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So it’s time to raise your prices…but whenever you start typing up that email to let your clients know, you freeze up with anxiety and the draft immediately goes into the trash.

You find every way to justify why you should keep your rates the way they are and get overwhelmed with the thought of everything that could go wrong if you add even just another dollar to your prices. 

What will my clients think? 

What if they’re upset? 

Am I even good enough to be charging this much?!

I’ve been in those shoes plenty of times, my friend. 

It seems like something we all go through as business owners, even if we know our income is no longer sustainable. But here’s what I learned in the transition from corporate life to entrepreneurship…

Scared money don’t make money. 

If you lock yourself in panic mode because you’re scared of what may happen if you increase your prices, you’ll never bring in any real profit — which can wreak havoc on your business because as you grow, you will ultimately need more resources to sustain that growth. 

But I promise it’s not as scary as it seems. 

Today we’re going to take a look at when is a good time to raise your prices, how to fit that increase into your business model, and how to communicate that with your clients and customers so everyone walks away happy. 

The cost of doing business has gone up

If the cost of doing business is going up, then it’s a no-brainer — it’s time to increase your prices. 

The costs of goods and services increasing will mainly apply to product-based businesses, but service providers should still consider this one. 

The material cost of goods will gradually increase over time, so if it’s been a few years since you’ve looked at what it costs for you to take a trip to Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, or wherever you get your materials from, you may want to pause and see how much things have changed before you make any other financial decisions. 

Unless your cost base has gone down recently (which in this economy is highly unlikely), you’re probably making less than you think you are because of inflation.

Service providers — you’re not off the hook either! You may notice inflation impacting the process of your software or membership hosting sites, but don’t forget about any physical products you handle either. 

Yes, time is one of the costs of goods factored into your services packages, but if anything physical gets sent out — like welcome packages, client gifts, or a simple card — you need to take a look into how the price of these things is impacting your net income. 

Your booking and conversion rate have gone up

First of all — way to go! Go ahead and pat yourself on the back because that’s what every business owner dreams of having. That’s what we’re all working towards so we can bring home the bacon. 

If that rate has increased by at least 80%, then it’s time to raise your prices. 

This number is a bit higher than what you’ll hear many business coaches recommend, but I’m a planner, and as such, I tend to overcompensate. 

The bottom line is if you’re consistently closing out those discovery calls and filling all of your spots, then it’s time to increase your rates. 

Your hard costs aren’t equal to 40% of your offers

Hard costs — i.e. things you have to pay for to keep the show going — add up faster than you think. If you have VAs, contracted help, employees, are part of a mastermind or membership, pay for software… all of these things will factor into the cost it takes for you to do business. 

You need to make sure your hard costs are about 40% of the overall charge of the finished product. 

This hit home when I did the Blueprint Model from my friend Shanna Skidmore. It seemed so high at first. I thought, “There’s NO WAY I can do that.” 

But when you break it down and see what you’re bringing in, what you have to set aside for big expenses like taxes and paying for the cost of goods, you start to get an idea of what your income will be. 

You aren’t priced competitively

There’s no reason you should be significantly undercharging what your competitors are offering. 

If you know your skills align with what other people on the market are offering, if you find yourself looking at a competitor’s work and saying “I could do that too!” then you need to price yourself accordingly. 

If your pricing is on the lower end of your competitors, but you still have a conversion rate of at least 80%, it’s time to reconsider what you’re charging.

You haven’t raised your prices in a while

If you haven’t raised your prices in about a year and a half, it’s time to make a change. 

I know how scary that can feel though. You don’t have the excuse of inflation or an increased cost of goods to back you up on this one. 

About a year or so ago, I had a financial meeting with my husband and he realized that I haven’t raised my prices for quite some time. 

When he suggested that I increase my rates, I thought of a million and one excuses as to why I shouldn’t do that. 

I won’t list those million and one excuses here (because we’d be here allll day) but if you can relate to that, I understand where you’re coming from. 

However, when I did finally face my fears and up my prices, I noticed that it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. 

I had set in my mind that my clients were going to go haywire and hate me for it, but I saw that it ended up having little to no effect on my booking average. 

The bottom line is, that there are people out there who are willing to pay your rates. Your time and energy are valuable and it’s okay to price yourself accordingly. 

How to communicate changing rates with your clients

When you raise your rates, you’ve gotta be firm in them. You work hard and there’s a reason that you’ve raised your rates. But that doesn’t just mean you can leave your clients in the dark about it.

Your price increase is also impacting their lives and their businesses. 

If you want to efficiently communicate why you’ve raised your prices, show them what the benefit will be for them. How are they going to get better results? How are they going to get a better product? 

