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What My $100,000 a Year Business Actually Looks Like

  March 2

This post may contain affiliate links.

At the end of last year, I shared on Facebook that I made over $100,000 from my business. I’ve made right around that number before, but for some reason, I felt like sharing it with the world instead of keeping it to myself.

Maybe it’s because we went through hell and back at the end last year. When you have a tough year emotionally and you’re an entrepreneur, it’s hard to know how that will affect income. When I am anxious, I don’t work well. So, maybe I shared my income because it’s a celebration of all that I was able to accomplish – even under duress.

I got a lot of positive feedback from my friends and readers after posting my income. Andy Hill invited me to share how I achieved my $100k milestone on his podcast, Marriage, Kids, and Money. When I talked to Andy, he asked me a lot of questions about how I got started in my business. That conversation took me back to my early days, and for the first time in a long time, I felt really proud of what I’ve accomplished here.

There are many bloggers in my circle who make double, triple, even 10x what I make. At times, it’s hard not to compare. Some bloggers are so successful that they make a $100,000 business like mine look like child’s play. Still, I’m making a point of congratulating myself, and here’s why:

I did this while taking care of my twins.

The most important job I have in my life is taking care of my twins. I spend more time with them than anyone else.

Between my husband’s commute, long hours at the hospital, and taking care of patients on some weekends, my husband is not here in the house for around 80 hours every week.

To compensate for this, I’ve utilized amazing babysitters, the daycare at my gym, and since the fall, pre-school a few mornings a week. For the most part though, I do almost everything that needs to be done for the kids and inside my house.

I organize my kids’ lives, buy them clothes, help them clean out the playroom, and make them apologize to each other when they hurt each other. I also make them every meal. I ask for forgiveness from them myself when I yell too much. I put the bubbles in the bath, know which books they want me to read, and introduce them to the wonders of watching the first Harry Potter movie on the TV.

I pack their lunches for pre-school and fill out all the forms. I make sure they have 42 pairs of mittens for school (or so it seems.) I take them to the mall solely because my son is obsessed with escalators. I let them wear a bathing suit inside every day during the winter because they invented a crazy game called “Pool” where they pretend to dive into the couch cushions as if it was water. Kids.

And, in the early morning when my alarm goes off before they wake up, I’m here at my computer, writing. Sometimes, I have to write while they’re awake and playing, which isn’t that productive. Sometimes, I can hardly keep my eyes open at night after they go to bed, and yet, I still have to write and edit and meet deadlines.

I admit, I miss deadlines sometimes and then have to deal with rude editors who have no clue what my life is like, nor do they care. Sometimes, I hire a babysitter to come so I can work, but I’m so tired I just lay in my bed instead.

Yet still, despite all of this madness, I still grossed $100,000 in 2017.

Where I Earned My Income

The largest portion of my income came from brand partnerships in 2017.

I completed a 5 month partnership with Quicken Loans where we filmed 10 videos, and I wrote 30 blog posts for them. They were an incredible team and amazing to work with. We are still waiting on the videos to come out, and I’ll share them when they do.

I also worked in partnership with Real Simple and Discover Personal Loans. They flew me to New York twice in May 2017 to film videos for them. Despite developing laryngitis right before filming the first video, I somehow kept it together and didn’t talk to anyone for about 24 hours so I could rest my voice and speak on film.

I also earned a portion of my income from speaking. I flew to Dallas in September and spoke to a group of women about how to create wealth.

Another large portion of my income comes from freelancing writing and always has. This is my bread and butter, my steadiest form of income.

In 2017, I also started doing blog management. This is where I run an entire blog for a client. I hire other freelance writers for them, edit blog posts, keep an editorial calendar, manage their social media, and more. I like blog management better than freelance writing in many ways because it’s more dynamic. I like being involved in the growth and results of a blog vs. just sending in a freelance article to them.

I also make money from my course sales. I have a very detailed 29 video course that teaches other people how to make an income from being a freelance writer for blogs.

Lastly, I earn money from affiliate income (recommending other products on this blog) and I earn a teeny tiny bit of income from selling the children’s books I wrote on Amazon.

I have a lot of income streams for a reason. I have to stay diversified to protect myself in case one branch of my business breaks.

To give you an idea of the roller coaster ride that is business income, my highest earning month in 2017 was over $22,000, but I couldn’t have a party and spend it because I also had a month in 2017 where I only earned $4,000.

To repeat, in 2017, one month I earned $4,000 and one month I earned $22,000.

