Hang on, what? I’m sharing my financial stuff with the world?
Yes, yes I am.
Why I’m Telling You About My Finances
I’ve thought a lot about this for months now, but I have a lot of good reasons to share my business financials with you:
Authenticity and Transparency
A HUGE part of why I blog is for authenticity. I want to share the real stuff, behind the scenes, the good/bad/ugly. It can be easy to misinterpret how well a business is doing if you follow them online, especially in the early days, because there is a LOT of hard work for not much financial reward. Even though I am working hard and getting consistently better, I don’t want to give you the impression that I’ve got it all together yet, because I haven't.
Over the past 4 years working (on and off) for myself, I’ve struggled to stay on top of tracking and consistently asking for money. I’ve said things to myself like:
- I suck at numbers/maths (still true, but hopefully improving)
- I’m not good at money (I’m getting better!)
- I just can’t sell (if your marketing and products are awesome, you don’t really have to)
- I don’t care about the money, I just want to do the work (now that I have kids, I can’t not care about money)
I know I can’t afford to skim over the financial details anymore and how essential $$ are for me to sustain this. Having a regular blog date where I have to share and reflect on my income will help me to stay on track. Plus, if I know my audience is watching, I’d better be able to explain why my expenses are up or my earnings are down for the month.
I have a feeling that sharing the details of how I make/spend my business income will be useful to some people, especially those who are about to start their business or are also in the early stages of growing. It would be a shame to keep the things I’ve learned to myself when they could potentially help others. I may not be an expert in anything much yet (check back in a few years maybe if you’re looking for an expert – hah!) but I can share my journey.
Even though it might sound like I’m confident and brave and all by sharing this stuff, it’s brought up some interesting fears:
- My clients will see how teeny tiny small and insignificant I am
- My family/friends will be horrified at how open I am being about money
- I’ll fail and everybody will see
- I’ll change my mind about sharing these monthly and be inconsistent (a big no-no for blogging)
- I’ll become hugely successful and then everybody will see how much money I make
I think the fact that I’m a bit scared is a good sign, especially since all of these fears are a bit silly and logically don’t make a lot of sense. Also, my husband disapproves, so I can’t not do it. 😉
Okay *deep breath* let’s get into it…
About My January
I feel like overall, I celebrated a lot of wins in January.
The first week or so was quiet, while a lot of businesses were still on their Christmas break, but then it felt like everybody came back to work at double-speed, trying to achieve all their goals in one go. Which I guess translated to more interest in the stuff I do to help people get more clients/customers/business.
This was my third month since I launched my blog and website, my second month accepting orders, and my first full month with an operating online ordering system where I really started trying to promote myself.
A little background…
Although I’ve been freelance writing for the last two years (plus an additional two years before that in my old business), I hadn’t really been operating officially – just taking on freelance work when it was requested by a small handful of existing clients. I had no marketing, no systems, and nothing much resembling a business. So, even though I’ve been writing blogs (and writing for business) for 5+ years now, this will be my first full year promoting myself under my freelancing brand.
One success in January was launching and testing my new lead magnet/freebie, Get 10 Free Blog Ideas. I had around 45 requests for this freebie during January, helping my little database grow from just a few contacts to almost 70. Here’s why I think this really worked:
- People are kind of over low-value email grabs (pdf downloads, free eBooks) that they aren’t actually going to read or implement
- This offer matches perfectly with my product/service/skills – it’s the logical next step for anybody with no time, but a budget for their blog
- The opt in required a bit of extra effort from people (more fields than just an email address), but the conversion rate was still good because people could see the value
- It meant a chance to genuinely connect with someone from the first moment they join my email database, investing sometimes 30 minutes into getting to know their business, then emailing them high value information that can genuinely save them time and mental energy
- This means that my email list is extremely high quality and my tribe are invested in my brand – and I am invested in theirs
- It feels good to do something for someone else’s business without expecting anything in return
- When the offer is highly valued, it markets itself
After sending out the 10 blog post ideas, I offered my contacts the chance to get some of their blog post ideas turned into actual done-for-you custom written blog articles. This coincided nicely with my January 2-for-1 special offer.
(side note: this February, I have a different special offer running for new clients, so contact me if you’re keen!).
As a result, I got a pretty good conversion rate, with quite a few of these contacts requesting blog articles (or planning to in the next few weeks). I suddenly found myself stretched with better conversions and more work than I’d anticipated. A good problem to have!
