Updated: Feb 10
It’s good to have you here. I must have caught your attention with the catchy title right?
Let me introduce myself. I'm Rob and I’m a quarter of a century old at the time of writing this income report.
This one is going to be a little different from the reports you see in the future. It’s going to discuss my finances of the past, what income streams are currently ongoing and what the plans are for the future to develop and expand what I do for a living. This is all about getting you up to scratch so we can start the year with full transparency.
I think I may also add to this document over time as I remind myself of what I’ve done and/or what I’ve learnt in the past. I’ll have a section at the bottom of the blog for any edits that I make along with an area where you can comment and ask questions so don't be shy!
My History and Skill Set
While the last year or two of my life have been devoted to the idea of becoming an ‘entrepreneur’ that wasn’t always the case. I grew up around music and parents who were accountants. They seemed to be financially stable so it looked like the numbers life was a good route to take rather than anything to do with music notes… until I completed 2 weeks work experience in an accountant's office and immediately gave up on the concept.
Shortly after that I began working at a DIY store in the UK called Homebase. They paid about £8 an hour which got me through a couple of years of college (studying music tech, music performing, business and computing) and a year at university (studying music production) before I found myself a job working as a piano teacher.
This new role initially paid me something like £27 an hour which was a huge step up and something I didn’t believe I deserved. Now while the pay sounds pretty good I didn’t have a car at university so I was travelling by train to my student’s houses. The whole ordeal was costing me an extra hour and a half of travel + train ticket costs of about £6 for a return journey. Suddenly the pay didn’t quite match up.
I won’t go any further into the details but essentially the music company I worked for reduced the value of their lessons in favour of attracting new clients. Something that I should have stood my ground to and said no. I remained teaching throughout university and for the next 3 or so years after that although I did get myself a car and a few private students (who paid more) in the meantime.
During my final year at uni (alongside my teaching) I decided that I needed to expand my horizons. I created a video production company with my housemate Zach. He’s a singer-songwriter who was into photography as much as I was and we just thought the concept of a production company was pretty damn cool. So we made one and called it “Weyside Productions”.
We started on a small scale with limited resources. I believe I had my Canon 700D while Zach had a Canon 60D or 600D… in any case we weren’t flashing the high end video gear by any stretch of the imagination. You could probably buy a Canon 700D for about £300 on Ebay with a lens or two… wait… let me see if that’s true.
I WAS DAMN NEAR SPOT ON!
They’re going for about £280 on average with a lens. Crazy. I bought mine for £500 with my student loan I think.
Anyways, back to the history. We charged our first client £50 (Not each. Just £50) as they were friends of ours and we wanted to get into the swing of things. This went well, although our lack of decent lighting meant I spent a week colour correcting every shot. I was incredibly proud of the final result given what we started with but suffice to say for the time spent there was next to no income generated at all.
So we upped the price. £70. Shocking right? We still didn’t believe in ourselves so our prices reflected that. This was the client in London I mentioned in the podcast (having forgotten during the podcast about the £50 client). We didn’t even charge travel. In hindsight we should have done both shoots for free with the caveat that a review was written for our website. At least then we wouldn’t have looked so cheap!
We slowly crept up the price over time. I think the next jump was to £150, then £200, then £300, then £500, then a few shoots around the £800 mark.
Believe it or not, I still believe we were undercharging. None of those prices truly reflected the time it took to transport equipment to the location, do the shoot, transport equipment back, edit, revise and publish. We were always undercharging and I was reinvesting everything and more into equipment to improve everything we did.
Now I’m telling you all this so you don’t make the same mistake. Regardless of what industry you’re in, if you have the ability to price things yourself at least start with a decent living wage and work up from there based on the hours it’s going to take you to get the job done. Random price increases aren’t going to do you any favours in the long run. Especially if you want to retain clients.
What I believe I got right was the investing. I ended up with equipment that could deal with most situations comfortably and a workstation that could handle the editing. Although hindsight tells me I should possibly have invested more in myself than the hardware. Alas, we shall never know.