See, entrepreneurship isn’t as glamorous as you might think. It’s very difficult to stay disciplined, and for me as the breadwinner, I do tend to panic when I have a slow month. I’m working on bettering my mindset and staying mentally strong when it comes to business income in 2018.

I know what I’m capable of and I know I can earn a lot. I just have to remind myself of that if I have a slow month.

Where I Spent My Money

This is something important I wanted to address. Again, I got a lot of positive responses when I shared that I made $100,000 last year. But, it would be a disservice of me to let everyone think that I have that amount solidly sitting in my bank account.

This is a business, and it costs a lot of money to run. I don’t net $100,000. I have to pay a lot of money to actually keep the (virtual) doors open.

In 2017, it cost me over $22,000 to run my business.

That means that my net income was roughly $78,000.

Then, there are taxes. Because I am both the employer and the employee in my one-person business, I have to pay what’s called self-employment tax.

I have to set aside about 25% of my net income for taxes, which (to keep the math simple) is around $20,000.

At the end of the day, that means I took home around $58,000.

Not bad for someone who didn’t work one 40 hour week but also pretty far off from $100,000.

It looks a little different when I put it like that, huh?

You might be wondering what types of expenses are common for a business like mine. Here are some examples:

  • 20% commission to my talent agent. I have a wonderful talent agent based in New York City who helps me negotiate brand partnerships. He earns 20% of whatever I earn, which equals thousands of dollars in commissions to him.
  • Legal fees. I trademarked the name of my children’s book series, The Twins Go. Not super expensive, but not cheap either.
  • Social media software. Many bloggers use schedulers to automate their social media. This year, in 2018, I’m paying for comprehensive social media management from The Blonde Spot, which will likely be one of my biggest expenses in 2018.
  • Travel and lodging for the financial blogger’s conference.
  • Website hosting, domain name renewals, monthly tech services from iMark Interactive.
  • E-mail service provider to maintain the blog’s email list is $100/month.
  • Etc. etc. etc.

Why I’m Sharing This

I get as many Facebook ads in my timeline as you do. I constantly see people trying to sell their services, their courses, and their coaching by showcasing how much money they made.

Right now, entrepreneurship is very glamorous in our society. People dream of leaving their corporate jobs and working for themselves. It just seems so much better than sitting in meetings all day. And yes, there are so many people, millennials especially, who do live laptop lifestyles.

However, very few of them net outrageous incomes. That’s not to say it’s not possible because I personally know several million dollar bloggers. It’s just that I don’t want you to think that entrepreneurship is the answer or the escape from your hectic 9-5 life.

In order to be an entrepreneur, you have to have a lot of grit. You have to take a lot of hits. I had 12 publishers turn down my book last year. Twelve. Every time my literary agent pitched the book I want to write, they just kept saying no. One after the other. It was brutal. I’m still waiting for the yes.

As an entrepreneur, you have to be so incredibly disciplined. You don’t have a boss telling you to turn something in. You don’t have a meeting to collaborate with your co-workers. In a business like mine, you’re mostly alone. If you’re a sensitive person like I am, sometimes being left alone to work with your thoughts isn’t always the best. It takes a lot of mental strength to overcome the roadblocks as you meet them.

That said, I have survived and thrived four years of self-employment now. My income grows every year, and I am proud of the work I put out in the world.

I wouldn’t say that I’m happier than many of my friends who have a 9-5 job though. My business brings me a lot of stress, and I’m trying to find better ways to manage it.

The one thing I am happy about is that I set out on my self-employment journey with one goal in mind: to be home with my kids. My plan was to make enough money so that I didn’t have to go back to work until they started school. My twins turn four years old in just a few days. In September, they’ll be headed off to Pre-K for a full 5 days a week.

These next few months will be the last bit of time that I have them at home. It’s bittersweet. In many ways, I am ready. In more ways, they are ready.

It’s time for them to go out into the world and start school, and it’s time for me to really think about what I want for my career moving forward.

Some ideas I have to include:

  • Applying to 9-5 jobs again starting in the fall.
  • Going to business school to get my MBA
  • Using my newfound free time while they’re in school this fall to grow my own business even more (and still be able to pick them up from school at 3 pm.)

No word yet on which way I’ll head. Right now, though, I am just chugging along. I am currently pitching new brands for partnerships. I am looking for one more content management client. I am enjoying making a lot more videos now, which you can see on my Facebook page as they come out. And, I haven’t given up on my book yet. I’m going to revisit my book proposal and edit it and then try to send it out to publishers again.

Ultimately, I’m letting go of the idea that I have to have all the answers now. And for once, my Type A planner self actually feels ok that the future is up in the air.