Effectively communicating the increase in your prices also comes with knowing your audience well. 

Understanding the motivating factors behind your clients’ buying behavior can really help you best communicate the value of your services to them.

With that being said, there are still some best practices that should be implemented no matter your industry or what type of buyer persona you have in your target audience. 

Start at the back of the funnel

Go from the very beginning of the client experience and work your way through the entire journey. 

Start with the first things they see — your website, your booking process, etc. — and go through each step — the proposals, the contract, the payment plan, the sales call scripts — until you’ve hit the final step of conversion. 

This is not only a best practice logistically (how confusing would it be to have your updated rates in one touchpoint but not the other?) but it helps you gain a renewed understanding of what your buyers experience on the road to working with you. 

It can help you work out any issues and help you continue to service your clients and customers well. 

That may include a few changes on your end. Maybe you haven’t always listed your prices on your website, but with your updated pricing and a deeper understanding of your clients, it may be time to do so.

Grandfather people into your membership

If you’re running a membership or an agency-style business model, you can grandfather people into your pricing model. 

This means existing customers can continue to pay the same price, even if it increases for new members and clients. 

Sell your sawdust

What can you easily add to your offers that doesn’t cost you much more time or energy? 

It doesn’t have to be one of those big, final deliverables, but instead something you can easily bundle with your offers to show your clients that you value your relationship.  

Invest the price of what you do into someone else’s service or product

If you’ve never invested the price of your product or service into someone else to go through the client experience to see what it’s like to receive your offers, I highly recommend doing so. 

It’s an opportunity to educate yourself on what the client experience is like each time you raise your prices. 

Are your services worth the increase? Are your products reflecting the quality that comes along with a higher rate? 

If you’re offering something new, you could even try beta testing to see the value in it. 

Grocery store receipt your offers

Whenever I raise my rates, I go through and line item every single deliverable and figure the cost of goods that go into it. When I do this, not only am I more aware of the details behind what I’m offering but so are my clients

I add all these numbers up, for each item, to determine the total cost of what I’m offering. I start to see the bigger picture, and it usually helps me feel more confident in raising my prices. 

My secret sauce for presenting my new prices

Customers don’t just buy from any ol’ stranger on the internet. 

There’s a lot that goes into moving them down that funnel and leading them to the point of conversion, and you’ve got to be there to guide them down that path. 

So if your sales page can’t beckon someone in your target audience to buy from you, then who will? If you don’t clearly anchor your prices and execute a clear offer, you’re pretty much just leaving money on the table. 

It’s time we put an end to that and help you present your new pricing with authority!

The Sweet 16 Method is what I use in my own business that’s helped me write sales pages that have generated upwards of $500K in a single launch! 

It’s also the very framework I use inside my membership, Copywriting for Creatives, to help thousands of creative entrepreneurs write sales pages that convert. 

And now, dear friend, I’m dishing out that very framework inside the Sweet 16 Sales Page Template + Copywriting Workbook.

Get a step-by-step template that helps you structure a high-converting sales page that not only fits your brand voice but is chock-full of all those juicy details to help your clients understand the value of what you’re offering. 

Here’s what’s included:

  • A printable and digital copy of the Sales Page Sketchbook for gathering everything you need about your offer. 
  • Instant access to the Sales Page Primer Party Starter Copy Generator, a tool to fire up HUNDREDS of combos of sales copy prompts
  • The plug-and-play 27-page Sweet 16 Sales Page™ and Services Page Template both to walk you through writing EVERY one of the 16 sections your page should include


  • A 15-minute sales page assessment to make sure your sales page is ready to go live
  • The Conversion Design Teardown Training + Idea Bank and Launch Metrics & Goals Tracker Pack to help you stay en route to landing your dreamboat clients with copy that converts

I’m ready to help you get those sales whenever you are! Snag the Sweet 16 Sales Page Template + Copywriting Workbook here!

Reading Time: 7 Minutes So it’s time to raise your prices…but whenever you start typing up that email to let your clients know, you freeze up with anxiety and the draft immediately goes into the trash. You find every way to justify why you should keep your rates the way they are and get overwhelmed with the thought of […]

Ashlyn Writes how to write a pitch

Let’s talk about how to beef up your PR strategy with an email pitch template! If you’re interested in securing podcast interviews, guest posts, or maybe even landing something bigger like a magazine opportunity or digital media feature from different media publications that are out there, keep reading. I’m talking about how to write a pitch for an article, and including real-life media pitch examples … and more.

This video & post is dedicated to the decade of chronologically organized magazines I had neatly sorted under my bed growing up … until my parents made me throw them all away when I moved out. RIP.


