How do I manage my income then? Technically until I level the planet develop thing I'm losing money on new ones right? So I don't see how I can afford to keep those leveling as well as maintaining a small fleet, building minor defenses at each planet, ect.
You misunderstand me. You always get enough planet upgrades to that you have positive income, as well as resource extractors, as soon as you colonize a planet. Its just that doing this to as many planets as possible is your goal early game, as its by far the most cost effective way of expanding your economy, and more planets give you more trade and research potential from the logistics slots later when you can no longer expand.
Also, do not build defenses at every planet. The only time you should do so while expanding is the "turret colonization" trick, when you kill the siege frigates and then colonize the planet, build a turret and move your fleet to the next planet, letting the turret kill the remaining militia. You can then scuttle the turret. Only build defenses once you can no longer expand at the obvious choke points, or if your scouts reveal an attack already coming. If you play your game right, most of your planets will not need defenses.
Also, try to be conservative with your research early on. You're right to go for colonization techs early, and corvettes are a good thing for taking out siege frigates fast, and other combat frigates will of course be needed sooner or later. But most "stat bonus" research is a waste of time early, as you need to have a lot of ships for a 5% damage increase to really be felt. Terran planet size upgrades are an exception if you have extra resources early of course.