Well… here I am again! It’s my second ever income report, and I’m happy to say that I’m slightly less scared and more just inconvenienced… because this stuff takes time to put together. But I’m sticking to my commitment because it’s important, it’s useful to others, and it’s going to help my business grow.
And I guess it’s like wearing a bikini. The first time is a bit awkward and you feel like everyone on the beach is staring at you, but really, they’re just going about their own business or secretly wishing they had your confidence. The second time, you head to the beach with confidence… and next time you might even ditch the cover up.
I’m glad I faced the fear, and this time, I’ll be confidently putting it all on display!
If you haven’t already, feel free to read my first income report for January 2018.
Here I’ll be going into the details of what I earned and spent for the month of February, the things I’ve been doing in my business to earn money, my challenges, my successes, and what my future plans are that will (hopefully) keep the numbers growing.
So… let’s dive in!
February Is for Focusing
During January, I threw my net wide to catch as many fish as I could. I was still forming my offers and my identity and wanted to test the waters and see what came of it. It was a wonderful exercise as I got to know many amazing business owners and get involved in a variety of projects. But it did make me a tad busier and stretched than I’d like to be long-term.
So, in February, I worked on narrowing down and attracting a smaller group of fish, albeit slightly bigger ones (really regretting the fish/sea metaphor now… sorry about that)! But it’s a work in progress, because I was still busy and could definitely do with more time to focus and work on the skill I have chosen to specialise in (blogging).
This month, I had a few challenges:
- A Holiday
During the first week of February, we went away for a week to the Sunshine coast. It was lovely, but I didn’t want to lose my momentum, so kept working late into the night after everyone else was in bed.
During the last week of February, everybody got sick, but mostly me. I tried to push through it but had to really slow down for a few days.
Over the last month or two, my normally good sleeper now prefers to see/touch me at all times. Including during sleep. Which isn’t happening a lot either. The constant night waking is a killer!
But hey, I got through it and survived (with help and sympathy from my lovely husband). On the few occasions where these challenges slowed me down with work, my clients were amazingly understanding.
The benefit of being my own brand and communicating openly and authentically is that I can tell my lovely clients and audience when I’m struggling. Instead of leaving me alone to get over my sickness/problem, they encourage me and build me up. So grateful for this! For me, it’s the best way to do business.
It wasn’t all a struggle, of course. I also had some wonderful wins:
I tried out a new routine where my husband and I went to bed early with the little ones, set the alarm for 3am and then worked until they woke up. Overall, we were able to be more productive in less time by working when we were most alert, rested, and least likely to be interrupted. We aren’t always successful, because little ones are unpredictable and exhausting (we have literally slept through the 3am alarm a few times), but it’s still an improvement on our previous routine.
This month I had SO much amazing feedback from my beautiful clients and tribe. A bunch of lovely people sung my praises in a Facebook group and one special person took the time to let me know how much she enjoyed my emails. It made me all warm and fuzzy on the inside. I find that no matter how much value I provide to my tribe, they give way more back. And this just makes me motivated to put more awesomeness out there to reach and help the right people.
- Work & Clients I Love
I honestly love working. Especially when it’s writing related work, which lately is pretty much everything! So, I count it as a massive win that I’ve had a very full month with lots of new work, new relationships, referrals, and repeat clients. It feels like I’ve found that sweet spot of work I love to do, work I can get paid for, and work I am good at doing. YESSS.
There were a lot of moments when I wanted to work but couldn’t sit down at the computer (the 8-month-old and 2-year-old don’t quite understand “mummy’s working” yet). Instead, I used this time to listen to my favourite podcasts and audio training from Lynda.com. Perhaps this forced listening/learning time worked to my advantage because I feel like I grew professionally and personally. Everyday, I have fresh new ideas and inspiration, and affirmation that I’m on the right track.
Tip: If you are also wrangling small people, driving places, travelling on public transport, or even just doing housework, you should try listening to podcasts. It’s one way you get more stuff or learning done without adding more hours to your day.