So in this post, I’m going to dive into some strategic tips for your media pitch, so you can see how to write a pitch for an article, blog, podcast, or any media opportunity that’s hanging out on your PR strategy dream list.

You’ll see:

  • The magic word to include in ALL of your PR pitches
  • The first copy I include when I write a media pitch (even before the hook)
  • The difference in PR and marketing, + multiple media pitch examples so you can swipe copy for your own email pitch template—which you can craft by the end of this post

Quick case study: One January in my business, I challenged myself to pitch 5 different outlets on my media list every Monday for the entire month. I sent this template I’m about to walk you through around 20 times … it helped me secure 11 podcast interviews.

This template works. You just got to use it a lot.

You will get told “thanks, but no thanks.”

Crickets will sing.

That’s simply how the publicity game goes sometimes.

And it’s ok!

Podcasters, journalists, bloggers, editors, PR contacts … they’re all looking out for #1—THEIR audience. As they should. They painstakingly built & earned that audience. They want to serve them well. They’re playing an endless game of matchy-matchy, alligning stories & info their people need with what’s relevant, interesting, or downright exciting.

This is one of MANY email templates I recommend you have in your business. I have a full checklist of 28 I would recommend the average creative have on hand—make sure you download that freebie checklist, and after you make this one, you can check it off!

What is Public Relations: How to Make a PR Strategy & Media Pitch Work for YOU

Fun fact: before I did this whole entrepreneur thing, I studied journalism/PR, worked in corporate marketing, and wrote for magazines—specifically with good ol’ Time Inc. publication. So, I’ve been the pitcher—the one securing coverage thanks to a media pitch in magazines like Bon Appetit and newspapers like USA Today—and the pitchee (if you will), the one writing content for outlets like Style Me Pretty, About.com, and Southern Living, to name a few.

In a quotable nutshell:

“Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”

— Helen Woodward

🙂 … but let’s get some definitions established.

You may be interested in: Marketing & PR Planning 101: How to Build an Editorial Calendar


This is your relationship with your publics (surprise!). PR is non-paid marketing, so think podcast interviews, guest blogs, speaking podiums, community involvement, getting featured on Style Me Pretty or Forbes or Elle Decor, styled shoots, etc.

Focus? Primarily, the focus of a PR strategy is reputation. Auxilary results* include profit … but that’s not the #1 goal. That’s further down the funnel.

*This is why “partnerships” isn’t included here … because to me, partnership kinda goes under the sales bucket of marketing … there’s a residual kickback. Aka cash.

If I was down to my last dollar, I'd spend it on public relations. Click To Tweet

“Pitching” is the word used for (usually) cold contacting someone to start up a conversation—which is done via a media pitch—about getting coverage or being featured. In a company, it’s the job of a publicist or PR department, which is usually within or connected to the marketing department.


Advertising is paid marketing placements. Pay-to-play, baby. Think ads on any social media platform, paid placements, and some partnerships.

Focus? Primarily, the focus is on profitability—the goal is to make more than you spend, of course.

PR Quote Card (2)

You May Be Interested In: Facebook Ad Copy Tips to Get You Started with Words

If you want to dig a bit deeper and build a marketing & PR full plan with both of these tools, check out my post over here. 

Okay, let’s dig in, here are the 5 things I want you to have spots for in your pitch email template.

Media Pitch Template Step 1: The Hook

According to a Fractl study in 2020, the majority of journalists would like to see a pitch that’s 100-200 words long. Let me show you what 200 words looks like with some filler copy:

Etsy hexagon tote bag live-edge prism hoodie master cleanse aesthetic wayfarers. Art party unicorn glossier food truck irony intelligentsia. Viral lyft iceland. Portland before they sold out bespoke, umami hexagon humblebrag literally 90’s glossier. Disrupt stumptown church-key green juice. Readymade kickstarter austin lyft, iceland fanny pack brunch.

Leggings activated charcoal, waistcoat drinking vinegar deep v twee semiotics snackwave vice 90’s celiac scenester. Dreamcatcher cred chartreuse asymmetrical. Pork belly prism helvetica health goth mustache pinterest leggings roof party iceland intelligentsia wolf post-ironic deep v asymmetrical. Umami raw denim cronut actually ennui photo booth vaporware snackwave slow-carb raclette yr glossier 90’s enamel.

This is one of those “If you can’t explain it, you don’t understand it well enough” situations in life. 😜 That same study above cited that 46.5% of journalists receive at least 11 pitches per day, while 28.64% receive over 26 pitches per day.


I always start off by saying, “I know you’re busy, so I’ll make it quick.” Somebody wrote that in a pitch email to me one time when I was writing some freelance stories, and I really just appreciated it … sometimes, maybe people like to be reminded, “Yes, thank you. This writer DOES have a life, I’m not just sitting here reading these.”

