” that I found extremely helpful to explain how what's going on right now plays out in the coaching and online business space and how we can do better;
- Trudi's article on Facing Race, Equity + Diversity in the Coaching Industry;
- Rachel Rodgers in her video about the “good white liberal response”; and
- Jocelyn J. Kopac on how to be a true ally in your online business.
- The stories of several black woman in Corrine Crabtree’s coaching call exclusively for women of color in her No BS Weightloss program (members only); and
- The “That’s Not How That Works” podcast with Trudi Lebron and her co-host Luisa “Weeze” Doran; and
- The Town Hall Rachel Rodgers hosted (which included Nathan Barry from my affiliate partner ConvertKit) for small business owners to learn how to build an equitable, anti-racist organization – and where you can take the “Anti-racist Small Business Pledge” to commit to building one.
So back to me being about to launch the Free 5 Day Website Challenge and Site-in-a-Snap and I’m sitting there thinking, “Should I be saying something too? It doesn't feel like my place to say anything.” Because, honestly, I was scared to navigate the conversation. I could say something and people could get mad, or say nothing and people could get mad. I didn’t see a way that people wouldn’t get mad, and if you’re a privileged people-pleaser who avoids conflict like me, people getting mad at us is something we work hard to avoid.
But watching that video from Rachel Rodgers who called on us white business owners to DO MORE, to not just sit on the sidelines and to TAKE AN ACTUAL RISK, I understood how trivial my fear was…that if the worst thing that happened to me is that people get mad at me and I lose some customers, or I do it wrong and get called out – that is not even on the same planet in comparison to being in fear for my life when I leave my house or being followed around a store or worrying that my kids won’t come home.
And I thought “So I'm an open book about money, my weight, all the BS I think about my self-worth and value in business, what you should do in your business during a global pandemic – but I'm CONFLICTED about if I should say anything about being in support of the rights of people of color and against them being murdered by police because I think “it's not my place to talk about that” and “people are on my email list to learn to build a website, not hear my opinions about social justice in this country?!?!?!”
And then I decided that I was no longer going to retain the privilege of staying silent and taking no risk.
Because for me, this business and podcast has always been about more than teaching you to build a website and a business.
It's about building a safe, secure and prosperous life – and if I get to do that by default because I have the privilege that comes from having white skin and I don't acknowledge that's not the case for everyone, or I don’t leverage my privilege to do better, then I'm part of the problem.
So I sent out a couple of emails to my list, doing what I've always done: share my story and what I’m doing and how I’m processing and who I’m learning from and what I’m learning – an email very close to what I’m sharing with you in this episode.
And I’m so glad that I did, because it uncovered two really important things:
- Most of people on my email list and in this community are right there with me and are committed to paying attention and learning and doing better.
- There really are people out there who think that others are here to serve them at their pleasure, that people are disposable, and that they have the right to threaten and intimidate others to make them behave as they expect them to behave. And those people felt compelled to reply to my emails to make sure I knew my place.
That second one threw me for a loop – but I guess that’s my white privilege showing. Again, if that’s all that happens to me? Not even on the same planet as what happens to people of color every day in this country.
And I’m really glad those people decided to respond to my email to tell me to behave, to think twice before I share my opinion, and to ask me how many customers I’m willing to lose over having an opinion – because they just hardened my resolve to be the complete opposite of them.
You can ask my mom, this was one of the things that drove her crazy about me when I was a teenager but I know she admires about me now – if you tell me I can’t or shouldn’t do something that I think is right or that I know I can do… I just quietly sit back and think, “Oh yeah? Watch me.”
I was raised to believe that everyone is equal and that we should all treat each other the same. I know my parents were coming from a good place when they taught me that. And it seems like a good thing to believe: “We're all the same, treat others how you want to be treated. That's the opposite of racist, right?”
That’s why I’m so grateful for the work of Trudi Lebron + Jocelyn J. Kopac + Rachel Rodgers and all the others I’m sure to find as I go because I now understand how that seemingly-innocent little belief helps systemic racism persist.
So what next?
I have a lot to learn, a lot of work to do on myself to uncover my own beliefs and biases. I'm continuing to educate myself on things I've been privilege to ignore or be ignorant of or forget. This article from Ash Ambirge: “White Apathy and the Bullshit Argument That They Could Help Themselves if They Really Wanted To” was another one that called me to do more in the best way I know how right now – through my platform as an entrepreneur.
There’s work to be done to make sure I have a diverse and inclusive business – and it’s not just about hiring. I’m a solopreneur with one subcontractor but there are many, many other ways I can improve and have an impact. There are things I’m doing well, and areas for improvement, and right now I’m taking stock and figuring out how I want to move forward. If you want to learn about what you can do in your business – even as a solopreneur – I highly recommend Rachel Rodgers’ Town Hall.
Something as easy as listening to different voices is something you can do now. For me, podcasts are pretty much the only content I consume online from other businesses. I don’t really engage on social media or scroll my feed, but when I looked at the podcasts in my feed that I listen to, they were all white women. I didn’t even realize I was only hearing one kind of voice when it came to business until all of this happened.
Because while my business has always been about empowering all women to create a life of freedom, flexibility and financial independence, if I don’t acknowledge that creating a safe, inclusive, secure + equitable space for EVERYONE to do that work is part of that formula, then my business isn’t really for EVERYONE even if I thought it was.
And it's important to me to make sure my actions in my personal life and in my business are in integrity with that belief + mission.
Otherwise what is all this for?
I can go make money at a job if all it is about is money.
It’s not. It’s about empowerment for me and for you.
Five years ago when I was sitting in my beige office under fluorescent lights miserable, thinking there had to be more to life and wanting to start a side hustle – I had a great paycheck, benefits and health insurance.
That paycheck let me make a LOT of mistakes while growing my business without risking much.
And yes, I worked hard to get where I am and to grow this business to where it is, but let’s be real: You can’t hear that story and tell me that I didn’t start from a place of privilege.
I truly believe that as entrepreneurs, we can help change the world. We opt out of the traditional way of doing things. We don't play by the corporate or societal rules. We have a voice and a platform. And we can use it for more than just making a living for ourselves.
I also believe that with the platform I have a responsibility to educate myself about my biases, my privilege and open myself up to new voices, mentors and ways of thinking so that I can make sure I can fully support EVERYONE in my community to reach their goals, not just the people who can start where I started.
So thank you Rachel Rodgers + Trudi Lebron + Luisa Doran + Jocelyn Kopac and others for calling me out. Even though they don’t know me personally and didn't call me out publicly – they know there are silent allies out there like me sitting there thinking “OMG that’s horrible” and going right back to work and doing nothing.
And I heard them say numerous times in their presentations, podcasts, articles: “We're calling you out to call you in.” I hear you. I accept the call to be part of the change and I'm thankful that you're going above and beyond to educate and provide opportunities for people like me to do this work, because I’m ready.
So if you're reading this and you're ready too, start with some of those resources I linked up. And I'll continue to share what I'm learning and doing in my business in future income reports.
That's all I got for you this month – thank you so much for listening and I'll see you next week!