My Income Report For March 2020! (Transcript)

In this episode of Work Less, Earn More, I'm sharing which tasks and projects really ended up paying me best in the month of March so that you can see how I’m optimizing my business so that I can work less and earn more over time. Plus, you’ll get a time report, breaking down the time I spend on each activity and how that created a financial result (or not).

This is a transcript of Work Less, Earn More, Episode 14. Listen to the episode here.

Now, if you live on planet Earth, then you may have noticed that March was a little bit of a crazy month. There were a few different things that happened, a few different things that have been generally distracting the population of this planet. First of all, I just want to acknowledge that those are the circumstances under which I was running my business and you were running your business.

If you didn't hit your income goals or if you worked more or less than you wanted to, I think we can all have a little bit of grace for ourselves this month. But at the same time, it is so important that we learn to work with whatever the circumstances are and that we make the best of them, and that we look for the opportunities that are there in those circumstances. Because the fact of the matter is that while yes, things were a bit extra crazy in the month of March  (is that an understatement? Yes, it is…), there are always going to be things that crop up that get in our way and we just have to learn how to work with them and work around them.

One thing that I'm going to be focusing on in this income report is talking about how I've noticed that my income has been kind of flat over the past few months and doing these income reports has really brought that to my attention. I've been thinking about why that is and what I can do to fix it, so I'm going to be sharing that with you.

Also, something that you will hear about later on is that not only am I still continuing to prepare for maternity leave and therefore working about 50% more than normal, on top of that, we had the whole situation that happened this month and with that I was stuck at home as many of you were and had a lot of extra time on my hands. A fair amount of that time I just ended up working because there were things that could get done, and like I said, I'm trying to prepare for maternity leave. That's a few of the general circumstances that surrounded this income report. With that said, let's get into the numbers and then we will talk about, like I said, why my profits had been kind of flat and what I'm going to do about it.

All right, talking about income first. This is the place where there's the biggest difference in the numbers this month. My income was a little bit lower.  By income, I mean my revenue was a little bit lower this month. Back in February, we saw a total revenue of $35,000, whereas this month we were just shy of $29,000, so a fair bit lower. Now, most of that difference came from our product sales being a little bit lower. We sold $7,000 our Channel Launch course as opposed to 8,000 last month, and then we sold only $13,000 of Startup Society memberships as opposed to 16,000 last month. 

Now, a big part of that difference definitely was we saw a significant number of cancellations due to people losing their jobs, which obviously is extremely unfortunate, but also very understandable given the current circumstances. So far, we have continued to see just as many people signing up for the program, so we have just as many new members, but like I said, a lot more cancellations. In fact, about twice as many cancellations as we've seen in previous periods.

Another key difference was that my YouTube revenue was a bit lower. Last month in February, I earned about $8,000 from YouTube, whereas this month the ads paid me $6,000, which honestly is a lot more normal. That $8,000 month was the anomaly, I don't normally earn that much, but there were a few videos that did really well throughout January and February (went quite viral).  So that is why the income was so much higher in those months. But, like I said, $6,000 is much more typical. 

Okay, I think that that's pretty much everything I'm going to say about income. Long story short, it was about $9,000 short of what it was in February.

Expenses are very boring this month because they are extremely similar to last month. If you want a full detailed expense report, go back and listen to last month's income report. But there were two key differences that I would like to highlight for you. The first one was that we spent a lot more money on Facebook ads. As you may know, if you've been listening to the past couple income reports, we've been experimenting with Facebook ads. It's something that we haven't done at all over the past two plus years.  Ever since this business started growing, and we've decided to add it back in to see if we can work on stabilizing and scaling the revenue from some of our sales funnels.

It was just about two months ago that we started actually running Facebook Ads again. When we did that, of course we started out slow. We just spent a little bit the first month as we were starting to feel out exactly how these ads were performing. And now that we've found some ads that are performing decently well, we are starting to scale it up so that we can do more testing. In the month of March, we spent about $5,000 on Facebook ads, whereas in February we had only spent $1,000. This money all went towards paying the Facebook Ads agency to manage the ads and spending money to drive people into the Profit Planning Challenge.

