Time can pass by very quickly. And if you are as busy as I have been over the past month, you can observe the paradox of a lot happening in what seems like a very short space of time.
But I suppose that is to be expected when you quit your job and dedicate a large proportion of your life to a fledgling online business. My online endeavours have been promoted from a secondary focus to my sole means of income. I am fully exposed – and for the most part, I am loving it.
Goals and Priorities
If jumping in at the deep end (as I have done) teaches you one thing, it is that your goals and priorities are going to shift on an almost daily basis. What you think is right for your business today, may not be the case tomorrow. The genius idea of yesterday may seem laughable today.
There is only one way you can handle such a dynamic environment – just go with it. It is better to look at goals laid down with the best of intentions and chuckle, rather than pull your hair out worrying about what you did or didn’t achieve.
As I have said before, goals are incredibly useful, but must always be flexible. I am growing into my new role as every day passes, and my priorities and aspirations will move with that growth. I will continue to set goals so that I have direction – but I must always remember that my direction may change.
In my December 2011 Income Report, I was “extremely confident about achieving the vast majority (if not all) of the micro-goals” that I set for the month. I was sat firmly on the fence with regards to my freelance writing income, as I did not know how long it would take me to find new clients. Finally, I assumed that January would be a very slow month for niche site earnings, due to the time it takes to develop new sites.
So with the above in mind, let’s take a look at what happened!
I discovered something very quickly this month – time is money. Yep; that old nugget. But the cliche rings true.
Call me lazy, but I do not want to dedicate 16 hours a day to my business. I didn’t quit my job to lose my social life and become a recluse. Whilst I am driven towards becoming highly successful, I would rather do it slowly but steadily than dedicate my life to it.
With that in mind, time management has become extremely important to me – as has my hourly rate. I have in fact taken a big step back with regards to freelance writing and have not committed myself to any additional permanent work. I do not want to commit myself to anything until I can see that it will fit in with my income-generation plans. The size of my safety net (i.e. the amount of money I have in savings) allows me to do this.
Although time is precious to me, I am not rushing into making any big decisions about how to make the best use of it. I am definitely still getting a feel for how my days should ideally come together, and am basically playing it by ear until I know how I want the average day’s work to look like.
So that is the first major departure from my plans – I was going to dive headfirst into sourcing new clients. Quite the opposite has happened – I have had some interest, but people have approached me, rather than the opposite!
My goals with niche sites has been another area where expectations have not matched results. I was going to build all of my niche sites myself, but I quickly discovered that would not be practical. To be perfectly frank with you, I don’t want to write tens of articles when I can get them written for me for $8 a pop.
If you read my recent niche sites post, you will have an idea of what my broad strategy is. For the time being, I am going to build a couple of niche sites a week, and see how things pan out. If my early sites start to perform, I will pour more resources into the project. If results aren’t so positive, I will reevaluate.
Income & Expenditure – January 2012
I have previously displayed my income reports in spreadsheet form, but I am going to be using a list format for this month. My income and expenditure is easily divided into three parts:
- Freelance writing
- Niche sites
- Leaving Work Behind
Because they are essentially entirely separable entities, it will be far better for you (and for me) to see how each part of my business is operating, independent of the others. Also, I will now be showing the figures in US Dollars, as the majority of my audience will relate best to this currency. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the month’s figures.
- Freelance writing:
- Income: $1,871.43
- Expenditure: $300.53
- Profit: $1,573.90
- Income: $2.99
- Expenditure: $617.49
- Profit: -$614.50
- Income: $0
- Expenditure: $22.90
- Profit: -$22.90
Total Profit for January 2012: $936.50
There is a lot to take from these numbers. First of all, my gross freelance writing income is up 15% from December. Secondly, the associated expenditure is a one off cost (I signed up to Carol Tice’s Blast Off Course).
The niche site expenditure is all related to building new sites – domain names, article writing, backlinking, and so on. As you can see, the income is all but non-existent! My niche sites are currently receiving a total of perhaps 40 unique visits per day (with no keywords in the top 10 of Google), so there is a long way to go on that front.
Finally, we have Leaving Work Behind. As you can see, my financial expenditure on this site is minimal. However, it does take up a great deal of my time, and that has become very noticeable over the last few weeks. As regular readers will know, I have gone to great lengths to promote myself as a transparent and honest blogger. That is best represented by the fact that Leaving Work Behind is not monetized in any way.
