Early Exit #9: July Finances
July was a good month but August is going to be GREAT.
You’re reading Early Exit Club — a newsletter about leaving the 9-5 workforce to build a $20k/month solo business by Nick Lafferty.
Hey early exiteers,
We’re back with another finance update.
To everyone who joined since the last update, welcome!
There’s now 593 of you and it’s time for me to ask a favor.
If you’ve received any value from this newsletter, can you share it with someone else?
I’d be super grateful if you could take 30 seconds to post on social media about what’s helped you the most or forward this to a friend 🙏🏻
Before I get into the numbers, a quick reminder about why I share all of my financials like this.
I spent months debating if this was the right decision for me.
The information I wanted to see, actual transparent details from someone who just started this journey, didn’t exist.
So I decided to build it myself.
I want to show you what it’s like to quit a job and start working for yourself.
I hope my information can help anyone currently on a self-employment journey or seriously considering it.
And as a marketer my brain is always looking for unique angles to build a narrative around, and doing something nobody else is comfortable doing is a great way to do that.
Don’t miss an exciting update at the bottom about my first collaboration!
As a reminder, this shows my monthly budget compared to the monthly actuals for both income and spending.
I both earned a bit more and spent a bit more than I budgeted for at the start of the month.
But what’s important is that the income number keeps moving up and to the right!
Monthly spending was up due to booking costs for a vacation we’re taking towards the end of the year.
Excluding those travel costs, our fixed monthly cost went down to about $4,300 including my health insurance payment (about $640/month).
This income number is special because we hit a new milestone this month: crossing six-figures in annual run rate.
Income run rate: $103,344
Cost run rate: $65,616
Here’s the income breakdown by category.
🟢 Up 14% ($7.5k → $8.6k )
You’ll see how this breaks down by category, but the tl;dr is affiliate is down and consulting is up.
🔴 Down 4% (45.3k → 43.5k )
As a reminder, this is the amount of traffic my website, nicklafferty.com, gets primarily from Google search.
I spent part of May and June updating old content and creating new content like a man possessed.
I updated or wrote something like 25 articles in that time span, and I’m seeing the impacts of that work start to materialize.
That worked helped turn July into a halfway decent month despite expected seasonality.
But it still had downstream impacts on my display and affiliate revenues.
And while I’m not able to measure the conversion rate on my affiliate traffic (the reporting is really bad), I can feel that the conversion rate is down right now.
My hypothesis is conversion rates decrease in the summer for my specific niche (Notion templates) which I’ll get into more in the affiliate section.
🟢 Up 42% ($2.8k → $4k )
Spoiler: this number is going way up next month.
The July number is just a little tease to the much larger August number that’s coming.
I signed a new client and increased scope with two existing clients in July, and I’ll bill for that work today while you’re reading this.
I’ll spend more time on this topic in a newsletter later this month because finding ways to increase scope (and payment) with your current clients is a faster way to scaling your income than constantly signing new clients.
My July consulting income was effectively made up of 3 consulting clients paying about $1,300/month each.
Two of those consulting deals dated back from before I fully committed to working for myself, so I set them up to be extensions of my full-time salary.
An extra few grand a month when you’re working full time is pretty sweet, but that money isn’t enough to live on when you’re doing this full time.
Excited to remedy that starting this month 🙂
🔴 Down 18% ($4.5k → $3.7k)
Most of this income comes from my Notion template business.
I make lists of popular Notion templates, they rank in Google search, and I get a commission when someone buys a paid template.
This decrease is largely a downstream impact of my website traffic decreasing as expected over the summer combine with lower conversion rates of template purchases.
The demographic that purchases these templates skews younger and tends to see spikes in interest around back to school.
I’m expecting this number to start increasing through August and September based on the past two years I’ve been in this space.
The Notion ecosystem continues to grow as does the competition for the keywords I rank for 💪🏻
🟢 Up 2,000% (lol) ($39 → $812)
Gotta love big percents.
This is a net 65 payment which means I get paid a silly amount of time after I actually earned this income.
This number will continue to increase for the next 2 months as those payments are already locked in as well.
For those curious, I partner with Mediavine to run ads on my website.
And I’m really uncomfortable with it.
I don’t like the idea of running these kind of ads on my website, but right now the extra thousand bucks a month for doing zero work is worth it to me.
In the long term I’d love to turn these off when the numbers make sense.
Here’s an update of what I wanted to focus on in July:
Pause my Notion podcast: ✅
This is officially on hiatus. Still circling around an idea to start an Early Exit Club podcast where I interview people wanting to quit their job and people that work for themselves but it’s also a big commitment that I need to make time for.
Take TikTok Seriously: 🟡
I have officially started making TikToks, and they’re terrible (as expected 😅). I’m pushing through because I still believe that’s the next best channel for my content (after LinkedIn and Substack).
I didn’t make as many TikToks as I wanted to this month so I’m only giving myself partial credit here.
Launch my affiliate product: ❌
This is a course about how to make affiliate income from selling Notion templates.
I absolutely did not launch this in July. I made some good progress in the early part of the month and then totally fell off and there’s still a lot of work to do.
This idea is a relic of my first 2 months of self-employment where I was very focused on growing my Notion business. I’m taking a hard look at where this course falls in my broader Early Exit plans and I’ll likely repurpose some of this content in different ideas.
Continue posting on LinkedIn: ✅
Giving myself full credit here. I post about 3 times/week on LinkedIn and after talking to a friend who has their own social media business I started creating Carousels in LinkedIn (officially called Document posts).
They average more impressions than my other posts, but I still haven’t cracked them yet. Will keep trying!
My overall impressions in LinkedIn has been decreasing as a result of (I think) recent algorithm changes that are affecting lots of creators.
This month I’m focusing on content creation and launching a free digital product.
My goal with both is to grow my amount of newsletter subscribers.
I like to break my goals into inputs and outputs.
Outputs are the goals I want to achieve and the inputs are the work that goes into achieving those goals.
Here they are.
This excludes any client work for my consulting clients and only focuses on my business.
I’m still figuring out how to balance my client work with my other goals and it’s something that is always top of mind for me.
Solopreneur of the week: Sofya Leonova
Sofya and her partner Dinesh run a full-service joy agency that also does design called Studio WIP.
Not work in progress. Work is play.
They specialize in strategy, design, and motion work and have experience working with brands like Apple, Meta, and Nike.
I worked with Sofya at Loom and she is excellent at keeping complex projects on track.
She gets the strongest endorsement I can possibly give someone.
If you or your company have a complex project that you want to inject some joy into, give them a shout.
They have a killer website, too.
Wait, before you go
Announcing my first collab!
I stumbled upon a newsletter called Mastery In Your 20s by Charlie Rogers and I was immediately drawn to his content around the idea of a portfolio career.
I’ll link the first post of his I read below.
Charlie and I co-wrote a piece about navigating the hard 6-month period before quitting your job.
It comes out on Friday and you can be the first to read it if you subscribe to Charlie’s newsletter.
I’m excited for you all to read it.
See you all next week!
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