On October 31st, I entered my monthly freelance invoices as I do on the last day of every month. I was sitting at my kitchen table studiously checking and double checking each invoice before pressing the send button, tallying up my monthly total. When I reached the end, I hit a new milestone that sent my jaw dropping to the floor.
It was the end of a very busy two weeks where I was pressing myself to successfully onboard new clients, keep up with existing clients, and wrap up a few odds and ends for some client website projects. I knew I was trending towards a great month, but didn't realize that I was on the way to a new record, and my first month with a six figure run rate.
Why in the world do you share your income publicly?
When I started this website nearly nine years ago (last Friday was the big anniversary!), I had just left a job working as a bank manager. I learned so much about personal finance working at that bank as the guy in charge of the teller line, new accounts, and customer service departments, in addition to approving new credit cards, lines of credit, and some mortgages generated by my branch. I also had four years of personal finance education under my belt.
I started reading other personal finance blogs as I worked to pay off my car loan (which I did in about half of the five year term), pay off my student loans (two years and six days after graduation), and conquer other financial challenges as a Millennial with a newly minted finance degree. I realized reading those other sites that I had a unique perspective thanks to my background, and to build trust with you, I would be completely transparent on how I deal with my own finances.
I used to share a monthly net worth update, but since stopped doing so regularly for the privacy of my family. However, I always shared what I earned online and through side hustles, and continue to do so every month. Side hustle income has changed my life, and I like to show you how in these monthly updates.
If it’s your first time stopping in, you can see a history of my online income reports here, going back to February, 2012, when I brought in $739 online. I did a whole lot better this month, but you’ll have to keep reading to find out exactly how much better and how I did it.
Post Conference Surge in Demand
When it rains, it pours, or so the saying goes. It seems that this saying holds true in most parts of my life. When I was a single guy in the past, dating was either feast or famine. The same appears to be holding true in my life as a full-time online business owner.
While I occasionally have a day with little to do, most days keep me busy for a full work day. Last month, however, I had a few days where I was struggling to keep up. I had a plan for a smooth end to the week before my parents came into town for my daughter's first birthday, but a load of new assignments from a couple of new clients came my way, and I am not one to turn down opportunities lightly.
I accepted each new assignment, and dutifully pounded away the keyboard until each new page was filled with text. One article down, then another, then another. As I was trucking along, I was hearing cash register noises in my head. Article done, cha ching! Article done, cha ching! Until I finally caught up, turning in every single assignment by the deadline.
Learning to Code
While I have been ramping down my website design and development business to focus more on writing, I do still enjoy it so I won't be stopping completely. I'll keep current clients and still do word of mouth referral website projects as a “side hustle” to my writing, but I've noticed some trends in business that are influencing my own education and personal development goals.
I already know HTML and CSS well enough to build most anything I need to, and a quick Google search generally fills in the gaps. I took that a step further learning basic PHP so I can upgrade, tweak, and extend custom WordPress themes. That led down the rabbit hole of learning how custom WordPress plugins typically work.
I took an intro to Python course online to help beef up my skills a bit more, but become a PHP expert is next on my learning agenda, after finishing my pilot license in April. My first use of these skills was creating an app that I really needed myself, Kosher Fish. This month, I released my second WordPress plugin, and the first one I built myself. It is available to check out and download for free from the WordPress plugin directory.
I have come to a realization that I can make a great living as a freelancer, but I won't really “make it” financially unless I can create something that scales. Products I've released through this blog have not seen massive success, so I'm looking to software as a service (SAAS) products as a future method to boost my income streams.
To do so, I can either do it myself or hire it out. I am leaning towards hiring it out, but before I do that I want to be enough of an expert to know if it was coded well and to be able to review and test the code myself.
Entrepreneurial Income Breakdown
Drum roll please! This month I set an income record, and reached new milestones that helped confirm that I made the right decision leaving my day job in April. In October, I broke $10,000 in one month for the first time, and beat my day job plus side hustle income combined!
- Affiliate Marketing – $150
- Direct Ad Placements – $0
- Total Advertising – $150
- Website Support – $1,454
- Writing Service – $9,208
- Total Freelance – $10,662
- Special event sponsorship – $3,250
Gross Profit – $14,062
Holy moly Batman, a new record! To anyone who doubted that I made the right call when I decided to leave my day job – you know who you are – I've got two words for you. But I know of someone else who can deliver those two words much better than me… (skip to 2:30 if you're in a hurry to get right down to it)
Haters gonna hate. Doubters gonna doubt. But smart, hard work pays off. This time it looks to be paying off big time! This year I brought in about 3x my side hustle revenue at the same time last year.
And with FinCon and a few annual paid bills behind me, margins are up this month as well. See a breakdown of October's expenses below. As always, I omit my own paycheck, benefits, and payroll taxes because those would be paid regardless of whether I was working full-time or for myself. I was really able to cut back on expenses this time around.
- Bank Charges and Payment Fees – $9
- Computer and Internet Expense – $228
- Meals and Entertainment – $7
- Co-working Office, SG&A – $69
- Outsourced Labor – $47
- Postage & Shipping – $4
- Referral/Affiliate Fees – $70
- Telecom Expense – $110
- Total Expenses – $554
Total Revenue $14,062, Total Expenses $554, Profit Before Tax $13,508
Check out my full history of income reports here.
What a $10,000 Month Means to Me and My Family
Now that I've crashed through the $10,000 per month barrier, what is going to change in my life? Not much.
When I left my day job, I paused all of my automated savings, investments, and retirement contributions. With my newfound success, I plan to turn those back on. Otherwise, no major lifestyle changes will be coming our way.
I was happy with my lifestyle earning an estimated $60,000-$80,000 per year. Just because I'm earning more doesn't mean I need to spend more. In fact, the opposite is true. Earning more means I need to be even more careful with my budget to avoid lifestyle inflation and the money pits that come with it.
Every once in awhile you need to treat yo self. But changing your lifestyle dramatically because of an arbitrary income increase one month is not smart personal finance. I'll be keeping things the way they are for the foreseeable future.
Financial Planning & Analysis
This month a light analysis has shown that my 80/20 analysis I did a couple of months ago was spot on. As I've shifted my focus from website development projects to writing, my income hit a new all-time high. I'll continue on this path going forward, while also working on a couple of new side hustles since my old side hustle is now my primary income source.
Lessons Learned in the School of Hard Knocks
No major mistakes to report this time around. I'm excited to be in such a great situation in my career and financially this month. But as a freelancer, you never know what's in store in the future. That is why I'm starting to plan improved income streams from a variety of sources.
Google employees used to famously get about 20% of their time to use working on any project they choose. I have decided to apply this philosophy to my own business, and spend a little time each week working on other projects to help build my business. Who knows where that will take me?
Until next time, stay profitable!