How to pitch to the media like a PR pro | Ashlyn Writes

Then, we’re going to break into that media pitch’s hook. 

The hook? It’s a quick one-liner that presents why what you’ve got should be interesting to the outlet.

You’re going to put a placeholder here if you’re building a media pitch template because this will change every time in your PR strategy. Journalists are looking for the story. What is the hook that makes your story different and NEWSWORTHY?

That’s important. You’ve GOT to get.to.it.fast. Media outlets are constantly producing stories and content … and the fact that your brand, company, or small business exists … well, that’s not a story by itself.

Ashlyn Writes how to write a pitch creative copywriter tips

PR consultant Brigitte Lyons unpacks 7 ways to create a hook in this article, and they’re great (btw, all her stuff’s great. She just teaches PR strategy, and I’ve followed her since before I left corporate when I was looking around at how I wanted to apply my skills to the creative world.).

Here are 7 ways she suggests you could approach a hook:

  1. Give a twist on something that’s trending in the news
  2. Bring a national story home by making it local
  3. Elevate a local story to the national level
  4. Champion the underdog opinion
  5. Collect some awesome data and tell an outlet about it
  6. Work that holiday calendar
  7. Tie in something new you’re launching to a trend that’s getting big

And when you figure it out, get to it fast.

Here are two media pitch examples of how that hook copy could read:

Media Pitch Example 1

Situation: Creative lawyer pitching to a national outlet for photographers

“A story about a photographer is circulating, as she now owes $45,000 to the IRS for collecting payment without operating as a true business. WHEW! The IRS is no joke! Since your website is devoted to education for budding photographers, I had an idea for a guest post I could write for your audience to protect them from such nightmares—was thinking “4 Legal Must-Do’s Before You Turn Your Photography Hobby into a Job.”

Media Pitch Example 2

Situation: Artist pitching to lifestyle print magazine

“Noticed you just added a pet lovers column (OBSESSED! You mentioned you have a Boykin—that’s what we have, too!), and had an idea for a story. I’m an artist local to the Charleston area, and I actually paint pet portraits … the ultimate gift for the pet lover, right?

Had a couple of story ideas to see if you were interested—maybe a round-up post for pet lover gifts, or a behind-the-scenes look at how artists like me capture likenesses of furry family members.”

One other tool I wanted to mention—my friend and colleague Selena Soo has a FAB PR calendar which is chock full of ideas—think epic story ideas, dates, and hooks to help you become your media list’s favorite go-to expert, smart ways to tackle sensitive & timely issues, and more ideas for making an impact with your media pitches. Click here to download it!


Media Pitch Template Step 2: The Intro

Next, introduce who you are, and explain why you’re coming to this person or this media list contact. 

This will probably include a snippet of your bio copy (I have a shop resource in The Copy Bar if you need more hand-holding there) and then another placeholder where you’ll put some personal information and connection.

But my BEST tip here for this part of your media pitch is to make the connection to the human.

What line can you help this person draw to you?

  • Do you have mutual friends or clients that connected you?
  • Had you read their latest story? Have you used one of their articles to help you out? (Ahem, ahem—this is a good place to start! Stalk their work!!)
  • Did you share an alma mater or philanthropy group?
  • What is the mutual shared relationship there?

Tie it into why they should care to hear from YOU—here’s a real-life media pitch I secured, and see how I connected my bio to the podcast interviewer, even when I didn’t know her personally … I showed how I’d listened to a ton of recent episodes.

Ashlyn Writes how to write a pitch creative copywriter tips

In this post, I talked about my end-of-day edit routine and how I spend a few, focused minutes at the end of each day to build true relationships beyond just the internet with people/peers/colleagues/friends. This is a fantastic time where you can start to solidify those relationships … so if you ever DO want to swoop in their inbox and pitch them on something that you’ve been thinking about, it isn’t totally out of the blue or random. It feels like a less-sleazy PR strategy in my opinion.

Pro tip: look them up on social media … specifically LinkedIn—that’s my favorite spot to find out where someone is in their professional life. Can you dig around a bit to see what they recently wrote, and let them know you read it? If you can dig a bit and find some cocktail conversation starters, it won’t feel totally “cold call.”

Media Pitch Template Step 2: The Pitch Details

Now, give your pitch ideas details.

You can add transition copy in your pitch template that says something like this—

“I have an idea that I think would be great for your PUBLICATION NAME audience.” 

Or …

“I had a few ideas that would compliment what you have going on.”

Then, you want to give a couple of ideas for the content you could help them with.

