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Man Vs. Debt 2011 Income and Expense Report

in Do What You Love, MvD Updates, People & Products

Note: This is a post from Adam Baker, founder of Man Vs. Debt.

For the last three years, I’ve been sharing our income report in some manner or another.

It started with a detailed breakdown of our household budget, debt, and where every dollar was being allocated. A year into this community, I began to consider the possibility of monetizing the website. When we made that decision, we started sharing monthly reports on any income generated along the way.

Recently, we’ve gotten away from the monthly reports for several reasons.

First, it’s a ton of work to publish the monthly reports. It takes away from other creative work that might be able to affect a wider percentage of the people who come to the blog in a much deeper way (not everyone benefits from these reports). :)

Second, there are half a dozen people involved in different ways behind the scenes. Some small, and now, some large. While I don’t mind disclosing my income, should I disclose theirs? I’ve not decided my position on this yet.

However, sharing the report in some way is still an important principle of this community.

Each and every one of you makes this journey possible. As a result, you deserve to know the inner working if you want to (in my opinion). Also, having a profitable community allows us to spread the core values and message in a way that we simply wouldn’t be able to do under any other scenario.

In short, I firmly believe that this *should* be public information. That there’s nothing wrong with it being public information. And the pursuit of a sustainable business ultimately means we help thousands and thousands more people. :)

Investing, Building, and Testing…

As I talked about throughout 2011, this year was all about investing and building.

I invested tens of thousands of dollars into creating courses and products (like You Vs. Debt), which haven’t yet returned the investment.

I also invested tens of thousands of dollars into building a team. A real, living, breathing team. With people I can trust… people who care about the business and the message themselves.

It’s far cheaper and less stressful to contract everything out – or to outsource recurring tasks to VAs based somewhere in Asia. For some businesses, this is an amazing route, but for mine I didn’t think it was a good fit.

I enjoy working with people, especially people who really do care about the business. And to accomplish our long-term vision, I’ll need to develop these relationships and learn to run a team (something I’m learning comes with lots of practice).

I’ve had several missteps. A couple of the first employees I thought would be a part of the team haven’t worked out in one way or another (much of the time this was my fault!). But I’ve learned an incredible amount and am starting to find the sweet spot.

The team in place today is the strongest, most passionate version we’ve had. I’m pumped. :)

2011 was also defined by testing.

We tested email services, shopping carts, affiliate systems, productivity systems, different team members, working on the road, working from an office, working as a team in person, working as a team remotely.

We spent a lot of time testing. We spent a TON of money testing.

Some of this was purely for business strategy. But most of it was for me personally.

Personally, I just didn’t know. I didn’t know what system I would enjoy. I didn’t know what environment I worked best in. I didn’t know what project management software I’d actually use.

I didn’t really even know what I wanted to be doing.

I didn’t know what my daily work would look like. I didn’t know what I wanted the hour-by-hour vision of my typical workflow to be.

Obviously, work isn’t going to be exactly replicated from day to day, but you’d be surprised how much your work routine, combined with the systems you use, can dramatically affect your creativity and productivity.

In 2011, we used the shotgun approach. We blasted a bunch of shrapnel and then went to see what actually hit.

I’m not suggesting this as an ultimate business strategy for you. I’m giving you an honest breakdown of what defined our 2011. :)

2011 By The Numbers…

All numbers are rounded. Income is rounded down. Expenses are rounded up.

This is how we teach people to budget, because it makes it easier to project, analyze, and envision what needs to be done (without needing an accounting degree). :)

Income from Products ($28,000)

These are the products that I’ve produced, filmed and written and that we sell as part of the community here to help people with specific problems.

Unautomate Your Finances was our very first premium project and isn’t for sale any more. It’s been upgraded and replaced by the much more in-depth and impactful You Vs. Debt 6-week course.

Many online business people have a business model that relies on publishing a NEW product or course on a DIFFERENT topic every 6 months or so. While this may work for some, it’s not at all what our team wants.

We know there are a couple, very specific, and deeply tangible problems our community faces. We need to obliterate debt and we need to ditch our excess clutter and crap.

That’s not changing. Those issues affect almost everyone. There’s no reason for us to release new products from a slightly different angle every 6 months. We’ve got the solution right here.

