Changes are in the works around here. I’m still poking around about a few possible “real jobs” for next year, but even if I get/end up taking one of them (I’ve already turned one down because I didn’t want it enough to move for it) I plan to keep this freelancing business going, just on a pared back basis. It turns out people really need good editors (I am excellent at it, having both an eye for big picture matters and for tiny little formatting issues, which is a fairly rare combination) and will pay for it. Who knew?! The income from this is still running around 2/3 of where I’d like it to be (I’m on track for grossing $40K in 2019), but there’s a lot of room for hustle/growth left — many hours in the week when I could be working and am currently not. Basically, if I do increase my income beyond this level, it can mostly go into retirement, since what I’m making right now is sufficient for living well (vacations! dinner out!) and some cash savings. I’m certainly not saving a *ton* of cash — my savings accounts are up about $3000 over where I was at the end of last August when I got my last paycheck — but I feel OK about where I am, all things considered, especially because my plan was to spend down my savings accounts during this academic year, not pay into them!
My work has been a combination of things, like freelancing always is. I’m still doing some blog ghostwriting, though not much, about $400/month right now. I have a regular/irregular gig working with PhD students through an organization, which is highly variable month to month but also will last forever, so it gives me some continuity. I’ve commented on several people’s book drafts, to help them with organization mostly. I completely rewrote one manuscript (special circumstances, long story I can’t really tell here.) I indexed a book a month or so ago. And I’ve also done some very basic copyediting (checking and reformatting notes and bibliographies) for several people, which is not the most exciting work in the world but is kind of soothing. (I didn’t know that learning Chicago style would be the most lucrative thing I did in grad school, but there we have it.) I also picked up my first copyedit for a university press–I haven’t started working on it yet, but I do have the files downloaded and plan to get going on it next week. That’s less lucrative by the hour, but it’s a lot more reliable than the word-of-mouth network of individual scholars that’s brought me the first-draft book manuscripts.
Overall, it’s a decent mix. I like some of it more than others, of course, but none of it is terrible and all of it together adds up to a reasonable variety. My next step is to bring some stability to my work hours, I think, and really figure out a schedule that will allow me to do other things. I’m still doing about two full days a week for my main volunteer gig, and I’m committed to that through June. However, after that I may pull back to one day (or more realistically, two half-days), and use the remaining time either to pick up another volunteer gig, or to go back to doing my own scholarly writing.
I also want to think more about how to grow the business, besides getting on the freelance lists for more university presses. I’m leaning pretty hard towards transitioning my twitter account to my real name (which would mean finally shutting this blog down) so I can do more online networking–that seems to be the way a lot of people get business, not too surprisingly. Right now I’m relying totally on word of mouth from people I personally know, and while I do know a lot of people and they’ve been really helpful at alerting me to possibilities, I’d like to expand that network. For one thing, some of the work I’ve liked best has been fixing prose for ESL scholars, and my personal network isn’t so great for that; I’d like to do more of that, which means I need to seek out those communities more.