At the beginning of 2015 I made a decision to turn my freelance blogging business into a viable business model and not just focus on client work. This came on the heels of last year’s bout with business depression, inconsistent income, and even some business debt.
I knew I needed to take back control of my income by turning this blog/online portfolio into a full-fledged brand. I’m a big believer in not selling out to make money, so I’ve been crafting a custom plan to make an honest living online that can actually pay the bills.
Quarterly income updates
As one way to keep myself accountable to this goal, I started documenting my income via quarterly income reports.
In the first quarter I earned just over $17,000 from my blogging efforts and freelance work, which averages out to $5,600 a month. This quarter I made just over $16,000 which is a little bit less than last quarter but still averages out to $5,500 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, and usually just lists out the various income streams.
My 2015 #blogtobizplan for Q2
Since achieving my original #blogtobizplan to have at least 40% of my income be made up of revenue as a direct result of Careful Cents, I had to set a new goal. So my second quarter plan was to increase my overall hourly rate.
After taking the You Deserve More course, from Stephanie Halligan, I discovered that my hourly rate (including admin tasks) was way below what I thought I was making. I don’t charge clients by the hour, but in order to pay all of my bills and turn a profit, the course guides you through steps to calculate how much you’re earning versus what you need to be in the black.
Once I determined I had to make double the amount of money per hour in order to break the cycle of inconsistent cash flow and using savings to cover the bills, I enacted a lot of changes. These past few months I let go of several lower paying clients, raised my rates by 15-25% across the board, and landed new gigs with Intuit and Office Depot.
Let’s jump right into the numbers for the second 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 April – $5,525.97
In April, I spent a lot of time updating past content on the blog, as well as creating a newsletter autoresponder sequence. I was involved in multiple interviews, and had over 10 mentoring sessions with other awesome freelancers!
Basically, this month was super busy but the reason my income doesn’t reflect this is because not many of the projects I worked on produced revenue. I also spent hours and hours working on a Cash Flow and Budget ebook that’s still being written. So April was basically an investment of time that I hope will pay off in the future.
Blogging income for May – $5,843.83
Travel, travel, travel. That was the name of the game for May. At the beginning of the month I took my first trip to New York City! I also got to meet my business coach, and several accountability partners, in person for the first time ever. It was amazing and the city was surprisingly addicting. I expect that Ryan and I will visit again soon.
About a week after our trip to NYC, we went on a road trip to visit some family in Kansas, then it was off to Denver to hunt for new apartments. We were in three time zones in three different weeks, so by the time all of our traveling was over, I was exhausted. However, I was happy to find a good balance with work and making a living, while traveling around the country.
Blogging income for June – $5,185.42
Oh June. You really threw me for a loop. The first part of the month was spent catching up on client work and reorganizing where I spent my time. I’ve been struggling to prioritize Careful Cents blogging and creation, with client projects.
Then on June 16th my family had a huge emergency which resulted in most of us staying in the ER overnight and for the next few days. The worst has passed, but that emergency forced me to evaluate my processes for the business, and put some new systems in place.
Since then, I’ve been dealing with a lot of emotions and had to table a huge four-year Careful Cents birthday celebration. But sometimes your business needs to take a back seat to your life, and that’s OK. That’s why we do what we do, right?! To be our own boss, and be in control of our schedule.
Total blogging income for Q2 2015 = $16,555.22
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 second quarter of this year.
Here are the total numbers broken down for the entire second quarter:
- Freelance writing income – $3,274.22. This quarter I found my love of writing again. I’m a writer at heart so it feels really good to get back to the basics. I landed a few new writing gigs that I’m very excited about. I also spent way too much time a lot of hours writing a new ebook that will help other freelancers tackle the financial roller coaster and find ways to make more money in less time.
- Blog management and editing services – $8,869.37. I parted ways with one blog management client so I could make more room for a current client’s workload. I was also able to negotiate a 15% raise from this client. More work + higher hourly rate = win!
- Affiliate product sales – $1,398.14. My experiment with only promoting products that I personally use, and doing in-depth, but honest tutorials of how they work, is still a smart revenue stream. I’ve done several case studies and reviews here on the blog (and this one still converts very well each month, even without much promotion). I also updated my review of FreshBooks and included some new features and pricing services that they offer.
- Brand sponsorship deals – $728.49. Sidebar ads and Google Adsense don’t make sense for my brand, so I stay away from this form of traditional blog advertising. One way I do monetize my blog is by working with brands directly and receiving sponsorship deals. This quarter I was able to land a gig working with Office Depot (final details are in the works). I can’t wait to talk about my addiction with #officesupplyporn and other organizational ideas. Ha!
- Biz mentoring and consulting sessions – $850. I have seriously fallen in love with my freelance coaching clients. They are doing such amazing things, and they keep inspiring me every week! If you want to get on my calendar, so we can talk shop, work on your goals, or find ways you can make more money, click here to book a session.
- Digital product sales – $1,435. My online store continues to make regular sales with the majority of income coming from applications to the Client Connection Service. I spent some time revamping the landing page, and began promoting it to quality clients and freelancers. Now I’m working on securing some exclusive partnerships with other bloggers and businesses.
Total = $16,555.22 (yes, I’m a bit obsessive that all the numbers on ALL my reports match).
Total business expenses
You probably already know this, but I’m going to explain it anyway. As a self-employed freelancer, I didn’t deposit the entire $16k gross income into my bank account. Here are all of the expenses I pay each month:
- Team members and outsourcing – $452. I pay several team members to help manage the blog, handle the tech stuff, and interact within my community.
- Web hosting and domain – $9.
- Bookkeeping software – $12. I use FreshBooks and GoDaddy Bookkeeping since they both offer different services that I need.
- MailChimp for newsletters – $30. I recently graduated to the paid version since my subscriber list is larger than the free version.
- Images for blog posts and ebooks – $10. This is a premium subscription I pay for from Death to the Stock Photo — and totally worth it.
- Premium social media tools – $49.
- Business coach – $250.
- Office supplies (printer, scanner, and misc paper/ink) – $26.
- Advertising and marketing – $35. This includes things like promoted Facebook ads and Tweets.
- Business cell phone – $72.
- PayPal fees – $35.
Total = $980
I also pay about $1,000 a month into a savings account specifically dedicated to paying quarterly taxes, and a good chunk goes towards health insurance (hooray for being my own boss! #sarcasm).
My expenses are by no means high, since I do run a streamlined business online, but after the business expenses are paid I pay myself a $900 weekly salary that goes into a household bank account. I’m the breadwinner for our family so what I make pays the rent and puts food on the table.
I don’t usually judge my success with my blog with the numbers in my bank account, but these are milestones worth celebrating. Overall, I’m very optimistic about my #blogtobizplan for 2015 and my progress for the second quarter.
How are you doing on your goal of freelancing full-time? Want to know more about how I make a living online? Ask a question or leave a comment.