Change has been on my mind this 2017. Here are some of the ways I’ve been switching it up.
Oil painting. For the past three years, I’ve been studying Japanese, but as classes get tougher and I feel like I’ve already achieved my goal of speaking Japanese on a trip to Japan, I’m losing steam. I took the semester off to pursue landscape painting, working mostly off of photos I took in Japan, actually.
I picked this class because it’s close to home (at the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria) and the price-per-class was similar to what I was paying for Japanese, but I did not anticipate how much paint costs! I had to spend $20 on a tube of Cadmium Red, the color of torii gates in my paintings. I’ve spent nearly $200 on supplies, and I had my own canvases already!
Yoga. I used to think yoga was for wimps. But I’m a runner who once broke my right foot, and if I don’t take measures to keep my form symmetrical, I could get injured again and have to stop running. Yoga, with its flexibility training, has been frequently recommended to me.
There’s a Corepower Yoga studio right down the block, but my jaw dropped when I saw that it was $175 for just five classes! (Think of all the oil paint I could buy with that.) So I got a yoga mat for $10 at T.J. Maxx and started a video series called Yoga For Runners. I’m only on the fourth video because I try to practice each one until I “master” it, not the best word for my situation since I’m only 5’1” and still can’t touch my toes.
I just looked at my credit card statement, and relaxing is expensive! I just did the math and I spent $413.35 on these two new hobbies. How can I justify that? Well, to begin with, this was a pretty high-earning month.
In fact, it’s my second highest earning month since I started tracking publicly. I made just $17 fewer dollars than in August 2016. But what’s different this time around is that I think I can recreate this income every month.
In December, I met an incredible woman through a community for female journalists. Dorri was dividing her work hours between freelance journalism and supporting an ever-growing group of web clients. When she put out a call for a web designer interested in taking on her work, I enthusiastically replied, interviewed, and got the job. That’s how I’ve managed to completely book myself out for the next month while doing very little advertising!
The web design is the easy part. Working with clients and making them happy is a learning curve. I’m trying to tighten up my pre-work contract to be kind to my own time as well as my clients’, to not work until I’ve received a payment, to deliver results in an organized fashion. I’m not there yet, but I’d like to share a much more detailed post about my client on-boarding and off-boarding processes, if you’re interested.
So that’s why web development is such a big piece of the pie. Meanwhile, writing falls into these sections:
- Forbes. Not very high earning, but I get a lot of neat products to review. And for all the ads that frame each article and make them hard to read, this is where most people discover my work.
- Tutorials. I work with a placement company, pitch tech tutorials (usually WordPress-centric), and they find homes for each piece. Here’s an example of one.
- Ghostwriting. I work with a placement company that provides me with research and an interview session with the person I will be ghostwriting as. Usually, my ghostwriting jobs are for an ESL speaker.
- Anime reviews! I will never stop enjoying these.
I spent about the same as usual on my business; I just earned a ton! Here’s what I spent money on:
- Quickbooks Self Employed. Still loving this. I use it not only for managing all my finances (in a monthly routine that is way easier and more accurate than my old excel spreadsheet) but for invoicing my clients directly, too. $5 a month.
- Quickbooks invoice fee, AKA 3% of any invoice payment.
- Docusign. I never start work on a client project without a contract. $10 a month, but I keep getting close to the max number of documents (5) I can send per month.
- Bluehost (affiliate link). I spend $20 a month on my Virtual Private Server now, plus around $27 a year per each of my domain names and their security. I recently whittled my number of domain names from 12 down to eight to save money.
Amazon affiliate earnings make up about the same amount of money in both of these months, so I guess the pie looks so different because I did way more writing and web work in January. It shows that when I have a high-earning month, Amazon still isn’t making up that coveted 25% chunk I’m aiming for by the end of the year.
That said, with this much work I’m glad I’m making a monetary commitment to ways to get away from it! Some of my happiest moments in January were while I was totally unplugged from the Internet, painting or practicing yoga (though it’s embarrassing to admit that second one).
How did I do on my January goals? I am doing great with Quickbooks, sent all my 1099-MISC forms to contractors, and took Inauguration weekend off to spend time with friends. This might be the first time I actually met all three of my goals! So let’s try a little harder for February:
- Create a new web design sales page (or site!) using recent finished client projects.
- Come up with ten keyword-heavy post ideas for my new affiliate blogging project.
- Write a new mailing-list incentive course (to replace The Niche Reviewer Crash Course).
What are your financial goals? Feel free to share yours in the comments.