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Ep. 344: May 2021 Income Report

side hustle

Welcome to my May 2021 Income Report!

Each month, I publish an income report to take you behind the scenes of my online business. I reveal how much money the business makes, how we make it, how much we spend, and lessons learned.

My business has come a long, long way since I started it back in 2015 from ZERO. Zero clients, zero dollars, zero website traffic, zero email list subscribers.

It took 3 years to go from side-hustle to self-employed when I quit my day job in 2018 (back when all I wanted to do was replace my paycheck). Now, 3 years later in 2021, I’m transitioning from self-employed making six-figures to CEO of a business that makes multiple six-figures and is on its way to its first million-dollar year.

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. 

I need you to know that I didn’t start where I am today… that it took a lot of experimentation and ultimately working on my mindset and my belief of what’s possible for me to grow into the person that could start a side hustle, quit her day job, build a team and step into the role of CEO.

If you’re new to the show and to online business and this is one of the first episodes you’re listening to… I’d LOVE to invite you to go HERE and go back to those early income reports to see what the journey has been like for me over the past few years and how I got to where I am today.

Because I can tell you… it’s been a journey.

My success has not happened overnight. It’s happened over TIME.

It’s been steady, consistent growth that follows me leveling up my mindset and my willingness to invest in the right mentors to help me level up my mindset.

And it’s a journey from operating as a lone wolf to curating my wolf-pack and building strong relationships with mentors and other entrepreneurs.

And as a result, May was another record-breaking month.

Before we dive into the numbers, I’ll share with you the important things that happened in May. Then I’ll share exactly how much money the business makes, how we make it, how much we spend, how much I pay myself, and all the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Let’s dive in!

Here are all of the important things that happened in May:

#1  – I hosted a live pricing mindset workshop for Web Designers.

There are 3 main things I do in my business:

  • Teach entrepreneurs how to DIY their website with the Free 5 Day Website Challenge;
  • Inform entrepreneurs how to market themselves online + sell their products, programs, and services to an online audience without ads, SEO, or social media inside the Website Marketing Lab;
  • Educate web designers on how to create profitable, sustainable, and scalable web design businesses. Most web designers undervalue their skills, undercharge, overdeliver and burn themselves out. Because of that, they're never able to make a full-time income as a web designer.

The Web Designer Academy is application-only. People apply, I review their application, and if I think they have the potential to be successful with our strategies, I’ll invite them to join the program. If I don’t think they’re ready for us yet, I won’t invite them to join the program.

What I kept noticing is that people who were perfect for our training, who really really needed and wanted it, and who I knew without a shadow of a doubt could implement our strategies and be successful would tell me that they couldn’t afford to enroll because they didn’t think they could charge that much for a website, that their clients couldn’t afford it and/or that they weren’t good enough to ask for that much.

And then they’d tell me that they were gonna go off on their own, book a client, and then join us.

And I think, “This makes no sense!!! You’re going to continue to go it alone and find cheapskate clients who don’t value your skills. All the while, undercharging and overdelivering to calm your inner imposter…Then you'll stay stuck in this vicious cycle instead of investing in yourself and trusting yourself the way you WISH your clients would trust and invest in you…Instead of getting the help and the mentorship to find clients who are gladly willing to pay you 10 times what you’re currently charging, and with support?”

The Belief Gap

What I’d uncovered is a Belief Gap, and if you’re in my Website Marketing Lab, you know exactly what I’m talking about. We teach you about identifying the gap and creating a Shareworthy Freebie to bridge the gap between where your clients are today and where they want to be.

For these web designers who were desperate to join but holding themselves back from joining, they had a belief gap about the value of a website, how much they can charge, and if there are even people out there who will pay that much.

I put together a free, no-pitch workshop all about pricing mindset for web designers and invited all the web designers on my email list to attend. At the end, I tell everyone, “If you want to work with us on your web design business, go HERE and fill out the application. If we think you’re a good fit, we’ll send you the next steps.”

We had over 270 people register to attend live and it resulted in 12 new Web Designer Academy students in May and our biggest revenue month ever — which you’ll see when I get to the numbers for May in a little bit.

If you’re a web designer and you want to watch a replay of that workshop, you can watch it instantly HERE!

