Month 7 Income Report - A Complete Reset

Working 12+ hour days, 6-7x per week over 6 months with little income takes a toll.

Hey there!

This is Zach, and in this newsletter, I share a monthly update on how my full-time entrepreneurship journey is going.

I’m at the end of month 7, and… I had to do a complete reset.

No, I’m not changing my long-term vision or goals.

However, I am changing my approach and mindset to achieve them. Like the 6 months that preceded this one, I’m feeling humbled once again.

Let’s dive in.

Revenue tracker (updated)

Below is my current revenue. Once again, I padded things with some contracting work, but from a re-occurring perspective, I expect things to look pretty grim for the next 2-4 months on the golf side of things.

Golf season is over for most people, which means my primary revenue source is going to be cut in half. This happens every year and is expected. I’ve already started brainstorming ways to level this out for 2024, but this season, I can’t do anything about it—just have to buckle in, do some freelance work, and have some faith that come next golf season, all this hard work will start paying off.

Change in Reporting Note: In prior issues, I was doing 100% manual income/expense reporting. This involved manually sifting through transactions and reporting on what income I earned in that month (technically an accrual basis, but not what the bank account showed!). For example, if I earned $250 in Amazon affiliate revenue for the month, that’s what I would report. But in reality, these payments are on a net-30 basis, so wouldn’t land in the bank account immediately. This has become too cumbersome of a process to continue. From now onward, I’ll be simplifying things as shown below, which may result in some variances from what prior issues have reported (due to the timing of transaction settlements).

Reconciled with Quickbooks

The above revenue is primarily broken into 3 separate businesses.

  1. The DIY Golfer + Local Golf Spot - my golf websites/brands

  2. Tech YouTube Channel - mostly web development tutorials

  3. Freelance - a “catch-all” for one-time contract work

Here’s a detailed look at how the overall business has done comparing Oct. 2023 vs. the prior period, Sep. 2023.

A few notable highlights:

  • The main reason why September showed no net income is because:

    • I have a lot of $100 thresholds before I get paid (Adsense), and September hadn’t yet met the thresholds on many of these

    • I changed my Stripe payouts from weekly to monthly, so a portion of my September revenue was paid out in October

  • What each line item represents

    • Adsense Income consists of website ads + YouTube revenue from both my coding and golf properties

    • Affiliate revenue is almost 100% from golf businesses

    • Online course sales is my one golf training course

    • “Sales” generally represents one-time contracting work I’ve done

  • Other highlights

    • In October, I added ~$300/m of expense for a golf course membership that I talk about later in this issue. I’ve canceled my cowork membership, which was $200/m, so net-net, I’ve added $100 of expense. I negotiated a deal with the course where I won’t have to pay for Dec, Jan, or Feb.

    • In both September and October, I bought a lot of “supplies” for my golf business, which included products that I did video reviews on and supplies for improving my filming setup.

What went well

My mental state is much healthier and more sustainable

I took a breather this month, and despite a pretty big struggle trying to get a hold of things mentally, I’ve had a pretty substantial mindset shift that feels more sustainable.

I finally found a place to film golf videos!

I’m finally getting to the point where I need to film golf product review videos and golf instructional videos. This past summer, I got out to various golf courses in my area and filmed myself playing, which got me out of my comfort zone and was somewhat difficult to do while other golfers were trying to play on the same course.

I was playing public golf courses and as expected, they were always busy. Not only that, but public courses pair single golfers like myself with other groups to maximize their revenue. This meant I was constantly trying to find a way to film without bothering someone else and without being bothered myself.

It was impossible.

So I decided if I was going to make a legitimate golf instructional business, I needed a dedicated golf course where I could film without the constant distractions.

I did some research, and it turns out, there is an affordable, quiet, and private country club less than 5 minutes from my house! For ~$300 per month (only $100 more than my cowork membership), I could join this club.

So I went out, toured the club, talked with the head golf professional, and asked if I could film videos out there, and he said yes! This was super encouraging since many golf courses frown upon people like me filming YouTube videos.

So I joined. All in all, this is a ~$5,000 financial commitment since country clubs require a minimum of 1 year. While a bit of a risk given the low income I’m making right now, I figured it was my only shot at making all this work. Worst case, it doesn’t work, and the business breaks even. Best case, it provides me with everything I need to grow this golf website.

The Long-Term Vision Continues to Become Clearer

When I started this whole thing, I was way off on a lot of things. I knew I had a “wake-up call” coming, but I didn’t know how it would play out. Here are my learnings so far:

  • I had false assumptions about where I could make money

  • I had false assumptions about how fast I could make money

  • I had a short-term mindset and zero patience

  • I thought I could “brute-force” my way to success

  • I was sitting on a false sense of confidence—I knew how to make $1k per month, but underestimated the planning and work required to scale this from $1k → $10k. The jump from “side project” to “full-time business” is non-linear and orders of magnitude larger than I once believed.

Sitting here at the end of month 7, my income has not moved much, but I have a very clear idea of what I need to do with this golf business and I have a lot of foundational stuff built. The next 6-8 months are mapped out and now my only obstacle is my ability to execute that vision (I think…)

What went poorly

Burnout? Kind of?

It turns out, working 12+ hour days, 6-7 days per week, all alone, with limited income for 7-straight months leads to…

Bad things.

Let me be clear—I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have zero complaints and know what I signed up for. Furthermore, I’ve done fairly well with the basics—getting enough sleep, eating well, 2-4 days of exercise per week. I figured if I kept up with these things, I’d be fine no matter what. I was wrong.

Despite keeping these healthy habits, the internal dialogues, self-doubt, anxieties, and fears have hit me hard from directions I didn’t even know existed.

I’ve never feared long hours or hard work. Historically, I’ve been able to crank out 12+ hour days for months on end. However, mixed with uncertainty and other factors, I didn’t adequately prepare for what started to happen—my mental state was quickly becoming the bottleneck of the entire business.

This month presented a harsh truth that if I didn’t learn to enjoy and be patient with this, I would burn out before I had the chance to succeed. What I thought was a marathon was actually a 100-mile ultramarathon at 10,000 feet, and I sprinted the first 26 miles. Not good.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting to wake up feeling great about this every day, and despite all these challenges, there have been a few positive days along the way. But the few positive days I’ve had felt like I was hanging by a thread, and that’s no way to live.

So this month, I reluctantly hit the brakes and re-evaluated my mindset. I’m not changing what I’m doing, just how I’m doing it. In the end, business is just a game. And I was taking it way too seriously. So moving forward, I plan to have a lot more fun with this, keep a long-term vision, and work in a way that is sustainable for years, not 7 months.

Recap, looking forward

During the first 7 months of this journey, I have roughly spent my time on the following things:

  • Local Golf Spot (1 ½ months)

  • Reviving The DIY Golfer (1/2 month)

  • Building the foundations of The DIY Golfer (5 months)

As we go into winter, I’ll continue to work on The DIY Golfer but will also be doing some freelance work and hopefully figuring out what to do with my tech YouTube channel that just crossed 31k subscribers!

I’ve got mountains of work ahead, but a reformed mindset and approach that will hopefully lead to a much more positive second half of this first year!

I’ll see ya in the next issue!


My Links