So instead, we’re focusing on making the You Vs. Debt and Sell Your Crap courses the best available premium resources on those problems. It’s a 10-year product, not a 6-month product. Sure, we’ll improve them every few months – but most of what we do is focusing on how we can get amazing results for the people who get these resources in the future.

In 2011, we planned, shot, and edited You Vs. Debt TWICE. The first time was decent, but it wasn’t mind-blowing for people. We had our pioneers take the course and provide us with feedback needed to improve it.

We then completely went back to the drawing board and came up with a new approach (mostly the same content, just broken down more, and presented much better). We released the first version of this new course in the fall.

The second YvD version clicked! We had more than 100 people go through the course and in just the first few months, they’ve paid off more than $300,000 in combined debt; those that finished the course averaged nearly $1,400 in debt paid off in just those 6 weeks!

We didn’t take the shortest path, but ultimately our time and money invested paid off with amazing results. Our strategy in 2012 is to relaunch You Vs. Debt 3 to 4 times, improving and adding content each time.

We’ll ruthlessly track each and every individual to be able to analyze what makes the people who actually complete and succeed different from those who drop out at one point or another. It’s a huge project, but a worthwhile cause, and what I believe will be an amazing business venture as well.

Sell Your Crap was completely and utterly ignored in 2011. It continues to sell every week, but in the next few months will get an impressive overhaul. We’re strongly considering releasing a shorter, compact version of the “Main Guide” as a Kindle eBook.

This would allow us to move the more specific strategies (and technical tips) for eBay, Craigslist, garage sales, and Amazon to a new video course structure. We’ll be featuring more live examples and case studies than we did with the first version.

In summary, You Vs. Debt will continue to be a flagship product. We’ve found the right setup now and will have several classes in 2012. Sell Your Crap will receive a huge facelift, but will continue to help solve the same important issues.

*****

Income from Side Projects ($35,500)

Many of you know that my friend Karol Gajda and I run a large sale twice per month over at Only72.com. We bring together online eBooks, courses, and apps and sell them for a short time at a large discount. We organize the sale, build the infrastructure, and take good care of the customers.

The sales really are a fantastic deal (if you are in the market for that training) and generated a large amount of sales. There are a whole host of income and expenses that are associated with just that side business; it would be too confusing to break this all down inside of the MvD income/expenses breakdown.

Once again, we did do more than $200,000 in revenue in 2011 (as we had the year before). After all was said and done, the portion the Man Vs. Debt team saw come in was around $29,000. Some of that will pay some of our expenses listed below, but much of that is profit from hosting the sales.

Overall, Only72 had another great year and two useful sales. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I expected it to do even larger numbers, though. Karol and I learned a lot from our most recent sale. As is the theme, we tested several new features and strategies that didn’t work as well as our initial one.

I feel blessed that I can experiment with different strategies and still have success with that side project. We have our own passionate community of people the enjoy those rare sales when they pop up. :)

The Hustle Project was another side project I took on with my good friend Corbett Barr. It was an attempt to offer something for those of you on the “Do What You Love” part of our journey here.

My favorite part of this whole process was getting to work alongside Corbett. He’s a fantastic guy with brilliant business savvy.

While I really enjoyed the webinars and the community of hustlers, I don’t think the format of bi-monthly webinars is a long-term solution for this particular problem. It would require a much more robust backend for users and several added features to be completely viable. Talking about business is profitable, but not quite where my heart is fully right now.

I want to focus on solving the debt and clutter issues first, before turning my focus to building and growing a business based on a cause you really love. :)

*****

 Income from Affiliated Resources ($8,650)

For those of you that don’t know, affiliate marketing is a huge source of income for many online websites and communities. What happens is instead of paying for traditional advertising, many product or service creators pay a certain amount of the price to trusted allies who refer sales.

In some cases, it’s extremely small. For example, Amazon pays me 4% of a sale if I link to a book I enjoy and you end up purchasing. In my case, that relationship made me $400 last year (linking books or gear I use, etc…)

In other cases, you may get something like 50-80% of the sale. If you click my recommendation for Chris Guillebeau’s great Unconventional Guide books, I get roughly 50% of that sale (in this particular case).

That said, I do almost no active affiliate marketing.

There was only one post I did in 2011 that was a direct recommendation to check out a specific product or resource that wasn’t my own (Travel Hacking Cartel). As it turns out, that was a pretty good choice as many of our community members here have decided to join and stayed as customers.