#2  – I partnered with Kayse Morris on another Teacher Blog Blastoff

Inside my Website Marketing Lab, I teach how to market yourself without ads, SEO, or social media by creating a shareworthy freebie. Then using it as an asset to build relationships with people who serve the audience that you serve.

My collaboration with Kayse Morris of the CEO Teacher Podcast and CEO Teacher Academy is one of the biggest success stories of me implementing the same strategies I teach in the Website Marketing Lab.

I had the opportunity to spend 5 whole days in front of her audience in her CEO Teacher Facebook Group and teach the Free 5 Day Website Challenge in a live format. The goal was to help her audience get their blog set up AND sell Site in a Snap — plus my new Store in a Snap which I’ll talk about in a second.

This partnership is the epitome of a win-win-win. One of the biggest barriers she found in turning her free community members into paying customers was getting their blog set up. She doesn’t teach that, but I do! I came in, taught that part, and they got their blog set up. Then when it’s time for Kayse to launch her CEO Teacher Academy and her membership, her audience has what they need to be successful.

We offered a discount on Site in a Snap just for her audience and Kayse is an affiliate so she’s earning a commission on the sales as well – which I’ll talk about also once I get to the numbers part of this income report.

It was a blast, it was super successful again, and if you want to learn how to implement this strategy in your business, go HERE and sign up for my free training to get you started.

Just a heads up… I’ll be creating an entirely new free training very soon breaking down a 12-month marketing roadmap and re-tooling the curriculum inside the Website Marketing Lab. When I do, there WILL be a price increase! If you’ve ever considered joining the Website Marketing Lab, now is the time so you can get in on the current pricing!

#3  – I Launched Store in a Snap

One of the things that came out of my partnership with Kayse Morris was a completely new product called Store in a Snap.

We have Site in a Snap, which is our pre-designed website templates with website copy prompts written for you, and mix and match editable brand kits so that you can DIY your website with professionally designed elements.

What Kayse does is teach teachers how to sell their intellectual property. Think lesson plans, curriculum, and worksheets on a marketplace called Teachers Pay Teachers — and also how to sell things on their OWN websites.

They needed a way to sell digital products, physical products, subscriptions to both digital and physical products (think membership sites or subscription boxes), and even online courses.

For non-techie people, that can be super intimidating figuring out how to collect money and deliver products or courses or whatever. There are a TON of solutions out there that basically leads to analysis paralysis for people.

Kayse had asked me last fall if I could put together a bonus course teaching her CEO Teacher Academy students how to set up all the tech for this.

There’s actually ONE WordPress plugin that can handle selling literally anything you want to sell.

It’s called WooCommerce! It’s the industry standard e-commerce plugin for WordPress. I guarantee you’ve bought stuff online from a website that uses WooCommerce and you didn’t even know it.

I made this course for Kayse, she gave it to her students, and then she came back and asked, “Hey, do you have any templates for their stores that they can install, similar to what you made for Site in a Snap? They're asking because they’re having trouble setting up their stores to match their website.” 

And the idea for Store in a Snap was born!

I created templates for the actual store pages, made some installation + setup training videos, and combined that with the in-depth WooCommerce course I created for Kayse’s people. I wrapped it up in a neat little package called Store in a Snap.

It teaches you how to…

  • set up your website to sell digital products or physical products
  • set up subscriptions for digital or physical products
  • use WooCommerce to set up a membership site
  • sell a monthly subscription for a membership site
  • set up and sell access to an online course

You can go HERE and check it out! For a limited time, you can get the same offer I gave to Kayse’s people and save 50% on the course and templates!

#4  – Virtual Skills Summit

Back in April, in Episode 335 of Pep Talks for Side Hustlers, I had the pleasure of interviewing Craig Cannings from Freelance University on the show. This turned into me not only having the opportunity to be on the Freelance Podclass on an episode titled “The Side Hustle to Self-Employed Class”. But it also turned into a chance to speak at Freelance University’s Virtual Skills Summit all about Conversion Design and building a website that converts.

