March 2017 Travel Blog Income Report – Wrapping Up My First 12 Week Year
My first 12 Week Year (AKA – Q1 2017) wraps up with mixed feelings. On one hand, I beat my income goal for the first time since setting out on this little freelance journey of mine. On the other hand, my other two goals fell flat on their face. I want to both dance in my success and cry into my losses.
Neither reaction would help move me forward.
Relishing in my success would only blind me to the fact that I still have a lot of room for improvement. Wallowing in my failures wouldn’t allow me to see what changes I need to make to turn those failures into successes.
I also need to consider the landscape. The first quarter of 2017 was filled with extreme ups and downs. On the down side, the quarter started out with a terrible bout with food poisoning for both Shannan and myself. Deacon and Shannan both had surgery (in the same week), and I had to put on more of parenting role to help both with their recovery. I also had two colds that lasted well over a week each and numbed my brain for writing and creative thinking.
On the up side, I landed my first speaking gig at a national conference. At the end of March, I presented on a panel at the Beer Marketing and Tourism Conference. The topic was Working with Bloggers – How and with Whom. Speaking at a national conference had been a goal in the back of my mind for a while now, but I didn’t think I was quite ready. I was hoping to land my first speaking gig in 2018. However, the opportunity presented itself a year early.
Instead of riding either roller coaster wave of my first 12 Week Year, I spent the last week strategizing about my next 12 Week Year, thinking about what went right and what went wrong as I planned new goals.
Old Goal: Make $3,600
The impetus behind my income goal was the cover fulltime daycare. And, from first glance, it appears that I achieved my goal by earning $3,604 during my first 12 Week Year.
HOWEVER, I failed to factor expenses, taxes, and retirement savings into that amount. So, I really didn’t cover fulltime daycare… Especially when you consider the extraordinary expense of purchasing a new PC as our six-year old Dell finally bit the dust.
New Goal: Make $11,000
Yes, that’s a huge jump. However, I’m sticking with my initial plan to move the carrot to cover both the mortgage and fulltime daycare. Only this time, I’m factoring in expenses, taxes, and retirement savings. My hurdle though, is that I’m still only freelancing and blogging part time as I’m a stay-at-home-dad two days a week.
I have to work smarter not harder. Yes, I hate that clichéd saying, too, but it’s true.
To figure out where I need to work smarter, I did a time-money analysis from last quarter to determine where my most unprofitable time sucks are.I also considered the fact that some of those unprofitable activities have a long-term income play. The problem is, I have too many of those foundational tasks – writing a novel, growing a blog, and launching a course.
Something has to give, but what?
I spent a lot of time thinking about where my passions still lie. Why am I still doing this? Wouldn’t it be easier to go back to corporate America? Why did I give up a six-figure job to be a writer in the first place?
It wasn’t an easy analysis. While I’m making most of my money from freelance writing, that income is capped. Writers charge per word and there’s only so many words I can write in a given week. Even social media consulting has a ceiling as I only have so many hours to bill a week. The real bank is in creating my own products – courses, books, blogs. Yet, none of those are earning me any money. They’re only draining my time.
I’m excited to announce that my e-course, 15 Steps to Sponsored Blog Travel, will launch April 15. In anticipation, I’m currently offering a pre-sale at 30% off enrollment. Peep the details on my course page!
In the end, I decided major comprises had to be made all around (except for my novel writing, which is my ultimate dream). I can’t ignore freelance writing as its where the majority of my income is coming from. However, I spend too much time chasing and completing jobs that don’t pay nearly enough. In my next 12 Week Year, I’m cutting back the number of pitches a week to two. Those two will be higher paying articles. With better paying freelance gigs, I’ll have more time to launch my course.
Thus. I adjusted my lead indicators to spend less time on freelance and more time on course development (for more on lead and lag indicators, check out 12 Week Year).
Old Goal: Hit 10k in traffic / month
I spent most of my time contemplating what to do with the blog. I only hit 60% of my goal, coming in at slightly less than 6,000 hits per month. It’s abysmal when you consider the fact that I’ve been at this for seven-freaking-years.
Yet, as I peal back the layers, things aren’t as bad as they seem. Doing a year-over-year analysis for the timeframe I’ve been hooked up to Google Analytics reveals that traffic is growing.
Still, nothing was off the table when it came to the blog. I considered giving up on The Wandering Gourmand and starting a new blog. Or, giving up on blogging altogether and focusing only on freelance writing and my novel.
New Goal: Simply maintain the blog
Alas, I couldn’t give up on The Wandering Gourmand. I don’t have time to start something new. Not while I’m trying to launch a course and publish a novel.
I also don’t have time to continue to tinker with and figure out how to make the blog work. Thus, I decided to simply maintain with the aim to publish two posts a week. After all, this is why I’m missing my mark. I’m spending so much time “fixing things” that I’m not producing content. And why do people read a blog? For the content!
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Old Goal: Finish draft 1 of “What Lies at Home Book 2”
Major fail here. I only hit 22% of my goal. I completely own my failure. I’m not focused enough. My fiction writing is in the mornings, yet I rarely wake up in time for a whole picnic basket of reasons. I can’t wake up early because I stay up too late. I stay up too late because I’m working too much in the evening that want some time to decompress with my wife before going to bed. It’s a cycle that repeats itself over-and-over again.
New Goal: Finish first 2 drafts of “What Lies at Home Book 2”
However, I still remain bullish that I can complete the first two drafts as planned. As I dial back on freelancing and blogging, I’m freeing up my evening hours to be with my family. Thus, I can get to bed on time and wake up on time.
How are you doing with your 2017 goals?