In this case (as you’ll see), Courtney and I are also customers of that program. In fact, we don’t affiliate with anything we don’t either use or have used extensively in the past. This is why I’ve never pushed affiliated resources that much.

Some of the other income is from tools I use to run my business. I list them for people, but don’t actively push Man Vs. Debt readers to buy hosting or web themes. This simply isn’t the concern of most of the readers. Those who do want to start websites can find the resources very easily. :)

However, in 2012, I do think we could actually do a better job of affiliate marketing.

For example, there are many services and products I simply can’t offer, don’t want to offer, or have no freakin’ idea what I’m talking about around.

I’ve been searching for a good online bank account to recommend for two years, but haven’t found one yet. I may try harder to test a few out.

I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to investing strategy. I simply haven’t studied (nor do I want to right now) that arena. However, there are some readers and fans on that part of their journey. What should they do? Once again, I could try harder to find a resource I trust and recommend.

Overall, I’m much more concerned with knocking our own solutions and products out of the park. After all, these are the topics I study and talk to people about every single day.

But there’s certainly room, from a business perspective, to increase the type of people we partner with to help a wider variety of people (with problems we can’t help them with ourselves).

We’ll keep our eyes open for genuine matches for this style of marketing.

*****

Sponsorship Income ($20,800)

Most of you know that at the beginning of 2011, we kicked off a 6-month RV tour of the U.S. We had a blast and met thousands of people along the way (by far the most rewarding part)!

Along the way we got to host many meetups, parties, and events in various cities. The intensity of our schedule and the hosting of these gathering was only made possible through a partnership with Adaptu on the tour.

We designed a bright orange wrap for the RV (many of you got to see it live!) and negotiated a very genuine, light-touch way to partner for the road trip.

Adaptu was a fantastic partner to have. Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for anything more. Even when we decided to come off the road (for reasons many of you know), Adaptu understood and allowed us the flexibility to do so. That meant a lot to us.

At the same time, I’m not sure I want to throw my hat into a “sponsorship” ring again. This particular RV tour was a perfect fit, but those kinds of arrangements are few and far between. Working with a large company presents its own challenges – and anything more than the tour itself could have easily caused a conflict of interest.

I don’t mind partnering, affiliating, or developing relationships with companies. Not at all. But there’s a fine line between finding a great match (which we did this time) and compromising your values or message for money reasons. :)

*****

Consulting Income ($9,800)

Consulting was something I offered more in the beginning of 2011. I worked with some larger companies and some individual entrepreneurs.

Within the first few months I phased this out though (at least actively having it offered). While extremely profitable and enjoyable, it still involves me actively trading my time for money.

I’m much more passionate about scaling our solutions to much bigger problems. And, in retrospect, I get much of the same personal fulfillment from speaking that I do from consulting with clients.

I don’t mind working with one or two people per month. In particular, I enjoy the deep friendship that is formed after working several months with a person. But I don’t foresee this being a public offering again, nor a huge part of our projected 2012 revenue. :)

*****

Other Income ($1,800)

This include a small amount of freelance writing I did earlier in the year (more than $1,000 of this), as well as some random income such a returned purchases, banking rewards, unclaimed affiliate payments, etc…

*****

TOTAL INCOME — $104,550

*****

Expenses Related to Sales (-$6,650)

  • Man Vs. Debt Affiliates — $4,300
  • Processing Fees — $1,400
  • Refunds — $950

Overall, I’d love these expenses to be MUCH HIGHER in 2012 (these all go up with more sales). :)

We need to do a much better job of giving our own affiliates the tools to successfully recommend You Vs. Debt and Sell Your Crap. (By comparison, we paid out more than $100,000 this year to Only72.com affiliates.)

We know what needs to be done to help others share our message, we just need to step up and organize this better.

Processing fees are what they are. You pay them and move on.

Refunds are still only happening on a very small percentage of our sales. The far majority of these refunds are for “my personal situation has changed and I need the money” reasons.

Because we offer 100% lifetime guarantees (for any reason), sometimes that does pop back up to backfire on you. But the percentages are so low, and the trust we gain with customers is so high, that it’s not even a question of whether it’s worth it or not.

