The last time I wrote about my freelance business, back in August, I was just getting started. I’m going to start this post by copying the numbers from that post, though to better accord with how I categorized the money in YNAB I’m going to change the headings to “income for month” — which reflects money actually received, rather than money billed.
Income for July 2018 (work completed in June)
Blog ghostwriting: $150.00
Book review: $500.00 (note: this is very unusual and probably not repeatable.)
Income for August 2018 (work completed in June and July)
Blog ghostwriting: $300.00
Income for September 2018 (work completed in July and August)
Blog ghostwriting: $1300.00
And here’s how things have gone since then:
Income for October 2018
Blog ghostwriting: $1100.00
Income for November 2018
Blog ghostwriting: $800.00
Lecture honorarium: $600.00
Income for December 2018
Blog ghostwriting: $400.00
Bank Account opening bonus: $500.00
Pollworker compensation: $110.00
Income for January 2019 (already received)
Blog ghostwriting: $800.00
(I left out some pretty minor miscellaneous income from things like Ebates, selling some books on Amazon, cashing in credit card points, etc.)
Overall, I feel like things have gone well. Since I received my last real paycheck back in August, I’ve only had to transfer $1000 from my savings, and that wasn’t really a “had to” — I used that money to take a trip in November to see friends/godchildren, and to buy Christmas presents. And I’ve been putting aside money for taxes every month, not treating all this income like income I could spend. The really thin month there (“income for December,” ie, mostly money received during November) is partly accounted for by my election volunteering; I mostly stopped searching for work during the runup to the election and while I did do some after it was over, there was about six weeks in October and November when I did very little work for pay. I only made about $900 in November, and was able to add a bank account opening bonus to just barely cover my normal expenses for the month.
It’s maybe not obvious to the casual viewer, but I also see a pattern in the types of income that reflects some decisions I made earlier in the fall. The “blog ghostwriting” income was well over $1000/month for work I did in August and September, and I was grateful for the work and the money alike. But I felt it was taking up too much time I wanted for other things; I was getting stressed out about fitting it in. I’m happier with it settled at around $800 a month, which (except for an election-related dip) it has been for a couple of months running now. I can accomplish that much work in a reasonable amount of time, it provides some steadiness to my income, and it overall seems like about the right amount to be doing for now.
Meanwhile, the editing work, which is much more what I really *want* to do, has been increasing. This month I’ve been paid for one full book project and a couple of shorter articles; for the first time, my editing income will cover my entire basic January budget (the blog income will cover a conference trip I’m taking early in the month, so I still don’t think I’ll save anything much.) But more exciting to me is that in addition to that completed work, I’m deep into another full book project I’ll get paid for in January; I’m contracted with a historian to edit her book beginning in January; and I’ve also started a regular part-time gig as an academic editor working with dissertation student in (roughly) my field. I’m very excited about this, though it’s not going to make me rich. But I do think it’ll be a steady $500 or so a month (it’s by the hour, so it’s variable) over the long term, plus it’s work that I find very exciting. If I end up going back to a full-time job, I intend to keep this as a side hustle.
The reason I’m happy about all of this, in addition to the intrinsic satisfaction of the work, is that my calendar is starting to fill up more than a week out. I already know what I’ll be spending most of January doing for paid work (while keeping up my volunteering.) I even had to let the blog I’m ghostwriting for know that I needed a month’s hiatus because I have so much editing work lined up! It’s not a steady, well-paid career yet, but it’s beginning to seem like something that could be that way if I kept at this. A full calendar, even for a month or so, is a good sign.
[note: my net worth is a tire fire, we shall not speak of it until the stock market goes back up again or until I accept this is the new normal, whichever comes first]