Maybe it’s 3 topics that you could cover if you were on their podcast, or maybe it’s 1 to 3 story ideas you could help out with as a guest expert—topics you usually comment on or full ideas you already fleshed out. Though, if you’re only giving one idea, I’d maybe include a couple of other ideas that you’d be available to comment on.

Again, here’s a snippet from a pitch I secured—please remember that this is my work, so just be original as you let this inspire you! 🙂

Ashlyn Writes how to write a pitch creative copywriter tips

My pro tip for getting story ideas? Grab a cup of coffee at your local bookstore, and pick up a whole stack of magazines. Then, while you sit and flip through, you’ll see lots of stories that will get your wheels turning.

This can also be a good way to come up with round-up article ideas … watch the YouTube episode above for details on including that in your PR strategy.

Ashlyn Writes how to write a pitch

Media Pitch Template Step 2: The Thank You & Call-to-Action

Finally, insert a spot in your media pitch template to thank the contact for their time and end with a call-to-action step.

Go for something a bit more than “I hope to hear from you.” Instead, I’d get specific when I pitched. I’d include copy like:

“Is this something you’d be interested in?”

“Is there one of these topics idea you’d like me to pull more details on?”

“Would you mind keeping me in mind as you plan out next quarter’s podcast interviews?”

Wrap it up with a copy snippet like that, or a placeholder if you’re building out your template for your PR strategy.

4 More Media Pitch Examples

Example 1:

How to pitch to the media like a PR pro | Ashlyn Writes

Pitched or caught? Caught (came to us)

Cons: 0/10—this person didn’t research my brand at all. Shout out to uh, all the pro boxing fans in my audience? Sure.

Pros: Good CTA line, I actually love that.


Example 2:

How to pitch to the media like a PR pro | Ashlyn Writes

Pitched or caught? Caught (came to us)
Cons: None, really … but obviously I’m not a big fan of a CTA that doesn’t ask a question in an email, so that could be better.
Pros: LOVE the first line, easy “yes” … I’ll definitely keep reading. Hyperlinked the brand and I appreciate that. 3 bullet elevator pitch is bril, too.

Example 3


Pitched or caught? Pitched (I reached out first)
Cons: Kinda long
Pros: Won me a media spot & this person asked (in the first email back) to affiliate for my program. They knew who I was BEFORE I sent the pitch, which … back to that relationship thing I talked up in the video.

Example 4

Ashlyn-Writes-Blog-Media-Pitch-Example-4Pitched or caught? Caught (came to us)
Cons: None, really.
Pros: Moved the back-and-forth to email and OUT of DMs, where they’d first reached out. Secured a relationship, established that I didn’t want free product but they said when they had a budget they’d be back.

There are some A+ media pitch examples in this article from Prowly, if you want a few more!

2 Quick Bonus Tips to Remember When You Pitch Public Relations Opportunities

Tip #1: There is a magic word that I use all the time when I’m pitching media and partnerships as part of my PR strategy. Big surprise, the word is partner. “How can I partner with you and your brand to give great content to your audience?  How can I partner with you to support Q2 product sell-through?” Always, always come to the pitching table from a place of service.

Tip #2: comes from our dear client, Julie Solomon. Julie teaches all the time about pitching different outlets. One thing I learned from her is to hold back your media kits, specifically your pricing, because what you’re trying to do at the beginning is just get them to the next step in the process.

In this cold pitch email, you’re trying to even see if they’re interested. Hold back your media kit, especially if you have any kind of pricing involved. Right now you’re just trying to establish that rapport, that relationship, and see how you can help serve them.

Alright, I hope you learned how to write a pitch for an article or whatever else you’re dreaming up. Now, it’s your turn! What is your favorite media outlet or publication you’ve consumed lately—is there a magazine you always read, or a podcast you never miss? I’d love to hear below!

Now you know a little bit more about my marketing routine, make sure to check to this post where I walk you through what I do at the end of every day—especially as a busy working mom—to make sure that I’ve at least tackled the big things that will help keep my business moving towards its goals.

Don’t forget to grab that full list of PR strategy ideas & learn more about how to write a pitch for an article from my friend Selena! Until next time, remember to set up sustainable writing systems in your business so you can work from a place of rest, not hustle.




How to write a perfect PR pitch | Ashlyn Writes


Reading Time: 11 Minutes Let’s talk about how to beef up your PR strategy with an email pitch template! If you’re interested in securing podcast interviews, guest posts, or maybe even landing something bigger like a magazine opportunity or digital media feature from different media publications that are out there, keep reading. I’m talking about how to write a […]


As the owner of an online business—part copywriting agency, part digital product e-commerce—I have to manage my cash flow and small business budget with precision. That means sticking to a meticulous budget for spending and paying myself on time (weekly). It also means taking some risks like investing: hey-o ads, hiring, contractors, etc.

