Ep. 257: September 2019 Income Report

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Welcome to my September 2019 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 much I spend and lessons learned along the way!

View all of my income reports here!

Before we dive in to September’s income report, I want to share an email I got from one of my listeners because she asked a really great question that I thought some of you might also have too, so I wanted to answer it for you here in case you were wondering the same thing.

She writes:

“I love your income reports, they are so candid & detailed, and I always got a lot of insight from it.

I’m a little confused about your August report because:

  • you stopped your 1 on 1 consulting
  • because you prefer the Information business model to focus, as it more scalable & less time consuming
  • but you are selling a course that teach people to be a Web Designer in one of your course (a consultant business model) – that you stops doing it :))

Don't you think that's a contradicting message?

As a freelance web developer myself, I really know that 1 on 1 consulting work is really time consuming.

Do you think I should try to pivot to an information business model too?


Here’s my response:

I LOVE this question SO MUCH, and I'm really glad that you asked.

If I were ONLY doing freelance web design, and I didn't want to do the teaching, training, mentoring and podcasting part of my business, I'd keep taking 1:1 clients all day because I FINALLY figured out how to attract my ideal clients and keep my projects running smoothly. I love my clients, they're a blast to work with – and because I figured that out and I know how much other web designers STRUGGLE with that, I want to teach them how to do it.

I have bigger goals for my business. At first, it was about making a living and being able to quit my day job… and I've done that.

Now I want to serve WAY more people than I can with 1:1 client work alone – and that's why I'm stopping 1:1 client work so that I can help more people.

It's not all about being able to make more money with an information model for me. It's alsp about how many people I can reach and help with an information model.

The information model isn't right for everyone. Some people don't WANT to create that kind of content and put themselves out there like that. And the 1:1 model isn't right for everyone because some people need more flexibility in their schedule, etc.

So to answer your question – do I think YOU should change to and information model?

Only YOU can answer that question. What do you want? What's going to get you there – bigger paydays with 1:1 web design clients, or the slower growth of an information-model? I think that a blend of both at first is GREAT because they support each other.

I hope that helps – and let me know if you have any other questions, I'm an open book!!!

So if you guys have any questions, that goes for you too! Reach out, I’m an open book!

Okay, let’s dive in to September’s income report.

Important things that happened in September:

  • I beta-launched my free “Jumpstart Your Website Traffic” mini-course to my email list.
  • I opened enrollment for my Web Designer Academy.
  • I traveled to Austin for a weekend mastermind retreat with my biz besties.

“The thoughts that got you here are going to be the thoughts that keep you from getting to your next goal.”

Review of my goals

My target revenue goal is $15,000 a month.

My minimum baseline is to make around $2500 to cover my normal monthly expenses, I set aside $2500 a month for taxes, I pay myself $5,000 a month and I want to build up a reserve so that I can invest in my team, give myself a raise, have a cushion to cover the ebbs and flows of revenue and eventually cover my husband’s salary.

So my minimum baseline is $10,000 a month, and as I mentioned in my income report last month, I want to hit that first $15,000 month by March of 2020.

So with that, here’s how much money I made in September of 2019.

Total Revenue: $11,824.34

  • Affiliate Income: $2470.70
  • Courses: $6559.64
  • Done For You & Consulting: $2794

Total Expenses: $2482.70

Out of the ordinary expenses:

  • Facebook Ads to promote “How to Start a Freelance Web Design Business Masterclass” – $449
  • Travel to Lake Austin for Mastermind Retreat – $387
  • Registration for a conference I’m attending in April: $497

Which means I ran the bare bones of my business for just $1149.70 in September. Good to know in case life hits the fan, and that will also help me meet some of the goals I set at my mastermind retreat, which I’ll talk about a bit later.

Net Profit: $8,981.64

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

Biggest Lessons Learned

The first thing I noticed when I pulled together my numbers for September is that my online courses earned more money than ever before in the history of my business.

My passive income and courses combined accounted for 76% of my revenue this month, whereas in previous months it’s never accounted for more than 50%.

And that’s so exciting!!!

So I mentioned that I beta-launched my Free Jumpstart Your Website Traffic Mini Course to my email list – so let me explain what that is and why it’s so important to my overall business goals:

I have a course called that Website Marketing Lab that teaches people how to market themselves online and get clients. And I only open that course for enrollment a few times a year, and how I promote it is through a live 5 Day Challenge where I go live in a Facebook group nightly for 5 days, and I teach some core concepts about online marketing and give people action steps to take to get started, and then I give them feedback on their homework and stuff – basically giving them a taste of what it’s like to work with me inside my program.

