This is my sixth year of sharing an income report. A lot changes in six years. And I don’t just mean that I’ve more than doubled my income and added many more revenue streams. Attitudes towards revenue transparency online seem to have shifted too. Sharing your income was at first taboo, then it became celebrated as being brave and informative, and now I’m seeing pushback against it as part of a counter to hustle-culture.
For me, as with most of my content, writing these reports is part of documenting my career journey. I share this breakdown not to brag or make you feel like you should be earning this too (we’re all on our own paths), but to show you what’s been possible for me on my journey. I don’t claim to know how you could follow in my footsteps, and I’m certainly no personal finance expert. But I do enjoy working on my business, trying new income streams, and sharing the results with you. So if you enjoy that too, keep on reading!
A note before we begin: this data is tracked from June 2022 – May 2023 (my accounting year) and this post contains some affiliate links.
After last years income growth sat well below the rate of inflation, I’m extremely pleased with the 36% growth I experienced this year.
Not only did a promotion and larger profit sharing bonuses mean I earned 31% more from my work at my ‘main hustle’ ConvertKit over the past 12 months for a total of £173,158, but income from my own business grew by 49%! I earned £64,790 from my design education ‘side hustle’ this year, which is more than my salary was when I first started writing these reports six years ago. Unbelievable.
This business growth means my side hustle made up a larger chunk of my overall income than it ever has before, coming in at 27% of the total.
Here’s how that income breaks down into my four main categories of design, content creation, memberships and products/services.
And here’s how income in those categories has changed over time.
I saw the biggest growth in the design and content categories, which grew 31% and 56% respectively. While it’s still a small category overall, products & services income also grew 16%, while membership income continued its decline decreasing by 72%.
Let’s see why as we look closer at the income streams that make up these categories.
I still don’t take on freelance design projects, so the £173,158 in this category entirely represents the work I do as Creative Director at ConvertKit.
Landing a promotion in November (same role, different level in our role matrix) saw me finally get the kind of salary increase I expected when I was first offered the Creative Director role. I worked hard to show the execs that I was learning quickly and operating effectively, so I’m particularly proud of that 28% increase in income from design work. And because of ConvertKit’s profit sharing model and the great growth we had as a business last year I received 63% more from our twice-yearly profit-sharing cheques than I did the previous year.
In last years' report I talked about wanting to expand other income streams so that my business wasn’t too reliant on content. So I definitely didn’t intend for this category to grow by 56% to £61,317 and make up 94.6% of my side hustle income overall… but here we are!
With a huge 109% increase, this £32,936 of revenue reflects seven brand sponsorships I said yes to after they landed in my inbox, and one that I actively pitched (Webflow!) to sponsor season 3 of Inside Marketing Design.
This was a mix of sponsored videos, podcast episodes, social media content and also newsletter issues that were sponsored through a new stream-within-a-stream for me: the ConvertKit Sponsor Network.
The CKSN team acts as a booker for ad space in my newsletter and they booked quite a few sponsorships for me in the past year. With more than 16,000 subscribers and a 44% open rate, I honestly believe my newsletter is one of my best value spaces for brands to sponsor. And because I’m writing about the brand/product rather than showing it in a YouTube video – where I’d need to know the product confidently in order to demo it – I accept sponsorships from a wider range of brands (including ones I don’t necessarily use myself, but that I still respect & know would be beneficial to my audience). I hope this stream continues to grow, and if you’re not subscribed to the Marketing Design Dispatch yet, go join the list here!
Figma have stuck around as the title sponsor of my YouTube channel, and this year the partnership earned me £20,970. This was an increase on last year, but only because I kept more consistent and didn’t take publishing breaks like I did the year before.
When I get into my expenses section you’ll understand why I’m so grateful to have this regular income coming in as a base for my content earnings. Producing regular content isn’t cheap, and it’s thanks to Figma that my YouTube channel continues! I’ve been a passionate Figma fan for many years, so the fact they continue to support my channel means a lot.
As I wrote about in last years’ report: I changed my approach to Adsense in early 2022. After 5 years of not displaying ads on my new videos I made the decision to keep my videos ad-free for the first 24 hours and then turn them on (with strict ad-type controls) after that. Operating with this new approach for a full year earned me £5,430 – a 30% increase on the previous year. Not as much as I was expecting, to be honest. But I know this is because views on my channel are way down and less views = less ad income.
Once again, this stream is a fairly passive one for me. But it still earned me £1,738. This was 3% less than last year, but I saw some big shifts in what affiliate programs this income came from.
I was pleased to see my Webflow affiliate income pick up, growing by 37%. Amazon affiliate income dropped 43%, and commissions from other tools that have featured in previous years dropped off completely. I did however become an affiliate for some design courses that do cohort-based launches. It’s been fun to partner with other creators to promote their learning products, and I’d love to do more of that.
I earned £243 from writing content for a brand at the start of the financial year, but my usual categories of speaking and content hosting are nowhere to be seen on this years’ report. I hope to see them added back in in future years! But with so many income streams I’m managing, these are ones that I don’t actively pursue but rather go for it if the right opportunity presents itself. And none did this year unfortunately.