In addition, I got repeat work from a few of my clients, which was great! I know that I only need a few clients to be regular/repeat clients in order to help my business be sustainable, so I count this as a real win.
I know I’m cheap. Way below market rates cheap. But I’m okay with doing this for a little while because:
- I need some volume of work early on to test out my processes and refine them quickly
- My focus is on building up my numbers and getting booked consistently
- Once I get booked consistently, I will be able to start increasing prices, and will have the confidence (and systems) to do so
Plus, this is my side-hustle. I’m a SAHM to two little people, and this is really an important part of my story right now. I feel a bit more okay about taking an extra few hours to respond to an email if I'm priced below market value right now. Because that’s the reality I’m dealing with at the moment, being by myself with a baby and a toddler for nearly all their waking hours, sometimes five days a week.
Again, I know this is temporary because children and babies grow and get more independent fairly quickly (the years are short!) so I’m pretty sure that this situation isn’t going to be forever.
I can foresee a price rise in the next couple of months, but maybe as early as March. I’m toying with the idea of doing a small price rise, followed by another small one a couple of months later, rather than a bigger jump all in one go.
Aside from what I already mentioned, this month, I started my email newsletter and have been consistently sending out emails weekly, along with my usual weekly blog article.
I’ve been posting on my Facebook page semi-regularly, but this hasn’t been my primary focus. I spend some time in Facebook groups each day that help me grow professionally, but also build my network and house my potential clients. I’ve posted links to offers in some of them, along with contributing and helping where I can on other people’s posts. This can be a massive time suck (I could do it nonstop and the task would never be finished), so I’m working on finding a balance to get the most out of it (and give as much value as possible), without spending too much time in there. I usually do it all while I’m feeding my baby, so it almost feels like “bonus” work time at the moment. 😉
My wonderful husband has been working on my website doing all sorts of fiddly things that I’m only half aware of. It’s generally improving all over though, which is great. He keeps rambling on about SEO and tells me when my rankings go up and down (daily haha), but I’m planning to be more intentional about the technical side of SEO down the track… I want to be properly focused when I get to it.
I’ve been posting on Instagram most days, with Instagram stories every couple of days (at least). I am surprised to find that I really enjoy Instagram and it can be a good way to connect on a more personal level with people in my industry and target audiences. I’m going to work on being more consistent and intentional, but it’s just really fun too, so I think I’ll keep at it.
LinkedIn is in the back of my mind and I’ve sent a couple of messages and friend requests through there, but I haven’t been overly intentional. Sooooon, my precious. Twitter and Pinterest don’t really deserve a mention this month, but maybe next month…
I’ve done one guest blog, which was fun. I think I’ll try doing a few more soon. I have a lot of content to share, so why not spread the love and see what happens?
Okay, I really can’t put this off any longer, so let’s get into the money.
|THIS MONTH||LAST MONTH||Difference from last month|
|Custom blog writing||474||70||+404||+577%|
|Ad hoc writing tasks||85||75||+10||+13.33%|
* 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.
|THIS MONTH||LAST MONTH||Difference from last month|
|Wave payments fees||4.96||3.41||+1.55||+45.45%|
|THIS MONTH||LAST MONTH||Difference from last month|
As you can see, everything is super small scale. Not much coming in. Not much going out.
I’ve tried to keep my expenses as low as I can get away with on a practical level, especially with a few extra set-up expenses from getting my website ready. I can see that this is a wise move as I don’t exactly have a lot of spare $$! It can be really tempting to invest in all sorts of services and products to help with my business (I can see them out there and they look soooo enticing) but I need to be realistic about what scale I can purchase at while I’m at this stage of my business.
Last year, I had to buy a new laptop to replace my verrrry slow, dead-battery device, so that was my biggest business expense for the year. So far, I’m hoping I don’t need to have any major expenses/tech failures in 2018. Although I have managed to drown two lovely Bluetooth earpieces in the washing machine since November. Oops. Must. Not. Put. In. Pocket.
Overall, I can see the growth is starting to take off and I’m just really grateful to be doing the type of work I love and do best. I’m going to be working extremely hard this next month and keeping to my plan consistently, so cross fingers all goes well and I’ll see you back here this time next month!
Full credit goes to Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income for the inspiration. Pat has been doing income reports on his blog for years now, so I figured he’s the expert and I basically copied a lot of his format. Also, because my brain can’t think for itself about money/numbers, it was just a lot simpler to copy someone else’s’ math!
Over to you now… what do you think of my income report? Any suggestions for my February activities?
Keeping it real,