But hoo boy, has it been a messy process to get here. 😱

Learning how to pay yourself never occurred to me until oh, … 12 months into entrepreneurship. Whoopsadaisy! The Blueprint Model by Shanna Skidmore rocked my world in 2017, but I’ve since coupled that with some other tricks and tips—that’s what I want to talk about in this post.

How to create a budget for a small business | Ashlyn Writes

If something like figuring out how to be a better steward of your creative small business financial management, how to pay yourself, or how to up your profit margin (whether you want to up sales or not) isn’t on your annual goals list, you’d be one in a million: According to statistics reported by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in 2019, about 20% of business startups fail in year one. (source)

We know this, we hear it all ze time.

In this post & episode, you’ll find—

  • How to set your own small business budget
  • Ideas to divide it into categories
  • How to pay yourself as an LLC (Profit First method die-hard over here!)
  • Plus, you’ll also get a peek into what my day-to-day finance workflow looks like on Fridays—my #FinanceFridays routine.

Let’s do it!

Free Small Business Budgeting Guide | Ashlyn Writes

How to Create a Small Business Budget

I love talking about this because I stuck my head in the sand for 12 whole months in my business. I was the girl constantly in math coach class from 3rd grade through college, I just figured I was bad at math for life.

Fast forward to entrepreneurship, and I didn’t pay myself regularly my first 11 months in business. 😫🙈 It was awful. I was terrified all the success would disappear (I was good at marketing, so I just sold, sold, sold … and didn’t work on the whole business operations side of things), so I hoarded anything I made, keeping it tucked right where it landed in the business bank account—NEVER in my (family’s) pocket. Finances terrified me. I had no CLUE how to pay myself as an LLC … so I just ignored that problem. 

This lead to as many marriage arguments as you can imagine it did. 🙃 

It was an absolute blessing when I met my now good friend Shanna Skidmore: My husband and I worked with her together through The Blueprint Model, her curriculum for small business financial management. LIGHTBULBS everywhere, it changed my entire pricing structure … I went down from like, 32 annual clients to 17, and upped my profit margin. I’ll spare the whole story, but in a nutshell, I equated more clients and hours working to more MONEY in the bank. I said yes to EVERY job that came my direction, and exhausted myself in the process … until Shanna’s process & small business budget template gutted my dismal financial set-up.

How to pay yourself as a small business | Ashlyn Writes

Now days, I want to live free from the love of money and stuff, and instead, understand finances so I’m not afraid of finances (in lieu of immaturely acting like it’s not a thing, which I’ve also done (a-hem, year 1 after college with my first paycheck)—this way I can honor God and my family, steward our funds well, and give generously.

Here’s an overarching view of how I NOW set-up my annual small business budget, and how I have since 2017.

By the way, I am not a financial expert. Shanna is, I am not. I’m not the most profitable business on planet earth. I do, however, run a business I started in 2016 that’s hits around $1M in annual sales, employs 4 women and roughly 10 contractors, and hits around 60%::40% in costs::profit. In full disclosure, I worked in a marketing firm prior to this job … not in finance!

Every year, Shanna launches The Blueprint Model—I’m leading a crew through it again when it opens on Feb. 17, if you’re interested! Click here to learn more.

Here’s what I do.

Step No. 1: Start with your “enough’ number:
what do you NEED to make

I base my salary off of what I know my take-home needs to be.

The easiest way to get a clear idea of how much you should spend in each category is by using an online budgeting tool like Mint.com and knowing your spending plan, but I’m kinda anal about knowing every detail: so that we have an estimate for what’ll happen with our money during any given year (plus it helps when planning). The more specific the details are on where exactly money goes throughout these categories—even if they seem small or non-essential at first glance—tends to providing greater clarity in the end, in my opinion.

(Tools note: I make this on a Google Sheets spreadsheet and duplicate to a new tab/update it every year. Once it’s “finalized” for the year, I use Mint.com to create budgets.) 

How to pay yourself as a small business | Ashlyn Writes

Step No. 2: Find out how much it
costs to keep the lights on in your business

Now, we need to find the overhead. I move over to my small business budget template for this part.

Softwares, payroll .. when you first start you probably don’t have an avalanche of costs—at least for my copywriting & calligraphy business, it was kinda just me and some software apps.

The process of writing down every single business expense in a year pulls me OFF our family spreadsheets and into my business Blueprint. My annual Blueprint Model template includes a tab with business expenses mapped out and cost of goods broken down (plus a financial projections tab, but we’re not there yet!).

