How I Make Money Online: January Earnings Report

It’s officially full-disclosure 2014! Not only will I be breaking down how I spend my working hours each month, I’m also going to share exactly how much I earn from my creative business.

This idea took shape for me last month when I was reading a book that shared the salaries of other creative business owners like myself. I quickly realized that when it comes to earning money online, we can easily jump to conclusions based on the little information we receive from those around us.

For instance, I was reading an article about another creative business owner (she does work similar to what I do here on Marketing Creativity) who stated that she was bringing home more than six figures each year.

I took the article directly to my husband for a pow-wow. I presented him with the evidence, and then I asked him, “How? How is she doing that? I don’t understand. Our businesses seem parallel, but hers makes four times as much? Where’s that income coming from? And for what products or services?”

Please don’t get me wrong. If you’re making an enormous amount of money each year, I wish you much continued success. Yes please, that’s for me! Competitively speaking, I always think abundance. That said, the numbers baffled me and I simply wanted to understand them better.

To this my husband replied, “Just because she tells everyone she makes that amount doesn’t mean she does. You could easily say the same thing, and nobody would question it.” By the way, he’s the best sounding board on Earth, and I’m so grateful for all his patience with this gigantic online world that, to him, exists only during our conversations.

I considered what my husband said. I talk openly about money, and I suppose I could pluck a number out of the air and say I made it every year. In fact, that’s pretty much all I’d need to do to get featured in books and magazine articles stating as much.

But that’s not the reason I’m here. The best article I’ve written so far this year was the “How to Turn Your Hobby into a Side Business” series I started for the Creative Mama blog. It brought me back to WHY I started The Energy Shop four years ago: I wanted to live an inspired life and contribute to my family’s income, but I also wanted to maintain my presence at home and continue to be there for them.

Before the Energy Shop, it never occurred to me that I could build my own work-at-home business with as little as $100 worth of supplies. But, that’s exactly what happened. And each month, I supplement the family’s income with my creative business earnings. That’s pretty amazing.

Therefore, I’m going to talk real numbers, all year. I decided to do something radically opposite than announcing my big salary – made up or not. In 2010, my biggest goal was to be a work-at-home Mom. I’ve achieved it, and I want to be completely transparent about the details. 

I don’t know what you’re going to think about my income, and that scares me. But if there’s anybody out there who can relate – maybe you’re a stay-at-home Mom looking to make a little extra money, maybe you feel left behind by the workforce, or maybe you’re just plain scared to put your talents out into the world – here’s some proof that the reward is well worth the risks.

I’m going to share with you exactly how much I make and list the ways in which I make it. Here goes!

In January 2014, I earned a net income of: $2,141.11

I start almost every discussion on money or building a rewarding creative business with full disclosure that I believe a multi-faceted business is a must. Therefore, in each monthly report, I’m going to list the source of my income from highest- to lowest-paying for that period. January’s sources of income were:

How I Make Money on Etsy | Marketing Creativity

  1. Energy Shop Jewelry (screen-clipping above)
  2. My part-time work as Create Hype’s editor
  3. Marketing Creativity’s Etsy shop, books and programs
  4. Build a Better Creative Business course + workshops

Creative Business vs. Traditional Workplace

This topic is timely. I’ve been thinking a lot about my online business these last few months. I’m sad to realize all the times I’ve wanted to quit it. I’m sorry that I haven’t always recognized all that it adds to my life; all that it provides.

Last year, I moved home to Virginia from New Zealand. It was a huge transition, and the shake-up of it all had me questioning my professional direction. I came home to a new mortgage and, as my family grows, so do my bills! A creative business adds a lot of benefits to my life, but a steady + reliable paycheck is not one of them. I spent several months asking myself: is what I’m doing worth it? Should I just go out and get a regular job?

In the next twelve months, I’ll be able to prove to myself that everything I’ve built is well beyond worth it. I’ve been out of the traditional workforce for twelve years. I quit my job when my first daughter was born, and I’ve never looked back. In the years in between, we had three more children. But now, they’re all in school.

After I carefully calculated my working hours this month, I did some math. First off, minimum wage in my state is $7.25 per hour. Let’s say I went out looking and landed a really good job, doubling minimum wage at $14.50 per hour. Let’s even say that this job offered me flexible hours so that I was only ever working while my children were in school (35 hours per week).

Here’s what I make now … 

$2,141.11 (January earnings after expenses and taxes) / 76 hours = $28.17 per hour

That’s roughly $563.45 per 20-hour, work-at-home week (after taxes)

Vs. what I might make in the traditional workplace …

$14.50 x 35 hours = $507.50 per 35-hour week at a traditional job (before taxes)

For an estimated total of $1872 per month (after taxes)

Bear in mind, that’s just a wage calculation. In my county, we had several days of canceled school in January alone. What would I have done had I had a traditional job? Hired a babysitter? Called off work? I can’t know how any of that would affect my salary. How would I handle the children’s two-week spring break, let alone summer vacation? I have no idea!

