How I Increased Revenue From $10K/Month to $30K/Month In One Year

Shannon Mattern
Web Designer Academy
from Columbus, Ohio, USA
started January 2015
alexa rank
market size
avg revenue (monthly)
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
150 days
growth channels
Email marketing
business model
best tools
WordPress, Facebook, Google Drive
time investment
Side project
pros & cons
36 Pros & Cons
44 Tips
Discover what tools Shannon reccommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Shannon reccommends to grow your business!
Start An Online Courses Business

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hey there! I’m Shannon Mattern and I’ve taught nearly 20,000 online business owners how to DIY their websites and market themselves online (even if they’re not a techie) - and I also help web designers create profitable, sustainable, and scalable web design businesses!

I give away my free DIY web design training, the 5 Day Website Challenge in exchange for an email address, and I monetize that through affiliate marketing and upselling pre-designed website templates.

Once people have built their website, I invite them to learn more about my Website Marketing Lab where I teach ad-free, algorithm-proof online marketing strategies and how to turn their website, visitors, into customers.

And I always have lots of web designers who sign up for my training because they want to learn more about building websites that convert, they want to see how I monetize beyond 1:1 web design services and they want to learn how to market themselves - and out of that came my Web Designer Academy where I teach web designers how to stop undercharging and overdelivering so they can create a full-time income as a web designer.

When I was last interviewed on Starter Story back in February of 2020. I was making a consistent $10,000 a month. Now just one year later, I’ve tripled that to $30,000 a month!

You can get all the details on exactly how much money I make, how I make it, and what my expenses are on my podcast, Pep Talks for Side Hustlers.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?

My revenue has tripled since I was last interviewed for Starter Story, and there are two big reasons for that increase:

  1. I invested in the right mentorship. I was spending a lot of time trying to figure things out on my own, reverse-engineering what I was seeing other people in the online business space do, and I was stuck at those $10K months, no matter how much time I was putting in. I invested in two high-end business coaching programs to help me grow to the next level. There’s a huge difference between learning something from an online course and applying it to your business vs. having an expert’s eyes and feedback on your business because they saw my blind spots, and I was able to make changes that I didn’t even realize were a possibility.
  2. I made more offers, more often. It sounds really simple but I was not making nearly enough offers to my existing email list subscribers. Once I started making more offers, I started making more sales.

I also launched a couple of new products since our last interview:

I partnered with a graphic designer to create website templates that we offer to people who sign up for my free DIY web design training. So instead of them having to do it all themselves, we’re giving them the option to buy professionally designed, branded + pre-written templates that they can install in just a few clicks and that we walk them step-by-step through how to customize. It’s called Site-in-a-Snap, and it solves a big pain point for my audience and was a game-changer for revenue.

Stop starting over. If you made an offer once and didn’t get the results you expected, ask people why they didn’t buy. It probably has nothing to do with you or your offer, you just need to go make more offers.

I also completely restructured my Web Designer Academy and transformed it from an online course teaching web designers how to market themselves and get clients into a 12-month coaching and mentorship program that helps them create a full-time income as a web designer. The new program comes with way more support, more of the work done for them with templates, frameworks, and swipe files - and with that, a higher price tag. And it’s really exciting because we are getting highly committed, highly skilled web designers joining and going all-in on themselves and having massive success.

Our team has also grown in the past year. I have added a couple of part-time contractors to support me with admin, tech, and marketing, which has been incredible and freed up a lot of my time.

Our marketing tactics really have not changed much in the past year. We value collaboration and relationship-building and we have continued to market our business through relationships over the past year.

That looks like actively introducing myself to other people who serve the audience I serve, seeing how I can provide value to their audience whether that’s a workshop or training or summit presentation, or even a podcast interview, and then showing up and over-delivering.

And because we’re super clear on our ideal client and we have solid funnels on the backend of our business, we use relationships to get introduced to new warm leads.

We did start testing out some Facebook ads for our Web designer Academy in the past couple of months. We're still in the testing phase but we're pretty happy with those results.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

The biggest lesson I learned in the past year that has had the most impact on my business and my bottom line is to stop worrying about other people's money. And what I mean by that is being worried that I'm making too many offers and people will be annoyed, or that I'm charging too much and worrying that people can’t afford it or that they’ll buy from me and not get results.

Pandemic or not, I had to really internalize that my customers are adults who can make their own decisions, and that my only job is to give them all of the information they need to make the best decision for them, and that my prices reflect both the long-term value they will get from working with me and the level of commitment they’ll need to make to get results.

Once I wrapped my mind around that and started making offers from a place of knowing people would be way better off working with me or buying my products than they would try to go it alone, I stopped worrying about what people might think and went all-in on connecting with the people who wanted my help.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

My plan for 2021 is to grow my team so that we can serve more students and have a bigger impact. I maxed out what I was able to do on my own, and I was working way too much! I just brought on a marketing project manager which is a role I used to fill. I’m excited to transition from solopreneur to CEO this year. I expect we’ll spend the year optimizing what we currently have and scaling to grow our revenue to at least half a million dollars.

I have so many ideas for ways we can help solopreneurs and side hustlers make the move to self-employed, but I want to make sure it’s sustainable for me and my future team. So we’re moving a little bit slower than I normally would, but it’s so we can move faster later.

As for the next 5 years? I truly have never thought that far ahead in my business! Ever. I expect we’ll be a multi-million dollar business with several team members, serving a way bigger audience. We’ll have probably become more focused on what we do and who we serve at that point and be doing it on a much bigger level. And I’ll have fully stepped into the CEO role to create that company culture I’d always wished I’d had at my corporate jobs before when I decided to start my side-hustle and quit my day job.

Have you read any good books in the last year?

The Middle Finger Project by Ash Ambirge - It’s all about overcoming impostor syndrome and creating the life you never thought you were allowed to have.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

So much advice!

  1. Stop starting over. If you made an offer once and didn’t get the results you expected, ask people why they didn’t buy. It probably has nothing to do with you or your offer, you just need to go make more offers. The people who say they can’t afford it are not your customers!
  2. If you hate marketing yourself and putting yourself out there, consider the idea that marketing has nothing to do with you. It’s all about the problem you solve, who you solve it for, and what’s possible for them once it’s solved. Once you realize that all you have to do is talk about how you can help people solve their problems and what’s in it for them, marketing gets so much easier.
  3. Intentionally build relationships with people who already serve your ideal client. Provide value to them and their audience. You’ll become the go-to person for them and their audience on your topic.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We don’t have any open positions at the moment, but our email list is always the first to find out.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

Shannon Mattern, Founder of Web Designer Academy

Web Designer Academy has provided an update on their business!

About 2 months ago, we followed up with Web Designer Academy to see how they've been doing since we published this article.

Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story

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