This month, it became more and more obvious that I needed to increase my prices. Here’s why:
- I am priced at well below market value (this is intentional for my early launch phase to get more clients and experience and test my systems/processes)
- My time is being booked up consistently two weeks ahead (it sounds impressive but the fact is… my time is very limited right now!)
- I have been told by several clients that I am too cheap (can’t argue with that I guess!)
Instead of bumping my prices up to where they should be, I decided to do a small price increase for my custom blogs from $79 to $89 from March 1. They’re still amazing value (I’m not just saying it to talk myself up – this is purely based off the time and effort I put into them). Increasing my custom blog prices was a good test because I had to talk to my audience about a price increase (it’s never as difficult or scary as it sounds!)
I’ve also upped my hourly rate to $75 (from $60) after valuable feedback from a more experienced copywriter who said that this is the minimum amount I should be charging for my experience and skill level. My initial gut reaction was nooooo I’m not worth that! But then I realised… hang on… I need to get over myself, accept the compliment, and be grateful. So, I did it! I increased my hourly rate, which will flow onto the projects I quote for in future. Clearly, I have been undervaluing myself.
Although I probably have room to increase my prices a bit more, I think I’m going to hold off on this for at least a couple of months.
Here’s why I’m going to keep my pricing where it is for a bit longer:
- I’ve been attracting some amazing and beautiful people to be my clients. I love working with them and they are so generous with their encouragement and referrals. Right now, I want to keep my prices affordable, so I can keep serving them and maintaining the relationships.
- I don’t want to suddenly have work dry up, because a lot of my learning is on the job, from my clients. I’d rather get paid below what I’m worth and learn heaps, than sit around waiting to get paid a higher rate and have no orders.
- Before I increase my prices, I plan to create another offer at a lower price – something that isn't so time intensive.
- I need to work on attracting an audience that is more advanced in their business/entrepreneurial journey who can afford higher prices (while still providing love and value to my initial audience).
- Let’s be real… I probably have some more money mindset issues to overcome. I’m a work in progress! ?
I’m not sharing this to make you jealous or show off. I know that a lot of other entrepreneurs struggle with pricing issues, so think it’s useful to share the thought process and strategy I’m using. I couldn’t have come this far without reading about other people’s pricing strategies and how they overcame their mindset challenges, so I hope I can help someone else do the same.
This month, I kept consistently doing what was already working in my online marketing:
- Writing and sharing my weekly blog articles
- Sending out my weekly newsletter (sign up here)
- Sharing occasionally to my Facebook page
- Posting in my favourite business-related Facebook groups and interacting there
- Sharing fairly regular posts to Instagram and interacting with others there
To be honest, I was pretty busy with work, though. My top focus (as it should be at this stage of the business) was in delivering my absolute best work to every client. As a result, word of mouth is starting to do its thing, with some of my amazing clients already spreading the word for me, tagging me in relevant Facebook posts and telling their contacts about me.
*I’m so grateful for this!*
Something I did differently this month was I hopped back on Twitter a little bit… just for the last few days. I listened to a great podcast episode that insisted that Twitter wasn’t dead… you just needed to give it a little lovin’ (aka don’t automate the heck out of it like most people do). So, I tested this theory and did a few posts, added some gifs, and just shared some everyday life stuff. It was quick, easy, and fun… and I didn’t really think much about it until I started getting some interaction and followers. So apparently Twitter is actually alive! I don’t know if it will generate leads for me, but I think I will work on making it part of my habit to hop on there every day or so and post something and interact. No pressure or anything… but if I can do it, it’s a plus. I guess seeing as my target is “thought leaders”, twitter definitely makes sense for me to reach them.
This month, I’ve also written another guest blog (yet to be shared), but it was fun. Also, because it’s not my usual topic/audience, it was almost another creative outlet for me. I’ve got a few other guest blogging avenues I plan to explore in the next month or so.
Follow My Audience
One more thing that I started doing, but need to finish, is connect with my tribe on social media. I don’t mean getting them to follow/like me… but I mean actually seeking out their business handles on the different social media channels and ME liking THEM and making an effort to follow their activities and offer my support. This might seem a little inauthentic, but trust me, it’s not. I’m just keen to give as much to them as I can and genuinely want to help. I don’t expect anything in return, but part of me knows that:
- The goodwill/pay-it-forward approach means that it is likely to come back my way
- It’s almost a marketing tactic in itself, because my name will keep coming up for them
So far, I’ve connected with most of my tribe (that I could find) on Instagram, but have yet to replicate this on Facebook, LinkedIn, and the other channels.
