Welcome to my September 2021 Income Report!
Each month I publish an income report to take you behind the scenes of my online business and reveal how much money the business makes each month, how we make it, how much we spend and all the lessons I learn along the way.
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 to shannonmattern.com/podcast and click on the Income Reports category 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.
So like always, before we dive into the numbers, I’ll share with you the important things that happened in September, then I’ll break down exactly how much money the business makes, how we make it, how much we spend to make it, how much I pay myself, and all the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
So let’s dive in!
Here are all of the important things that happened in September:
As I sat down to write this income report, I’m was like, “Did I even DO anything in September in my business that’s worth talking about???”
September felt like a total blur to me, like it just flew by! And it’s because I had a few things going on in my personal life, like my little sister getting married!
Her wedding consumed much of my time and mental energy for the first half of the month because I volunteered to be her wedding planner, you know, because I’m good at managing projects and I wanted her to be able to focus on all the fun parts of getting married without having to worry about all the details.
And the wedding was amazing and beautiful and everything my little sister deserved. We had it at my older sister’s house outside, and I got to see both sides of my entire family for the first time in forever, probably since MY wedding 9 years ago, and my sisters and I went camping for a whole weekend together for her bachelorette party, just the three of us, which we realized we’d never done anything just the three of us ever.
When I look back at my calendar for September, it’s full of stuff like hair, nails, eyebrows, dentist, makeup consultation, botox (yes, I’m 42 and I get a little botox in my forehead every now and then).
Sprinkled in between all those personal appointments were some game-changers for my business, which I’ll talk about here in a second…
But first, can we talk about the fact that I got to go get my nails done at 10AM on a Thursday without having to tell my boss where I was or ask for time off? That I had a 3-hour hair appointment on a Wednesday afternoon and nobody was like, “Where’s Shannon? Why isn’t she here?”
It’s been almost 4 entire years since I quit my day job… and I’m so used to being able to make my own schedule and do whatever I want whenever I want that sometimes I forget what it was like to belong to someone else between the hours of 8AM and 6PM Monday – Friday.
I never want to lose touch with what it felt like to feel like I had no say in my life, because I’m so grateful for the freedom and flexibility I’ve created – and I want that for YOU! It’s truly what drives me to keep doing what I’m doing.
I don’t just teach people how to build a website so that they have the skill to build a website… I do it because I want them to have the most important tool they need to create freedom, flexibility and financial independence.
I teach web designers how to stop undercharging and overdelivering and how to market themselves and manage their clients and actually make a consistent, sustainable income so that they can have freedom, flexibility and financial independence.
It’s not about having a six or seven-figure business, or laying on the beach drinking margaritas while you’re magically making passive income, it’s about those moments that make life worthwhile, like being able to take all the time I needed to plan and pull off a gorgeous wedding for my baby sister.
So back to the big decisions I made in my business in September…
I hired a Facebook Ads consultant.
Yep, you read that right.
I, Shannon Mattern, who up until now has almost exclusively marketed my business online organically through Shareworthy Freebies, relationships, word of mouth and consistent content creation in support of all of those efforts – AND who has taught those ad-free marketing methods to hundreds of people – hired a Facebook Ads consultant.
Now, I’ve dabbled in Facebook Ads in the past…
In the early days of my business they were a total bust, because I didn’t have a proven offer that converts and I was too scared to spend the money in the testing phase to even get to the point of getting them to work.
I remember feeling and saying that it felt like I was just lighting five-dollar bills on fire.
Then in January of this year, after re-launching my Web Designer Academy course as high-ticket group coaching program and enrolling more web designers in it than I ever could have imagined… not only did I have a proven offer that converted, I had one that was priced appropriately and sustainably so that I could invest more into marketing it.
So I decided to try Facebook Ads again in January, and I really had to change my mindset about ads and cost and return on investment.
I talked about this back in Ep. 327, my January 2021 Income Report, that even though I don’t LOVE Facebook, I know that my program is life-changing, and if I can run Facebook Ads to get directly in front of people whose lives it could change I’m willing to go that route.
And not only that, the people inside our program are incredible humans. It’s an application-only program, and we only accept people who we think are ready and are in a position to be successful with our strategies for packaging, pricing, positioning, and marketing their web design services.