I wouldn’t feel right if people weren’t allowed to get refunded at any point for any reason. So we won’t be switching this any time soon. :)

*****

Team Member Expenses (-$49,880)

  • Permanent Team Members — $41,200
  • You Vs. Debt Film Crew — $6,400
  • External Tech Help — $1,300
  • External Design Help — $520
  • Transcripts — $460

And BOOM, here comes the big whammy.

As I suggested, we tested a lot of different setups with team members in 2011. We’ve rotated among four different “permanent” team members, at different times for different purposes. Ultimately, we’ve settled on two moving forward for 2012 (we’re a three-person team now).

This small team can handle most of the operations – design, filming, editing and content production – we want to have in 2012. We’ll still need to contract out a few technical issues and smaller things like transcripts, etc.

We didn’t even come close to using our money efficiently in this area in 2011, but I was more than happy to invest (or even lose) money in trying to figure this out. The next few years will be so much better because of this investment.

I’ll introduce our current team more in the coming weeks!

*****

Operation Expenses (-$8,460)

  • InfusionSoft — $2,750
    • Email marketing, shopping cart, affiliate program, etc.
  • PremiumWebCart — $375
    • Former shopping cart, replaced by InfusionSoft
  • Optimizely — $500
    • Used for split-testing different version of a shopping cart or sales page
  • Clothing — $475
    • Purchased for filming You Vs Debt or public speaking events
  • Aweber — $300
    • Former primary email provider, replaced by InfusionSoft; might go back
  • SnapEngage — $275
    • Allows for live chat during launches or sales period (with potential customers)
  • AppSumo — $275
    • A “bundle package” that offered discounts on some different design packages, icons, etc.
  • Employee Gifts — $350
    • Self-explanatory
  • Wufoo — $250
    • Software we use to survey in You Vs. Debt (and Man Vs. Debt) and sort responses
  • Travel Hacking Cartel — $300
    • Program we use to earn miles and find discounts for business travel
  • GoDaddy — $300
    • Domain names. Some necessary. Many not!
  • Wishlist — $300
    • One-time plugin that we use to manage You Vs. Debt community membership
  • Amazon s3 — $200
    • Fast, easy hosting for many of our videos and our course content
  • Wrike — $300
    • Project management software we tested; replaced by free option
  • Mailchimp — $200
    • Another email option we tested; easy to use, but replaced by InfusionSoft
  • iDev Affiliate — $250
    • Old affiliate program, replaced by InfusionSoft
  • HostGator — $180
    • Hosting for Man Vs. Debt and You Vs. Debt communities
  • Lynda.com — $150
    • Training on editing, design, software for team
  • iStockPhoto — $120
    • Various images bought for Man Vs. Debt
  • Dropbox — $120
    • How we share and back up our files
  • E-junkie — $120
    • How we formerly sold Unautomate Your Finances
  • Bank Fees — $100
    • Fee to make 1-day ACH payments to contractors and employees; also, some wire fees
  • Shipping — $90
    • Mostly books we have given away to readers
  • Misc. — $90
    • Everything random that didn’t fit or was unknown
  • Spotify — $50
    • Listened to and used every single day in our at-home office
  • GetClicky — $40
    • Tested for use in real-time analytics and tracking; not used any more
  • JewelBeat — $5
    • Music for podcasting and programs

Whew.

First and foremost, as you can tell, we learned a lot about what DIDN’T work in 2011. :)

Of this entire list, fewer than half are things we’ll be using moving forward in 2012. Many of the moving parts were condensed as we started using InfusionSoft to do multiple things.

That said, InfusionSoft is expensive – and I’m not sure we’ll keep it long-term. In theory, it treats each person as a real person (instead of just a name on another list). It allows you to segment people very specifically; you can customize the way you reach out to those who’ve clicked but didn’t buy in a different way than you might for people who are brand new, etc.

Ultimately, this would allow us to offer better solutions to different people. It would keep people from seeing messages that don’t apply to them. It would make for a better experience overall!

But in practice, it’s a clunky software and requires a ton of training to be able to properly use. We aren’t leveraging it anywhere NEAR its potential.

We’re sticking with it for now, because we’re slowly starting to squeeze our value out of it. But the bottom line is there is no “best” option for email marketing, shopping carts, sales, and customer management yet.

