tell me more
I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!
I’m going a little bit rogue today, and decided to add this episode into my editorial calendar. I was going through my end of the year survey (which, in case you missed it, was where I asked my email subscribers and my podcast listeners different questions about what kind of content they’re hoping to hear this year), and so many people said that they really loved my episodes about money. In 2024, so many people mentioned their goal is to make more money and grow their business income.
So today, I thought I would share exactly how I plan to make more money this year. It’s something I have spent a lot of time thinking about, especially while I’m in this season of new motherhood (so I don’t have all the time in the world right now). I have a teeny tiny baby (4 months old). The capacity I have to work and spend time on my business is so different than other years, and I’ve really had to change and pivot my different income streams.
Before we dive in, In case you’re curious about HOW I am making money now, I break that all down here. Now, let’s jump in and talk about how I plan to make sure I’m making more money this year.
In the past, I have had a mix of retainer clients and one-off project clients.
In case you’re curious what that looks like, one-off project clients are clients where we start a project together (where we set up their online course or digital product), and there’s a very clear scope to the project from the beginning. There’s a start date and an end date, and after the end date I typically won’t work with that person until they have their next project.
On the other hand, retainer clients are people who I work every month (or every quarter). For them, I know that every quarter I’m going to do X amount of hours or a set of specific tasks for them. There’s usually a regular invoice and a regular system I’m following.
Personally, I really like working with retainer clients. There’s pros and cons to both, and for me, almost all of my retainer clients came from originally being a one-off project before we started working together doing ongoing online course maintenance or ongoing launch setup. For me, I find I can be so much more efficient with retainer clients because I get to know their business so well (from where they keep their files to what their brand voice sounds like).
In the past, it’s been a 50/50 mix where half of my clients were these one-off projects and then half of them were retainer clients but now that I’m a mom, retainer clients align so much better with the time that I have in my business. We don’t have a lot of meetings because we are often on the same page and both know what to expect. In a season of life with a tiny baby and not always consistent work hours, this workflow works a lot better for me.
My plan this year is to go deeper with retainer clients. For a lot of the retainer clients I have, there is an infinite long to-do list of things we want to accomplish in their business, like sales pages, course updates, launches. I have several retainer clients this year where the scope of the work I’m doing is growing, we’re scaling their business, and I’m going to be focusing more on that than taking on more one-off projects this year.
A couple of years ago, my waitlist was getting very long and I started to feel really frustrated that I was constantly telling people that I couldn’t work with them. Then, something a business friend told me was to offer strategy calls where people can buy an hour of my time so that we can talk through whatever it was they wanted me to help them with.
Often these strategy calls involve talking through an idea for an online course, when to launch, what to include, how to increase sales, etc. For these calls, I have a form that people fill out ahead of time so it’s really actionable and we don’t spend a lot of time laying the foundation for me understanding what they’re trying to create (because I already know ahead of time).
Then last year, I started offering business coaching calls as well. These are pretty informal honestly, I never really felt like I was a business coach, but I did have people asking me for them, and for business advice from someone who has done what they want to do. I REALLY enjoy these types of calls. I like helping people grow their business and sharing what I have done. In the past, this isn’t something I have promoted a lot though.
In 2024, I’m focusing on these calls more because they are a lot easier to fit into my schedule than larger projects. I can set aside time in my calendar, do some prep work beforehand, and then deliver my thoughts on the call (I like to maximize their time) with lots of question and answer time. Then afterwards, I send a recap email with a recording and any resources I have that might be helpful to them. From there, they have one week of email support as well (and I make sure I set aside time so they get thorough answers – usually with a loom video).
Plus, personally, I invested in informal business coaching calls early on in my business from someone who was about five years ahead of me, and that was really, really helpful in my business. I have also had times where I’ve invested in more structured coaching, but I’ve personally found working with someone who wasn’t a traditional coach (on these one-off calls) something that’s been one of the most impactful things I’ve ever done in my business.