However, the time may be near where I should try to at least make a little money from this blog. Although I love working on Leaving Work Behind and getting to know all of you folks better, the last thing I would want is to become jaded by the complete lack of return on my time investment. I would love to get your thoughts on this.
As I first alluded to in Life After The Rat Race, keeping a solid handle on your cash flow is extremely important to the running of any business. With that in mind, I will be incorporating a cash flow projection into each of my monthly income reports from now on. Here is my cash flow projection for the next four months:
This cash flow includes my planned niche site investments. With exception to a one-off income boost in April, you can see that I will be running at a monthly deficit of around £740. At the end of May, I will be able to continue for just over two more months until I run out of money.
Whilst the clock is certainly ticking, I still have plenty of room for maneuver. At any point I could stop investing in niche sites and bring my monthly deficit down to nearly £0 (before tax). I am also assuming that I receive no income from my niche sites during the next four months. Additionally, I could choose to do more freelance work if I wanted to, and put my monthly income into the black.
Finally, there is one major piece of expenditure that will make a huge difference to my cash flow if I can get rid of it – my car. If and when I do sell it, my outgoings will be reduced by approximately £600 per month. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that the car is financed. I will just have to see how that pans out.
At this point, I am satisfied with how my cash flow looks.
Interest in the blog has really jumped in the last few weeks. Here’s what my traffic looked like in January:
Total visitors are up 23% from December 2011. Unique visitors are up 20%, and new visitors are up 7%. The average actions and bounce rate are excellent. All in all, the growth is encouraging.
The month has seen multiple articles attracting quite a bit of attention. Life After The Rat Race chronicled my feelings just a few days after having quit my job – I am sure there will be a follow up on that post in the future. I gave updates on my first two niche sites (here and here) – future updates will be combined with my general niche site updates. I launched my email list auto responder, and I introduced My Mass Niche Site Project. It was a good month for articles!
January Micro-Goals Roundup
I set various micro-goals in January, and on the face of it, my performance has been woeful. However, this is down more to a shift in my aspirations, rather than straightforward failure. Let’s recap and comment.
- Continue work with existing clients and expand roles where possible. Done – roles have been expanded!
- Seek advice from friendly freelancers regarding sourcing clients. Done.
- Trawl online jobs boards (such as ProBlogger) and apply for all relevant roles. Not done – not actively looking for new clients.
- Repurpose and schedule old child modeling posts for new child modeling site. Decided not to add new content.
- Write weekly posts for Deal With Anxiety, with each targeting a trafficked keyword. Decided not to add new content.
- Build an average of 3 links per day with Linkvana to both sites. Different backlinking strategy employed.
- Subscribe to a niche site building course (I will reveal and review the course when I have gone through it myself). Done.
- Launch 5-10 complete sites based upon advice in the course. 4 sites launched.
- Write and submit 4 guest posts. Two written and approved – not enough time to do any more!
- Create an editorial calendar (in order to focus my mind on producing laser-focused and well-researched articles). Done.
- Place a Facebook fan box in the sidebar (already done)
- Be fully active on Facebook – comment on other pages every weekday and link back to my page when appropriate. Have done so, but sporadically.
- Twitter – continue to work on my current strategy (which I will reveal when I have fully tested it). Done.
My To Do List For February
As you can see, my goals for January were a mixed bag, and a lot of them had become redundant by the end of the month. I was pretty happy with how everything went. For this month, I want to set myself a far more concentrated set of goals.
- Set out medium/long term plan for acceptable hourly rate and adjust goals accordingly.
- Build 2 new niche sites per week.
Leaving Work Behind
- Capitalize on my ProBlogger guest post to be published on 10th February (method to be revealed).
- Create a Facebook signup incentive and promote.
- Continue with current Twitter strategy.
What’s In Store For February?
Given the rather changeable environment that I am working in, it is difficult to predict what is going to happen. I do expect both my freelance and niche site income to increase, and I expect February to be another record month for Leaving Work Behind in terms of traffic and subscribers. I hope that my Facebook signup incentive gives my number of likes a healthy boost, and I will continue to experiment with Twitter to increase my follower base.
Creative Commons photo courtesy of ~jjjohn~