In fact, I know dozens and dozens of bloggers making their livings online – and not a single one of them is ecstatic about this part of the industry. I hope someone figures this out (and soon) to the benefit of everyone! :)

At the end of 2011, our team sat down and evaluated each expense and whether or not we were fully utilizing it. We cut 75% of them (even ones we were sort-of-kind-of using). Armed with our knowledge of the different options, we’re starting from a clean slate.

If you have any more specific questions about all these apps and software, ask in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer them. :)

*****

Hardware Expenses (-$10,350)

  • Laptop Gear — $4,700
  • Camera Gear — $3,900
  • Podcasting Gear — $1,300
  • Books/Courses — $450

In 2011, we invested in a wide variety of equipment that we’ll get years of use out of (but which cost us up front, out of pocket).

First and foremost, we bought two laptops. The first was purchased for as an “advance” for a team member who’ll be handling all the video editing, audio editing, and design work.

The second, unfortunately, was my own.

Why buy a new laptop, you ask?

Because mine was stolen from the dressing room of TEDx Asheville while I was giving my talk on stage. :(

Talk about a good way to ruin an otherwise amazing day!

I’ve traveled around the world and around the U.S. – I’ve worked in HUNDREDS of coffee shops and public spaces (not all the nicest of places) and never had anything stolen (at all). The one time I do get my laptop jacked is in Asheville, NC, at a TEDx conference. Oh, the irony.

TEDx didn’t have insurance. The theater didn’t have insurance. All right, whatever. Buy a new one and move on. I didn’t have to replace my MacBook with a MacBook, but I did. I love my MacBook (as expensive as they are) and work on it every day.

On the camera front, we invested in a Canon 5D Mark II to film the videos for the You Vs. Debt course, as well as the upcoming MvDTV Youtube videos. Along with tripod, lenses, bag, etc… it was a big investment.

Courtney is a photographer herself, so we are able to get dual business use from this. But for Man Vs. Debt, we’ll also use it to record speeches, events, and publish amazing video. It’s not even close to a necessity for what we need, but it does give us an amazing level of professionalism to live up to.

In December, we also invested in a professional podcasting microphone, mixer, and recorder to produce our new Man Vs. Debt podcast. In addition, I hired Cliff Ravenscraft of Podcast Answer Man for an hour of his valuable consulting time.

Cliff’s time and expertise saved me countless hours getting everything set-up, configured, and working. Essentially, we were able to focus right away on the content and the approach, which let us get the podcast out the door with almost no friction (a really big deal around here).

Once again, the professional microphone and setup will allow us to shoot better video, better interviews for different blogs, radio shows and other outlets – in addition to helping us to produce a great sounding podcast.

The podcast is going extremely well (off to a fast start) and we’re really excited about its potential in 2012!

*****

Communication Expenses (-$1,260)

  • Cell Phone — $610
  • Internet — $390
  • Mobile Wifi — $200
  • Coworking — $60

Not sure why I separate out this category, but I always have. :)

There’s nothing especially wonderful or helpful for me to explain here!

*****

Food / Eating Out Expenses (-$4,700)

No, that’s not a typo. We really did spend $4,700 on food in various business-related expenses in 2011.

Keep in mind that for the first half of 2011, we were traveling the country on a daily basis hosting meetups. Our sponsor helped pay for some of this cost, but not all of it. Several times, we bought the food for dozens and dozens of people at the meetup.

We also defaulted to connecting with people over food (we still do, although certainly not as much). In my mind, there are few things more powerful than sharing conversation and a meal.

This also accounts for all food bought or purchased during traveling for conference or speaking engagements, etc… Once again, this should go down in 2012 as we’re on a much slower travel schedule.

*****

Travel-Related Expenses (-$3,010)

  • Airfare — $1,650
  • Other Transportation — $690
  • Hotels — $520
  • Parking — $150

None of “these” travel expenses are related directly to the RV tour. Meaning, for example, that lodging isn’t counting campground fees. These expenses were related to non-RV travels to conferences (mostly).

2012 will likely see some of these go up, but hopefully so will the compensation for attending and speaking at various conferences. :)

*****

TOTAL EXPENSES — (-$84,310)

*****

Net Profit From Business in 2012…

$20,240.

Unfortunately, I’m not missing a zero. ;)

After all the work, sweat, and tears I put into Man Vs. Debt this year, we took home around $20,000.

And even more sadly, this doesn’t account for ANY expenses we incurred as part of the RV tour (other than meetup food). So our taxes this year might even show a loss (or a break-even year)… we’ll leave that to the professional accountant.

