As you will know if you read my last income report, July was a month of major change for me. I made the transition from a “traditional” freelancing model to a sub-contracting business model in which I hire writers for much of my client work.
The thinking behind this was simple: I could earn say 60% of the income in just 10% of the time. Given that I had so many other projects that I wanted to work on (that could in the long term make me even more money), the idea was too tempting to pass up.
So I dove in at the deep end and made the switch. I launched Clear Blogging Solutions and set about attracting new clients. My aim was to surpass my record earnings of $6,206 within the following 2-3 months.
But as is often my wont, plans have changed rather drastically since then. My outlook on what I want my business to look like is clearer than ever. That strength of clarity is only matched by my optimism for the future, which is at an all-time high. Read on to find out why!
What Happened in August?
August was a month for getting down to business. I had a lot to do.
The One Hour Authority Site Project Failure
I was more relieved than anything else — I had known for months that this project would never pan out as I had hoped, but I was determined to give it a good run. I did just that and it didn’t work out.
Fortunately I learned a huge amount from the experience, which I immediately poured into my next blogging project: Healthy Enough. More about that later on!
Changing My Successful Freelance Writing Online Sales Page
I’ve never liked the sales page for my freelance writing guide. Someone had written it for me free of charge, and while I was extremely grateful for that, it did not “sound” like me at all. Quite simply, I would never say something like “I was a total wet in the ear newbie,” and reading it back makes me cringe. For my voice, the copy was overly “salesly” and sounded false.
I’d been intending to change it for months but had never got around to it. I had hired someone to work on the copy for me, but he changed his mind after agreeing to do it. He was going to help me find someone else but then I didn’t hear back from him.
I took all of this as a sign and decided to have a go myself. Here’s the outcome. While I’m not 100% happy with it yet (I want to add a few more details and a sample chapter as well as some design tweaks to make it a little less plain), I think it’s a massive improvement. Most importantly, I believe that it is far less salesy than it was before and sounds much more like me, which is what I wanted to achieve above and beyond simply making more sales.
I went to Twitter and Facebook to get some feedback, which was largely positive, with exception to Captain Killjoy here:
The greatest irony was that my re-doing of the sales page was off the back of a realization that everything I do now is primarily about (1) being happy and (2) helping others as much as I can, rather than actually making money.
I didn’t think much of the comment because it seemed less constructive criticism and more trolling. I would love to get your feedback on the new sales page though — what do you think?
The Birth (And Death?) of Clear Blogging Solutions
I officially launched Clear Blogging Solutions on August 1st via a post here on LWB. In that post I revealed the thinking behind my radical change of direction from freelancing to subcontracting:
[Freelancing] isn’t scalable. I only have so many hours available, and quality writing is mentally taxing work that you can only do so much of before you burn out.
Not only that, but I was compromising my other projects in an effort to squeeze every last penny out of my freelancing business and keep breaking income records. Not a good recipe for long term growth. I was obsessed with numbers (I broke my income record four months running) and had lost sight of the bigger picture.
I felt that the new business had a solid structure:
- My writers communicate with the clients directly.
- Their work goes through me and I act in an editorial role to ensure that everything is up to scratch.
- Clients pay me directly and I pay my writers at their desired rate.
- The writers can talk to me if they have any questions or need any further assistance. Similarly, the client can talk to me at any point if they so desire.
However, I soon discovered that the above approach wouldn’t work for me.
The first rude awakening came via one of my writers. He was due to submit a couple of pieces on the Monday, so when I hadn’t received anything by that evening I emailed him to ask what the story was. I woke up on Tuesday morning to a response that the cynic in me was expecting:
Just like that, I had a big hole in my editorial calendar. I scrambled to reassign the work and managed to have things straightened out by the end of the day, but I had just been exposed to the inevitable reality of relying on other people to help keep your business running.
That experience made me realize that having my writers communicate directly with clients simply wasn’t practical. For starters it was plain embarrassing to have to tell one of my clients that this writer had disappeared overnight and wouldn’t be working with him any more, but more importantly it represented a level of professionalism that was way below the standards I had worked hard to set throughout my freelancing career.
So I decided to revert back to a model in which I would act as a middleman between my writers and clients, ensuring that my clients experienced a seamless service even if chaos was reigning behind the front lines.
The second issue I faced was less of a “problem” as such and more of a realization.
It had been about three weeks since the launch of Clear Blogging Solutions. I had a spreadsheet packed with prospective client details — there had been no shortage of enquiries.
This gave me cause for both concern and puzzlement, given the number of enquiries that I had received. So I decided to take a look at those enquiries in aggregate to see if I could spot anything.
Two clear patterns practically screamed out at me. I discovered that most of the prospects:
- Were after relatively generic content
- Ran small blogs or would be re-selling the content to their clients for a profit
It then dawned on me. By launching Clear Blogging Solutions I had wiped out my key selling proposition as a writer: me.