*Sorry, can we take a brief interlude. Every time I use the word ‘alas’ I feel like I’m stealing it from Dumbledore in Harry Potter. Does anyone else have the same feeling? I’m curious. Anyways… far too distracted. Let’s continue.*
So by this point the production company was filming a client every month or so (sometimes more, sometimes less), piano teaching was still ongoing and it felt like things were going swimmingly. This was 2018.
Then I wrote off my car.
I drove it into a ditch after hitting black ice while travelling back from a student's house. Unintentional of course but the ramifications hit hard.
I was without a car for weeks. This stopped my ability to teach (I hated the idea of using Skype although I really should have used it) which stopped the bulk of my stable income.
Thankfully I was able to get hold of a courtesy car while a mechanic went to work on repairing my damaged car. The insurance company wouldn’t touch it but they paid out enough to get it fixed privately. In the meantime I took a job at Homebase again.
The reason why I’m telling you all this is because while I currently feel a little more financially stable than I did back then, I’m by no means out of the woods. I don’t want anyone thinking that 2021 is going to be a walk in the park with a cushion of money wrapped around myself in case I fall.
That’s not the case.
In the interests of transparency though, I do have a very kind girlfriend who has said she’s willing to pick up the slack if I struggle to pay my half of the rent and my parents wouldn’t be out of the question if I really messed everything up.
I know people are going to argue that that IS a cushion. But I can tell you now that my pride and my stubbornness will keep me from using them unless I’m literally about to lose everything.
And you’ll know when that happens because it’ll go into my income reports.
Anyways, while I was working at Homebase (2019) I got Matt to build me a desk. In return for his help I would film the entire process and edit it for his YouTube channel.
This led to Matt asking me if I would like to do more videos. Of course I said yes.
Now believe it or not, Matt does pay me. He doesn’t pay me enough, (I know he’s going to read this) but he does pay me.
Initially the pay increased overtime in a similar way to Weyside Productions but we’ve settled around the £800 a month mark + 40% of donations that come through the livestreams.
So I quit Homebase. This was the summer of 2019. For the last 9 or so months I had been working for Matt, working as a piano teacher and working in retail. It was taking its toll.
Fast forward to 2020 and Covid has since wrecked any and all teaching I was doing and turned it into an online chore. The silver lining being that I no longer had to travel and so, with my free time, I began working on a new project. Music books.
The concept of writing a music book has been in my head for many years but I had never found the motivation to do it. Covid somehow gave me the kick up the backside to actually try it out and I’m glad I did.
Regardless of the income it’s provided (Hint: I haven’t made back the cost yet) it has given me an underlying purpose that has been missing for some time. Combine that with the fact that once a book is completed I end up with something I can actually hold, I have ended up with a project that is immensely satisfying!
So I decided that’s what I wanted to do. Create music books, teach people how to play them (through YouTube) and do a bit of work for Matt. So I handed in my notice as a piano teacher in December of 2020… which was a month ago…
I guess that takes us up to the present.
Current Revenue Sources
These are the revenue sources that are currently ongoing and actively add money to my bank account each month. I’ll also list the expenses for each job underneath the earnings.
Video Production, Live-Streaming and Website Editing for Matt Estlea
Operating as Weyside Productions
As mentioned previously this generates £800 a month + 40% of donations received. Over the last 6 months this averages around £1000 a month.
Expenses for this were initially quite high whilst investing in equipment however all of the production is now manageable with what we’ve got. Either that or Matt pays for it (thank you Matt). There is the monthly cost of Photoshop and Lightroom to factor in so I guess there is a £10 a month expense going on there.
Online Piano Students
Operating as Rob Harvey
While I finished teaching the majority of my students, I kept on 4 students from 2 families.. This totals on average of £250 a month when people aren’t on holiday.
No costs here. All done through Skype or WhatsApp with no travel concerns which is a great thing considering two of my students are in Australia.
Music Book Sales
Operating as Rob Harvey
Now we’re literally talking between 0-2 sales per month with a profit of about £8 per book (roughly). So the income here is next to nothing. The reason why I’m still including it is so that you have a baseline of where I’m starting from as this is the side of the business that I’m hoping to increase rapidly over the coming year. More of that in a bit.