Thanks to the Energy Shop and Marketing Creativity (and to you for sharing these endeavors with me!), I’ve been a work-at-home Mom for nearly four years. I’m looking forward to full disclosure in 2014; I want you to see all that your own creative business can provide!

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28 comments

  • Hi Lisa, I think it’s great that you’re sharing like this. For one it’s very inspiring for those of us who are trying to support ourselves like you are, it’s especially inspiring for me because one of your business ventures is Etsy and so is mine. It is also very inspiring since I took the class from you and Tim last fall, it’s nice to hear that you sometimes doubt your decisions too but then quickly dismiss those thoughts and forge ahead! I’m no where near being able to quit the day job that I hate but I know it’s possible and I’m going to keep working toward that goal! :o)

    Tania

  • Bravo, Lisa! Thank you so much for offering inspiration. I currently work a regular 40hr a week job in addition to operating my shop, but I’m hoping to build ConstantlyAlice into a full time job over the next year or so. Thanks for the motivation!

  • I am really excited for this – to see some of the real nuts and bolts behind a successful creative business. I’ve got to make mine profitable again soon or I’ll lose it, so hopefully I’ll be able to learn a lot from you! Thank you for being so transparent to help us out.

  • Lisa, you are doing awesome and you deserve it after all of your hard work.

    Thank you for sharing and for providing some “real” inspiration.

    Most of us roll our eyes at the 6-and-7-figure declarations, be they true or not, but can view a possible 4-figure monthly number as something even WE can accomplish too!

    Your honesty is appreciated.

  • Hi Lisa,

    Thanks so much for sharing this. With my full-time job and etsy shop, I bring home about what you do – maybe slightly less. Last year I got some battle fatigue about building my business. I continued to make sales with very little additional effort, due to the business building I had done in the previous 3 years. that was inspiring to see. I’m ready to get back in the game and this post is very helpful with that. Thanks!

  • Thanks Lisa. I love this post (and especially the comment about your husband and his knowledge of the online world – priceless!).

    I’ve found this really inspiring and interesting and will look forward to the next installment. Thanks : )

  • I appreciate this honest look at how much can one really make staying at home to work on a handmade business. As Lisa noted, things can be a bit more complicated than the amount you’re paid per hour.

    For example, if you’re working at least 30 hours a week at an employer with at least 50 employees, then you will get benefits in addition to your salary, which can be worth quite a bit. On the other hand, if you work in a traditional workplace, then you potentially have greater expenses in childcare, wardrobe (and possibly dry cleaning), commuting, and convenience foods. And of course, you have much greater flexibility when you set your own hours. (On the flip side, the income may also be much more variable from month to month and will probably experience seasonal swings.)

    Many people will note that if your income is the second income in a household, then it may be taxed at a higher tax bracket. However this will be true regardless of where the second income comes from (so it’s true of both a handmade business and traditional employment).

    • I totally agree, Michelle. Insurance benefits are another *huge* factor that plays a role in the equation. Thanks for adding. 🙂

  • Thank you for being so honest about your income, other people on the web try to tell you fantastic stories of how much they earn, which I find very unbelievable, and I wont buy their products because it’s pie in the sky kind of figures, but I will buy your product because you are down to earth about expectations and you have been there and done that, thanks.

  • Love the idea of full disclosure. Not only does it stop the needless overthinking (I’m much like you on your reaction to that lady’s six-figure claim – I’d start wondering how she did it, and by extension, why I wasn’t doing it, what was I doing wrong? etc) it helps us understand how we can all find the potential within us to turn our business around, to make it work.

    I still have a full time job in addition to my shop. I’m really hoping that within 5 years, I’ll be able to follow my creative passions full time.

    • Thanks, Ria! I think the 4-hour workday results also prove that you can methodically chip away at the build on the side of your full-time job. I appreciate your adding and best of luck!

  • Lisa, thanks so much for posting this! I find it extremely helpful and motivating to see what you are making…my business on Etsy is growing and I hope to eventually reach your level and more! I too wonder how some people claim to make so much from a jewelry business, especially if you are a solo-prenuer…it is something I have been thinking about as my business grows. I love your blog and your productivity workbook…keep up the great work!

    • Thank you, Anette! You’re right – with handmade, it seems there must be a salary cap and a production capacity. I appreciate your adding on here!

  • Thank you for this! I knew someone out there had to be thinking the same thing of how someone with a similar business can be making that much! I applaud your bravery, income large or small, and greatly appreciate it.

  • Hi Lisa – thank you SO much for sharing. I just started blogging a few months ago and have been working to make it into a business. I appreciate how open you are and how clearly you’ve spelled everything out. Very helpful!!

  • Hi Lisa,

    Thank you so much for this blog series. I’m really looking forward to it throughout the year. I just started my Etsy shop late last year and it is something I would love to be able to grow to contribute to my income. I think your posts will really help me in figuring out if that is an option or not!

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