And at the end, I share more about the Website Marketing Lab and how people can continue to work with me after the free live Challenge is over, and then I’d give them a week to enroll, and then I’d close the doors and start walking the new group through the lessons.

And that’s great, and I love it, but I’d always get people telling me that they missed the training, that they want to enroll but now’s not the right time, or asking me when it’s going to open again because they heard about how awesome it is from a friend in the course – and I’d always have to tell them, “Sorry, it’s gonna be a few months before I open again” and they’re all bummed out because they want to get started NOW.

So in working with the team over at Growth University, we came up with the idea of taking the concepts I teach in the live challenge, tweaking them a bit since I’m not there to answer questions and give the feedback like I am during the live challenge and turn it into a mini-course that’s delivered entirely via email – and at the end of the course, I invite people to who want to learn more about working with me to continue to get emails about how they can join the Website Marketing Lab.

And then I have the doors to the program always open so that people don’t have to wait for my live challenges to enroll – and I can consistently bring on new students.

The other reason that I’m excited about the Free Jumpstart Your Website Traffic Mini Course is that I have a new freebie I can market to help people who ALREADY have a website, and don’t need my Free 5 Day Website Challenge. That opens me up to a whole new group of people that are my ideal client.

So I wrote all the content for the course, the sales emails and the sales page in August and September, and then in September I invited my current email list subscribers to sign up for the new course so that I could get a baseline:

  • How many people that signed up for the course joined the Website Marketing Lab?
  • Did people get what they expected out of the free mini course?
  • Why didn’t people buy?

And I can use that information to make improvements AND predict my future revenue so that I can start marketing that free mini-course on its own!

And I’ll still do a live challenge twice a year because I LOVE doing those, but this way it’s a win-win – people can enroll when the timing is right for them, not me, and I can have income coming in consistently year-round, not just around launch times.

The other thing that contributed to my highest-ever course income is my Web Designer Academy. I historically have opened doors to that just once a year in September and we opened again this year.

And I’ve always used Facebook Ads to connect with freelance web designers who probably have never heard of me to invite them to a free training – and this year I merged all of the prior free trainings I’ve done for them into a live, 3 part masterclass series, again in a Facebook group, to teach them how to create a successful freelance web design business.

At the end of those trainings, I let them know that I’m going to be sharing more information about the Web Designer Academy after the trainings are over… and the crazy thing was, this time, for the first time ever, people were asking me questions about the Web Designer Academy in the Facebook Group, on the live sessions!

So this year, I spent $449 on Facebook ads, and I used Claire Pelletreau’s Facebook Ad Spend calculator to figure out my budget and my expected return on investment – and I gotta say, that calculator NAILED IT.

I talked to Claire back in episode 231 all about when is the right time to use Facebook Ads in your business so you can go back and listen to that one here.

But here’s the interesting thing about this launch – I had the smallest number of people ever sign up for the free training, but I sold more spots in the Web Designer Academy this year in the first 2 days than I did all of last year – and at the time of writing this income report, the launch isn’t over yet.

And I think it’s because of the live engagement, seriously. I think it’s because I showed up in a Facebook group for 3 days, interacted with everyone in there, shared everything I could share in 60 minutes a day, and answered all their questions.

I didn’t do a big sales presentation, and I also gave people a chance in every step of the way to opt out of learning more about the Web Designer Academy.

It’s so much easier to get customers when you’re not trying to sell. And that’s what I teach people to do inside my programs too.

And I’m also trying to figure out how I can let people join the Web Designer Academy all year long, and not miss out on the mentorship component – which is why I only open it once a year, because it’s really a year-long mentorship.

But there are people who don’t want that, but they want lessons and strategies and templates. So I’m working with my team at Growth University on that too. But it’s gotta be a win-win for both of us, not just a way for me to sell more courses.

Okay, so switching gears a little bit here…

If you listened to last month’s income report, Episode 252, I shared with you that I decided to stop taking 1:1 web design clients because I spend 80% of my time on them but they only account for 50% of my revenue.

In September, I’m currently working on finalizing my last 1:1 project, but I didn’t bring in any revenue from it because we’re between payment cycles.

Like I said last month, I know the path forward for me and I just need to keep moving forward.

And that takes me back to that quote I’d heard on a podcast all about how “The thoughts that got me here are going to be the thoughts that keep you from getting to your next goal.”

For the past several months I’ve been thinking “Just keep doing what you’re doing…” and that was a great thought. It kept me focused and on track to get everything in place so that I could market my courses and grow my scalable revenue streams.