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26 responses to “What My $100,000 a Year Business Actually Looks Like

  1. Thank you for sharing your numbers! It helps us newbie entrepreneurs learn the ropes and see what it takes to be a success.

    Best of luck with an even better 2018!

  2. Cat- you are awesome!! Getting an MBA sounds fun!! If you did that, do you think you’d stick with self-employment or use that to get a higher-paying 9-5?!

    I think if you do decide to go the 9-5 route, you’ll really miss the flexibility and creativity of working for yourself. If you can negotiate a job where you can WFH or work flexible hours, I think you’d be ok, though 🙂 Ultimately, I think you will be great at anything you do haha! Best of luck in whatever you decide and can’t wait to hear!!!

    1. Thanks for an insight! I should talk to you about this more since you’ve done both!

  3. I really appreciate you spelling it all out because I do think entrepreneurs only mention what they make in gross income and don’t mention how much is taken out for taxes and other business expenses. I love that you’re keeping it real!

  4. Great post Cat! We made a similar one because too many people don’t understand this and get themselves into trouble thinking that because their business generated $100 in revenue that they have $100K to use.

  5. Thanks for such an insightful post! This really breaks everything down and I can totally relate. I just left my 9-5 to be home and pursue full time blogging while raising my son. I have big mountains ahead to climb, but I’m determined and excited!

  6. I think your honesty about what the “online life” is really great. There’s a lot of satisfaction, but there’s also a lot of hard work. I’m glad you pointed out that the net number is quite different from the gross, and it’s something to keep in mind when reading similar posts.

  7. Good, honest break down. I grossed $55,000 last year — my first full year as a freelancer. And, that may not seem like much, but I was only working 25-30 hours a week, and spending lots of time with my kiddos too, so I was really proud of it. Now I’m ready to double down in year two and see where I can take it! I have all kinds of inspiration and ideas and courage now, and I am ready to take some exciting steps as I learn how to best use this solopreneur platform. (And yes, it can be totally lonely to work at home.) Thanks for sharing!

  8. Wow, you’ve been a busy bee Cat! So happy for all that you’ve accomplished. 🙂

    But yes, entrepreneurship isn’t always rainbows and flowers. It has its ups and downs. I can definitely relate.

    Personally, I had to get off social media. It took up too much of my time. Been writing and managing my own business in the real estate world lately.

    Interesting to hear you’ve been thinking about your MBA. Was in a pre-MBA program myself awhile back. Did you catch the article I wrote for Ginger? (http://www.girlsjustwannahavefunds.com/graduate-school-to-invest-in-real-estate/ ) Had a mentor and everything. If you’re looking to expand your network, it could open up some doors. My mentor has kids and now works from home doing consulting work from a referral from the program. Have several friends with MBAs. Let me know if you have any questions about it!!

    Looking forward to reading about what you decide to do. Great update!

    p.s. Not sure if you visit, but I’m on white coat investor forums too. Take care!! 🙂

  9. Congratulations! Any parent who can generate $100,000 in revenue and take care of twins as a hero in my opinion! Well done well done.

    I only have one son and my wife stays at home we are struggling to keep our heads above water trying to care for him full-time and do some creative writing. It’s def not easy!

    Sam

  10. I read this the whole way through. It’s so genuine and humble! You’re really killing it over there! I personally know how hard it is to take care of twins all day AND try to work. I’m amazed at the amount of work you get done.

  11. Hi Catherine,

    Very inspiring post, I’ve been dreaming to make $100k/year. However, my maximum annual revenue was $17k. Still, I consider myself very lucky because I’m from India and it actually helped me to become a full-time blogger!

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Hi Catherine, this is really concise writing and I appreciate the transparency. Most of the time I feel like posts like these are never as honest, but you even talked about taxes and expenses!

  13. You can get to 1M if you stay at it.
    How do you get text on images? I have used paint but can’t do what you do on your images.
    Thanks

  14. You are amazing!! You just spelled out my path!! 9 to 5 is not for me and here is how I got to your blog.
    I never give up my flexibility!!! Kids grow fast and all the time they need to be dropped off to sports and other activities.
    My son is my only treasure!!! He is 17 now, and we are getting ready for an Ivy league college. I am so proud of him.
    It was my choice or / my sacrifice. Over the years, many “kind” friends and family members were annoyed by my freedom.
    Working around my son’s schedule I managed to bring close to $120K gross. It is not easy to be a parent and we need to prioritize our dreams. Not all the time what we chose is what we prefer, but our choices have to make us happy!!!

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