Sunday, 4 February 2018

Income Statement: January

It's amazing what can happen when you get your focus better aligned. Don't get me wrong, I haven't suddenly hit the big time. Far from it. I'm nowhere near where I need to be.

But by acting more strategically, as opposed to simply doing and going for what's right in front of me, things are changing. I'm certainly transitioning to a new business model.

The fly in the ointment (of sorts) is that I may be shifting back into the corporate world soon, and away from my business as a coach (which I don't include in these blog posts). I've been waiting around for this opportunity and apparently it may happen.

If it does come to fruition, I still plan to do my online and passive income initiatives. I think we all need to have them to secure financial and personal freedom. My model may have to shift again to be as hands-off as possible.

In the meantime, I'll simply push on with what I've got. So let's look at the income streams and what's going on there:

Resume Writing: $733. I consciously decided to do less in this space in order to diversify my income streams. Ironically, the balance of work has actually improved. Firstly, the firm I've been working with has raised the pay per resume. Secondly, I'm now being offered more Executive (i.e. bigger ticket) jobs. Thirdly, the approach to writing LinkedIn profiles has changed so that they are less complicated and should take less time. Overall, these changes should mean a better return on my effort. We'll see.

Writing: $1,410. This has suddenly taken off. Not that I've yet been paid for them all (or in fact completed all the jobs) but I'm counting them now anyway. I've managed to get two PeoplePerHour finance writing gigs, one of which has offered repeat business. I've also started writing award submissions on behalf of law firms, something I was offered through a business contact. Finally, I've been offered more career advice writing for a site. And to think I was trying to shift away from writing...

Amazon Merch: $0. After waiting 11 months, I finally got accepted on Merch. And so begins my t-shirt business. I decided to use Fiverr for some of my first few designs, while I learn the nuts and bolts of designing on my own. So far, so nothing. But I'm finally building out passive income opportunities.

eBook: $2.50. I think the algorithms must have changed as I didn't get much traction over the month. I guess it would help if I did a little marketing of my books...(The Simple Guide to a Winning LinkedIn Profile and Craft a Winning Resume)

Dividends: $0. Nothing to see here. None of my stocks paid a dividend during the month. But I've invested more into the market targeting higher dividend yielders, so hopefully, I'll see increased returns over coming quarters.

Total: $2,145

Looking ahead:

My goal is to shift out of the low-value income streams into higher value. I'm writing another ebook at the moment, which I intend to get out before the end of February. But it's a volume game and I feel there are possibly better opportunities for me elsewhere than these books.

I've talked about online courses for a while now but I haven't yet created one. That has to be my focus for the first half of the year. I've also not been able to make any affiliate income so far. I've got a few underutilized websites and it's about time I made them work for me.

The next few months could see lots of change. That would be great as I spent way too much time spinning the same plate last year.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Income Statement: December

As 2017 draws to an end, I guess it's time to have a little review of where I am now.

It took me a while to start getting a bit serious about all of this online income / passive income / enterprise thinking, and I'm nowhere near where I want to be. But I've worked a lot on my mindset in recent months and I'm convinced that 2018 will build upon the momentum I've been seeing in recent months.

I'm gradually building up structures and disciplines that should put me in better stead for the next 12 months. One of the reasons why I struggled at times this year was that I didn't have clear enough goals to target and didn't have any metrics to measure how well or not I was doing. That's going to change.

I'm also going to keep my main focus on two areas: career and finance. Those are going to be the core of all my income streams. That way I won't be too distracted by shiny objects that cross my path. It will also allow me to repurpose content and work done in different areas. I have a few random connected domains that I hope to monetize, while I also need to build on my relationships and ideas in different ways. Go where the money is and use what you know what works - that's my plan.

December was an incredibly short month for me as I effectively took off the last two weeks. As a result, there's very little to speak about in relation to my income streams:

Resume Writing: About $400. Did very little but that was to be expected. I'm angling at $1,200/month for this. That's a lot less than most of my months but that's because I want to re-direct my efforts elsewhere with a passive and online income bias.

Ebooks: $16. Pleasantly surprised that I sold eight over the month (not amazing but one of my best months, and reflective of both books being purchased - The Simple Guide to a Winning LinkedIn Profile and Craft a Winning Resume). In keeping with my idea of repurposing and going where the money is, I'm starting to write a new book talking about cryptocurrency. My goal is to get $20/week via my ebooks in 2018. That's a stretch at the moment but that's exactly what I need.

