I’ve been meaning to publish my 2019 blog income report for Redefining Mom for the last two months but I just couldn’t bring myself to sit down and do it.
I have to confess, I’ve actually had quite the writer’s block in 2019. I am a very keep-it-real and honest type of lady. 2019 was rough and I often found myself wanting to tell you things but then worrying if it would make me unrelatable. Or, even worse, I worried it would make you not like me.
Intellectually, I know that’s ridiculous. I know you want to hear the real and raw stuff. That’s why you’re here!
I get it. And I am working on changing that in 2020.
I want to get back to sharing the honest and raw stuff I used to share unfiltered.
2019 was a year of many highs, lows, and very tough lessons learned. My hope is that you walk away from this income report with a list of practical action steps for your own business. Or, maybe you don’t have a business and this will inspire you to start one!
Let’s get this 2019 blog income report started…
2019 BLOG INCOME REPORT
I learned so much about myself and how to run a real business in 2019. I stretched myself in ways I didn’t even know were possible.
It all started when I went on a 7-day Disney cruise in late December 2018. I had just stopped breastfeeding and my hormones were all out of whack (you know what I’m talking about, right mama??)
Sitting in the Orlando airport, waiting for our flight home, I felt like I was on the most violent seas I’d ever experienced. At first, I dismissed the feeling as typical. I just needed to find my land legs again. Plus, it was my first 7-day cruise so I figured it impacted me way more than a three or four-day cruise.
Nope. This was the beginning of what would turn out to be a very trying year for my physical health. I was diagnosed with Mal de Débarquement Syndrome. This essentially meant that I was walking around feeling like I was on rocking water every single day. It put an immense amount of strain on my mental abilities when it came to running a business.
In some ways, I am grateful for the diagnosis because it led me to realize if I wanted to keep growing a business that wasn’t 100% reliant on me then I needed to start hiring.
Hiring would prove to be the best decision I made in 2019 and it led to a 2x growth in revenue which honestly blows me away.
REVENUE, EXPENSES, TAXES, & PROFIT FOR MY BLOG
I’m going to make a bold statement here…
Most people who start an online business have no idea how to read and interpret financial reports.
I say this with love friends, I have my Masters of Business in FINANCE and Marketing. However, I didn’t choose a career path that required me to read financial reports every day and thus I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Of course, I knew enough to keep my business and personal finances separate but I approached my business finances in a very simplistic way.
Revenue – Expenses – Taxes = Monica’s Money (aka Profit)
Nothing will teach you this faster than hiring employees on payroll (more on this later).
I want to inspire all women to run a successful business of their own. I am a firm believer that one of the biggest things that hold us back as women is the lack of financial transparency.
We’re taught from a young age that money is not something that is appropriate to talk about.
Listen to me… this is holding us back and it’s ridiculous!
Male leaders have no issues talking about money. Their transparency is a big reason why they get ahead.
I’m a very open person and firmly believe that it’s important for women to talk about money. When we help each other out, especially in business, the tide rises for all of us.
While I am comfortable sharing exact numbers in conversation and will gladly help and talk to anyone who wants to know more to grow their own business, I don’t believe it’s wise to publish those numbers in a public forum.
For this report, I’ve decided to use percentages. I did the same thing in my 2018 Year In Review and the response was overwhelmingly positive. A lot of women told me that percentages helped them focus on the bigger picture instead of the comparison game.
The honest truth is that I never imagined I’d be where I am today when I quit my career in 2016. I hope this glimpse into my business inspires you to take your own leap of faith and believe in yourself.
You can do it!
- 2x or 100% year over year growth from 2018
- Many multiple 6-figures (you better bet my big goal is to hit $1M!)
- Affiliate Marketing: 10% down from 29% in 2018
- Digital Products: 90% up from 70% in 2018
MAJOR EXPENSE CATEGORIES
These are percentages of total revenue…
- Payroll (including me and one full-time employee): 20.46% – this is different than what I reported in my 2018 review because I wasn’t looking at my own payroll as an expense but rather profit
- Advertising (Facebook & Pinterest Ads): 11.57% up from 7.2% in 2018
- Contractors (copywriter, web designer, operations manager, etc): 6.77% up from 4.6% in 2018
- Affiliate payouts (to people who recommend my courses): 6.47% down slightly from 6.6% in 2018
- Travel (I do a LOT of travel and I started flying First Class most of the time – I consider this a big perk of working so hard in the business): 5.37% basically the same as 5.2% in 2018
- Job Education (masterminds, courses): 4.95% down a lot from 14.8% in 2018 – mainly because I’ve moved past needing to know more and now I need to execute on what I already know I need to do
- Software (LeadPages, ConvertKit, etc.): 4.03% down from 5.3% in 2018
At the end of 2018, I said I wanted to decrease job education expenses and increase the amount spend on advertising and help inside the business. I would say I accomplished that goal!