But, it’s important to note, I’m not at all down about this number.

In fact, I’m proud.

Sure, we were wasteful in many parts. We focused too much on testing software and systems. I made mistakes in my initial team-building attempts. We bought equipment that wasn’t a bare necessity to deliver value.

On the flip side, look at everything we’ve accomplished:

  1. I’ve found a great team and a fantastic set-up for 2012 (one of my biggest goals). It cost me, but I’m happy with the result.
  2. We invested in a wide variety of gear that’ll help us increase our professionalism for years to come (on many projects).
  3. We’ve honed You Vs. Debt to the point where it’s delivering results we’ve never been able to get (from anything else) before.
  4. I’ve learned more about business this year than in all my previous years combined. School of hard knocks, anyone? :)
  5. We prioritized making an impact and delivering long-term value over a quest for sheer dollars. It takes both to survive through the long haul, but I’m glad we didn’t give up to chase more money right away.

Trust me, folks. I want to make more than $20,000 a year when I’m dedicating this much of my life and effort to something. (If anyone tells you that this is *easy*, run the other way quickly!)

Courtney and I will have to net more than that in 2012 in order to live!

But I’m not discouraged. Nowhere close.

I’m excited for 2012.

I talked about this just a few weeks ago, but here’s the short summary of our agenda:

  • Launch You Vs. Debt 3 to 4 more times. Make it the best course on attacking debt anywhere.
  • Revisit Sell Your Crap and give it a nice facelift. Potentially create a Kindle eBook.
  • Record 35 episodes of the new Man Vs. Debt podcast.
  • Launch and routinely film MvDTV on YouTube.
  • Redesign Man Vs. Debt.
  • Record a documentary.
  • Analyze the problems of our audience that we can’t solve and partner with genuine, trustworthy solutions.
  • Explore developing our own budgeting software and app.
  • Speak 12 times this year. Have travel expenses compensated (at minimum) for most of these appearances.

Our choice to invest so much this year was a conscious one.

This doesn’t mean we didn’t make plenty of mistakes, but we chose to go down that path consciously.

Now it’s time to show off what that investment can do.

And, for that, I’m honored to have you along for the ride.

Ask any questions in the comments. I’ll do my best to respond! :)

Xoxoxoxo,

-Baker

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Joey January 12, 2012 at 6:08 PM

I’ve never commented, but I’ve been reading for a month or two and have really liked a lot of what I’ve seen.

Just a small note though: between GoDaddy’s support for SOPA and sleazy advertising, it would be awesome to see that off of the 2012 expenses.

I realize that lots of companies have dark sides and I’m sure a bone could be picked with many of them (including many that I use). I’m by no means a big advocate of boycotting companies for every slight transgression. GoDaddy just seems to have enough glaringly obvious faults to be worth ditching.

Regardless, I won’t think any differently of you. Keep up the great work! And thanks for your open transparency. As you noted, it’s a huge part of what makes your site awesome.

Reply

Baker January 12, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Joey, I already talked about this with some people. I’m well aware of the boycott of GoDaddy, and honestly want to take part. It’s just a matter of allocating the time to move the domains and familiarize myself with another registrar after three years of business.

I know this is what they are counting on – but it’s a very real barrier to moving domains. :) I appreciate you brining it up as it gives me some extra motivation to do so. ;)

Reply

Joey January 12, 2012 at 6:29 PM

That makes total sense. Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of GoDaddy before SOPA just because of the sexism of their advertising. I’m no prude by any stretch (some of my favorite movies and TV shows would prove that), so maybe it’s hypocritical. I guess it just bothered me that that’s what they’re known for. SOPA was just another nail in the coffin. But for anyone getting a domain, they’re the first company you think of (just Google “domain”…).

In any event, I’m a big fan of some of the other products you listed (like Spotify) and am glad to see an endorsement of HostGator, as it’s good to have an option in case I decide to ditch BlueHost. Very nice year, bumps and all.

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Robert January 12, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Congrats…awesome round up, thanks for taking the time and allowing people to peer in. I know we had a couple almost work together opportunities…I hope they come again and we cross paths in 2012, I’m not going anywhere, and am over all happy with the learning and growth I had…onward and upward!

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Michelle January 12, 2012 at 6:22 PM

I think you’re doing great!