Writing: $0. This was a disappointing area for me this year. I had a few bites but didn't have the consistency. In 2018, my writing is going to be heavily focused on finance writing. By focusing on this niche I won't waste time on areas that I can't build as part of my brand.

Projects: $0. I had two good projects this year and the goal is to find similar types of deals. I realize that working with organizations, while more hassle, are far more profitable and better for my development. It means that I need to tighten up my propositions but I'm excited about what I might be able to bring to the market.

Total: $416. A non-month but directionally I'm heading in the right direction. Slowly but surely...

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Income Report: November

It's as if the scales have fallen from my eyes. Well, at least a bit anyway.

For months I've been playing at my income generation world. There's nothing wrong with taking a step backwards to go one to two steps forward. The trouble is I seem to have been going one step back, then one forward, then one back...Looking back at old blog posts this all became clear.

But I've noticed in the last few months that I've started to wake up. Baby steps, perhaps. But woken up nonetheless.

I had an interesting chat with a guy a few weeks back, who initially was a potential client but actually turned out to be simply a font of knowledge. One concept he talked about was the idea of what he called the "Strategy-Tactical-Execution" pyramid. At the very top is Strategy. This is our big long-term goal, whether that's for a career, for building a business or creating a life. The Tactical stage below that is all about doing things that support your Strategy. For example, taking a new qualification or building new business relationships are ways in which you can better position yourself for being a success at the Strategy stage.
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The trouble is a lot of us tend to get caught up in the same old, same old because it serves a purpose (e.g. gives us cash) but doesn't actually move us forward towards a greater goal. That is the Execution stage. That is the level that isn't necessarily taking us forward, beyond giving us cash, something to do, putting food on the table and so on. It's obviously a necessary step, and sometimes it feels quite substantial. But in order to get ahead, we simply have to learn how to move up the pyramid.

And that's what I'm focusing on more. The Execution level is something I've been stuck in for too long. Low level, easy cash but a "no progress" level of existence. This month, however, I've (hopefully) started to think differently. I'm back on the mindset of building stuff.

I had a windfall of a gig that I hadn't been expecting. It was similar to the consulting role I had in the summer helping out a university with resumes for its MBA program. (Not "online" in any way shape or form but I still want to highlight it because it came out of online roots). The added dynamic to it is I had to do a mini-workshop/talk.

Now, I have never seen myself as a public speaker but in the space of one month, I have done two talks - one for a university, one for a women's forum.  Both tested me and both opened my eyes up to possibilities. I also managed to get a new coaching client as a result of the forum talk as well. I've been resisting a lot over the past year and I realized it was time I woke up to this fact and took a stand.

Time to stop playing at being an entrepreneur or self-employed or freelance or whatever moniker comes to mind. Time to see how far it can take me. Things will be very slow. No doubt. But it's time to stop the excuses and get on with it!

So, how was this month?

Resume Writing: $1460. This is always an interesting one. It's a staple that has been very consistent over the last year. But in many ways it's got "Execution" tendencies. I'm trading time for money, it's got little in the way of "Tactical" qualities (beyond giving me the skills to write my ebooks and giving me deeper insight into the banking industry), and it's certainly not something I plan on doing forever. I'm not going to get rid of it just yet but I would be disappointed if I read this in a year's time and it's still making up such a large percentage of my "hustle" income.

Project: $3840. I know, I know, this is a one-off. But it's the second one-off of its ilk and was, in fact, a direct result of working with someone at the previous university. These nice bonus payments won't be a monthly occurrence, but if I play my cards right I could find myself with a few more of these with other institutions in 2018.

eBooks: $2. I've got two books out there (The Simple Guide to a Winning LinkedIn Profile and Craft a Winning Resume) but I haven't consciously marketed them in recent months so traction has been limited. The algorithm that had worked quite well for me months ago isn't playing ball any longer. But because I've got these two products primed, I need to move beyond Amazon and think about also marketing them elsewhere. That's my target in January.

