Tarzan Kay


August 16, 2022

to you

What you're reading is a copy of an email my subscribers received. This is an archive, so it's possible some links are missing or expired. If you want to stay in the loop, make sure to jump on my email list and get these delivered direct to your inbox!


first-year revenue, and what I spent money on

In my first year of business, I made $61,833 in gross revenue. After expenses, I took home just over half. 

…but I felt richer than the sultan.

I’d never made that kind of money in my life, let alone doing something that I actually liked. People were paying me to write, something I had wanted to do since I was old enough to answer the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

Six years later, I sometimes forget to be grateful for my business and everything I’ve built. I’m too busy taking on complex industry issues.

In many ways, the conversations I’m having about those issues (like this one from last week) are diametrically opposed to the marketing message I also want to shout from a mountaintop — 

“Manage your own schedule! An accessible business model anyone can do from home! Low startup cost! Do work you love!”

Those things are all true but I forget to mention them (and be grateful for them) because I am so busy being intense and complicated.

So I thought today I would take a second to uncomplicate a few things and tell you some straight truth about the digital course business model. 

– since we’re gearing up to promote Amy Porterfield’s Digital Course Academy, this feels important – 

If everyone were honest about these two simple facts, I’d probably be a lot more comfortable with the industry as a whole. Here goes:

  1. It will take at least 3-5 years.

People who need their businesses to be profitable immediately can sell services, which don’t cost much to deliver, are paid much better and don’t require a ton of ever-renewing leads to be profitable. 

But courses? That takes time. Lead generation is an art form, and it takes time to figure out what people want and how they want it packaged. You’ll fail at this lots of times before you’ll be successful at it. 

It took me four years to transition out of services and into selling courses. I still fail at lots of things. 

  1. It’s still a job.

There is nothing passive about online business. If I don’t show up and do my job ten months of the year, the business would be deep in the red. I work about thirty-five hours a week, and that’s low compared to most of the other online business owners I know.


I sleep until 8:30am lots of the time. I don’t commute. I wear Nike running shorts to work 90% of the time. In the summer we all go down to four days a week. My work is meaningful and important to me.

Like everyone else, I have financial stress. But it’s nothing like the financial stress I endured for most of my life prior to starting my business. It’s more of an annoying itch than the full-body poison ivy attack that was my financial twenties.

I love my business. I hope I get to keep doing it. 

It will most certainly change in the coming years. We don’t live in the same world we did when I started in 2016. But chances are good that the next iteration will be some version of the model we use today. 

It might seem to my subscribers sometimes that I have one foot out the door, but that is just me wanting to run away from those big, unwieldy problems I am trying to solve.  

I believe in the promise of online business, which really, is just like any other business. 

It’s hard work. It takes courage. Critical thinking. Thick skin. A lot of Starbucks. It means falling over and getting back up hundreds of times. 

Fortunately, I happen to be very good at those things. 



Other fun facts from my 2016 financial spreadsheet:

I spent $11K on online courses and training 

My first invoice from Sandra was for $22.60 (she’s been with me six years now, and runs all of our operations)

‍♂️I billed $1206 to a handsome local business owner who you now know as my lover Tormund Giantsbane

Total spent on contractors: $5046 

‍I had 3 software subscriptions: ConvertKit, Leadpages, and Acuity


Thinking of creating a course this year (or next)? 

Amy Porterfield just released a 4-part private podcast series, My (Brutally Honest) Road To Success And The Blueprint I’d Follow Today. (affiliate link)

When Amy says “brutally honest”, she’s talking about…

→ “Hard conversations with my husband and wiggling myself out of debt” kind of honest (#beenthere)

And when she says “blueprint”, she means…

→ Like diving into the offers she created in her business at each stage, which ones she regrets, and which ones she highly, highly suggests 

I haven’t listened yet, but I’m queuing it up in my podcast app rn. 

Get the audio series here —> 


Your Online Genius is having a sale on their legal templates until the end of August. It only happens once a year. 

This isn’t an “if you’re ready to …” kind of thing. It is something every online business needs to set up right preferably from day one.
If you’re not sure where to start, take their legal risk assessment, which will point you in the direction of what you need.

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