March 2018 Monthly Income Report

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In this blog, I’ll be going into the details of what I earned and spent for the month of March, 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.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and read my previous income reports:

January 2018 Income Report

February 2018 Income Report

So… let’s dive in!

March is for commitment

Nothing says “I’m in this for real” like spending a good chunk of my Feb earnings on a professional membership! Yep, the most exciting thing about March was that I invested in Kate Toon’s Clever Copywriting School, which is probably less a school and more a community/directory. It cost a bit over $300 and was my biggest business investment so far (aside from a much-needed laptop upgrade last year).

But I joined for a few really good reasons:

  • Kate’s been my secret copywriting mentor for years (secret because she had no idea :-))
  • To have a place to soak up the wisdom and ask questions of copywriters a few years ahead of me
  • Because it includes a directory and referrals, there’s a good chance it will lead to work
  • Members get discounted rates on templates and training that will help me level up

So far, the membership has given me connections, job opportunities, education, and inspiration… all things that I could have got on my own eventually, but it feels as though it’s put me 6 months+ ahead. I’m happy I invested in my little business, and I can see that it will keep paying off as long as I put in the work and use the resources.

Learnings… if you come across a platform like this for your industry, or something that offers the brilliant trifecta of education, mentoring, and referrals… jump on it. If there’s a good chance you can cover your membership fee from the referrals alone, there’s no question – it’s worth it!

Challenges

This month, I had two main challenges:

  1. Scheduling

As I got more work coming in from different sources, I started to find scheduling a bit tricky. About half of my work is small, last minute projects, or projects that really need to be delivered within a few days. And the other half of my projects are big… but proposals might take a few weeks to confirm, which means I can find myself unsure of what my schedule will look like in advance.

It’s fun and exciting, but I need to figure out a solution to this soon, because rather than disappoint a client, I’ll sacrifice personal time and sleep to get the project delivered. And I’m already running low on both of those things (see next point). After getting some great suggestions from the copywriting group I joined, it sounds like I just need to tweak my processes and be ready to say “no” to some work if it doesn’t fit my schedule.

  1. Sleeplessness

My 9mo Bazza is still sleeping terribly at night (and often during the day for naps). He usually takes ages to fall asleep, and then wakes up frequently for feeds. Don’t ask how many times a night. I’m a zombie… I have no idea. He’s also super needy while he’s awake, which means in addition to being exhausted, I basically have a baby on/near me at all times.

Lucky he’s cute.

Successes

The biggest, most exciting success this month was that I convinced my mother to take my 9-month-old on Fridays while my mother-in-law takes my 2.5-year-old. That means about 6-7 blissful hours after I drop them off to think, write, and work uninterrupted – something which I will NEVER take for granted again. Plus, my husband takes Fridays to work on his business, so we get to hang out together, alone, all day. So nice and peaceful.

Of course, this isn’t a guarantee. Grandmas get sick, and so do babies. In fact, even I got sick on a Friday just recently, and sacrificed some precious child-free work time to get an iron infusion and then take a nap. But hey, it’s a good start, and I’m grateful for every bit of help I get. Thank you, Grandmas!!!

Pricing strategies

This month, I made two noteworthy changes to my pricing strategy.

Price increase and rewarding loyalty

The biggest change here was bumping my blog prices again – this time to $150. Seems like a lot to some people, but it’s still incredibly good value for what I put into them (the best blog I can create – which often takes 2-3 hours). The result is a quality asset my clients can use indefinitely on their websites and share on their other channels. And it’s also competitively priced in a space where more experienced copywriters charge $300-$400 for similar work.

Because the price increase was so significant, I gave discount codes to just a small handful of existing clients who have been there from the beginning. This way, I feel good about the price increase and I don’t isolate my earliest supporters and adopters… but moving forward, I’ll be able to charge what I’m worth to new customers.

I’ve also incorporated a special retainer price for monthly/fortnightly/weekly blogs to reward clients for their loyalty.

Rates & availability page

At the end of the month, I added a page to my website that includes my pricing and availability. It’s a bit ugly, but all the right facts are there. Sharing this information so openly is a little unusual in my industry, but I wanted to do it for a few reasons:

It feels right. I really believe in openness and transparency, especially in small business. It’s part of my brand and personality… and so far it’s working great for me.