TAXES FOR BLOGGING
Last year, I gave an estimate on this and this year I can’t. There is so much that goes into calculating the tax burden on a small business like mine.
**This information on taxes is my personal understanding of the topic and does NOT substitute for legal or financial advice from a professional**
I am an S-Corp which means I put myself on payroll.
As an S-Corp, I pay payroll taxes on a salary I pay myself. This includes federal, state, and FICA taxes. I pay FICA (social security and medicare) as both an employee and employer.
The remaining profit left in the business is passed through to our personal tax return. I pay federal, state, and FICA taxes. However, I only pay FICA as an employee and not an employer on this amount. Essentially, becoming an S-Corp is a legal way to reduce our tax burden.
It gets a bit more complicated when you consider that my husband also has a full-time career which means his income bumps us into a higher tax bracket. What I pay in taxes from my business will look drastically different than someone who made the exact same amount as me but is the sole provider of the household.
Since I file with my husband, it’s hard for me to say exactly what the business tax burden was on our personal income taxes.
I will say that one of the biggest changes I made in 2019 was paying federal and state taxes (including estimated taxes) directly from the business bank account!
PROFIT FROM MY BUSINESS
26.67% of total revenue
I cannot compare this to 2018 because the profit number I arrived at here is not comparing apples to apples.
Let me explain.
Last year, I was sharing numbers based on this equation:
Revenue – Expenses (not including payroll or profit distributions) – Taxes = Monica’s Money (aka Profit or money Monica took home)
This year, I am sharing numbers based on this equation:
Revenue – Expenses (including Monica’s payroll) = Business Profit
I pay a portion of taxes out of payroll and then another portion based on the businesses’ profit.
This is my BIG financial lesson this year. Even after I pay taxes on that end profit number, I then have to decide what to do with the profit that is left.
Do I take it as a profit distribution into our family finances? The old Monica did.
The new Monica needs to account for cash flow in the business.
Guess how my payroll and my employee’s payroll get paid? Via real cash in the bank account. You can’t pay an employee with a business credit card like you can a contractor. You can’t decide to stop payroll for a month like you can when it’s just you.
And thus, padding a business savings account became a real thing in 2019 if I wanted this business to succeed and not go into debt (which I don’t ever want to do).
The second big financial lesson I learned was that my own paycheck from the business is to compensate me for my hard work showing up each and every day. The profit I make from my business is my reward for the risk I took in building something from scratch.
It’s always easy to look at where someone is now and get discouraged. This did NOT happen overnight. However, it is also extremely possible to achieve if you put the work in.
To save room in this blog post, you can get a breakdown of Redefining Mom’s business journey through 2018 here.
7 REASONS FOR MY BUSINESS SUCCESS
Last year, I boiled down my success to four major things and I still agree with all four except I added five through seven for 2019.
- Email list – our list is currently right under 60,000 and I am happy with this
- Sales funnels – this is basically how my entire business has been built and I’m finally going to talk about it in my newest course, Pin Practical Conversions
- Leveraging ads to drive targeted traffic – this includes Facebook Ads and Pinterest Ads
- Investing in education and joining masterminds/coaching groups with women further along in business
- Working on my own mindset and limiting beliefs – I read many books and listened to numerous podcasts which I will link to below
- Hiring a team and realizing I cannot build an empire and impact the world without a team – this meant defining our company mission and values which I take a lot of pride in
- While I know I could succeed with or without the support of family, the support of my husband has made it so much easier – he is my biggest cheerleader!
EVALUATING BUSINESS PERFORMANCE
The best way to make wise decisions about your business is to evaluate the numbers. Numbers don’t lie. The problem is figuring out what exactly the numbers mean for your business and how to use them to make meaningful goals for the next year.
I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be releasing the exact business planner I use to evaluate numbers and make business decisions during a special Template Extravaganza we are hosting starting March 16th, 2020! Keep an eye out for more information on how to snag my favorite spreadsheet ever.
WHAT WORKED IN 2019
1. Hiring a full-time employee and understanding business cash flow
Hiring a full-time employee on payroll is a huge deal. Not only is it a huge financial commit but it also requires business owners to have a solid understanding of their business finances. As I mentioned earlier, payroll comes directly from cash in the bank account, not a business credit card like how you can pay contractors. We now have a significant amount of cash on hand inside of the business going into 2020. I am completely sold that hiring people to be dedicated to my business was the best decision I made in 2019. It is hands-down the #1 reason we were able to 2x our revenue from 2018. Shoutout to Hayley for being an amazing employee and friend!
2. Launches, launches, and more launches
2019 was the year of launching Pin Practical Promotions in a variety of different ways. I tried everything imaginable…open/close cart launches, live webinars, live challenges, evergreen funnels, and joint venture launches. I learned so much about the buying journey of my ideal customer. More importantly, I learned how to read and analyze data to make better decisions. It also led me to understand a big gap in my course suite and I was able to…
3. Made over $40,000 pre-selling a course before it was created
This is incredible to me but it really speaks volumes about how I show up every day and support my students. We launched Pin Practical Conversions, a course on how to create profitable sales funnels for Pinterest, on pre-sale during our annual Black Friday/Cyber Monday and had our biggest revenue month to date when we paired this offer with several others!
4. Made a commitment to always serve our students first
I spent two full years dedicated to making my first major course, Pin Practical Promotions, the best it could possibly be. I refused to create any other major products during this time so I could focus on my current students. I offer an incredibly valuable Facebook group to go along with the course. I host regular office hour chats and keep the course updated constantly due to the ever-changing climate with Pinterest. It is because I serve my students above all else that I was trusted by over 100 of them to buy a course I hadn’t even created yet. They knew I’d show up because I proved it to them already. My students will always come first in the business.
5. Added $34,000 in revenue using order bumps
Building a business has a snowball effect. Everything you do builds upon the step before. I think one of the hardest lessons for a new business owner is accepting that you cannot do everything at once and be everything to everyone. Once I figured out how to make money from sales funnels and how to use targeted paid traffic to get eyes on those funnels, I took the next step of adding on order bumps to most of my checkout shopping carts. I cannot believe how easy it was to set up and what a dramatic difference it made to our revenue!
6. Spoke at FinCon and hosted a community happy hour
One of the best highlights of the year was being on a panel with four of my good business friends at FinCon, a financial blogging conference, to talk about Pinterest. Our group hosted a community happy hour during the conference which had an amazing turnout and helped me to see just how far this business has come since 2016!
7. Paid off credit cards and flew in lay-flat seats to Paris with my husband
I started this business with the intent of providing a better life for our family. It has far exceeded my expectations and provided some really awesome opportunities. In 2019, we were able to pay off all of our credit cards (thanks to our Family Budget Spreadsheet). Plus, my husband and I treated ourselves to first-class seats to Paris which was an incredible experience!
WHAT DIDN’T WORK IN 2019
1. Working and traveling too much to the point of burnout
As I mentioned earlier, I was experiencing some pretty severe health issues in early 2019. When we went to Paris, I ended up spending most of the trip with a 103-degree fever. In September, I barely worked because we all came down with the stomach bug. I also traveled way more than I wanted to. I have a really tough time saying no to cool opportunities. I am still working on drawing boundaries around my work and family time (and I said the same in 2018). In fact, I know it’s my biggest issue because I’ve written about working mom burnout every six months since I started this business. Hiring employees is helping immensely!
2. Legal battles, copycats, and haters
Sigh, I am not sure if this fits under what didn’t work but it definitely fits under this sucks. An unexpected side effect of doing well in the online space is the crappy people who lack ethics and common sense. I am fine with haters for the most part because I understand not everyone will like me. However, I can’t do the topic of copycats justice in a bullet point, but I will leave you with this…it is not okay to copy someone else’s hard work under any circumstances. Some people learned this the hard way with me when they found I am not afraid to use a lawyer to enforce my rights. Just don’t do it. I poured three years of my life into my course content, anyone who feels the right to swipe it doesn’t deserve my empathy. They deserve to pay the consequences for their utter disregard for intellectual property.
3. Launch PTSD
This is a real thing, I am convinced of it. Launching is so much work. Way more work than I feel anyone ever talks about. I often see flashy numbers but rarely a real glimpse into how much work it actually takes to pull off a profitable launch. (Maybe this is a training I’ll do someday?!) I am happy to say I had four successful launches in 2019. I am sad to say I pulled two of them off by myself which left me with literal anxiety about how to keep the business afloat because I was so burned out. I also rarely took the time to stop and celebrate or do something nice for myself at the end of each launch. This is something I must change. I will never launch by myself again, hello more employees in 2020!
