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.

Course Sales

$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…

Until now.

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.

One-on-One Clients

$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.

Affiliate Income

$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.]]>

20 thoughts on “$5,267 to $10,277: How I Almost Doubled My Income in 2 Months

  1. Michelle says:

    Wow, great job! You are doing so well. I really want to start offering courses. Is there something you recommend I read or take that tells me how to start this? A course on courses? 🙂

  2. Bharat says:

    Wow Sarah! Another epic post! Absolutely loved it. I can so well understand when you transparently say working for yourself is more than 9 to 5 job! I do experience this and was wondering what am I doing wrong? Or did I have wrong impression hearing all those noises that having blog is a super short cut to a luxury (lazy) life style! It’s not. And you have reinforced it with this post.
    Thank you for being you, I learn a great deal from you.

  3. Jan says:

    Kudos to you and thanks for giving us a behind-the-scenes look! You are carving a path for the rest of us and showing us how to follow it. 🙂

  4. Sim says:

    Sarah, thanks for pulling the veil once more off of the idea that running an online business is breezy work. It’s rewarding work but as we all know… what’s rewarding is usually never easy.
    This is even more impressive considering you haven’t even done a full year with Unsettle.

  5. Vasile Balaj says:

    Hi Sarah,
    This is a remarkable post. Not many peope have the courage to be so transparent regarding their income. I hope I will ever be able to achieve at least some of your financial performances.
    I wish you a Happy New Year!

  6. Tom says:

    Woah. That was very inspiring in a very realistic way. Thanks for laying out some background info that many of us can follow. I myself struggle particularly with procrastination (as with many others), and this post gives me a boost towards reaching my life goals (and stop fooling around). Thanks! 🙂

  7. Shealyn says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this and shared it with us. I think it’s extremely important for people to see the reality of online businesses but it’s also great to see that there is real reward in it as well.

  8. Nicole says:

    Way to go, Sarah! I have a million little things that I also “have no business doing,” but have never thought of virtual help. Where can I read up on it and find resources? Thanks a bunch. Go gettem!

  9. Brenda says:

    Thanks for this post Sarah 🙂 I love how you keep it real and tell us what we need to know, not just what we want to hear. Congratulations for that big increase! <3

  10. Kris says:

    Great story. The part of being uncomfortable is the hardest part for me, and the one I need to work on the most in 2016 if I ever want to be truly successful

  11. Anita @ LiveLikeYouAreRich says:

    Great job. I’m curious what your expenses were in October? Did you pay so much out for coaching etc.? I know I was in the negative for about four months before turning a profit. If your expenses were over $6k in October as they were in November it seems as though you may be turning that corner of red to black and making profit. That is the best when it comes to blogging! congratulations

    • Sarah says:

      From what I recall, my expenses were closer to $2900 for October. That’s when I started with my coach and that takes up most of that amount. Before that, they were closer to $1,000-1,100/month. I was profiting from a very early stage (because it’s not that expensive to run a blog!) but I can imagine how gratifying that would be!

  12. Sunday William says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for this transparency report. Its readily awesome! At least one can learn from the actions and in-actions you have taken to achieve five figure in two months. Looking forward for more of this type of report!
    Hard work + Good Help = Success! 😉

  13. Akinade Eniolabi says:

    Great job Sarah!
    I’m beginning to feel that owing an online business is more than just sitting in one corner in your room writing all day. It requires outside collaborations and consistent meet-ups with relevant people.
    This is what makes the difference right?

  14. Carrie says:

    Woot! This is an awesome accomplishment, Sarah. I’m so happy you decided to hire some virtual help — it’s definitely worth every penny, I agree. I also love that you see the value in working with a business coach. It’s something that’s paid off in large dividends for me these past 3 years. I highly recommend working with a business coach if you want to see results and reach big goals!

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