It will help attract/repel the right clients. A lot of potential clients will prefer to know what I charge (or an approximate amount) and how quickly they can expect me to deliver before they contact me about a project. If I’m priced well above or below their budget, they can look for a copywriter who fits their needs instead of getting caught up in chitchat/proposals/etc.

It builds confidence. I also wanted that transparency and reference point for myself – it helps me to stick to my guns on my pricing because I know that my clients already have an idea about what I charge before they contact me.

It helps with subcontracting. I’m starting to get more work from subcontracting arrangements (agencies and other copywriters). They need a quick reference point on my availability and prices for their own quoting process.

Side note: I find that when a business has their pricing displayed openly on their website, it helps me to trust them more and makes me feel confident that I can afford them before I contact them. No prices on display makes me assume the worst-case scenario – out of my price range! If all other factors are equal, I’m more likely to contact a business with their prices displayed than one that does not. 

Marketing strategies

March was a mixed bag for marketing – some ups and some downs.

Inconsistent on social

Unfortunately, during March, I let the ball drop in a few areas of my online marketing. I kept going with my usual weekly blogs, but my Facebook/Instagram efforts were on and off. I was able to keep up my weekly emails, but quite a few of them did arrive right at the end of the week. The main reason was getting busier with client work and a few last-minute jobs each week that I chose to prioritise. Eh – life happens. But I have a plan to do better soon – batching and automation. More on this in a little bit.

LinkedIn level up

I completed Kate Toon’s LinkedIn Booster course which was fantastic. This was the first time I’d got properly intentional about LinkedIn, even though I knew that it had a lot of potential for my business. Here’s what I learned:

  • LinkedIn isn’t as boring and stuffy as I thought
  • It’s pretty much fine to post the same content on LinkedIn as Facebook (you don’t have to be all corporate fancy-pants!)
  • You can connect with a LOT more people than you might think and most people will happily accept a connection request as long as you don’t seem like weirdo
  • A few minutes spent tweaking your LinkedIn profile with the right message can go a LONG way
  • You can post all or most of your blog content as a LinkedIn post (it seems that Google doesn’t mind)
  • You’ll probably get much better reach on your LinkedIn posts than your Facebook page posts
  • You can drive traffic from LinkedIn to your website

So, LinkedIn is something I want to keep rolling with in the future. I feel like it can only keep getting better, as I grow my network and share more content. Winning! Oh by the way, feel free to add me on LinkedIn while you’re here ;-).

Next month’s marketing plans

I’ve mentioned it a few times in this post, but I really want to do more automation. I’m not a total newbie at this but haven’t done much recently. I’ve consciously held off until now, because I wanted to first be confident that I had my content strategy right for each platform. Speaking from experience… changing your mind about what you’re doing halfway through 3 months of scheduled content really sucks ;-).

But now that I’m feeling more confident in my brand, tone of voice, and the platforms I’m going to focus on, I’m ready to look at automation again, starting with social media. The plan is to use Hootsuite to schedule posts for Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

This doesn’t mean I’ll publish content and run. On the contrary – I’ll still get the notification prompts to interact, and I’ll still follow my favourite brands/people on those channels and keep commenting on their content. But it will save my tired little brain from coming up with content for my own marketing on days when I’ve been thinking about everything but!

 

Righto, enough chitchat. Let’s get into the money…

Income breakdown

 THIS MONTHLAST MONTHDifference from last month
 $$$%
COPYWRITING
Custom blog writing$504$117+$387+330.1%
Website copywriting$1101$150+$951+634%
Ad hoc writing tasks$0$210-$210NA
Lead magnet writing$150$300-$150-50%
SUBCONTRACTING
Subcontracting$262.50$240+$22.50+9.3%
INTEREST
Bank interest$1.01$0.67+$0.34+50.1%
TOTALS$2018.51$1017.67+$1000.84+98.4%

 