Freelance University’s tagline is “Learn Skills, work from home, live free.” That resonates with me so much, and I loved the topic they asked me to teach on because it served two purposes. Teaching the freelancers in attendance how to build their own website, but also those who wanted to sell their web design skills to offer conversion design services. Total win-win.

#5  – Page Builder Summit

In May, I participated in the Page Builder Summit — A summit geared toward web designers who use page builders. The summit would teach them how to design more efficiently.

What I was invited to talk about was how to scale your web design business with digital products. So I shared the 4-part framework that I teach to students inside the Web Designer Academy for scaling your web design business with digital products.

I broke down how we validated, tested, and launched Site in a Snap and made over $40,000 in 5 months and shared with them all the do’s and don’ts of creating digital products to scale your web design business. Also, some caveats on the timing of adding digital products to your web design business. Because if done at the wrong time, it’s a strategy that can actually prevent you from being able to scale!

It was a total blast, and it’s probably something I’ll offer live for my list of web designers very soon as well!

I participate in these summits exclusively to build my email list. 

I put a lot of effort into them – creating the presentation, promoting the summit to my audience, contributing to bonuses and power packs, showing up live, and going all-in for the attendees. It’s a lot of work…but totally worth it because it brings me the best subscribers and ultimately, new customers!

#6  – Team Assessments

In May, I also had key members of the team take this assessment called the Predictive Index. It’s super freaky because you answer 2 questions, and it comes back with this spot on behavioral analysis.

One of my biz besties who I met inside one of the many mindsets coaching programs I’m in, Liz Faircloth, co-host of The Real Estate InvestHER podcast and co-founder of The Real Estate InvestHER — She used to conduct and train on this assessment back in her corporate days. When I told her about the transition I was making from solopreneur to CEO and how I was building my team, she generously suggested for my team do the assessment and she would give me an analysis of us.

The whole point is to make sure I have the right personalities in the right roles. And for us to all understand how we operate and why we are the way we are so we can better communicate and collaborate on projects.

What I found was that by accident, we had the right personality in the right role, with the exception of my marketing VA. We had her doing some admin stuff that sucked her soul out of her. When someone isn’t operating in their zone of genius, the work doesn’t get done at the level that it should be. Instead of trying to change someone at their core and make them miserable, we decided to add a new Admin VA role and shift those responsibilities that weren’t in her zone of genius to that role. We want to give her more things that light her up and that she does really well in.

I’ll share this with you because I thought it was fascinating – here’s what my assessment came back as:

Shannon Mattern is a Captain.

A Captain is a problem solver who likes change and innovation while controlling the big picture.

Shannon will most strongly express the following behaviors:

  • Proactivity, assertiveness, and a sense of urgency in driving to reach personal goals. Openly challenges the world.
  • Independent in putting forth their own ideas, which are often innovative and, if implemented, cause change. Resourcefully works through or around anything blocking completion of what they want to accomplish; aggressive when challenged.
  • Impatient for results and puts pressure on themself and others for rapid implementation and is far less productive when doing routine work.
  • Proactively connects quickly to others; open and sharing. Builds and leverages relationships to get work done.
  • Comfortably fluent and fast talk, in volume. Enthusiastically persuades and motivates others by considering their point of view and adjusting delivery.
  • Collaborative; usually works with and through others. Intuitive understanding of team cohesion, dynamics, and interpersonal relations.
  • Risk-taking, daring, and focus on future goals; this individual is more concerned with where they’re going than either how they’ll get there, or where they’ve been. 
  • Adaptable and operates flexibly.
  • Makes decisions and takes action, even with little proof confirming their decision. Confident in their own ideas and unimpressed with tradition.
  • A flexible approach to “the book” often bends the rules and does things their own way. An innovative, “outside the box” thinker who is undaunted by failure.

If you want to learn more about this assessment, you can check it out HERE!

#7  – I started an intensive leadership program.

Back in my March Income Report in Episode 336, I told you about how my friend, business coach, and mastermind buddy Alecia St. Germain reached out to me and said, “Hey, I’m doing a leadership training that I think would really help you. I think you should do it.”

Without asking her anything about it, I was in!

This might sound crazy, but you also just heard me tell you that I make decisions and take action even with little proof confirming my decision. The only proof I needed is that I trust Alecia 1000% and she’s been coaching me for almost a year. If she thinks it would help me create the life I want, I’m in.

