Financial transparency is “in” right now. Especially when it comes to talking about entrepreneurship. If you really want to help others follow in your footsteps, you’ve got to be up-front about how much you’re making, right?
Except a lot of us don’t feel comfortable with this type of honesty. In many circles, it’s taboo to talk about how much money you make. And there are other concerns here, too; you might not want to put your salary or rate out there if it could give your next employer or client a reason to pay you less.
So when, exactly, is it a good idea to share how much you make?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I’m now part of that entrepreneurial circle that values financial honesty. When people ask how I’m succeeding at creating my own business, they’re usually most curious about the money component.
That’s why I shared a financial milestone last week: three months into working for myself, I’m making as much money as I was before I quit my job. Yup, I’ve matched my day-job-plus-side-hustle income. My online community relates to this and roots me on because getting where you need to be financially is one of the most daunting challenges of quitting your job to pursue a bigger dream.
And yet, I didn’t say how much I’m making. I’ve shared publicly that I used to make at least $2,000/month from my side biz when I was still working my day job, mostly because I needed that credibility to sell my eguide on social media consulting. If I didn’t make good money with my social media side hustle, why would anyone pay for an ebook that explains how I did it?
Sharing my entire income, however, feels like a different beast. I nearly spilled all my financial beans in a recent post (and if you read it closely and do a few calculations, you can figure out about how much I’m earning now), but in the end I just didn’t want to announce how much I’m worth. Instead, I share those intimate details in my Solopreneur Secrets newsletter.
Of course, the newsletter is technically public; it’s is available for anyone who wants to subscribe, and plenty of people who I don’t know personally are now reading about my financial struggles and triumphs. But publishing it there, behind a paywall (albeit only a $5 one), feels different than putting my income on display in the blogosphere.
Here’s one way this plays out in the world of publishing: When author Michael Ellsberg shared in a Mixergy interview last month that he’d received a $135,000 advance for The Education of Millionaires, my first thought — no, actually second thought, because my first thought was holy COW that’s an awesome advance — was whether it was smart of him to tell everyone that figure. My literary agent has blogged about how you shouldn’t share your advance. But maybe once you surpass six figures, making that knowledge public helps confirm the legitimacy of the book? Maybe it gives people another reason to read it.
Except plenty of people who make an impressive salary are reluctant to talk about it. I asked a client who’s now making six figures as a freelance writer to come on the blog for a Q&A and tell you all how she got to this point. Because making six figures as any type of writer is impressive! But she’s not sure she wants the world to know how much she makes, so she’s mulling it over.
So here’s the question I want to throw out there: What do we have to lose by sharing how much we earn? It’s certainly one of those topics that has the potential to make us feel naked and vulnerable. Yet as a friend pointed out recently over lunch, keeping your day-job salary secret benefits your employer more than anyone else — more than you.
What do you think? When might it behoove you to share intimate financial details, and when is it best to keep them to yourself? Do you see any differences between what a traditional worker might share vs. an entrepreneur?