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Robert January 12, 2012 at 6:25 PM

PS. Network Solutions is a good domain alternative. I’m in the same boat, I changed out all my hosting from GoDaddy earlier this year, which was a hurdle, and will likely do domains later this year. If you want to get that done, I can do some estimates and help out, it’s my forte for businesses. Cheers

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Gillian @OneGiantStep January 12, 2012 at 7:49 PM

As always I appreciate your candour and honesty in reporting income and expenses. Even more so this time I think because it clearly shows the investments you make in growing your business and how, sometimes, it’s not always as profitable as we might think! I love getting a glimpse into how you put yourself out there financially and the mis-steps, and successes, that you experience. I hope to meet you at WDS this year and thank you in person for your inspiration! Cheers.

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Dr. Laura January 12, 2012 at 11:46 PM

Hey Baker! Just a suggestion for your online bank. I love Perkstreet and they give cash back for debit card purchases. I have several accounts with them and have been really happy.

As always thanks for your transparency!

All the best,
Dr. Laura

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Iris January 13, 2012 at 4:02 AM

Hi Baker,
I discovered your site just a week ago and find it awesome! Following voluntary redundancy, I’ve recently decided to sell my small flat in the big capital for an even smaller one to pay off my debts and to get closer to my idea of freedom (tedx). There are many moments of joyfear feelings but your work really helps to solidify my decision and I’ll be following you closely. Thanks a million!
Best wishes, Iris

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jack foley January 13, 2012 at 7:50 AM

Yea transparency and authenticity – you got them in spades..!

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Sunday January 13, 2012 at 9:25 AM

I appreciate mightily every dollar you’ve spent to help me get where I am and I hope I can help you get every dollar back and more in the future :) I’m so thankful that you’re as passionate about this as you are because the work you’re doing is so important and few would do it with the scrupulousness you apply. Thanks so much for all you do Baker!

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Scott Powers January 13, 2012 at 11:16 AM

Baker, thanks for your openess and insight here. There is a lot of value to us in learning from your experiences. It was great to connect you in LA during the RV Tour, keep up the great work!

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Financial Samurai January 13, 2012 at 11:27 AM

The great thing about all those expenses is that it reduces your taxes! You will for sure have net money in the pocket after that.

Hope you are enjoying Nashville!

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Kevin January 13, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Just curious as to what you’re using for CRM/project management now? I’m looking for something (free) myself. I think topping $100k in revenue is a great accomplishment. Some of those costs are non-recurring so hopefully 2012 will be more profitable for you!

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Laila Atallah January 13, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Baker, I cannot thank you *enough* for this post! I so appreciate the time and energy it must take to organize and write all this out for public benefit. I’m hoping to go in some similar directions with my own biz this year, and your info is incredibly helpful in helping me assess and minimize the risks and costs. I’ve had just a vague sense of how costly it could be, but you have me validation for my feeling that I want to tread both boldly and carefully. I want to survive this expansion.

I am happy for your bold vision and integrity — so many people’s lives are being changed by your work to help them get out of debt! I affirm that you will continue to be rewarded handsomely, including your bottom line, in coming years!

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Cory January 13, 2012 at 7:59 PM

Nice work!

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Lee Miller January 13, 2012 at 8:58 PM

Thank you for again sharing the financial picture of your online business. For those of us who are looking to create a business online it is a great help.
I have been following you for over a year now and your information is great. I look forward to what you have to share in the years to come.

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Benny January 14, 2012 at 12:24 AM

Thanks for going into so much detail about your report. You’ve shared your successes but also where you could improve. It’s great to show many looking to do this that it’s not all just making money. There are expenses, but many times bloggers just share what they earn.

I really enjoyed the Hustle Project this year. It was well worth the money and time to listen to you and Corbett share your advice.

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Jeff Crews January 14, 2012 at 2:44 AM

Very interesting. You really put yourself and your expense out there in this post. I totally know what you mean about certain employees not working out. I have about 10 people working underneath me. I am a huge fan of hiring people to do the lesser $ tasks, so I can dedicate my time on the higher $ tasks. However, it is definitely a bummer when someone doesn’t work out the way you thought they would. You live and you learn.

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Chuck Rylant, MBA, CFP January 14, 2012 at 2:49 AM

This is really cool how you are so transparent with your business. I wonder if you’ve read the book Open Book Management? You may like it.

