Hey all! I’m back with another income and traffic report to share with you today. I started doing income reports as a way to be more transparent about my business and hopefully shed some light on ways that you can grow your own online business, too.
I know that sharing one’s income online, for the world to see, is kind of a strange thing to do. Trust me, it took quite a bit of courage (and convincing from my friends!) to share this data with you. In fact, I held back from sharing my income reports in the past because I never (ever!) wanted to appear like I was flaunting my results. Rather, I do this because I genuinely desire to help you grow your own business and want to provide some behind-the-curtain results of how I’ve grown and tweaked my own. I want to show you both what worked for me and what didn’t so that you can apply those lessons to your own dreams. My overall hope is that my income reports inspire or inform you to create and grow your own online biz.
Thank you for traveling with me, behind-the-scenes, while I take you through my income and traffic reports each month. I’m grateful that you’re here. And if you’re working on growing your own business and blog? Best of luck to you, my friend. Now, let’s get into it!
It’s months like September that made me wish I went the infopreneur route sooner! Not only was September extremely fun — full of new ventures and ideas — but it was also my most profitable month, ever. Want to hear something that actually blew my mind just now? I earned more money in September — doing something I love — than I did in the entire year of 2012. Holy bananas. I would never have expected something like that to happen to me.
Before we dive into today’s report, I want to mention this: I started my blog almost three years ago, in February 2013. When I look at other people’s numbers or incomes, it can be easy to feel like I’m not doing enough if my “numbers” don’t come close to theirs. But usually the people who are earning or achieving more than me are people who have been at this for years. So, please don’t feel discouraged if you’re not earning a full-time income from your blog just yet. It takes time.
First, let’s take a look at my income and expenses for the month, then we can dive into what worked and what didn’t!
- E-Course Sales: $26,155
- Web Design Clients: $2,137
- Affiliate Commissions: $3,411
- Google Adsense: $119
Total Income: $31,822
- Independent Contractors: $2,010
- PayPal + Credit Card Fees: $980
- Fedora/Teachable E-Course Platform: $299
- Evergreen Course Funnel Workshop: $197
- Stock Photos: $140
- Mailchimp: $120
- CAOC E-Course Installment Payment: $97
- Edgar Social Media Scheduler: $49
- Pinterest Promoted Pins: $47
- P.O. Box: $41
- Freshbooks* Invoicing Software: $20
- Google Apps*: $13
- GoDaddy: $7
Total Expenses: $4,020 (Anything with an * next to it is an affiliate link)
Net Profit: $27,802
Most of my income from the month stayed the same as it was in August. The only exception is that I was able to double the income I brought in from my e-courses, from about $13,000 in August to about $26,000 in September. A large portion of that — about $19,000 — came from two webinars I did in September. If you had asked me what a webinar was at the beginning of 2015, I’m not sure I would have even known! Bizarre, right? Let’s get into it…
How webinars helped me grow my business:
Prior to September, I’d only done one other webinar (in August), so I was still fairly new to them. In September, I held one high-quality solo webinar about social media and also did my first Joint Venture webinar with my friend, Mariah (she has a kick-butt course about doing your own webinars by the way). Both turned out well, and my solo webinar in September was 3-4 times as profitable as the one I did in August. I feel like part of the reason is because I put even more time into my webinar presentation and also created a workbook so that students could follow along with it while they watched.
I got such great feedback on that workshop, that I actually decided to package it up for sale…and to my sincere surprise, 68 people have enrolled in the paid recording (you can view it here). I don’t see many people re-selling their webinars after presenting them, but I have been creating an entirely new workshop and 70+ slide presentation for each webinar I teach…so it can be a lot of work to create. The prospect of presenting it live for free and then selling it as a 60-minute course thereafter feels a lot better than creating something that will only be seen for a few days, y’know?
The JV webinar that Mariah and I did also ended up being very successful and I was really glad to hear that the attendees seemed to genuinely enjoy it. Doing that webinar also helped me get a lot closer to Mariah, which is awesome! I realize that I need to reach out and collaborate with more people. Not only is it profitable, but it’s just a lot of fun and the friendships that blossom from collaboration are priceless.
Overall, webinars have been the most profitable marketing strategy I’ve implemented, but at the same time they are quite a lot of work to put together, market, and present. There is really nothing else, though, that has made me feel as close and connected to my audience. 🙂 It feels really good to communicate with people live. I also just really enjoy teaching. I’ve been itching to teach live, in-person workshops. Would you guys be into that?
How my new business model affected my travel plans:
In September, my boyfriend and I went to Seattle for a few days, starting right in the middle of the week. Normally, if I were still running my web design studio full time, taking any time off from work would be a chore, and leaving in the middle of the week would be even harder. But now that my business model has shifted to selling self-paced online courses? I barely had any worries at all. It was such a RELIEF to finally be able to travel without constantly thinking about my business and all of the things I should be doing.
Three things I did to up-level my business in September:
1. I got professional headshots taken.
Headshots were one of those “I’ll do it one day” kind of things for a VERY long time. I knew that having professional photos was important, but I also felt like I could just take them myself and get the same results. Tsk tsk Melyssa. After doing headshots the professional route, I now see how important and game-changing they can be for a business and that I was never able to replicate the same level of quality when I took them myself.
I wish I’d invested in high-quality headshots sooner! This month (October), I also ran some Facebook ads and they were SO much easier to create when using these photos (rather than the random photos I was using previously). I ended up going with a company called Headshot Truck, which, while not necessarily “cheap” was only about $250 for a gallery full of photos I can use forever. One of my better investments to date.
2. I enrolled in David Siteman Garland’s Evergreen Course Funnel Workshop.
I took David’s “Create Awesome Online Courses” course a few months ago (which is great!), and now that my first course was finished, I wanted to create an evergreen funnel so that I could continue making sales even without continuously promoting or “launching” my course to my audience. I have to say that I haven’t implemented his tips or strategies yet, but I know firsthand from friends that they work, so I’m excited to try them out (likely in November!).
3. I signed up for Teachable (formerly Fedora).
Oh.em.gee. Imagine me using about 20 of the praising hands emojis, because that’s pretty much how I felt when I started using Teachable. I didn’t officially launch my school until October, but I did purchase a monthly plan and started putting my school together in September.
I LOVE this platform. Formerly, I was using a membership plugin on WordPress called Zippy Courses. It felt like love at first, until Zippy Courses started malfunctioning repeatedly, and in more than one way. I contacted their support too many times to count and eventually knew that it was time to switch to a different platform. I’m really glad I decided to go with Teachable!
I was worried about using Teachable at first for a few reasons:
- It’s expensive. Though they have four different monthly plans, I did the math based on how many sales I expected to make each month, and it was most cost-effective for me to do their high-volume plan at $299/month (with no additional fees taken out). Using Zippy Courses was free after the initial, one-time payment, so moving to a platform that had a large monthly fee was nerve-wracking at first, but ended up being totally worth it.
- It’s not hosted on WordPress or my main website. One of the biggest worries for me was that my Teachable course website would have a different domain name — courses.thenectarcollective.com, rather than thenectarcollective.com. I thought the name would be long and clunky and that people would get confused by the fact that I had two websites. Ideally, my courses would be hosted on the same site as my blog, but at the same time, having it on a separate domain makes my course academy feel like it’s “own thing,” which feels more powerful to me. I’ve seen a steady increase in course sales, so despite the long name and separate website, it appears to be working out well!
Overall, Teachable is just an amazing tool if you want to create online courses. It makes it SO easy to put together a gorgeous membership website and really takes care of everything for you, like the design of the site, affiliates, etc. I feel more inspired to create my next course, knowing that I don’t have to spend oodles of time trying to figure out a new membership plugin and design a brand new website. It’s all right there in Teachable! They also have tons of plans to choose from at every price point.
Overall, my traffic was pretty much the same as last month, with a slight decline. The decline is probably due to the fact that I was posting less (and inconsistently). My audience needed to get used to it. At first, I was worried and, like a crazy person, felt like I needed to immediately start posting more to compensate. But honestly, I just added more of my posts to Pinterest and voila! My traffic in October is the highest its ever been. There’s a reason why Pinterest is my favorite traffic source. 😉
A shift toward less blog posts:
Sometime in August, I started posting less on TNC. At that time, I felt bad about it and knew it was because I was busy launching my first course. I vowed to write more in coming months, but when September hit, I realized that posting less wasn’t such a bad thing and that it was starting to feel more right to me. As a contrast, in April 2015 I published 20 blog posts, but in September I only published 10. The difference being that the 10 blog posts I published in September are much more value-packed than the ones I created in April.
So, I’m veering toward posting less blog content, but supplementing my absence here by providing value in other ways, such as through webinars or paid courses. I’m also aiming to produce even higher quality blog content so that even if I only post 1-2 times a week, it’s extremely actionable and useful. And also? Even though I’ve been posting less and less on this blog, my business continues to grow. I definitely think that when you’re just starting, it’s beneficial to post more frequently (I posted five days a week for almost a year when I started!), but as you grow and add new forms of content to your tool belt, it makes sense to reduce your number of posts.
Welp, my friends! That is a summary of my month in September. I genuinely hope this was helpful for you. If you liked it, then you can view more income reports here. Have a stellar day. 🙂
Got any questions? Comments? Insights? I’m all ears! Let’s chat down below.
p.s. I’ve got some very exciting things happening next month. Make sure you’re subscribed here so that you get to hear about and participate in them. 😉
October 27th, 2015 at 7:43 am
This is so insightful, and just want I needed to kick start my morning of planning my social media content for the week!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:09 pm
Aw, thanks Brittany!! I’m glad you found this insightful 🙂
October 27th, 2015 at 7:46 am
Definitely interested in live, in-person courses. =) love that you’re finding your own sense of balance as you shift focus and feel less pressure about posting frequently. I’ve cut back on blogs I’ve subscribed to but consistently visit yours. Thank you for your hard work!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:11 pm
Thank you for keeping TNC in your reader, Marina! I truly appreciate it 🙂
October 27th, 2015 at 7:57 am
Congrats Melyssa! You are definitely an inspiration for all aspiring bloggers/ entrepreneurs. I love reading income/ expense reports because it helps give me an idea of what I should start looking into. Thank you so much for sharing and I hope you continue to grow! (:
October 27th, 2015 at 11:13 pm
Awesome, Amanda! That is always what I hope people get out of these posts. Thank you for your sweet words!
October 27th, 2015 at 7:59 am
It is insights like this that keep me inspired to keep going with my blog, believe it or not!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:13 pm
That makes me so happy to hear, Ashley. Thank you! And keep on keeping on girl, you totally got this!
October 27th, 2015 at 8:11 am
I love these types of posts, they actually inspire me to be a better blogger! I have wanted to get headshots done for some time now, it’s probably something I should do sooner than later! xx,kenz
October 27th, 2015 at 11:14 pm
You should definitely do it! It’s a great investment, Kenzie 🙂
October 27th, 2015 at 9:09 am
Such awesome accomplishments, Melyssa!! As taboo as it may be to talk about blogging and money, I love that you share it so openly. Keep it up!
Chelcey | http://www.chelceytate.com
October 27th, 2015 at 11:14 pm
Thank you so much, Chelcey! I’m glad you enjoy reading these posts 🙂
October 27th, 2015 at 9:46 am
Melyssa! I love the insights you have here – and it’s funny because I am cohosting a webinar tonight with my friend Maura who owns her own marketing strategy business. We are going to be doing a 30 minute webinar on how to get your business rocking with Instagram! I also plan on re-purposing that webinar for a small fee 🙂 My dream goal is for us to collaborate one day – since you own the Pinterest space and I just LOVE insta!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:19 pm
Oh, that is SO awesome that you’re re-purposing your webinar. You won’t regret it! I hope your webinar went well for you both! 🙂
October 27th, 2015 at 10:17 am
It’s been fun following your journey into courses this summer! I’m making plans to release version 3 of our pillar product in 2016 and I keep looking at Teachable as well the Rainmaker Platform. I’ll definitely be staying away from any self-hosted plugin type solution. In an ideal world Gumroad would just ramp up their course capabilities but it would be a lot of work to approach what Teachable is doing. How good is the teachable landing page creator? Was their a lot of custom coding to get the look you wanted? –Congrats on the awesome September and I’m sure even bigger things in the future!
October 29th, 2015 at 12:25 pm
Thank you so much for your support! I would definitely recommend Teachable as a solid teaching platform. It really makes things so simple when creating courses. As for landing pages, I’d say it does pretty well. They recently added ways to change font sizes, whereas before you needed to add a little HTML just to add fonts, etc. Overall it’s pretty simple and includes a drag and drop editor. If you DO know HTML and CSS, then all the better, as you have the capabilities to really customize the page to your liking. As an alternative, you could create a landing page elsewhere and then just include direct links to your “registration” page for people to buy. I’ve been using the built-in landing pages with some simple custom coding and they’ve worked out well so far.