Writing: $120. I haven't actually collected the money yet, and I'm still waiting for the pieces to be accepted, but I'm pretty sure my two blog posts to be used on a careers site should be fine. This was another opportunity I saw available, having looked around my local Facebook forums and followed it through. I think there's scope for more there as well. And it's a great way for me to also promote my services as well.

Dividend: $70 (can't exactly remember but it was something like that). I haven't spent enough time looking at my investments and I do plan to start trading more actively as an additional hustle (my background is in investments, though I am pretty rusty). Still, my dividend approach is still something that appeals, and with each dividend I receive, I simply reinvest it in the same stock.

Total: $5492. Thanks to the project, this was one of my best months this year. I'm not going to pretend that this will be the norm, unless I consistently get awarded bonus projects. But it's certainly a pointer in the right direction.

Other projects I've looked at have included:

Zazzle: This is the second year running I'm going to try to take advantage of the Christmas season and sell some products. Last year I achieved zilch. This year, zero. But at least I'm giving it a go.

Domains: I bought some domains a couple of years ago and haven't used them at all. I don't want to flip them, as I do see some value in their names. I reached out to another Facebook forum for ideas and someone suggested using them for affiliate marketing. To do that I would need to build some websites, or pay someone to do it for me.

And then I have a eureka moment. I already have a website sitting there, doing very little, with a few half-hearted blog posts. Why don't I turn that into an affiliate site in the meantime? Far less time, money and effort required than the other sites and it's an asset that's being wasted doing nothing. I only came up with this idea today so it's still fresh. But my goal is to gradually optimize it over the next month just in time for those "get a new job" new year resolutions (it's a resume writing site).

So that's it for now. December will be quiet as I'm essentially switching off mid-month and taking a three-week break. I may do another entry towards year end with a forward-looking bias.

Either way, November was good and certainly on the right path. It wasn't just transactional execution. There were signs of some potential long term.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Income Report: October

You can only fool yourself so much.

Over the last month or so I've been detoxing. It's an exercise I started about 10 years ago - twice a year, three to four weeks at a time. Initially, it was all about the food, the drink, the cigarettes, the really not very lifestyle I was living. It was about cutting out dairy, meat, alcohol, certain sugars and so on. It was about getting in tune with fruit and veg. Every time I've done it, my body has felt better for it.

In more recent years, I've expanded my interpretation of detox to include cutting back on Facebook, doing more meditation and focusing on my mental/emotional/spiritual health. It's never meant to be perfect or about living a life as a monk. I probably could have done a bit more exercise this time as well. But one thing's certain, it sure as hell gave me a bit more clarity this time around.

You see, I'm very good at "playing" at stuff. It's all about tinkering at the edges rather than getting stuck in. The trouble with that is, I've kind of been fooling myself. I haven't pushed on with much of what I've talked about in previous blog posts and have kept on spinning the plates, hoping that some great masterplan would fall into place.

Well, this month has given me more headspace to observe what I've been doing. And some of it needs to change - and some of it has already started to change.

Firstly, I've been talking about finishing an ebook since August. Well, not only did I finish it, I got it edited, formatted and got myself a brand spanking cover (check out my ebook on how to write a LinkedIn profile). I realised that I've talked about passive income for a long time and yet I haven't committed time to building the assets. My goal is to make sure that changes. 

For one thing, I am now juggling the creation of two more ebooks, one of which I want to convert into an Udemy course by the beginning of next year.  I also noticed that my Zazzle account hasn't brought me any joy but I'm going to promote my wares in the run up to Christmas, simply using designs that I didn't market last year. 

I also thought it was time to have a look at my Google Adsense account. I've got a few websites but I never found the time or energy to see whether I could make any money out of them. I finally sorted out linking an account this week and earned a grand total of about $0.15 in a week. That may not sound like much but given that the account had been close to dormant for a couple of years, that's progress!

And I've also pitched for two writing gigs - one would be great for branding, the other pretty good on the cash flow front. We'll see what happens but it's time to focus (again) on diversifying my writing income.

On a separate tact, I also accepted an offer for at least one speaking engagement, maybe two. It's unpaid but it will get me great exposure. I keep telling myself how much I hate public speaking (though probably don't) but it's exactly the thing I need to do to get me out of my inertia and stupor.