I’m curious your thoughts on how long you’ll do this. As your numbers grow, with your ambition, the net will certainly get much bigger with time. With that will come envy and jealousy because the have-nots (the 95%) usually do not understand blood sweat and tears and risk required of being an entrepreneur (the 5%).

At one time I had 35 employees and realized how different an employee’s mindset is from the owner even when you try to mold them into entrepreneurs themselves. Their perspective is to show up for one hour and get $10, or whatever, yet they see the owner bringing in big numbers. Even when the big numbers are offset by equal or greater expenses, they often don’t understand that. These are obviously generalizations.

And most customers are also employees with an employee mindset. Also as your net increases, you will be at greater exposure to legal risks. Deep pockets make better targets.

I’m really impressed by your courage and the wonderful example you are here. I am truly impressed. I am equally curious what your long term plans are, understanding plans always change.

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Sophie January 14, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Hi Baker.
Well that really puts into perspective one of my pet peeves; the “passive income” dream.

I think a lot of people go into internet marketing and digital product launches / online coahing not realising what the costs are and how much it requires to maintain a business like yours.

Thumbs up for sharing so transparent :-)

Thanks
Sophie

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Clare @ Young and Thrifty January 17, 2012 at 1:16 AM

Congratulations on all that you have accomplished! It’s great that you can be so clear and thorough in your report. 2011 was a learning experience for you that will result in wiser decisions for 2012!! Good Luck and stay thrifty :-)

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MoneyforCollegePro January 17, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Considering a considerable amount of your living expenses were tied into those expenses you mentioned, you actually did quite well for yourself this year, and as you stated, you have a huge jump start on 2012. Seem like you have laid a good foundation for rapid growth this next year. Enjoy!

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Alex January 18, 2012 at 2:03 AM

I always love peeking into people’s excel files… thanks! I have two comments:

1. I have been traveling for 7 months now and did EXTENSIVE bank research before leaving the US. I have been so happy with Charles Schwab, I want to make out with my debit card sometimes. They refund all ATM fees (even internationally!) and even give interest (small, obviously) on checking accounts. Also, they have the best phone customer service I’ve ever had and don’t outsource to other countries (not that there’s something awful about that, but nice of them to give back to the US economy). I had to open a brokerage account to get the checking, but I don’t use it.

2. I’m very curious about your money back for life thing. Are you concerned that some people will use the program then ask for money back? Or do you just accept some people are awful like that but the majority are honest and eat it as an expense?

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Evan January 18, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Have you given any thought to re-focusing on the website that started all the others? I noticed you only post on MvsD maybe once every 3 weeks or so. In my VERY humble opinion you are ignoring the tree that allowed the fruit to grow.

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Evan January 18, 2012 at 2:41 PM

I just made up that metaphor I kind of like it lol

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Sheyi January 19, 2012 at 7:26 AM

The best thing I like about this is you saying you are proud of your achievement in 2011 and I cant agree more. I am pretty sure 2012 is going to be a great year for you. Why not start a blog in story telling, I guess you are good at it to teach people in film schools how to write a better story…..

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Paul January 19, 2012 at 11:54 PM

Wow, great to see the rundown of your site financials. Interesting post!

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EconomicallyHumble.com January 23, 2012 at 4:13 PM

This is some serious accounting. I really like how you broke it all down as that made for some good reading. I’m setting up my books right now for the most detailed year Ive had yet.. any suggestions on software?

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Adam January 30, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Interesting. Thanks for sharing your finances. It was a bit hard to read with all the scrolling, but very comprehensive. Perhaps a more financial statement format with a few bullet points for a summary might save time and make it more readable.

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Janith Randeniya - Let's Learn Finance June 4, 2012 at 1:01 AM

Thank you for being so open and honest about your finances, Mr. Baker! More people should follow in your path, then it would mean less people would get in trouble in the long run :)

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randy July 20, 2012 at 8:05 PM

I give you an “A” for effort and attitude. I would like to help you in your endeavors, maybe a project etc. Upfront honest people are hard to find. I want to make my living from internet helping others also.

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Megan @ MommaLovesMoney October 3, 2013 at 3:15 PM

This is the first time I have EVER seen a NET income report. Gross income is great and makes for a good attention getter. But, gross income doesn’t show the true story. Thanks for posting.

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