I have been sharing my income on a month-by-month basis ever since I first launched Leaving Work Behind in June 2011. In that time I have gone from losing money to reaching a net profit peak of $8,887 in June 2013.
And yet, the time has now come for me to cease my monthly income reports. It is not a decision I have taken lightly, but it is in my opinion the right thing to do. In this post I want to explain why and also tell you what you can expect instead.
Why I Will No Longer Publish Income Reports
To be honest, I’ve had a rocky relationship with income reports for a long time. I actually stopped doing them in mid 2012, only to start up again after three months.
They’ve always been a bit of a monkey on my back, for multiple reasons. However, it is only recently that I have clearly defined those reasons, which has ultimately led me to this decision.
It started with a post on the community forums a week or so ago (I tend to incubate all of my ideas there) in which I mooted the idea of no longer publishing income reports. I originally outlined my thinking there and I’d like to expand upon it here.
I believe that the more money I make, the less relevant my earnings become to people who are just starting out.
To discover someone who has been on their path for just a couple of years and is earning a few thousand dollars per month is one thing; to see someone who is five years ahead of you and earning $500,000 per year is another.
I’m not saying that I am going to get to that level (although it would be nice ;-)), but I am saying that the more money I make, the less relevant my earnings become.
That is in part why I created Healthy Enough — I wanted a project that I could start from scratch and point to as a success story for those people who have little time and money to spend. I don’t want to create a fancy site with bells and whistles that you have neither the budget nor experience to create — I want to continue to show how people who are just getting started how they can succeed.
For as long as possible, I want to keep my story and my achievements relevant. I don’t think my income reports help me in doing that.
An Emphasis on Earnings
If you’re a regular LWB reader then you’ll know that I don’t worry about money that much these days.
Firstly, I am incredibly fortunate to say that I don’t have to worry about money. I can pay the bills quite comfortably and I am incredibly grateful for that. And contrary to most people whose income grows, I am actually working on reducing my outgoings in proportion to my earnings. Quite simply, money isn’t that important to me (although I won’t pretend that having more of it is a bad thing).
I don’t worry a great deal about the money I make beyond that which I need to keep a roof over my head — what is most important to me is feeling happy in what I do. I am slowly creating a business that revolves entirely around what I love to do (like writing this post, for example), and increasing my income always comes second to that goal.
And that’s a problem when it comes to income reports, as they place a great emphasis on my earnings. They imply that the amount of money I make is more important than anything else, which simply isn’t true.
Don’t get me wrong — making enough money to feed myself is of vital importance, but I’d like to think that I’m no longer at great risk in that respect. I’ve demonstrated how I’ve done that through my past income reports, my blog posts, and arguably most compellingly through my Paid to Blog course. But showing people how to make enough money online to quit their jobs is only one half of the puzzle I intend to solve here on Leaving Work Behind — the other half is to help you create a business that you love running and a life that you love living. Income reports, by their very nature, distract from that goal.
The craziest thing about my income reports is that they influence my thinking.
In the past, when going about my daily business, many of my decisions would be colored by a thought as to how it might affect my income report. Not how it would affect my income, but how it would look on my income report.
I would fret if I didn’t get as much freelance work as I did the month before, as I knew that my income would be lower. The same goes for affiliate earnings and product sales. I’ve already mentioned that money isn’t a number one priority for me, so lower earnings in certain areas is not something I’m worried about (unless there’s some kind of catastrophic dip). And yet, publishing income reports has had a massive influence on how I conduct my business.
In short, I would obsess about making more, month-by-month, just so my progression of earnings would look impressive. That is simply not acceptable. I should be running my business on the basis of what makes me happy, not what a number on a page looks like.
Monthly income reports, by their nature, come around once per month. For the purposes of reporting on what I have been doing, that is completely arbitrary. One month I might have loads to say, the next month I might have little of value to offer.
To partition the reporting on my business into monthly segments makes no logical sense beyond the chronological symmetry of monthly reports.
Quite simply, my income reports take a long time to put together and I don’t particularly enjoy writing them.
First, there’s counting up and verifying all the various sources of income — a real ball ache, to be frank. Now that I’m no longer writing income reports, I won’t be doing that anymore. The specific amount of money I make from one month to the next simply isn’t that important (as long as I have enough to pay the bills!).
Now I focus on just one thing on a month-by-month basis: my total liquid capital. On the 20th of the month I spend five minutes totting up my various account balances (bank accounts, savings, PayPal, and so on), and if the number is bigger than it was the month before, I’m happy. No more worrying about the minutiae.
What This Blog is About
Leaving Work Behind started off as an online accountability journal for my efforts in quitting my job and building an online business, but I’d like to think that it’s now much more than that now.
My key aim with this blog is to help you. I have certainly done that in the past by sharing what I have achieved (and I don’t want that to stop), but I can now also help you by teaching.
Monthly income reports are not the best vehicle for achieving those goals. Telling you how much money I made in a particular month doesn’t help you. What does help you is sharing the practicalities, in a manner that is relevant to you, of how I made that money.
One could reasonably argue that you can do that with income reports, and I’d be inclined to agree. But like I say, income reports are not the best vehicle for doing so.
What I Will Be Doing Instead
That last point brings me neatly onto what you can expect instead of my monthly income reports from now on.
First of all, I will not be publishing any kind of report on a month-by-month basis anymore, for many of the reasons outlined above. However, I will be extracting all of the worth that can be derived from my income reports and presenting it to you in a far more accessible and relevant format.
Take for example the recent launch of my Paid to Blog course. What would be better: a summary of my earnings and what I did in next month’s income report, or a standalone post in which I share all of the numbers and explore the results of the launch in depth? I know which one I’d rather see.
Or take for instance the big decision I made to move from a freelancing business model to subcontracting. That resulted in a 40% drop in my earnings but an 80% drop in my necessary time investment. Sound interesting? Would you rather read about it in an income report or in a standalone post, dedicated solely to that topic?
Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not shy. I don’t mind sharing what I earn with you. That’s not the issue. The issue is doing it in an enjoyable way that is most informative for you. That in a nutshell is why I will no longer be publishing income reports and is why I will now be doing standalone posts that act as mini, ultra-specific income reports in their own right (just without all of the negative connotations).
But What About Traffic?
Income reports are typically very popular. I have little doubt that my traffic will suffer for not publishing them (consider for example Matthew Woodward’s income reports roundups, which sends me a nice chunk of traffic every month). But ultimately, I am less concerned about traffic than I am about creating a resource that I love maintaining and that people love reading.
There is often a disconnect between traffic and value and even between income and value. I could theoretically create a sales funnel to a bullshit product, optimize the hell out of it, drive traffic to it and make more money than I do now. Would that help people more than I do now? No, but it would make me more money.
And that is the point. The level of traffic this blog receives does not represent the quality I have to offer. I do not see a clear connection between the two. Getting more traffic does not necessarily you are suddenly offering more value — you may have just caught a lucky break with a mention on a big site. Nothing actually changed aside from the number of eyeballs on your site.
Many people run blogs to make as much money as possible. I run my blogs for two reasons:
- To help pay my bills
- To help people
Why is paying the bills first? Because if I can’t keep a roof over my own head, I certainly can’t help people.
Income reports might boost my earnings but they do not define my earnings. Nor are they the best vehicle I can conceive for helping people. Furthermore, I don’t really enjoy creating them and they affect my thinking negatively.
For all of those reasons, income reports on Leaving Work Behind are no more. But don’t mourn the loss. I will be offering you far more value in their place.
Photo Credit: Images of Money