Freelance Income: The Story Thus Far

I have a Very Special Net Worth Post coming this weekend, but in the meantime I decided to take a few minutes and review how freelancing is going thus far. Here’s what I’ve made since I started in June, broken down both by month and by type of income:

June 2018 (work completed in June)
Freelance editing: $600.00
Blog ghostwriting: $150.00
Book review: $500.00 (note: this is very unusual and probably not repeatable.)
Total: $1250.00

July 2018 (work completed in June and July)
Freelance editing: $1428.00
Blog ghostwriting: $300.00
Total: $1728.00

August 2018 (work completed in July and August)
Freelance editing: $337.00
Blog ghostwriting: $1300.00
Total: $1637.00

September 2018 (work already completed in August, $$ anticipated Sept)
Freelance editing: $1425.00
Blog ghostwriting: $700.00
Total: $2125.00

Grand total billed during the three months I’ve been freelancing: $6740.

Looking at those numbers laid out like that, the first conclusion I’m drawing is that I’ve been lucky so far. In July and August, I made about the same amount of money, in both cases just about exactly enough to cover the following month’s expenses plus taxes, but randomly, one month happened to bring me a lot of ghostwriting income and one month happened to bring a lot of editing income.

To have a viable freelance business over the long term, I think I would need to gross $5000 a month, $60,000 a year, which would be a “take-home” $2500 a month after taxes, health insurance, and retirement savings. Obviously I’m not there yet, but I’m very confident that is a doable amount. I’m less confident that it’s doable in the way that I want it.

My enthusiasm for blog ghostwriting isn’t very high. I don’t mind it, and I’m very grateful to have found a couple of clients that are passing me reasonably steady work. But it’s not something I feel profound personal satisfaction in and I don’t want to make it the foundation of my work life. I wouldn’t want to do much more of it than I’m doing now, which means it wouldn’t be a major component of my target income.

The editing is a different story. While I summarized all the income above, I’ve worked with four different clients this summer and I’ve loved each one of them. I’ve learned a lot from each client, but also truly enjoyed making their work much better. If it were steady and sustainable and there was more of it, I could see myself doing this for the rest of my working life. I am just not convinced, however, that there’s enough business out there. Probably the best-case scenario here is that I go back to work full-time eventually, but keep the editing as a substantial side hustle. The issue here is that I don’t know what I want to go back to work full-time doing. I keep holding out hope that I will come up with a job I really want to do that is also adequately paid that is also in a place I want to live, but that seems like a unicorn most days.

One possibility I’m considering is a part-time W2 job. 20 hours a week for some kind of steady, reliable income, combined with the much higher hourly rate, but less steady, editing business — that could work. Or, if I could pick up $10,000 or $12,000 of adjuncting a year, that could provide some intellectual stimulation and maybe I’d be happier doing more ghostwriting?

Anyway. These musings are getting away with me a little bit; I mostly wanted to write this post as a way to record how I’ve done so far. Which is pretty well! Especially considering that I was making a full-time income during June, July, and the first half of August. Paying my bills from freelancing while also collecting a real paycheck is what’s allowed me to — well, for that you’ll have to wait for the Very Special Net Worth Post!

8 thoughts on “Freelance Income: The Story Thus Far

  1. Jason says:

    I know I have asked this before, but is there anyway you can do some adjunct work? That work is hard, of course, but with your background I would think you would be able to get some at your local university, community college, or even online place.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I probably will do that next year. It’s a little harder to get than you might think in my town — at least, the better-compensated is — but I’ll look around and see if I can.

  2. Amanda Page says:

    Well done! And I think you could TOTALLY turn the editing into a full-time, sustainable business. Get some testimonials from those folks you helped. Shout what you’re doing from the rooftops!

    1. thesingledollar says:

      There are just so many people in this field, and a limited number of academics who both need and will pay for the help. But after the election is over I’ll probably try harder to network and advertise.

  3. I’m so impressed by the freelance income you’ve pulled in thus far! You are rocking it right out of the gate.

    There’s always online adjuncting, like for SNHU. That would pull in another ~$800/month or so.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, I don’t want to go out and get an adjunct gig this year, but I might well in the future. And I’m pleased with the freelance income too! A combination of good networking, good luck, and just being good at the jobs 🙂

  4. Omg, C. With all your income coming from online sources, that makes you location independent!

    You can live anywhere. I would LOVE to be location independent, at least for a few years.
    You could be a social justice active travel blogger for a while if you wanted to. That’s so cool.

    Can you recommend any good sources for how to get started with freelance writing? I’d like to learn more and keep it on my radar.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      The problem is that I make so little money right now that I am tied to locations that are cheap 🙂 Also, I’m a serious homebody. But I’m glad I’m doing ok thus far.

      As for freelance writing, I don’t really have any sources. My current clients are all referrals from online friends. I had done a little writing a couple of years ago too — for less money per post — and was able to use that as a “portfolio” for these new clients. I think if you’d like to try it, put the word out on your blog and see what happens. It’s different than writing a personal blog; a bit more journalistic/informational. Honestly, though, you make so much more money in your day job than I ever have — I’m not sure it’s worth it for you to pursue this kind of freelance work. I’d advise you to look for consulting in your own field first.

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