I have mixed feelings about this final income report of 2015. While I earned over $20,335 in the past three months I’m still a bit disappointed that I didn’t hit my goal of bringing in $10,000 in one month.
However, I’m a bit hard on myself and am always trying to take last month’s goals and do better, reach higher and accomplish more. (Can you relate?!)
At the beginning of 2015 I made it my goal to turn my blog into a business. Up until that time I mainly focused on freelance writing and marketing work for clients. But as my community grew so did the amount of freelancers who needed help, accountability and support.
So I decided to do a yearly experiment of working less with clients and working more with freelancers. (I’ll share more about my experiment in my yearly income report soon.)
I believe freelancers can be the boss and stop working for pennies, but they have to set boundaries — for themselves and their clients.
The entire 2015 year was an experiment in that philosophy. Enter these quarterly income reports.
Quarterly income updates
One way I keep myself accountable to my year-long #blogtobiz experiment is to publicly track my earnings via quarterly income reports.
In the first quarter of 2015 I earned $17,655 from blogging and freelance work, which averages out to $5,600 a month. During the second quarter I earned $16,555 which is slightly less than the previous quarter and averages out to be $5,500.
Then during the third quarter I made much more than the previous two quarters by earning $23,500 and averaging $7,800 a month. This quarter I made over $20,300 which is on par with the previous quarter’s numbers and averages out to $6,700 a month.
These quarterly reports are also a way for me to detail exactly how I make money through my blog. The one downside with reading other blogger’s income reports is that they don’t specifically explain how they make money with their blogs.
They instead just list out the various income streams, leaving you to figure out the real picture (which is another reason why so many freelancers fail, they have an unrealistic view of what earning money as a blogger actually entails). #jumpsoffsoapbox
My 2015 #blogtobizplan for Q4
My original #blogtobizplan was to have at least 40% of my income come from revenue as a direct result of Careful Cents products, coaching and other services. Since I surpassed that earlier this year, I had to set a new goal.
So I shifted my goal from the 50/50 income pie (client work versus CC work) to nearly cutting out all my client work completely — save for a few awesome financial writing gigs.
Up until November I was still completely dependent on income from several blog management and editorial clients to pay the bills.
Let’s jump right into the numbers for the fourth and final quarter of 2015.
I include the income percentage breakdown for each type of income I earned, and explain exactly what revenue stream makes up my income each month.
Blogging income for October – $9,913.35
October was my final full month with my some of my blog management clients. It was tough letting them go (especially since I earned $2200+ a month) but I literally didn’t have the time to dedicate to the project anymore.
In addition to this change, I was contacted by Amex OPEN to cover a conference event in Dallas. I had SO much fun being a sort-of reporter and taking notes in the sessions. I also earned more that day than I usually do in an entire week, which adds to the larger-than-normal earnings this month.
One mistake I made though was not bringing business cards. Doh! Sooooo many people asked for my card so they could hire me to write for their small business or website. #fail
Blogging income for November – $5,936.74
Over 50% of my income came directly from Careful Cents. Yeah!
During the last week of October Ryan and I packed up all our stuff, loaded it on our U-Haul truck and trailer then headed across the country to Denver. We finally made the move from Texas to Colorado and I’m thrilled to say it was the best move ever!
(Not literally because the moved sucked — it’s always more glamorous when someone else moves — but being in this new city has been amazing!)
Anyways, I took nearly 2 weeks off, only working sporadically when I could in-between moving boxes and unpacking. Because of this my income suffered but I know the payoff of being in a place that caters to my love of outdoors, and hanging out with new friends, is a great trade off.
In November my friend Cait and I started recording episodes for our co-hosted podcast, Budgets and Cents. More details coming soon!
Blogging income for December – $4,485.33
During December I made a pact that I wasn’t going to accept any requests for interviews whether written or audio. I receive requests to be interviewed on a daily basis and I just can’t keep up my work at the same time.
So I took the month off and simply focused on my own projects: the aforementioned podcast and overhauling the Client Connection membership to better benefit freelancers.