It’s the people and the community that make the program the transformational experience that it is for these solo web designers who have been struggling and going it alone up until joining the program and becoming a part of the WDA Fam, as they call themselves.
If running ads is gonna bring more incredible humans into the program to support each other, the return on my investment isn’t just numbers on a spreadsheet in my business, it impacts the bottom line and experience of every single person inside the program. The return on my investment in ads is exponential AND it benefits my students for me to spend that money and bring them more colleagues.
I ran ads in January, February and March, had good results, brought some amazing people into the program, and then in April they kinda just stopped working. And I didn’t really understand why, I honestly don’t have a clue what I’m doing when it comes to ad strategy, I mean I can push the buttons to set up ads but there’s just so much I don’t know.
Then I joined Chrissy Conner’s Visible CEO program in April, which taught me genius time-saving organic social media strategies and I started to implement those with my team instead, and I pushed pause on my ads put my focus there to promote my pricing mindset workshop for web designers, and May was our biggest revenue month ever with almost 20 new people enrolling in the Web Designer Academy.
So at this point, I’m like, “Okay, I don’t need to spend money on ads right now anyway, I’ll just put figuring out why they aren’t working on my to-do list…”
June and July were fine, we were still getting applications and enrolling new students, but by August I was getting like nothing. And I have big goals for this program, and I want to hire someone just to help me support the Web Designer Academy exclusively, and for that to happen we need to enroll more students to pay for all the investments we’re making in the program.
So I’m on vacation in August, and I’m walking down the beach on a call with one of my coaches from the Leadership program I was in over the summer, and my coach, Katia, is like “You have no idea how powerful you are, and I see you playing small and playing it safe. What are you avoiding?” And I’m looking out at the ocean, and I see two dolphins jumping in the water and I’d be scouring the ocean all week for dolphins, and I see them the moment Katia tells me I’m playing small.
Duly noted, universe.
So I tell her, “The two things I’m avoiding are hiring this person to support the Web Designer Academy, and finding someone to help me with running ads.”
So she asks me, “By when are you going to do those things?” And I said “I’ll commit to hiring a coach by the end of the year.” And she’s like, “No, I’m not on board with that. You can do it sooner.”
And I realized that I’d been holding off hiring for a couple of reasons:
- I had no space in my schedule to go through the process of recruiting and interviewing.
- I was afraid I’d do it wrong or pick the wrong person.
- I needed to make a decision on whether this person was going to be an employee or an independent contractor (spoiler alert, it has to be an employee).
- I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay the person consistently because applications and enrollments were slowing down, and I have zero intention of hiring someone that I would have to let go for financial reasons because I’ve had to do that in the past and it really sucked.
So I said, “How about this: I commit to booking a call with this hiring consultant someone mentioned in my other coaching program to start the recruiting process because I know I’m avoiding it because I don’t want to be the one doing it all and I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong, and hiring for online business owners is what this girl DOES for a living – and I’ll get that going today.”
And my coach agreed to that timeline 🙂
You guys, this is a big decision! I started this business as a side-hustle back in 2015 and all I wanted to do was replace my day job income. I had zero vision of running a company with employees!
And when I started actually paying independent contractors to help me with parts of the business, that was to buy my time back so I could have a life because I was doing ALL THE THINGS and I was burnt out.
But I’ve gone through this transition in 2021, not just going from solopreneur to CEO, but going from this business being about supporting me financially to it being about serving others so that they can support themselves financially.
And that mission and vision require me to invest in resources in service of that mission. Like people on payroll who support the mission.
But there was still that nagging thing about being able to pay this person…
And I’ve heard people say that when you make a declaration, that God or the Universe or whoever is like, “Okay. You’re doing this, and so I’m gonna line up everything you need to make it happen so get ready…” and I’m not a woo person (I feel like I have to say that an awful lot on this podcast, so maybe I need to spend some time actually figuring out what I am and what I believe, but anyway…) but once I took action on the hiring piece, the Facebook Ads consultant dropped into my lap.
I got an email from Luisa Zhou who was on the show back in Ep. 272 about an affiliate sale for her program. She asked me if I’d promoted it recently and I’m like, “Not intentionally but I talk about you and how awesome you and your program are all the time and I think I still have it linked up in our show notes from our interview.”