October 27th, 2015 at 10:56 am
I’m really glad I finally came across your blog this month, because I love how open you are. You’re doing awesome, and those headshots look great. Thanks for sharing this report!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:20 pm
Thank you, Ashley! And welcome to TNC, I’m super glad you’re here!!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:47 am
WOW! This is great accomplishment. I learn so much from your blog and it’s so much work, especially with a full-time job. Hope to see more webinars and also hoping to jump on your high quality service. I couldn’t get in on the last one. Thanks!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:30 pm
Thank you, Maritza! I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the content on TNC! 🙂
October 27th, 2015 at 1:38 pm
I love these income reports! They’re so inspiring and show me that you can make some great money in a short amount of time with the right products. I’ve been wanting to do my own webinar for a while now, I’m just trying to figure out the topic. Thanks for the inspiration!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:21 pm
I’m glad you found this inspiring, Stephanie! Good luck working on a webinar, I’m certain you’re going to rock it!
October 27th, 2015 at 2:42 pm
Your posts have been so jam-packed and helpful recently! It’s really, really great!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:21 pm
Thank you, Stacia! I really appreciate your sweet words 🙂
October 27th, 2015 at 3:24 pm
Love this statistic. Good earnings. Love your blog, thank you 😉 I really need to thing about Pinterest strategy.
October 27th, 2015 at 11:26 pm
Thank you, Anna!! 🙂
October 27th, 2015 at 3:25 pm
Wahoo! Way to go! Love your content, you are so helpful!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:25 pm
Thank you, Carolyn!
October 27th, 2015 at 5:47 pm
awesome month for you! as i work on changing up my blog/business, i find that posting less but more high quality posts is the way to go. and that will hopefully leave me time to work on other aspects of my business.
October 27th, 2015 at 11:29 pm
Absolutely, Jackie! I’m glad you’ve also found posting less to be beneficial to your blog and business!
October 27th, 2015 at 6:06 pm
That’s awesome! I really appreciate these income reports. Not only are they inspirational, but they’re educational and make the goals seem more attainable. It’s so easy as a blogger to have this fairytale dream of being able to switch full-time and walk away with a greater income than your office job salary, but to see the curtain unveiled and have true examples to reference makes it seem totally logical. Hard work, time management, and a passion is all it takes!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:25 pm
Thank you, Chelsey! It makes me so happy to hear you see it that way. That’s what I hope for in these posts!
October 27th, 2015 at 6:37 pm
Another inspiring income report Melyssa! I really love reading about what worked and what didn’t for the month within your business, very helpful. And beautiful new portraits! They’re amazing 🙂
October 27th, 2015 at 11:23 pm
Thank you, Monica! So sweet 🙂
October 27th, 2015 at 8:44 pm
I love that you do this – awesome job on your tremendous growth! I’ve started posting less too (was also doing 5/week almost the whole first year) and I have seen a drop in traffic. Trying to leverage Pinterest more right now (because I’m doing a really terrible job at that, frankly) and hoping that helps. Thank you for sharing!
October 27th, 2015 at 11:23 pm
Keep going with Pinterest, Carolyn! You will see an increase before you know it 😉
October 28th, 2015 at 6:06 am
October 30th, 2015 at 12:15 am
Thank you, Brian! 🙂
October 28th, 2015 at 7:25 am
That’s so awesome Melyssa, I’m so glad your business is growing steadily. When you did your first webinar/periscope etc, weren’t you nervous about speaking in front of a live audience? I imagine that to be rather distressing!
I got sad seeing that you’re going to post less since I visit your site every day but then I remembered there was a whole bunch of posted I have never read before (duh Bella!). Speaking of which, do you have an archives page? I cannot find it anywhere.
October 30th, 2015 at 7:47 am
Hi Bella! I was definitely nervous before my first Periscope. I think that one made me even more nervous than the webinar! But now I feel really comfortable with both. If you’re feeling nervous, I’d definitely recommend doing some Periscopes before your webinar. They really help to make you feel more at ease live on camera. 🙂
And I sort of have an archives page — if you click any of the words in the navigation menu at the top (blogging tips, etc) then it will take you to pages with just those posts, which you can scroll through. I have over 600 posts in the archives though, so I’m working on a better system for that. 😉
October 28th, 2015 at 8:24 am
You are looking *amazing* in your new portraits! Love that you shared those headshots. As always, so proud of what you are doing with TNC. Keep going!
October 30th, 2015 at 12:47 am
Shoot! I’m blush, Kayla 😉 thanks for your sweet words!
October 28th, 2015 at 9:31 am
Love this post and we’ve also found Pinterest to be the best source for referral traffic! Keep up the amazing work!