This year, one of my key strategies to increase my income is expanding my product offerings. My primary business revolves around assisting individuals in launching their own products, but I haven’t dedicated much effort to my own product line. Currently, I have a selection of Thrive Cart templates, Kartra templates, and a few mini courses that have been featured in various bundles and sold in different capacities. However, my focus has predominantly been on supporting others in their business ventures rather than my own.
One reason I want to focus on THIS for making more money this year, is the fact that as a new mom, my schedule is more demanding than ever. As a result, I find it easier to commit to tasks that can be accomplished at any time, whether it’s early in the morning, late at night, or during nap times. The launch of my own products conveniently fits into this more flexible category.
Over the years, I’ve accumulated a long list of product ideas that people have requested or that I’ve conceived myself, but I never seem to give myself enough time to develop these ideas. This year, I’ve decided to treat my business as if it were a client and place a strong emphasis on growing my template shop. I plan to introduce more mini courses and products of my own, ultimately diversifying my revenue streams. This shift will help me stop only trading time for money, which I’m excited about.
Another thing that I’m going to be working on, is the Systems and Workflow Magic Bundle with Dolly Delong. I’ve purchased it in the past (and will be again), and I’ve found it to be such a valuable resource. This time is all about launching (and I have my own product I’ve contributed), and my goal is to work through everyone else’s products and ideas to really implement all of the launch materials and ideas inside! It opens on February 6th for a very limited time if you want to join me!
This isn’t technically a way to be making more money this year but it still involves me HAVING more money so I’m including it. I have always been a budgeting person even when I was very young. I love spreadsheets. I love looking at numbers.
But last year in 2023, I really didn’t follow any sort of budget. Not that we were overspending, but I don’t have the data to really know (also because there were a lot of additional expenses that came with having a baby!). We tried to be frugal and really were very minimal about the things we bought for our daughter, but also once she was here, our spending was just all over the place, especially in those first three months when you are barely functioning or sleeping or eating.
Personally, I feel like tracking what I spend makes me a lot more intentional about my money and making sure I spend it on the right things. I also know that at times, I tend to be too frugal. I don’t know if other people have this problem, but I will stress out and not want to spend ANY money ever. In that way, having a budget feels very freeing because it gives me an amount of money I’m allowed to spend on something without feeling guilty.
One thing I did recently is start using YNAB (You Need a Budget) which is a really popular program that I’ve used a few times in the past. I did a free trial about five years ago but back then I thought it was a little complicated. It’s also a paid software and I don’t love having additional expenses, but this year I found I really wanted something more robust to track our spending. So I’m going to try using it for an entire year. I’ve been keeping my personal budget and business budget separately so I can watch them both.
If you go back to episode number 12, you’ll hear me chatting about dipping my toes into the world of affiliate income and the little tricks I use to earn a bit from it. I avoided sharing affiliate links for the first five years in business, because I’ll be honest; I sometimes have feelings like it’s kind of sneaky or spammy, which really isn’t my style when it comes to affiliate income or something I’m interested in when it comes to making more money next year.
I know that’s something I need to get over, and I plan on ramping up this area in my business this year. What I mostly do is share products and software that I’ve been using in my business for ages. On top of that, I create loads of tutorials and helpful content to tackle questions and gaps people have in their knowledge. So, next year, my plan is to crank out more tutorial content for software I’m genuinely passionate about.
Plus, I’m going to continue to be upfront about my affiliate links. And honestly, there’s no shame in sharing affiliate links—it’s something I don’t bat an eye at when others do it, so I’m loosening up and embracing it in my own business. I know when I personally need to buy a software or tool, I always think of someone who has promoted it in the past that potentially has an affiliate link I could use!
Just to recap, here’s how I’m making more money this year:
I really hope this episode helped you brainstorm some different ways that you can start making more money this year. If you listened to my 2023 recap, one of the things I talked about that was hard for me last year was feeling worried and stressed out about money. The economy has felt really weird for a long time. Inflation has been a lot, and so I think for all of us, finding ways of making more money this year would be huge. Here’s to hoping that all of us have a very prosperous year, and thank you so much for being here!
*This post may contain affiliate links.