Behind the Scenes at My Digital Freelance Business, August 2017

by Gigi Griffis

This post is part of a series about how I make money while traveling the world. For a deeper look at how I started my business and began traveling full-time, start here.

Welcome back to the monthly behind-the-scenes peek at my on-the-road freelance business, in which I discuss how I make money while traveling full time.

Overall, August was another slow month.

I wrapped up projects, took on small consulting gigs, and worked on my DIY Website Workshop, which won’t re-launch until October (so none of that work is billable/paid yet).

August was also a high spending month for me, as I had to replace quite a bit of my wardrobe (everything seems to wear out at once when you’re living out of a bag for whatever reason), buy a new bike bag, and do a bunch of vet stuff for the dog.

In fact, in August, I spent about 18% more than I made.

Yeeikes, right?

But the truth is that this is one of the reasons I have the ambitious goal every month of saving 50% of my income. Because freelancing income is variable and so are expenses. Once or twice a year, some big unexpected expense or series of expenses pop up: replacing a computer, replacing my wardrobe all at once, vet bills, hospital visits, there are plenty of things that it’s hard to anticipate. Saving aggressively and being frugal even when things are going well is what makes months like August possible.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still cringing at spending more than I made in a month. And I’m particularly cringing at having a down month right before vacation.

But I’m also not canceling my vacation or freaking out.

Because of those aggressive savings goals.

Anyway, you’ll want more details. So here’s the breakdown of my slow-ish month:

August 2017 Income Sources

:: Copywriting and content strategy (71%)
This month I wrapped up a content strategy project for a tech website and did a tiny bit of writing for my big content marketing client. Since I charge 50% up front and 50% on delivery for most mid-sized projects, wrapping up the tech project meant a final check came in, which made up the majority of this month’s income.

:: My unique series of local-centric travel guides (23%)
Every month, I make money from my 11 travel guides. I don’t spend much time promoting them (though I have been doing some guest posting on other blogs lately and that always seems to drive up sales), but happily they continue to be a fairly steady source of income. This month, they’re holding steady and helping me stay afloat. Thank god for passive income.

:: Website consulting (4%)
From time to time, I help clients with everything from WordPress customization to SEO questions or even build start-to-finish websites. This month, I actually a bit more consulting than usual, though most of the actual income will be reflected in next month’s figures since I billed the majority at the end of the month.

:: Travel writing for magazines/websites (1%)
This is not income I actively pursue anymore, but I still have good relationships with a magazine or two, so I somewhat regularly write travel articles for those. This percentage represents a single article published and paid.

:: My new DIY Website Workshops (0%)
In May, as you know, I also officially started my first DIY Website Workshop class. I ran the course as a full-service seven-week program with weekly Q&A and tons of personal emails and consulting to get the projects launched.

But, of course, full-service as-much-support-as-you-want can get time consuming and pricey pretty fast. Which is why the original program was just under $1,000 and I was planning on the second session being near $2,000.

Since that’s out of reach for quite a few solopreneurs and artists–the group I wanted to support with the program–I came up with a new plan: Instead of full-service being the only option, what if the program was tiered?

The bottom tier would include all the videos, worksheets, and instruction manuals you’d need to fully DIY your website–a great option for those with lots of time and not lots of money to spend on their site.

And for those who needed more one-on-one help? Who wanted me to look over their sites? I’d offer hourly consulting at a discounted workshop rate.

It felt like a win-win idea, so I’ve spent quite a bit of August tweaking the content from the first session, adding more recommendations and instructions, and getting ready to launch the new tiered program in October.

This means August and September will still be 0-income months for the program, even though I was actively working on it in August, but hopefully October will be the start of a steady stream of partly passive income.

If you’re a solopreneur, entrepreneur, small business owner, or artist and you’d like to launch or re-design your own website, hop over here to get on the mailing list and I’ll let you know when the new tiered program launches!

:: Affiliate sales/advertising here on the blog (0%)
As you may already know, the blog is more of a passion project for me than a money-maker. Certainly, it has led clients to me and supported my business in a variety of ways, but in and of itself, it’s not really an income source.


Work-Life Balance & My August Workspace

As you know, I run my business while traveling full-time.

In August, this means I ran the show from Ljubljana, Slovenia, one of my two favorite European capital cities (the other is Paris). When you picture my work month, picture me cross-legged on the massive leather corner couch or upright at the honey-colored wood dining table in our bright apartment near Tivoli Park.

Work projects probably took up about 15 – 25 hours per week and I spent the rest of my time hanging out with friends (four different friends came to visit during our month here, flying or busing in from Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Berlin, and Zurich respectively) and getting non-work errands done (like replacing a large portion of my wardrobe, making vet runs, and going to the doctor).


Are you a freelancer or business owner? Tell us about your month! Feel free to drop any questions you might have in the comments. And you’re welcome to join my Facebook business group where we talk all things entrepreneurship, business, and web.

Is there something you wish I’d cover in these monthly reports? Please let me know! I want them to be as useful as possible, so if you have a suggestion, drop it in the comments or reach out to me on Facebook anytime.

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