Obviously neither of these projects made me money in December so my numbers reflect my time off and time I spent away fro the holidays. It’s about half what I made in October which shows that I have room for improvement in my systems and income streams.
Total blogging income for Q3 2015 = $20,335.42
Below is a screenshot from my GoDaddy Bookkeeping software that tracks all my income and expenses for each month.
This makes it extremely easy to calculate quarterly taxes, and create income reports and graphs. It displays the total income for the fourth quarter of this year.
Here are the total numbers broken down for the entire fourth quarter:
- Freelance writing income – $7,747.14. Earlier this year I found my love of writing again and I’m still enjoying working with a few clients, like H&R Block, Intuit and several financial startups. My goal for 2016 is to take on a few more finance and business writing clients.
- Blog management and editing services – $4,326.50. This is the final quarter where I’ll show this as an income stream. I’ve been doing blog management and editorial work for 4+ years and now I’m ready to move on and focus on writing and building this community.
- Affiliate product sales – $1,409.78. Working with affiliate income is always hit or miss but this month I hit it spot on. I enjoy working with brands and being able to test out specific products! I want to continue increasing this income stream in 2016.
- Brand sponsorship deals – $1,925.00. I avoid sidebar ads and Google Adsense on my blog, but one way I make money with this blog is by working with brands directly. My friend Simon helped me with a new strategy to get in front of more sponsorship opportunities and I earned an extra $150 with $1,200+ more in the works.
- Biz coaching sessions – $1,765.00. Chatting with my business coaching clients is my favorite part of the week. They are doing such amazing things, and several of them quit their day jobs in 2015! If you want to get on my calendar this year, click here to book a session.
- Digital product sales – $3,162.00. I’m overhauling my online store so I can better serve freelancers who are members of the Client Connection Service. I recorded several workshops in December and even hosted the first annual Holiday Freelancer Party on Blab!
Total = $20,335.42 (yes, I’m a bit obsessive that the numbers on ALL my reports match).
Total business expenses
You probably already know this, but as a self-employed freelancer, I didn’t deposit the entire $23k gross income into my bank account (don’t I wish?!).
Here are the expenses I paid over the past 3 months:
- Taxes, taxes, taxes – $2,500 (quarterly estimated taxes)
- Team members and outsourcing – $2,067. I pay several team members to help manage this blog, create slide presentations, and handle the tech stuff.
- Web hosting and domain – $1,239.
- Bookkeeping software – $36. I use FreshBooks and GoDaddy Bookkeeping since they both offer different services that I need.
- MailChimp for newsletters – $115.
- Images for blog posts and ebooks – $30. This is a premium subscription I pay for from Death to the Stock Photo — and totally worth it.
- Business coach – $650.
- Office supplies (printer, scanner, and misc paper/ink) – $67.
- Premium internet and wifi (purchased while traveling) – $59.
- Advertising and marketing – $240. This includes things like promoted Facebook ads and Tweets.
- Business cell phone – $273.
- PayPal fees – $251.
Total = $7,523
My expenses are a bit higher than I would like (averaging about $2,500 a month including taxes). But it’s still a decent figure for running a business. Being based online allows for a much lower cost of doing business than most other ventures.
In addition, once the business expenses are paid I pay myself a $900 weekly salary that goes into a household bank account to pay our bills. I’m the breadwinner for my husband and I so what I make pays the rent and puts food on the table.
I don’t judge my success with the numbers in my bank account (and neither should you), but these are milestones worth celebrating. Overall, I feel pretty good about my #blogtobizplan experiment for 2015 and will be publishing an annual review soon.
Want to see all of my income reports for 2015?
- Quarter one – I earned $17,655 with blogging
- Quarter two – I earned $16,555 with blogging
- Quarter three – I earned $23,512 with my blog
- Quarter four – I earned $20,335 with my blog
TOTAL income for 2015: $78,057 (before taxes)
How are you doing with freelancing full-time? What are your income goals in 2016? Leave a comment.