Expenses breakdown

 THIS MONTHLAST MONTHDifference from last month
 $$$%
SOFTWARE SUBSCRIPTIONS
Adobe Photoshop$14.29$14.290NA
Dropbox$14.56$13.24+1.32+10%
WEBSITE EXPENSES
Netvirtue Hosting$9.95$9.950NA
WordPress Plugins$0$00NA
Domain$0$00NA
PROFESSIONAL FEES
Memberships$326.70$0+$326.70NA
TECH GEAR
Small gadgets$0$58-$58NA
COMMUNICATION
Phone plan$25$250NA
FEES
Wave payments fees$8.37$8.93-$0.56-6.3%
PayPal fees$7.83$3.93+$3.90+99.2%
TOTALS$406.70$133.34+$273.36+205%

 

Net profit

 THIS MONTHLAST MONTHDifference from last month
 $$$%
Income$2018.51$1017.67+$1000.84+98.35%
Expenses$406.70$133.34+$273.36+205%
Profit$1611.81$884.33+$727.48+82.26%

 

So, let’s talk about the numbers!

Until I did this income breakdown, I honestly didn’t know where I was at. I knew I made a fair few more sales, but I also knew that I spent a lot more. It’s a relief to see that I still made more profit overall than the previous month.

Income sources

I did a few more blogs this month and a LOT more website copywriting. Which is great because I really enjoy this stuff. I can see there’s demand for lead magnet writing, which again, I love doing. So, I plan to keep putting myself out there for these types of jobs and refine my processes to make them more efficient.

Subcontractor work is also picking up. I’m starting to build some great connections with other copywriters and agencies. This is valuable – not so much for the money (although that helps), but because I get to work with bigger clients and projects than I could attract at this phase of my business. But best of all, I get feedback from pros who have been copywriting since I was in Primary school.

To any copywriters or other service-based businesses considering subcontracting… if you’re still fresh (first few years in) and want to learn on the job and level up quickly, this is a great way to do it.

Spending is up!

This month I splurged on my biggest purchase yet, a membership! It was just over $300, which meant that my expenses more than doubled from the previous month. But I see it as an investment that will pay off in the coming months as I benefit from the education, connections, and referrals.

Profit and income still increasing

I’m pleased to see that the numbers are still heading in the right direction. But I’ve realised I don’t have any more capacity to take on work (even with working a lot of weekends/evenings/early mornings), so any further profit increases will need to come from price/package changes or being more efficient with the time I do have. I might see these numbers stagnate for a few months until I can get more time to do the work (as my babies get bigger and need me a bit less).

But in a way, I’m kind of okay with that. I must accept some limitations, and I probably couldn’t earn much more than this in a part time (real) job that works around my family’s schedule without putting my kids into day care. And it’s not all about the money – I’m also building a long-term business and investing in my education, experience, and connections – all of which will pay off.

How I plan to keep the numbers growing

Here’s what I’m planning to do next:

  • Nurture my existing relationships – I want to make sure I’m showing my loyal clients how much I appreciate them by keeping in touch and adding value to their businesses where I can.
  • Look for small ways I can add value and increase my quality in everything I create.
  • Create a better lead magnet and up my list building game. My current one is fantastic (no, really!) but it doesn’t leverage my time very well now that I’m a lot busier.
  • Work on a product-based income source when I get the spare time and inspiration.
  • Keep the learning going! Improve my existing systems so I can work more efficiently, while communicating clearly with my clients.
  • Automate/batch some of my marketing so I can use my time better and increase my billable hours.
  • Start using a transcription service so I don’t waste time doing this myself.

 March income report summary

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 another full month – full of learning, growth, and lovely humans. 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 April? Marketing strategies, pricing tips, package ideas… I’m open to hearing it all!

 

Let’s keep it real,

Angela

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2 thoughts on “March 2018 Monthly Income Report

  1. This is amazing and so inspirational! Great job on the investment and LinkedIn – seems like it is really paying off and helping with your ROI. Have your tried approaching bigger platforms like HuffPost, ThriveGlobal and other platforms? You have amazing writing skills.

    • Thank you so much, Gaayathri!! Glad I’m inspiring you and thank you for the lovely encouragement. That’s such a great idea approaching those platforms. I have them on a list of places I’d love to get published, just gotta figure out how it all works and set aside a few days to try it out. Would be really amazing to say “published in…” on my website. Hopefully soon. Great suggestion! xxx

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