Here are my major categories—

I. Office
II. Business Reserves (Savings)
III. Business Travel
IV. Insurance (I definitely didn’t get this right away, ah!)
V. Marketing/Promotional
VI. Professional Services (attorney, coaching, CPA fees, etc.)
VII. Software
VIII. Team

Step No. 3: Set your pricing based off of a blend of what you need to make, industry standards, and supply/demand

Craft your pricing through the lens of what you NEED to make—with respect to industry standards & supply/demand. I kinda hate the “follow your heart and the money will follow” b.s. … that’s not a way to set your pricing and sales goals!

Roughly, if you need your.services to bring in about $100,000, and a package is $4K, then you need about 25 clients, or about 2 a month. If that sounds exhausting, maybe you need to raise your prices a bit. 

Some rules of thumb? I try to stay around 60% costs to 40% profit as a profit margin. You may can run 50% costs to 50% profit if you have very, very little overhead. If you have a bigger team, payroll will be a chunk, maybe you’re more 70% to 30%. I track all this every week, I’m always looking at our numbers, which brings me to … the #FinanceFriday routine itself.

Interested in batch workdays? Click here to watch & find tips about how to set up a batch day workflows for your business.

Behind the Scenes: How I Organize My Weekly #FinanceFriday Routine

This routine makes perfect sense for Fridays: I’m excited about the weekend, ready to play with my kids, and have no calls/meetings. 

How to pay yourself as a small business | Ashlyn Writes

So? I roll up into the office with my workout clothes on, skincare/Olaplex bun in place, and do this first thing in the morning. It takes about 30 minutes to an hour(ish), and serves as my money weekly check-in for our business (and family).

If you want to knock out your small business’s money date in a couple of hours a week, run through the glitter tunnel: here we go!

Also I hashtag Finance Friday in my head when I say it, so there you go. 🙂

Finance Friday Step #1:

Categorize personal & small business expenses

As a small business owner, this is vital for our family finances—I’ll start with family first because I’m the bookkeeper of the family. The easiest way to do this is through a budgeting system tool like Mint.com. Again, up above I mentioned how I track in HIGH detail our budgets year to year for different things. All I’m doing on Friday? Sorting the previous 7 days’ expenses into the right category.

Was that Target order baby formula or a gift for someone … what was that Amazon purchase … etc. Most of these apps learn your habits which is nice—Chick-fil-A expenses are always filed to restaurants by the Mint.com bots in my account, for example.

For business expenses, my bookkeeper Madison (hi, Madison!) organizes every transaction from my business. I used to do this on my own … a bookkeeper was one of the first 3 contractors or things I outsourced!

All I need to do for the business expenses is pop into Slack and make sure she doesn’t have any outstanding questions about where things need to go.

BTW, bookkeeping is the recording of financial transactions and accounting is the analysis, reporting, and summarization of the financial data. <<< I didn’t really know the difference when I started my business!

Finance Friday Step #2:

Pay off all credit cards

Personal credit cards are paid off weekly. For the business (I know Dave Ramsey folks are cringing), I’m a big fan of credit cards. Hear me out!


That’s a Profit First method learning—if you’re disciplined enough, there are some great points systems and rewards out there, like cash-back, travel points (hello, flights for work!), etc. I pay them off in full on the 10th and 25th of every month.

I do believe in carrying some debt (ex. as a family as we’ve established a line of credit, but divvy it up between big expenses and what’s in who’s name, like the house and our 2 cars) … and I also believe at times you have to spend money to make money as a business owner. Dyed in the wool from a book my grandfather gave all of us granddaughters to read, I grew up a really big fan of Dave Ramsey. But now as a business owner, I think sometimes it’s okay to go into a bit of debt to start a business. For more on that, listen to this episode of Ben Shapiro interviewing Dave Ramsey—it’s a good, healthy debate on going into debt to start a business or not.

Finance Friday Step #3:

Ensure accounts receivable are paid up

Time to get all the money in the pot! Accounts receivable is the process of making sure you’re paid. If your small business has hundreds of customers on payment plans (this can happen FAST if you’re a course business), I recommend a dunning service like Gravy. I hated chasing customers down … think about when your credit card expires, do YOU go tracking down everything you’ve got a membership or payment plan on with it? I sure do not, ha! So yes—outsource to a Gravy when you can! We ❤️ them.

I hope into HoneyBook (the client relationship management tool we use) and make sure there aren’t any payment issues with our clients. It’s pretty easy to just click the “remind” button under bookkeeping and an auto-drafted email I’ve written is triggered to send to the client reminding them to pay.

You may also be interested in: 5 Tips to Get Started with Honeybook


Then, I’ll pop in PayPal and see if that’s all cleared out and transferred to my income folder …

… this is essentially the digital version of making sure there isn’t $20 in my pocket. 😉

Finance Friday Step #4:
Pay yourself with a small business budget “envelope system”

Now we’re at the fun step—paying yourself!

