10 min 23 sec

CPA Earns Six-Figures Selling Spreadsheets to Etsy Sellers

This CPA was burned out on office work, so she turned her efforts to an Etsy business—but it wasn’t long before she was hitting the books again, just in a more creative way. Her new spreadsheets help Etsy sellers and earn a six-figure income for her.
High Profit Low Startup Potential Passive Income Product

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What It's About

A CPA uses what she knows to earn six-figures!

Business Model
Skills Required
Money Management & Organization
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

Part of what makes Janet's journey so interesting is that it was such an evolution for her to figure out (finally) what she was both passionate about AND good at, which I think many people can relate to. It's not always just a light bulb moment—sometimes, you have to throw some spaghetti at the wall!

Fun Fact

This side hustle has had a ton of benefits for Janet. Because of it, her husband was able to retire this year, and it's provided them with a ton of schedule flexibility with their two young children. They've been able to go on so many adventures with their kids before they're in school. How many people can say that they're able to do that?

Notes from Chris

Episode 611
The fluorescent lights, grueling schedule, and endless calculations of being a CPA for international tax was sucking the life out of Janet LeBlanc’s soul. She knew something had to change, but at first she didn’t know what it was—or how she would do it.

The first change occurred when she left her job to work for a corporate office where she’d have more free time to explore her interests and be with her husband. As a big fan of handmade jewelry from Etsy, Janet had always wanted to give the craft a try for herself—and now she had the time to.

Towards the end of 2011, she opened her own Etsy store for handmade jewelry: Lazy Owl Boutique. A few months and a couple hundred sales later, she was selling at craft fairs across Houston. It was a pretty good gig, but when Janet had her first child in 2013, its limitations became clear.

Every product required making, taking pictures, posting a listing, and eventually a trip to the post office. It was a lot of work for a small profit, and even though she left her corporate job to be a mother, she still needed something a little less hands-on. That’s when Janet had her next idea.

So many Etsy sellers lamented their struggles with taxes and keeping up with all the money stuff. What if Janet leveraged her accounting knowledge to create spreadsheets that could empower makers and sellers to run their businesses efficiently?

She didn't act on it right away because she thought it might be too boring, but...she just couldn’t let go of the spreadsheet idea. It really was perfect. She had the precise skills and knowledge that so many makers needed to organize their business finances—and she even knew she could monetize it by selling the spreadsheets on Etsy.

Finally, in 2015, Janet succumbed to her inner voice and began crafting tax, sales, and inventory spreadsheets. The name of her new venture? Paper + Spark. She also created some video tutorials that she would send to customers to help them use their products right out of the digital box. By the end of 2015, Janet had earned just over $10,000 from selling spreadsheets. It was working and it got better.

Fast forward to 2018. Paper and Spark has surpassed the six-figure milestone, allowing Janet’s husband to exit his full-time job as well. The family is savoring their newfound freedom by spending lots of time taking their kids on adventures, some across town and some across the country.

But Janet, still on fire as ever, hasn’t stopped looking forward. She’s planning some new courses, some more digital tools, some live teaching events at conferences, and maybe even a book. No matter which direction she goes, she’s just grateful that she’s found a way to mesh her passion with her skills in a way that empowers others.

It’s pretty much a dream come true… perhaps the only good dream to ever come from an Excel spreadsheet.


  • Paper + Spark: Save the money management for the pros. Learn more about Janet's spreadsheets over on her website!
  • Wordpress: Janet used Wordpress to setup Paper + Sparks, and here you can learn how to install your own Wordpress site in 5 minutes

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"I had to get honest with myself and knew that what really made me unique as a MAKER was actually my background as an ACCOUNTANT. As someone with experience in both fields, I could bring something special—and more importantly, something much needed—to the table. I could bridge the gap and help teach creatives how to do their books and feel good about it."
—Janet LeBlanc #SideHustleSchool

Sponsors & Gratitude


This week, Side Hustle School is brought to you by Crazy Enough to Work, a popular podcast and film series. 📈

When the rest of the world is still zigging, some companies know when it’s time to zag. Elizabeth Banks has teamed up with State Street Global Advisors to make a series of podcasts and films that uncover the bold moves mid-cap companies make to thrive and survive.

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Chris Guillebeau