I was going to write a year in review post, but then I thought I’d do something a bit different. Because it’s been a very big year for me with a lot of learning and growth. I grew from making barely anything in January to making 5 figures in October. Yep, I 10Xed my business (never thought I'd say that!).
So I want to give you a peek behind the scenes to see how I grew my business and the realities of what I did to get there (it ain’t glamorous!). This is the blog post I needed to read this time last year so hopefully, *fingers crossed* you find it useful, interesting, and eye-opening.How I grew my business to transition from mostly stay-at-home-mum to work-at-home-mum. #workathome #freelancing Click To Tweet
So let’s start by talking about the numbers and how I grew my business to transition from mostly stay-at-home-mum to work-at-home-mum.
In January 2018, I made 3 figures. Yep, under $1000.
At that point, I had a 2yo and 6-month-old at home with me during the week and I was charging a super low $39 per blog post (a massive increase from the previous month’s introductory offer of $5 a blog so I could start getting testimonials). During the start of the year, my husband worked long hours on the other side of Brisbane, leaving at 5am and getting home anywhere between 4 & 6pm. We’d have dinner, then after the kids went to sleep, I’d get to work.
In February, I cracked 4 figures. Woo! Such a victory. Meanwhile, I was running out of energy, fast. Two small kids will do that to you, let alone booking client work. But I was exercising my writing muscles again after two years of doing 99% mum stuff and it felt good. Before the kids were born, I’d loved writing blogs and website copy, and doing the work, getting in clients, and sticking to deadlines felt a bit like coming home again.
Then in May, I made more than half of my husband’s income. This was a turning point. I could see that I had the potential to make as much as my husband (if not more) if I could get more capacity to work (aka time away from the kids!). We had some savings (thanks to paid parental leave from the previous year) so my husband dropped back to 3 days per week and then quit his job to help out full-time with the kids. At the same time, we started our eldest in daycare one day a week.
Oh sweet relief. Suddenly, I had TIME and mental energy. Dealing with kids full time is way harder than working, just saying. With my husband around all day, life got a whole lot better (for me at least, sorry Stew).
In June, my revenue passed what my husband had been making in his job. And amazingly, we barely had to dip into our savings at all.
By October, I cracked the illustrious 5 figure mark, officially 10Xing my income in just 10 months!
Expectations vs reality
10Xing my income and reaching 5 figures each month means I’m a success now, right? Welllll… I dunno. Yes, my family and I still have somewhere to live, food on the table, and (thankfully) we’re not super stressed about money right now.
But before you get too excited, let me break down 5 realities of cracking the $10K mark.
1) I only keep half of what I make
The other half goes into accounts for expenses, tax, and profit. This is a good thing because I’m not stressed about tax time and I always have funds set aside for my business. But it does mean that if I make $10,000 in a month, I only take out $5,000 for my family. It’s enough for us to live off right now, but we’re not exactly swimming in it. 😉
2) I worked insane hours
For part of the year, I woke up at 3am to start work. I actually really liked this because I work best in the early hours of the morning. Then when my 1yo started waking more at that time of day (and interrupting my writing), I had to change my schedule. For the rest of the year, I worked all through the day, plus many late nights and many weekends. I love what I do, but I also love my family and I know this has been a huge sacrifice on their part.
3) I took on a lot of different projects
In the first half of the year, I did almost anything writing/content related. This meant more money and more clients (yay!) but it also meant that I wasn’t as focused on the areas I really wanted to do. I’ve niched down further since then and have started turning away a lot of work that’s not a fit.
4) I didn’t do much else
I barely exercised. I let my husband take on nearly all the childcare, cooking, and housework (he is a super dad, seriously). Don’t ask me what my hobbies are because I have none. I listened to business podcasts any time I had to be away from the computer and occasionally read business books. I’ve been obsessive, which has certainly helped to accelerate my growth, but it’s definitely not for everyone and probably not something I’d recommend long-term. Also, I’m not that interesting to talk to. 😉
5) I still had to do mum stuff
I’m still a breastfeeding mum to my now 18-month old. Soon after I ramped up my business earlier in the year, he decided to go back to sleeping/feeding like a newborn. Any time I lose with him during the day while I work is more than made up for at night. So while I might get 6 hours of “sleep” a night, he usually wakes at least 2-3 times.
I’m not saying you’ll have to deal with all of the above to 10X your business or get to the next level. But the reality is, for most people, it’ll take consistent hard work and sacrifice before you see any real financial reward.10Xing my income and reaching 5 figures each month means I’m a success now, right? Welllll… #freelancing #copywriting #workathome Click To Tweet
How I did it
Okay, so now that I’ve dashed all your hopes and dreams in business, if you’re still reading, you must be dedicated. That’s a good sign; you’ll be just fine. In that case, here are 5 key areas I’ve identified that have clearly led to my biggest successes in 2018:
1) I set big goals
Last year, I set a big 10-year goal for where I want my family to live and own a house. This goal is always in the back of my mind and keeps me looking long-term. But I also set short-term goals - each month, I write down a big monthly financial goal that’s achievable, but also stretches me.