Now, I'll just let you know right now upfront that these ads still are having a negative return, which means we are losing money on them. However, I'm continuing forward with them, at least for now for two different reasons. First of all, because Facebook Ads are more of a long game strategy, especially when you are first getting started with them. I'm willing to invest in them for a few more months and to try to get them into the positive before I give up on them. The other reason is because I am actually happy to spend money on advertising even if it isn't returning much of a positive investment or even possibly if the advertising is costing me a little bit of money every month. The reason for that is because these ads are building my brand, they're growing my email list, they're increasing my exposure and they can be earning my brand additional credibility.

Basically, what I mean is that there are a lot of side benefits from the ads that can't be directly measured and I'm very happy to pay at least a little bit every month for those side benefits. Now, right now we're definitely losing more than I would like to be losing on them. With the number of ads that we're spending, the amount we're paying the ad agency and all of that, it's a few thousand dollars lost each month, but like I said, I'm sticking it out to see if we can get it at least close to breaking even. Hopefully, we will be turning a profit with them soon.

The other key difference in our expenses was that last month I spent $5,000 to buy a whole year of my expensive ConvertKit subscription. Okay, just to explain this a little bit, regardless of which email marketing service you use, you have to pay more every month depending on how many email subscribers you have. The more email subscribers you have, the more you have to pay.

Now, right now, about 70,000 people are subscribed to my email list and that runs me around $600 a month just to maintain those contacts. But ConvertKit offers a monthly plan and an annual plan. When you upgrade to the annual plan, you get two months free each year, which definitely makes it worth it because obviously that's going to save me around $1,200. Last month I finally took that beating and paid for a whole year of ConvertKit out of pocket, so we spent $5,000 on that, but this month, of course, I didn't have that expense. Those are the only real two differences between last month, February, and this month, March. $5,000 more paid for advertising, $5,000 less paid for email marketing, which means that my expenses were almost identical. In February, I spent $23,900, and then in March, I spent $23,800. Very, very close.

Okay. We've covered revenue, we've covered expenses. Let's talk about profits. As you would expect, since our revenue was $6,000 lower than last month, but our expenses were the same, our profits were $6,000 lower than last month. In February, we profited $11,000 plus the $5,000 paid out directly to me in wages, and now in the month of March, we've profited $5,000 plus the $5,000 paid out to me in wages.

Okay, there you have the numbers. Now, as I mentioned earlier on in the intro of this episode, I've noticed, mostly because of doing these income reports, that my income, meaning my revenue and meaning my profits, have been pretty flat over these past three, four months. With all of this extra time on my hands this month, I've been doing some thinking about that. I was thinking about all the projects that we are currently working on and how I'm spending more time working in my business than normal and why aren't these numbers moving. I realized two different things that I want to share with you right now.

The first one is that right now I think that we are spreading ourselves a little bit too thin, and specifically, we're not being focused enough. It's not necessarily that we're doing too much or even too many different projects, but those projects are not focused on improving the specific metrics that are going to be improving our bottom line.

For example, we are working on improving different aspects of different programs, we're working on optimizing some of our systems, we're working on getting these Facebook Ads off the ground. All of these different things, these various projects, which are all honestly good things to do and things that we really want to do and are having a beneficial effect on the business.  They're making the business stronger, they're helping us serve our customers better, helping us to experiment with some new things. But if every month, every quarter, we are focused on improving one of the key metrics that's actually affecting profits, such as the conversion rate on a specific funnel or the amount of traffic that's being driven to a funnel with a good conversion rate, then I'm confident that we would see a more consistent, positive change in these revenue numbers from month to month.

After I had this minor epiphany about how we needed to slightly shift the way we were planning things, I sat down and had a meeting with my operations manager, Cortni. We talked it all out and made a plan for going forward. Now unfortunately, my maternity leave is coming up really fast and we've already got our irons in a lot of fires and we need to finish up the projects that we are already doing. However, we did come up with a specific plan for the metric that we want to focus on improving at least over these next two months before I go on maternity leave. We're going to work on being a little bit more strategic in our planning process when I come back later on in 2020.

The takeaway for you here is that it's not so much about how much or how hard you work, because as you've listened to these income reports over the past few months, you've heard me talk about how right now I'm working a little bit more and a little bit harder than normal, yet my revenue hasn't really changed. It really comes back to being really strategic about what you are spending that time on if you want to be earning more.

Okay. That's the first thing that I realized, we need to be more strategic. But here's the second thing that I realized. When I look back at my revenue over the past few years, I see a consistent pattern. My revenue tends to stay really flat for six to 12 months at a time and then, finally, things will shift and it will bump up significantly. This happened back in 2018, when I went from earning less than a thousand dollars per month to suddenly earning over $10,000 every single month. Then it happened again in 2019, when I went from consistently earning 10 to $15,000 a month in revenue to suddenly earning 25 to $30,000 a month in revenue.

First of all, it was just really reassuring for me to look at those numbers and realize that this pattern of having a flat income for quite a long period of time is pretty normal for me, that I tend to only see a real increase in my income about once a year, but when it comes, it is generally a pretty big one. I can definitely see how we're gearing up for another such increase in my income this year. 

Now, I'm not certain if it's going to be able to happen before I go on maternity leave or if it's going to be postponed a little bit. My guess, looking at the projects we have planned and what I expect will happen, is that there will be a smaller increase in my income before I go on maternity leave and then when I come back we'll finish creating that increase, so this year will look a little bit different than other years have, but I think that that just comes with the territory of having a baby.

Let's just talk for a moment about why my income tends to follow this pattern. Pretty much every year I work on creating some new things and then launching them. I might do this maybe twice per year, but generally one of these launches- and I don't specifically mean the launch itself, but one of these new ventures- is very successful and the other one is a little bit of a flop. Now, like I said, I don't actually specifically mean the launch. When the product first comes out, I may make a significant amount of money or I may not. But it's once the product has come out and we build a funnel for that product so that it starts consistently bringing in that monthly recurring revenue, that is when my income gets that significant bump that it keeps. Of course, when the product first launches, that might cause a random spike in my income, but that's not what I'm referring to when I'm talking about increasing my monthly income.

Okay, now let's talk about how much I worked this month and what I spent that time on. As I alluded to earlier on, I did work a little bit more this month than I generally prefer to, but if you've been following along with these income reports at all, then you know that that's because I'm gearing up to take a few months off of work. I'm working about 50% more than normal so that I can easily afford it to take that time off. In the month of March, there were pretty much four even weeks, and all told, I worked 113 hours, which works out to right around 28 hours per week, which is just a smidge more than I was working per week back in February.

Honestly, this month this amount of work felt pretty good, especially considering that I am really putting in some extra effort so that I can take that time off down the road. However, one thing that I definitely noticed was that during the first two or three weeks, I felt fine about the work. I was following a schedule, things felt structured, and things felt good.  But then in week four when all the craziness really went to a new level (we were on our second week of that quarantine that everyone is loving so much) and my structure and schedule really just went out the window. All of the days started to bleed together. I ended up feeling like I was working all the time because I wasn't confining my work into neat, tidy blocks on my schedule.

I know I've mentioned this in previous income reports, but having that structure, having that schedule really does make such a difference. If you can sit down for three, four, five hours a day and get your work done, then you'll have the entire rest of your day free and you probably won't feel like you're working very much. Whereas if you work a little bit here, a little bit there, if you're trying to multitask, then you can just end up feeling overwhelmed and like you're working all the time, which is exactly how I felt last week. 

This weekend, I had a sit down with myself, regrouped and created a brand new schedule that is quarantine-approved.  That is, a schedule that doesn't have all our normal weekly activities in it, the activities that right now are canceled because everything is canceled. I'm excited to be jumping into that new schedule this week, to be having some structure and I can't wait to just experience the energy and joy that I know will come from that because it happens every time when I make myself a new schedule.

All right, so now let's talk about what I did with all this time. The first thing that took the very most of my time is the thing that normally takes the most of my time, and that is producing YouTube videos. In the month of March, I spent almost 36 hours producing YouTube videos, which is an all time high. The reason for that is because I got very motivated (very, very motivated) to get those last YouTube videos done so that I could be done filming the YouTube videos that are going to be being published while I'm on maternity leave.

Now, the reason that I'm particularly anxious to get this done, well, I mean there are a few reasons. First of all, just because as you move close to the end of something, you're getting close to your deadline, you naturally just want to finish it up so you can be done with it. I definitely was experiencing that. The other contributing factor was that even though I'm planning to keep working here for the next two months until baby comes, I did not want to be filming during these two month.  First of all, filming YouTube videos, creating content- that is definitely the most energy-intensive work that I do. I wanted to have that on my plate just so my work was a little bit easier as I'm moving towards potentially getting more tired.