And then I’m like, “By the way… I know you’re a Facebook Ads pro… do you have anyone you'd recommend for Facebook Ads? I know ads have changed a lot in the past year, but I feel like I'm FINALLY ready to invest in scaling now that I have this offer that consistently converts and a team behind me to support me!”
And being the awesome person that she is, Luisa introduced me to this girl and I’m like, “Wait a minute… I think I know her already…” She looked so familiar, her name was familiar, and then I’m looking at her testimonials and I see Chrissy Connor – whose VISIBLE membership I’m in, who also lives in Columbus, and we’re in a local mastermind together and I remember Chrissy telling me that this girl is one of the few people she trusts with her ads – and Chrissy knows how to run ads, and she’d done a training for us in the Visible program on running our own ads.
And I’m like, “This is a sign that this is the right person. Just rip off the bandaid and do it!!!”
Her name is Kelly Sturtevant from Blue Page Social, by the way, if you’re at the point in your business that it makes sense to run ads – and if you’re not sure, go and listen to episode 272 with Luisa Zhou because she talks about how to know when you’re ready for ads.
So I have a call with Kelly, I already know I’m gonna hire her before we even talk, I think she was taken aback by how easy the conversation was!
And that’s one of the reasons why I’ll never stop my organic relationship marketing efforts, people! Because there’s this transfer of trust that happens when people you trust introduce you to other people. And that kinda magic doesn’t come from Facebook Ads, okay?
So I signed a contract with Kelly, we got started on the ads right away, and she’s doing everything for me – the copy, the graphics, the testing, all of it. And guess what? After no new enrollments and very few applications in August, in September we enrolled three new amazing students and got at least one qualified applicant a day! Now, that may not sound like a lot to you, but it’s a big deal to me and we’re just getting started.
And I also had my call with Meg Baker of https://megkco.com/ and put together a plan to start recruiting, interviewing and hiring in January.
We decided that it would be best not to try to hire and onboard someone over the holidays, and it would give me time to plan and budget and prepare for the time I’ll need to train my first real employee!
So in September, with two 30-minute conversations, signing two contracts and paying two people, I knocked over two really big dominoes in my business that were standing in the way of my vision, which felt really good!
I hosted a “Get Your Next Client” workshop for my Web Designer Academy students.
One of the things I consistently see with students inside my Web Designer Academy is that they love going through the process of building their business, but when it comes time to start marketing and getting their next client at their new, premium rates, it totally freaks them out, and they want to revert back to their old ways of hiding and not marketing and hoping people will just find them.
It’s normal, it’s natural, and I get it… but I’m here to help them create a consistent full-time income, not just build the systems that in theory lead to clients. I’m here to help them get comfortable with being out of their comfort zone and create results.
So I put together this workshop just for my Web Designer Academy students, and it totally blew their minds. We walked step-by-step, together through exactly what to do to create their next client, and worked on all the mindset stuff that was still lingering along the way, like the impostor syndrome that likes to pop up, and the pricing issues, and the overwhelm that happens when they don’t hold boundaries.
It was so transformational for them that we scheduled more of them – so if you’ve been on the fence about applying or joining the Web Designer Academy because you’re worried about making sure you’ll get a return on your investment, well, this workshop is worth the entire price of admission. You can learn more about the program at www.webdesigneracademy.com
I went to my annual mastermind retreat!
Speaking of my vision, right after my sister’s wedding I put on my favorite mask and hopped on a plane to Seattle for my annual Mastermind Retreat with my biz besties.
(I talked about how we met way back in Episode 177 if you’re interested, and I encourage you to also form your own voluntary, unpaid mastermind group of biz besties because it’s life-giving and life-changing)
But before our mastermind retreat started, I had the final two days of the Leadership program that I’ve been in all Spring and Summer. So I flew to Seattle a couple days early so that I could complete that program and then grab an Uber and head straight to the AirBNB we booked for the retreat.
You guys, I’m so glad I committed the time and energy to that Leadership program. It was truly life-changing for me, for what I believe about myself, what I think is possible for me, my vision, what I’m here to create, how I show up for my friends and family, everything. It stretched me out of my comfort zone in unexpected ways, and I’m still exploring and experiencing the shifts that have happened as a result.
