extremely gratifying to see such great progress in so little time. My income went from $5,267 in September to $10,277 in just under two months just from Unsettle alone. To be honest, I've waffled back and forth about publishing any income reports. I didn't want to be another “me-too” blogger who is showboating income for no reason. But I decided to share this with you not to brag about my income – there are many bloggers and online entrepreneurs who earn more in four days than I do in a month – but because I learned some valuable lessons along the way and they can be hugely helpful to you, too. If you're in the Facebook group, you'll know that I don't pretend online entrepreneurship is all mojitos on the beach and passive income. It's fun, yes, but it's also damn hard work. So later on in this post I'll explain how I did it. But I know you want to see the good stuff first, so here goes:
Total Income Breakdown
Over the past couple of months one of the emails I get the most often (usually masked in a longer, more detailed email because you guys are polite) includes: “How do you make money from your blog?” A lot of people see my no ads policy and don't see any way to hire me or work with me, and get a bit tripped up on how. So here's what was up in November.
$5,369.89 There are two different streams of revenue under this umbrella: the Etsy course and the mysterious Unsettle program.
1. The Etsy course: Etsy has been my playground for testing what I'm teaching you guys. I don't want to be one of those people who teaches blogging and online business without demonstrating how things are done outside of the “freedom business” space. So, at the beginning of November, Maria & I launched our Etsy selling course. The course did made up about 30% of the revenue for November.
I'm pulling Etsy out of Unsettle (it never really belonged) and Maria and I are collaborating on a 100% selling on Etsy resource: EtsyHowTo. It's officially launching on January 18, so for those of you who aren't interested in Etsy, you won't have to read about it on Unsettle. For those of you who are interested in selling on Etsy, you'll get to read a lot more about it on EtsyHowTo.
2. The Unsettle program: I have a huge body of work, including podcast episodes, free courses and challenges, case studies, reports, checklists, and templates, not to mention the dozens of guides and articles I've written both on Unsettle and other blogs. But one thing that has always bothered me is that I don't have anything to tie it all together…
I'm creating what will ultimately be a business bootcamp, and I'm in the trenches of the second intake right now, meaning that I'm bringing in a focused group of clients to go through the program before it's released in the very early spring.
The first group is going through the material and lessons, and the intake for this group was in October/November. Since these are paid members (albeit at a steep discount), this made up a portion of my November income.
$3,307.50 I'm in my element when I'm working one on one with people, so I do coaching both with long-term, private coaching clients and through Power Sessions for a quick 45 minute strategy session. This is fairly consistent income, as I work with most of my clients longer term. The variable is always Power Sessions. I no longer advertise them in any way but readers find them when scouring the blog or when mentioned in podcast episodes. I also take (very few) freelancing clients. Many people are quite surprised that I freelance, but I believe it's a great opportunity – not only for the money, but especially for the the fringe benefits. In freelancing, I stick to working with entrepreneurs I admire, allowing me to spend time with and learn from people far smarter than me, while also providing a boost of social proof. This has been one of the most valuable things I've done for my business in 2015.
$1,560.01 Affiliate income is not an insignificant portion of my monthly income. I act as an affiliate for products and services that I use, love, and recommend, and earn a small commission when an Unsettler uses my affiliate link to also buy the product or service I recommend (more on affiliate earnings here). My biggest earners are by far BlueHost, Aweber and LeadPages (FreshBooks is building, too) but I also act as an affiliate for courses I believe in, so some of my income comes from that as well. I usually look at affiliate income as a bonus, and it's usually invested back into my business immediately. November was no exception, and I invested heavily in November…
Total Business Expenses
- Business coach: $2,000. One of my best investments yet (we'll get into this below) and instrumental in my achieving a $10,000+ month.
- Virtual help: $3,802.50. Did that give you a heart attack? Virtual help is worth every penny, and will pay dividends in time for months to come. November was a particularly expensive month in this aspect because I had a cubic ton going on, so I enlisted some backup. This will be closer to $1,000 going forward.
- Tools and Services: $469.44. This includes a (pricey) podcast editing service, a Calendly subscription and Meetup.com.
I also incurred an expense for an exciting (but secret) project I'm working on. I'm not including it in November's total business expenses because I'd already put the full amount away in September for this expense, but if you were to look at my financials, you'd see a big payment going out in the middle of November.
How I (Almost) Doubled My Income
I opened this report saying:
My income went from $5,267 in September to $10,277 in just under two months just from Unsettle alone.
This doesn't include any income I earn from other businesses, including a consulting project I wrapped up in November. So how did I do it? How did I go from $5,267 for the month of September to $10,277 in December? Here's how.
I worked constantly
There's this funny thing that happens in the world of online entrepreneurship… People see others doing it, and assume that they have luxuries that 9-5'ers don't have. They assume they can wake up at 10 AM and work for a few hours and then skip off and have happy hour with their friends. Yeah, that's not real life. Reality check: for the first couple of years of your business, you'll be working far harder (and more) than you ever did in your cubicle. I remember telling one of the mastermind groups I'm part of in the middle of November that I was working 16-18 hour days. It's hard, creative work, and it's certainly not the 2-4 hour days people dream of when they think of online business. Hard work is in my blood, though, and as cliche as it is, I really do love it. There's nothing more rewarding to me than getting emails and (especially!) snail mail hearing about your progress and wins because of an article I wrote or a coaching session we had. Yes there are things I don't like (here's lookin' at you, scheduling and bookkeeping), but overall it's rewarding.
I hired virtual help
As I was burning the midnight oil in November trying to wrap up projects and launch courses and everything else, the soundtrack playing on repeat in my head was: “You need a virtual assistant. You shouldn't be spending your time on this.” So with some words of wisdom from Carrie from Careful Cents and delegation guidance from Nathan from Foundr (thank you!), I posted a quick description of what I needed done in the Facebook group. I got a ton of applications from amazing members of the community, and ended up hiring Britany for the administrative tasks, and another to help me with finishing up those 80% finished article drafts (nod to Nicole for her genius). If I didn't hire this help I would not have been able to achieve my 5-figure month, because I'd have been busy in the trenches doing things I have no business doing. Hiring virtual help is daunting when you're barely earning enough to cover your own expenses, but it is an investment – it will help you earn more money because you can then focus just on income generating activities. More information to come on how to hire virtual help.
I hired a coach
Just like every therapist needs a therapist, every coach needs a coach. Just as it's difficult editing your own work, it's impossible to coach yourself. So I set out in the summer to find a the perfect fit, and in late September began to work with Jaime. Coaching has helped me with some of the mindset issues I help my own clients through, including self-doubt, fear, and procrastination. It's also helped me prioritize, focus, and has given me the tools (and permission) to scale. This is hands down one of the best decision I made for my business in 2015.
I made myself uncomfortable
I've always believed that how successful you are as an entrepreneur is a function of how hard you're willing to work and how uncomfortable you're willing to make yourself. I'm always trying to push myself out of the comfort zone. Sometimes I stay on my comfortable couch, but in November I booked sales calls, asked for referrals and took risks with my ego that paid off. Every time I'm willing to put myself out there and risk being rejected, or ignored, or have my ego bruised, my income jumps. It's not a coincidence. Overall, with the contract and other income streams, November closed out at almost $14,000. I want to be clear that not every month is a slam dunk like November was. December for example will take an income nosedive, partially because of the holidays and partially because of extreme focus on some other work. Such is the nature of the beast.]]>