Well, February has come and gone. The worst of the winter is behind me, and as I sit and write this post, the sun is shining. It is a shame I live on a main road and have no garden, otherwise I would be outside right now!
The gradual emergence of spring is a stark reminder that time can pass us by very quickly if we’re not careful. Whilst the passage of time cannot be prevented, we can ensure that we utilize the time available to us effectively. I want to look back at 2012 and be proud of what I achieved, not be frustrated at how quickly it all passed me by.
Producing these monthly reports is an extremely effective way in which I can hold myself accountable and make sure that I don’t wander too far from my core aims.
There are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission. It will cost you nothing extra. I only ever endorse products that I have personally used and tested extensively. Thank you!
In January’s income report, I touched upon the unpredictability of my current situation. At the time I was just 30 days or so into my new working life, and it was starting to hit home that it would take some time for for things to settle down.
However, I did predict increased earnings for both my freelance writing and niche sites, as well as a record month for Leaving Work Behind. Let’s see how it panned out!
After deciding that I did not want to take on any new clients in February, it has a been a good month for assessing how much time I want to spend doing freelance work (and of course how much time I can afford not to, what with it being my primary source of income).
Beyond my ongoing work this month, I built a website for my sister’s lawn care company, which brought in a bit of extra income. That was good experience for putting together a commercial website from scratch, as well as advising on blogging and content marketing. My sister is definitely sold on the content marketing side of things, and I am going to be helping her with her blog (for free) on an ongoing basis. Website development is certainly something I would consider doing more of, if the right opportunities presented themselves.
I also have some other leads – potential clients who have approached me. I now have a firm hourly rate figure set in my head, and will evaluate such opportunities accordingly.
In a nutshell, I am happy with the freelancing side of my business for the time being.
One of the biggest frustrations from my previous job was that we struggled to gain momentum. I worked in property, and although we were doing fantastically well given the state of the economy, it did feel at times as if we were treading water.
That is how I currently feel with regards to my mass niche site project. The main reason for my lack of progress has been the ongoing development of my planned strategy. My plans have evolved again since I last discussed them in January’s income report. At the time I was going to be outsourcing the content creation and backlinking, whilst doing the rest of the work myself. Now I have decided to hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) to do the vast majority of the work for me.
The logic behind this is that I can earn more doing freelance work whilst my VA builds the niche sites. Also, if I can get a solid system in place, that part of the business can run itself to an extent. Only time will tell whether this idea comes to fruition in reality.
So February has been a non-event in terms of niche sites – my efforts in this area have gone towards finding a VA. I have used the Virtual Staff Finder service to produce a shortlist of three candidates, and I will be interviewing them tomorrow. I am expecting March to be the month where I get my niche site building system up and running smoothly. I hope that the project will really get off the ground in the second quarter of 2012.
One thing is for sure – I am not being efficient with my niche site business model at the moment. I have paid out for monthly subscriptions to various services in February that I have not utilized properly. I will need to make sure that this is not the case in March. I do not have money to throw away.
Income & Expenditure – February 2012
As you will know if you read last month’s income report, I am now breaking down my income into three sections, so that you can have a better idea of how each one is performing independently of the others. Let’s take a look:
- Freelance writing:
- Income: $3,358.80
- Expenditure: $159
- Profit: $3,199.80
- Niche sites:
- Income: $5.15
- Expenditure: $757.98
- Profit: -$752.83
- Leaving Work Behind:
- Income: $0
- Expenditure: $108.74
- Profit: -$108.74
Total Profit for February 2012: $2,338.23
I am really pleased with my freelance income this month, which was around the amount that I need to make in order to cover my personal outgoings. However, a fair proportion of that was the one-off payment from my sister for building her website – my “ongoing” income was around $2,400.
Income from my niche sites and Leaving Work Behind are well into the red. Although I am now using affiliate links, I did not generate any sales in February (nor have I yet in March). This comes as no surprise. As for the niche sites, I do not anticipate breaking even on my investment for some time yet. Let’s take a closer look at that as part of my cash flow projection.