WHAT WAS NECESSARY FOR 2019
1. Trademarks, copyrights, legal disclosures…oh my!
2. Business liability insurance
I feel like this fits in with the theme of what feels like the downside of business. However, it’s just smart to have a business liability policy. It’s not any different than having health and life insurance.
3. Upleveling accounting and bookkeeping
More money means I needed to have a tighter grip on my finances. I hired an amazing bookkeeper who is helping me be more proactive with financials and my local CPA is awesome as well. My local CPA office also handles my payroll.
4. Self-development was top of mind
I didn’t realize how much mindset work I had to do until the moment someone swiped my entire course. It was a defining moment that was either going to make or break me. It sounds so simple that clearly I should fight anyone who stole from me. But the reality is, it messes with your head and confidence. I learned it was up to me to protect my own mindset. I devoured many business and mindset books and podcasts this year. You can buy my top recommendations here. They include:
- Traction by Gino Wickman – basically the bible on how to run a successful business efficiently
- Company of One by Paul Jarvis – this taught me there is power in staying small and lean as a company
- Built to Sell by John Warrilow – explains how to run a business that is not dependent on you to succeed
- Profit First by Mike Michalowicz – is a financial system for managing business finances
- Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller – a brilliant system for connecting with your community by positioning your brand the right way with storytelling
I will be writing a blog post about the podcasts I love and the courses I’ve taken that have made a huge impact on my business.
DID I MEET MY GROWTH GOALS SET IN 2018 FOR 2019?
You can read about the 2019 goals I set in 2018. Below I’ll do a quick recap of where I stand with each.
- Simplifying – no, I don’t think I did a great job at this. I think I did a lot of learning and in some ways hiring simplified things but in other ways it complicated things.
- SEO – total fail! This is on the radar again for 2020 with my newest hire, Courtney. Except for this year, we’re considering doubling-down on YouTube SEO which should naturally help Google SEO too.
- Email list growth – YES, I’ve got this one down. I am happy with our list growth in 2019.
- More Facebook and Pinterest advertising – I said I was going to triple my spend on ads and after a quick look at Quickbooks it looks like we 2.5x our spend. Considering a 2x in revenue, I think it’s safe to say this was a pretty good bet.
4 WAYS I INTEND ON GROWING MY BUSINESS IN 2020
I have a big goal to hit $1m in revenue. It’s more a vanity number than anything else. Who wouldn’t want to say they have a 7-figure business?!
Here are a few ways I intend on getting us to that goal…
1. Monica Froese website
It’s time to move my Pinterest courses and B2B offerings to their own website. The purpose of Redefining Mom was not to sell online digital marketing courses about Pinterest. I want to get Redefining Mom back to its roots of helping working moms.
2. Redefining Mom Shopify Store
We’re doubling-down on our sales funnel efforts in the B2C space with Redefining Mom by opening a Shopify store. My Project Coordinator, Hayley, is responsible for this project and has four different product funnels mapped out already!
3. Consistent content
About 85% of the content I create at this point lives behind a paid firewall (in other words for my paid students). When the knowledge for my courses comes from my brain, that’s just the way it had to be to grow. But, I am a marketing expert and I KNOW we are missing out on free organic leads and sales. This will all change when our new Digital Marketing Coordinator, Courtney, starts in late-March. Be prepared for consistent emails, blog content, and a few other fun projects to come your way!
4. Hire more employees and live up to our business values
I have the opportunity to support Hayley as she goes out on maternity leave this year in a way I am not obligated to by law. However, how can I have a blog where I vent about the lack of maternity leave in the US and then not do anything about it with my own employees? I am actually grateful to Hayley for reigniting my passion for this and I am happy to be supporting her through having her second baby! We also have big plans to hire two new full-time employees this year!
DO YOU WANT TO START AN ONLINE BUSINESS IN 2021?
Learn more about the exciting new programs we are offering over on how to build your own digital product business at Empowered Business.
I hope you found the information I shared useful on your own online business journey.
I am truly honored you’ve trusted me as a source of information. I’m extremely thankful to have you as a friend! 🤗
Now, let’s go kick some serious booty in 2020!
Great tips for bloggers. Thanks for sharing your experiences!