The training happens in stages and the first one was in May. I’m not gonna lie, it was intense. I was emotional. It was transformational. It was crystal clear to me that if I continued being the way I was being, sure, I’d be able to create a million-dollar business, but I’d be a miserable millionaire.

I don’t want to be a miserable millionaire who’s a workaholic and completely disconnected.

I want to be a joyful millionaire who’s giving and connected and loving and present.

So I walked out of the first part of that training feeling like a human being again. That part of me that I closed off a long time ago to prevent myself from being hurt or disappointed, but also resulted in me dimming my light, was turned back on.

Suddenly I had more time, even though on paper I didn’t. I was more patient. Suddenly, I was more connected to friends and family. I felt more loving, more deserving, and more like a leader.

I completed the second phase of the training in June and I’ll tell you more about that in next month’s income report.

#8  – I hired a photographer.

At this point, I’ve proven that I can grow my business to multiple six figures, probably even a million dollars, without ads, SEO, or social media.

As I mentioned last month, I joined my mastermind buddy Crissy Conner’s Visible CEO program to help me implement a social media strategy that doesn’t require a ton of my time. I did 8 FB Live videos for the Web Designer Academy, and my team is currently working on turning those into a ton of other pieces of content. Yes, it’s happening slower than I anticipated it to (see “Captain” above) – but it’s happening, and I’m staying out of it and coaching them through the “doing” part.

Part of being more present on social media is having lots and lots of pictures. I’m not a selfie kinda girl. I need professional help.

So I hired a local photographer recommended by my Columbus Change Agents mastermind buddies. I paid $9,500 for 4 photo shoots over the next year. Her name is Heather Moran, and she specializes in photos for online business owners. And the Sales Queen, Nellie Corriveau is going to help style me for the shoots!

#9  – I booked a retreat with my Texas Mastermind Girls.

Speaking of masterminds, my Austin mastermind buddies and I are traveling to a gorgeous Airbnb in September to plan out 2022. We haven’t been together since 2019, and we’re all very excited for a weekend getaway now that we’re all vaccinated. We each contributed $1000 toward booking the AirBNB and food, so I paid for that in May as well.

#10  – I Set Up YNAB (You Need a Budget)

Remember how last month I told you about how I was freaking out about making sure I can pay my team and I gave myself a raise as an act of faith?

Well, I also invited Katie Scott from More with Money to be a guest speaker for the Web Designer Academy to talk about business finances and planning.

Part of what she talked about was setting up the budgeting tool YNAB or You Need a Budget, and she walked us through setting it up and I thought, “A-ha! This has been the missing piece for me!”

Clearly, I track my numbers. But it’s the future planning that has always been that worry in the back of my mind: “Will I make enough money this month to cover expenses?”

Well, now I’m to the point in my business where because we’ve been profitable every single month, I have cash in the bank. I just always thought of it as “I have cash in the bank in case something happens.”

But after Katie’s presentation, I decided to create a plan for that money. I set up YNAB, and I created a business budget for June, July, and August. I applied the money I had sitting in the bank to the budget – and on paper, all my business expenses are fully funded for the next 60 days! If I don’t make another penny (which won’t happen), everything is covered for 2 months. Whatever comes in in June will fund August and September, and so on and so forth.

I’m so excited because I can actually plan for adding team members or making other investments and I can see that I have the money.

I don’t know why I didn’t do it like this before, but it’s given me so much peace of mind having this level of detail into the future.

With that, let’s take a look at how my May 2021 numbers helped me to be able to fully fund my business for the next 2 months AND give myself a raise!

May 2021 Numbers

Remember back in the early days of this podcast when I used to talk to you about my minimum baseline revenue? And how I needed about $10,000 every month to cover paying myself, expenses, and taxes?

Then that goal grew to about $15,000 when I wanted to make sure we could cover my husband's paycheck in case something happened to his job (which something did). Then when I starting seriously investing in mentorship in early 2020, our goal increased to probably around $20,000 a month to cover what I was spending on those programs.