In light of my niche site investments being a long term play, I have produced a long term cash flow projection:
Yeah I know – it’s huge. Sorry about that. But it is also very important. As you can see, the cash flow has developed somewhat since last month.
With regards to freelance income, I am assuming that I earn only what I currently take from my ongoing clients. This is conservative – I should earn more than that.
And having discussed the matter with my accountant, I can safely assume that my tax will not exceed 15% of my gross income. Not only that, but due to the way things work over here in the UK, I will not actually have to pay tax until October 2013. This means that I can use the money I put aside for tax as a “buffer”. I am not advocating that you spend your tax money, as it will have to be paid eventually. But it does allow me to be a little more flexible with my cash flow.
As you can see from the above screen shot, I run out of money (after tax) in September 2012. By that point I am hoping for two things:
- That my freelance income will be higher than I am currently projecting
- That I will be in a position whereby I can sell one or more of my developed niche sites
Either of these outcomes will prevent me from running out of money. If things are looking truly dire, I can stop investment in my niche sites altogether and refocus on a new strategy. I am confident however that it will not come to that.
Although I only run a modest little blog here, month-by-month growth is really encouraging. Here is what February looked like:
The total number of visitors from January to February more than doubled, which is fantastic. What is really encouraging though is that the bounce rate, average actions and time per visits didn’t suffer too greatly. Hopefully this means that I am writing good content – I love the idea that people are spending an average of 6 minutes on the site.
The primary cause of this huge jump in traffic is of course the LWB 100. It performed beyond my expectations, and I documented the process I went through to create the post here. But there was lots more this month that I was happy with. The One Who Got Away attracted a fair bit of attention right at the start of the month, and my guest post over at ProBlogger as well as my guest posting guide also combined to create a stir.
I am really happy with every single post I produced in February as a matter of fact, but I can’t list them all here!
February Micro-Goals Roundup
February was another month where aims weren’t always matched with accomplishments, but I am not too disappointed overall.
- Set out medium/long term plan for acceptable hourly rate and adjust goals accordingly. Done!
- Build 2 new niche sites per week. Not done – poor progress on this front. Must do much better in March.
Leaving Work Behind
- Capitalize on my ProBlogger guest post to be published on 10th February. Done!
- Create a Facebook signup incentive and promote. Not done – simply not enough time. This has been postponed for the time being.
- Continue with current Twitter strategy. Done – my number of followers doubled in February.
My To Do List For March
I have just two goals for March – but they are bloody important.
Getting my niche site building system in place is extremely important, and I don’t want to waste any more time. I will continue to do my freelance work and write for Leaving Work Behind as normal, but the rest of my available time will be spent on getting my VA up and running.
This is as much about morale as it is about momentum. I need to feel that I am heading in the right direction and not treading water. A day is best enjoyed when you feel like you are progressing, and that is not the case at this time. I intend for that to change this month.
- Hire VA and put niche site building system in place.
- Build a minimum of 10 sites.
What’s In Store For March?
Unfortunately, March may not be a particularly spectacular month for me. I am abroad visiting a client mid-month, and then I am on holiday for the last 10 days. So time will be at a premium, and I doubt I will be able to get much beyond my “base level” of work done.
Having said that, I would like Leaving Work Behind to breach 10,000 visitors again (although I would be surprised if it did). And whilst I doubt that my freelance income will beat what I earned in February, I expect it to still be quite healthy. Finally, I expect gross income from my niche sites to increase, but not by a great deal.
What Do YOU Want From These Reports?
My monthly income reports are amongst the most popular posts on my blog. They are a great planning and accountability tool for me, and I would like to think that they help you too.
With that in mind, I would love to know what you would like to see from them. I am mindful of the fact that they are rather long and perhaps a bit dry, so if you have any suggestions as to what you would like to see from these monthly income reports, please let me know in the comments section!
Creative Commons photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver