January 2017 Travel Blog Income Report – A Fresh Look on a New Year
For almost three-years, I’ve been bumping along at this fulltime writing “career” making anything but a fulltime living. As 2017 approached, I was ready to throw in the towel. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.
It wasn’t for a lack of effort. I’m working harder now than I ever have, but my income remains stagnant, averaging around a thousand dollars a month. I could make more money slinging beers as a bartender. The dream appeared to be over.
As I contemplated my next move, a friend suggested that I read the 12 Week Year. As a serial goal setter (but not follower), I decided to give the book a try. It was definitely one of the most inspiring and helpful books that I’ve read in a long time. In fact, I was embarrassed as I read it. So many thing I’ve been doing wrong.
As I plodded through the chapters, I couldn’t help but to think of all the initiatives I’ve started or wanted to start that never got off the ground. The goals I’ve set but never revisited to monitor progress. I have an MBA and am a recovering consultant. I should know how to create an execute plan. Yet, I was just winging it – chasing any new shiny object that appeared in front of me.
The 12 Week Year forced me to focus.
My problem, as I learned from the book, was that my timeline was too broad. I was setting goals a year, three, or even five years out, but never taking time to plan out how I would achieve them or developing any form of plan to hold myself accountable. While the 12 Week Year still has you create a vision statement and plan over-arching three-year goals, the focus is on the immediate.
Instead of planning 2017 new year’s resolutions, I followed the guidelines of the book and created first quarter goals that I could remain hyper-focused on. The immediacy forces you to treat each week and each day with dire importance. As I set my goals, I created week by week plans that I score myself on at the conclusion of each week.
Before, if an outside opportunity or brain fart for a new blog or product came along, I would waste countless hours researching and thinking about it. Sometimes I’d give it a go, sometimes I wouldn’t. Now, I first see how it fits into my 12 week goals and plan. If it doesn’t fit, I park it to revisit later. So far, I’ve parked everything that has come my way.
What’s this look like in process?
I’m going to show you as I adjust my income reports to reflect progress towards my three 12 week goals as outlined below:
- Make enough income by the end of the quarter to put Deacon into fulltime daycare
- Hit 10,000 views a month in blog traffic
- Finish draft one of What Lies at Home Book 2
Diving down further, the 12 Week Year has you create both lead and lag indicators. Lead indicators are what you can measure now to work towards your goals. Lag indicators are the overall goals themselves. Let’s take a look at how this works in my income report section.
Make enough money to afford fulltime daycare for Deacon.
In order to pay for a quarter of fulltime daycare for Deacon, I would need to make $3,600 this quarter. That’s totally an achievable goal. Although the results from January may not look like it as I only netted $701. However, looking at my broader outlook, I’ve booked 84% of that income goal with contracts in hand. These would be my lag indicators.
My lead indicators are what I’m doing weekly to work towards the numbers mentioned in the paragraph above. The most important being sending out four pitches a week. Other, less numeric, lead indicators are things like create a sales page for my course.
Thus, I consider January to be a success. Working on lead goals has helped me to book 86% of my quarterly income.
Hit 10,000 views a month in blog traffic.
Some of the items here directly tie into my income goals as everything correlates together. The more traffic that comes to the blog, the more income I can make.
You’ll find that lead indicators will repeat themselves like the four pitches goal above. Under blog traffic report, I set a goal to each week publish two new posts and re-market an old post that has affiliate potential. So far this quarter, I’ve seen my affiliate income jump from a few dollars a month to $70 in January.
In addition, some one-off lead goals are to help define myself and the blog as more of an authority in the craft beer travel space. One way I’ve done that was to develop a Craft Beer Travel Resources page highlighting all the material available on the site to help plan beercations. The second way was to create a new Start Here page to better acclimate new visitors to the site. Notice how I used video clips from my segments on the local NBC affiliate’s lifestyle program, Charlotte Today? Next up I’m working on my Hire Me page and creating some As Seen In graphics for the sidebar.
Finish Draft One of What Lies at Home Book Two
I plan to only cover this quarterly but thought it was worth a paragraph here as I launch my new blog income report. Sadly, my fiction writing has suffered the most over the past few years. It keeps playing backseat to freelance writing and blogging. Yet, it’s also what I’m most passionate about. I’ve set a lead indicator to write 7,500 words a week. So far, I’m failing miserably and sit around the ten-thousand word mark.
My lack of success isn’t due to writers block but poor time management. I write my fiction in the early mornings when the house is quiet and Deacon is still sleeping. I’d like to say that I wake up at 5am to write, but I don’t because I can’t seem to go to bed early enough. If I could only wake up early enough, my hourly word count is definitely enough to get me there.
What I’ve Learned So Far
While I thought three concrete goals would be totally doable, I’m finding that I was a little overzealous in my planning. If I was at this fulltime, then they would be completely accomplishable. However, I’m not. I still play stay-at-home dad two days a week and try to avoid working in the evenings and weekends as the family time with my wife and son is too important miss.
I don’t want to sound any alarms that I’m too far off on my goals, though. I’m averaging 75% on my weekly goals. While I haven’t adjusted my goals, I do prioritize income generating goals. The thought is that if I can bring in the income to pay for Deacon’s childcare, I can get two extra days to work on my other initiatives.