Things are changing again in the second quarter of 2021. I’ve made this transition from solopreneur to CEO and I’m leading a team of independent contractors. Our minimum baseline to pay our expenses, the team, me, and our taxes is now around $30,000.

With that frame of reference, here’s how much money we made and spent in May 2021:

Total Revenue: $71,615.18

  • Affiliate Income: $7341.22
  • Site-in-a-Snap Templates + Trainings: $13,647.96  (that’s my portion of the total sales after paying out my partners but BEFORE paying out my affiliates)
  • Web Designer Academy: $46,091.00
  • Website Marketing Lab: $4535.00

Total Investments: $30,442.03

  • Tools I use to run my business: $1712.04
  • Training, Coaching + Mentorship: $522.00
  • CEO Salary (that’s me!) $8831.02
  • (includes payroll taxes – $7,000 is my monthly take-home pay, and then I pay quarterly income taxes on the quarterly business profit)
  • Team: $8150.00
  • Affiliate Payouts: $714.05
  • Facebook Ads for WDA: $1.72
  • Travel: $1011.20
  • Photography: $9500.00

Net Profit: $41,173.15

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

Lessons Learned

My time is best spent in my zone of genius.

When I go all-in on creating content + delivering content as I did for the Web Designer Academy and Teacher Blog Blastoff and the summits I participated in… our revenue potential is off the charts.

But when I overwork myself by trying to do everything, I don’t make time for income-producing activities — Such as live trainings to promote my Web Designer Academy, or Website Marketing Lab, or Site and Store in a Snap.

I get to put the right people in the right roles and then stay in my own lane, and we’ll be well on our way to a million-dollar business.

I Got Hooked In

One of the things I work with Alecia St. Germain on is a concept called Hooks + Releases. The premise is that I have a goal I want to achieve, but there are things that I’m doing and not doing that are getting in my way. I’m doing or not doing those things because I have a deep-seated belief that prevents me from going all in, called a Big Assumption.

One of the big assumptions that I uncovered is that if people don’t like me, I could lose everything. And people not liking me is what prevents me from giving feedback to my team on when something wasn’t done the way it needed to be done or me asking for help at the last minute.

In May, I committed to a LOT of things instead of asking my team for support. I didn’t feel like I could give them enough lead time to get it done and I didn’t want them to be mad or frustrated with me for not giving them enough time. So I took it all on myself. I worked weekends again, and I got overworked and overwhelmed. It all culminated in me blowing my top with my husband because our internet kept going out during all these summits and presentations I was doing.

Ironic that my lack of communication with my team was happening alongside interruptions in my method of communication with the world, but I digress.

I was talking with Alecia about that leadership training and my internet and being frustrated, and she tells me, “You got hooked in”. 

And I asked, “What are you talking about? I got hooked in?”

She proceeded to explain to me that I’d done some really great work to unhook myself from the need of people to like me. She told me that I knew how to receive feedback now and I could trust that I’d be okay no matter what anyone thinks of me… but that I’m not cured and that I could still get hooked back in.

And I realized I’d been hooked in for WEEKS!

Ever since before the Pricing workshop, I’d done for the Web Designer Academy, I’d been doing little things here and there that are NOT in my job description anymore. Answering emails, being in the free Facebook Group, doing techie stuff, setting up pages, email automation, and broadcasts.

It was as if my Captain personality + my Big Assumption collided and I reverted back into a solopreneur trying to do the work of 5 people.

Can I do it? Sure. I’ve done it before. I am absolutely capable of running a million-dollar business as a solopreneur.

Is it healthy?

Not in any way shape or form. It’s not physically healthy, mentally healthy, or healthy for my relationships.

And that’s why I’m doing this leadership training and putting so much time and energy into going from solopreneur to CEO in 2021.

I am responsible to…

  • lead the team and not do their work
  • create an incredible, supportive, positive, thriving environment for them
  • set the example for what a healthy, profitable, sustainable business looks like
  • show you that you can have a thriving, abundant business AND be happy AND not work all the time AND not be worried constantly that it will all go away

I’m so excited to show you what this transformation looks like over the next few months!

That’s it for my May 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!

If you haven’t already, I’d love for you to leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. It helps our show get found by people who need to hear our weekly pep talks for side hustlers!