Next Month’s Marketing Plans
Next month, in addition to my core marketing tactics, I’m planning to work on:
- A new freebie… possibly a mini ecourse/mastermind or some kind of blog audit
- Develop my idea for a community
- Fiddle a bit more with Twitter
- Catch up with pinning all my existing blog quotes/infographics to Pinterest
- Post an article on LinkedIn
- More guest posting
- More following my audience
Okay enough talking… let’s look at the numbers…
|THIS MONTH||LAST MONTH||Difference from last month|
|Custom blog writing||$117||$474||-$357||-75.3%|
|Ad hoc writing tasks||$210||$85||+$125||+147.1%|
|Lead magnet writing||$300||$0||+$300||NA|
* I have a few more bits and pieces that either haven’t been paid in full or are awaiting clearance from PayPal, but I’ll include those next month instead. Because I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch!
|THIS MONTH||LAST MONTH||Difference from last month|
|Wave payments fees||$8.93||$4.96||$3.97||+80%|
|THIS MONTH||LAST MONTH||Difference from last month|
Time to analyse. Looking at these figures is SUPER enlightening – I had no idea of where I was at until I wrote this report. Here’s what I’m seeing:
Multiple Income Sources
Even though it’s my core offer (and the only one I officially promote), I actually did FEWER blog posts for people this month than in January. I did, however, get a lot of quote requests for various online copywriting services, which is how my income still grew despite fewer blog posts.
I managed to rein in the spending a little (yay!). Tracking my expenses is a super painful but necessary task and motivates you to NOT spend so much as you don’t want to go through the pain of looking at, documenting, and justifying later on! I am thinking really hard about the things I want to buy and not making any quick decisions.
Profit and Income is Rising
Overall, I am SO happy with the progress. It’s been a full month and I haven’t been able to operate at anywhere near capacity (thanks to the fun of mumlife and such), so the fact that I made a significant increase in profit this month is exciting. And I don’t think I worked many more hours than last month either. Let’s keep that trend going…
Clearly from these numbers, I’m no millionaire. There’s nothing to brag about here. The point of this is to keep it real and transparent. A LOT of work has gone into earning every dollar. But I’m really pleased to see progress and know that am actually on track to achieve some life goals if I just keep at it.
How I Plan to Keep the Numbers Growing
I have reached my capacity in terms of hours worked within my current life situation (aka staying at home with two kids!). But I really want to keep the income levels growing even if I can’t squeeze out any extra work hours just yet. Here’s what I’m thinking I will try in the future:
- Keep up the constant learning. This is going to help me boost my value and rate per hour more than anything else.
- Keep connecting and building my network with the right people. Attracting the right people will mean being able to charge more for my time.
- Don’t let my quality drop. This is so important to me. I will do my best every time. I will probably start turning away work if I feel like I can’t meet my standards.
- Start booking work further in advance if some projects are not urgent. This will require me to level-up my planning skills. Ugh, Gantt charts?!
- Create passive sources of income where I can leverage my skills/knowledge.
- Outsource some elements of my work (like transcription and graphic design) that aren’t in my zone of genius.
- Maybe… possibly… look into some ways I can get more help with my kiddies. I don’t really want to do childcare just now because the frequent sickness scares me, and I feel like they wouldn’t *get* my toddler’s unique personality, but we’ll see. 🙂 I do need to accept that I can't grow beyond a certain point without more help.
Thanks for coming along on this journey with me! I’m so grateful for all the support that has helped me get to this point. It’s been a full month! Hopefully I’ll see you back here in a month as I share the things that have worked (or not) and the reality of how each dollar is earned and spent.
Over to you now… what do you think? Anything that I should change up for March? Marketing strategies, pricing tips, package ideas… I’m open to hearing it all!
Let’s keep it real,