I focused some of my time on preparing my taxes since I had to do a lot of stuff to account for freelance income. I did an okay job with staying organized and holding on to receipts for expenses, but I will try to pay quarterly from now on and organize my income and expenses more often so it won’t be a big project around tax time.
If You are New Here
Last year I started publishing the income I earn outside of my full-time job through online side hustles as a way to motivate myself and others to earn more to meet financial goals and work toward financial freedom. I officially landed my first freelance writing client in March 2015. At first, I attempted to start earning an extra income as a way to help me pay off my debt and got hooked. I paid off more than $11,000 of debt last year and wouldn’t have been able to do so without earning an extra income.
I also publish these income reports to demonstrate a true and transparent way that people can earn an honest income working online. I’m not going rocket science here, and I believe almost anyone can do the same things I’m doing to earn money with the right tools and motivation.
It’s been truly life changing and quite rewarding to do something I’m passionate about and earn an income from it. I can honestly say I never would have starting growing my side hustle income as much if I wouldn’t have started a blog. If you’re interested in starting a blog of your own, you can review what I’ve learned after a few months of blogging and you can check out my tutorial to starting your very own self-hosted blog in just a few minutes.
Another thing I can attribute to my success is taking my mentor and friend Cat Alford’s freelance writing class called Get Paid to Write for Blogs.
Cat is a wonderful coach and inspiration to a lot of people. When I first started working with her, I remember she asked me what my goal was and when I told her I wanted to earn $1,000 per month, I honestly didn’t even believe I could do it. When I surpassed that $1k amount after applying everything I learned from her course and building my network, I was ecstatic.
For anyone who is serious about establishing a solid freelance writing side hustle or career quickly and landing great gigs, I’d highly recommend her course.
Freelancing has opened up a whole new world for me. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns though. If you’re interested in learning more about freelancing, my friends and I brought Cat on the podcast last month to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to freelancing from our perspectives along with our successes and failures so far. It was a really fun episode to record.
Now let’s talk about the numbers.
In February 2016, I earned $2,711.02
Work shifted around a bit but I earned about the same as last month. This is the income I received in February before fees and taxes; meaning this money actually made it to my checking account. It seems like Paypal fees are eating up a lot of my invoices so I’m considering trying a different invoice system or even some accounting software. Anyone have any recommendations?
As you know, a large majority of what I earn comes from freelance writing and I’m okay with that. Monetizing a blog takes time, especially if you’re trying to respect your readers and choose opportunities selectively.
Here’s How My Income Breaks Down
Freelance Writing: $2,301.02
Virtual Assistant Work: $60
Sponsored Posts: $250
Affiliate Income: $100
Hours Worked in February
Feb 1 – 7: 17.5 hours
Feb 8 – 14: 17.5 hours
Feb 15 – 21: 18.5 hours
Feb 22-29: 23 hours
Total: 76.50 hours
BIG Announcement and Goals for My Blog and Online Income
This time, I wanted to combine my goals with a big announcement I’ve been waiting to shared. I decided to work toward quitting my day job this year!! I’m so excited to finally be able to say that. The idea has crossed my mind quite a few times and people have even asked me before, but I’ve always said no or been undecided.
Some Drawbacks I’ve Had
As my side hustle income has grown, the main thing that was holding me back was that I wanted to purchase a house in the next few years, and I know that’s hard to do when you are self-employed unless you’ve been doing it for a few years.
Then, I thought to myself, will buying a house really make me happier than freelancing full-time?. The answer is simple, nope. While becoming a homeowner one day is one of my goals, I enjoy freelancing so much while my patience and motivation to work my full-time job has died. I don’t think it’s right or fair to work a job when I’m not interested in giving my all anymore and all I can think about is growing my freelance business and how much I enjoy it.
Then there’s my debt. I wanted to have all my student loans paid off before I consider leaving my job. But that would require me to work there another two years at least so I could pay off my loans and save up to quite. I’ve been chipping away at my student loans diligently each month, but once I get married we will have even more debt together.
Why I Plan to Quit Despite This
A big argument I hear is that freelance writing or just freelancing in general can provoke a feast or famine lifestyle that is unstable since the income you earn can vary, and your gigs can dry up at any time.
On the flip side, working my day job is unstable as well. Yes, I receive a paycheck every 15 days and have a good idea of how much I will earn. But my boss could walk into the office one day and tell everyone that he’s decided to shut down the business to travel with his family or pursue some other passion. People get laid off all the time, so any job you have can send you packing really.
In a nutshell, I’m choosing to freelance for two main reasons:
1. The ability to earn more in less time
In my particular industry, graduates are lucky if they land a job at a local or city newspaper that pays them $13 per hour starting out. Even if you get into marketing or PR, you will still earn an entry level salary and have to work your way to the top. The jobs are VERY competitive, and sometimes it exhausting to interview over and over again and try to convince people to hire you.
I know that with freelance pitching, it can seem like the same thing, but it’s less effort for me. There’s no silly personality test, no resume or cover letter for the most part, and no begging an employer to realize that I am best fit for the job.
Instead of having to wait years and years to work my way up the ladder and convince employers to pay me more, I can increase my income with freelancing easily by scaling up.
I also don’t know any part-time jobs that pays $35 per hour before taxes, so I know that if I double my time spent freelancing, I can earn much more than I ever would at my day job.
2. I Love it
It’s pretty simple. Even if there are bad days, I genuinely love blogging and freelance and I have fun with the work. That’s what life is about anyway. If you’re going to spend dozens of hours working each month, you might as well do something you truly enjoy.
There are other reasons as well like being able to work location independently, be my own boss and choose my clients, and being around more to spend time with my son and participate in activities at his school.
Goals to Get There
I hope to be able to feel ready enough to put in my notice at my full-time job this fall, but I won’t set a strict deadline because my goals constantly change. There are a few things I need to do first.
I need to beef up my emergency fund quite a bit so I feel comfortable enough to walk away from my job. Ideally, I would like to have at least 3-6 months of expenses saved up along with a checking account buffer in case I receive late payments from clients, and a separate savings account for car repairs and medical expenses. That way, I shouldn’t have to touch my EF unless I really need to. Anything else would be an added benefit.
Increase My Income:
This is an ongoing goal. Each month I try to scale up and establish new opportunities. Since my expenses are so low, I would like to earn way more than I need so I can account for taxes and live on less than I bring in after that.
Right now, I’m focusing on increasing my freelance income even though one of my long-term goals is to build my blog income up. Blog income can take forever to get paid out, and I don’t want to depend on it much at first since freelance income is more immediate and that’s what I need. I will still dedicate about 1-2 hours per week to build up my blog income but the majority of my time will go toward freelancing.
Pay off As Much Debt As I Can:
I don’t know what debt repayment will look like when I leave my job, but I’m hoping it will be around the same. In the meantime, I want to put as much toward my student loans as I can. When my fiancé and I get married, we plan to live off one of our incomes and use the other income to save and pay off debt until I put in my notice at my job.
As you can see, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m pretty excited.
Did you earn any extra income last month? Any big announcements? Do you know what I can do to minimize PayPal fees?
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