Like, as a result of my experience in the training, I wore a bikini at the beach and pool this summer and didn’t worry one iota what anyone thought of my body, in fact, I saw women looking at me and I thought “I hope me wearing this bikini without an Insta-perfect body gives them the permission to not hide and be uncomfortable like I used to be.”
My vision for my business is bigger than me too.
So after I graduated from the Leadership program, I met up with my mastermind girls and we just hung out on Friday night and reconnected because it’d been two years since we’d seen each other in person, and then on Saturday, we started off the morning by reflecting on where each of us was in life and business in 2018 when we first met vs. where we are now.
And then I said something like, “Would we ever have imagined back then how powerful we are now?”
And we were all like “No way. We had zero concept of what we were capable of creating back then!”
And I go, “Okay, from that perspective, let’s talk about what you’re here to create in your life over the next year and beyond. What’s your vision for you, your family, your business? And dream big, because you’ve already proven that you’re more powerful than you ever thought.”
And for me, I decided that instead of declaring a big revenue goal for my business, like “This is the year we’re gonna make a million dollars!” I decided that this is the year that my Web Designer Academy students are going to collectively generate $10 million dollars in revenue in their businesses.
And then who do I get to be, what do I get to do, who do I get to enroll, what do I get to invest in to co-create $10 million in total revenue with my students?
That’s what lights me up!! And it’ll likely result in us generating a million dollars in the business, and yes, I’ll give myself a raise again this year so that I can enjoy the fruits of my labor, but that money will also support me hiring more people to support our students – because this program is high touch.
The Web Designer Academy is not just a course that a thousand people are and we don’t know their names and never talk to them. We have one-on-one interaction with every single student. We review their web design packages, their pricing, their processes, their marketing. We host workshops on getting your next client and raising your prices and setting and holding boundaries with clients.
So that’s my vision for 2022, and we’re starting work on it now.
But the Web Designer Academy isn’t my only offer…
The Free 5 Day Website Challenge is still going strong, it teaches entrepreneurs how to DIY their website with WordPress, and it makes money through affiliate commissions we earn when people purchase the products and services we recommend in the training, and when people decide to purchase our Site in a Snap website templates.
And then there’s Subscriber to Sale Blueprint, which I talked about in my July Income Report, my August Income Report and even in last week’s episode 361 with Monica Froese about what to do with this program… it basically teaches marketing and sales, like the exact methods I used to market my Free 5 Day Website Challenge and Web Designer Academy without ads, SEO or social media.
And the irony is…
…my program that teaches marketing and sales is responsible for only 6.5% of the total revenue in my business!!
6.5%!!!!!! The decimal point is in the right place!
The FREE program that I give away, the 5 Day Website Challenge, generates 28% of the revenue in my business.
The Web Designer Academy brings in 59% of my revenue…
And my Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit is responsible for that other 6.5%.
My program that teaches marketing and sales made the same amount of money in the past 9 months as a 4-day Summit I hosted back in February.
Those are sobering statistics. And I spent WAY more than 6.5% of my time and mental energy on both the Summit and Subscriber to Sale Blueprint.
The numbers are there, in black and white. Subscriber to Sale Blueprint in all of its iterations, is not pulling its weight.
I talked about this in my August income report, but when I made this offer back at the end of July and I didn’t get the results I expected or wanted, I did my due diligence, just like I teach inside the program, to find out why people who were interested ultimately decided not to buy.
And the majority of them said they wanted to, but they had lots of reasons why they chose not to.
Last month, I ended my income report talking about how I had ANOTHER idea for how to market and position the program, and I even spent some time working on a new presentation and some new emails and a new pricing strategy… I just couldnt’ let it go.
I was STILL making it about me even when I said I wasn’t going to make it about me.
And I took all of my mindtrash (shoutout to Jasmin Haley) and all of my data to my Columbus Mastermind peeps for advice, to my business coaches for advice, to my Seattle mastermind peeps for advice, heck, even to my podcast guests for advice on whether or not I should just close the doors on this program forever.
And even though the numbers are crystal clear on what I should do, and all of my mentors and advisors are like, “Shannon, you know the answer, why are you asking? Do you need permission? You’re the only one who can give yourself permission…” I’ve been having a hard time making the decision for a couple of reasons.