Two of the reasons I have been so successful as a freelance writer are that I have been backed by (1) the Leaving Work Behind brand and (2) a seemingly ubiquitous presence all over the web: from FreelanceSwitch, to ManageWP, to Mashable, to Lifehacker and beyond. In Clear Blogging Solutions I was inadvertently diluting my value and distracting potential clients from the greatest benefits of working with me.
It certainly wasn’t the direction I wanted to head in. I wanted to work with only the highest-quality clients — those who were on the same wavelength as me; those who operated in niches that I found interesting. I had no need to make any more money from my writing business, which meant that the direction I went in was all about enjoyment and fulfilment. I had realized that CBS wouldn’t offer me that.
I’ll leave you with that cliffhanger for a moment, as it is high time that I revealed my earnings for this month. July was my lowest income month since 2012 (due largely to the drastic reduction in freelance income). How did I fare in August?
Monthly Income Report — August 2013
- Freelance writing:
- Income: $6,961.45
- Expenditure: $1,242.49
- Profit: $5,718.96
- Income: $8.43
- Expenditure: $298.83
- Profit: -$290.40
- Affiliate Marketing (Leaving Work Behind):
- Information Products:
- Income: $1,270.74
- Expenditure: $103.04
- Profit: $1,167.70
- Income: $39.38
- Expenditure: $0
- Profit: $39.38
Total profit for August 2013: $7,248.34
This is a marked improvement on July’s income on the surface, but the story is even better when the figures are examined more closely. I had a fairly substantial amount of one-off expenditure this month (including hosting) — the gross profit was my highest ever (and only a few hundred bucks shy of $10,000), as was my gross freelancing profit.
All in all, it’s great to see the income moving in the right direction again, but I was never worried about the “blip” in July — after all, I have transitioned to a completely different business model that now takes only a fraction of my time!
So what next? Well, I’m not one to rest on my laurels — I’ve got a lot to be getting on with.
Clear Blogging Solutions
Further to my experiences with Clear Blogging Solutions in July (covered above), I came to the decision that it isn’t right for me. I believe that my trusty old “Hire Me page” model is as good an advertisement for the type of client I want to attract as it ever has been. As such, the link to CBS in the navigation bar has been changed back to a link to my Hire Me page.
While I have seriously pimped out the page in an effort to make my services more attractive to prospective clients and to account for the fact that I now work with a team of writers rather than solo, the key selling points of old are still there:
- I’m the named writer and the person you deal with
- We write only on topics that I have experience in and am known for
- Clients can tap into my social media networks to promote their content (when relevant)
However, Clear Blogging Solutions isn’t dead — the site is still up and running. My decision is entirely reversible — in effect, all I need to do is change the link in my navigation bar and in my bylines on client sites. But I do feel like my return-to-the-old approach is the right one for me. I want to continue working with the Flippas and WooThemes of this world — not clients who are looking for a bargain.
The death (or to be more accurate, the coma) of Free Online Dating Advice left a gap in my “blogging projects” slot that needed filling. Just a couple of weeks ago I was rather suddenly inspired by a re-read of Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Body to launch a health and fitness blog with a difference.
I decided to target people like me: people who are relatively fit and healthy and really love their food. People who hate exercise for the sake of exercise (rather than for fun). People who would like to have six pack abs but just aren’t motivated enough to do the necessary hard work.
And so my new blog was born: Healthy Enough.
Over the coming months I’ll be publishing personal case studies, well-researched and comprehensive pieces on health and fitness topics and informative and actionable articles.
I’m really excited about this project. I think I have nailed down an approach that people like me will find really appealing, and I think I’m in a position to create compelling content. I will of course be writing plenty more about this blog here on LWB in the future, so stay tuned!
What’s in Store for September?
I’m now well settled with my writing business and have a lot more time on my hands than I did previously. That means that I’ve got a lot in store for September.
First of all, I plan to publish three or four posts on Healthy Enough. Each on will be heavily promoted and I am hoping that I can start with a bang. We shall see.
Secondly, I am currently working on a major re-launch of my guide, Successful Freelance Writing Online. In my humble opinion, it is going to be the best guide to freelance blogging available by an absolute mile.
This is no minor update — we’re talking about a completely new course that takes the original guide and creates something far greater. I’m really excited about it and the launch is in just a few weeks!
If you’d like to know more about the upcoming re-launch then enter your email address below and hit “Sign Me Up!”
I’ll also be working on something even bigger that I plan to reveal in October. That’s all I have to say on that right now, but you’ll find out more soon enough!
I don’t know how I will fare in terms of income in September. I doubt that my freelance earnings will be as high as they were in August, as the month was a “perfect storm” of some high-paying jobs coming together at the same time. However, I hope to at least sustain my earnings.
Looking at what I’ve got planned, it’ll be the last three months of the year that’ll really determine (a) how financially successful 2013 was for me and (b) how successful I will be in 2014. I’ve got a big few months ahead and you’ve got a front row seat!