Completely detached from this, but still in the passive income space, is something that has been lingering for a while - "scrip dividends". These are essentially where you reinvest the proceeds of a dividend back into the stock that you are holding. The rationale behind this is that research has shown that your returns based on dividends being reinvested tend to far outstrip the returns you make when you take the dividend in cash. Even though I've known this principle for years, it was always "too much hassle" or "I don't know where to go to find out" type of thinking by me. But with the clarity that a financial freedom goal should inspire, I got it sorted. 

Will this momentum last? Probably not. But a ball in motion stays in motion. So my hope is that I keep genuinely and honestly chipping away in a way that I can actually see tangible advancement when I  look back in six months time.

Resume Writing: $2,080. Not a bad month in terms of the numbers. I also switched from PayPal to request getting paid into my international bank account. I had thought that my original approach made sense, but having done the sums I noticed that PayPal really does take a fair bite out of my income. That and the currency conversion. The new approach will hopefully save me a little bit here and there.

eBooks: $4. A fairly quiet month and probably reflective of the fact that I haven't marketed my earlier book on resume writing or my new book on LinkedIn profiles. I want to put the marketing on autopilot, but for now the books are out there and time to write some more.

Dividends: $103. Even though I've signed up for the dividend reinvestment process for one stock, a couple of dividends slipped through the net and went straight into my account. That's fine by me, and a sure sign that my passive income strategy actually exists.

Google Adsense: $0.15. Yes, it's as good as nothing but it's the first money I've earned this way so I'm going to shout it from the rooftop!

Prolific Academic: $0. I haven't touched it for a while but no doubt there are still a few dollars here or there to take advantage of.

Total: $2,187.15

Not bad. One of my best months for these hustles I think. December is definitely going to suck so I better get my head down and make November look good!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Income Statement: September

September didn't quite go as planned. But working for yourself doesn't really do linear performance.

The one thing I'm most disappointed with is the fact I haven't completed my second eBook. It's not as if I actually have much to write. It's simply that I haven't closed out my own proofing process, prior to sending it onto a professional to do a better job on it.

That said, I was inspired to start writing my third eBook (yep, I do have a habit of jumping from one shiny object to the next). So I'm about a quarter of my way through book #3. I' m still keep to build momentum in this area, though sales in September were pretty poor again. Time to find more ways to do free marketing.

My standard resume writing gig kicked back in and was probably back to average levels, after last month's lull. But I'm also looking to build opportunities with organisations rather than individual resume writing opportunities. I realised this when a private client and myself decided to part ways - he wanted a lot of changes to the work I had done, and I couldn't see the economic rationale for spending all this time on one individual. I learned that the decent sized one-off contract from during the summer was exactly what I should be seeking more of.

I'm now in my "detox" period. What started out as a nutritional overhaul twice a year, has now turned into a more holistic purge across my life. That includes a massive re-evaluation of my online/offline income streams - what I'm working on, what my ROI looks like for everything I'm doing, how to squeeze more time and money out of my current situation. As I've suggested before, I need to tighten up my measuring capabilities. I would like to think that when I do this review next month I would have at least moved the needle a little bit. But I seem to say that most months....

In the meantime, I need to work on Christmas income opportunities online (I think I may struggle to get much done from a Halloween perspective), and simply keep refining my business model and number of viable income streams.

A snapshot for the month:

Resume Writing: $1,360
Dividends: $0
eBook sales: $4 - Well, it's still selling (Craft a Winning Resume ) but now is time to really step up, look at online courses and all other kinds of opportunities.
Prolific Academic: $0

Total: $1,364 - Nothing major to write home about, but it's still ticking along. 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Income Statement: August

So August was a bit of an odd one. I've been busy. Too busy with non-work related stuff. And quite frankly it was summer so I didn't expect much

I guess the main thing to come out of it all was the completion (well, almost) of one-off sizable contract. I wouldn't say that it was overtly exciting or something I aspire to do a lot of. But as writing gigs go it was pretty damn fine!

My standard resume writing gig has very much been on the back burner and I would guess that I probably only made about half of the previous month's return. But the important thing is that I'm finding new ways to diversify my income. And it's a hybrid online / offline approach. I'm finding new ways in which to take this whole thing seriously.

I still must, must, must get my second eBook out. I really have no excuse now. But I'm reasonably happy with the momentum I've seen in my first. I've sold some and in fact more than the previous month, so I must be doing something right.

