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.)
July 2018 (work completed in June and July)
Freelance editing: $1428.00
Blog ghostwriting: $300.00
August 2018 (work completed in July and August)
Freelance editing: $337.00
Blog ghostwriting: $1300.00
September 2018 (work already completed in August, $$ anticipated Sept)
Freelance editing: $1425.00
Blog ghostwriting: $700.00
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!