October 30th, 2015 at 12:47 am
Woohoo! Pinterest rocks, and so do you 😉
October 28th, 2015 at 9:51 am
Great post – thank you for taking us inside your business. It’s super helpful and inspiring for those of us working on the transition into working for ourselves!
October 30th, 2015 at 12:46 am
I’m so happy to hear that, Lauren! Thank you for your sweet words 🙂
October 28th, 2015 at 10:05 am
Since you mention your new domain for courses, Melyssa, I’d just like to add feedback about how I love the new site. It’s more user-friendly; I like how when you finish one module & move to the next, the color of the module title gets more faded. It’s also cool to see the progress bar inching forward as you complete the course. That little bar is pretty motivating! And you’ve convinced me to get off my butt and finally get headshots for my soon-to-be-launched blog, so thanks a lot!
I’m also glad you’ve been doing more webinars; I’ve only missed one so far but every one I’ve joined is really helpful. Hopefully, you might remember me as — and I’m reusing your new word — the cray-mazing person who gets up in the middle of the night to see the webinars live from the other side of the world.
Your blog has been growing in leaps and bounds since I started subscribing, and the numbers show it. I’m thrilled for you after all the work you’ve put in! Thanks for all the help on my own venture! (Will stop gushing now as this comment is getting to the length of a short blog post haha.)
October 29th, 2015 at 12:27 pm
DAISY! Thank you for this awesome comment. I seriously appreciate it more than you know. 🙂 I’m also SO glad to hear all the reasons why you like the new course platform. Those small things were a big part of why I wanted to switch and I’m really glad they’ve stood out to you, too.
Thank you, by the way, for waking up in the middle of the night to come to my webinars. That is #craymazing if anything ever was! I really appreciate your support and it makes me happy to hear that they’ve been helpful. 🙂 Keep rockin’ out, Daisy. I am grateful for you. <3
October 29th, 2015 at 11:22 am
This is crazy awesome, Melissa! Good for you! I get emails from David Siteman Garland and wonder if that stuff really works. So sad to hear that Zippy Courses did not work out for you though. I love how you reveal everything that goes in and comes out! It looks like you are rocking it! 😉 I love how inspirational your posts are, so please keep up the great work!!
October 30th, 2015 at 12:46 am
Thank you so much, Carmen!! I truly appreciate your support!
October 29th, 2015 at 2:01 pm
Amazing Melyssa! Thanks for sharing with the world. And by the way, I think your site will be just as rewarding for us visitors if you focus on fewer posts but with highly valuable content. I don´t read your site chronological (like som lifestyle-blogs) more like an encyclopedia: little knowledge there, little inspiration there. Take care!
October 30th, 2015 at 12:45 am
I’m so glad you feel that way, Emma! That’s definitely my goal, so thank you for the reassurance! 🙂
October 29th, 2015 at 11:47 pm
This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing! You have inspired me to keep going!
October 30th, 2015 at 12:17 am
I’m so happy to hear that, Lauren! Thank you for your support!
November 1st, 2015 at 2:48 am
This is incredibly amazing and inspiring! I mean being able to do what you love and earn a living at the same time. <3
November 2nd, 2015 at 9:35 pm
Thank you, Ruth! I appreciate you 🙂 <3
November 1st, 2015 at 7:49 pm
I love when you do these types of posts! it’s so fun to see how you do it and it’s great motivation for our own blogs and small businesses as well!
November 2nd, 2015 at 9:34 pm
I’m so glad to hear that, Keating! Thank you! 🙂
November 2nd, 2015 at 7:56 pm
this is an absolutely astounding amount of money to make in a month. congrats on all of your success, Melissa. I just hope that one day I’ll be able to run my blog full time, even if I’m not making a six figure income….
November 2nd, 2015 at 9:34 pm
You can do it too, Katie! I totally believe in you! 🙂 and thank you for your sweet words!
December 13th, 2015 at 2:33 pm
woooot! You seriously inspire me to work harder and put myself out there. every time i get a new email.. i’m like.. i need to work on my ebook / ecourse. haha
December 15th, 2015 at 4:29 pm
HA, that’s awesome Esther! I hope you get to monetize it soon!
May 24th, 2016 at 7:44 pm
How often should you be posting in the beginning when you’re starting to blog?
May 24th, 2016 at 11:12 pm
I recommend focusing more on quality rather than quantity. If that means you can only produce one AMAZING post per week, do that instead of publishing 5 mediocre posts per week. Good luck! 🙂