2) I invested in myself
I spent a couple of thousand dollars in memberships and training. This was more than I felt comfortable with at the time, but I could see the ROI potential. I developed my skills and confidence, while making some amazing connections, whcih led to more work and better-paying clients. It would have taken me a LOT longer to get to where I am now without investing in myself.
3) I niched
I went from being a copywriter/content writer for everyone to mainly writing online content and blogs for B2B brands. Some would say that’s not a niche because it’s still fairly broad, but I’m quite happy with where I am for now. 🙂 I’ve always loved writing for B2B audiences and the more I do it, the better I get.
4) I prioritised my content
4) I prioritised my content
For most of the year, I had one blog scheduled to go out each week. This helped me showcase my writing abilities, help more people, and get noticed. Towards the end of the year, my blogging slowed down because I shifted my blog strategy to focus on in-depth, longer-form content. I also shifted my focus to LinkedIn, where I’ve made some amazing connections and found new work. I mostly automate Facebook, forget about Twitter, and use Instagram for personal posts. I think I’ve found my sweet spot for social media, which really helps to reduce the overwhelm and need to do everything.
5) I increased my prices
I’m not sure how many times I bumped up my prices. But whenever my schedule started booking up beyond 4-6 weeks, I took it as a sign that I needed to charge more.5 key areas I’ve identified that clearly led to my biggest successes in 2018... #freelancer #copywriter" Click To Tweet
While I’m really happy with where I got to financially this year and I have no regrets about how I did it, I’d like next year to look a bit different. 2018 was a good year but it wasn’t sustainable. I’m not a machine! I need to sleep and exercise and be more present for my family! It’s time to bring balance back to other areas of my life.
Here’s the (rough) plan:
- Further price increases - What I charge needs to fit with my value
- Fewer offers - So I can systemise, work faster, and get better results
- More marketing - Expand my network and put my brand out there
- Productise - Sell downloadable templates in an online shop
- Get help - Not just in the business, but in everyday life
I’m so grateful
To my husband, to my family (shout out to my mum who takes both my babies one day a week), to my clients, my fellow copywriters, and anyone who’s been kind enough to connect with me on social media, like/comment/share, and anyone who’s recommended me…
You made it possible for me to write and grow this year and I’m so grateful. You helped put a smile on my face every single day and you made it all worth it.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and New Year and I look forward to all that 2019 will bring!
Congratulations Angela!! Sounds like an amazing year of growth in every area ( except fitness and sleep lol). I’m curious where you invested your money in your business trainings and workshops? Have a great Christmas!
Aww thank you, Karenna!! Good question. The main place is with The Clever Copywritng School and Recipe for SEO Success, both run by Kate Toon 🙂 The first one probably won't interest you unless you want to become a copywriter, but the SEO courses are useful for just about any business owner!
And thank you - have a wonderful Christmas yourself!! xxx
Kudos to you Angela! I read each and every word because well, i could relate to most parts. As someone who transitioned from a stay-at-home mum to a work-from-home mum, I had similar struggles this year.
I admit I haven’t 10-timed my income but I’ve done fairly well I’d say. I can vouch that investing in myself has been most helpful.
I appreciate the honest post. I wish you even more success in the coming year and a work-life balance 🙂
Oh wow, thank you for commenting, Bisma! Amazing that we've been on the same sort of journey this year. Great to hear you've done fairly well, too! It's a tricky transition to make, isn't it? I hope we're both through the awkward bit and can enjoy even more good times in 2019. 🙂
I've done the hard yards too and them days ain't pretty but I never worked so hard as you! I've changed to more to hourly rates so that I know how much I'll be earning and doing book editing. I think low flat rates for blogging is wrong in so many ways, so glad to hear you're not doing that now. Heads up for 2019: look after your self.
Jennifer, you're incredible. A true veteran in the industry! It's good to hear your perspective and that you've figured out a pricing approach that works for you. At the moment, I do a mixture of flat rates and time-based packages, which I'm enjoying!
I think there will always be someone willing to do low flat rates for blogs. But the important thing is using it as a stepping stone for testimonials and experience - not staying there! Thankfully, there's plenty of work available at a fair price once writers figure out where to look and have the demonstrated skills, experience, and testimonials 🙂
And YES to looking after myself. My goodness, that's a tricky one. 😛 Thank you, Jennifer!
I'm keen for your downloadable templates!
Ahhh yay!! Thank you for the encouragement, Rebecca. I've secretly got one set up already but haven't promoted it anywhere yet 😉 It's an audience avatar template. I have a few more planned soon and will officially launch once I have 3 products live in the shop (that's the plan, anyway!). In the meantime, I have a few freebie templates linked in the footer of my site so feel free to check them out and let me know what you think.