For the second month in a row, I've had my second best revenue month ever! It is great to see the trend moving the right direction, and with FinCon 2016 behind me, I see only record breaking opportunities in the coming months. I'm hoping for a new record by the end of the year, but only time will tell if I make it.
Why in the world do you share your income publicly?
When I started this website nearly nine years ago (last Friday was the big anniversary!), I had just left a job working as a bank manager. I learned so much about personal finance working at that bank as the guy in charge of the teller line, new accounts, and customer service departments, in addition to approving new credit cards, lines of credit, and some mortgages generated by my branch. I also had four years of personal finance education under my belt.
I started reading other personal finance blogs as I worked to pay off my car loan (which I did in about half of the five year term), pay off my student loans (two years and six days after graduation), and conquer other financial challenges as a Millennial with a newly minted finance degree. I realized reading those other sites that I had a unique perspective thanks to my background, and to build trust with you, I would be completely transparent on how I deal with my own finances.
I used to share a monthly net worth update, but since stopped doing so regularly for the privacy of my family. However, I always shared what I earned online and through side hustles, and continue to do so every month. Side hustle income has changed my life, and I like to show you how in these monthly updates.
Speaking at FinCon and Conference Followups
Last month, I shared that I was preparing for my favorite annual conference, FinCon. FinCon has been absolutely pivotal for me in my life and career. Thanks to what I learned and the connections I've made at FinCon, I was able to leave my full-time job as a Senior Financial Analyst in April, 2016 to pursue online entrepreneurship full-time.
Going into this conference, I had three major goals:
- Find new writing clients at the freelancer marketplace and other networking
- Establish myself as an expert speaking at my own session
- Put on a fun and educational 5th annual Ignite FinCon
I can say now that I had success on all three fronts.
I have already brought a few new clients on board since the conference ended about three weeks ago. I can see the future revenue growing thanks to these new clients and projects I'll be working on. I always work to provide the best value possible to each client so it is a win-win, and clients can see the value through increased reader engagement, traffic, and signups on their sites.
My session took place on Saturday morning during the conference, and I estimate over 50 conference attendees showed up to hear what I had to say. I got great feedback and built some new, exciting relationships thanks to the experience. I would like to position myself as an expert, experienced speaker so I can add paid speaking gigs to my many income sources.
Ignite was an absolute blast. The speakers did great, and I ended things with a special send off. I was the last of the 10 Ignite FinCon speakers, and this year my topic was “How to Be a DJ.” Check out the video below of me kicking off the after party with a surprise DJ set. (Some profane language – it was a night club party after all. May be NSFW with volume turned on.)
I couldn't dwell on the fun too long, however, because I had to get back to work producing content, building and maintaining websites, and keeping things moving forward as the CEO of Narrow Bridge Media – my parent company that owns this blog and my writing business.
Learning to Say No to Projects
A couple of months back, I did an 80/20 analysis of my business finances and found that I was making about 80% of my income freelance writing, but spending about 80% of my time on website development and support projects. Based on that knowledge, I decided it was time to make some changes.
Since leaving my job in April, I have been hustling hard for income opportunities, and worked hard to establish myself as both a website development expert and personal finance writing expert. This has led to new clients and opportunities in both of those channels, and my schedule eventually filled up.
Last month I had a few days where I felt overwhelmed by the demands of both sides of my business, and with the 80/20 analysis done, I knew that the place to pull back was website development. But saying no to money is really hard, particularly when you don't have a steady paycheck anymore.
Well, I said no to two projects this month that would have earned me at least a few hundred dollars combined. Why? Because I could earn at least double that if I put the same hours into writing. So that's what I'm doing.
I am wrapping up everything I've currently committed to, but I'm going to move a little slower adding new web projects and clients so I have enough time to dedicate to writing, my most lucrative and core activity for Narrow Bridge Media.
Entrepreneurial Income Breakdown
And now, for the part you've all been waiting for. Last month I had my second best income month yet since leaving my day job in April with $7,169 in revenue. I have a medium term goal of reaching $10,000+ per month. Let's see how things came together.
- Affiliate Marketing – $105
- Direct Ad Placements – $538
- Total Advertising – $643
- Website Support – $1,550
- Writing Service – $5,750
- Total Freelance – $7,300
Gross Profit – $7,493
Wow! A quick look at my income tracker shows that this is my new second best month ever, and just $400 shy of my all-time record in June, the month after I went online full-time. In the words of the great announcer from NBA Jam that I played on Nintendo as a kid, BOOM SHAKALAKA! Hopefully next month I can follow up with “HE'S ON FIRE!” High five if you get the reference.
The good news, I earned more than my day job yet again, and definitely enough to cover my family's expenses including the “sunshine tax” and “beach tax,” terms I made up for the expensive housing costs here in Southern California.
But thanks to FinCon, I also had more expenses this month than usual. A few nights in a hotel, meals, an Amtrak ticket, and some new services I had to sign up for including more Dropbox storage space and account upgrades – paid annually – at ConvertKit and SumoMe pushed up expenses more than usual.
- Bank Charges and Payment Fees – $22
- Computer and Internet Expense – $1,041
- Conference fees and expenses – $15
- Dues and Subscriptions – $145
- Meals and Entertainment – $43
- Co-working Office, SG&A – $168
- Outsourced Labor – $138
- Telecom Expense – $85
- Travel Expense – $775
- Total Expenses – $2,432
Total Revenue $7,493, Total Expenses $2,432, Profit Before Tax $5,061
Check out my full history of income reports here.
Financial Planning & Analysis
Based on that 80/20 analysis I discussed earlier, the biggest takeaway from the numbers this month is that writing is working. When running any kind of business, find what works and repeat. For me, that is freelance writing.
Year to date I've brought in over $42,000 writing with only $8,000 coming from website development and $3,000 from this site. I'll never give up on this site, but if I can turn $8,000 website development dollars into $16,000+ in writing dollars, that should be how I spend the majority of my work hours going forward.
I am also always trying to improve this site to earn enough to overtake my freelance work and become my primary income. Making about $5,000 per year from the site is far from where I'll need it to be if I want to make it my primary focus and income source, but I'm always trying new ideas.
I recently saw that a second friend joined the $10,000+ per month club in affiliate income from website hosting, which is why I put out a new post and video course on building your own website. It all started with a video that shows how to go from no website to a default template in under five minutes. Let's see how it works in the coming months!
Lessons Learned in the School of Hard Knocks
I get knocked down, then I get up again. Or so the song goes. I felt very discouraged after a couple of lower income months this summer, but I knew I had to hold out through FinCon and the winter to see some of the waiting potential of my online business come to fruition. Thankfully, over the last two months it has been coming true.
Don't give up on a dream or a side hustle because of a couple of bad months. In fact, those are the most pivotal months because they push you to do some of your best work. It is easy to become lazy and complacent from good performance, but I can't let that happen either. The key is to do great work through thick and thin, always produce exceptional results for clients, and keep my head held high. After a month like this, keeping my chin up is quite a bit easier.
Until next time, stay profitable!