Welcome to a new thing I’ll be doing based on a reader request to post my freelancing output. I blog about how you can make money blogging, but you don’t really get to see how I personally do that. This will show you how I make a living with my hobbies in a more transparent way.
One caveat—I’m not comfortable posting all of the exact monetary amounts right now. That could change. I’m nervous it’ll be alienating, eliciting both “that much??” and “that little??” responses from people. What I can tell you—I live in a major city, I split expenses 50-50 with my husband, and I’m currently using my extra income to save for a house. After I’ve done a few of these and if I feel more comfortable (and if readers think it’d be helpful), I’ll consider sharing numbers.
Here’s where my money came from in June. It’s sort of an unusual month, because more than half of my earnings came from my part-time job. That’s because I didn’t work a lot of freelance in May. I was sort of exhausted with life and not pursuing a lot of freelance work. Since most of my clients pay me 30 days after I turn in work, this June earnings report doesn’t reflect my June work much at all.
Freelance-wise, here’s what I got paid for in June:
- Forbes blog earnings (even if I don’t work, I get paid by the click).
- Five Ways to Speed Up Your WordPress Site, for the Dreamhost blog.
- Gundam X DVD review for Anime News Network.
- All my May 2016 weekly streaming reviews for Anime News Network.
- Bluehost affiliate earnings. I earn $90 every time somebody buys through one of my links.
- Gumroad earnings. Gumroad is where I sell my Niche Journalism Workbook.
- WordPress database health check. A few years ago I helped my friend Joanne migrate her site to WordPress. Now I do whatever I can to keep it running. When there was a database issue, I helped her bring it back.
I also did pretty poorly on the Amazon side this month. My affiliate earnings peak around Christmas and drop off summer. This month, I earned $425.53, which is the smallest amount I’ve made all year! (Yeah, with that one number you can probably get a pretty good idea of the whole pie chart, but whatever, still subtle enough for me.) My suspicion is that during convention season, people prefer to buy Gunpla models in person than over the internet.
In business, you need to spend money to make money, as the saying goes. I spend money on the freelance and Amazon pieces of my pie chart, so I included just them in this comparison of revenue and expenses. You can see that in June, I spent about 1/5 of what I made on business costs. Those included:
- Freckle, my time tracker. I often bill by the hour, and Freckle makes sure I bill accurately.
- Paying two of my Gunpla 101 contributors, Mario and Milky.
- Paying my developer, Rusty. We’re working on a big new feature for Gunpla 101, more on that soon!
- My monthly internet hosting. I have 10+ dot coms.
A few takeaways from June 2016:
June is a historically low-earning month for me. Since I started Orsini Bowers Media in 2014, I’ve been keeping spreadsheets of my earnings. All three years, I haven’t even hit $2,600 for the month. I wonder if it’s because for most of my life, I got out of school in June and I crave a vacation around now—my productivity definitely tapers off. Even worse, the money I earn passively from Amazon fades then, too! My goal is to build more reliable passive income streams so I can support myself even at this sluggish time of year.
My personal projects have taken a backseat. This is the first year in two years that I haven’t written a book. (Unless Affiliate Linking for $$$ counts?) My Gunpla 101 Secret Project is slow going, as are my Otakon panels. I’m mostly chalking this up to having a part time office job—for five of my most productive hours in the day, website code is all I work on. So I’ve finished fewer things I’m proud of this year, overall. The list of my career priorities and the breakdown of how I spend most of my time do not match up this year, and it’s something to consider when I hit my job’s one year anniversary.
On the other hand, not paying taxes is THE BEST. Not paying taxes CONSCIOUSLY, I mean. Ever since I started freelancing full time, I have had to pay estimated taxes four times a year. It sucks to have money in your bank account that you know you’re just going to have to pay to the government soon. This is what’s neat about jobs with withholding, like my web developer job. They take tax money out of my paychecks before I even see it, so I never have to kiss it goodbye. This year, I had a brilliant plan—I am withholding double the amount that I need to. The result is that I barely bring any money home from this job, but I don’t have to pay estimated taxes! I’m withholding so aggressively, it’s more likely that I’ll get money back from the government, rather than having to make up the difference with an April check like usual. This has been the best part of getting a somewhat-traditional job after years of working for myself.
So that’s what’s on my mind this month, as a business owner and employee. It feels pretty good to get this all out there, and I wish I had started doing this sooner. Fellow freelancers, how do you keep track of your earnings?