But now it’s time for me to switch gears – and I talk about this all the time to students inside my Website Marketing Lab and my Web Designer Academy – it’s time for me to move out of CREATE mode into DO mode.

It’s time to start marketing and getting myself out in front of my ideal customers in a bigger way.

And that’s why my September mastermind couldn’t have come at a better time.

Back in Episode 177, I shared with you how I went to a mastermind retreat in September of 2018 in Austin Texas with 5 strangers who became 5 of my closest friends. Since then we’ve met monthly, hold each other accountable to our goals and communicate daily via a group text and Marco Polo.

We got together again this September at a gorgeous AirBNB on Lake Travis in Austin and basically had a three-day business-planning slumber party.

Pretty much my dream life.

The format we did this year was Friday night, we each recapped our goals from last year, what we accomplished, what we didn’t accomplish and what held us back from our goals.

On Saturday, we each had a hot seat where we shared our goals for the next 5 years and what we thought needed to happen to get us there – and then we challenged each other on those goals, like, do they align with our other goals, why do we really want those goals, is that serving us, what’s holding us back from just going for it.

And then on Sunday morning, we broke into groups and taught each other – because we all have a strength and skill that someone else in the group can benefit from.

Sunday afternoon we had a work day where we knocked out some of those important projects that we knew would get back-burnered the moment we got home.

And there was amazing food we cooked together, all planned by one of the girls who is a lifestyle and food blogger, and delicious wine, and great music, some tears and lots of laughs.

So I wanted to share with you a couple of the goals that came out of the retreat for me and why I chose those goals so that if you’re thinking about what you want to work on in your side hustle next year, maybe this will give you a few ideas:

Goal #1: Double my email list subscribers by September 2020.

Why? Because that’s how I market and sell my online courses.

I make offers to the people on my email list who have specifically expressed interest in solving the problem that my online courses solve: learning how to build a website, learning how to market themselves online, and learning how to have a successful freelance web design business.

And if I want my revenue to grow so that I can hit that $15,000 a month number (and ideally all of that will come from affiliate marketing and courses with no consulting or 1:1 client work), then I need to reach more people.

How? Continue doing exactly what I teach my students to do inside my Website Marketing Lab. Stop trying to build followings and relying on algorithms to connect me with my ideal clients online and start building relationships instead.

But what I need to do differently than what I’ve been doing is put way more time into that. I’ve been spending a lot of necessary time shoring up my foundation to prepare for that growth, but now it’s time to grow.

And that’s why the thought “Just keep doing what you’re doing…” isn’t going to get me to the next level.

The thought that’s going to take me to the next level is “It’s time to show up and put myself out there.”

Goal #2: Work 40 hours a week, and stop working weekends.

Now that I’m not taking 1:1 client work anymore, technically I should have 80% more time… What I used to do was spend Tuesday – Friday on client work, and then Saturday – Monday on my own stuff.

And if you’ve listened to this podcast for any amount of time, overworking has been a theme. It started in my side hustle days because I needed to work that much to grow the business outside of my day job.

It continued through that first year after I quit my day job because I was so scared of not making enough money to pay the bills.

And then it just became a habit, and a convenient excuse for not doing the other things in my life I wanted to do, but that were going to be hard. Like finally losing weight. Or a buffer to escape into when I didn’t want to think about other things.

Now that I’m phasing clients out, I have no excuses. And I don’t want my whole life to be about work, even though I love what I do.

And I want to see what I’m capable of when I constrain myself to 40 hours a week (I gotta make it a challenge, right?)

I talked to two millionaire business owners on this podcast, Bernadette Doyle in Episode 198 and Kelly Roach in Episode 196, both who challenged me to constrain my work hours… And I did, for awhile, but then I ramped right back up.

So I set a goal to reduce my work week to 40 hours, to stop working weekends, to take 4 one-week vacations a year and to not work on holidays.

And part of my accountable is to tell you guys, on the podcast, of this goal and start reporting hours worked in my income reports. So you’ll start to see those in my income reports starting in October 2019.

So overall, I feel like by having clarity in my business on exactly what I help people with, crystal clear goals and a step-by-step plan of action for making happen, I have no doubt I’ll reach those revenue goals… I think my biggest challenge, honestly, is going to be the 40 hour work week and taking more time off.

And I want to set a good example for you guys. I don’t want you to think your dream isn’t possible because you can’t work as much as I do. You don’t HAVE to work as much as I do. I don’t have to work as much as I do!

So I’ll keep you posted on that.

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

And if already have a website and you want to learn how to get traffic to it, go to www.jumpstartyourwebsitetraffic.com and sign up for my free 6-part mini-course that’ll walk you through how to get started getting targeted traffic to your website.