In regards to expenses I’m looking at about £100 for 50 premium quality books and £25 a month Amazon fee. This is all dependant on sales.
Total Monthly Income (Average): £1,260
Total Monthly Expenses: £0 - £100
It’s a start.
In future reports I’ll be able to analyse what went well and what didn’t go so well based on the previous month(s) but for now, this is where we begin.
Future Revenue Sources
Music Book Sales
Operating as Rob Harvey
I mentioned this in the current revenue sources but in reality I have put zero effort into selling these books. I've got them on Amazon and on my website but have told very few people of their existence. So I'm going to ramp things up big time.
I'm hoping to create a collection of piano books that will inspire any age to play the piano which in turn should hopefully drive the sales of more books. These books might be themed, they might be instructional but regardless they should always strive to drive results.
The target I'm setting myself for the end of 2021 is £1,000+ of profit (not revenue, profit) per month in the last quarter purely from these books. With any luck I can utilise Amazon and it's fulfilment program to make it as hands-off as possible. Leaving me the time to create more.
Furthermore, I'm planning on getting in touch with various music teachers to offer promotional discounts along with affiliate programs to encourage sales.
The expenses for this will fluctuate over time with various marketing campaigns and book costs so this revenue source will be the one to watch.
‘Where’s My Thing’ Podcast
Operating as Rob Harvey
Over the next year both Matt and myself are hoping to not only reach a wider audience with the podcast but begin to find ways of monetising it too. We’re going to be releasing merchandise and expanding on affiliate links alongside potential advertisement spots within the podcast itself.
Now I can understand that some people aren’t a fan of adverts but I’m hoping we can introduce them in a way that’s as unobtrusive as possible with products that are relevant to the ‘Where’s My Thing’ community.
Currently Matt is thinking of splitting the revenue 80/20. With myself taking the 80 and him taking the 20 although this isn’t exactly in writing… but then neither is anything with what we do!
In terms of expenses we’re looking at about £25 a month for the cost of the podcast host, the website and the domain.
The Rob Harvey YouTube Channel
Operating as Rob Harvey
So this one is a little bit more challenging as a revenue source considering I’m currently sitting around 1,200 subscribers. But over the next year I’m hoping to create videos with the same level of interest and engagement that we achieve with Matt’s but focusing on my strength of music. The difficulty will be how to achieve that…
No expenses expected for the YouTube channel.
The Rob Harvey Website
Operating as Rob Harvey
The Rob Harvey website is going to be an online resource for online music learning funded primarily through affiliate links but with potential for merchandise later down the line. It’s also going to be the main location for book sales (unless Amazon is good enough).
Expenses wise I’m looking at about £12 a month. I’ve had websites in the past and have gone through WordPress for the last year but I believe Wix will be able to do everything I need while keeping costs low. I’m all about simplicity nowadays and Wix really fits the bill!
The Bubinga Boys YouTube Channel
Operating as Rob Harvey Now this is a complete shot in the dark and is likely to go nowhere but both Matt and myself believe there’s potential to jump on the bandwagons that currently exist and create some truly enjoyable content. We’ve got the video editing skills… we just need the gaming skills.
Potential merchandise options in here too.
No future costs expected.
Summary of Future Revenue Sources
It seems pretty much everything here revolves around the digital world. Which given the current Covid climate is going to be a very good thing moving forward. Here’s to trying to find a silver lining in all of this virus mess!
Of course a lot of these are a little hopeful but we shall see what 2021 brings!
There’s also a chance I’ve missed something that I’ve got planned but if that’s the case I’ll be sure to add it to the edits at the bottom of the page.
Believe it or not I never planned to be writing a 2,000+ word essay on my finances but here we are. You have my history and hopefully because of that you’ll be able to see my progression throughout these financial reports with a bit of context of what it took to get to this stage.
Anyways, I better get this published on the site otherwise I’ll find myself writing another thousand words.
In any case, have a good month and see you in February!