It may make up only 4.7% of my overall side hustle income, but I’m very proud of the £3,011 I earned by selling products and services this year. To have made/offered something that someone wants enough to pull out their credit card and part with some of their hard-earned money means a LOT to me and this is the category I most actively worked on growing (even if that growth did only net out at 15.6% overall).
This was my first full year offering mentoring sessions, having first opened up my calendar in February 2022. I earned £2,111 from conversations with creative professionals at all different points in their career, and have had fantastic feedback and follow-up emails about changes folks have been able to make after talking things through in our session.
I’m keeping my current commitment to this at just 6 sessions available per month as that cadence is working out well for me alongside all my other responsibilities. You can book a session here if you’re interested!
After first releasing my font Grayscale back in 2020, I’m pleased to still see sales coming in each month! I earned 13.4% less than last year from sales, bringing in £633 in revenue.
My new site design featuring Grayscale in my top navigation didn’t quite bring in an increase in sales as I hoped, but in total now I’ve earned £3,820 from font sales and can confidently say it was worth all the time I spent creating it. I’m exploring new ways to drive sales of my font in the coming year, and I’m setting the goal of beating this years’ sales figures to stop the downward trend. Let’s see if I can make it happen!
Based on the enjoyment of seeing font sales come through, I decided to pursue another digital product as my new income stream for the year (I always like to experiment by adding at least one new stream!)
I created Scribbles, a pack of more than 400 vector shapes, set up as a design library in Figma as part of the launch of Figma’s paid community files. While I didn’t make as many sales as I’d hoped for, earning £236 from this wasn’t bad at all for a $5 product! Like the font, I’m looking forward to seeing how sales come in for this over time. My goal with setting such a low price was to make it a no-brainer purchase that any designer would want to have in their tool belt. You should go check it out if you haven’t already.
We made a few sales of our “Work in Progress” pins in the Design life podcast merch store, my cut of which was £31. Not a meaningful amount of money, but it’s very meaningful that listeners want to own merch from our show. Thanks to anyone who bought one!
Like last year, income from membership/community sources was my smallest category AND the only one to decrease. It dropped 72% to £462 total.
My share of our Patreon earnings from the podcast was £213. This income stream is really only intended as a way for listeners to support the production costs of the show, so I’m grateful for every pound of it.
I did a lot of coworking livestreams in the second half of 2022 which led to people becoming members of the ‘Coworking Club’, earning me £179.
I haven’t been able to stream a lot so far in 2023 as the nature of the projects I do at work has changed a lot (plus I’m spending more time on Zoom for work, and that’s exhausting!). I adore streaming though, so I hope to work more of it back into my schedule.
It’s been a long time since I streamed any gameplay on Twitch, but I received a payout of £70 due to reaching the threshold for subs. Streaming some fun cosy games is also something I’d like to do more often, but I’ll be putting live-streaming energy into design streams first and foremost.
Here’s where the income I generated from my side business starts to look less impressive… I spent £31,832 (an average of £2,653 per month) on business-related expenses in the last year.
I spent £3,214 (an average of £268 per month) on software and subscriptions to tools I use to create and run my business. This seems like a great place for me to share a list of links if you’re interested to know what they are! (Some of these are affiliate links)
I spent £1082 (£90 per month on average) in my Training category, which consists entirely of memberships to two different communities: Useful Authors (where I get support & accountability for writing my book) and The Lab (a more general creator community where I get to learn from how other creators are growing their businesses).
Community memberships like these are so useful to me because they’re a way to surround myself (digitally) with motivated people going after their goals, and in turn that helps motivate me to go after mine!
My equipment spending was much more reasonable this year! I spent £561 (which averages out to £47 per month) and most of that was on two new lenses for the Canon M200 I bought last year to use as my webcam.
My biggest business expense though is the contractors and services that allow me to delegate tasks and keep producing content alongside my full time job. I spent £26,975 in this category, or an average of £2,248 per month. Here’s how that spending breaks down.
I started working with a new podcast editing company for season 3 of Inside Marketing Design which has made podcast editing my largest contracting expense. They produce the video and audio episode as well as write the show notes and create clips I can use to promote the episode. I firmly believe this show has huge potential to grow so I’m happy to invest in it.
The other contractors I pay are a virtual assistant for help with content scheduling and promoting my YouTube videos, video editors, an accountant and captioning via rev.com (it’s important to me that my videos are accessible).
Contractors is a category that I would honestly like to invest more in, it’s just really hard to find the right folks to delegate to! I feel like I’m still way more hands on than I need to be with some things, but to outsource those tasks I’d need someone with both a great graphic design skillset and a deep understanding of content creation/audience building. If that happens to be you, please reach out!
I think I got really lucky this year with the brand sponsorships that landed in my inbox. I’d be surprised if my business income grew again in the coming year, but I’m sure as heck going to try!
I hope you found it useful to see this breakdown of my income streams. Share your main takeaways with me on Twitter. I’d love to hear what ideas this sparked for you.