Another reason why I really wanted to get this done is because my last baby showed up a month early, so I feel like this baby's due date is really up in the air and I don't know exactly when they're going to come. I definitely wanted to make sure that I had all the filming done that I needed to get done, because that's something I do not want to be needing to do when I'm trying to enjoy that newborn bliss.

Finally, and this is total vanity, but in the couple months of my pregnancies, my face always gets a little bit chubby looking. It's not a big deal. I don't look that weird, I just don't look like my normal self. What I've noticed in the past when I've been making YouTube videos when I was pregnant was that later on I would look back on those videos and it would just feel a little bit uncomfortable and I wished that I had made those videos at a different time when I was looking like my normal self. So I wanted to avoid that this time around and get all my videos filmed while I still looked like myself.

And by the way, I don't think I said this before, but we did successfully manage to get all the YouTube videos filmed, so we are completely done with that, which is really interesting and fun. I am enjoying just the slight change of pace of not filming every single week now, even though I do actually love making YouTube videos. The fact that we were having to kind of crank them out towards the end there was stealing a little bit of the joy of that for me. So I'm glad to have it off my plate just for the change of pace, but I'm also actually chomping at the bit to get back in the video creation game and to do it with a slower pace and in a more creative way. I really like to devote a fair amount of time and creative energy into each of those projects and I enjoy them a lot more when we are able to do that.

Okay, moving on from video production. The next thing that I spent a chunk of time on was finishing up Video Creator Academy.  This is our brand new program. If you happen to be listening to this episode when it first comes out, then we will actually be enrolling the beta class of Video Creator Academy in April. We're going to have that registration open just through April 9 and then we're closing it down because we will be running the first class live so that we can make sure we provide those beta students with as much support and help and guidance as possible to get them the biggest, best results and really set the standard as high as possible for future classes that go through the program.

If you happen to be interested in a bootcamp-style class on video production and learning how to create awesome videos that people love to watch, then make sure you check that out. I'll leave a link to it in the show notes, but you should also be able to find it by going to This month, we finished up creating all of the lessons for that course and the additional resources that the students will get access to. Then we've also just been setting it up on the backend so that they'll have a really good experience and be able to easily find everything that they need to find.

The next thing I spent a fair amount of time on was recording podcast episodes. I spent seven hours on that this month, which I believe is a little bit less than the previous months. I didn't record quite as many episodes this month because we were working on getting all those YouTube videos done and getting that course ready to launch. That's something that I am planning to spend more time on over the next month or two here so that we can make sure that we get all of the podcast episodes recorded for while I'm on maternity leave.

The last thing that I will touch on that I spent some time on this month was miscellaneous tasks. Now, normally this is not a mentionable item on my list because it's normally just a few minutes here and there, things that for some reason didn't fall into another category, but in this case there were almost six hours spent on miscellaneous tasks. The reason for that was that weird limbo week I had last week. I was just working all the time. I didn't actually get anything more done than I normally get done, but I felt like I was working all the time. Very unstructured. There were a few times when I wasn't perfectly tracking my time so I just had to look at the clock and say, “Okay, I started at 2:00, now it's 4:00, I guess I worked two hours. I don't know what I did.” Obviously, not ideal, would not recommend, but I just wanted to mention that that is one of the items on my list this month.

Okay, we are coming up on that half hour mark and we've gotten through pretty much everything I wanted to share with you, so we're going to wrap this up. But before we do that, I just wanted to say that I hope that you are doing well. I hope that you are finding ways to thrive during these strange times that we live in, that you are finding structure and finding routines that really support the goals that you have. If you aren't finding that quite yet, I just encourage you to make that happen. Just remember, it is never too late to change things for yourself. Sometimes it will be the middle of the day and all think, “Ugh, I don't have a schedule for today. Today's not going as planned.” That is not too late, even in the middle of a day that's going wrong. You can sit down, you can make a plan for what you're going to do with the rest of the hours of that day.

Of course, exactly the same thing can be said for the middle of a week or the middle of a month or the middle of a year. Just because you are not in our one of January 1 does not mean that it is too late to get yourself on the right track. If right now you are feeling in a slump, if right now you feel like you are working too much or like you are not strategically planning well enough so that you aren't accomplishing much, it is not too late to sit down and have a meeting with yourself or have a meeting with your team and make a plan for what you're going to do differently going forward to get those results that you really want.

All right, well, that is everything that I have for you today, but until next time, stay safe, stay healthy and stay focused. I know you've got this.

Sean McMullin