I've already started thinking about Christmas and how I should be looking to monetize online. I remember saying the exact same thing a year ago, but now I have a far better sense of what I can work on. Watch this space.

So I still need to keep testing what works and measure the effectiveness. But my next focus is to get my next eBook out in September but it's all looking very encouraging ahead of my next book launch, which is planned for August.

A snapshot for the month:

Resume Writing: $500 (early guesstimate). Probably something like that. Don't really know.
"One-off gig": $5,200. Yep, a bit of a windfall gig working with a university. If I can work out ways to extend my relationship with them then who knows what's possible.
Dividends: $0
eBook sales: $6 - Disappointing that I didn't beat my previous month's figure, but at least it's still selling and there are plenty of spin off ideas to consider for the book (Craft a Winning Resume ).
Prolific Academic: $7

Total: $5,713 - Yep, it's incredibly distorted by the gig I did for the university (and nothing like any of my previous months), but now I know I can get that kind of project, why shouldn't I look for more? 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Income Report: July

Yep, focus (or lack thereof) is still a big issue for me. Admittedly, I have had the small matter of a wedding to arrange so my enterprises haven't been front and centre for me, but I'm looking at different ways in which to stay connected with my ultimate goals.

That has been in part through conversations with other like-minded people: fellow entrepreneurs/solopreneurs, my brother, and basically anyone that will listen. It's important to voice it so that a) it continues to be part of my narrative, b) it gets so ingrained in my lifestyle that it's actually part of me.

I've taken my foot off the pedal on the resume writing element this month, but I have a very busy August to manage in terms of the one-off sizable contract I have to complete that month.

What I'm most proud of is the momentum I've started to build up with me eBook sales. It's still not anything to get excited about (eight sales over the month), but it's the fact that I'm starting to see a pick up in purchases. I'm guessing that that's had something to do with increased promoting on Twitter, which has attracted more individuals to its page on Amazon.

I need to keep testing what works and measure the effectiveness but it's all looking very encouraging ahead of my next book launch, which is planned for August.

So, as a snapshot for the month:

Resume Writing: $1,000 (early guesstimate). Lower than normal months but I'm working on bigger and better gigs at the moment.
Dividends: $0
eBook sales: $16 - My challenge is to beat myself month to month. And the best thing is the book (Craft a Winning Resume ) is something I actually know something about, so when I complete the follow up I hope to see loyal buyers get that as well.

Prolific Academic: $4

Total: $1,020 - I'm probably underplaying the figure but in the bigger scheme of things I'm genuinely excited at the prospects of my businesses. 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Income Report: June

I almost find myself dreading my monthly check-in here. Over the months and years I read a ton of income reports that are all singing, all dancing, espousing "financial freedom" and a laptop lifestyle. They make it seem so easy. Their efforts so linear in success. Well, it's safe to say I haven't seen that version of the story as yet.

But the important thing is for every one step back I'm seeing one-and-a-half steps forward. It's not the narrative that the online entrepreneurial masters would like to sell, but it's the real world.

It's a tough slog. Tough in terms of focus, tough in terms of execution, and of course tough in terms of getting results.

We're in the midst of the quieter July months and I should be taking this time to re-evaluate what I'm currently doing and how I can be more effective, more impactful in coming months. The trouble is the TV and the fridge are such attractive distractions when you working from home...

So, how did my month look?

Although this report is meant to be all about online related income, I did have a big win offline that will keep me busy in August. It's resume writing for students at a local university. It's a decent sized contract as well. So there's been some progress on my consulting side.

But back to my online element. On top of my normal online resume writing, I've sold a few more ebooks, which is great - it's all about momentum. It's not going to help me retire any time soon. Still, I've started on the follow up and I'm hoping to sort out 10+ ebooks over time.

Elsewhere, I've also had another dividend payment from my investments. I keep forgetting this element of passive income, and it's something I'm going to build upon as I invest a bit more in dividend-yielding stocks.

Resume Writing: $1,730 -Better than a lot of months and it's helped me get the university gig, so I'm still happy
Dividends: $40
eBook sales: $6 - Get Craft a Winning Resume to improve your job hunting opportunities.
Prolific Academic: $7

Total: $1,783