I love Mike Michalowicz’s  Profit First method for small business finances. The premise is simple: you *probably* won’t miss 10% of what you bring in every week or month, and you can challenge yourself to make do on 90%. So? Put the 10% somewhere incrementally, and pay your future self first. It’s brilliant. Read it.

Here’s my hot tip from him: Set up an “envelope” system of sub-accounts in your business bank account.


EACH time you get paid, whether clients, courses, products, affiliate fees—it goes to the main folder/account. The pot. 

Every single Friday, I get to log in and see how much we made that week—yay! This serves as a killer gut check, too. I can eyeball when we’re having a great week, or when things are quiet in the small business budget.

Then, I divvy it out. I put …

  • 10% to profit
  • 15% to taxes
  • (Currently) 55% in operating expenses
  • 20% to owner’s draw

In his book, Micahelowicz gives a great plan of HOW to find what percentages you should use, btw, but those are the #s I landed on. 

The credit card, where ALL the expenses are going, is always paid out of the operating expenses (OPEX) folder.

Your salary is a business expense, so it comes out of owner’s draw (or OPEX).

The taxes folder is for taxes and the 10% gets to build bit by bit for savings (and future investing). 

**Note: If you don’t have a payroll system running or an auto-withdrawal scheduled, you also need to pay yourself as an LLC in this step. Mine is on payroll, but in my first couple of years in business, this step meant paying my contractors via Paypal.

Finance Friday Step #5:
Make any calls or send any emails to your CPA, financial advisor, or bank

Last step! If there’s anything admin or calls I need to make as I review small business budget tasks, here’s where I do that.

Note—I don’t have to do this every week. It’s just a bookmarked time in case I need to reach out to someone.

Finance Friday Step #6:
Add stats to your weekly tracker

You want to make sure that you are tracking the right small business finances & key performance indicators! The stats I’m always looking at are sales from various parts of the business—overall, shop sales, client services sales, affiliate sales, giving, ANY refunds.

Read Traction by Gino Wickman for more info on this. Solid read if you’re in business solo, solid read if you’ve got a team!

And that’s the routine!

Every Friday I do these steps, I have since 2017 when I first worked with Shanna. I’ve expanded it as I was able to then hire a bookkeeper, once I read Profit First method… now my system is a big blend of The Blueprint Model meets Profit First method meets, just how I want to run the business financials. 

6 Monthly Small Business Financial Management Tasks

As a bonus, my monthly small business financial management workflow is as follows:

  • Review monthly PnL financial statements :: Actually taking time to study the monthly financial report my bookkeeper made, of where our money comes in and where it goes out.
  • Clean out operating expenses that we don’t need in ASC, LLC :: “how’d we get *this* software subscription??” Yeah. This is when I cancel these. I go through my small business budget template and see what I can delete as an expense.
  • Schedule appt with my CPA/check-in with him
  • File taxes quarterly
  • Schedule Carter State of the Union w/ Wes :: I look and see where we landed with our personal budgets so I can talk to him about that. We look at how we’re doing with our family Blueprint and my business financial Blueprint, so we can see that we’re being intentional with our saving and our spending.
  • Schedule meeting with my bookkeeper :: She reconciles accounts, and this is a time for us to check-in.

If you’re interested more in my journey financially as a business owner, here are a few other blogs and videos:

The Surprising Way to Make More Money in Your Business

How to Pay Yourself as a Creative Entrepreneur

Where to Spend Your Money as You Build a Creative Biz: Small Business Investment Tips

The 10 Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made as a Creative Entrepreneur

Again, I hope that helps you out!

If you’re serious about getting financially set in your creative business, don’t forget my freebie. I walk you through how to divvy up your work into each day. All the steps I went through to craft a small business budget template I can use year after year are inside!

Small Business Budgeting Guide | Ashlyn Writes

 Did I leave anything out? Are you going to use this workflow? Let me know below!



How to pay yourself as a small business | Ashlyn Writes

Reading Time: 11 Minutes As the owner of an online business—part copywriting agency, part digital product e-commerce—I have to manage my cash flow and small business budget with precision. That means sticking to a meticulous budget for spending and paying myself on time (weekly). It also means taking some risks like investing: hey-o ads, hiring, contractors, etc. But hoo […]

Get a front-row seat to sales copy tips & hacks I’m applying to write first-rate/top-shelf funnels for clients, what’s on my desk (and in my earbuds), and what lessons I’ve learned … sometimes the hard way. Hope you’re ok that I’m a little more personal here than I am in social media land. 😜

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