- I feel like I’m doing people a disservice by teaching them how to build a website but not how to market their business.
Because my mission is bigger than you having a website, I want you to have the life you want too. And your website is just one piece of the puzzle, it’s not going to create traffic and subscribers and sales just because it exists – that’s where YOU come in. That’s your responsibility, and I wanted to teach you HOW so you can be successful.
But the truth is… there are SO MANY OTHER INCREDIBLE PEOPLE TEACHING MARKETING + SALES!
I don’t have to teach it too.
I saw an email the other day from Kate at Simple Pin Media – she was talking about a launch and how she was putting all this pressure on herself, and she asked herself,
“Is this about me avoiding failure or is this about serving?”
I’ve come to the conclusion that me continuing to try make “Subscriber to Sale Blueprint” sustainable revenue-wise is 100% about me avoiding failure.
I’ve been spending way more time and resources and team trying to get people to enroll than I’ve been spending supporting the people who are enrolled.
And it’s the exact opposite for the Free 5 Day Website Challenge and Web Designer Academy.
And so after going around and around about what to do with this awesome curriculum I created, and going back and forth about the intellectual property and giving people one last chance to enroll, blah blah blah, I’ve finally, officially decided to close the doors on the marketing program and that chapter of my business forever.
That means that I get to serve + support current students until their time in the program is over next August, and that I get to focus efforts on growing our audiences and impact with this podcast, the Free 5 Day Website Challenge and the Web Designer Academy in 2022.
It feels like a big-girl CEO decision, but it also feels like the right one, one that takes a lot of mental weight off my mind.
And I get to spend all that time making the Free 5 Day Website Challenge and Web Designer Academy more transformational than ever.
I get to partner with the awesome people who are teaching all the marketing + sales and business growth and those pieces and introduce you guys to the right people that I trust to support your unique businesses.
So that’s everything that happened in September, now it’s time to break down my numbers and then I’ll let you get on with your life!
September 2021 Numbers
One of the things I’m super passionate about is helping you create a consistent, full-time income in your business. That’s why I’ve been completely transparent about all of my numbers since I started writing these income reports back in January of 2018.
It’s not to be like “Oooh, look at me, look at how much money I make…” It’s to show you that it IS possible and that it might not look like what you see everyone else talking about online – you know, five and six-figure launches and funnels that make money on autopilot while you sleep and crap like that.
I want you to figure out exactly how much money your business needs to make to pay you a consistent, full-time income, whatever that means to you, and cover your, business expenses and taxes.
I call that your minimum baseline revenue, and my first minimum baseline to quit my day job back in 2018 and I was flying solo was $10,000 a month – $5,000 to replace my day job paycheck, $2500 for expenses and $2500 for taxes.
Now, as I’ve made the transition from solopreneur to CEO and I’m leading a team, our minimum baseline to pay our expenses, the team, me, and our taxes is around $30,000.
With that frame of reference, here’s how much money we made and spent in September 2021:
Total Revenue: $30,775.52
- Affiliate Income: $6604.84
- Site-in-a-Snap Templates + Trainings: $1561.68 (that’s my portion of the total sales after paying out my partners but BEFORE paying out my affiliates)
- Web Designer Academy: $21,500.00
- Subscriber to Sale Blueprint (formerly Website Marketing Lab): $911.00 Side Hustle to Self Employed Summit: $198.00
Total Investments: $24,796.57
- Tools I use to run my business: $2719.32
- Training, Coaching + Mentorship: $674.25
- CEO Salary (that’s me!) $8831.04
- (includes payroll taxes – $7,000 is my monthly take-home pay, and then I pay quarterly income taxes on the quarterly business profit)
- Team: $9728.25
- Affiliate Payouts: $1036.66
- Facebook Ads for WDA: $958.73
- Travel: $848.32
Net Profit: $5978.95
September was one of those status-quo months. It’s what my business looks like when we don’t do any launches or promotions, when all the revenue that comes in is from payment plans and affiliate payouts for things we’ve already sold.
So that’s it for my September 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/362 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 Apple Podcasts. It helps our show get found by people who need to hear our weekly pep talks for side hustlers!