Early Exit #30: January Finance Update
And two lessons from my first down month since starting this solo journey.
You’re reading Early Exit Club — a newsletter about leaving the 9-5 workforce to build a $20k/month solo business by Nick Lafferty.
Last time: A masterclass on personal positioning
Next time: Providing peace of mind for your clients
Hello and welcome back to my monthly finance update, where I transparently share my income dollars and sources to help unmask what it takes to build a $20k+/month business.
This month is unique: for the first time ever my income has decreased.
Read on to find out 🙂
January revenue (which represents December billables) is significantly down across every income bucket.
What happened? 😱
I worked less in December
🔴 Down 26% ($28.8k → $21.4k)
In December I stopped working with one retainer client and I worked fewer hours for my two hourly clients.
Here’s why and what I learned from each scenario.
This client signed on for my operational package where I deliver work myself, but they didn’t have the right resources inside their company to support me and the work I was doing. I was working directly with a founder to launch marketing programs across both SEO and paid ads, and this founder (like all founders) was incredibly busy.
Using my new positioning framework from last week’s newsletter, this specific client is also outside my scope of work now.
Every project provides time for reflection, so here’s what I learned from this one:
Lesson: For operational work, I’m most successful when I have a access to a full-time marketer inside the company who is my day to day contact because they have more bandwidth to get me things I need. I’ve started filtering for this with new prospective clients and being very upfront about what I need before moving forward.
I took a lot of time off in December, which means doing less hourly work for some clients.
I went to Disney with my wife and a friend during the first week of December. We had a blast and paid extra to skip all the lines because what’s the point of working this hard if I can’t enjoy myself (and queueing up for 120 minutes to wait for the new Tron ride is 100% not fun).
December is always a slower month for the types of companies I work for as everyone winds down for the year. I also chose to take off from December 20th through the new year, which means I worked with my clients to pause their ad campaigns by the 20th.
But I wish I could’ve taken more time off.
Lesson: I don’t like working in December. I want to take the entire month off, so this year I’m going to do that. No clients in December. TBD on exactly how I do that.
Website Traffic + Banner Ads
Traffic: 🟢 Up 11% (13k → 14.6k)
Banner Ads: 🔴 Down ($581 → $157)
This will be the last month I show stats for my Banner Ads, because the revenue is $0.
I used to run really annoying banner ads on my main website but I shut them off a few months ago. The company I used paid me very slowly (net 60), so the income kept trickling in but now it’s gone.
And I have no regrets.
My website traffic increased slightly compared to December, but I continue to not have time to update anything and to be honest I lack the desire to update anything at this point.
I am finding newsletter writing to be much more enjoyable than writing SEO posts for my blog. So I’m considering shifting the stats I show here to focus more on this newsletter instead of a website very few of y’all have seen or actually care about.
I’ll revisit this next month!
🔴 Down 23% ($7,299 → $5,589)
Affiliate income decreased due to lower website traffic in December compared to November, as expected.
Google continues to change the types of content they show in Search and seemingly deprioritize individual website content like mine and promoting more social content like Reddit, LinkedIn, and Medium.
One of the affiliate programs I’m in shared this helpful chart, which shows a meteoric rise in Google Search traffic for Medium and LinkedIn, starting early last year.
This is likely not good news for my affiliate income streams which are highly dependent on SEO traffic.
Time for some vulnerability: tracking my total website traffic, SEO rankings, and affiliate income gives me serious anxiety.
When you start making good money from affiliates but have very little control over the traffic source (I can’t magically put myself in position #1 on Google without paying), and suddenly your traffic starts to dip, it freaks you out a little bit.
Or at least it does for me.
My friend and former colleague Kelsey shared a similar sentiment on LinkedIn this week.
I’m introducing you to Kelsey now because:
She’s a successful SEO consultant who’s writing a guest post next week on how our job as freelancers is to provide peace of mind for our clients.
Stay tuned for that next week.
Loom Acquisition Windfall
In case you missed it, a few weeks ago I shared how much I earned from Loom’s $1 billion acquisition by Atlassian.
If you’re curious how startup equity works then I definitely recommend checking that out. It’s now my most popular post by a large margin, and it was also the post I was most afraid of writing. Funny how that works.
I excluded those revenue numbers from my finance update as that was a one-time windfall, but the full details are in there with exactly how much I made 🙂
Despite my income decreasing, the sky isn’t falling.
Everything is fine, my clients are happy, and I’m getting better at refining my consulting offering.
I continue to find tons of happiness and joy from sitting down and sharing my thoughts and experiences with you all, and every week I receive the most incredible responses in my inbox.
Here’s one I received this week which perfectly sums up my goal
you seem more relatable than Justin Welsh (i do love his content but i think his massive success makes him seem more distant somehow)
See you next week!
The Early Exit Club Hat made a strong showing at Disney World last year.
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